etc...

RELAX, IT'LL TURN UP

It's difficult to miss what you've never had, right? But what if you find you're holding the winning claim check in a big-money giveaway - and then lose it before it can be redeemed? That happened to Larry Hatch. He peeled from the soft-drink cup he bought at a Burger King outlet in Crete, Neb., the only $1 million sticker in the fast-food chain's "Cash is King" promotion. But since the winners won't be verified until Dec. 31, he decided to make some machine copies at a nearby store ... and discovered that he'd somehow walked out without the original. So, was all lost? Was someone else now in possession of the prize? No. One of Hatch's sons went to the store, retraced dad's footsteps, and found the stub on the floor in a checkout lane, where it apparently fell as he was paying for the copies.

States where tax revenues have declined the most

Between July and September, state treasuries experienced the worst quarterly decline in revenues in at least a decade, according to preliminary data compiled by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York-Albany. On average, tax receipts fell 3.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago, the institute said. Of 42 states for which it had figures, only 15 reported higher revenues. States where revenues declined the most, and the percentage in each:

1. Oregon 17.6%

2. Vermont 13.6%

3. New York 9.5%

4. California 9.3%

5. North Dakota 8.2%

6. Massachusetts 7.3%

7. Georgia 6.6%

8. Alaska 6.3%

9. Maine 6.0%

(tie) Minnesota 6.0%

- Associated Press

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