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IT'S THE COMPUTER'S FAULT The crucial vote on whether Romano Prodi would be confirmed as head of the executive commission of the European Union was about to be taken. But the ex-Italian prime minister was nowhere to be seen. Did he care so little about the outcome? No, but the Italian-language version of the speech he planned to make to members of the EU Parliament had become lost in cyberspace. Nine minutes late, an apologetic Prodi walked in, explain-ed the situation, and translated the remarks himself from an English text until the right version arrived. The forgiving voters OK'd him, 404 to 153.

YOU SHOULDA COME LAST WEEK In burst a man wearing a mask and brandishing a handgun. He walked up to several workers in the bank building in Dresden, Germany, and demanded money. And then, as robbers usually do, he fled. But this time it was without so much as a single pfennig. While a bank had, in fact, been doing business on the premises, it moved out several days before.

Economic sectors creating the most new jobs in US Overall, the American economy generated more than 21 million nonfarm jobs over the past decade, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently. Nonetheless, for the nation's workers it has been a tumultuous period - full of opportunity for some and frustration for others. The hardest-hit economic sectors were manufacturing and mining. Bureau statistics for the decade indicate they lost 946,000 and 147,000 jobs respectively. The following are the sectors that featured the largest increase in company payrolls, full or part time - excluding proprietors, the self-employed, farm workers, domestics, and volunteers - from July 1989 to July 1999 (in millions):

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Services 12.3

Wholesale and retail trade 4.3

Government (at all levels) 2.2

Construction 1.2

Transportation 1.0

Finance, insurance, and real estate 1.0

Communication and public utilities 0.1

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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