Etc...

And I'm better-looking, too

So there was Saddam Hussein, standing in the former dictator's very palace in Tikrit last week, clutching his certificate and telling journalists how proud he was to join the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Yes, you read that correctly. Hussein had just graduated after three weeks of training, along with about 100 other Iraqis, to help police their country. The catch: He's only a namesake for you-know-who. (Naming male children after that Hussein was common in Iraq, especially early in his regime.) As for his exact whereabouts, they still aren't being divulged by US authorities. Meanwhile, the new guardsman says he hopes to be a better servant for Iraq than the deposed leader ever was.

Homebuilders top Forbes's best-managed companies list

One positive note in the recent symphony of economic woes was that low interest rates on mortgages struck a chord with homebuyers. The resulting housing boom was music to the ears of home builders. Not surprisingly, three such companies are among the top names on Forbes magazine's latest annual list of the 400 best-managed in the US. In addition, home-improvement chain Lowe's ranked 15th. Forbes's top 10, where they're based, and their respective industries (in parentheses):

1. NVR Inc., McLean, Va. (home construction)
2. M.D.C. Holdings, Denver (home construction)
3. The Timberland Co., Stratham, N.H. (footwear, apparel)
4. D.R. Horton, Arlington, Texas (home construction)
5. Tiffany & Co., New York (luxury retail)
6. Expeditors International of Washington, Seattle (freight transportation)
7. Best Buy Co., Richfield, Minn. (discount retail)
8. Performance Food Group, Richmond, Va. (food service distributor)
9. Scientific-Atlanta Inc., Lawrenceville, Ga. (cable-box manufacturer)
10. Donaldson Co., Minneapolis (industrial filtration systems)

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