Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  May 1, 2006 at 6:30 AM
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Soccer hooligans plan World Cup fights

LONDON, May 1 (UPI) -- Polish soccer fans are planning to establish a "hooligan league" at this summer's World Cup, The Sunday Times of London reported.

The fans are preparing for fights with fans from rival countries during the five weeks of the tournament in Germany. They are seeking "pre-arranged" fights with traveling English fans because of their reputation as "the best of the worst," the newspaper said.

Violence, often with fascist overtones, has become commonplace in Polish soccer, the newspaper said. In Krakow, eight fans have been stabbed to death in the past 12 months.

Polish hooligans interviewed about their plans boast that they will be able to slip across the border into Germany without being detected. The newspaper said the hooligans talk of night-time raids on the campsites where many of England's 80,000 to 100,000 traveling supporters expect to stay.

Indonesians eat chicken despite bird flu

JAKARTA, Indonesia, May 1 (UPI) -- Observing lunchtime diners in Jakarta, you would never suspect Indonesia is in the throes of a bird flu epidemic.

After two years, the initial scare has faded and the major concern of Indonesians is whether to have their chicken fried or grilled, with chili or spices, The Washington Post said Sunday.

It seems the virus has proved exceptionally hard to catch even for those who work closely with birds.

"The bird flu cases don't affect us," one woman said as she finished her lunch. "We're assured the chicken here is of the highest quality. It's a matter of trust."

Since avian flu was first confirmed in Indonesian poultry early in 2004, the disease has struck flocks in two-thirds of the country's provinces, killing millions of birds.

Efforts to contain the outbreak have stumbled, and the government says it cannot afford to pay for a national poultry vaccination program.

Though Vietnam still ranks first in overall cases, the death toll of 32 is higher in Indonesia.

Florence cuts through 'padlocks of love'

FLORENCE, Italy, May 1 (UPI) -- Florence is trying to lock the door on the tradition of attaching a lock to the Italy's famous Ponte Vecchio, or "old bridge," as a symbol of undying love.

For more than a decade, lovers who came to the oldest bridge in Florence have attached a padlock to the rails then thrown the key into the river.

Grumpy council officials are trying to put a stop to the tradition to keep the unsightly clusters of metal from disfiguring a monument to the artist Benvenuto Cellini, ANSA reported.

"As well as the aesthetic problem, these locks scratch and dent the metal," said cultural affairs chief Simone Siliani.

A team of metal cutters spent the winter removing the 5,500 locks that had accumulated on the bridge. The work of removing the "padlocks of love" took so long because workmen had to battle against a never-ending flow of loving couples who headed straight for the bridge after arriving Florence, Siliani said.

Police have been told to slap to $62 fine on anyone who tries to attach to lock.

Greece links teen drinking to TV examples

ATHENS, Greece, May 1 (UPI) -- Health officials in Greece suggest teenagers are drinking at heightened levels because of television shows saturated with scenes of imbibing.

The National School of Public Health reviewed 50 hours and 50 minutes of 11 locally produced television programs, and found scenes involving alcohol took up two hours and 31 minutes, the Kathimerini news service reported Saturday.

"Consequently, we will need to ask the support of mass media and those in charge of television and movies to minimize the scenes of consumption in television serials," the researchers' report said.

In a 2003 survey of 8,500 students between the ages of 14-17, the school found one in three Greek students drink regularly, while slightly more than 12 percent have been intoxicated at least three times.

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