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Friday, October 14, 2011

Fitch Downgrades UBS, Many Others, Puts Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman, BNP, Deutsche Bank, SocGen And Others On Watch Negative

Since one can not get a downgrade of a bank during market hours for fears of springing who knows what circuit breakers, Fitch had to wait until just after the market close to release its latest market surprise which consisted of a "watch negative" announcement on the following banks Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman, Morgan Stanley; others it just slashed some by multiple notches, among which: Landesbank Berlin IDR downgraded to A+ from AA-; Lloyds Banking Group IDR downgraded to A from AA-; RBS IDR downgraded to A from AA-; and most importantly UBS IDR downgraded to A from A+. The reason for the action: "the ongoing Eurozone crisis continues to feed intense market speculation regarding the potential or bank recapitalisation schemes. Therefore for the near term the agency is maintaining a 'single A' range support rating floors for banks in its highest rated Eurozone countries." The Euro is not liking this announcement one bit.

The critical UBS downgrade:


Top Journo Matt Taibbi Weighs In On 5 Demands To Fix Wall Street

Matt Taibbi (left) Lists The 5 Things The Occupy Wall Street Protesters Should Demand ... The man who called Goldman Sachs a "great vampire squid" has some advice for Occupy Wall Street. Not that he doesn't think they're doing things well. In fact, he thinks the logic behind the protester's lack of demands is ingenious. But if they were to figure out their specific demands. Here's where he, per his article in Rolling Stone, thinks they should start. –  Business Insider

Dominant Social Theme: Break up Wall Street corruption and things will start to get better.

Free-Market Analysis: Famous Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi has weighed in on the Occupy Wall Street movement once more with a specific set of five demands that protestors could focus on. Business Insider does a good job of summarizing them. Here they are, verbatim from Business Insider:

1. Break up the monopolies. Taibbi is talking about the 20 or so "too big to fail" companies in our country that could single-handedly take down our economy.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. "A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about..."

3. No public money for private lobbying. Pretty self-explanatory.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. Right now, because of the carried-interest tax break, they're only paying about 15%.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. Bonuses shouldn't be paid up-front. They should be contingent upon performance.



Foreigners Dump $74 Billion In Treasurys In 6 Consecutive Weeks: Biggest Sequential Outflow In History

Over the weekend, we observed [8]the perplexing sell off of $56 billion in US Treasurys courtesy of weekly disclosure in the Fed's custodial account (source: H.4.1 [9]) and speculated if this may be due to an asset rotation, under duress or otherwise, out of bonds and into stocks, to prevent the collapse of the global ponzi (because when the BRICs tell the IMF [10]to boost its bailout capacity you know it is global). We also proposed a far simpler theory: "the dreaded D-day in which foreign official and private investors finally start offloading their $2.7 trillion in Treasurys with impunity (although not with the element of surprise - China has made it abundantly clear it will sell its Treasury holdings, the only question is when), has finally arrived." In hindsight the Occam's Razor should have been applied. Little did we know 5 short days ago just how violent the reaction by China would be (both post and pre-facto) to the Senate decision to propose a law for all out trade warfare with China. Now we know - in the week ended October 12, a further $17.7 billion was "removed" from the Fed's custodial Treasury account, meaning that someone, somewhere is very displeased with US paper, and, far more importantly, what it represents, and wants to make their displeasure heard loud and clear. Whether it is China - we do not know: we may have a better view in two months when the September/October TIC data hits, but even then it will be full of errors, as Direct Bidder purchases by the UK usually end up being assigned to China at the yearly TIC audit. And the sellers know this all too well. What they also know is that over the next few days (or weeks - ZH tends to be a little "aggressive" in its estimates for popular uptake), as soon as the broader population understands what has transpired, concerns about the reserve status of the greenback will start to resurface, precisely as many have been warning. And what has happened is that in six consecutive weeks, foreigners have sold $74 billion, or more government bonds in a sequential period of time than ever before.


No One Is Buying Iranian Terror Allegations

Iran Terror Plot: No Evidence
The day before Attorney General was subpoenaed about what he knew about the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency's "Fast and Furious" operation to get weapons to Mexico's largest drug cartel [17], the U.S. government announced that the Iranians planned to kill a Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.
And they said - you guessed it - that it was DOJ and DEA who broke up the plot [18].
But no one is buying it ... not even the pro-war mainstream media [19].
The New York Times notes [20] in a post entitled "U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism":
The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to reconcile what it said was solid evidence of an Iranian plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with a wave of puzzlement and skepticism from some foreign leaders and outside experts.
Senior American officials themselves were struggling to explain why the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, would orchestrate such a risky attack in so amateurish a manner.

These Three Men Represent Everything That's Wrong with Wall Street

I've already expressed my desire to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement. I said last week that I would join in whole-heartedly if I knew exactly what the protesters were trying to achieve.

But I don't know - and I'm not convinced they do, either.

Still, that doesn't mean we should dismiss them entirely. After all, there are millions of Americans who sense there's something terribly wrong with our capitalist system, but they can't pinpoint exactly what it is either.

But I can.

Bad actors have done bad things to good institutions and our capitalist system. Today, I'm going to let you in on who three of those bad actors are.

You see, part of the problem is that when we think of the "bad guys" on Wall Street, or in Washington for that matter, we don't often think of specific people. We talk about "them" as faceless men we might imagine sitting in luxurious high-rises chewing on cigars and laughing as they rake in millions, or even billions of dollars on the backs of hardworking Americans.

I intend to fix that. I want to shed light on the faces of the people who are gaming the system and lay out before you the tools they're using to get away with it.

Top Journo Matt Taibbi Weighs In On 5 Demands To Fix Wall Street

Matt Taibbi (left) Lists The 5 Things The Occupy Wall Street Protesters Should Demand ... The man who called Goldman Sachs a "great vampire squid" has some advice for Occupy Wall Street. Not that he doesn't think they're doing things well. In fact, he thinks the logic behind the protester's lack of demands is ingenious. But if they were to figure out their specific demands. Here's where he, per his article in Rolling Stone, thinks they should start. –  Business Insider

Dominant Social Theme: Break up Wall Street corruption and things will start to get better.

Free-Market Analysis: Famous Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi has weighed in on the Occupy Wall Street movement once more with a specific set of five demands that protestors could focus on. Business Insider does a good job of summarizing them. Here they are, verbatim from Business Insider:

1. Break up the monopolies. Taibbi is talking about the 20 or so "too big to fail" companies in our country that could single-handedly take down our economy.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. "A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about..."

3. No public money for private lobbying. Pretty self-explanatory.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. Right now, because of the carried-interest tax break, they're only paying about 15%.


Government-Generated Plots

Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? Can the federal government take credit for saving us from a plot of its own creation? Tonight, has the federal government kept us safe or does it just want us to think that it has kept us safe?

Since the tragedy of 9/11, numerous crazies and low-level copy-cats have engaged in criminal behavior which they hoped would result in the deaths of innocent Americans and somehow advance the cause of jihad. If you ask the leadership of the FBI, most of whose field agents are tireless, dedicated, Constitution-supporting professionals, it will tell you that it has foiled about seventeen plots to kill Americans during the past ten years. What it will not tell you is that there have been twenty foiled plots; and of them, three were interrupted by members of the public. The seventeen that were interrupted by the feds were created by them.


Why Ron Paul Is Dominating

If they want to really change things, the first person to fire is Bernanke, who is a disastrous chairman of the Federal Reserve. The second person to fire is Geithner. 

Everybody – everybody in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who have been at the heart of the sickness which is weakening this country and ought to start with Bernanke, who has still not been exposed for the hundreds of billions of dollars.

And I'm going to say one last thing. I want to repeat this. Bernanke has in secret spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing out another group. I don't see anybody in the news media demanding the kind of transparency at the Fed that you would demand of every other aspect of the federal government. And I think it is corrupt and it is wrong for one man to have that kind of secret power.

~ Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich

This was arguably the most important string of statements uttered thus far in the otherwise pitiful GOP primary debate contest.  And it is because of this glaring admission of reality that it has become plainly obvious that Dr. Ron Paul has come out on top of this race.  Between applause-pleading lines such as "repeal Obamacare" and "you flip flopped on universal health insurance while governor," substantial discussion on the role government should play in our lives has been largely devoid. Despite this lack of worthy debate, nuggets of brilliance such as Gingrich’s verbal assault on the Fed continue to creep into every debate. This is all thanks to the Texas Congressman who was dismissed as a crackpot yet has unilaterally brought policy discussion toward a more libertarian view. And it is because of this Ron Paul is the real front runner in the race to secure the Republican nomination for president.

Just take a look at the latest candidate poll positions from Reuters:



Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, dont help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight.

Hey you, out there on the road
always doing what you’re told,
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall,
Breaking bottles in the hall,
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall.

Pink Floyd – Hey You

Al Gore Backs Occupy Wall Street

Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday offered his support for the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place in New York City and around the country. In a blog post, Gore wrote that he has been following news of the protests for several weeks "with both interest and admiration."

How Bank of America Covered Up Fraud by Silencing Whistleblowers

Countrywide made life hard for an internal investigator, and a court ruled that when BofA took over, she was illegally fired in retaliation.

In the summer of 2007, a team of corporate investigators sifted through mounds of paper pulled from shred bins at Countrywide Financial Corp. mortgage shops in and around Boston.

By intercepting the documents before they were sliced by the shredder, the investigators were able to uncover what they believed was evidence that branch employees had used scissors, tape and Wite-Out to create fake bank statements, inflated property appraisals and other phony paperwork. Inside the heaps of paper, for example, they found mock-ups that indicated to investigators that workers had, as a matter of routine, literally cut and pasted the address for one home onto an appraisal for a completely different piece of property.

U.S. Official: 'Multiple' Sources Strengthen Case Against Iran

Washington (CNN) -- "Multiple" sources have corroborated the report about an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, a scheme the administration is alleging is tied to Iran's military, a U.S. official told CNN Thursday.

When U.S. officials first learned of the alleged plot, "there were significant doubts there was any 'there' there," the official said. But "multiple sources of independently verified information" corroborated the account, the official said. "It coalesced into a picture of something unusual but serious," the official said.

Chicago High School Fight Videotaped, Sisters Arrested After Scuffle With Third Teen

(CBS/WBBM) CHICAGO - A no-holds-barred school brawl captured on cell phone video has led to the arrest and suspension of two teenage Chicago sisters for viciously beating a classmate, reports CBS station WBBM.

The alleged assailants, Sara Mejorado, 17, and Aurelia Mejorado, 18, were charged with misdemeanor battery for the attack last week during a biology class at Roger C. Sullivan High School.


Police Arrest N.M. Woman Looking For "Mary Jane" On Craigslist

(CBS/AP) ROSWELL, N.M. - The ad placed in Craigslist's "casual encounters" section by a New Mexico woman said she was new to town and "looking for Mary Jane."

Roswell Police Sgt. Ty Sharpe said the ad was such a blatant request for marijuana, he had to make sure it wasn't posted by another undercover officer.

It wasn't.

Roswell police arrested 29-year-old Anamicka Dave this week after officers posing as sellers arranged to meet her through text messages. It was Dave who was "looking for Mary Jane," reported Albuquerque station KOB-TV.


Will Evangelicals Doom Romney?

Mitt Romney 2.0 is an impressive candidate. While other Republicans have moved up and down in the polls, he has held the position of frontrunner for most of the past year and a half. Compared with the last presidential race, he’s looser and more sure of himself. Heck, during the Tuesday’s debate in New Hampshire, Romney was feeling confident enough to crack a joke at the expense of Charlie Rose. And it was funny! The former governor may not inspire passion in voters, but he exudes competence, which may be the more valuable trait in this election when the economy is faltering and Obama is so weak.


Hold It: Airline Might Ditch Toilets To Make Room For More Seats

Oh, the things Ryanair will do to save money.
Brought to you from the CEO who brainstormed charging for toilet use and standing-room-only flights comes another humdinger: shaving the number of bathrooms on planes down to one, in order to make room for six more seats. Michael O'Leary, said CEO, dismissed worries that one bathroom might not be enough for 200 people, telling London's Independent that they "rarely use all three toilets on board our aircraft anyway.” (Clearly O'Leary has never been in a one-bathroom situation with someone experiencing gastrointestinal problems.)


Can Education Be ‘Moneyball’-ed?

Data analysis is so trendy these days that Brad Pitt is getting millions of people to sit through a movie about quantitative methodology. Moneyball, based on the 2003 bestseller by Michael Lewis, traces the rise of new methods that the Oakland A’s used to identify undervalued baseball players so the team could win more games with a smaller payroll. A lot of education reformers are calling for a similar approach to evaluate teachers and improve student performance. Given that I’m a longtime reformer and love baseball, you’d think I’d be all over this idea. But there are some significant strikes against a Moneyball approach to education.


Berlin Dealer Gets Five Years

BERLIN- A Berlin man who pleaded guilty in federal court in July to possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine following one of the most significant drug busts in recent Worcester County history was sentenced this week to five years in prison, the minimum mandatory sentence for the offense.
Tyrone Darnell Lawson, 38, of Berlin, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on July 14 to one count of possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine, a charge which carries a maximum of 40 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of five years. Back in federal court on Tuesday, Lawson was sentenced to five years in prison, the mandatory minimum recommended by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and was placed on supervised probation for four years upon his release.
Lawson was arrested on May 20, 2010 after the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Enforcement Team executed a search and seizure warrant on his West Street residence in Berlin and recovered 1.7 kilograms of cocaine.


The Seven Biggest Economic Lies

The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here’s a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards. The major points:

Legionnaire’s Confirmed at Boardwalk Hotel; One Fatality Reported

OCEAN CITY- Three more cases of Legionnaire’s Disease connected to a historic Boardwalk hotel were confirmed this week, including an elderly out-of-state victim who has died from the disease, while state and local health officials this week confirmed the presence of the bacteria in the water at the facility.
Last week, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Worcester County Health Department reported three individuals who were guests at the Plim Plaza Hotel on the Boardwalk had developed legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionnaire’s Disease, roughly one week after staying at the hotel. All three individuals were hospitalized, although none had died.

Teen Dies After Breaking Leg At Football Practice

An Edmond North High School football player who broke his leg during practice has died.

Edmond School District spokeswoman Susan Parks says 16-year-old sophomore Ryan Smith died Wednesday night, a day after he was injured.

Parks says after his leg was broken, Smith was treated at an Edmond hospital and released Tuesday night.

Rhode Island Atheist Student, School Clash Over Prayer Mural Lawsuit

A 16-year-old atheist said Thursday she is confident the law is on her side in her fight over a prayer mural that she wants removed from the auditorium of her high school.

Jessica Ahlquist said her side is "very strong" after attorneys for her and the city of Cranston made their case to Senior Judge Ronald R. Lagueux in U.S. District Court in Providence. Ahlquist believes the mural should be taken down.

Is Your Employer a 401(k) Pickpocket?

Is your 401(k) account loaded with high, hidden fees? New federal401(k) plan disclosure rules will soon be implemented to highlight how much fees are eating into employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

But more workers are already going after companies that they allege are taking advantage of those retirement accounts. Ameriprise Financial Inc. employees participating in the company's 401(k) plan filed a suit last month against the company, alleging the financial services firm invested employee retirement money into its own untested funds and charged expensive, uncapped fees.

Will Bush Be Held Accountable For War Crimes?

Former President George W. Bush will be attending an economic summit in Canada next week – and Amnesty International is hoping this is finally their chance to hold Bush accountable for war crimes.

Amnesty International is calling on the Canadian Government to arrest Bush while he’s in the country for the violating international laws against torture. A statement released from the organization reads: “Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former President Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture.” However – Canada rejected the calls for arrest. The real question is when will the Department of Justice do IT’S job in holding the Bush administration responsible for war crimes.

House Passes Bill On Abortion Funding

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would amend the health care law to bar federal funding for health plans that provide abortion services.

The vote was 251 in favor and 170 against.


China Vs. The U.S.: The Case For Second Place

China will soon overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest economy. Should Americans be concerned?

It is now a foregone conclusion that China’s economy will become the biggest in the world sometime very soon. According to the World Bank, the size of China’s economy is $10.1 trillion, compared with $14.6 trillion for the U.S., based on purchasing power parity (which adjusts exchange rates to account for the different prices people pay for goods and services across countries). But China is narrowing the gap in a hurry. Over the past 10 years, the annual real growth of China’s gross domestic product averaged 10.5 percent, compared with 1.7 percent in the U.S. The Chinese economy increased at an annual rate of 9.6 percent in the first half of 2011, vs. a rate of less than 1 percent in the U.S. America’s days as top dog of global output are numbered, at best.

Should we care? People from Thomas Friedman to Niall Ferguson cite the looming change at the top of the world economic rankings as a bellwether of broader American decline. “We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance. China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest, and build. We spend, borrow, and patch,” complained Friedman in a recent New York Times column. And yet having the world’s largest economy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—and you need look no further than the history of China and the U.S. to see that. The swelling size of China’s economy may be a source of pride to the Chinese people, but America is still by far the better place to live—and will remain so for a long time.


Craig Jahelka, V.P. General Manager Of WBOC Claims Businesses Are UP 7.5% On DelMarVa

I received a couple of phone calls moments ago telling me that Craig Jahelka just announced everything is fine on the Eastern Shore. He claimed business is up 7.5% over last year.

Business owners started calling me saying, what hole is this guy living in. Is this guy clueless.

Many business owners are struggling like there's no tomorrow. Unfortunately, I listen to people who have been in business for 40 and 50 years here on the shore and while they have experienced recessions before, NOTHING has brought them to their knees like the latest depression.

Maybe WBOC and trying to convince people that things aren't what they seem. Maybe they're hoping they can pick up additional advertisers because EVERY ONE ELSE is doing so well. Is this supposed to encourage competition?

Well, I wouldn't fall for this crap Folks. I wish things were better for every one, believe me. However, (IMHO) there's NO WAY businesses are up 7.5% over last year. Every restaurant owner I've spoken to is crying the blues, (a figure of speech). You know the old saying, don't piss on my head and tell me its raining. It should end with, by Craig Jahelka.

OK, so the BIG question is, do you believe, (or is your) business up 7.5% over last year?

New Posts to fall below.

No Boys Allowed! Hotels Offer Women-Only Floors

Women-only floors at hotels — an amenity discarded by the hotel industry at the dawn of the feminist movement — may be experiencing a comeback.

In a focus group study conducted by the 812-room Hotel Bella Sky Comwell in Copenhagen, Denmark, more than half of the “influential and well-traveled Danish women” surveyed said they’d stay on a women-only floor because “it provides a sense of security; it feels more hygienic to know that the previous guest was also a woman and they prefer rooms tailored to women’s needs.”

Armed with that data, the hotel opened in May 2011 with a secure-access floor for ladies only. “Bella Donna” floors cost an additional DKK 300 (about US$55) and offer extra-large showerheads, extra clothes hangers for skirts and dresses and a minibar stocked with items such as smoothies, champagne and high-quality chocolate.


FAA Investigates Skydiving Sex Stunt Over California

Instructor fired after incident near Bakersfield; video makes rounds at school

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will look into a videotaped skydiving sex stunt to determine if the pilot might have been distracted during the incident over Kern County.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says any activity that could distract the pilot while he's flying could be a violation of federal regulations.

Skydive Taft owner David Chrouch says he fired part-time skydiving instructor and porn star Alex Torres and hasn't decided whether to fire the company's receptionist, Hope Howell, who he said was Torres' partner in the video.

Air Traffic Controller Errors Soaring

WASHINGTON (AP) - Errors by air traffic controllers in the vicinity of airports as well as incidents in which there was an unauthorized plane, vehicle, or person on a runway have increased sharply, a government watchdog said in a report released Thursday.

Mistakes by controllers working at radar facilities that handle approaches and departures within about 30 miles of an airport that cause planes to fly too close together nearly doubled over three years ending in March, the Government Accountability Office report said.

Separately, runway incursions at airports with control towers increased from 11 incidents per million takeoffs and landings in the 2004 federal budget year to 18 incidents per million takeoffs and landings in the 2010 federal budget year. Most large and medium-sized airports have control towers. Such "runway incursions," as they are called, can involve anything that's not supposed to be on a runway, from a stray baggage cart to a plane that makes a wrong turn while taxiing.

The deadliest accident in aviation history occurred on March 27, 1977 on an airport runway on the Spanish island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands when two Boeing 747s collided, killing 583 people.


Feds Indict Dozens Of Bloods Gang Members Operating In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Federal authorities announce the take down of a major off-shoot of the Bloods Gang operating right here in Maryland. Dozens of suspected gang members have been indicted, some arrested and others already behind bars.

Derek Valcourt has more on the gang and their criminal reach.

From Western Maryland all the way over to the Eastern Shore, police say these gang members were organized and violent.


BREAKING NEWS: Obama To Send Troops To Central Africa

Obama announces he will send about 100 troops to central Africa to help battle rebel group.
From Fox News

One In Three Gap Stores In U.S. Will Be Closed By End Of 2013

Earlier today, the folks at once-mammoth clothing retailer Gap Inc. announced plans to shutter even more of its namesake Gap stores in the U.S. over the next 14.5 months, bringing the total number of stores to only 700 by the end of 2013.

More »

4 Things You Might Not Know You Can Save On At A Warehouse Store

The typical mental image of shopping at a warehouse store like Costco or Sam's Club is shopping carts overflowing with bulk packs of toilet paper and kitty litter. But those who have actually shopped at these places know that you can purchase a lot more than just huge packages of the bare necessities. And in addition to the stuff you'd find at most superstores, warehouse clubs may have some additional perks you won't get too many other places.

More »

GAO: Postal Service Did Not Overpay CSRS Account

A new report throws a wrench into the Postal Service's long-standing contention that it has paid too much for employee retirement benefits and could use that money to return to profitability.

The Government Accountability Office report says calculations of how much the Postal Service owes for employee benefits under Civil Service Retirement System have been made correctly.
Calculations made by actuaries contracted by both the Postal Service's inspector general and the independent Postal Regulatory Commission estimated that the Office of Personnel Management overcharged the Postal Service by $50 billion-to-$85 billion for CSRS benefits since the 1970s.
The GAO report says the term "overpayments" is misleading because it "can imply an error of some type-mathematical, actuarial or accounting. We have not found evidence of error of these types."
If the government returned that money to the Postal Service, it would "increase the federal government's current and future unfunded pension liability by an estimated $56 billion to $85 billion," the report said. "This liability would then be funded by the federal government using tax revenue, borrowing or both."


Attention Astronomy Buffs

Astronomy buffs can get a close-up look at a full-size replica of the James Webb Space Telescope in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which will be on display outside the Maryland Science Center through Oct. 26. The telescope is expected to replace the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, but will head much farther out into space. Launch is planned for 2018.

Gov't Cameras In Your Car? E-toll Patent Hints At Big Brotherish Future

Imagine that you couldn't drive on major highways without agreeing to put a camera in your car -- one that could film either the occupants or the vehicle’s surroundings and transmit the images back to a central office for inspection.

You don't have to read George Orwell to conjure up such an ominous surveillance state. You just have to skim through filings at the U.S. Patent Office.


Workers Remove Two Tons Of Stonework From Top Of National Cathdral

If the National Cathedral looks a little off, that's because it's missing a pinnacle. Workers used a crane to remove two tons of stonework from the top of the cathedral's 330-foot central tower. The stone topper was damaged in the earthquake that hit Washington in August. In fact, all four pinnacles on the tower were damaged. All the broken parts must come down for repair and so the building can reopen. The Cathedral took 83 years to build and was completed in 1990. All of its stonework is hand-carved.

Transport Strikes Hit Greek Capital

EDITORS NOTES: Better keep a very close eye on what goes on in Greek Union woes. Coming to an America near you, soon!

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Buses, metro trains, trams and taxis were not running in the Greek capital Friday, snarling traffic as public transport workers striked for a second day in an unrelenting barrage of protests against government austerity measures.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos criticized the repeated strikes and protests, which have included the take-over of government buildings and risk slowing reforms the country needs to qualify for bailout loans.

"This is a challenge at the heart of democracy," the minister said in Parliament, adding that "the image there has been in the last few weeks is one of lawlessness," and that blackmail was different from fighting for people's rights.

Venizelos said the government was prepared to assume the political cost of pushing through unpopular but necessary austerity measures.


Homeland Security Tells Employees To Shut Up

Brass at the Homeland Security Department want to limit what sort of outside work employees can do. A new proposed rule, aimed at preventing conflicts of interest, would require employees to get permission before consulting, teaching or public speaking. For instance, if you work at Customs and Border Protection, you would not be allowed to work in agriculture or immigration. FEMA employees could not do work for the agency's contractors. The rule would exempt work for charities, churches and other non-profits.

Mind-blowing Sex Can Cause Amnesia

Sex can be mind blowing or forgettable. For one woman who walked into the Georgetown University Hospital it was both. She was diagnosed with Temporary Global Amnesia.

Full Story

Detroit Hosts Jobs Fair For Ex-Convicts Only

DETROIT - In a city where over a quarter of its residents are unemployed, and almost 30,000 of them are either on probation or out on parole, Detroit is looking to put ex-convicts back to work. On Wednesday, the city held an "Offenders Only" Job Fair at the East Lake Church.

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh organized the job fair, along with Wayne County Community College and Kelly Services. Pugh, a former television and radio personality in his first term on the council, has been advocating for job opportunities for convicted felons since he took office in 2010.

The city council has even gone as far as trying to get the question 'Have you ever been convicted of a felony?' removed from job applications in Detroit.


The Basics On The Latest Murdoch Scandal

Yet another scandal is bubbling up at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. On Tuesday, the Murdoch-owned Dow Jones announced [1] that the publisher of The Wall Street Journal’s European edition was resigning, without mentioning why. The next day, The Wall Street Journal reported [2] that the top European exec stepped down after an internal ethics investigation found he had pressured reporters to write two positive [3] stories [4] about a Dutch firm with which the paper had an agreement that helped boost circulation figures.

Circulation numbers matter because they’re used to set advertising rates, and American papers are no strangers to scandals over inflated circulation figures [5].
But that was just the beginning. Also on Wednesday, the Guardian came out with a story [6] by Nick Davies — the same reporter who first drew attention to the breadth of the phone hacking scandal [7] — asserting further transgressions. The Guardian suggested that The Journal funneled its own money to the Dutch firm, Executive Learning Partnership [8], through middleman companies. In other words, the Guardian reported, The Wall Street Journal Europe was buying its own papers by proxy. The Guardian also reported that Dow Jones and News Corp. executives had known since December that this was going on, and fired the employee who brought it to light.


Thirty-Five Charged With Maryland Crime Spree

Alleged crimes include murder, kidnapping and home invasion

Federal authorities announced Thursday a racketeering indictment charging 35 alleged Bloods gang members with murder, kidnapping and other crimes from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore — a move they said had "dismantled" the gang.

Authorities say cells of the South Side Brims coordinated gang activity across the state and region, and court documents offer a tutorial on how modern criminal organizations operate, including posting photos and messages on Facebook, and uploading initiation videos on YouTube.

Analysis: Alleged Assassination Plot Doesn't Fit Past Iranian Behavior

Plot to kill Saudi ambassador with Mexican drug cartel's help would represent a brazen, new direction for both, which have avoided direct confrontation with the U.S.

The alleged Iranian plot to use Mexican cartel gunmen to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington is one of the strangest, most serious terrorism cases to surface in years, a mix of seemingly credible evidence and unlikely scenarios that departs dramatically from Iran’s past record of global terrorist activity.

On Tuesday, a grim-faced U.S. attorney general and the FBI director accused Iranian intelligence officials in an alleged $1.5 million scheme to kill Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia in a bombing at a restaurant in the capital.


5 Ways to Get Your Date to Put Down the Phone

Have you ever felt like you had to send your date an email or text across the dinner table just to get his attention? In the age of technology, sometimes a smart phone can be more threatening to your relationship than another woman. With communication so readily at your fingertips, these days it’s hard for some people to interact on a deeper level.

Resort Nightclub Cleared in Boat Crash Suit

OCEAN CITY- A federal judge last week dismissed a $1 million civil suit filed in March against a popular resort nightclub attempting to hold the establishment responsible in part for the actions of an inebriated skipper who later crashed his vessel into the Route 90 bridge.

Incident: DUI
Date of Incident: 13 October 2011
Location: West Road, Salisbury, MD
Suspect: Roosevelt I. Savage, 59, Salisbury, MD

Narrative: On 13 October 2011
a deputy from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop for several traffic violations. During the stop the driver was identified as being impaired. Savage was placed under arrest.

Charges: Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Incident: Trespass
Date of Incident: 13 October 2011
Location: Westover Drive., Salisbury, MD
Suspect: Kimberly Schoolfield, 24, Magnolia, DE

Narrative: On 13 October 2011
, a deputy from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported domestic dispute. The suspect, Kimberly Schoolfield, was refusing to leave the residence after being asked to leave. The investigation led to the arrest of the suspect, Schoolfield.

The deputy transported Schoolfield to the Central Booking Unit where she was processed and taken in front of the District Court Commissioner. After an initial appearance, the Commissioner released Schoolfield on personal recognizance.

Charges: Trespassing

Thank God Its Friday

What will you be doing this weekend?

TRAFFIC ALERT - Bridge Inspection Will Require Daytime Lane Closure oO Route 13

Dover --
WHEN: Wednesday, October 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., right lane and shoulder closure

Rain date, Thursday, October 20

WHERE: Douglas Harris Bridge over the St. Jones River on Route 13 between Public Safety Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Kent County

WHAT: Inspection of the bridge by DelDOT.

House GOP Proposes So-Called "Let Women Die" Bill That Lets Hospitals Deny Life-Saving Care

In their latest assault on women’s health, this week House Republicans will take up HR 358, the ironically titled “Protect Life Act.” Opponents have rechristened the measure the “Let Women Die” bill because it would allow hospitals that receive federal funds to turn away a woman seeking an abortion in all circumstances, even if an abortion is necessary to save her life:
The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.
Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.
Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

Italian Students Storm Milan Goldman Sachs Office

While hardly the explanation for why the EURUSD has surged nearly 100 pips in the past 45 minutes on absolutely no news (or, in this bizarro market, explaining it perfectly), and as the market focuses its attention on where the line of angry young protesters is longer: by the New York Stock Exchange or in front of the Apple store, Italians, once again betrayed by their politicians who were bribed by Berlusconi to vote for him in the latest vote of "confidence" (at a price of €250k per vote), have decided to make their feelings for financial innovation, and its patron saint, known, by storming the Goldman office in Milan. From Corriere [6]: "on Friday students took to the streets to demonstrate for and against the public school funds the crisis and the government. The procession was attended by about ten thousand young people (two thousand according to initial estimates of the Police Station). The raid at the headquarters of U.S. bank Goldman Sachs was the first action of the student demonstration. A group of twenty boys tried to get a surprise in the Milanese headquarters of the U.S. bank, Bossi in the square, near Piazza Cordusio. Rejected by some employees of the home, the young people then smeared with spray paint the hallway and throwing bags full of garbage to the cry of "Goldman Sachs has the courage to face the future without young people." We doubt this is the last expression of love for those who do God's work in Europe, primarily with austerity-delaying FX swaps... Now that the delay can no longer be delayed.


Herman Cain The Leader?

Coming out of Tuesday night’s debate – Republicans officially have a new leader…Herman Cain.

Even though his 9-9-9 plan – which – according to Cain – was created by some guy in Cleveland – was widely criticized in the debate as being unrealistic and flat-out bad for the country – Republican voters seem to think he could be the guy. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll – Cain is the new top choice with 27% - Romney’s in second with 23% - and Governor “Good Hair” Rick Perry is at 16%. Herman Cain’s plan for the country would result in the biggest tax increase on poor Americans in the history of this nation – and it would result in the largest post-World War 2 deficits ever created. So I guess it makes sense after all that he’s the number one guy in the race to the bottom.

BREAKING NEWS: Court Blocks Parts Of Alabama Illegal Immigration Law

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals grants temporary injunction halting parts of Alabama's illegal immigration law, including requiring aliens to carry registration papers and schools to check student immigration status.
From Fox News

Highlighted Events This Week and Next Week in Wicomico Schools

Friday, Oct. 14
Wicomico TOY a Finalist at Maryland Teacher of the Year Gala

Salisbury Middle School science teacher Chad Pavlekovich, the 2011-12 Wicomico Teacher of the Year, will attend the Oct. 14 Maryland Teacher of the Year Gala as a finalist for the state honor. The 2011-2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced at about 9:30 p.m. during this gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. The seven finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents and higher education. Finalists are measured against a rigorous set of national criteria. Wicomico is proud of its state finalist and of the school system’s record of educational excellence, with two past Maryland Teachers of the Year (Bonnie Walston and Aaron Deal) working to support the success of Wicomico County students.

Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“Children’s Letters to God” Youth Musical
Allen Memorial Baptist Church, Salisbury

“Dear God. How did you know you were God?” “Dear God. Are you really invisible or is that just a trick?” “Dear God. How come you did all the miracles in the old days and you don’t do any now?” Taken directly from the letters of young people, “Children’s Letters to God” is family fun featuring a cast of five young characters ranging in age from 10 to 15 years old and a small ensemble. As in the book that inspired the musical, the production is not specifically religious in nature. It's about kids and various events in their lives that lead them to ask a lot of questions -- some funny, some serious, some surprising. In the end, they realize most of the answers have been around them all the time. Kaleidoscope Children & Youth Production's (KCYP) presentation features Katie Beach (Wicomico Middle) as Iris, Madison Rogers (Pemberton) as Kicker, Rachael Mrohs (Wor-Wic) as Joanna, Hunter Shaner (The Salisbury School) as Brett, and John Paul Chamberlain (Holly Grove) as Theo, all local students and KCYP's travel team as the chorus. Tickets: $14 adults, $11 students and senior citizens (for KCYP members, $13 adults, $10 students and senior citizens). Call 443-880-6240 or 443-944-3238 or visit

Saturday, Oct. 15
2011 Delmarvacade of Bands
Wicomico County Stadium

Lights. Music. Marching. One of the most exciting and uplifting nights of the marching band season is coming up Saturday, Oct. 15, when Parkside High School and the Parkside Band Boosters present the 2011 Delmarvacade of Bands at Wicomico County Stadium.

High school marching bands from throughout the region – including the top three bands in Chapter IX, the chapter in which Wicomico County bands compete -- will fill Wicomico County Stadium that night. Spectators will enjoy the exciting sights and sounds of the field shows as bands tune up for the impending championship events.

Between bands, parents, and spectators, the Delmarvacade is expected to draw thousands of people to the stadium on Oct. 15 (rain date is Oct. 16 at 2 p.m.). Bands will compete on Oct. 15 starting at 6:30 p.m., with each band performing the kind of field show people are accustomed to seeing at halftime of football games. Each performance will last seven to 12 minutes, and a new band will take the field about every 15 minutes.

The event is sponsored by Parkside High School and its Band Boosters. It will be adjudicated by professional judges of the National Judges Association. Bands will be judged on every aspect of their field show, including both musical and visual elements, individual and group elements, as well as the overall general effect of the show. Each band will receive a score based on a 100-point scale, and a trophy. Bands will compete in four categories, depending on the number of instrumentalists in the band. Parkside High and Bennett are in Group 3 and Wicomico is in Group 2. Parkside, as host, will perform in exhibition. There will be an awards ceremony at the end of the night.

Admission to Delmarvacade of Bands is $5. A program detailing the participants, with a score sheet to keep track of how the bands are doing, is $5. The Parkside Band Boosters will donate $1 from each program sold to Women Supporting Women of Salisbury. For information call Kevin Zaczkiewicz, Parkside High School band director, at 410-677-5161.

A Question of 140 Characters: British MPs Vote For Twitter

A glance at the Reporters' Gallery of the House of Commons indicates how rich and deep Britain's tradition of political satire runs. Sketch writers—journalists employed to distill their rare understanding of Westminster's doings and beings into intense bursts of snark—hog the front seats, craning to capture details that transform the thudding realities of parliamentary debate into comedy. They're a brilliant bunch but sometimes their efforts appear redundant. British parliamentarians are remarkably adept at sending up themselves.

Average Salaries On Wall Street Have Exploded By More Than 330%

The Banksters are getting richer. According to a new report by Mother Jones – over the last 30 years – average salaries on Wall Street have exploded by more than 330%.

That’s compared to other workers in New York City whose pay has seen only a modest 65% increase in 3 decades. In 1981 – banksters made about twice as much as anyone else in New York City. Today – they make 5 times more than anyone else. For some reason our nation has given more priority to people who don’t create any actual wealth – rather than our manufacturers and teachers who we depend most on. We need to reverse that – and there are people on the streets today pledging to do just that.

Americans Favor Occupy Wall Street Far More Than Tea Party

Despite nonstop GOP and conservative disparagement of the Wall Street protests, the most detailed polling yet on Occupy Wall Street suggests that the public holds a broadly favorable view of the movement — and, crucially, the positions it holds.

Time released a new poll this morning finding that 54 percent view the Wall Street protests favorably, versus only 23 percent who think the opposite. Interestingly, only 23 percent say they don’t have an opinion, suggesting the protests have succeeded in punching through to the mainstream. Also: The most populist positions espoused by Occupy Wall Street — that the gap between rich and poor has grown too large; that taxes should be raised on the rich; that execs responsible for the meltdown should be prosecuted — all have strong support.


Is Wisconsin Trying To Rig Next Year’s Presidential Election

First it was Pennsylvania – now Wisconsin is trying to rig next year’s Presidential election.

Wisconsin State Representative Dan LeMathieu introduced legislation that would change how the state counts electoral votes – dividing them up based on which candidate wins each Congressional district rather than the winner-take-all format that Wisconsin has always used – and that 48 other states in the nation use. Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes – and has voted for a Democrat in every Presidential election since 1988. But if Republicans get their way – then those 10 votes that have normally gone to Democrats would be split up – with half going to Republicans. As the old saying goes, “It’s not the people who vote that counts. It’s the people who count the votes.”

Fill In The Blank 10-14-11

Today I am going to_____!

Limiting Abortion?

House Republicans will vote on legislation to limit abortion in the country. H.R. 358 will severely restrict women’s access to abortion and also allow health care providers to refuse to administer abortions if it goes against their consciences – no matter how medically necessary the procedure may be. As in – if a woman’s life is at risk during a pregnancy – a doctor now has the right to let her die rather than perform an abortion. The White House has already pledged to veto the legislation – meaning this is nothing but politics being played out by Republicans in the House. Americans gave Speaker John Boehner a majority in 2010 to do something to fix the economy – not divide the nation with controversial abortion legislation. So – the question still remains: “Speaker Boehner – where are the jobs?!”


US Loosens Strictures On Traveling To Cuba

Despite its location 90 miles off the shores of Florida, Cuba remains, in the eyes of many Americans, one of the last great travel mysteries. Since 1961, when the U.S. government instituted a de facto Cuban travel ban, visits to the country by U.S. nationals have been problematic, if not impossible.

American travelers without legal means of visiting the island have been compelled to choose other destinations or circumvent U.S. law by traveling via a third country.

Showdown In NYC

Could a showdown be brewing with the Occupy Wall Street movement and New York City?

Yesterday – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg went to Zucotti Park – the site of the four week long occupation – to tell demonstrators they needed to clear the park by Friday so that it could be cleaned. He assured them they could return right after the cleanup. However – the property managers of the public park want to begin enforcing new rules after the cleaning – including a ban on sleeping bags and camping gear – vital components of the occupation. But demonstrators aren’t budging – vowing to clean the park themselves and form a human chain around the park in case the NYPD tries to force them to leave. They’ve also said that once they clean the park - they plan to take their brooms and mops to Wall Street “where the real mess is.” Looks like another interesting weekend is shaping up in the Big Apple.

Are You Always The Bad Guy When It Comes to Discipline?

I'm constantly disciplining my 4-year-old, but my husband comes home after a long day at work and is much 'softer' on our son. I'm sick of looking like the bad guy.

The parent who is around more does take on the role of disciplinarian, but the real problem here is consistency. A young child with two parents with opposing styles is bound to get confused about which behaviors are OK or not. You and your spouse need to have ongoing dialogues (NOT after a long day at work) about backing each other up. Surely you both want the same thing: a well-behaved and confident child.


Opportunities To Support Our Students And Schools

Saturday, Oct. 15
Yard Sale by the Wicomico High National Honor Society
Wicomico High Auditorium

The National Honor Society (NHS) of Wicomico High School will have a yard sale in the school auditorium from 6-11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15 to raise money for service to the community. Proceeds from the yard sale will help the NHS provide toys and stockings that will be given out to families through the Salvation Army this winter. Anyone wishing to make a donation of clean, usable clothes or household items should contact Linda Howard at Wicomico High at 410-677-5146 or

A+ Garden Centre at Parkside High School Now Open

The A+ Garden Centre at Parkside High School is open for the fall season, with regular hours from 8:15-11 a.m. and 12:30-2 p.m. on school days. The Garden Centre will also be open from 3-6 p.m. this Friday. Purchases of these plants, grown by Parkside CTE horticulture students, supports the horticulture program. Available for purchase are:

mums at $4 each or four for $15
pansies (40 cents for 3-inch or a 32-count flat for $12.16, 80 cents for 4-inch or a 10-count flat for $7.50, or 14-inch pot for $12.95)
perennials $3.95 each
aloe vera, 4-inch pot $1.75
One and 2.8 cubic foot bags also available for purchase

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Is Best Villain Ever

Forget Freddy and Jason. Not so fast, Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter. One of the best villains in movie history is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters."He's at least 100 feet tall and has googly little eyes that roll happily in his head. He never loses his cheery little smile even as he stomps on cars and steps on churches, leaving melty puddles of delicious looking goo in his wake. Like fellow mascot the Cracker Jack Kid, he boasts a sailor suit — kind of.
Well, he sports the hat and the neckerchief. The rest of him is a lusciously obese pile of his signature marshmallows, smushed together like a killer snowman and resulting in thighs so chubby even Richard Simmons would be at a loss to help.

The Electric Car Gets Its Revenge

Last night I caught an advance screening of a new documentary, "Revenge of the Electric Car." It's by the same director who did "Who Killed The Electric Car?" except this story ends in triumph instead of tragedy.

More »

Father Outraged Over Body Suspension Artists in Backyard

Shane Shields can't tell you exactly why, but he gets a rush out of being pierced through the skin with thick hooks and hanging by ropes in the air – a fringe art known as body suspension.

The 29-year-old body modification artist runs a licensed tattoo facility as a day job, but on weekends, he joins other body suspension enthusiasts in a Springfield, Mo., backyard.

The Scapegoat Strategy

By , Published: October 13

What do you do if you can’t run on your record — on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see? How to run when you are asked whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago and you are compelled to answer no?

Play the outsider. Declare yourself the underdog. Denounce Washington as if the electorate hasn’t noticed that you’ve been in charge of it for nearly three years.

But above all: Find villains.

President Obama first tried finding excuses, blaming America’s dismal condition on Japanese supply-chain interruptions, the Arab Spring, European debt and various acts of God.

Didn’t work. Sounds plaintive, defensive. Lacks fight, which is what Obama’s base lusts for above all.
Hence Obama’s new strategy: Don’t whine, blame. Attack. Indict. Accuse. Who? The rich — and their Republican protectors — for wrecking America.

In Obama’s telling, it’s the refusal of the rich to “pay their fair share” that jeopardizes Medicare. If millionaires don’t pony up, schools will crumble. Oil-drilling tax breaks are costing teachers their jobs. Corporate loopholes will gut medical research.

It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making more than $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit (at the very most) from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.

After three years, Obama’s self-proclaimed transformative social policies have yielded a desperately weak economy. What to do? Take the low road: Plutocrats are bleeding the country, and I shall rescue you from them.

Problem is, this kind of populist demagoguery is more than intellectually dishonest. It’s dangerous. Obama is opening a Pandora’s box. Popular resentment, easily stoked, is less easily controlled, especially when the basest of instincts are granted legitimacy by the nation’s leader.

Exhibit A. On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed punitive legislation over China’s currency. If not stopped by House Speaker John Boehner, it might have led to a trade war — a 21st-century Smoot-Hawley. Obama knows this. He has shown no appetite for a reckless tariff war. But he set the tone. Once you start hunting for villains, they can be found anywhere, particularly if they are conveniently foreign.

Exhibit B. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin rails against Bank of America for announcing a $5-a-month debit card fee. Obama echoes the opprobrium with fine denunciations of banks and their hidden fees — except that this $5 fee is not hidden. It’s perfectly transparent.

Yet here is a leading Democratic senator advocating a run on a major (and troubled) bank — after two presidents and two Congresses sunk billions of taxpayer dollars to save failing banks. Not because they were deserving or virtuous but because they are necessary. Without banks, there is no lending. Without lending, there is no business. Without business, there are no jobs.

Exhibit C. To the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping,  Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.

These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching — to the applause of Democrats suffering acute Tea Party envy and now salivating at the energy these big-government anarchists will presumably give their cause.

Except that the real Tea Party actually had a program — less government, less regulation, less taxation, less debt. What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.

And then what? Haven’t gotten that far.

No postprandial plans. But no matter. After all, this is not about programs or policies. This is about scapegoating, a failed administration trying to save itself by blaming our troubles — and its failures — on class enemies, turning general discontent into rage against a malign few.

From the Senate to the streets, it’s working. Obama is too intelligent not to know what he started. But so long as it gives him a shot at reelection, he shows no sign of caring.