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Etc...

A dog could do it better

Election 2004 already is under way. So it's not surprising that campaign fliers are appearing across Ridgefield, Wash., among them "Otis for City Manager." They claim he'd be a "doggone improvement" over the previous office-holder, who was fired for allegedly removing lead-based paint from City Hall without taking environmental precautions. Alas, the campaign is all for nought; it's already clear that Otis won't win. There are 36 better-qualified candidates for the post, which is appointed, not elected. Besides, he's a Boston terrier.

Hey, stay home next time

Speaking of elections and criminality, a man in Bratislava, Slovakia, has been cleared of any wrongdoing for showing up at the polls last April wearing surgical gloves and dropping an envelope into the ballot box along with his vote. In it was a note registering his disgust at Slovak politics. But the symbolic gesture triggered an entirely different reaction among poll officials, who summoned police in the belief that the envelope contained ... anthrax.

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Two can't-miss Swiss cities for expatriate workers

Take your pick: Zurich or Geneva. For quality of life, they're a tossup for best in the world, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting. The New York company evaluates cities on their appeal to government and business people with international assignments, using such criteria as political, social, economic, and environmental factors, safety, and public services. Each is scored using New York (with 100 points) as a baseline. The cities rated as having the best quality of life, and their scores:

1. Zurich, Switzerland (tie) Geneva 106.5
3. Vancouver, British Columbia (tie) Vienna 106
5. Auckland, New Zealand (tie) Bern, Switzerland (tie) Copenhagen, Denmark (tie) Frankfurt (tie) Sydney, Australia 105
10. Munich, Germany (tie) Amsterdam 104.5