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Washington Calling

China's new sub ... bum answers from the IRS ... and more
Scripps Howard News Service


February 25, 2006

WASHINGTON - It's long been feared at the Pentagon that China might use its new wealth to build a blue-water navy. Well, there's some proof in the American trade publication Imaging Notes, which has published satellite pictures of the first of a new generation of Chinese ballistic nuclear subs, the Xia.

The picture shows the sub docked at the Chinese navy base near Qingdao, as well as a submarine tunnel built under the mountain to protect the undersea fleet. There's a picture in the magazine of the submarine tunnel's entrance as well, and a Chinese attack submarine nearby.





The odds of getting a bum tax answer from IRS agents: 1-in-3.

The agency has a goal of at least 80 percent correct answers for taxpayers calling assistance centers during the tax-filing season.

But in an annual test, the IRS inspector general found that only 66 percent of responses were correct.

P.S. Arguing you were given the wrong answer by the IRS is no defense for taxpayers who are audited.


Prospective admirals and captains have been told to put their scrambled eggs on hold. The Navy says it's scrapping the 2007 promotion selection board convened this month because the process was contaminated. An investigation is under way into what exactly happened, but Chief of Navy Personnel Vice Adm. John Harvey said he had no choice but to scuttle the current panel and convene a new one to ensure that no bias could later be charged about who got promotions and who didn't.


Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., is declaring a jihad against proposed National Park Service rules that would allow the agency to permit noise and air pollution in parks on the grounds that some manmade forms of pollution are merely a "natural characteristic." He says the new regulations aim to eliminate restrictions on cars causing changes in air quality, views and soundscapes in the parks.


Among the once-declassified documents in the National Archives that the CIA insisted be taken off the public shelves and reclassified: a 1950 report detailing how the CIA botched estimates of whether Communist China would intervene in the Korean War (the CIA predicted China wouldn't, but 1 million Chinese troops poured over the borders) and angry complaints from the agency about bad publicity for failing to predict 1948 anti-American riots in Bogota.

The National Security Archives, a private organization, says the reclassification of 50-year-old documents is silly - especially since they have already been cited in published histories - and are evidence that the CIA is just trying to bury embarrassing documents.

National Archives chief Allen Weinstein says he's ordered an investigation of how some 50,000 documents have been removed and reclassified.


So where has all that Homeland Security money been spent? Some examples: Columbus, Ohio, spent $7,384 to buy bulletproof vests for police dogs, South Dakota bought an on-site paging system for the state's Agricultural Fair, Texas purchased a $30,000 trailer for the October Mushroom Festival, and Maryland used its funds for a $500,000 mug-shot camera system.


The venerable B-52 bomber is heading for the heap. The generals are backing plans to cut from 94 to 56 the number of B-52 planes, prompting screams of outrage from North Dakota's delegation, alarmed about the future of Minot Air Force Base if that happens.

It's slow and loud, but in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lumbering B-52 has shrugged off bad weather and dust that cause headaches for its finicky B-1 and B-2 successors. Although it's more than 50 years old, the bomber has a huge corps of supporters, who already are rallying to keep it in service.


Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)

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