Washington Calling: Miserable
IRS audits ... elderly scams ... Snow to go? By LANCE GAY
- The lower your income, the greater the odds you will be summoned
to one of those miserable face-to-face IRS audits.
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
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
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.
Sunday - April 02, 2006