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It seems to us . . . Too much wind for the windmills, a diplomatic two-step and tax chaos

FULL-BLOWN EXCUSE: The opening of that new wind farm on the lake shore Bethlehem Steel site has been delayed again because of -- wind.

Ironic as that may be, it's also a sign Steel Winds might be right on track -- of the prevailing southwesterly winds, that is -- as it continues to install eight 410-foot-tall wind turbines. High winds have put construction on hold several times this fall, but three of the windmills are partially constructed and a fourth has been started.

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DIPLOMAT OF THE YEAR: That honor would go to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a powerful Iraqi Shiite leader, for apparently acting more forcefully than the Bush administration to bridge the gap between Washington and Tehran.

Unfortunately, al-Hakim -- who also has political ties to a militia linked to Iraqi death squads -- isn't doing that in a particularly constructive way. Three weeks after his chat with President Bush in the White House, two senior Iranian military officials were arrested in al-Hakim's compound in Baghdad during a raid that also turned up "specific intelligence" about attacks on civilians, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces. Hope it wasn't anything "W" said.

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YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Congressional Quarterly reports that Congress took so long considering tax cut extensions this year that it missed the Internal Revenue Service deadline for printing the tax return forms you'll be needing this April.

When the $35.9 billion tax package finally did pass, the IRS already had printed 17 million forms without the tax breaks on them. Tax officials say they have no choice but to mail those forms -- meaning the 13 percent of filers who fill out their own forms without preparers' help may not know of breaks for tuition, state sales tax or teaching expenses. The IRS expects chaos. It also expects to spend at least $1.9 million to change its computer programs and deal with filing errors. Consumer tax-preparation software also needs updating. Ought to make for fun times on the IRS help lines.

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