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Since 1st March, 1999
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Street spray

Marseille, June 17 (Reuters): City cleaners are spraying streets in the French port of Marseille with lemongrass perfume to get rid of the stench from piles of rubbish which have been festering under a hot sun for a fortnight.

Refuse collectors returned to work today after a 14-day strike over pension reforms and city cleaners were battling to clear up an estimated 8,000 tonnes of garbage whose stench has attracted rats in droves.

“It’s been awful. The smell has been unbearable and the streets were disgusting with rotting rubbish strewn all over them. Life hasn’t been very easy,” said a spokeswoman at the municipal services department of Marseille Town Hall.

“We occasionally add a bit of lemongrass to disinfecting products when cleaning up after an outdoor market, but this time we’re adding it in much bigger doses and using it everywhere.”

Porn pique

Wellington (Reuters): The publisher of a New Zealand pornographic magazine, NZX, is irked that the New Zealand stock exchange has stripped down to the same three letters. The 100-year-old stock exchange changed its name to NZX Ltd last month, as it prepared to list on its own bourse. Auckland-based Steve Crow, who has published NZX magazine since November 2001, said the two had agreed confusion was unlikely but he did not want the exchange complaining later about his pornographic films or magazines. “It is a hard-core porn mag — there’s no pretence of anything else,” he said. “I’ve written to the stock exchange and said: ‘I don’t want to hear about it in five years if I do something you don’t like’... We were here first.”

Cute Kate

Los Angeles (Reuters): British actress Kate Beckinsale, who starred in the recent Hollywood epic Pearl Harbor, has become engaged to marry the director of her latest film, a spokesperson for the actress said on Monday. The spokesperson did not offer any details about the engagement of the London-born beauty to Len Wiseman, the director of Underworld in which Beckinsale portrays a vampire. Celebrity television show Access Hollywood, said Wiseman popped the question on Saturday at a restaurant at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Access Hollywood quoted at the hotel as saying that Wiseman booked the Viceroy’s presidential suite and filled it with the actress’ favourite flowers, lilies, to celebrate. Beckinsale has a four-year-old daughter named Lily with her former boyfriend, actor Michael Sheen. The actress, 29, is the daughter of the late British comic Richard Beckinsale and actress Judy Loe.

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