VEGAS PALAZZO FINALLY OPENS: Billionaire Sheldon Adelson's newest creation in Las Vegas may have missed Christmas and couldn't make it for New Year's, but the $1.9 billion Palazzo was ready for a celebration Thursday. The gigantic hotel-casino -- Palazzo means "palace" in Italian -- was holding its grand opening in style as it made its official debut as the biggest resort to open on the Las Vegas Strip in three years. The weekend bash was postponed from the expected opening in late December when it wasn't ready for inspections and permits. The Palazzo has 3,066 suites, and makes Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. the operator of the largest property on the Strip under one roof when combined with the adjoining 4,027-room Venetian resort.
MILLIONAIRES GET MORE SCRUTINY BY IRS: There's at least one advantage to not being a millionaire -- less chance of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency said Thursday that in the 2007 budget year it audited one out of every 11 with incomes of $1 million or more. Among those with incomes of $100,000 or less, 99 out of every 100 escaped further IRS scrutiny. Still, the IRS said its auditing rates generally were up for people of all income levels. The rates were 9.25 percent for those with incomes of more than $1 million, up from 6.3 percent in 2006; 2.87 percent for those with incomes above $200,000, up from 2.57 percent; and 0.93 percent for those earning under $100,000, compared with 0.89 percent the previous year.
AUTO RECALLS ARE UP 30 PERCENT FROM 2006: Automakers recalled nearly 15 million vehicles for repairs at dealerships last year, the government reported Thursday, an increase of about 30 percent over 2006. Automakers issued 588 separate recalls involving 14.5 million vehicles in 2007, or about 30 percent more vehicles than the previous year, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2006, the industry recalled 11.2 million vehicles as part of 490 individual recalls. Ford Motor Co. had the most recalled vehicles, with more than 5.5 million. DaimlerChrysler AG had the second-most in 2007 with 1.47 million.
PRIORITY MAIL GETS BIGGER BOX, NEW CHARGE: The U.S. Postal Service is adding a larger flat-rate Priority Mail box and a charge for Sunday and holiday delivery. The post office said Thursday the changes will take effect March 3. A new flat-rate Priority Mail box will become available at $12.95 for shipping anywhere in the United States. The agency will discount it to $10.95 for shipping to military addresses. The box measures 12-inches-by-12-inches-by- 5.5-inches, containing nearly 800 cubic inches of space. Two smaller flat-rate boxes will be available for $8.95. The agency also said it will begin charging a $12.50 premium for delivery of Express Mail on Sundays or holidays.
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SHIPWRECK DISCOVERER TO PAY $216K SETTLEMENT: The oceanographer who discovered what may be the richest shipwreck treasure in history has agreed to pay $216,355 in an insider-trading settlement with federal regulators. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announced a civil settlement with Ernesto Tapanes, an oceanographic consultant, after accusing him of illegally profiting from his find. In March, he discovered a wreck, code-named Black Swan, for Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. as he surveyed off the coast of Gibraltar. The company revealed the Atlantic Ocean discovery of 500,000 colonial-era silver coins, estimated to be worth up to $500 million, on May 18. The SEC alleged that before that announcement, Tapanes bought 42,000 shares of company stock. Odyssey Marine shares soared nearly 81 percent on May 18 to $8.32. Tapanes then sold the stock, reaping a profit of $107,102.
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37: Percentage of employers who reported an increase in the past six months in the turnover of front-line employees -- workers who are usually a customer's first contact with a business, such as salespersons, customer service representatives, and other sales and support staff, according to a study conducted by ClearRock
31: Percentage of employers who reported an increase in the past six months in the turnover of high-potential employees -- those whom employers identified as future leaders based on their backgrounds, testing and performance
56: Percentage of employers who say they have implemented new or revised retention programs for high-potential employees
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