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Tax cuts. Cash grants to citizens that they'd turn around and spend in stores. The government of Japan has considered, proposed, floated as trial balloons, or otherwise entertained these and all sorts of other ideas for ending the nation's deep recession - so far without measurable success. Now comes another: bringing back daylight saving time (DST). That extra hour of sun each day, says a committee of experts, would inspire spending sprees by consumers, generating $5.3 billion a year in new retail spending. US occupation forces imposed DST in 1945, but it was abolished in 1952.

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Then there's the government of Mexico, which not only is strapped for cash but also is only 18 months away from national elections. So President Ernesto Zedillo's administration has announced a set of new austerity measures for bureaucrats. Among its features: blocking access to 900-type numbers that offer phone sex and astrological advice.

Beefed up Bill Gates charity is now 6th-largest in the US

Boosted this month by a donation of more than $3 billion, a foundation set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates now ranks among the nation's biggest, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Based on a survey of 122 US institutions, the Chronicle said big foundations increased their giving last year by 28 percent. The top 10 and the reported size of each (in billions):

1. Lilly Endowment $15 .0

2. Ford Foundation 10.7

3. David and Lucile Packard Foundation 9.6

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4. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 7.8

5. W.K. Kellogg Foundation 6.0

6. William H. Gates Foundation 5.2

7. Pew Charitable Trusts 4.7

8. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 4.1

9. Robert W. Woodruff Foundation 3.7

10. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 3.3

- Associated Press

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