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News In Brief

I MAY JUST STOP EATING THEM

"A mockery," groused Mike Williams, mayor of Grantham, England. "Utter nonsense. A waste of time and effort. Political correctness gone way beyond the pale." Why is he so upset? Well, because of the announcement by the Safeway supermarket chain that - in response to "consumer demand" - it will produce an equal number of gingerbread women to go with the gingerbread men it sells. The former are to feature skirts and longer hair to distinguish them from the latter. The mayor might have let the moment pass except that gingerbread biscuits originated in his town in 1740.

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YOU GAVE US ALL QUITE A JOLT

A physician in Ahmedabad, India, swears this is true: As his clinic lost electricity in last week's earthquake, Dr. Rajan Joshi delivered a baby boy in darkness - not yet realizing what had caused the blackout. The parents' identities aren't reported, but as a constant reminder of the ordeal, they've named their son Bhukamp, the Hindi word for ... earthquake.

Outdoor activities rank as No. 1 choice for vacations

It's only January, but some 70 percent of employed adults in the US already have at least tentative plans for a vacation this year, according to results of a new poll. And an even greater proportion - 93 percent - believe that taking time off actually increases productivity, says Xylo Corp., which publishes monthly surveys on "work-life issues." Of the 650 or so respondents in the current poll, 46 percent said they'd use the advice of family and friends to plan their time off. Twenty-five percent, meanwhile, thought they would turn to a travel agency, and another 23 percent said they'd use the Internet. Below, the percentage of respondents who are planning the following for their vacations:

Participating in outdoor activities 34%

Relaxing, staying at home, or working around the house 25%

Visiting museums or famous landmarks, or sightseeing 23%

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Going to the beach 12%

Attending family reunions 10%

- Business Wire

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society