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Spenders aren't frights...donor fatigue
Scripps Howard News Service


October 15, 2005
Saturday AM

WASHINGTON - All that spooky talk about inflation and home heating prices this winter doesn't seem to be dampening the Halloween spirit. The retail industry is projecting $3.3 billion will be spent on costumes and candy this year, a 5 percent increase from 2004.

Phil Rist, a vice president at BIGresearch, who follows retail trends, says some of the biggest spenders are young adults buying party costumes.


It's back to the days of party lines and other people listening into your phone conversations now that cheap voice-over Internet phone services are expanding. The Federal Communications Commission announced it is imposing wiretapping regulations that will make it easier for government agents to listen in on your phone conversations over the Internet.

Privacy advocates vow to take the FCC to court, contending the government lacks authority to wiretap Internet conversations. They claim the new regulations violate privacy rights of all Internet users.


The Army's new wrinkle-free desert combat fatigues aren't holding up as well as designers thought under Iraq combat duties, reports Army Times. The GIs like the ample pockets and cooler light-weight construction of the new fatigues, but complain the clothes don't have the durability of their predecessors and tend to rip apart in embarrassing areas, like the crotch. The Army says it is ordering fixes for the problem.


Antiwar bumper sticker: "2K Why?"


Although Homeland Security officials publicly shrugged off information about a possible terrorist attack in New York City, they privately tipped off their relatives and friends via e-mailed messages sent Oct. 4 to avoid taking the New York subway "at all costs" for the next two weeks. The public was only alerted to the threat of a New York subway attack Oct. 6.


Those new $250,000-limit government credit cards are being withdrawn. The White House Office of Management and Budget says its interpretation of the decision by Congress last month to increase limits on government credit card purchases from $2,500 to $250,000 was intended only to help deal with speeding emergency aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Since the Katrina emergency has passed, OMB says in letters to federal agencies the old $2,500 limitation on government credit cards is being reinstated. "We do not envision agencies will need to utilize the higher thresholds," OMB said.


Wyoming ranchers want the Interior Department to speed up plans to take the grizzly bear and wolf off the endangered species list, contending that repopulation of the animals in Yellowstone Park has been a resounding success.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., estimates there are 600 grizzly bears and 900 wolves in the Yellowstone area.


Charities are reporting donor fatigue after a year that has seen fund-raising appeals for Indonesian tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Pakistan, and mudslides caused by Hurricane Stan in Guatemala. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which follows the non-profit industry, says its survey finds charities are noticing a slowdown in gifts.


Even as voter registrars move into the electronic age with computerized machines, more states are requiring voter-verifiable paper trails.

Doug Chapin, director of, said 25 states now require paper trails for electronic voting, even though it isn't known whether the paper trails could ever be used in a recount. Paper audit trails aren't true ballots and using them to count votes is clumsy and prone to human error.


Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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