Just because financial companies across Wall Street lost billions of dollars and asked for help from Uncle Sam, that doesn't mean they didn't pay their employees enviable bonuses. The NYT reports that the New York state comptroller revealed that employees at financial companies received around $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, and that's without counting stock-option awards. Although far less than recent years, it was the sixth-largest bonus season on record. It's unclear whether the companies used taxpayer money to pay for the bonuses, but it's a distinct possibility.
The Food and Drug Administration issued "one of the largest food recalls in history" yesterday when it announced that all products made from peanuts processed by Peanut Corp. of America's plant in Georgia over the last two years should be thrown out, the Post reports on Page One. The dramatic move came after investigators discovered that the plant knowingly shipped salmonella-contaminated products a dozen times in 2007 and 2008. One lawmaker said she would ask the Justice Department to investigate whether criminal charges should be filed against plant officials. Eight people have died and more than 500 people were sickened by salmonella poisoning linked to the Georgia plant.
Although Obama has been in office for barely a week, he has already managed to change White House culture, notes the NYT. A photograph showing Obama sans suit jacket in the Oval Office shocked Bush administration officials, who were always required to wear one. Obama's advisers say the president likes it warm and has cranked up the heat (um, what about that global warming thing?), but it's clear the new president is less hung up on protocol than his predecessor. He is allowing staff members to dress "business casual" on weekends, roams the halls, and comes into work later and stays later than Bush did.
The White House's new occupant "was off to a quick start in fulfilling his promise to embrace Washington's ways," as the WP puts it, when he seemed obsessed about the fact that the school his daughters attend canceled classes after a 2-inch snowfall and freezing rain. "We're going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town," Obama said. Washington transplants often complain that schools are too quick to close for snow that would barely cause a traffic jam in other parts of the country. But many Washingtonians were not amused.
"[W]elcome to Washington, President Obama," writes Jeanne McManus, a former Post editor. "And thanks for the snow advice. I eagerly await August, to see if you can 'handle' a Washington summer. Remember: It's not the heat. It's the humidity."