March 30, 2009 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Federal tax increase to hit tobacco users

 

However they satisfy their nicotine cravings, tobacco users are facing a big hit as the single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever takes effect Wednesday.

Tobacco companies and public health advocates, longtime foes in the nicotine battles, are trying to turn the situation to their advantage. The major cigarette makers raised prices a couple of weeks ago, partly to offset any drop in profits once the per-pack tax climbs from 39 cents to $1.01.

Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children. President Barack Obama signed that health initiative soon after taking office.

Other tobacco products, from cigars to pipes and smokeless, will see similarly large tax increases, too. The tax on chewing tobacco will go up from 19.5 cents per pound to 50 cents. The total expected to be raised over the 4 1/2-year-long health insurance expansion is nearly $33 billion.

NEW YORK

Huffington to fund investigative team

The Huffington Post said Sunday that it will bankroll a group of investigative journalists, directing them at first to look at stories about the nation’s economy.

The popular Web site is collaborating with the Atlantic Philanthropies and other donors to launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund with an initial budget of nearly $1.8 million. That should be enough for 10 staff journalists who will primarily coordinate stories with freelancers, said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.

Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or Web site to use at the same time it is posted on the Huffington Post, she said.

Huffington said she and the donors were concerned that layoffs at newspapers were hurting investigative journalism at a time the nation’s institutions need to be watched closely. She hopes to draw from the ranks of laid-off journalists for the venture.

MILTON, Mass.

23-year-old kills two younger sisters

A man on a rampage fatally stabbed his 17-year-old sister, decapitated his 5-year-old sister in front of a police officer and then turned toward his 9-year-old sister with a knife in his hand before officers shot him dead.

There was no clear motive for the events that unfolded Saturday, the day after the 5-year-old’s birthday, in a tony Boston suburb that also is home to Gov. Deval Patrick.

Kerby Revelus, 23, killed 5-year-old Bianca as a cake for her birthday, which investigators believe was Friday, sat on the kitchen table. Nine-year-old Sarafina dialed 911 and watched police shoot her brother as 17-year-old Samantha lay dead on the floor.

Sarafina was hospitalized Sunday.

“In policing, we see the raw human emotion every day, but to think that a human being could afflict such an atrocious, violent act on his own family is unbelievable,” Milton police Chief Richard G. Wells Jr. said.

The children’s grandmother, who neighbors say lives on the first floor, was doing laundry in the basement. Their parents were away.

From wire reports


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