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NOW ARE YOU SATISFIED?

If you happen to know Hussein Mohammad Dahqani, better think twice before complaining to him. Forgetting the adage "Be careful what you wish for because it might come true," Hamid Reda Malkotian griped about the brevity of the letters Dahqani had been sending him. So the Kuwaiti shopkeeper resolved to remedy the situation. His next communication went on - and on - about friendship, love, marriage, religion, and other subjects. By the time he signed it, the letter was 1-1/4 feet thick, weighed more than four pounds, and had used up the ink in 15 pens.

IT'S STRICTLY BUSINESS

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"He is like any other customer for us," shrugged a spokesman for the Palestinian Jerusalem Electric Co. after service to one of its rate-payers was cut. The offending party's account was eight months, or $2,150, in arrears. The homeowner: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - although he doesn't live on the premises, which are managed for him by others.

Auto thieves tend to zero in on cities close to borders

Greater Phoenix has become the US's hottest spot for stolen vehicles - overtaking Miami - with 979 auto thefts for every 100,000 residents last year, according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) analysis of FBI statistics. About two-thirds of cities with high theft rates, the data show, were at or near US borders, reflecting a thriving international trade in stolen vehicles. Some 1.1 million autos are stolen annually; more than 30 percent are never recovered. Areas with the highest auto-theft rates in 2000 per 100,000 residents, according to the NICB (1999 rankings in parentheses):

1. Phoenix (3) 979.0

2. Miami (1) 956.6

3. Detroit (2) 909.2

4. Jersey City, N.J. (4) 814.3

5. Tacoma, Wash. (16) 807.9

6. Las Vegas (9) 794.3

7. Fresno, Calif. (7) 783.9

8. Seattle (5) 781.2

9. Jackson, Miss. (8) 737.5

10. Flint, Mich. (21) 728.0

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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