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What could be more useless than a ceremonial key to the city? On July 16, Harald Braun, minister for political affairs of the German Embassy, received an award that was even less practical: honorary citizenship in the District of Columbia. In recognition of his work helping D.C. public-school students polish their German, Braun—a self-described “Smithsonian fanatic”—received a plaque bearing a District flag and the mayor’s signature, symbolically buying him a seat in second class. “That’s like giving someone citizenship and then stripping them of the citizenship at the same time,” says Scott McLarty of the D.C. Statehood Green Party. “It’s like giving someone a nicely wrapped, empty box for their birthday.” Nevertheless, Braun, who supports the notion of “one person, one vote,” is pleased by the distinction. “I hope that it will get me a free ride on the Metro,” says Braun. “But I’m not so sure.” —Felix Gillette