FUBAR

NSA broke law, spied on Congressman

Once again, the uber-secret National Security Agency has been caught spying on Americans on a level that exceeds limits placed on the agency by Congres, raising new concerns about just how much information the government is collecting on its citizens.

At least one member of Congress was a target of NSA efforts to monitor email and phones.

Government officials admit to The New York Times that NSA intercepted email messages and phone calls on "a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress."

Just how far is not yet known but officials admit the excessive spying is "significant and systemic."

It’s not the first time the agency has been caught exceeding its authority and officials admit that it probably won’t be the last.

Is Obama screwing the pooch in Pakistan?

President Barack Obama has made rooting out extremism from Pakistan a key priority, but experts from both countries warn that his team is off to a shaky start.

Japan on Friday holds a major donors meeting for Pakistan, but Islamabad has already bristled at proposed conditions in the US aid package.

Foreclosures up again in 1st quarter

The number of American households threatened with losing their homes grew 24 percent in the first three months of this year and is poised to rise further as major lenders restart foreclosures after a temporary break, according to data released Thursday.

Consumer prices drop in March

Consumer prices dipped unexpectedly in March, leaving inflation over the past year falling at the fastest clip in more than a half-century.

The Labor Department says consumer prices edged down 0.1 percent last month as a drop in energy prices offset the biggest rise in tobacco prices since 1998. It was a better performance than the 0.1 percent rise that economists had expected.

The recession is expected to keep a lid on inflation as massive layoffs dampen wage pressures and weak demand keeps companies from raising product prices.

Right-wing extremist groups on the rise

Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report to law enforcement officials.

The April 7 report, which Reuters and other news media obtained on Tuesday, said such fears were driving a resurgence in "recruitment and radicalization activity" by white supremacist groups, antigovernment extremists and militia movements. It did not identify any by name.

Yet another czar is born

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is naming a "border czar" to oversee issues related to drug-cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the hundreds of thousands of people who try to enter the U.S. illegally through the Southwest.

An Obama administration official says Napolitano on Wednesday will name Alan Bersin, a former federal prosecutor, to fill the new post at the Homeland Security Department. The official would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement expected in El Paso, Texas.

Time to return to states’ rights

President Barack Obama is expanding federal powers left and right, eyeing yet other enlargements and still more billions in spending, and it shouldn’t strike anyone as utterly senseless that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas should say enough, stop, quit it.

He did so by means of giving his support to a resolution affirming states rights and similar in spirit to resolutions that were written more than 200 years ago by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and adopted by Kentucky and Virginia.

The doctor is out

Medicine’s frontline of defense — the primary care physicians, the family doctors, if you will — is crumbling. And no national health-care reform plan is likely to succeed unless that critical problem is solved.

Stimulus projects come in under budget

President Barack Obama said on Monday that thousands of major infrastructure projects being undertaken as part of his economic stimulus plan were ahead of schedule and under budget.

Obama, who plans to deliver what the White House called a "major" speech on the economy on Tuesday, said 2,000 new projects to rebuild U.S. highways and bridges already had been approved under the $787 billion stimulus plan that became law in February.

Taxpayers more frugal with refunds

Most people say they plan to use this year’s tax refund to pay bills, deciding in this sour economy to be more frugal with their annual windfall.

Fifty-four percent of those receiving refunds said they intend to pay off credit card, utility, housing and other bills, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Monday. That compares with 35 percent who said the same thing a year ago.

Only 5 percent, about the same as a year ago, said they planned to go on a shopping spree.