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“In short, put your attention on the loving friends you do have,” she said. “Have fun and enjoy the love you share with them.”

From Russia with love? Not this year, at least in the western city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border. The city’s deputy governor, Oleg Polukhin, has attracted widespread attention with a decree that bans public Valentine's Day festivities.

Many people see this holiday as an opportunity to get drunk, said Grigory Bolotnov, an official in the city’s department for relations with social and religious bodies. He told the (London) Times, “We could have just as well introduced a ‘Vodka Day.’ “

Belgorod residents will not be prevented from celebrating Valentine's Day privately.

Iran’s Islamic regime is trying to get out the word that it will not prohibit Valentine's Day celebrations.

Khalid Samad, a member of the Malaysian parliament from the city of Shah Alam, is denying reports about a crackdown on those who observe the holiday. Mr. Khalid said in a Thursday news conference that the information was misunderstood and that the government only was considering plans to prevent immoral activities by Muslim youths and couples.

With hormones, pheromones and dopamine playing such large roles in human attraction, Valentine's Day has not escaped the attention of the world’s chemists.

In a well-timed study, the Chemistry Central Journal offered welcome news this month that the cocoa powder used in dark chocolate may deliver a more beneficial health boost than most fruit juices.

“Cocoa powder and dark chocolate had equivalent or significantly greater [anti-oxidant, total polyphenol and total flavonol] values compared to the other fruit powders and juices tested, respectively,” researchers concluded. “Cacao seeds … appear to meet the popular media’s definition of a ‘Super Fruit.’ “

One thing to note about the study: It was conducted by the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition.

Chocolate may have unexpected upsides, but the social media - where relationship sites are booming - are bringing some hidden dangers linked to Valentine's Day. Cybercriminals are exploiting the scamming opportunities on a day when e-greetings soar but many surfers let down their guards.

Online-security specialists say hackers, spammers, identity thieves and phishers are turning more and more to social networks in the search for prey. One study found that many social network sites face Web-based security challenges but that fewer than a third of social networkers take steps to protect themselves online.

“Most people will automatically open an e-card if it’s from a friend or colleague. To protect yourself from unwanted attention from cyberspace, be very careful what e-cards you open and what you forward on,” said Lloyd Borrett, a “security evangelist” with AVG Ltd. “While receiving an anonymous card from a Valentine can be exciting, opening an anonymous e-mail with ‘I Love You’ in the subject line could be courting disaster.”