Hollywood icon Robert Redford and his long-term artist girlfriend Sibylle Szaggars have tied the knot in the German city of Hamburg, the pastor who married the couple said yesterday.

"The ceremony was very important to them," protestant pastor Frank Engelbrecht said.

Around 30 guests were present at the church wedding on Saturday, and since Mr Redford, 72, understands German, the ceremony was conducted in the local language, Pastor Engelbrecht said.

Mr Redford and the German-born Szaggars, 20 years his junior, have both been married before and have been a couple since 1996. Mostly they live in rural Utah, where Mr Redford's annual Sundance independent film festival takes place.

The couple plan to hold an "official" wedding party in Mexico in September, the Hamburger Abendblatt daily reported. (AFP)

Painting confiscated by Nazis returned

The German government said it has returned to the heirs of a German art collector a 19th century painting that had been confiscated by the Nazis.

The painting Peasant Girl Without a Hat by artist Wilhelm Leibl (1844-1900) had been part of the collection of the Bremen museum since 1966.

It was bought in the 1930s by Alexander Lewin, an arts collector and owner of a hat factory.

The Nazis seized it after Lewin fled to Switzerland in 1938 and it was not known if the artwork had been sold beforehand.

Lewin had managed to get part of his art collection out to Switzerland but what he left in Germany was confiscated by the Nazi regime.

The Nazis had planned to display the painting at the Adolf Hitler museum in the Austrian city of Linz. (AFP)

How cats get what they want

Cats coax their owners into giving them what they want with a special purr that blends their normal soft, low sound with a high-pitched element that is hard to ignore, British researchers said.

The high-frequency part is similar to a cry or a meow, and cats incorporate this into their normal, contended purr to exploit the nurturing instincts of humans for their own needs - usually to get fed, according to scientists.

Lead author Karen McComb of Sussex University in southern England said she initiated the study after being repeatedly woken up in the mornings by her own cat, Pepo. (AFP)

Man blows up apartment

A German who tried to fix his leaky air mattress blew up his apartment instead, the fire brigade in the western city of Duesseldorf said yesterday.

The 45-year-old man used tyre repair solvent to plug a hole in his airbed and left it overnight. But it blew up when he went to inflate it the next day."A spark from the electric air pump ignited it," a fire brigade spokesman said.

The blast pushed his living room wall into the building's stairwell and caused extensive damage to walls, windows and furniture.

Firefighters evacuated the 12-apartment building and a neighbouring housing block while they checked for structural damage.

The man suffered burns on his arms, while a three-year-old girl suffered first degree burns. (Reuters)

Make waves to save fish

Owners of motorboats are using their propellers to make waves and help to re-oxygenise a lake outside Warsaw where large numbers of fish have been dying. Up to 20 tonnes of dead fish have washed into Zegrzynskie Lake, a popular relaxation spot, after recent heavy rains caused rising water levels which knocked vegetation and fertiliser into the lake and streams, de-oxygenising the water and killing the fish.

The authorities appealed this week to motorboat owners to help tackle the problem by cranking up their engines simultaneously. Dozens responded to the call on Tuesday and more were expected to join the campaign.

"Until yesterday fish were dying by the tonne, but our campaign is having an effect," Jan Grabiec, head of the local municipality, said. (Reuters)

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