Archive for Friday, October 20, 2000

Nation briefs

October 20, 2000



Off-shore credit card funds draw IRS probe

In a sweeping tax-evasion probe that could affect thousands of people, the Internal Revenue Service went to court to seek records on U.S. taxpayers with credit card accounts in three offshore banking havens.

Credit, debit and charge cards at banks in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and the country of Antigua and Barbuda are covered by federal court petitions filed Wednesday against American Express Travel Related Services Co. and MasterCard International.

Promoters of offshore accounts advertise everywhere from the Internet to airline magazines with the message that income can be sheltered because the U.S. government cannot penetrate some foreign banking secrecy laws.

But the headquarters for the Caribbean operations of the two financial service companies are in the Miami area, and IRS lawyers believe their records are legally accessible.


Drop in gun sales, boycott prompt layoffs

Smith & Wesson is laying off about 125 employees, or 15 percent of its work force, blaming slumping sales and a boycott by buyers angry over its gun-safety agreement with the government.

The workers, including some managers, will be laid off within the next week in Springfield, home to 725 employees. The company also has 100 other employees in Houlton, Maine.

Smith & Wesson has been faced with angry competitors and buyers since it signed the agreement with municipal, state and federal officials in March. Under the agreement, the company promised to demand background checks on gun-show buyers, install safety locks and work on high-tech guns that can be fired only by their owner. In exchange, public officials agreed to drop Smith & Wesson from lawsuits against the industry.


Ancient canoes' age confirmed

Archeologists have confirmed the antiquity of more than 85 Indian canoes discovered sticking out of a lake bed near Gainesville earlier this year. The discovery of the prehistoric canoes in Newnan's Lake was the largest of its kind in the United States, Secretary of State Katherine Harris said Wednesday in announcing the results of radiocarbon testing.

The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research confirmed that most canoes were built between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. The wooden canoes had remained hidden and preserved at the bottom of the lake for centuries until water levels dropped during a dry spell. They were discovered in April by high school students working on an environmental project.

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