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in stroudsburg, Pa., Cash Rasley was subpoenaed to appear before the local court in a stolen-property case. But it's unclear how much he'll tell about what he knows. As we pick up the story, he wouldn't talk to state police when they tried to question him, even though he clearly was present at the time a TV set and other items were removed without permission from the Rasley home - allegedly by a nephew of the owner. And it's not because Cash can't express himself; in fact, he has a large vocabulary. He's just choosy about whom he opens up to. You see, he is a parrot.

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But in Greenfield, Mass., police had no trouble finding out who violated the law by taking down a tree on municipal property without a permit. The culprit: Chief David McCarthy, who ordered the tree removed because it blocked the view of motorists leaving the new police station parking lot. He turned himself in and paid the town treasurer $100 in lieu of a fine. "Ignorance of the law," said McCarthy - who should know - "is no defense.

States that benefited most from federal spending in '98

The US government distributed $1.5 trillion in domestic benefits, subsidies, grants, goods and services, salaries, and wages in fiscal year 1998, the Census Bureau reported this week. That's a 3.4 percent increase over 1997. Spending on Social Security alone totaled $403 billion in the fiscal year, a 3.9 percent increase. The five states receiving the most federal funds in fiscal 1998 (in billions) - and the five receiving the most on a per-capita basis:

State Total

1. California $162

2. New York 100

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3. Texas 92

4. Florida 84

5. Pennsylvania 67

State Per capita

1. Virginia $8,221

2. Maryland 8,094

3. Alaska 7,763

4. New Mexico 7,446

5. Hawaii 7,076

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