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DON'T CALL US; WE'll CALL YOU

Because of its location, one of the first countries to experience whatever challenges the Y2K computer problem brings will be New Zealand. But, if an advisor on Y2K readiness there is any indication, it's in no hurry to share what it learns with the rest of the world. "We think," John Good said, "a mechanism should be set up" to prevent the jamming of all phone circuits to his country Jan. 1 as the curious try to find out what happened because of the "Y2K bug." If that seems unfriendly, well, so be it. New Zealand is intent on having the proposal discussed at this summer's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

JUST CAN'T PLACE THE FACE

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Another sensitive subject in New Zealand these days is Cass Mei. That's because no one but his wife, Rene, recognized him back in February when he visited her in Auckland, where she was in jail for fraud. Problem is, he ought to have been recognized; he's a notorious criminal. Mei escaped from prison in November, was recaptured last month, then escaped again.

Still No. 1: US again ranks as most-competitive nation

In an survey conducted annually by the International Institute for Management Development, the the US has been chosen the world's most-competitive country for a fifth straight year. For the institute's World Competitiveness Yearbook, 4,160 business executives rated nations on such criteria as labor costs, investment in research and development, education, and social values. Respondents named the US the world leader in finding new ways to profit from computers, biotechnology, and telecommunications. The top 10 (with 1998 rankings in parentheses):

1. US (1)

2. Singapore (2)

3. Finland (5)

4. Luxembourg (9)

5. Netherlands (4)

6. Switzerland (7)

7. Hong Kong (3)

8. Denmark (8)

9. Germany (14)

10. Canada (10)

- Associated Press

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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