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Fewer elderly deposit directly

Fewer senior citizens are taking the government up on its offer to deposit their Social Security checks directly into their bank accounts, costing taxpayers millions.

Ninety percent of new Social Security recipients signed up for direct deposit in the late '90s, but that number has fallen off to 68 percent, a recent federal study found.

It costs 68 cents to produce and mail each Social Security check, and the government sends out 13-million checks each month. That amounts to about $100-million each year.

The government is testing a publicity campaign in Tennessee, Illinois, Texas and Puerto Rico to persuade more senior citizens to sign up for direct deposit.

The message: With direct deposit, you get your money faster and more reliably.

1 in 5 children ride in booster seats, agency says

WASHINGTON _ Only one in five young children ride in injury-reducing booster seats, the government's auto safety agency says. Booster seats prevent injuries because they fit children better than adult seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends children ages 4 to 8 who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall ride in a booster seat. But NHTSA said a telephone survey revealed that usage rates were low.

For the survey, NHTSA contacted 6,000 people by phone between January and March 2003. Ninety-five percent said children in their vehicles wore seat belts all the time, and 72 percent said they put infants in rear-facing car seats, which NHTSA recommends. But just 21 percent said they used booster seats at least occasionally.

Swaggart apologizes for remark about gays

BATON ROUGE, La. _ Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart apologized Wednesday for saying in a televised worship service that he would kill any gay man who looked at him romantically.

A complaint was filed with a Canadian broadcasting group, and Swaggart said his Baton Rouge-based Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has received complaints from gay groups over the remarks made on the Sept. 12 telecast.

In the broadcast, Swaggart said, "I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."