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Talking Points: Inauguration costs, local gas taxes, aged cheese

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Local,Talking Points,Inauguration

How much is President Obama's second inauguration going to cost?

The total price tag isn't clear yet, but it will likely be less than the 2009 inauguration when Obama raised $53 million in private donations for his historic swearing in as the country's first black president. Already the events are scaled back to three days, not four, and there will be only three official inaugural balls, not the 10 of last time, according to the Associated Press. No Mall rock concert is planned either. But taxpayers will pay some of the bill beyond the money that Obama raises. The federal government reimbursed the District of Columbia $44 million after the 2009 inauguration to cover the added expense to local police, the cost of repaving Pennsylvania Avenue and communications costs. But an additional price tag borne by taxpayers is the cost is for the federal security steps taken, including staffing by Secret Service and military personnel.

Both Maryland and Virginia officials have been talking about raising the gas tax. How much do local drivers pay now?

Those who fuel up in either Maryland or the District pay 23.5 cents per gallon in local fuel taxes. But when drivers fill their tanks in Virginia, they pay 17.5 cents per gallon plus a 2 percent tax when in Northern Virginia localities. The issue is that Virginia's tax has not been changed since 1986 and Maryland's was last adjusted in 1992, according to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. D.C. adjusted its rate in 2009. Vehicles have become more efficient, thus drivers use less gas and contribute less money to the jurisdictions' transportation accounts. But past efforts to increase the taxes have stalled out.

How old is cheese?

Humans have been making cheese intentionally -- not just forgetting that jug of milk -- for some 7,500 years, according to new research published in the scientific journal Nature. Archeologists and chemists found biochemical proof that pieces of ceramics riddled with holes found in Poland were used to separate dairy fats as ancient cheese strainers. The scientists speculate that making cheese enabled the lactose intolerant Neolithic farmers to safely digest and make use of their herds' milk.

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By the staff of
The Washington Examiner