Etc...

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ONLY SEALED BIDS, PLEASE

There are charity auctions in which a certain-size pledge wins you a round of golf with a star professional athlete. Or dinner for two at a five-star restaurant. Then there's the prize that a law firm in Darwin, Australia, donated to a raffle earlier this month for Australian survivors of the Oct. 12 terrorist bombings on Bali, the Indo-nesian resort island. For $1,000 ($560 US), the donor will do the legal work gratis for a divorce. Contrast that with the comment of auction organizer Teena Gilbert: "It [was] a horrific tragedy and it has touched a lot of hearts."

WHY, I OUGHT TO SUE THAT GUY

In Iran's capital, Tehran, reports say a would-be bank robber is in jail and a police manhunt is on for a Muslim "holy man," and, yes, there apparently is a connection between the two. It seems the thief, arrested while trying to pull banknotes from the hands of astonished depositors as they waited in line at the teller's window, claimed he'd paid the sorcerer a $625 fee to make him invisible. "I was," he explained at his trial, "looking for a way to get rich."

* We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Lynn Hall, American author

From 'Where Have All the Tigers Gone?' (1989).

'Regular customers' rate Kohl's, Wal-Mart as favorites

Results of a new national survey by marketing research specialst J.D. Power & Associates give the Kohl's moderate-price department store chain and discount giant Wal-Mart the highest grades for customer satisfaction compared to competitors in their respective categories. The 2002 edition of the study is based on 2,100 telephone interviews. Respondents were asked to rate each chain in such areas as value, store environment, location, merchandise, sales and/or service associates, promotions, and reputation. Scores were computed on a scale from 100 to 1,000. The rankings, by category from the 2002 survey:

Moderate-price stores

1. Kohl's 750
2. JC Penney 736
3. Mervyn's 735
4. Sears 733

Discount stores

1. Wal-Mart 756
2. Target 744
3. Kmart 681

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