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Brief asides


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CHECKING IN

Trumping the slump

Never underestimate the magic of star power.

The Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk opened Monday to much hoopla. And yes, the name alone was enough to draw the guests and the media attention. The fact that any hotel is opening amid fiscal doldrums, let alone the first new luxury one in Waikiki in more than 20 years, is noteworthy. It's a welcome shot-in-the-arm, economically and psychologically.

Nightly rates start at $250. But leave it to Donald Trump, that artist of the deal, to have the audacity to unveil a property where the priciest suite goes for $8,000 a night.

 

OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS

Tax break for tax evaders

That's one way to stimulate the U.S. economy. The Internal Revenue Service granted amnesty from prosecution for tax evasion to more than 14,700 taxpayers who have disclosed foreign bank accounts. They avoided jail by revealing the formerly secret accounts and paying back taxes, interest and reduced penalties. “;We are talking about billions of dollars coming in to the U.S. Treasury,”; said IRS commissioner Douglas H. Shulman.

 

HARD TO SWALLOW

Who pays the price for better health?

Over-the-counter and out-of-pocket, or by-prescription and covered by insurance?

That's one controversy shaping up in wake of a new study raising fresh concerns about the effectiveness of Zetia and Vytorin, drugs taken by millions of Americans to lower cholesterol.

Zetia failed to shrink buildup in artery walls while a drug, Niaspan, did so significantly, the study showed. Niaspan is a version of niacin, a type of B vitamin that raises HDL, or good cholesterol.

Experts are warning that the study is too limited to warrant changing practice, and say patients should not stop taking any heart medicine without checking with their doctors. That's critical advice to heed — though it likely won't stop the debate as more studies are done and the cost of medications come under closer scrutiny.