FUBAR

Grasping at straws? Let’s grasp

With consumer confidence at a record low, home prices in record decline, a major stock-market index at a 12-year low, stocks selling so low that the New York Stock Exchange is considering listing penny stocks and major retailers reporting a significant decline in profits, we may be grasping at straws here. BUT:

Federal Reserve Board chief Ben Bernanke is telling Congress that the recession could — could — end this year and we’ll be on our way to recovery next year. He called that "a reasonable prospect."

Holder coverage reveals media flaws

Today we take a tough-truth look at just why it is that many Americans seem to believe that the word "liberal” is really just a prefix to the word "media.”

Consider the coverage of the Feb. 18 remarks by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at the Justice Department’s African American History Month Program. Or, as you probably better know it, Holder’s "nation of cowards" speech.

So, who’s watching over our food safety?

So, a guy walks into a restaurant. Who makes sure his food is safe? It depends on what he eats.

A cheese pizza that arrived at the restaurant frozen? The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of inspecting it.

A frozen pepperoni pizza? That’s the Agriculture Department.

Health care costs top $8,000 per person

A new government report on medical costs paints a stark picture for President Barack Obama, who is expected to call for a health care overhaul in a speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.

Even before lawmakers start debating how care is delivered to the American people, the report shows the economy is making the job of reform harder.

Health care costs will top $8,000 per person this year, consuming an ever-bigger slice of a shrinking economic pie, says the report by the Department of Health and Human Services, due out Tuesday.

Fix recession first, then tackle the deficit

Just how worrisome our national debt has become was readily evident when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly thanked the Chinese for buying so much of it.

The national debt is the cumulative total of the federal government’s annual budget deficits, which got out of control during the Bush administration and are now, it is generally agreed, at unsustainable levels. They erode our economic power internationally and cede a certain amount of control over our economy to outsiders.

Gloom becomes self-fulfilling prophecy

With psychology playing such a major role in the deepening world economic crisis, it is more urgent than ever for those assigned with trying to find a way out to at least display a stiff upper lip. Yet politicians can’t resist doing what they do best, shooting off their mouths and producing dire consequences.

Army charity makes millions, doesn’t help veterans

As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

FBI rescues 45 teenaged prostitutes

The FBI has rescued more than 45 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.

Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 50 alleged pimps, according to preliminary bureau data.

The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.

Freddie Mac investigates itself

Lawyers hired by mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac are quietly investigating the firm’s own $2 million lobbying campaign, The Associated Press has learned. The lobbying effort helped quash proposed new regulations on the company before the housing market collapsed.

It was not immediately clear how much Freddie Mac is spending to investigate its own conduct or whether it is spending any federal bailout money on the internal probe. The firm was placed under U.S. government control due to its massive investment losses.

Arrest expected in Chandra Levy murder

A Salvadoran immigrant convicted of attacking two women in the park where Chandra Levy’s remains were found was expected to be arrested in the next few days in the former intern’s slaying, a person close to the investigation said.

An arrest would cap a revived investigation into the 2001 killing that had gone cold for years after destroying the career of former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit of California.

Investigators in 2002 questioned Ingmar Guandique, now 27, in the slaying after he was convicted of attacking two women joggers in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. They didn’t charge him, but statements he made to people while in prison helped lead investigators back to him, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday.