By LANCE GAY
Scripps Howard News Service
April 02, 2006
Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse has found that those reporting less than $25,000 in income were six times more likely to be called into the IRS for a personal audit last year than those reporting income of more than $200,000.
Caution, seniors: Unscrupulous con artists are after your retirement nest eggs, the North American Securities Administrators Association says. One popular scheme involves inviting seniors to free dinners where unlicensed "senior specialists" persuade the elderly to put their assets into annuities. The annuities are legitimate, but the elderly aren't told about the steep commissions the specialists are pocketing. Note: Anyone giving investment advice has to be licensed with state regulators.
Topping next-to-go lists in the Bush administration: Treasury Secretary John Snow, White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Scott McClellan. But don't expect Bush to heed calls from congressional Democrats, who want Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's head for the failures in Iraq . Rummy enjoys his Pentagon office and is in for the duration of this presidency.
P.S. Only three members of Bush's original Cabinet still have their jobs: Rumsfeld, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.
Quotable: "Keeping serious pork reform out of this lobbying reform bill was like removing alcohol from the agenda of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting." - Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., explaining why he voted against a feel-good lobbying-reform bill that didn't stop lawmakers from slipping special-interest projects into spending bills.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is trying to figure out a way of archiving the Internet so social historians two centuries from now can figure out what we were all doing back in 2006. But the agency acknowledges it's not going to be easy: Every 15 minutes, the Internet pumps out as much digital information as is contained in the Library of Congress.
At a recent conference, historians complained that artifacts like the world's first Web page and the first commercial e-mail are already lost in the ethernet.
The Social Security Administration is thinking about replacing the old paper card that older generations of workers filed away in a top dresser drawer. But it's undecided on plans to recall the 300 million paper cards already distributed to Social Security beneficiaries.
Investigators for the Government Accountability Office charge the agency with foot-dragging on the new security measures required by Congress for such cards. But the agency protests that counterfeit protections were added to cards issued after 1983.
There are millions of older cards issued before 1983 and never recalled because they weren't originally designed to be identity cards.
Americans spent a record $210 billion remodeling their homes last year, and there's no sign the construction of new additions is abating. The National Association of Home Builders says repair work from last year's hurricanes accounts for part of the increase, but other reasons include home additions, and landlords renovating rental properties.
An old and very bitter debate over fluoride added to city water supplies is springing back to life with a National Academy of Sciences report that says most cities have sufficient natural fluoride in their waters and don't need the added chemicals.
California last year replaced Texas as the state with the highest rate of death-penalty sentences.
The Capital Case Data Project says judges in California handed down 19 death sentences, compared with 14 in Texas. There were 24 death sentences in Texas in 2004.
Countertops are the surfaces in homes kept most frequently clean, the soap industry says. More than half of homeowners say countertops are the surfaces most frequently cleaned in the house during the week. Only 10 percent reported floors, and only 6 percent reported toilets.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
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