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screaming valkyries

the montreal metro has turned to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" to repulse groups of boisterous youths hanging out in subway stations. In resorting to classical music to chase such people out of public places, Montreal is following the lead of other Canadian cities, including Toronto - but it's the first to turn to arias. Commenting on the idea, Toronto Transit security chief Mike Walker joked: "We don't use opera. We wouldn't do that to anyone."

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Speaking of noise, the New York Philharmonic was recently so distracted by the din from an audience that its music director, Kurt Masur, walked offstage during the performance of a Shostakovich symphony. Constant coughing was disrupting the performance, he said - and he "just wanted to make people aware they were disturbing the process of listening." The audience applauded.

Survey finds political apathy widespread among Japanese

In an international survey conducted in mid-December, 75 percent of Japanese respondents said they considered politicians corrupt - more than twice the percentage of British and American participants voicing similar sentiments. The poll - published last week by Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper - also found that the British and American respondents were much more likely than the Japanese to believe their votes make a difference - and to voice confidence in government. The results of the poll on these issues:

Say politicians are corrupt

Japanese 75%

Britons 32%

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Americans 30%

Say their votes are important

Japanese 40%

Britons 56%

Americans 63%

Mistrust Parliament/Congress

Japanese 63%

Britons 39%

Americans 33%

- Reuters

Compiled by Lance Carden and Caryn Coatney

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