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Etc...

By Compiled from wire reports by staff / January 29, 2003



Come anyway, it'll be a blast

Planning to attend next year's Olympic Summer Games in Athens? Then presumably you'll be relieved to learn that workers have found - and will be defusing - two unexploded World War II-vintage 220-pound bombs on the site of what will be the venue for basketball, handball, and fencing. They were seven feet underground, left over from the attacks on the city before it fell to Nazi forces in April 1941.

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Nothing to crow about

There are about 39,000 students at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. And about 14,000 crows.

Experts aren't sure what has caused the noisy birds to congregate in such numbers. But two things they make in large quantities - droppings, and a racket - are causing them to wear out their welcome.

Entomologist Dale Hodgson, head of the campus pest management division, has been the point man for seven years in the effort to disperse the birds. Hodgson has been trying to scatter the crows using "Bird Bangers" - fireworks that scream and trail flames after being launched. The goal is to scare them away, not hurt them. Hodgson most recently has focused on the area around the President's House, which is unoccupied during renovations. President Mary Sue Coleman has been on the job only since last July, but she already knows what to watch out for.

"I am very, very careful to cover my head when I walk in that area of campus," Coleman says. "It beats me why they find the President's House so attractive."

Finally, a little respect

After being snubbed by Pennsylvania governors for nearly a century, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will finally get respect this year in the form of a visit from Gov. Ed Rendell.

The new governor plans travel to Punxsutawney on Feb. 1 to speak at the Groundhog Banquet and spend the night there so he can attend the Groundhog Day observance on Feb. 2, spokesman Tom Hickey said Thursday.

"He knows a good thing when he sees one," said Bill Deeley, Punxsutawney Phil's handler.

It will be the first time that a governor has attended a Groundhog Day-related event in Punxsutawney since Gov. Edwin S. Stuart attended a Groundhog Banquet picnic there in the summer of 1909.

On Feb. 2, at a spot known as Gobbler's Knob, Phil will emerge from his hole and "predict" the weather. According to folklore, if the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter; if not, it signals an early spring.

Quote of the day

'He will understand and respect those who, in the end, decide to go a separate way.'

- White House communications chief Ari Fleischer, asked how President Bush will react if US allies declare that they won't support a new UN resolution on using military force against Iraq.

What's the most romantic dinner? Lobster, poll finds

Bright red and especially tasty when dipped in butter, lobster is the No. 1 choice of entree for a romantic dinner, according to results of a recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans by pollster Harris Interactive. And, in good news for restaurateurs, a whopping 93 percent of respondents said they expect to dine out with a loved one for Valentine's Day. The survey was commissioned by the Red Lobster chain of seafood restaurants. The best entrees for exchanging "I-love-yous," by percentage:

1. Lobster 42%
2. Steak 24%
3. Pasta 10%
4. Shrimp 9%
5. Chicken 5%
6. Pork 1% - PR Newswire

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