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There's money to be made minting money _ just ask the U.S. Treasury

Question: In recent years, our paper currency has been redesigned twice. The quarter has 50 designs for the "tails" side and now the nickel is getting two new "tails" side designs. This has to be an expensive operation. How much has this cost taxpayers?

Answer: According to the General Accounting Office, there is profit to be made in making coins.

How does the government make money on coins? The mint sells the new coins to the Federal Reserve Board, which pays full face value. With the mint producing an average of 1-billion to 2-billion coins of each denomination annually, except pennies, it makes millions of dollars a year with the profits going to the U.S. Treasury Department to fund its operations.

Although coins cost about twice as much as dollar bills to produce (about 4 cents), they last far longer. Coins circulate up to 30 years before they need to be replaced, while bills generally wear out within 18 months.

Columbine update

Question: What has happened to the families of the two teenagers who killed students, a teacher and then themselves at Columbine High School in Colorado? Have they remained in Colorado?

Answer: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before shooting themselves on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Colorado. About 30 families of slain or injured victims settled with the Klebold and Harris families in 2001. They split about $2.8-million.

The victims' families believe that Wayne and Kathy Harris and Tom and Sue Klebold should have known what their sons were up to and could have prevented the shootings. Evidence showed that the teenagers spent months assembling an array of firepower and that some was stored in their bedrooms.

Randy and Judy Brown warned Jefferson County sheriff's deputies more than a year before the shootings that Eric Harris had threatened to kill one of their sons.

The Klebolds and the Harrises still live in unincorporated Jefferson County. They have never talked publicly about their sons, the case, or what they did or didn't know. They have apologized through their attorneys and have written letters to the victims' families.

In early November, Colorado state Atty. Gen. Ken Salazar proposed that all Columbine-related documents, including depositions of the Harrises and Klebolds, be sent to the Colorado State Archives following a ruling by U.S. District Magistrate Patricia Coan that the parents' sealed depositions be destroyed.

That ruling is under appeal. Additionally, Salazar asked that Del Elliott, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, review all Columbine records and report on preventing similar violence in the future.

Honors for Dean brother?

Question: Charles Dean, brother of Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean, and an Australian companion were killed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era. When their remains were discovered and brought to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu in November, they were treated with full military honors, although neither ever served in the U.S. armed forces. Can you explain?

Answer: You're correct in saying Charles Dean and Neil Sharman were civilians traveling in Southeast Asia when they were killed in 1974. Their remains were discovered in November buried in a rice field in central Laos.

Charles Dean had worked in the anti-war campaign of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, but he and Sharman were believed to have been imprisoned and killed by Communist insurgents who thought they were spies.

Although Dean was a civilian, the U.S. government considers the possibility that any remains recovered may be of missing servicemen and treats them as such. That's the official line for their being accorded flag-draped coffins (an American flag for Dean's remains, an Australian one for Sharman's) and full color guard.

John Kasich

Question: Is Rep. John Kasich related to the John Kasich on Fox News?

Answer: Fox's Kasich and the former Ohio Republican congressman are one and the same.

Kasich served in Congress for 18 years before making an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination and dropping out of the race in 1999. He left the House in 2000.

He joined Fox as a political contributor in January 2001.

Have a question about the news? Colin Bessonette will try to get an answer. Call (404) 222-2002 or e-mail q&aajc.com.

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