Debt collectors commissioned by the IRS cost more than the money that they raise, reports The Washington Post. Some consumers and members of Congress are raising concerns about the fact that the agency expects to lose more than $37 million to collectors for a job that may be doable by IRS agents for less money.
Delta and Northwest Airlines agreed last night to merge to form the largest airline in the world, valued at about $17.7 billion, while retaining the Delta name. “The proposal could also be a catalyst for further consolidation among the big airlines at a time when the industry is threatened by steep losses from high fuel prices and a weakening economy,” according to USA Today.
“Blockbuster Inc., which has been busy trying to fix its own movie-rental business, is making a hostile takeover bid of just over $1 billion for Circuit City Stores Inc. with dreams of creating a huge chain that would sell electronic gadgets and rent movies and games,” reports The Chicago Tribune.
Despite the recession, “Some businesses that cater to the superrich report that clients—many of them traders and private equity investors whose work is tied to Wall Street—are still splurging on multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartments, custom-built yachts, contemporary art and lavish parties,” reports the International Herald Tribune.
The New York Times indicates that “The consumer spending slump and tightening credit markets are unleashing a widening wave of bankruptcies in American retailing, prompting thousands of store closings that are expected to remake suburban malls and downtown shopping districts across the country.”
“Oil prices rose to an intraday trading record above $112 a barrel Tuesday after the U.S. dollar fell further and crude supplies to the U.S. and elsewhere were disrupted,” reports The Associated Press.
Bloomberg.com reports that “U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 57 percent and bank repossessions more than doubled in March from a year earlier as adjustable mortgages increased and more owners gave up their homes to lenders.”
The Economist outlines the arguments for fun in the workplace. “The Levity Effect,” a book by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, argues that “fun is a serious business” as it is good for the bottom line.
Germany has about 700 Waldkindergärten, or “forest kindergartens,” that have children spend their days outdoors year round. “The schools are a throwback to Friedrich Fröbel, the German educator who opened the world's first kindergarten, or "children's garden," more than 150 years ago,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
To combat the increasing violence in Baghdad, the United States is reaching out to those within Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia “that they could possibly work with to end the violence and are launching public-works projects designed to win over local hearts and minds inside Sadr City, the Mahdi Army's main Baghdad stronghold,” according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for a general strike today to protest the election results. The strike “got off to a slow start today amid fears that authorities would crack down hard on any unrest,” according to The Times (of London).
At least 80 people in Rio State, Brazil have died from dengue fever, a result of a growing mosquito population caused by increased precipitation. “The dengue strain ravaging this tropical city” is not abating, and it “is now believed to be stronger and more lethal than the virus responsible for an epidemic in 2002, considered the worst in recent history in Brazil, according to Dr. Jacob Kligerman, health secretary for the city,” according to the International Herald Tribune.
Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Washington, D.C. today to begin his tour of the Capitol and New York City. “A crowd of up to 12,000, larger than the gathering for Queen Elizabeth II, is expected Wednesday at the White House for the pope's official visit to the American president,” The Associated Press reports.
John McCain responded to Barack Obama’s comments about the people of Pensylvania by calling Obama’s statement “a contradiction from what I believe America is all about.” Hillary Clinton had first jumped on Obama’s remarks, and now she has released a TV admmercial depicting Pennsylvania voters “insulted” by Obama’s words, who call him “out of touch.”
“Texas officials who took 416 children from a polygamist retreat into state custody sent many of their mothers away Monday, as a judge and lawyers struggled with a legal and logistical morass in one of the biggest child-custody cases in U.S. history,” The Associated Press reports.
Scientists may have finally figured out what caused the Titanic to sink, reports The New York Times. The problem may have been “a deadly mix of great ambition and low quality iron that doomed the ship, which sank 96 years ago Tuesday."
Southern cities topped the list of the worst cities for spring allergy sufferers, according to a list released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Lexington, Ky., was No. 1 on the list, followed by Greensboro, N.C., and Johnson City, Tenn.