- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2010

FDIC

Regulators take step toward cutting ratings use

Federal regulators have taken a first step toward eliminating the use of credit ratings in rules for banks, under a mandate of the new financial- overhaul law. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday it won’t be easy to come up with a replacement.

The FDIC board voted to take public comment for 60 days on alternatives to relying on credit-rating agencies to assess the risk of investments. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency published the document requesting comment with the FDIC.

The landmark law enacted last month calls for reducing the influence of the three big rating agencies - Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

The rating agencies were discredited in the financial crisis for giving high ratings to risky mortgage securities.

The bank regulatory agencies are expected to follow with proposed new rules and eventually to adopt the changes. The process could take months.

IMMIGRATION

Fingerprint sharing led to deportation of 47,000

A rapidly expanding illegal-immigration enforcement program has led to the deportation of 47,000 people over 18 months when the Homeland Security Department was sifting through millions of fingerprints taken at local jail bookings.

About one-quarter of those did not have criminal records and slightly less - about a fifth - had committed or were charged with what are categorized as the most serious crimes, according to government data obtained by immigration advocacy groups who had sued.

ICE posted the data on its website late Monday in advance of the group’s release of the data Tuesday.

The federal government says the fingerprint-sharing program, known as Secure Communities, helps to identify criminal immigrants who threaten public safety in the U.S.

Secure Communities is one of several ICE programs targeting immigrants charged or convicted of crimes. Overall, 49 percent of the immigrants ICE has deported so far this year have been criminals, compared with 35 percent all of last fiscal year.

NEW JERSEY

Game in ‘Jersey Shore’ town features Obama target

SEASIDE HEIGHTS | A boardwalk game in the town where the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” is filmed features a caricature of President Obama as a moving target along with likenesses of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

People playing the “Walkin Charlie” game in Seaside Heights can win a prize if they knock a plate out of the turntable targets, which include Mr. Obama depicted with exaggerated ears and smile.

The New Jersey game’s creator, Tom Whalen, was not in when the Associated Press called seeking comment Tuesday.

Mr. Whalen told CBS3-TV in Philadelphia that the game is for fun and that he hopes it doesn’t offend anyone. He also said he planned to add Sarah Palin, Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President George W. Bush.

ALASKA

Manager: Reality show to focus on political run

JUNEAU | From Playgirl to … politico?

That’s right: Levi Johnston’s manager, Tank Jones, is confirming a report that Mr. Johnston is planning to run for city office in his hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, as part of a reality TV show.

Wasilla is where Sarah Palin got her start in politics, moving up from City Council to mayor before winning election as Alaska’s governor in 2006. Mr. Johnston, 20, is the father of Mrs. Palin’s grandson, Tripp, and the recently off-again flame to her daughter Bristol.

Mr. Jones said Mr. Johnston is serious about a run, either for mayor or City Council.

“Let me put it to you like this: If you live in a town and things are happening in that town, and you’re displeased with it, what do you do? You try to change those things,” Mr. Jones said.

He declined to give specifics on what Mr. Johnston wants to change but insisted the run is real. “This is not a spoof. This is not a joke,” Mr. Jones said.

According to the Wasilla city clerk, the next mayoral election is in 2011. The candidate filing period for council elections this October closed July 30. Mr. Johnston isn’t listed among those candidates.

PENNSYLVANIA

Clinton stumps for Rep. Sestak

SCRANTON | Former President Bill Clinton characterizes Pennsylvania’s close U.S. Senate race as a choice between disastrous Reagan-Bush economic policies and the ability of Democrats to fix the economy.

Mr. Clinton, perhaps the biggest Democratic Party name in Pennsylvania, drew several hundred people Tuesday to a rally for Rep. Joe Sestak. The congressman missed the event at Scranton High School because he was in Washington for an emergency session vote.

Mr. Clinton was in eastern Pennsylvania to raise money and stump for Democratic candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Mr. Sestak is opposed by former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey.

While in the Navy, Mr. Sestak served in the Clinton White House as director for defense policy on the National Security Council.

COMMERCE

Wholesale inventories up in June, but sales drop

Inventories at the wholesale level edged up slightly in June but sales fell by the largest amount in 15 months.

The Commerce Department says wholesale inventories rose 0.1 percent in June. Sales fell 0.7 percent. It marked the second straight drop in sales, providing further evidence that the economy was slowing in the spring.

Businesses helped drive the early stages of the recovery last year by building up their stocks after slashing them during the recession. The worry is that if consumer demand falters, business could cut back on their inventory restocking and deal a blow to manufacturing production.