May the farce be with you

Is Britain awash in light-saber-wielding warriors for good? One might be tempted to think so, based on results of the 2001 census. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 390,000 people listed "Jedi" in the space designated for "religion." An Internet-based campaign had encouraged invoking the fictional noble order of protectors from the "Star Wars" film series, if only to annoy the analysts of census data. No word on how many form filler-inners embraced "the Dark Side."

Now you have no excuse

From the small town of Norrfjaerden, Sweden, comes word that the Lutheran mission is offering "a modern opportunity" for leaving a little something in the collection plate on Sundays. How? How else? By credit card, of course. With the cooperation of a bank, a card reader has been installed and will be tested for one year. It seems Norrfjaerden has no automated teller machines, and many parishioners - especially the younger set - tend not to be carrying cash when they arrive for services.

Quote of the day

'It's like, "We're the superpower, and you had better agree." '

- Mehmet Ali Birand, a Turkish defense commentator, offering his opinion to Reuters on the US use of"very heavy-handed" tactics to force its NATO ally to cooperate in case of war with neighboring Iraq.

Ranking major corporations in US by their reputations

Harley Davidson riders have a reputation as a rough bunch, but the motorcycle maker itself placed second in a new survey of the reputations of 60 leading US companies by pollster Harris Interactive. Health products giant Johnson & Johnson held its No. 1 spot from last year. Harris asked more than 22,000 people to rate firms on criteria such as corporate citizenship, sincerity, and ethics. Bringing up the rear: Enron, the scandal-tainted energy trader. The 10 most- respected companies and their scores on a 100-point scale:

1. Johnson & Johnson 82.14
2. Harley Davidson 80.68
3. Coca-Cola 78.95
4. United Parcel Service 78.72
5. General Mills 78.61
6. Maytag 78.50
7. Eastman Kodak 78.46
8. Home Depot 78.24
9. Dell Computer 78.18
10. 3M Co. 77.90
- PR Newswire

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