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IT'S STRICTLY SELF-DEFENSE

"They deserve to carry out their work while feeling secure from verbal and physical attack," an official of Britain's Manufacturing, Science, and Finance Union said, explaining why it has arranged tae kwon do classes ... for clergy from the Church of England. The union, which represents about 1,500 vicars, took the step after a survey showed 12 percent of them in one region alone had been beaten, 22 percent threatened, and 70 percent verbally abused. The perpetrators: mental patients, the homeless, even parishioners upset that their wedding-date preferences weren't honored.

Ranking the companies that peers say they respect most

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General Electric hasn't yet retired the trophy, but it could. For the fourth straight year, results of the Financial Times (FT) survey of more than 900 business executives show they consider GE the world's most respected company. But while US companies dominate at the top of the list, there's almost an even split (actually 26-24) between American and foreign companies in FT's top 50. The 10 leaders, with their home countries, and where they finished last year (in parentheses):

1. General Electric, US (1)

2. Microsoft, US (2)

3. IBM, US (5)

4. Sony Corp., Japan (3)

5. Coca-Cola, US (4)

6. Toyota, Japan (6)

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7. Nokia, Finland (11)

8. Wal-Mart, US (20)

9. Intel, US (8)

10. Citigroup, US (22)


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