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Since 1st March, 1999
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David bath

Rome, Sept. 13 (Reuters): Even world-famous sculptures need a wash behind their ears every now and then. And Michelangelo’s David is set to have a seven month-long public bath.

Restorers at Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia will begin wiping away 129 years of dirt and grime from the Renaissance marble statue on Monday. It is the first time the five-metre nude has been cleaned since it was moved into the gallery in 1873 to protect it from weather and pollution. The clean-up is expected to cost about 150,000 euros and visitors to the gallery will be able to watch the work. David, carved from a single block of marble from 1501 to 1504, depicts the biblical hero who killed Goliath.

Drink sale

Sofia (Reuters): Sales of a new Bulgarian soft drink have rocketed since its launch two weeks ago, with consumers snapping up the bottles shaped like the ex-Soviet missiles which the country is now seeking to destroy. The destruction of Nato hopeful Bulgaria’s ballistic missile arsenal has been a hot topic of conversation in the small Balkan country amid fears that dismantling the rockets could trigger radiation leaks or even earthquakes. One company seeking to capitalise on the issue has produced a new line of fruit-flavoured soft-drink and packaged them in rocket-shaped silver bottles.

Slay delay

n Nicosia (Reuters): Cypriot bird trappers are threatening to dump their ballot books over a government clampdown on killing migratory birds, a hugely popular dish in the island’s tavernas. Cyprus, a candidate for EU membership, has come under scrutiny from Brussels amid complaints trappers slay thousands of birds each year flying between Europe and Africa. Authorities say reports of millions of birds being killed are grossly exaggerated, but admit there is a problem in convincing locals to ditch a centuries-old practice, even if it is a banned one. Trappers, particularly in the south east of the island, were having none of it.

Paul 64 bet

London (Reuters): A British punter has bet that Paul McCartney will top the UK charts in four years’ time with a re-release of his hit When I’m 64. McCartney will turn 64 in June 2006 and the punter, from Wellington in southwest England, reckons the former Beatle will re-issue the song, which first appeared in 1967. British bookmakers William Hill have taken a £30 bet which would reap £1,920. The odds' 64 to one.

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