Cologne The City Where Love is Sealed With The Lock-Sign

The Lock Bridge
The Lock Bridge where lovers leave a lock-sign of their love on the bridge -- Photo: Sally

I recently returned from a trip to Germany to visit a dear friend of mine. She lives in a very small village called Junkernhees (pronounced “Yun-kurn-hees”) which is about 10 minutes North of Siegen.

Thousands of people visiting, or living in Cologne, have inscribed their name along with their loved ones into a lock and locked it to the bridge. The idea is to signify the strength of their long lasting love.

Northwest Germany is perfect this time of year. Everything is blooming and blossoming, and the temperature is just right! I have been to Germany 3 times before, but it was on this trip that I became aware of a bit of a competition between two larger cities in Northwest Germany. Apparently this conflict dates back to the eleventh century when ships carrying goods would pass Dusseldorf on the Rhine River on their way to Cologne where the goods would be sold at higher prices, but the actual explanation is still argued.

After reading some airline reviews, I found that it was much cheaper to fly in to Dusseldorf than Cologne (though Frankfurt is cheaper than both). Continue reading

Hong Kong 81-Year-Old Fights Off Teen Muggers

Modern day Mr Miyagi
Modern day 'Mr Miyagi' fights off teenage mugger gang

I came across this heart warming story about a brave 81-year-old man in Hong Kong who single-handedly fought off a gang of teenage muggers. Eight youths were arrested. A police official said:

“They pushed him to the ground and tried to rob him. The man fought back and the gang ran away empty-handed. They are still being detained and under investigation for assault with intent to rob.”

According to a police spokesperson, the 81-year-old identified only as Mak was assaulted in a pedestrian tunnel while on his way to morning exercises. It happened at 4.00am in the darkness of the early hours.

Police later traced a trail of blood to a nearby flat and detained the teenagers. Continue reading

Property: 3 Ways to Grant Legal Usage Rights

Usufruct or Habitatio

Today a client asked me an interesting question regarding the difference between a usufruct and a habitatio right that can be granted over a property when it is sold.

In this example the seller would like to keep usage of one of the three garages situated on the property for a home fruit bottling and canning business. She would like to register a right of usage over this part of the property.

South African Common Law recognizes three similar but different legal concepts that can be used for this purpose.

Usufruct:
This grants the holder the right to use and derive profit from a property belonging to someone else. This may include the right to receive rental income including, for example, income from farming activities. The property may not be sold, altered or destroyed and it must eventually be returned to the owner. In the case of a deceased estate, this will be the person to whom the property was bequeathed. Continue reading

Native Indian Class Action Lawsuit Scores $680 Million From USDA

North American Native peoples
North American Native peoples -- click to enlarge

On Thursday this week a nationwide class action lawsuit was settled. The historic Keepseagle settlement agreement requires the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pay $680 million in damages to thousands of Native Americans and to forgive up to $80 million in outstanding farm loan debt.

The Indians filed the Keepseagle class action lawsuit 11 years ago. They alleged that for three decades Native American farmers were denied the opportunity to obtain low-interest rate loans and loan servicing from the USDA. The Indians alleged that this resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses for Indian farmers. They said that these loans were given instead to their white neighbors.

Native American Indians once inhabited the present United States from Coast to Coast. Today they number 4.9 Million (2008). Apart from language, the differences between Indian tribes is barely perceptible. They were once grouped into eight radically distinct languages, four of which are still in existence today.

Ant Fungus Farmers Hold the Answers for Human Farmers

Weaver Ants farming aphids
Weaver Ants farming aphids, carrying them to different plants to ‘milk’ the aphids of their sugary liquid excretion

With the Earth’s population exploding and nearly every arable acre already cultivated, the future of farming is a looming concern. For inspiration science is looking to the leaf-cutter ant which has mastered single crop agriculture and represents the apex of ant agriculture.

Monoculture crops are the rule in modern agriculture. This is why modern crops are especially vulnerable to disease. A pathogen that can infect one plant will likely be infectious to the rest.

Today the banana industry is being threatened by a fungus known as Tropical Race Four. This infection has resisted every counter-measure and may eventually doom modern bananas altogether.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the latest crisis has hit the Australian Pistachio nut industry. In December 2010 torrential rainfalls created ideal conditions for an outbreak of the moisture-loving anthracnose fungus. Australia’s pistachios originate almost entirely from a single cultivar developed in the early 1980s. Continue reading

New Contender For World’s Hottest Chilli is Hot, Very Hot

Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
The super-hot Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilli, the latest contender for the title of Worlds Hottest Chilli

Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Chilli. That’s the name of the new contender for the title of the World’s Hottest Chilli. Marcel de Wit, who was involved with developing and growing it had this to say about eating it:

“I had hallucinations, I had to lie down, I couldn’t walk for 20 minutes, dizzy. This chilli was so severe. I will never, ever do it again, I can tell you that.”

The fiery new chilli is rated at an incredible 1,46-million Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

To get an idea of just how hot that is pickers at the town of Morisett, 89km north of Sydney in Australia, must wear gloves and avoid any skin contact due to the acute burning sensation that would result. Workers who boil and mince the chilli into puree for sauces have to wear chemical masks and protective clothing to avoid the fumes. Continue reading

Jewish Passover and Christian Easter: What Do They Have In Common?

Detail of Da Vinci Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli
Detail of Da Vinci Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli -- click to enlarge

It is a little known fact that, in the early Eastern Christian churches, the timing of the celebration of Easter was based on the date of the Jewish Passover.

According to ancient records Jesus was crucified just before Passover. The famous last supper was the day before that. While the sacrificial lambs were being slaughtered for Passover, Jesus was undergoing crucifixion and so became the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

In the Jewish tradition Passover is the 8 day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt in 1446 BCE during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II (1279 BCE — 1213 BCE) or, according to some scholars Amenhotep II (1436 BCE — 1410 BCE).
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Fantastic Realism Art Work of Russian Artist Boris Indrikov

LEPIDOPTERA. 2001
LEPIDOPTERA. 2001 oil on canvas 50 X 70 cm -- Artist: Boris Indrikov (click to enlarge).

Boris Indrikov is a talented and original artist born in Leningrad in 1967 and now lives and works in Moscow . From 1991 to 1997 he was a book designer and worked as an illustrator for the popular science magazine “Chemistry and Life.”

He has been a member of the Creative Union of Artists of Russia and the UNESCO International Federation of Artists since 1998.

Boris has exhibited works at a number of shows in Russia and abroad. He exhibited at the Moscow Art Fair, Art-Manezh in 2002 and 2003, and Drommar in Nykoping, Sweden in 2004. He currently works in painting, graphic design and small-form plastic. He works mainly in fantastic realism.

Indrikov’s artworks are featured in the Horizon Gallery in the Netherlands and appear in private collections all over the world including in Russia , Sweden , Germany , France , Switzerland , Japan and the United States (5 photos).
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Wild Horses at Sunset on the Bot River Estuary

Wild Horses grazing at sunset
The Bot River Wild Horses grazing at sunset -- Photo: John Bradfield

Today at sunset I strolled down to the “lagoon” otherwise known as the Bot River Estuary. Lo and behold, the wild horses were grazing on the grassy banks in the distance about 200 meters (650 feet) away.

The Bot River Estuary which lies at the edge of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve near Hermanus in the Western Cape of South Africa

Fortunately I had my camera with me and I decided to get nearer and take some photos. As I approached them the three stallions in the herd watched me carefully before deciding that I was not a threat. In the fading light I was able to take a few — uploaded here for your enjoyment (4 photos).

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And the Long, Short 'n Tall of it