News reports say no link has been established yet between a missing master key and a burglary earlier this month at one of the Japanese government's most sensitive departments. Nevertheless, the situation was so embarrassing that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi demanded tighter security controls at all agencies. It seems that with a couple of exceptions, the lost key unlocks every door in the building. Oh, the department? It was the Finance Ministry in Tokyo, which not only is in charge of the $624 billion national budget but also houses Japan's version of the Internal Revenue Service.


To mark the recent 184th anniversary of German political philosopher Karl Marx's birth, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, released the results of a survey that showed 100 percent of the residents in one northern province were able to identify him. That should not come as a surprise. Marxism, after all, is the keystone of China's communist ideology. What was a surprise, however was that Xinhua, which should have known better, spelled his first name with a "C."

Best state in which to live? New ranking says Minnesota

Minnesota was the most livable state for a sixth straight year, in a ranking by Morgan Quitno Press, a Kansas-based publishing and research firm. Ratings are based on 43 factors, from home ownership to teen-birth and crime rates to weather. Finishing last: Mississippi. Morgan Quitno's top 10 states with the highest quality of life (with last year's rank in parentheses):

1. Minnesota (1)
2. Iowa (3)
3. New Hampshire (13)
4. Virginia (4)
5. Massachusetts (9)
6. Nebraska (10)
7. Colorado (2)
8. Wyoming (12)
9. Connecticut (6)
10. New Jersey (11) – Associated Press

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