Goldman Sachs In Insider Info Probe

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. investigators are looking into whether a Goldman Sachs Group executive tipped Galleon Group on pending deals, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing people it said were familiar with the matter, the newspaper said federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into whether Matthew Korenberg provided advance word to a Galleon Group portfolio manager about mergers, including the acquisition of medical-device maker Advanced Medical Optics by Abbott Laboratories in 2009.

Korenberg is a Goldman Sachs managing director in San Francisco. His attorney, John Hueston, told the Journal investigators have been looking into Korenberg’s dealings since 2009, and the investigation “has come to nothing and for good reason, because Matt Korenberg has never tipped inside information.”

Investigators are trying to determine whether Korenberg passed information to Galleon portfolio manager Paul Yook, the newspaper said. Yook could not be reached for comment on the report.

“We have been aware of these allegations for more than two years, investigated them, fully cooperated with federal authorities in the matter, and Matt Korenberg remains actively employed by the firm,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

Korenberg has not been charged with any wrongdoing, the Journal noted. Federal prosecutors last week provided his name confidentially to attorneys for Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs director who has pleaded not guilty to giving inside information to Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam, the Journal said.

U.S. Firms Doing Much Hiring — Overseas

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. corporations, reluctant to add workers in the United States, are doing the bulk of their hiring overseas, statistics show.

A study of 35 U.S. multinational firms showed that 75 percent of their hiring in the past 24 months has been in other countries.

Between 2009 and 2011, 60 percent of revenue growth for multinational firms based in the United States was overseas, The Wall Street Journal reported.

U.S. firms have set their sights on countries including China, India and Brazil as the next frontier for consumerism.

“If you want to capture market share in China, you’re going to have to hire lots of locals. You just can’t export that stuff,” said Duke University Professor Arie Lewin, considered an expert in outsourcing.

Many U.S. multinational firms have added a paltry number of jobs in the United States since the recession ended in 2009 — far less than smaller businesses.

But there should be no insult assumed, said Martin Baily, a former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.

The jobs overseas “are not necessarily at the expense of U.S. workers.” Baily said.

He said it is “almost inevitable” that the biggest firms need to hire workers overseas.

 

 

Report: Lehman Execs Had Huge Pay Deals

NEW YORK (UPI) — The largest bankruptcy in U.S. history was preceded by the handing out of what could be unprecedentedly high paychecks, court documents show.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which became a symbol of the financial failings of the era, was preceded by paychecks totaling $700 million to just 50 of the firm’s top executives, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The sums paid out at Lehman Brothers were staggering, said Brian Foley, an executive compensation expert in White Plains, N.Y.

“This wasn’t a matter of five or six people being paid a lot,” Foley said.

“Many people are going to be stunned at how well some people were being paid.”

It is not clear yet how much of the pay was in stock options that were cashed in before the firm collapsed or how much was converted to ready cash before the fall of the Wall Street giant.

But on paper, by any measure, the sums are sky-high.

In 2007, former Managing Director Robert Millard’s pay on paper was $51.3 million. Former money manager Marvin Schwartz was to receive $31.1 million and trader Jonathan Hoffman $30.9 million, the Times said.

Millard’s pay was even higher than former Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld, who was promised $40 million.

Given the fall of the company, the payments may appear inexplicable to people who believe high pay usually goes along with success, not the other way around.

In 2005, Millard was paid $3.8 million. His pay the following year soared to $44.5 million.

Millard now says he did not receive his entire pay package for 2006 or 2007 and that more than 50 percent of his Lehman Brothers pay was wiped out when the firm went into bankruptcy.

 

 

GDP Up 2.2 Percent January Through March

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. gross domestic product rose by about 2.2 percent on an annual basis in the first three months of 2012, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The figure is considered and advanced estimate, with numbers that will firm up in the next two months as more data become available.

The advanced figure is a solid notch lower than the 3 percent of the preceding quarter.

Commerce said positive contributions for the GDP came from consumer spending, exports, private inventory investment and residential fixed investment.

They were “partly offset” by federal government spending, non-residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. In addition, imports, which subtract from the GDP, increased in the first quarter.

“These are encouraging signs that the private sector is continuing to heal from the worst recession since the Great Depression,” said Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Krueger noted it was the 11th consecutive quarter of U.S. economic expansion and said gains would have been higher without a sharp decline in government spending.

“If only the private sector components of GDP are considered, GDP grew by 3.5 percent,” Krueger said in a statement.

The breakdown of the GDP includes a 2.9 percent rise in consumer spending, compared with a 2.1 percent increase in the fourth quarter.

Output of durable goods rose by 15.3 percent but the growth for the goods had been faster in the fourth quarter, up 16.1 percent.

Output of non-durable goods — items that are not expected to last three years — rose 2.1 percent following fourth-quarter growth of 0.8 percent.

Federal government spending fell 5.6 percent in the first quarter, a sizable drop but a slower decline than the fourth quarter’s 6.9 percent decrease in federal spending.

Spending on defense fell 8.1 percent following a 12.1 percent decline in the fourth quarter.

Analysts have warned that Europe’s economy, which is predicted to fall into a recession in several countries, is poised to present a serious obstacle to U.S. growth in the next few quarters. Growing business in emerging markets is expected to offset some of that decline.

Analysts also warn that it takes GDP growth of at least 3 percent for the economy to add enough jobs to keep up with the growing population.

 

Study: Brain Waves Changed By Game Playing

TORONTO (UPI) — Playing an action videogame, even for just a short time, causes differences in brain activity and improvements in visual attention, Canadian researchers say.

Twenty-five subjects who had not previously played videogames, taking part in research at the University of Toronto, played a game for a total of 10 hours in 1- to 2-hour sessions.

Sixteen of the subjects played a first-person shooter game and, as a control, nine subjects played a three-dimensional puzzle game.

The subjects’ brain waves were recorded before and after playing the games as they attempted to detect a target object among other distractions over a wide visual field.

Subjects who played the shooter videogame showed significant changes in their brain waves and also showed the greatest improvement on the visual attention task, something not seen in those who played the puzzle games, the university reported Thursday.

“Studies in different labs, including here at the University of Toronto, have shown that action video games can improve selective visual attention, such as the ability to quickly detect and identify a target in a cluttered background,” research psychologist Ian Spence said. “But nobody has previously demonstrated that there are differences in brain activity which are a direct result of playing the video game.

“Superior visual attention is crucial in many important everyday activities,” Spence said. “It’s necessary for things such as driving a car, monitoring changes on a computer display, or even avoiding tripping while walking through a room with children’s toys scattered on the floor.”

The study is being published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

‘Cannibal’ Shrimp In U.S. Waters A Worry

WASHINGTON (UPI) — An invasion of giant “cannibal” shrimp into America’s east coast and gulf coast waters appears to be getting worse, U.S. governmental researchers say.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday sightings of massive Asian tiger shrimp, which can eat their smaller shrimp counterparts, were 10 times higher in 2011 than in 2010.

“And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them,” Pam Fuller, a USGS biologist, told CNN.

Native to Asian and Australian waters, the tiger shrimp, which can grow to 13 inches long, have been seen in coastal U.S. waters from North Carolina to Texas.

Tiger shrimp can be eaten, Fuller said.

“They’re supposed to be very good. But they can get very large, sorta like lobsters,” Fuller said.

But it’s the Tiger shrimps’ own eating habits that have researchers concerned.

“Are they competing with or preying on native shrimp?” Fuller asked. “It’s also very disease-prone.”

The invasive species will be the subject of a research project, scientists said.

“The Asian tiger shrimp represents yet another potential marine invader capable of altering fragile marine ecosystems,” NOAA marine ecologist James Morris said in a statement.

“Our efforts will include assessments of the biology and ecology of this non-native species and attempts to predict impacts to economically and ecologically important species of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”

Pigeons Have A ‘Compass’ In Their Brains

WACO, Texas (UPI) — Pigeons navigate by recording information about Earth’s magnetic field, using certain brain cells as a sort of biological compass, U.S. scientists say.

The finding gives insight into how many birds can migrate thousands of miles, flying day and night, even when the sun or stars are obscured by clouds, the researchers said.

Two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have solved a central part of the mystery of how the birds accomplish such feats, identifying specific cells in a pigeon’s brain responsible for sensing and orienting the magnetic field.

Researchers Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman identified a group of cells, or neurons, in the brain stem of pigeons that record both the direction and the strength of the magnetic field, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Wu and Dickman found the birds’ orientation determined which neurons were active, as each neuron was tuned to respond to signals from one direction while also registering the strength of the magnetic field.

The researchers say there is evidence the information the cells are recording is coming from the inner ear, but that “is still something we want to pursue,” Dickman said.

EIA: $6 More To Drive For Vacation

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Prices at the gasoline pump could reach record levels during the summer, suppressing consumer demand, the U.S. Energy Department said.

The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration expects gasoline consumption to reach an average of 8.8 million barrels per day by summer, the lowest level since 2001. Prices at the pump, meanwhile, are expected to be 24 cents a gallon higher when compared with last year, the EIA said.

The agency’s short-term energy outlook reports an April average price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.95 compared with $3.71 for the same time last year.

The EIA said better fuel efficiency for gasoline-powered vehicles and higher prices at the pump would suppress demand during the summer months.

It’s expected to cost an extra $6 for an average family to take a 500-mile roundtrip vacation during the summer, the EIA said.

Gasoline was the subject of U.S. political debate this year. Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama blamed his domestic energy policies for high gasoline prices, which topped $4 per gallon early this year.

The EIA said, however, that high prices at the pump were “mostly” the result of activity on the global market

 

Group Wants The Word ‘Illegal’ To Be Illegal

A public education campaign wants the word “illegal” to be filed away under the annals of hate speech. With the rally cry “No Human Being Is Illegal,” Drop the I-Word is hoping that citizens and immigrants alike will be more accepting of each other.

The campaign believes: “‘Illegals’ is a racially charged slur used to dehumanize and discriminate against immigrants and people of color regardless of migratory status. The i-word is shorthand for ‘illegal alien,’ ‘illegal immigrant’ and other harmful terms.”

The campaign states: “We call on media outlets and elected officials to uphold reason, due process and responsible speech by dropping the i-word.”

The site contains pictures and stories from people of all nationalities. One representative, identified as Sonia, prefers to be called “undocumented.” Her argument for the abolition of the word “illegal” includes this:

Many times, when I am asked who I am, I respond with “I am undocumented.” I haven’t always identified as undocumented. …No one comes to this country because they want to be exploited, and treated less than human. No one migrates to this country and wants to identify as “illegal”. …I always knew that I was undocumented, but I trusted there was a fair system that would fix that up. …I stand with the undocumented youth across the states because we are beautiful amazing leaders.  …They and I are not “illegals”. I am undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.

Human Impact On Reef Sharks Studied

MANOA, Hawaii (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve completed a first large-scale estimate of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean — and the news for the predators is not good.

Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries, their study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, reported.

“We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs,” researcher Marc Nadon of the University of Hawaii said.

“In short, people and sharks don’t mix.”

The findings highlight the enormous detrimental effect that humans have on reef sharks, he said.

“Around each of the heavily populated areas we surveyed — in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Archipelago, and American Samoa — reef shark numbers were greatly depressed compared to reefs in the same regions that were simply further away from humans.” Nadon said.

“We estimate that less than 10 percent of the baseline numbers remain in these areas.”

Another Reporter Edits Zimmerman Call

Miami’s NBC6 has fired a reporter for making the same edit to the George Zimmerman 911 call that the Today show made.

Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran, has been released. The Miami station has issued an apology.

The recording, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” omitted that the operator had asked Zimmerman if the person was “black, white, or Hispanic?”

The engineered clip was used to convince viewers that Zimmerman committed a racially motivated, cold-blooded murder.

Geese Cause 8-Mile Traffic Backup

CINCINNATI, (UPI) — Authorities in Cincinnati said a family of geese walking along Interstate 71 caused a rush hour traffic backup stretching back about eight miles.

Scott Brown, a supervisor for Hamilton County’s dispatch center, said the two adult geese and four goslings were spotted in the southbound lanes of the road in the Kenwood area during the evening rush hour Wednesday and the slowed traffic caused an eight-mile-long backup, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Thursday.

Brown said police arrived on the scene and directed traffic to allow the birds to cross the road unharmed.

A dispatcher who asked not to be named said the geese had no respect for traffic laws.

“They were not maintaining lanes whatsoever,” the dispatcher said.

Detroit Tigers Have Most Expensive Beer

DETROIT, (UPI) — A financial Web site’s analysis of beer prices at Major League Baseball games found the Detroit Tigers have the most expensive small draft beer in the league.

The Street.com said its analysis found the Tigers’ Comerica Park charges $8.75 for a small draft beer, the highest price in the league, The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

The Web site said the average price for a beer at an MLB game is $6.61.

The only other team to break the $8 mark was the Miami Marlins, which charges the amount for a 16-ounce beer, The Detroit News reported. The next most expensive team was the Philadelphia Phillies, who charge $7.75 for 21 ounces of suds.

Police Seek Diamond-Swiping Prostitute

NEW YORK, (UPI) — Police in New York said security cameras recorded a prostitute fleeing her client’s hotel room after taking $500,000 worth of diamonds while he slept.

Investigators said they are searching for Erika Cooper, 34, aka Bianca Williams, after she stole the diamonds from client Kurt Kaiser’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel April 17, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Police said Cooper was recorded fleeing by a security camera and she gave Kaiser her real phone number, which allowed them to identify her from mug shots taken after a previous prostitution bust.

Kaiser, a gem trader, said he has two partners who were also affected by the theft. He said he suspects he was drugged by Cooper.

House GOP Wants To Hold Holder In Contempt

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — House Republicans said they’ll seek to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for hindering an investigation of a failed gun-tracking operation.

GOP leaders said they’ve drafted a proposed contempt of Congress citation in which they charge Holder and the Justice Department repeatedly “obstructed and slowed” the congressional investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ flawed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was given the green light to proceed, sources who did not want to be identified told the Times.

If adopted, the contempt resolution would be delivered to the U.S. attorney’s office or perhaps sent to an independent counsel to try to force the Justice Department to give the committee tens of thousands of internal documents.

Holder and other Justice Department officials have said they are cooperating with congressional investigators. Holder said the department had responded to more than three dozen letters from members of Congress, facilitated witness interviews and either submitted or made available more than 6,400 pages of documents.

The attorney general also has cautioned about lines blurring in the separation of powers, especially since there were several “open criminal investigations and prosecutions” resulting from the Fast and Furious case.

In Operation Fast and Furious, ATF agents allowed weapons to be illegally bought and circulated on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Two weapons turned up after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in southern Arizona a year ago, and many others reportedly were used in crimes in Mexico.

Issa’s draft report, obtained by the Times, discusses evidence collected by the committee that contends several top Justice Department officials knew the ATF allowed about 2,500 guns to be illegally purchased in Arizona, then later “walked” to Mexican drug cartels.

“The department’s refusal to work with Congress to ensure that such a mistake [as Fast and Furious] is never repeated is inexcusable and cannot stand,” the draft report said. “Those responsible for allowing Fast and Furious to proceed and those who are preventing the truth about the operation from coming out must be held accountable for their actions.”

Boehner: Obama Cheapens The Presidency

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — John Boehner accused Barack Obama of cheapening the U.S. presidency over student-loan rates as the House was to vote Friday on keeping the rates from doubling.

“This week the president traveled across the country on taxpayers’ dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour insisting the Congress fix a problem that we were already working on. Frankly, I think this is beneath the dignity of the White House,” the House speaker said at a press briefing.

“For the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic,” said Boehner, R-Ohio.

“This is the biggest job in the world, and I’ve never seen the president make it smaller,” Boehner said.

He called on the Obama re-election campaign to reimburse the Treasury “for the cost of this trip.”

Obama spoke to student audiences at the University of Iowa Wednesday and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder Tuesday.

At the stops, the president assailed congressional Republicans for actions he said held up legislation to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent July 1.

The loans are taken out by nearly 8 million students each year.

The specially configured Boeing 747-200B Air Force One jet that Obama flew in typically costs $179,750 an hour to operate, the Defense Department says.

White House spokesman Jay Carney defended the travel as a successful effort to champion an important policy issue

“It is eminently obvious that the president was out talking about a policy issue,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “This is official business. And he did it effectively.”

Carney said Boehner “praised a trip by President [George W.] Bush to Ohio in 2004, to talk about education, as absolutely the right thing to do.”

“It is also, to me, ironic that the arguments about this are coming from people who know that we assiduously follow all the rules in terms of the delineations between campaign travel and official travel, just as our predecessor did,” Carney added.

A liberal Web site, politicsusa.com, said Thursday Bush spent more than $124 million in taxpayer dollars for 77 vacation trips aboard Air Force One to his Crawford, Texas, ranch while he was president.

The House was to vote Friday on a $5.9 billion Republican bill to keep interest rates on the subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent.

The bill would pay for this by taking money from Obama’s healthcare-overhaul law, Boehner said.

Boehner said Wednesday the one-year extension of the low interest rate would be paid for out of a $17 billion prevention and public health fund in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law.

Boehner called the healthcare money, which covers breast cancer screening and childhood immunizations, a “slush fund.”

“It may be a slush fund for him, but it’s survival for women,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday shortly before Boehner spoke. “That just goes to show you what a luxury he thinks it is to have good health for women.”

House Democrats introduced their own measure, which would cancel tax subsidies for big oil companies as a way to pay for freezing student loan rates at current levels.

The low interest rate resulted from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for the following four academic years to 3.4 percent, with the proviso the rates would revert to 6.8 percent July 1.

When the 2007 law was passed, 77 Republicans — including many still in Congress — voted for it, The New York Times said.

ACLU: Marine’s Free Speech Rights Violated

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — The American Civil Liberties Union said a U.S. Marine’s constitutional rights were violated when he was discharged for criticizing President Obama on Facebook.

Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, on his Facebook page called Obama a coward and an enemy and promised never to salute him or follow any of his orders he considered illegal. The military’s administrative separation board said Stein, a nine-year veteran who served in Iraq, made disparaging comments that were detrimental to good order and violated military law.

The board demoted Stein to lance corporal and gave him an other-than-honorable discharge, making him ineligible for many federal benefits, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Civilian lawyers said they will fight to have Stein reinstated to the military, the newspaper said.

“I don’t believe Sgt. Stein did anything other than engage in political speech,” said the ACLU’s David Loy. “Since the days of Valley Forge, I seriously doubt that there haven’t been members of the armed forces who haven’t complained about their government.”

Bin Laden Family Deported To Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, (UPI) — Osama bin Laden’s three widows and two daughters were deported from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Thursday, a family attorney said.

Aamir Khalil said Pakistani officials last week ended the detention of bin Laden’s relatives for living in Pakistan illegally, CNN reported.

“The family was kept safe and sound in a guest house,” a Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman said. “They have been deported to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia, today.”

The widows — identified by U.S. and Pakistani officials as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar — had been in Pakistani custody since the May 2011 U.S. Navy SEALs raid that killed bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, where he hid for years under the nose of Pakistan’s military.

Saudi authorities declined to comment on the deportation order, CNN said.

Minnesota Governor Vetoes Abortion Clinic Bill

MINNEAPOLIS, (UPI) — Minnesota’s governor Thursday vetoed a bill that would have required the state to license abortion clinics.

Sponsored by state Sen. Claire Robling, a Republican, the legislation would have required the state to license any clinic that does 10 or more abortions a month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported

Gov. Mark Dayton, a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, said in his veto letter the bill would have imposed “inappropriate and unworkable” new requirements on the clinics, and was so vague, complaints could have been filed for any reason.

Clinics would have been monitored for “conduct or practices detrimental to the welfare of the patient,”

The governor said the state’s six abortion clinics are among 1,250 outpatient clinics in the state that operate without requiring a state license, the Star Tribune reported.

But the regular clinics operate under strict oversight, the newspaper said.

Supporters said the measure was common-sense and it was absurd for the state to license tattoo parlors and hair-braiding salons, but not abortion clinics.

Dayton responded that if the issue was health and not just abortion politics, then the state should license all 1,250 outpatient clinics, not just the six abortion clinics, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, a bill to require a physician be present when abortion pills are prescribed or taken passed the Legislature Thursday morning.

Politicians Avoiding Questions Pertaining To Policy

I still remember the yellow tint of the dodgeball that crushed my face in seventh grade. Had I been more like a Senate or House candidate, I would have been able to avoid the pugnacious projectile altogether.

Vacillating on political issues gives opponents fodder for campaigns. Attack ads are filled with clips of the same person espousing different viewpoints.

Perhaps candidates for the Senate and House are catching on. If you refuse to let people know your plans and ideas by dodging the issues, then your political enemy can never say you contradicted yourself. On the other hand, if you refuse to reveal your plans and ideas, why would anyone vote for you?

Enigmatic, ambiguous obscurity is what this year’s Senate and House races are made of. Or maybe it’s just plain ol’ ignorance.

You might say it’s a bipartisan effort. Finally, both parties are taking the same route.

When Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, a Republican from Missouri, was asked about the Violence Against Women Act, she responded: “I’m not sure what that is, because I’m not serving right now.”

Democratic candidate Heidi Heitkamp, running for Senator of North Dakota, wants to get well established in the race before talking about policy: “There will be a lot of months ahead to talk about the details.”

Representative Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who is running for re-election, was asked by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd about student loan interest rates and he gave this answer: “If you don’t mind, Chuck, I want to talk about what’s happening here in the state of Florida.”

Democrat Christie Vilsack, a candidate for Representative of Iowa, isn’t concerned about things that have happened in the past. When asked about Obama’s healthcare law she retorted: “I don’t go back and try to figure out what I would have voted for.”

I guess they figure it’s better to keep your mouth closed and have people believe you’re ignorant than to open it and remove all doubt.

‘Even Obama Is Doing Worse Under President Obama’

Thanks for the laugh, Jay. Jay Leno cracked me up last week with this observation in his opening monologue: “President Obama released his tax returns. It turns out he made $900,000 less in 2011 than he did in 2010. You know what that means? Even Obama is doing worse under President Obama.”

Fudging the unemployment numbers. Barack Obama’s supporters have been bragging that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in March. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that only 120,000 new jobs were created last month – 58 percent fewer than experts had predicted. The reason the unemployment rate dropped is that 164,000 discouraged Americans quit looking for work at all. Heck, if every unemployed person would stop looking for work, the unemployment rate would drop to 0.

Lost luggage drops dramatically. Here’s good news for frequent flyers: Your luggage is a lot more likely nowadays to arrive at your final destination when you do. SITA, a Swiss airline consulting firm, says the rate of mishandled bags has fallen from 18.88 per 1,000 passengers in 2007 to just 8.99 last year: a 52.4 percent decline. And most bags that go astray are found and delivered within 48 hours. It’s no surprise that the more connections you have, the more likely that you and your luggage will get separated.

Talk about bias in the media. Media Matters for America, the leftwing organization funded by George Soros, says it was formed to oppose the “biased” national media. And just what biases will it counter? The group’s application for tax-exempt status read: “It is common for news and commentary by the press to present viewpoints that tend to overly promote corporate interests, the rights of the wealthy, and a conservative, Christian-influenced ideology.” Right. Is there anyone anywhere who actually believes the national media are biased in favor of free enterprise and “conservative, Christian-influenced” values?

–Chip Wood