- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2010

INTEREST RATES

Regulators to banks: Prep for rate hike

Financial regulators told banks Thursday to have procedures in place to minimize their risks from loans when rock-bottom interest rates start to rise.

The advisory came from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The advisory wasn’t meant to signal any upcoming change in interest-rate policy by the Fed.

To nurture the budding recovery, the Fed has slashed a key bank lending rate to a record low near zero, where it has been for a year. When the economy is on firm ground, the Fed at some point will start boosting rates. Some economists think the Fed might begin to raise rates later this year to safeguard against any inflation problems.

It’s unusual for the council to issue such an advisory. The last time it did so was in 1996, a Fed spokeswoman said.

WHITE HOUSE

Naked jogger nabbed after Ellipse run

Authorities say a man who took off his clothes and began jogging in near-freezing temperatures near the White House has been taken into custody and hospitalized for a mental evaluation.

The man was seen stripping Wednesday about 5 p.m. He left his clothes near the northeast corner of the Ellipse, the green space south of the White House.

Secret Service spokesman Darrin Blackford says the run lasted less than a minute before the man was apprehended. The president was at the White House at the time. But Mr. Blackford says the man, who left his clothing in a duffel bag, didn’t make any threats. His bag was declared suspicious, but its contents were found to be harmless.

Temperatures were about 35 degrees.

It wasn’t clear whether the jogger would face criminal charges.

SECRET SERVICE

Man charged with impersonation

Federal authorities have arrested and charged a man for entering U.S. Health and Human Services headquarters by posing as a U.S. Secret Service agent who needed to meet with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 46-year-old Frederick James Nickerson was arrested Tuesday and charged with pretending to be a Secret Service special agent.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court says Mr. Nickerson told security staff on Saturday he needed to see Mrs. Sebelius and showed them Secret Service credentials and a badge. He then went to the floor where her office is located.

The filing says somebody recognized him from photos circulated at HHS as warning that he was barred from the building. It was unclear why Mr. Nickerson was not allowed at the HHS offices.

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden in Delaware with ill mother

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has left Washington to spend time with his ailing elderly mother.

The White House says Mr. Biden returned home Thursday to Wilmington, Del., where other members of his family had already gathered. The 92-year-old Jean Finnegan Biden became seriously ill in recent days.

Mr. Biden had been scheduled to meet with President Obama early Thursday, and take part in meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

PENTAGON

Gates to stay till year’s end

President Obama’s most prominent holdover from the Bush administration - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates - is staying on for at least another year.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told the Associated Press late Thursday that Mr. Gates and Mr. Obama agreed last month that Mr. Gates would stay on as Pentagon chief. The commitment is open-ended, but would be for at least the rest of 2010.

Mr. Obama asked Mr. Gates to stay on shortly after Mr. Obama won the 2008 presidential election. The move was meant to maintain stability in a time of two wars, and made good on an Obama promise to include Republicans among his close advisers.

SENATE

Vicki Kennedy backs Coakley in race

MEDFORD, Mass. | Edward M. Kennedy’s widow formally has endorsed Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the race for his U.S. Senate seat.

Mrs. Kennedy threw her support behind Mrs. Coakley on Thursday at a Kennedy-esque event: A brass band entertained a crowd of senior citizens with “Hello Dolly” and other show tunes.

Mrs. Kennedy says Mrs. Coakley would continue the “world-class” representation provided by her late husband.

She was joined at the event by interim Massachusetts Sen. Paul Kirk and the late senator’s nephew, former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II.

Mrs. Coakley faces Republican state Sen. Scott Brown and independent candidate Joseph L. Kennedy - no relation to the famed political family - in the Jan. 19 election.

Mrs. Kennedy had issued a statement of support for Mrs. Coakley after the primary.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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