News In Brief


Superman made the transition from comic books to movie screen as easily as he leapt tall buildings in a single bound. So did Batman. Spider-Man, however, was a different story. A - shall we say - tangled web of lawsuits has confined the superhero to print and TV because of bankruptcies and competing claims to ownership of his film rights. But the legal battle ended earlier this week, and Sony Entertainment quickly promised "a major motion picture" starring the wall-crawler.


OK, you're in eastern England, trying to drive from one end of Beanford Lane, Oxton, to the other. And you discover you can't. At least, not this month. A mile-long stretch has been closed to vehicular traffic so that traffic of the amphibian kind can cross in safety. A pro-wildlife group paid $1,123 to Nottinghamshire County Council to cover the administrative costs of banning cars and trucks, allowing toads to make their annual breeding migration to local ponds.

Survival index ranks states on treatment of small firms

The Small Business Survival Committee, a Washington-based nonprofit group, has published its third annual ranking of the 50 states and District of Columbia based on a number of factors affecting investment and entrepreneurship, including state taxes, workers' compensation costs, and crime rates. The nation's capital was rated least friendly to small firms - edging out Hawaii, which was ranked No. 50, and Minnesota, 49. The dozen states found to be most favorable to small businesses:

1. South Dakota

2. Wyoming

3. Nevada

4. New Hampshire

5. Washington State

6. Texas

7. Tennessee

8. Mississippi

9. Florida

10. Alabama

11. Alaska

12. Indiana

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