News In Brief

IT SEEMS WE MADE A MISTAKE

And Californians complain that their electricity rates are high! In Jacksonville, Fla., the Matthew 25 Full Gospel Church needs power for five light bulbs, an air conditioner, and other occasional uses. So imagine the surprise when the Jacksonville Electric Authority billed it $2,241,573.74 for a month's service. Yes, that was an error, which the utility adjusted to $17.59. "There was no way we were going to pay that," said the pastor's father. "Not without a miracle."

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SMOKEY WOULD BE ASHAMED

The wildfire that consumed four acres of woodland on Alaska's Afognak Island before it was extinguished last week began when an incinerator was tipped over, spewing burning debris onto the ground. The incinerator was being used by a logging crew, but none of the workers were blamed for the accident. So, who was? Well ... nosy brown bears. Said a spokesman for the Alaska Fire Information Center: "I haven't actually heard of bears doing anything like this [before]."

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Test your skill against 10 years of spelling-bee champs

Sean Conley of Shakopee, Minn., won this year's Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, finishing his 16-round tour de force with "succedaneum." Appropriately, the word means "one that succeeds to the place of another." Sean, who mostly has been home-schooled, said he prepared by studying 20,000 words as well as their Greek and Latin roots. He was first runner-up in last year's bee and outlasted 247 other competitors to win the $10,000 grand prize. The words that have decided the winners of the National Spelling Bee over the past 10 years:

2001 Succedaneum

2000 Demarche

1999 Logorrhea

1998 Chiaroscurist

1997 Euonym

1996 Vivisepulture

1995 Xanthosis

1994 Antediluvian

1993 Kamikaze

1992 Lyceum

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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