The Buzz On Business

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WARNING: PAY UP, OR ELSE: The Justice Department targeted tax "defiers" Tuesday, warning that Americans who refuse to pay up on April 15 could wind up spending even more later in costly penalties. Prosecutors also sought to shut down a Florida-based marketing firm that made millions of dollars off advising people how to avoid paying annual income taxes. "With the privileges that this country gives you, we have both obligations and responsibilities to give back," Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hochman told reporters in Washington. "Taxes are the lifeblood of the American civilized society." Hochman oversees the Justice Department's cadre of tax prosecutors. He described claims by some groups that income taxes are unconstitutional as "bogus." "If you owe taxes, you must pay them. Period," Hochman said. Since 2001, the Justice Department has shut down more than 100 tax preparers and those who promote ways to evade taxes for intentionally filing fraudulent claims and returns.

AMERICAN AIRLINES CANCELS MORE FLIGHTS: American Airlines says it is again canceling hundreds of flights to inspect wire bundles on its MD-80 planes. The carrier said Tuesday the additional inspections are based on Federal Aviation Administration audits involving technical compliance issues. As many as 500 flights could be canceled today, with additional cancellations likely tomorrow. American says it is putting affected passengers on other flights. It is instructing travelers to check or with travel agents about a flight's status. Several major airlines have grounded planes in recent weeks amid tighter maintenance oversight by the FAA.

LEVI CONTINUES RUN OF HIGHER PROFITS: Levi Strauss & Co. began its new fiscal year with a 10th straight quarter of higher profits, but the jeans maker's momentum appears to be tapering off as the U.S. economy frays. The San Francisco-based company said Tuesday that it earned $97.1 million during the three months ended Feb. 24, a 12 percent improvement from net income of $86.6 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.08 billion. Although it's privately owned by the descendants of its founder, Levi Strauss releases its financial results because some of its debt is publicly traded.

CHRYSLER RECALLS SEBRINGS, AVENGERS: Chrysler LLC is recalling 212,347 Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger passenger cars worldwide to fix an electrical problem that could lead to engine stalling and other issues. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a posting on its Web site the recall involves 2007-2008 Sebring and Avenger vehicles with standard tire pressure monitoring systems. NHTSA said unused electrical connectors for the monitoring system could become corroded and short circuit, leading to problems starting the engine, a dead battery, an inoperative cruise control or engine stalling. The recall is expected to begin in mid-April. Dealers will seal the wires for the tire pressure monitoring system at no cost to consumers. Owners can contact Chrysler at (800) 853-1403.


IN PATTERSON, NEWMAN: The Alliance Small Business Development Center will host events in Patterson and Newman later this month to help start-up business owners and entrepreneurs with creating business and marketing plans and getting necessary permits. Both events will allow those owners and entrepreneurs to meet one-on-one with Alliance experts for free counseling. Patterson's event is April 28 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Patterson City Hall, 1 Plaza St. To reserve a one-hour appointment: 895-8011. Newman's event is also April 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Newman City Hall, 1162 Main St. To schedule an appointment: 862-3725.


Figuratively Speaking

29: Percentage of U.S. workers who say they have become very sleepy or fallen asleep at work in the past month, according to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.

12: Percentage of U.S. workers who say they have arrived late at work in the past month because of sleepiness.

43: Percentage of U.S. workers with more than one job who say they get a good night's sleep only a "few times" a month or less.

50 million: Number of Americans who chronically suffer from sleep problems and disorders.