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MAY I SEE THAT, PLEASE?

Since Sept. 11, security has been tightened at airports, government facilities, entertainment venues, and many other places. Now add one more: Gobblers Knob, the spot in Punxsutawney, Pa., where, on Feb. 2, a small marmot named Phil either will see its shadow (supposedly heralding six more weeks of winter) or it won't. Groundhog Day now is a terrorist target? Well, not necessarily. Still, police, National Guard troops, and trained sniffer dogs will check all bags and backpacks carried by people attending the event next weekend. But they'll be looking less for weapons than for alcohol that could fuel rowdy behavior. Since this year is the "Philennium" - 02/02/02 - and a record crowd is expected, a local charity has won permission to sell beer from a tent downtown. But drinking at the ceremony site itself is banned.

California, affordable homes a difficult match, report says

In the market for a house? You are most likely to find one you can afford in the Midwest, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Rockford, Ill., rates as the most affordable city, where a family with the local median annual income of $57,100 could afford 89.4 percent of the available houses in the third quarter of last year. By contrast, California took nine out of the bottom 10 spots. In Santa Cruz, families with a median annual income of $65,500 can afford fewer than 7 percent of homes. The bottom 10 cities, according to the National Association of Home Builders, with the percentage of affordable homes on the local median income:

Santa Cruz, Calif. 6.9%

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San Francisco 7.8

Salinas, Calif. 10.1

San Jose, Calif. 14.9

Santa Rosa, Calif. 15.0

Vallejo/Fairfield/Napa, Calif. 16.5

San Luis Obispo, Calif. 17.1

Oakland, Calif. 22.0

San Diego 22.3

Portsmouth/Rochester, N.H. 23.4

- Associated Press

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