Etc...

He's in a class by himself

You probably know him as the sausage king from his commercials on national TV. And perhaps even as the country music artist whose 1960s classic, "Big Bad John," still turns up on the airwaves occasionally. But there's another distinction that gives Jimmy Dean equally as much satisfaction these days: high school graduate. With students beginning classes across the US last week, Dean showed up at his alma mater, Plainview (Texas) High, in cap and gown to claim his diploma - 57 years late. He dropped out in the spring of 1946 to take a series of odd jobs to help support his mother, then joined the Army Air Corps. But it had long bothered him that he never attended commencement. So he decided to take advantage of a new state law that grants degrees to persons in his category.

A hole-some change for a famous candy?

Americans traffic in all things new, from car models to computers that become obsolete the minute they're bought. But this?

Starting Monday, Kraft Foods is replacing three of the five LifeSaver flavors found in its classic 14-candy pack.

For 68 years, Americans have been sucking happily on orange, lemon, and lime. (OK, maybe not lime.) Now, those childhood icons are getting dumped in favor of raspberry, blackberry, and watermelon, which join the two remaining originals: pineapple and cherry.

Kraft claims competition from other new candy flavors dictate the change.

Many consumers apparently agree. Some 2 million participated in the company's online poll earlier this year and, of 11 choices, the new flavors came out on top.

Ranking costliest disasters: from tornadoes to terrorism

Congressional hearings began last week into the Aug. 14-15 Northeast-Midwest blackout, estimated to have cost as much as $6 billion in lost business revenue. Insured-property losses alone, analysts say, should easily top the $25 million mark, making it a "catastrophic event," according to Insurance Services Office Inc. of Jersey City, N.J. But the tracker of industry data doesn't expect the outage to rank alongside the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or the severe storms that battered central and Southern states in May. Its top 10 costliest disasters for insurers (in billions):

1. Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks $20.7
2. Hurricane Andrew, 1992 19.9
3. Northridge, Calif., earthquake, 1994 15.2
4. Hurricane Hugo, 1989 6.1
5. Hurricane Georges, 1998 3.3
6. Midwest, Southern tornadoes, 2003 3.1
7. Hurricane Opal, 1995 2.5
(tie) Tropical storm Allison, 2001
9. Midwest, Southern tornadoes, 2001 2.2
(tie) Northeast winter storm, 1993 - Associated Press

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