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AMPHIBIANS 2, MOTORISTS 0 Once again, modern society is making way for frogs. As detailed in this space almost a month ago, a road in Oxton, England, was closed so that toads could cross in safety to reach their breeding ponds. Now, near Brno in the southern Czech Republic, police have been assigned to monitor the migration of local frogs to their mating area so they'll know when to reopen a busy highway, news reports say.

REPEAT OFFENDER Speaking of problems on the roads, police in suburban Schenectady, N.Y., know for certain there's one in their midst. A local man was jailed last week after a computer check showed his driver's license had been suspended 158 times. Which was a curious phenomenon in itself; it had expired in 1992.

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Nominees for ninth annual James Beard culinary awards

The James Beard Foundation, which provides the premier annual awards for US culinary professionals, recently announced the nominees for its 1999 awards. Nominees in 68 categories were selected by more than 400 food, beverage, and journalism professionals. Most of this year's awards will be presented May 3. In a separate April 30 ceremony, journalism awards will be announced for outstanding cookbooks and food writing. This year's nominees for James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant Awards:

Chef nominees

Nobu Matsuhisa, Nobu, New York

Patrick O'Connell, Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.

Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar & Grill, New York

Eric Ripert, Le Bernadin, New York

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Charlie Trotter, Charlie Trotter's, Chicago

Restaurant nominees Al Forno, Providence, R.I.

The Four Seasons, New York Masa's, San Francisco

Montrachet, New York, Zuni Cafe, San Francisco

- Reuters

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