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Beloved in antiquity, Greece's hot springs left untapped

Hercules used them to regain his strength after his legendary labours, Hippocrates lauded their beneficial properties and even a famous Roman general, Sulla, said he owed his health to them. Their praise was for hot springs, a medicinal resource known and appreciated in Greece since antiquity -- though regrettably less so nowadays. "Greece invented the therapeutic use of hot springs thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ," says Zisis Aggelidis, a professor of hydrogeology at Thessaloniki's Aristotelio University.

Giant yellow duck explodes in Taiwan...again

A giant yellow duck on display in a northern Taiwan port exploded Tuesday, just hours before it was expected to attract a big crowd to count down the new year. The 18-metre-tall (59-feet) duck on show at Keelung burst around noon and deflated into a floating yellow disc, only 11 days after it went on display. It was the second time that a giant inflatable duck -- a bath toy replica created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman -- had burst while on show in Taiwan.

Rubber duck, game of chess enter U.S. Toy Hall of Fame

By Caurie Putnam ROCHESTER, NY (Reuters) - Rubber Duckie you're the one. The world's most popular bath toy sunk fierce competition to be named one of two 2013 inductees to the United States' National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday. The rubber duck and the game of chess were selected from 12 finalists including bubbles, Clue, Fisher-Price Little People, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, My Little Pony, Nerf toys, Pac-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the scooter.

Crews in Winnipeg hunt for rubber ducks after mishap during fundraising race

WINNIPEG - City crews in Winnipeg are continuing to capture thousands of rubber ducks that slipped past a containment boom during a weekend fundraising race. The Assiniboine Park Conservancy says over 13,000 rubber ducks were dropped from a crane into the Assiniboine River on Saturday for The Great Manitoba Duck Race. The race was meant to raise money for the conservancy as well as the Assiniboine Park Zoo. But at the end of the race, the conservancy says the oil booms used to capture the ducks failed.

Copper-bottomed bathtime for Bloomberg

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has splashed out on a hand-made copper bath from a historic French foundry. Skilled craftsmen in Normandy (northern France) spent 250 hours making the luxury tub to the billionaire businessman's exact specification, according to Etienne Dulin, the owner of the 200-year-old Atelier du Cuivre (Copper Workshop) in the town of Villedieu-les-Poeles. "He requested a nickel finish, to give a slightly glossier effect," Dulin revealed to AFP, describing how the bathtub had been shaped entirely by hand from two 2mm-thick sheets of copper.

Giant rubber duck set to "attack" Taiwan

A giant yellow rubber duck is heading to Taiwan for exhibition starting next month as part of its global tour of "spreading joy around the world," the Greater Kaohsiung City Government said Monday. Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu told a press conference that she is glad Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman picked Kaohsiung as the first city in Taiwan to exhibit the massive, inflatable rubber duck. The floating sculpture will be berthed at the Glory Dock from Sept. 19 to Oct. 20.

Duck tops the bill in farewell Hong Kong appearance

Thousands said farewell Sunday to a giant inflatable yellow rubber duck which has captivated Hong Kong, on its final day in the city's harbour before it heads to the United States. The southern Chinese city has taken the 16.5 metre-tall (54-feet) duck, conceived by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, to its heart since it arrived under tow on May 2 to cheering crowds.

China Communist mouthpiece condemns plague of ducks

The official mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party condemned an outbreak of giant yellow ducks across the country Monday, after imitations of an artwork in Hong Kong landed in several cities. Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's 16.5 metre (54 foot) tall yellow inflatable has been a sensation in both Hong Kong and mainland China since it was installed in Victoria Harbour a month ago. Property developers in several cities, among them Hangzhou, Wuhan and Tianjin, have rushed to install similar, albeit smaller, yellow ducks to attract potential customers to their projects.

EU swimming beaches get clean bill of health

The vast majority of some 22,000 swimming beaches in the EU are clean and safe, the European Environment Agency said Tuesday. The EEA annual report for 2012 showed the water met the minimum standards required for bathing at 94 percent of all swimming beaches in the European Union. At 78 percent of the beaches, the quality of the water was found to be excellent, the top rating, with Cyprus leading the way as all of its 112 swimming beaches got the best review.

EU swimming beaches get clean bill of health

The vast majority of some 22,000 swimming beaches in the EU are clean and safe, the European Environment Agency said Tuesday. The EEA annual report for 2012 showed the water met the minimum standards required for bathing at 94 percent of all swimming beaches in the European Union. At 78 percent of the beaches, the quality of the water was found to be excellent, the top rating, with Cyprus leading the way as all of its 112 swimming beaches got the best review.
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