Monday, April 14, 2008

From the IRS to Agassi's tennis...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"The I.R.S.'s scrutiny of the nation's biggest companies is at a 20-year low," according to a study conducted by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which called the trend a "historic collapse in audits." The study "found that major corporations -- defined as those with assets of at least $250 million -- have about a one in four chance of being audited, down from about three in four in 1990."

"More than two-thirds of Americans aged 27 to 42 don’t think they will ever be able to stop working," according to a survey released today by Scottrade and BetterInvesting. "In contrast, 64 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 said they could retire and not worry, even though this group is much closer to retirement age."

The Defense Department has released its latest American military causality numbers for Iraq and Afghanistan, "and the figures reveal non-fatal casualties that go well beyond the more than 4,000 U.S. troops who have died so far." As of April 5, 4,492 soldiers have died while serving in the two wars while 31,590 have been wounded and 38,631 have been removed from the battlefields for "non-hostile-related medical air transports."

According to a AP poll, 60 percent of the public say "they definitely won't buy a home in the next two years, up from 53 percent who said so in an AP-AOL poll in September 2006," the "latest sign of increasing pessimism about the nation’s housing crisis." Just 11 percent are certain or very likely to buy soon, down from 15 percent two years ago.

"The Iraqi government has dismissed 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or refused to fight during last month's Shiite-on-Shiite battles in Basra, it said Sunday. ... Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said 500 soldiers and 421 policemen were fired in Basra, including 37 senior police officers up to the rank of brigadier general. Police officials said the remainder were fired in Kut."

A White House task force that was supposed to "research the issue of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has missed its deadline and failed to produce mandated reports and recommendations for coordination among federal agencies." The report was due in December.
The Washington Times reports that "President Bush is poised to change course and announce as early as this week that he wants Congress to pass a bill to combat global warming, and will lay out principles for what that should include." The administration "feels pressure to act now because they fear a coming regulatory nightmare."

"Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases." The new system “means that the burden of expensive health care can now affect insured people."

Noting that crude oil prices have doubled over the past year, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has called on federal regulators to "stop delaying and start investigating whether petroleum markets are being manipulated."

And finally: Sixteen teams of Washingtonians received the chance to "run drills" with Andre Agassi over the weekend, "as part of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation's Round Robin." "He hits the ball hard, doesn't he?" observed Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) of Agassi. "It's a lot faster game than we usually play." Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) insisted, "We did all right -- we got the ball back."


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