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"um, about that loan ..."

Despite the anticipation over the new International Space Station, NASA has quietly asked an Alabama museum to give back parts of its main attraction, a published report says. According to the Hunt-sville Times, the US Space and Rocket Center was requested to return the forward assemblies from the solid-fuel boosters on its full-size shuttle exhibit. NASA's budget has been cut for four straight years, President Clinton proposes to slash it further in 2000, and building new assemblies would cost up to $10 million each. The museum will substitute mockups, the report said.

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"Five Thousand Years of China": Sounds like a highbrow, coffee table-type book, right? Apparently, that's what Wang Xinzhang thought, too, when he bought a copy. But Wang now is suing Red Star Publishing Co. for violation of his rights as a consumer, according to news reports from Shanghai. What could possibly have disillusioned him? Well, he counted 984 typographical errors - almost 100 more than the book has pages.

Painting, gardening rated commonest spruce-up jobs

The Home Improvement Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., says elaborate do-it-yourself home-improvement projects are becoming more common in the US. An institute study comparing the types of projects undertaken in 1995 with those begun in 1997 (the latest year for which statistics are available) found a 33 percent rise in the number of people tackling a major project themselves - such as adding a room - rather than hiring a contractor. The top-10 home-improvement activities for 1997, as reported by the institute:

1. Painting

2. Gardening and landscaping

3. Furniture refinishing

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4. Replacing a roof

5. Replacing a walkway

6. Replacing a driveway

7. Remodeling a bath

8. Adding a deck

9. Doing electrical wiring

10. Putting on an addition

- Associated Press

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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