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Billings Gazette, Mont., Have you heard...? column
[December 03, 2012]

Billings Gazette, Mont., Have you heard...? column

Dec 02, 2012 (Billings Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- As it does every year, the winter flight schedule at Billings Logan International Airport will mean fewer flights.

During the first week in January, Horizon Air will discontinue for two months the direct flight to Portland, Ore., according to assistant airport director Kevin Ploehn.

And in mid-January, Allegiant Air will halt its nonstop to Oakland until spring.

About 20,000 fewer passengers fly in and out of Billings in January and February than in the busiest months of July and August.

SHOPPING RECORD SET: Americans were expected to spend about $58 billion in stores and online during the Thanksgiving shopping craze, according to a pre-holiday estimate by the National Retail Federation.

In fact, the multiday shopping extravaganza actually netted a record 274 million shoppers, who spent an estimated $59 billion. Each shopper spent an average of $423 over the weekend, up $25 from last year, according to the federation.

But charitable giving isn't expected to have such a rosy holiday.

A national study by Campbell Rinker/Dunham+Company found 79 percent of charitable donors surveyed said they would continue to give to their favorite charities this season, but were unlikely to give to other, less-favored charities they supported in the past or to new ones.

And 23 percent said they will give less money to their church or place of worship this year. But 16 percent of core churchgoers said they were likely to give more this year.

Why is charitable giving declining The top reason given was rising health care costs, followed closely by personal finances, and the economy. One-third cited the prospect of another Congressional budget-and-tax impasse as the reason they were cutting back on charitable giving.

SOCIAL MEDIA TRAPS: Email isn't the only online activity under surveillance by U.S. law enforcement.

The FBI is watching Facebook and Twitter to harvest tips on securities fraud, including insider trading in the hedge fund industry.

According to the Reuters news service, companies researching investments and large institutional investors are sharing their ideas and strategies on Twitter.

Last week, the government charged Mathew Martoma with a $276 million insider trading scheme, according to Reuters.

Driving, accounting, headaches and taxes The Internal Revenue Service has set the mileage reimbursement rates for, gasp, the 2013 tax season. Yes, it's here already.

American taxpayers can deduct a penny more in 2013 for using their personal vehicle for business, moving, medical trips or donating to charity.

That means they can deduct 56.5 cents for business, 24 cents for a medical or moving expense, and 14 cents for charity.

If you drive lots of miles and itemize vehicle expenses, remember your deduction cannot exceed $28,100 for cars and $29,900 for trucks and vans.

Scams du jour A World War II bride from England, Dulcie Klusmann, got a call recently from someone saying her big Publisher's Clearinghouse check would be delivered at 10 a.m. the next morning.

She had entered the contest, thinking, "Oh well, you never know." Her son said it was probably a scam and advised his mom not to open her door, unless she saw a camera crew.

"And they want to know your bank account and I wouldn't give him that," she said.

Out and about -- Lockwood now has a website,, so the community can get connected online.

-- The U.S. Postal Service is expected to deliver 130 million packages related to what Americans bought on Cyber Monday. For the entire holiday season, USPS employees are expecting to deliver 365 million packages.

LAUGH LINES A friend has a tool in her car designed to cut through the seat belt if she's in an accident and gets trapped, but she keeps it in her truck.

Where's the English Channel I don't know. Our television set doesn't pick it up.

___ (c)2012 Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) Visit the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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