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and make it high-test, OK?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: That's an old adage we've all heard. In Canada, it has proved correct once again. Ultramar, a major gasoline retailer, was running a new scratch-and-win promotion that promised three top prizes of $1,000 in free fuel. But Day 1 wasn't even over before 50 customers presented themselves as winners. A fast investigation revealed that a contractor wrongly printed 100,000 grand-prize coupons ... worth almost as much as Ultramar's annual earnings. Happily for the company, the fine print allows for a drawing to decide the issue and keep its tanks from going empty.

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WE'RE UP NEXT

When California businessman Dennis Tito took his controversial one-week, $20 million vacation aboard the International Space Station in April, he probably knew others would want to follow. They already are. Members of the Russian pop group Na-Na are paying for the necessary medical tests that will precede flight training.

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Who leads in e-retailing? Surprise: the US government

Federal agencies made $3.6 billion in online sales last year - exceeding those of large retailers such as Amazon.com, a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Federal Computer Week magazine has found. Federal agencies increasingly use the internet to sell wares from luxury items seized by law enforcement to military surplus goods to horses and burros that roam on public lands. The lion's share - $3.3 billion - came from the Treasury Department's sale of bonds. Federal sites and how much they made in online sales last year, in millions:

Treasury Department $3.3 billion

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US Mint 150.0

Amtrak (ticket sales) 62.0

General Services Administration. (real estate, personal property) 43.2

Postal Service (stamps) 27.0

Geological Survey (maps) 7.5

National Park Service 5.4

Government Printing Office 2.0

Smithsonian Institution 1.6

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor