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Music Thrills Trigger Dopamine

People who become euphoric over music unleash dopamine, a brain chemical that also induces the sense of reward that comes from food, psychoactive drugs and money, an unusual study says.

McGill University researchers in Montreal, Canada, recruited eight volunteers aged 19-24 among 217 people who responded to advertisements requesting people who experienced "chills" -- a marker of extreme pleasure -- when listening to music.

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Why French are World Champs in Pessimism

The French live in one of the richest and safest countries in the world, yet they are global champions of pessimism, fearful of the future and longing for the past, according to a survey published this week.

"The French are afraid. They feel the present is less good than the past and that the future will be worse than the present, and that their children's lives will be harder than their own," said commentator Dominique Moisi.

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Curses! Romania's Witches Forced to Pay Income Tax

Everyone curses the tax man, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay up for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government.

Also among Romania's newest taxpayers are fortune tellers — but they probably should have seen it coming.

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Beirut's Iconic ‘Glass Café’ Shuts Down

Beirut's iconic Glass Cafe, which dates back to Ottoman times, shuts its doors this week, taking with it a slice of the Lebanese capital's cultural and political heritage.

"The history of this cafe is closely intertwined with the history of Beirut," said Angele Abi Haidar, 50, whose family has operated the Glass Cafe -- which first opened its doors in 1920 -- since 1951.

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Lithuania Launches National Perfume

Lithuania is pioneering a new type of national symbol to convey the character of the ex-Soviet Baltic state in a fragrant way with a bottle of perfume.

Lithuania's foreign ministry has already sent bottles of the new fragrance to all ambassadors accredited to Vilnius.

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Cuba's Tobacco Company Sues U.S. Shop Owned by Lebanese over Name

A cigar lounge in suburban Detroit is decorated with paintings and photos of famous people with a stogie: John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, even the 1950s Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

"We have only one thing in common," said owner Ismail Houmani, a U.S. war veteran, who immigrated to Toledo, Ohio, from Lebanon when he was 18, pointing at a cigar in the fingers of Guevara, a Marxist rebel.

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef Under Threat From Floods

Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is under threat from massive floods swamping the country's northeast which are pouring harmful debris and sediment into the sea, an expert said Wednesday.

The full impact of the floods, which are rushing huge volumes of water into the pristine surrounds of the world's largest coral reef, is not yet known, but the influx will stress the colorful corals, said Michelle Devlin.

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Partial Solar Eclipse in Lebanon

Lebanon witnessed a partial solar eclipse between 8:45 am local time and 11:00 am on Tuesday, the first of several eclipses that will occur this year.

An eclipse occurs when the moon swings between the sun and earth.

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More than 1,000 Dead Birds Fall from Sky in US

Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday that it began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile (2-kilometer) area, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area.

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New Year Around the Globe

New Year revelers around the planet will welcome 2011 in a blaze of fireworks and parties Friday, temporarily banishing the misery of extreme weather which has struck countries across the world.

Some 1.5 million people will cram Sydney's foreshore for fireworks on the Harbour Bridge, with sunshine attracting record crowds in the afternoon even as the country's northeast battled devastating floods.

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