Merry Chri$tma$, everyone

Let's say you owned a business and, in the spirit of the season, decided to offer $300 cash to passers-by - first come, first served. How fast do you think it would go? In Mike Jeffcoat's case, almost 45 minutes. The corporate furnishings consultant taped $1 bills to his front window in Charlotte, N.C., along with a notice: "Please take only what you need. Remember others." Most of those who walked by took nothing. Others helped themselves to a couple of dollars for coffee or bus fare. Two unemployed women split the last $41, one to pay her electric bill, the other for diapers for her child. And somewhere in between a man approached - not to take any money but to offer Jeffcoat $20 more to add to the supply.

Goodwill? Not now, please

In Bexar County, Texas, this week, there will be no criminal trials. Not because none are pending. Rather, under state law, jurors decide not only whether defendants are guilty, but also their punishment. So, to avoid the risk of a felon getting off with a light sentence in the spirit of the season, the serious cases will wait until after Christmas.

Sports world's 2002 best: Serena Williams, Ronaldo

World tennis champion Serena Williams, who won the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, was named sportswoman of 2002 in a poll of editors and journalists from 27 countries by Reuters. The men's honor went to Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo, who scored both goals in his team's World Cup victory over Germany. Reuters's top three sports figures of the year, their nations, and sports:

Sportswomen of the year
1. Serena Williams, US, tennis
2. Paula Radcliffe, Britain, world record marathon runner
3. Annika Sörenstam, Sweden, professional golf
Sportsmen of the year
1. Ronaldo, Brazil, soccer
2. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Formula One racing
3. Lance Armstrong, US, bicycle racing
- Reuters

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