News In Brief

WOW, I WASN'T EXPECTING THIS

Often, corporate mergers are followed by cost-cutting measures - especially layoffs. But not at The Butcher Co., which specializes in cleaning products. Soon after the Butchers sold their Marlborough, Mass., firm to another company, they made an unconventional announcement: $18 million of the proceeds would be shared with the sellers' 325 employees. That's an average bonus of about $55,000 each. Said nine-year employee Mary Sullivan: "God knows what a blessing you've done for us. Now my child can go to college."

HEY, YOU DID IT TO ME FIRST

From Wellington, New Zealand, comes word that Geoff Marsland has produced a commercial form of payback for neighbors who party late into the night. It's a 64-minute compact disc of lawn-mower noise, to blast the same people with early the next morning. The CD, of which 4,000 copies already have been snapped up by retailers, even comes with the sounds of stones hitting the mower blades and a receptacle bag being emptied.

Most vital subject in school: New survey finds it's math

Maybe all the concern in public education over slippage in math and science achievement among students has had an impact after all. At least, that's the inescapable conclusion of a new national survey conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide for Akamai Technologies Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., provider of servers for Internet content. Roper asked 514 US students ages 12 to 17 how they rate the most common subjects - in terms of importance as well as the degree to which they're interested in them. The clear winner: math, even though the US Department of Education says only 69 percent of high school seniors are "proficient" in the discipline. The subjects as ranked by students in the survey and the percentage who said each is "very important":

Mathematics 80%

English 68%

Science 42%

Foreign languages34%

Physical education 21%

History 19%

-- Business Wire

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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