News In Brief

IT'LL HAVE NOVELTY VALUE

Moorea in the South Pacific often is called the most beautiful place on Earth. It has lush foliage, picture-postcard lagoons, soaring volcanic peaks, romantic tropical sunsets, and a low-density population of only about 8,800 easy-living folks. What it doesn't have is snow. But that's coming, too - if a couple of French professional skiers have their way. Andre Leplus and Lina Huan vow they'll build a 50-yard-long run on the island's famous Temae Point and cover it with 2-1/2 feet of man-made white stuff. Said one of them, "It is no longer a project; it's real." Just one question: Why?

WE'LL MANAGE SOMEHOW

On the subject of tropical islands, when the first National Heroes Day in St. Vincent and the Grenadines arrived recently, there was only one problem: no hero. Parliament in the tiny Caribbean nation was dissolved last month for an election before lawmakers could vote to confer that status on any candidate. No matter. Residents celebrated anyway.

That telephone number you don't know can cost you big

Asking directory assistance for a phone number used to cost nothing. But somewhere along the road to telephone deregulation it became costly; many callers today pay $1.99 for a single lookup. But there's hope for lower costs ahead. As Internet services and small companies move into directory assistance, the big carriers may be forced to lower rates, analysts say. In addition, the government has asked local phone companies to make their number databases available to anyone offering directory service, which will help level the playing field. The top directory-assistance providers and what they typically charge per request, according to the Telecommunications Research and Action Center:

AT&T $1.99

Sprint 1.99

WorldCom 1.99

Matrix 1.50

Frontier 1.49

Qwest 1.40

Excel 1.25

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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