Well, OK. But just this once

"We decided a young person's future was on the line," said the official of the East Japan Railway system, in explaining why a train speeding thousands of commuters to their jobs in central Tokyo made an unprecedented stop - miles from its destination. As we pick up the story, a teenager who was due to take an entrance exam for a prestigious high school in her neighboring town has discovered to her horror that she boarded the express rather than a local. Happily, other passengers, learning of her plight, alerted the conductor; hence the unscheduled stop. That night, her grateful parents telephoned to say she'd made it to the exam just in the nick of time. No word yet on whether she passed, though.

Basketball is out, also

Question: If you live in Gambia, what may you not do from June to October? Answer: play soccer. It seems head of state Yahya Jammeh has decreed that those with the energy to kick a ball around should spend it instead in the fields during the rainy season, helping to make the poor west African nation self-sufficient in food. "Failure to do so and I will send them to jail," he warned. "I mean it."

Auto magazine chooses its best on the street for 2003

Providing a wish list for car enthusiasts and bragging rights for automakers, Car and Driver magazine recently released its annual awards for the year's best offerings on four wheels. It's the 17th appearance for the Honda Accord and the 12th in a row for BMW. Car and Driver's top 10 of 2003, in alphabetical order, with lowest listed base price, respectively:

Acura RSX $20,475
BMW 3-series/M3 30,295
Chevrolet Corvette 43,995
Ford Focus 13,295
Honda Accord 16,260
Infiniti G35 27,645
Mazda 6s 21,620
Nissan 350Z 26,809
Porsche Boxster 43,365
Subaru Impreza WRX 24,220

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