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European edition, Thursday, September 6, 2007

The dollar-to-euro exchange rate, which has strengthened in favor of the dollar in recent weeks, has prompted U.S. State Department officials to lower the cost-of-living allowance in Italy.

The supplement, known as post allowance, fell 16 percent in most parts of Italy on Sunday, including Naples, Vicenza and Aviano.

Post allowance, which is designed to reimburse eligible civilian employees for certain excess costs they encounter as a result of their overseas employment, can be adjusted as often as every two weeks and varies by location.

It was last adjusted in Italy on Aug. 5, when it also declined about 16 percent.

At the current post allowance rate, a single employee who makes between $39,000 and $41,999 per year will get about $661.50 per month in post allowance. That is a decrease of $126 from the previous four weeks.

A married employee with two children in the same wage range will get about $868 per month in post allowance — a decrease of $165 from the previous four weeks.

Event to commemorate 1944 battleA living history display commemorating events in Operation Market Garden and honoring those who participated in it will be shown Friday through Sunday in Leopoldsburg, Belgium.

Operation Market Garden, launched Sept. 17, 1944, was intended to secure bridges in the Netherlands so the Allies could advance rapidly north and then cross into the lowlands of Germany. The plan failed when it tried to take a bridge at Arnhem, a bridge that stretched the attack too far.

Events will include an exhibit of World War II vintage cars, a battle re-enactment featuring British, German and American actors, and tours of the original briefing theater, made famous in the film “A Bridge Too Far.”

Derk Thielens, a re-enactor who is helping coordinate the event, said the display can put a human touch on history.

“We have ordinary museums, but when you have living museums, people can really talk to someone who can provide more information,” he said.

“If you go into a museum, you can’t touch the displays, but ours is more interactive. For example, we can take off our helmet and give it to someone to hold so they can feel how heavy it is.”

This is the second year of the event, which will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. There is no admission charge.

Etna doesn’t affect stations in ItalyOperations at naval air stations in Sigonella, Sicily, were not affected by Tuesday’s eruption of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, base officials said Wednesday morning.

The eruption, which blew volcanic ash into several nearby villages, closed the Catania-Fontanarosse International Airport, according to the World Aeronautical Press Agency Web site. The airport reopened at 4:40 a.m. Wednesday, after the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology of the Catania division said there was a decrease in activity, the press agency release stated.

Delivery of Stars and Stripes was delayed by several hours because of the airport closure.

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