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Have mercy, your honor

his trial over and the verdict in, the defendant waited only for sentence to be pronounced. But when he heard it, Chu Wai-choi was so upset that he pleaded for leniency. Chu, who was convicted in Hong Kong for illegal immigration, actually wanted a longer jail term than the 18 months imposed by the court. Reason: He can earn more money behind bars making road signs - up to $15.48 a week - than by working back in mainland China. But his appeal was denied, and he'll have to return home after serving the time.

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Win or lose in today's primary election, the "Elect Jim Gebicki" signs will be removed to avoid complaints from people who think of political ads as eyesores. To do that, the commissioner-candidate's aides won't need claw hammers or staple-pullers - only a lawnmower. Gebicki's signs were stenciled on hillsides around Westmoreland County, Pa., using environmentally safe spray paint - much like logos on a football field.

Magazine publishes ranking of 'hottest' Internet firms

Cisco Systems and Dell Computer lead a recently published list of "100 Hottest Companies on the Net." To come up with its ranking, the industry magazine Business 2.0 began by surveying 600 firms, asking them for information about their sources of revenue, quarterly growth, and Internet business practices. Then the researchers developed a point system to weigh such factors as annual income from the Internet, Web revenue as a percentage of total income, and "growth momentum" over the past two quarters. The top 10 companies on the Internet, according to Business 2.0:

1. Cisco Systems

2. Dell Computer

3. IBM

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4. Intel

5. America Online


7. Marshall Industries

8. 3com

9. Ingram Micro

10. MCI Worldcom

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