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Changes For The 2005 Tax Year


Amid the holiday merriment, a serious item tops the wish lists of Amazon.com customers: the Philips HeartStart, a portable defibrillator to treat victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Though not a sexy gift, it's a smart one: 80% of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home, and only 5% of all victims receive the electrical charge called defibrillation in time to restart their heart and breathing.

Cardiac arrest can occur without warning or risk factors. If you suspect your companion is going into cardiac arrest, you pull the handle on the front of the HeartStart, activating voice prompts that guide you through a few simple steps. Step one requires you to place the device's two adhesive pads on the victim's bare chest to determine whether the problem is cardiac arrest. If arrest is confirmed, the machine will instruct you to press a button to start defibrillation. If it's not cardiac arrest, the machine will tell you that -- and it won't defibrillate. Voice prompts will also guide you through cardiopulmonary resuscitation. At $1,495 on Amazon.com and Drugstore.com, the HeartStart -- which was cleared by the FDA in September for nonprescription use -- isn't cheap. But it might prove priceless.

Investors who think the dollar has farther to fall have been pouring money into foreign stocks and bonds. But there's a purer play: foreign currency. With the dollar sliding 9.5% against the euro since June 1, JPMorgan Private Bank's (JPM) investments in options on baskets of currencies have become more popular. One offers exposure to five Asian currencies, the other to the yen, euro, peso, pound, and Canadian dollar. Depending on the vehicle, buyers are guaranteed most or all their initial investment. Don't pull out your wallet unless you're a high roller: Minimum investment is $100,000.

Here's an artful gift for a tea lover: a bamboo chest filled with tea leaves hand-sewn with silk into delicate blossoms that unfurl when steeped in hot water. The Artisan Tea collection from Numi Teas revives a centuries-old Chinese and Indian tradition. Priced from $14 to $18, the boxes contain green, white, black, and oolong teas under names such as Jade Ring, Flower Pearl, and Iron Goddess of Mercy. For $21, Numi also sells a glass teapot that lets you watch the tea leaves transform (numitea.com).


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