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The skinny

The skinny: Curses! Romania's witches forced to pay income tax

Trouble brewing

Romanians take their cursing of taxes seriously

Everyone curses the taxman, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay up for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government. Also among Romania's newest taxpayers are fortune tellers — but they probably should have seen it coming. Superstitions are no laughing matter in Romania — the land of the medieval ruler who inspired the Dracula tale — and have been part of its culture for centuries. President Traian Basescu and his aides have been known to wear purple on certain days, supposedly to ward off evil. Romanian witches from the east and west head to the southern plains and the Danube River today to threaten the government with spells and spirits because of the tax law that took effect Saturday as part of the drive to collect more revenue and crack down on tax evasion in a country that is in recession. In the past, the less mainstream professions of witch, astrologer and fortune teller were not listed in the labor code, as were those of embalmer, valet and driving instructor. Now, like any self-employed person, they will pay 16 percent income tax and make contributions to health and pension programs.

Need for speed

Congratulations, it's a boy and a ticket

Their son wasn't going to wait to be born, so John Coughlin rushed his laboring wife to the hospital. He called 911 when a New Hampshire state trooper tried to pull their car over, and the trooper turned the chase into an escort — then issued him a speeding ticket. Baby Kyle was born six minutes after the Coughlins arrived at the hospital in Manchester on Sept. 18. After that, Coughlin said the trooper congratulated him, then gave him a ticket for hitting 102 mph. A trial is scheduled for Monday and Coughlin is contesting the ticket. "I didn't realize how fast I was going until he gave me the ticket," Coughlin of Londonderry said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning America. He said he didn't want to plead guilty because "they said I could lose my license."

Man of steal

He has the drive to meet his goal

Police in Idaho say a man who asked authorities to arrest and deport him to Mexico stole a squad car after his request was denied. The Idaho Mountain Express reported that Guadalupe Cruz-Vasquez, 38, went to the Jerome County Sheriff's Office Monday night and demanded to be deported. Police Sgt. Duane Rubink said authorities declined to take the Jerome resident into custody, so he walked to a nearby police station, broke the window of a squad car and drove away with the vehicle. Rubink said a cell phone inside the vehicle helped police track its location near Carey, but police didn't need to stop it: The car ran out of gas. He said after that, Cruz-Vasquez finally got his wish.

The skinny: Curses! Romania's witches forced to pay income tax 01/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 8:52am]

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