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alaskan heatwave: 17 degrees

anchorage, ALASKA - America's northernmost community had its hottest year on record in 1998. The "heat wave" drove up the average daily temperatures in Barrow, Alaska, to 17 degrees F. - unusually mild for the state's Arctic fringe. What made the rise noteworthy was that it broke the 1940 record by three degrees. The 30-year average was shattered by seven degrees. Global warming is an obvious suspect, but scientists say the answer is more complex.

ETHICS

Cloning a market

BONN, GERMANY - Experts are concerned that animal-cloning technology still presents significant biotechnological dangers and could also cause economic dependencies if it continues unchecked, says Dirk Lanzerath, manager of the German Reference Centre for Ethics in Biotechnology. Only specialist firms can afford to develop expensive cloning techniques, which they patent and can use to monopolize the market. In addition, many biological questions remain, including how the animals develop, potential deformities, and behavioral aberrations.

TECHNOLOGY

John e-Hancock

NEW YORK - Entrepreneur H. Lee Browne decided that the only advantage a letter has over e-mail is the distinctive swirl of the sender's John Hancock. So he developed a method of digitalizing signatures. On his Web site, signature-mail.com, visitors request a form that they use to fax back samples of their penmanship. Minutes later, their writing returns in digital form for easy inclusion in e-mail.

CULTURE

Monet by moonlight

LONDON - Demand for tickets to the Royal Academy of Arts "Monet in the 20th Century" exhibition is so huge that the academy is considering staying open around the clock on certain days. It would be Britain's first 24-hour gallery.

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