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State quarters at midpoint

The U.S. Mint's 50-state quarter program, which began with Delaware and will end with Hawaii in 2008, reached the halfway mark last week with the debut of the Arkansas 25-cent piece. The Mint has produced 20.8-billion state quarters since the program began in

1999. Roughly 130-million Americans collect the state quarters, said Henrietta Holsman Fore, director of the Mint. For 2004, five state quarters are to be released: Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Magazine prints best of the rest

Thousands of photographs are rejected for each issue of National Geographic Magazine, which includes only a few dozen of the stunning original photos that have become its trademark. But now, people can get a look at some of the also-rans in a

special issue of the magazine: National Geographic 100 Best Unpublished Pictures is on sale at newsstands. Along with the photos are captions containing the story behind the photo from the photographers. In a shot that will frighten anyone afraid of heights, a pair legs dangle over the Chicago skyline. Photographer Lynn Johnson shot the picture while covering a day in the life of an antenna serviceman.

Peering into a 700-year-old face

Second only to Dante in Italy's literary pantheon, the poet Petrarch (1304-1374) will be exhumed Nov. 18 from his pink marble tomb in Arqua-Petrarca, in northeastern Italy. A team led by an Italian anatomy professor wants to reconstruct Petrarch's body to see if he was ill and, using computers, to see what he looked like. Petrarch is considered the founder of humanism, the study of classical civilization that paved the way for the Renaissance.

UPDATE: Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger will be sworn in as governor of California at the state Capitol on Nov. 17, an aide said Tuesday.

UPDATE: No arsenic ban

The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a staff recommendation that a ban of arsenic-treated lumber for playground equipment was unnecessary, saying most manufacturers no longer use the wood-protecting chemical that is believed to increase the risk of cancer.

UPDATE: Cuban embargo

In a symbolic move, the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted for the 12th consecutive year against Washington's 4-decade-old economic embargo against Cuba. The resolution received 179 votes, with only the United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands voting to keep the embargo. Micronesia and Morocco abstained.