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Needed: a woman's TOUCH

Felix Gomez won a poetry-writing contest in Coslada, Spain, near Madrid. But he may have spoiled prospects for other guys if it's held again. How's that, you ask? Gomez objected to the rules, which stipulated that only entries from females would be accepted. So he submitted his under the pen name Cecelia Boehl, a 19th-century novelist who used a male pseudonym to avoid the discrimination of her era. But at least his "cry for female self-affirmation" was judged to display sensitivity to womanhood and he wasn't asked to return his prize.

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Blue jeans are made of strong fabric, or construction workers wouldn't choose them. Now we know exactly how strong. In Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University scientists hoisted a 3,500-pound station wagon, danging from seven ordinary pairs of dungarees, seven feet off the ground. Then, six feet with six jeans. Five with five. The test continued until one pair remained. It, too, got the car off the ground before ripping.

US economy rises to No. 2 in competitiveness survey

Singapore kept its position as the world's most competitive economy in a recent poll of almost 4,000 business executives. The US moved into second place, from No. 3 in last year's survey. Nonetheless, the 1999 Global Competitiveness Report - compiled by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum and written by economists Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Harvard Institute for International Development - warns that the US economic bubble could burst in the coming year. This year's Top 10 with year-ago positions in parentheses:

1. Singapore (1)

2. US (3)

3. Hong Kong (2)

4. Taiwan (6)

5. Canada (5)

6. Switzerland (8)

7. Luxembourg (10)

8. Britain (4)

9. The Netherlands (7)

10. Ireland (11)

- Reuters

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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