FUBAR

Report: U.S. ‘shortchanged’ Afghanistan

The United States and its partners have shortchanged Afghanistan by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or a clear understanding of the way the poor, decentralized country works, an independent study concludes.

The incoming Obama administration should refocus the U.S. war and rebuilding effort in Afghanistan and think of the project as the work of at least a decade, according to the report compiled by the United States Institute of Peace.

Inaugural means more traffic problems for DC

On a typical weekday, close to 2 million people commute to the nation’s capital, snarling the highways and packing subway trains and buses during peak hours.

Now imagine doubling, or tripling, that for the inauguration.

"I don’t want in any way to discourage anyone," said District of Columbia City Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "I just don’t want them to come and be completely shocked by what they find."

Changes in driving habits may spur tax hikes

Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren’t raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

That has the federal commission that oversees financing for transportation talking about increasing the federal fuel tax.

A 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by the commission to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

Where did the money go? Can’t say. It’s a secret

It’s something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where’s the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

"We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it,’" said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to."

CEOs of troubled banks still got fat paychecks

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Wall Street flies high in corporate jets

Crisscrossing the country in corporate jets may no longer fly in Detroit after car executives got a dressing down from Congress. But on Wall Street, the coveted executive perk has hardly been grounded.

Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips, according to an Associated Press review.

Automakers get the money but now what?

President George W. Bush gave the U.S. automakers $17.4 billion in emergency rescue loans, but the fate of the industry is in the hands of President-elect Barack Obama.

Simply letting the carmakers collapse was not an option amid a recession, housing slump and financial credit crunch, Bush said in announcing the short-term loans and demanding tough concessions from the automakers and their employees.

Mark Felt, Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ dead at 95

W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as "Deep Throat" 30 years after he tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled a president, has died. He was 95.

Felt died Thursday in Santa Rosa after suffering from congestive heart failure for several months, said family friend John D. O’Connor, who wrote the 2005 Vanity Fair article uncovering Felt’s secret.

Blackwater may be thrown out of Iraq

Blackwater Worldwide, the company of mercenaries that ran amok in the Iraq war and gunned down civilians in an incident that brough worldwide condemnation and indictments against several of its operatives, could lose its license to operate in that war-torn country.

A report from the State Department’s Inspector General’s office says the company’s behavior is in conflict with the stated goals and values of the United States, which means it could further damage American credibility on the world stage.

Impeachment panel awaits Blago’s shyster

An impeachment inquiry against Gov. Rod Blagojevich hit a speed bump shortly after getting under way, with state lawmakers seeking guidance from federal prosecutors and postponing any real action until the governor’s attorney arrives.

The attorney, Ed Genson, planned to attend Wednesday’s meeting of a special Illinois House committee reviewing potential impeachment and may provide the first hint of the embattled Democratic governor’s strategy.