etc...

AND WE'LL PIN A MEDAL ON YOU

No comment so far from the Internal Revenue Service, but a new idea being studied by its counterpart in Malaysia may be worth considering. Or not. Anyway, here it is: Designate the top taxpayers as national heroes. The proposal came from the Finance Ministry, which wants to - shall we say - encourage greater participation in the process by individuals and businesses. You see, in Malaysia's case, only 16 percent of its 22 million people bothered to file returns this year - and only to the tune of $7.67 billion.

THEY'LL NEED LAPTOPS, TOO

Speaking of Southeast Asian nations and money, a problem has cropped up in neighboring Indonesia as well. It seems plans to buy eight badly needed garbage trucks and 27 other municipal vehicles for the capital, Jakarta, have had to be put on hold until further notice. Why? Because the $1.1 million they would have cost "must" be spent instead on 55 new Hyundai sedans for members of the city council. These are the same folks who came under criticism back in August for using city-paid "study visits" to Japan and China to go sightseeing.

Magazine ranks 'must see' vacation spots in America

The North Cascades in Washington; St. John, Virgin Islands; and Cajun Country, La., are among the 50 top "places of a lifetime" to visit in the US, according to a new list in National Geographic Traveler magazine. The collection includes cities, islands, mountains, touristy spots, and places more off the beaten path. The new list doesn't include such cities as San Francisco or New York because they've appeared in previous rankings. Some of Traveler's suggestions:

Bluegrass country, Ky.

Charleston, S.C.

Chautauqua, N.Y.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Highway 1, coastal California

Inside Passage, Ala.

Okefenokee Swamp, Ga./Fla.

Red Rock Country, Colo.

- Associated Press

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