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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
January 29, 2018

The island that switches countries every six months

Next week, France will hand over 3,000 sq m (32,000 sq ft) of its territory to Spain without a single shot being fired. But in six months' time Spain will voluntarily hand back the land to France. It's been that way for more than 350 years.


The Island of Faisans (Pheasant Island)


But there it is - a peaceful, inaccessible island in the middle of the river, with tree cover and neatly trimmed grass, and an old monument which pays tribute to a remarkable historical event that happened here in 1659.
For three months, the Spanish and French negotiated the end to their long war on the island, as it was considered neutral territory. Wooden bridges were extended from both sides. The armies stood ready as the negotiations began.
A peace agreement was signed - the Treaty of the Pyrenees. Territory was swapped and the border demarcated. And the deal was sealed with a royal wedding, as the French King Louis XIV married the daughter of the Spanish King Philippe IV.


These are called Condominium Properties or Condominia
The River Moselle and the Sauer and the Orr Tributaries are condominium between Luxembourg and Germany
Gule of Fonseca is a Tridominium between Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua
Parts of the Parana River and the mouth of the Iguassu River are shared between Brazil and Paraguay

Some former condominia include
688 AD Cyprus between the Byzantine Empire (Justinian II) and the Arab Empire ( Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan)
1941-3 Croatia was a condominium between Germany and Italy
1876-82 Egypt was one under Britain and France
1992-94 Walvis Bay Namibia and South Africa
Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg were an Austrian-Prussian condominium
The Oregon Country was an Anglo-American condominium from 1818 until 1846
A small area (Hadf and surroundings) on the Arabian Peninsula, a part of Oman, at one time was jointly ruled with the Emirati member state of Ajman.
New Hebrides formed a French–British condominium in 1906 until independence in 1980 as a republic, now called Vanuatu

January 23, 2018

Nursing Home Recreates Communist East Germany For Dementia Patients

It's said that time heals all wounds. But not for people afflicted with dementia like Gerda Noack. The 93-year-old German woman's memory is fading, as is her eyesight.

The losses scare her. On a recent morning at the AlexA Residence for Senior Citizens in Dresden, where she lives, Noack sounded anxious as she asked, over and over: "Where am I supposed to go?"

Director Gunter Wolfram gently took her arm and suggested they visit a government-run store from the former communist East Germany called Intershop. The once popular chain no longer exists — but a mockup of the store is only a few steps away.


The sight soothes Noack, and her face lights up each time she recognizes something. Like a shopping bag made out of a polyester fabric called Dederon — a name based on DDR, the German initials for the German Democratic Republic. Or a laundry detergent called Spee.


January 21, 2018

The Air Force Academy has cancelled all games

The AFA has announced it is cancelling all men's and women's sports during the gov't shutdown. Unlike Army and Navy, Air Force teams use government funding. Also, AFN, Armed Forces Network, is off the air as well; which means, unless you can find a USO that is open, no NFL conference championships for many expats living in Korea, Japan, Germany, etc

January 10, 2018

Its so hot in Australia that bats brains are frying

Meanwhile, over in Australia, where it is summer now, it has been especially hot. Sweltering, really.

In Sydney, temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the hottest it has been since 1939. That oppressive heat, a side effect of climate change, has made life hard for the country's humans and infrastructure. Heat waves result in 10 percent more calls for ambulances and 10 percent more deaths, local experts said. Police in Victoria, on Australia's southeastern coast, warned drivers last week that a six-mile stretch of a freeway in the central part of the state had melted. A spokeswoman for VicRoads, which manages Victoria's road systems, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that hot weather caused the asphalt to become “soft and sticky” and the road surface to bleed.


And hundreds of flying fox bats died because they didn't have enough cover to protect themselves from the heat. Animal rescuers in Sydney described “heartbreaking” scenes of dozens of dead baby bats piled on the ground. As the adult bats sought shade near a creek, babies were left dangling from trees with no means to survive the heat, according to a charity organization in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown, home to colonies of flying foxes. Many were found scattered on the ground. Others died before they made it down.


“Many pups were on their last breaths before getting much needed help .?.?. There were tears shed and hearts sunken,” the charity said Sunday in a lengthy Facebook post. “It's devastating when a colony like our local one goes down like this due to heat, this colony needs more canopy cover and shaded areas to help with our ever rising hot summers because this episode will surely not be the last.”


January 3, 2018

How an overweight shelter dog saved Eric O'Grey's life

Life as a 340-pound man had become unmanageable for Eric O'Grey. When he wasn't traveling for work as a salesman for GE, the 51-year-old rarely left his San Jose, California, apartment.


The doctor recommended a whole foods, plant-based diet like Clinton's. She told O'Grey to throw out everything in his pantry that wasn't on her list. But she also said something that shocked him. She ordered him to adopt a shelter dog and walk him twice a day for 30 minutes.


And then the adoption coordinator brought in an obese dog with skin problems. "His head was hung low and he wasn't even looking up. He was just obviously depressed," O'Grey said. "The dog looked up at me with a clear sense of disappointment I'd never seen on any person or creature."


As they lost weight and grew healthier together, the pair developed a tight bond. "I decided to become the person who he thought that I was. And over time really every part of my life improved," O'Grey said. "I was so reclusive and removed from society at the time that I needed a relationship in my life.


January 3, 2018

Arkansas Mosque Pays Fines For Man Who Helped Vandalize Its Building

An Arkansas mosque has paid off the remaining court fines of a man who helped vandalize their sacred space ― doing its part to make sure he doesn’t have to serve any more jail time for the crime.

Hisham Yasin, social director of the Masjid Al Salam in Fort Smith, told HuffPost on Tuesday that his congregation had forgiven the convicted vandal, Abraham Davis, long ago. Paying the more than $1,700 in fines Davis still owed was a way to put that forgiveness into action.


“He needs to keep going, don’t even look back. The back is gone,” Yasin said. “I look forward to seeing him work and study and become something in the future. And at that time, he’ll talk about what happened with him ... how he flipped his life from bad to good.”


“We need that shock for him, to stop all evil acts in the future,” he told HuffPost. “He’ll say, ‘Look at those people, I hurt them, I hurt their mosque, I hurt their God, and with all those bad things, they still showed me the most love I’ve ever received.’”


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