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Etc...

You can't be too careful

In Brussels earlier this month, stern-looking police swarmed into a rail station near European Union headquarters at the height of the morning commute. They closed it for hours, evacuating everyone on the platforms, and keeping arriving passengers from getting off their trains following a report that suspicious-looking white powder was discovered on the ground near a pay-phone booth. So, was it anthrax? Perhaps some other toxic agent? Neither, as it turned out. Tests showed it to be confectioners' sugar, probably from someone's breakfast croissant.

See, I'll be on tour a lot

Update: Perhaps you remember an item in this space last week about the initial foray into elective politics by Sandi Patty, the five-time Grammy Award-winning singer and member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. No? Well, she had filed papers to challenge a three-term incumbent for a seat on the Anderson, Ind., School Board. But then, she says, she realized her career obligations wouldn't leave enough time "to participate at a 100 percent level" if elected. So she has withdrawn from the race.

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News flash: Survey on pets yields fishy results

Thanks to lots of aquarium fish, pets outnumber people in the US - 377.8 million to 290 million - in the latest survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. The first survey, in 1988, found 56 percent of households owned pets - a figure that has risen 6 percent since then. Respondents said they not only love the companionship and affection of their animal pals, but they also are willing to pay for them. Spending last year on care and feeding: $31 billion, $2.4 billion of that for professional grooming and boarding. The breakdown of US pets by millions owned, from the survey:

Freshwater fish 185.0
Cats 77.7
Dogs 65.0
Birds 17.3
Reptiles 9.0
Saltwater fish 7.0