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Of Human Interest; News lite

By
ELLEN BECK, United Press International

FLORISTS FIGHT BUD BATTLE

Valentine's Day is Friday and the nation's florists are fighting off dot-coms, supermarkets and wildcatters trying to cut into their sales.

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A survey by the National Retail Federation indicates 80 percent of Americans plan to buy Valentine's Day gifts this year and 65 percent of the men who plan to buy a gift will purchase flowers.

The survey also found men will spend an average of about $125 on their wife or girlfriend, more than triple the estimate for women. Those from 18-34 years old will average about $140 while seniors plan to spend less than $50.

Jim Geraci of Geraci's Florist near Fort Lauderdale in Florida says, "Every time you place an order with a dot-com, you're taking money from a flower shop that needs that money for overhead and taxes."

(Thanks to UPI's Les Kjos in Miami.)


RAZZIE NOMINATIONS TO BRITNEY, 'STAR WARS'

George Lucas, Madonna and Britney Spears took the most hits as nominees were announced for the 23rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards -- the Razzies.

"Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," "Swept Away" and "Crossroads" tied with seven nominations each, including Worst Picture of 2002.

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The foundation -- created in 1980 by author and movie fan John Wilson -- is committed to deriding what it considers to be the worst in American movies each year.

Along with its nomination for Worst Picture, "Swept Away" was also nominated for Worst Actress (Madonna), Worst Actor (Adriano Giannini), Worst Screen Couple (Madonna and Giannini), Worst Director (Guy Ritchie), Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay (Ritchie).

Spears was nominated for Worst Actress in her feature film starring debut, "Crossroads," which was also nominated for Worst Screen Couple (Spears and "Whatever-his-name-was"), Worst Director (Tamra Davis), Worst Screenplay (Shonda Rhimes) and a new Razzie category, Most Flatulent Teen-targeted Movie.

The 23rd Annual Golden Raspberry Awards will be presented March 22 in Santa Monica, Calif.

(Thanks to UPI's Pat Nason in Hollywood.)


ENGINE 8888 UP TO OLD TRICKS

CSX Transportation's Engine 8888 is in trouble again -- this time derailing at Stanley Yard in Toledo, Ohio, WKYC-TV reports.

Engine 8888 gained fame in 2001 when it took a 66-mile trip through northwest Ohio with no one at the controls. WKYC says an engineer hopped off to manually switch track but set the throttle up instead of putting the brake on, so the train sailed at speeds up to 47 mph for two hours until a CSX employee made a daring leap aboard and stopped it.

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This time the little engine that could -- and did -- slammed into freight cars on a parallel track. No one was hurt but the engine was damaged. The railroad did not say what caused the accident.


TEQUILA DOWN THE DRAIN

Fox News in Louisville, Ky., reports it wasn't slick roads but spilled tequila that kept Louisville Fire and Rescue crews busy Monday.

A goof at the Brown-Forman Distillery sent upwards of 1,800 gallons of Pepe Lopez Tequila into the city sewer system.

The fire department called in a hazardous materials team because the 80-proof tequila is flammable.

Apparently an employee unloading a truck stuck a hose into a tank that already was full.


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