By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
April 14, 2007
Forget Monday's march by city leaders and residents to Capitol Hill to sound the (likely futile) final battle cry for a measure that would give city residents a vote in the House of Representatives, where tax policy is made.
While the bill has drawn more GOP support than ever before for similar quests, and it technically remains alive in Congress, it has become politically tangled with the city's handgun ban and is being panned by the White House as unconstitutional.
So any hope that the 500,000 city residents will finally get a say in how their federal taxes are levied and spent is almost certainly dead.
If you're still smarting from the chomp your state and local taxes took out of your wallet, you might consider moving to the states with the lowest tax burdens: Alaska (6.6 percent of income), New Hampshire (8 percent), Tennessee (8.5 percent), Delaware (8.8 percent) and Alabama (8.8 percent), according to a just-released study by the Tax Foundation.
The biggest chunks are taken by Vermont and Maine, which each eat 14 percent of income, and New York, which consumes 13.8 percent. Five states have registered double-digit drops in their tax burden since 2000: New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Georgia and North Dakota.
The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor are demanding that Japan issue an apology for its brutal treatment of the 27,465 Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese army during World War II. The organization of former U.S. POWs says a 1995 general apology from then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was insufficient because it did not address the barbarism suffered by Americans. The group is calling on President Bush to bring up the issue when he meets April 26 with new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House.
A coalition of U.S. ethnic groups wants the next decennial Census to quantify the ingredients in America's melting pot. The "Ancestry Working Group" - which represents those of Italian, Irish, German, Arab, Greek, Iranian and Caribbean descent, among others - is calling on the Census Bureau to include a question on ancestry in the 2010 short Census form. The group won an earlier battle with the bureau to keep the question on the 2000 long form. The agency maintains that the short form simply doesn't have room and that adding an ancestry query would bump more vital questions.
It's always the little things ... When first distributed to U.S. soldiers last year, the new "Army Combat Uniform" drew assorted gripes, including that the camouflage duds stained way too easily and that the crotch of the pants was way too flimsy.
Good news on the crotch front: That all-important nexus point has been redesigned with more fabric, heavier thread and stronger stitches. But the troops will have to live with the stains for now because the light-colored camouflage pattern simply shows dirt more than the previous darker one. Efforts are under way to treat new batches of the uniforms with stain-release finishes.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says he will throw his not-inconsiderable weight behind a measure that would erase the ban on U.S. online gambling imposed last year by Congress. The Massachusetts Democrat said he will lay out his plans in the next few weeks to undo what he calls "one of the stupidest things I ever saw."
Meanwhile, care to place a bet on global warming? The folks at Betus.com (licensed in Costa Rica) will gladly take your wager, with these odds:
It's proven that global warming exists (beyond any scientific doubt) before 12/31/07. Yes, 1-to-5.
The oceans will rise 6 inches
by the end of the year. Yes, 150-to-1.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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