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WHADDYA MEAN THIS ISN'T IT?

As soldiers go, these are elite; no one disputes that. But when 116 members of Italy's Alpini mountain infantry regiment were sent last month to participate in a NATO exercise, they did more to confirm an old stereotype of comical ineptitude than anything else. It seems the Italians befuddled airport immigration officials when they exited their plane at Kristianstad, Sweden. Why? For starters, Sweden isn't a member of NATO. What's more, the exercise was to be held 300 miles away in neighboring Norway - at Kristiansand. No one, apparently, had consulted a map.

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MAYBE IT WANTED A RIDE

Imagine the insurance claim that the owner of a seaplane will likely be filing after his craft sank just offshore in Queensland, Australia. No, it didn't land in rough surf. Nor did anything mechanical go wrong. In fact, the plane was moored at the time. As witnessed by passing fishermen, it overturned when an extremely large crocodile tried to climb onto one of its pontoons.

Rating the 10 best vehicles in US dealer showrooms

For 18 years, Car & Driver magazine has offered its rating of the best vehicles sold in the US. This year, 63 finalists were tested from an eligible field of more than 300. And, lest exotic and super pricey brands such as Lamborghini, McLaren, and Rolls Royce dominate, the judges appraised the cars that "best address the driving habits, life-styles, and budgets of their intended buying audience while also meeting the discerning standards of Car & Driver's enthusiastic readers." The judges imposed a price cap of $61,000 for these models. The 10 rated as best, in alphabetical order:

Audi A6 2.7T/A6 4.2

Audi TT

BMW 3-series

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BMW 5-series

Chrysler 300M

Ford Focus

Honda Accord

Honda S2000

Lexus GS300/GS400

Porsche Boxster

-PRNewswire

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society