Germany’s biggest pumpkin weighs in at almost 800 kilos

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Germany’s biggest pumpkin weighs in at almost 800 kilos
First-place winners Norbert Mitschke (left) and Robert Jaser (right) with their 792.5 kilo pumpkin. Photo: DPA.
At the largest pumpkin festival in the world on Sunday, a Bavarian team became this year’s German champions with a pumpkin that was heavier than them all at 792.5 kilograms.

About 60 participants brought their pumpkins to the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin festival but as with any competition, there could only be one winner.

The annual event held in the city of Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg is the highlight of the year for pumpkin growers who battle it out for the title of having grown the heaviest pumpkin. For them, the championship marks the end of a nail-biting growing period.

Second place went to a participant from southern Hesse, whose pumpkin weighed 644 kilograms. Still, the Bavarian team which came in first place for their pumpkin fell short of last year’s record of just over 900 kilograms.

Pumpkins being weighed in front of the palace in Ludwigsburg. Photo: DPA.

In its 18th year, Ludwigsburg Pumpkin festival is the largest of its kind across the world – beating even those held in the USA or Canada. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The number of pumpkins which descend on the city during the festival – over 450,000 – outnumbers Ludwigburg’s inhabitants by more than 5 to 1.

For spectators, the record-weighing of the pumpkins is a spectacle in itself. In addition to the use of forklift trucks, three helpers were required to place the mammoth vegetables on the scales on Sunday.

The winning pumpkins qualify to enter another competition also in Ludwigsburg on October 8th – the European championships for pumpkin winners. On November 8th, the massive pumpkins will be cut into smaller pieces and given out to visitors.

Source :  The Local Germany

Half of Germans think the country has grown to become one nation: study

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Half of Germans think the country has grown to become one nation: study
People celebrating German Unity Day in Kiel, Germany in 2006. Photo: DPA.
Germany celebrates 27 years of reunification on Tuesday. But after almost three decades, only one in every two citizens thinks unity exists between the east and the west, a new survey shows.

According to a recent survey carried out by Forsa research institute and the Federal Foundation, an organization established by the German parliament, 50 percent of Germans believe the country has grown to become one nation.

Germans in the west were slightly more optimistic with 52 percent of respondents stating they felt the country felt unified. Meanwhile the Statista graph below shows that in eastern Germany, only 43 percent of those surveyed felt the same.

Progress has been made in small steps since 2011, according to the Federal Foundation. Today half of Germans think the country has become unified. But in September 2011, 47 percent of German nationals believed this to be true.

“Inner unity does not come from one day to the next, but it does come,” managing director Anna Kaminsky of the organization stated in response to the survey’s findings.

Kaminsky also added that a trend has emerged over the past fifteen years and that people in Germany are increasingly thinking in terms of the whole country. “We as the Federal Foundation will continue to support this development,” she said.

The study also showed clear differences of opinion between young and old. While 65 percent of the 14- to 21-year-olds surveyed stated that Germany has grown together as a single nation, only 40 percent of respondents over the age of 60 agreed with this.

Source  :  The Local Germany

Rent for student housing across Germany has skyrocketed, survey shows

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Rent for student housing across Germany has skyrocketed, survey shows
File photo of student accommodation in Germany. Photo: DPA.
The cost of rent for students in Germany is getting more and more expensive.

According to a study released by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) on Monday, average prices for new student rentals particularly in big cities have increased significantly since 2010.

The largest percentage increase in net rental prices since 2010 was recorded in Berlin, where rent for student housing has risen by 70.2 percent. In the nation’s capital, students pay an average monthly rent of €430 and around €11 per square metre of living space; compared to other German cities they have seen the cost of rent shoot up significantly over the past several years.

READ ALSO: Berlin rents shot up by nearly 10 percent in two years: report

Berlin may have the largest increase in net rental prices, but Munich was found to be the German city with the most expensive average rent for a student flat at €665 per month and €18.4 per square metre. If this development continues, the rate is expected to soon exceed €20 per square metre. The Bavarian capital saw rent prices rise by 53.1 percent since 2010.

The second most expensive location for students according to the study was Stuttgart, with rent prices of €14.9 per square metre. Since 2010, the capital of Baden-Württemberg has seen a student housing cost boost of 62.2 percent.

Frankfurt came in third place for the most expensive German city for student accommodation with €14 per square metre while Hamburg and Heidelberg both tied in fourth place at €12 per square metre.

Rental costs also climbed sharply in Cologne (22.3 percent), Bonn (24.9 percent), Kiel (35.3 percent) and Leipzig (23.6 percent).

For a typical 30 square metre flat in Leipzig, students pay about €327 per month – less than half of what students in Munich pay for a flat of the same size. The east German university town of Jena had the smallest rise in rental costs at a percentage increase of 9.7.

So what is the reason behind these ever soaring costs?

The significant rent increases can be attributed not only to the growing shortage of living space in desirable locations, but also because “more and more rental apartments are being offered furnished, which drives up prices even further,” said IW housing expert Michael Voigtländer.

The study moreover attributes challenges to the housing market in Germany as well as a rapid rise in rent costs to a steady increase in both student numbers and new residents who have come to the country.

The situation can only be eased by more new housing and additional student residences, Voigtländer said.

Research institute IW worked with apartment hunting website ImmobilienScout24 and the Deutsche Real Estate Funds (DREF) for the study in which 15 cities and university towns in Germany were analyzed from 2010 to 2017.

Source  :  The Local Germany

News From Russia: What You Missed Over the Weekend

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Oct 2, 2017 — 10:17— Update: 10:17

Syria death

A colonel in the Russian army, Valery Fedyanin, has died of wounds sustained in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Sunday.

Since Russia began its campaign in Syria in 2015, the military says 38 personnel have been killed. Unofficial estimates put the figure higher.

Fedyanin was reportedly wounded by mortar fire which killed Russian general Valery Asapov a week earlier.

Zapad aftermath

The Defense Ministry denied Ukrainian allegations this weekend that Russian troops staging the major Zapad 2017 war games last month on NATO’s eastern border remained in Belarus.

Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko told Reuters Sept. 29 that Moscow had “lied about how many of its soldiers” were in Belarus and had withdrawn only a few units.

“Russian troops which took part in the joint strategic exercises, Zapad 2017, they all returned to their permanent bases,” the Defense Ministry said.

Catalonia ‘hypocrisy’

A senior Russian official on Sunday slammed Western governments for failing to condemn Spain’s violent suppression of an independence vote in Catalonia Sunday.

“They called on [former Ukrainian president Viktor] Yanukovych with all their might to refrain from using force…we see here [in Catalonia] it’s exactly the opposite,” Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in the Federation Council, was cited as saying in Russian media.

“Not for the first time I see how the West is cynical and hypocritical.”

Border skirmish

A Russian border guard was reportedly killed Sunday during a battle with suspected militants in Kursk in western Russia. The Federal Security Service (FSB) did not comment on the incident.

A source told the state-run TASS news agency that a group of border guards were inspecting a shed when armed men hiding inside opened fire, killing a dog handler. Three gunmen, alleged to be North Caucasus militants returning from battle in Syria, were killed.

Censorship rally

Twenty-two demonstrators, including four journalists, were detainedat Google’s offices in Moscow, during a rally against the internet giant’s collision with Russian authorities.

Alexander Rastorguyev, coordinator of the Artpodgotovka channel hosted by opposition figure Vyacheslav Maltsev, said the demonstrators did not have signs and were not chanting.

OVD-info, the police-monitoring group, said most of the protesters were being released following the rally against YouTube censorship.

RT under U.S. pressure

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-run RT news channel saidit may have to leave the United States over demands to register the outlet as a foreign agent.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a company that supplies services to the American affiliation of RT last month to register as a foreign agent.

“They are virtually forcing us out of the country, they are putting us under such conditions now that we can’t work,” she said. “That’s their much-praised freedom of speech for you,” Simonyan said.

Double agent honored

A Russian art gallery has unveiled a portrait of British double-agent Kim Philby while the state history society has opened an exhibit named after the spy.

Honoring Philby is reportedly part of a Kremlin campaign to rebrand the image of the KGB, the Soviet-era intelligence agency where President Vladimir Putin worked.

Source  :  The Moscow Times

New U.S. Ambassador Huntsman Arrives in Russia

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Oct 2, 2017 — 10:36— Update: 10:26

Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

New U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has landed in Russia less than a week after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate and taking the oath of office.

Huntsman arrives to Moscow on a promise of cultivating a “necessary” relationship with Russia at a time of precarious diplomatic ties. The former Utah governor and U.S. representative in China has been described as a hardliner in the Russian media and among officials.

“Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye arrived in Moscow this morning,” the embassy said in an online statement. “They were greeted by U.S. Embassy personnel and a representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

During his confirmation hearing in September, Huntsman said he would meet dissidents, end human rights abuses and help solve the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine during his tenure.

The new envoy is scheduled to present credentials to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Oct. 3, according to the U.S. Embassy website.


Source  :  The Moscow Times