Not even the head of the nation’s top bank is immune from identity theft.Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke became a victim last summer after a thief stole his wife’s purse with the couple’s joint check book inside, Newsweek reported, citing recently filed court records.Days after the purse was swiped at a Starbucks on Capitol Hill, someone started cashing checks on the Bernanke family bank account, Newsweek said.The theft of Bernanke’s check book became part of a wide-ranging identity-theft investigation the by the Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.Bernanke was found to be one of hundreds of victims of an elaborate identity-fraud ring, headed by a convicted scam artist known as “Big Head,” that stole more than $2.1 million from consumers and at least 10 financial institutions around the United States, Newsweek reported.”Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year,” Bernanke said in a statement provided to Newsweek. “Our family was but one of 500 separate instances traced to one crime ring. I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who patiently and diligently work to solve and prevent these financial crimes.”The investigation ended in recent months with a series of arrests, criminal complaints, and indictments brought by federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, Newsweek reported.For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Bernanke at a congressional hearing in July)
Colin Powell says some “adult supervision” could have kept an altercation between Henry Louis Gates, a black Harvard University professor, and Sgt. James Crowley, a white policeman, from blowing up into a “federal case” about race in America.The former U.S secretary of state, who says he has been racially profiled “many times,” weighed in on the arrest of his friend “Skip” Gates on Tuesday evening, telling CNN’s Larry King that it was a fascinating story that unfolded in several acts.Gates was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and charged with disorderly conduct. Crowley had responded to the call when a neighbor reported a possible break-in at Gates’ home. Gates had just returned home from a trip to China and found his door jammed. This is how the two men came face-to-face.“This is where act two begins. We’re not quite sure what the nature of their conversation was, but apparently it disturbed Sgt. Crowley and apparently Dr. Gates was disturbed by being challenged in his own home,” Powell said.”Then it becomes a federal case when the president feels obliged to say something about it, ” Powell said.The charges against Gates were quickly dropped, but Powell says the incident might have been resolved in a different manner had cooler heads prevailed.”I’m saying that Skip, perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer and that might have been the end of it,” Powell said. “I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal.”And the police could have handled things differently too, Powell said.”Once they felt they had to bring Dr. Gates out of the house and to handcuff him, I would have thought at that point some adult supervision would have stepped in and said, OK, look, it is his house… Take the handcuffs off. Good night Dr. Gates.”Dr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley will meet again on Thursday at the White House, this time over beer with President Barack Obama. Who’s bringing the adult supervision?
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is leaving office with a dip in her favorability ratings and public doubts over her leadership skills and understanding of complex issues, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.But she got higher marks for being honest and trustworthy.Overall, 53 percent of Americans view Palin negatively while 40 percent view her positively, according to the poll.That’s the lowest level she’s hit in a Washington Post-ABC poll since stepping into the national spotlight as John McCain’s running mate last year, the Post said. Nearly six in 10 Americans viewed her favorably when she made her debut at the Republican National Convention and electrified the party’s base.On understanding complex issues, 37 percent said she does, 57 percent said she doesn’t. The Post said the biggest decline on that question came among Republicans.Overall her poll numbers may be down, but Palin is still tops among members of her party. Seventy percent of Republicans view the former GOP vice presidential nominee in a positive light, according to the poll.Palin is leaving office on Sunday with 18 months left in her term. She says she intends to be a player on the national political stage and has left the door open for a challenge to President Barack Obama in 2012.For more Reuters political news click herePhoto credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Palin waves at rally for Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss)
One of the burning questions left hanging when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced her resignation was what is she going to do next?The mystery is over.Palin says when she steps down as governor at the end of the month she’ll step back into the national spotlight — campaigning for Republicans, independents and even Democrats who share her values.”I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation,” Palin said in a Washington Times interview published on Sunday.”People are so tired of the partisan stuff,” the former Republican vice-presidential candidate told the newspaper.Palin did not name any politicians she might campaign for, saying she could not talk about that while she was still governor. “Whether the polarizing Alaskan would be welcome on the campaign circuit is an open question,” The Washington Times noted.Palin stunned the political world on the eve of Independence Day by announcing that she would leave office on July 26 with 18 months left in her term. She gave no hint about future plans.In the interview, Palin declined to talk about immediate employment prospects — including a possible move to television — but she left the door open for a future presidential bid, the newspaper said.”I’m not ruling out anything — it is the way I have lived my life from the youngest age,” she said. “Let me peek out there and see if there’s an open door somewhere. And if there’s even a little crack of light, I’ll hope to plow through it.”For more Reuters political news, click here.Reuters photo by Hans Deryk (Palin speaks Republican governors conference in Miami November 13, 2008).
After just a few months in office and having fiercely resisted calls for his resignation, Illinois Senator Roland Burris has decided Congress is not his calling after all.The Chicago Democrat appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama plans to announce on Friday he won’t seek election to a full six-year term in 2010. Word leaked out a day early, with sources in Chicago and Washington confirming Burris’ plans to forgo the midterm election.The Chicago Sun-Times broke the news, reporting that Burris had raised only about $20,000 toward what undoubtedly would have been a very expensive campaign. The newspaper also quoted a source as saying that Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, was concerned about his legacy.He entered office under a big cloud that never cleared. Burris was appointed on Dec. 30 by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who later was impeached and indicted on corruption charges — including trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat.Burris escaped a perjury charge last month when prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence aganist him. Burris declared his appointment “perfectly legal” and said he had never offered the ousted governor anything.For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: Reuters/Frank Polich (Burris reacts to audience applause after speaking at a Chicago, church in March)
It’s one thing for fans gathering in Los Angeles to go ga-ga over the late “King of Pop,” but the extensive media coverage of Michael Jackson and his death has one Washington insider screaming “ENOUGH ALREADY.”Well, not exactly in those words. But Rep. Pete King expressed outrage at the coverage and blasted the media in a video posted on YouTube over the Independence Day holiday weekend by the congressman’s campaign staff.King, a New York Republican, took issue with coverage he says glosses over the controversy in Jackson’s life. And he filled in the blanks with some commentary of his own, among other things calling Jackson “a pervert” and “a pedophile.” On Monday, King explained that he was merely expressing what he believes a lot of people really feel.Here’s the video:King’s hometown newspaper, New York’s Newsday, asked readers on its web site whether the congressman should apologize. About half of those responding said “No, King has a point about the excessive media coverage of Jackson.” The other half said “Yes,” bad timing. Our favorite response — “Who cares?”Newsday points out the results are not scientific.
Democrat Al Franken went to Washington on Wednesday — but not to to claim the Minnesota Senate seat Republican incumbent Norm Coleman lost in the November election. Franken, a comic turned politician, called on Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to talk about policy issues and the still-unresolved Minnesota contest he hopes will end with a win for the Democrats.
“Minnesotans are eager to see Congress make progress on the administration’s agenda and I’m eager to do my part in that effort,” Franken said after his meeting with Biden.