It came as a shock

Electricity rates would be going up: The power companies had served notice of that. So new homeowner Siri Hoelland developed a plan. Her family in Vikesaa, Norway, would heat with wood to help keep costs in check. All for naught, alas. When the bill for the past two months arrived in the mail, the local utility was asking for $1.1 million. A computer error, right? Yup, and a corrected version would be issued, the company promised. Now, you might think the much-relieved Hoellands would use that faulty bill for fuel. Instead, it's to be framed as a wall decoration.

Aw, you're a great audience

If, as we read in Proverbs, a soft answer turneth away wrath, what doth a humorous answer turn away? Answer: thieves. From Albania comes word that when nationally famous comedian Sejfulla Myftari was ordered by would-be robbers to stop his car along a quiet stretch of road, he got out and bantered with them. You know, he said, patting one of their assault rifles, "I haven't seen one of these in ages; could I hold it, please?" No, but after a good laugh they let him, and his money, pass.

Quote of the day

'If war is inevitable, he will want to be on the side of the victor.'

- An unnamed Western diplomat in Moscow, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin eventually will drop his opposition to a US-led effort to disarm Iraq.

Whom do Americans trust most? Military, survey finds

While down from a peak after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, public faith in American leaders and institutions remains higher than it has been for much of the past quarter-century, according to Harris Interactive. The Rochester, N.Y., pollster asked more than 1,000 adults for their views on the people running 14 institutions for its annual "Confidence Index." Wall Street brokerages and law firms tied for last. The 10 most-trusted institutions, by percentage:

1. Armed forces 62%
2. The White House 40%
3. US Supreme Court 34%
4. Colleges/universities 31%
(tie) Medicine
6. Executive branch of the
federal government 26%
7. TV news organizations 21%
8. Congress 20%
9. Organized religion 19%
10. The press 15% - PR Newswire

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