19 DAYS TO GO: MILLENNIUM CORNER

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MORE MILLENNIAL disappointment in San Francisco. Having already ditched an ambitious laser show on the Golden Gate Bridge for lack of funding, the city is now losing another crowd-pleasing attraction: a giant olive that was to have slithered down a swizzle-stick into a seven-storey- high martini glass outside the St Francis Hotel in Union Square.

The hotel decided over the weekend to scrap both the midnight olive drop and the martini glass itself out of deference to an interfaith peace ceremony being held in Union Square at the same time. "We have decided to chill the idea until next year," a hotel spokesman said.

Members of the religious community who had objected were delighted. But for the rest of San Francisco it was one more kick in the guts of its wounded pride. In common with the rest of the United States, hotel bookings are far below expectations, and a number of high-profile restaurants are so deterred by the overheads that they have decided to close rather than charge exorbitant prices and risk commercial failure.

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