Plane horror this morning outside Buffalo. A Continental commuter plane from Newark smashed into a house, killing one person inside and all 49 on plane, according to reports.
Additional info: One of the victims was a 9/11 widow. See earlier links.
Now, the rest of the stories on other stuff — the stimulus plan, the futile effort by same-sex couples to marry, more Madoff-related news, grim economic news from Europe, and so on...
He IVF'd up again. Dr. Michael Kamrava, the in-vitro fertilization specialist responsible for Octomom, has over-impregnated another woman - this time with quadruplets. The 49-year-old patient of Kamrava's, a mother of three who is still pregnant, has been hospitalized as a result, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This'll break you up: Revisiting the January 2007 Facebook parody from USC, directed by Mu Sun
While you're waiting for the stimulus bill to hook you back up:
It's not you, it's my social-networking. Further confirmation in this morning's Daily News of something that thousands of you already know: Facebook's great for dumping a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse. Catey Hillnotes:
A new poll finds that 48 percent of people under 21 and 18 percent of people ages 22-30 dumped a loved one via a social networking site like Facebook, the Daily Mail reported.
Note the generation gap. If dumping via the net had been so popular with people over 21 back in 2004, maybe the electorate would have broken up with George W. Bush. One major problem: Facebook didn't even exist in 2004.
With Dubai's economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.
The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai -- once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East -- looking like a ghost town.
As drug violence engulfs Mexico, a blue-ribbon panel blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin America to the breaking point.
"The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. "We have to move from this approach to another one."
The commission, headed by Mr. Cardoso and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and César Gaviria of Colombia, says Latin American governments as well as the U.S. must break what they say is a policy "taboo" and re-examine U.S.-inspired antidrugs efforts. The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana....
The three former presidents who head the commission are political conservatives who have confronted in their home countries the violence and corruption that accompany drug trafficking.
The frightening Taliban invasion of the Afghan capital Kabul, courtesy of Al Jazeera's Todd Baer. Compare the CNN and Al Jazeera stories.
Bailout? If by accident of birth, you were in Kabul yesterday, you'd be dying to bail out. You would have been running for your life while crazed Taliban stormed major government buildings and blew themselves up. A score of non-Taliban people were killed and fourscore wounded yesterday in Afghanistan's capital in the ominous assault.
So, prepare yourselves for depressing news this spring of a non-financial variety: The expected sudden rise of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan will shove at least some of the Wall Street-inspired news off the front pages.
After all, if by the grace of Darwin or God you happen to live in the U.S., you may very well lose your home or job, but you probably won't be blown up. Unless you've been brainwashed by the government's ad campaigns and have joined the military. In which case, you, too, might find yourself in beautiful downtown Kabul trying to stamp out the Muslim fanatics.
Plans are moving apace to purposely set up a "toxic bank" full of poisonous assets to further bail out those banks that had greedily and recklessly accumulated them.
Call it Shitibank. And give it the naming rights to the new baseball stadium for the New York Mets, taking the moniker away from toxic Citibank.
No joke. As Ground Zero reminds us of 9/11, ShitiField would serve as a monument to the global financial meltdown caused by New Yorkers. ShitiField would remind us to burst any future Wall Street bubbles before they blow up in our faces.
And, once the toxic bank is up and running, we proles can move our non-existent pension money to it. But don't count on driving a new Nissan to the new bank: Even if you could afford to buy one, Nissan can't afford to keep its factories open to manufacture one.
What's really going to happen this week sounds just as far-fetched, but it's not: Many investors on Wall Street don't want the market to recover. They want it to hit bottom so they can start buying shares and companies again.
Bigwig Ray Dalio of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates tellsBarron's:
"Buying equities and taking on those risks in late 2009, or more likely 2010, will be a great move because equities will be much cheaper than now. It is going to be a buying opportunity of the century."
Meanwhile, corporate welfare is humming along, as government's sudden socialists are coming to the rescue of capitalism. Heartwarming, especially for the likes of Nissan, which, as the Wall Street Journalreports, plans to "seek government assistance from Japan, the U.S. and elsewhere."
And now the rescue plan for America calls for a combination of the toxic bank and encouragement by the government for hedge funds to profit from the grief by expanding their investments (instead of the government's clawing back ill-gained profits from hedge funds). And don't worry about Wall Street's top execs: All the scoldings by President Barack Obama won't stop them from making their big bucks. See? The free-market system does work.
At least we know that defense contractors will make it through the depression in good shape. Bibi Netanyahu is about to reclaim control of Israel, and that will signal that, as the BBC reports, "Israel is shifting to the right" and, as the Daily News says, "a harder line is coming with Israel's Arab neighbors."
Could the line get any harder, you ask?
While you're investing in weapons makers or just waiting to pour your money back into the market or snap up some ailing companies, click on these...
Wall Street helped produce the global financial and economic crisis. Now, as the Obama administration prepares to unveil a revised bailout plan for the banking system, policy makers hope Wall Street can be part of the solution.
Administration officials said the plan to be announced Tuesday was likely to depend in part on the willingness of private investors other than banks — like hedge funds, private equity funds and perhaps even insurance companies -- to buy the contaminating assets that wiped out the capital of many banks.
For many high school seniors who are applying to college in the midst of an economic meltdown, Cooper Union's commitment to full scholarships -- regardless of need -- has given the institution an almost mythic allure....
While many of the nation's elite colleges underwrite the education of poor students, Cooper is among a handful of private colleges that are tuition-free for everyone (it does not, however, pay for room and board, though financial aid is available for living expenses).
Another Bank Bailout: On Monday, Treasury Secretary Geithner is due to announce the next phase in a long series of government bailouts for banks. The leaks about the plan thus far have indicated a hybrid approach using elements of a "bad bank" and more government guarantees on bank assets. The price action of Bank of America and Citigroup does not inspire confidence in the market's reaction to previously announced government guarantees of toxic bank assets.
If the regulators hope to bring stability to the markets, they might want to consider leaving the rules unchanged for more than two weeks at a time.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, who is poised to be swept back into power Monday, declared Sunday he would not give up the strategic Golan Heights, signaling a harder line is coming with Israel's Arab neighbors.
Casino operator MGM Mirage says a tax break for forgiven debt is a good way for Congress to stimulate the U.S. economy; Granite Construction Inc. favors more money for roads and bridges; General Motors Corp. wants incentives for car buyers.
The debate over the controversial practice of child marriage in Saudi Arabia was pushed back into the spotlight this week, with the kingdom's top cleric saying that it's OK for girls as young as 10 to wed.
"It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger," Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom's grand mufti, said in remarks quoted Wednesday in the regional Al-Hayat newspaper. "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."...
Late last month, a Saudi judge refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man.
The judge, Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib, rejected a petition from the girl's mother, whose lawyer said the marriage was arranged by her father to settle a debt with "a close friend." The judge required the girl's husband to sign a pledge that he would not have sex with her until she reaches puberty.
More than 70 percent of firefighters who retired in the past five years did so on disabilities - hiking the cost of taxpayer-funded FDNY pensions to nearly $1 billion a year, a Post analysis shows. At the same time, a rise in final-year overtime racked up by firefighters - even those retiring on disabilities - has boosted pension costs...
A law firm with bankruptcy expertise, three capital-markets lawyers and an investment bank are advising the U.S. government on how to restructure General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, two people involved in the work said.
The present and impending disorder of the automobile companies is a reminder, even more than the decline of the housing and banking industries, of the desolation of the Great Depression. It is a reminder, too, of economic history, or of the rise and decline of industrial destinies.
The Great Depression of the 1930s created hardship and suffering among millions of Americans. It also created populist resentment of elites. Among the many signs of this anger was the astonishing popularity of Huey P. Long, governor of Louisiana and then U.S. senator, a figure so dominant in his own state that his enemies called him a dictator. But to the ordinary people of Louisiana -- and later to millions of ordinary people across the U.S. -- Mr. Long was a heroic figure, fighting for the "common man" and challenging the right of elites to monopolize power and wealth....
Every Sunday night, New York bankruptcy lawyer Marshall Huebner spends a 13-hour shift on call as an emergency medical technician. His day job involves work on another sort of rescue: The government's $152.5 billion bailout of American International Group Inc.
After six months of deliberating whether to buy a car, Mumbai real-estate agent Abraham Mathew took out a 300,000 rupee ($6,200) loan to buy a Suzuki Motor Corp. sedan. The clincher: a 20 percent drop in interest rates.
To try to counter the sickening economic news, remember another horror story that actually had a happy ending.
Sully Sullenberger knows what "sickening" feels like, although his voice in the above cockpit recording doesn't reveal it. Now, Sully is talking in detail about his astounding, life-saving jet landing on January 15 in the Hudson River, as the Postreports this morning:
First came the bird strike. Then everything went dead silent.
"It was the worst, sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling I've ever felt in my life," hero pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III told CBS's 60 Minutes, according to excerpts released yesterday.
"I knew immediately it was very bad," he said in the interview, set to air Sunday at 7 p.m.
When asked if he wondered how he could get the crippled plane down safely, Sullenberger said he was just stunned.
"My initial reaction was one of disbelief," he said.
And now for some bad news that only seems unbelievable...
A Pakistani court declared disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan free on Friday, ending five years of house arrest for the man at the center of the world's most serious proliferation scandal.
Khan, lionized by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004, but was immediately pardoned by the government, although his movements were restricted to effective house arrest.
The massive $900 billion stimulus bill making its way through Congress would require the feds to purchase up to 100,000 uniforms for the Transportation Security Administration and other Department of Homeland Security workers — a provision critics say won't do anything to spark the economy.
Good for the New York Times! Always trying to take a broad view (even when one doesn't exist, as Jack Shafer often points out), the paper weighs in on how the plight of Bernie Madoff's white-haired victims gives us valuable insights about the global meltdown with this morning's "Fossils of Largest Snake Give Hint of Hot Earth."
Good info that the "prehistoric snake" was "a giant relative of today's boa constrictors." The elderly Madoff wasn't the first, nor will he be the last, snake to swallow your money. Wall Street is really is a dangerous place, even for celebrities — see the latest list of Madoff's victims.
Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos's testimony yesterday on Capitol wasn't quite as colorful, but the bookish-yet-tigerish accountant was pretty damn intense, as I previously noted.
Among other fascinating details, Markopolos told the dazed House members that he planned to deliver to the SEC today a "mini-Madoff." The agency is sure to accept this silver platter with respect and care.
President Barack Obama, on the other hand, is showing me no respect with his $500,000 limit on CEO pay ( VIDEO). To get a bailout, I have to limit my pay? I don't think so.
New York's top banking firms went on a multimillion lobbying spree late last year -- just as the feds were crafting a $700 billion rescue plan for struggling banks.
The banks got an extraordinary return on their investment, as they got federal cash injections that were thousands of times larger than what they spent trying to influence Congress and the administration - which doled out the cash.
In a high-profile reversal of the Bush administration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday the government is scrapping the leases of 77 parcels of federal land for oil and gas drilling in Utah's redrock country.
When President Barack Obama launches his version of the faith-based initiative Thursday, he will expand the mission to include abortion reduction and outreach to the Muslim world. He will also try to avoid the thorniest constitutional issues that beset the program for years under his predecessor.
Mr. Obama's approach to the federal faith office reflects his search for common ground on contentious social issues, and his willingness to dial back some of his campaign positions.
A federal judge charged with slapping his wife hired a big shot defense attorney as he faces a misdemeanor charge that could land him in the clink.
James Peck, 63, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the breakup of Lehman Brothers, hired Barry Bohrer, a prominent criminal defense lawyer whose clients have included Sam Israel, the hedge fund swindler who went on the lam last summer after faking his own suicide to avoid a 20-year jail term.
Peck, who was briefly assigned to handle the Bernard Madoff bankruptcy until he recused himself in December, told cops when they came to his Park Ave. apartment Saturday afternoon that "I was defending myself."
He said his wife, Judith Peck, 64, was late in returning to the city from their home in the Hamptons and then they argued over a ladder that she had put in his closet.
"I was moving the ladder out. She slapped me in the face," he told cops. "I put the ladder down and slapped her back. We slapped each other back and forth."
...Other victims were identified as Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein, the estate of late singer John Denver, actor John Malkovich, former Mets second baseman Tim Teufel and even Madoff's lawyer Ira Sorkin. The 163-page list also includes hundreds of trust funds, charities, pension plans and unions, as well as entries for Madoff's grandchildren. [FULL LIST]
Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon computed the Mets' 2009 payroll at $143 million when factors such as Freddy Garcia's probable salary with bonuses, the $1.6 million owed to the Diamondbacks for Scott Schoeneweis and $2.25 million owed to Willie Randolph are included. Wilpon handed Minaya that budget early in the offseason, before Wilpon learned his family had lost money in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Wilpon declared that the Mets had accomplished their winter objectives, mentioning the acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz and "addition by subtraction" with trades that shipped out players such as Aaron Heilman and Schoeneweis.
Tom Daschle's quick exit from the health-care Cabinet job is just proof that he was a poor choice for the job.
If the guy can't get it together enough to wipe his nose clean after rubbing it against the rear of society schmuckettes like Catherine Reynolds, then he's not the person to tackle the extraordinarily tricky job of cleaning up the health-care mess.
He should just return to his destiny: playing off his former job in Congress to lobby his former Congress pals on behalf of rich clients. (See Muckety's quick read on Daschle's ties to Reynolds.)
Daschle wasn't a notable senator in the first place, despite his high post in the Democratic Party heirarchy. Teddy Kennedy or Paul Wellstone he wasn't.
Barack Obama did take responsibility for the Daschle embarrassment and did admit that he, the president, screwed up, but it was Daschle who screwed up his own nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
All he had to do was come clean to Obama or Obama's vetters, and this wouldn't have happened. Actually, he could have just paid his taxes in the first place. But hubris isn't exclusive to Wall Street bankers or pro athletes. Former senators often think that they, too, are above the law or the law's consequences.
Obama's screw-up came when he picked Daschle in the first place — unless Obama wanted a weak-sister guy like Daschle in there. All of this leaves murky the question of what exactly the Obama regime has in mind for health care.
The last time a Democratic administration came to power, Bill Clinton turned the health-care issue over to Hillary Clinton, who, true to her conservative roots, immediately reneged on her vow to supporters and advisers to consider a national health-care plan. Instead, she relied on the inherently corrupt health-care industry — not the doctors, but the insurers — and any hope of a cleaner, fairer, more inclusive national health-care plan that wouldn't be controlled by the middlemen (the insurers) was doomed. (Click here for my February 2005 rant about this; you'll have to scroll down a little ways to get to it.)
In any case, good-bye, Daschle. Don't let the revolving door hit you on your way into and out of government offices.
The rest of you, however, are welcome to stay right here and click on the following items...
President Obama will announce a crackdown on Wall Street fat cats on Wednesday, setting a $500,000 cap on executive compensation for companies getting taxpayer bailouts, a senior administration official said Tuesday night.
...One of President Barack Obama's closest political confidants and early mentors, Mr. Daschle had been tapped to spearhead the effort to overhaul the nation's health-care system. But concerns arising from Mr. Daschle's failure to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on time, coupled with tax problems involving two other cabinet nominees, threatened both the administration's health-care agenda and the credibility of Mr. Obama's pledge to raise the ethical standards of Washington.
Mr. Daschle's sudden withdrawal came two weeks to the day after Mr. Obama took office, and 24 hours after the president told reporters that he "absolutely" stood by his nominee. The abrupt move stands to potentially dent the reputation for steadiness and managerial prowess that the 47-year-old president had cultivated over a smoothly run campaign and a transition to power that boasted of a swift vetting and nomination of top aides.
Federal immigration officials had repeatedly told Congress that among more than half a million immigrants with outstanding deportation orders, they would concentrate on rounding up the most threatening -- criminals and terrorism suspects.
Instead, newly available documents show, the agency changed the rules, and the program increasingly went after easier targets. A vast majority of those arrested had no criminal record, and many had no deportation orders against them, either.
President Barack Obama will announce today that he's imposing a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of top executives at companies that receive significant federal assistance in the future, responding to a public outcry over Wall Street excess.
Any additional compensation will be in restricted stock that won't vest until taxpayers have been paid back, according to an administration official, who requested anonymity. The rules will force greater transparency on the use of corporate jets, office renovations and holiday parties as well as golden parachutes offered to executives when they leave companies.
Senior U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan's main opium-producing region and its porous border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama's emerging Afghan war strategy....
Virtually none of the new troops heading to Afghanistan will go to Kabul or other major Afghan cities. By contrast, when the Bush administration dispatched 30,000 new troops to Iraq as part of the so-called surge, the bulk of the new forces went to Baghdad....
The deployments, part of a planned doubling of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, are almost certain to spark heavier casualties and push the war squarely onto the public agenda. "I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be [more U.S. casualties]," Vice President Joe Biden said on CBS Sunday. "There will be an uptick."
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection say clean-coal technology is a fantasy.
Peabody Energy Corp., the biggest U.S. coal producer, says another prominent Democrat has pledged to make the technology a reality: President Barack Obama.
The Gore-Obama split illustrates a growing debate in the U.S. as the new president attempts to deliver on his promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country 80 percent by 2050. Depending on who's speaking, coal is either the villain or part of the solution.
Ayad Allawi, the first prime minister selected after the Americans handed power back to Iraqis in June 2004, has made a comeback in the provincial elections, unofficial preliminary returns indicate, setting himself up as a potential rival to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
Connecticut, the wealthiest U.S. state with per capita income of $54,117 in 2007, has profited from its proximity to Wall Street since rail lines from the city reached north to Fairfield County more than a century ago. According to Forbes magazine, the state's richest residents now are hedge fund managers including Steven Cohen and Paul Tudor Jones, who live and work in and around Greenwich. Cohen earned $900 million in 2007 while Jones made $300 million, according to Institutional Investor magazine's Alpha publication.
A one-man crime wave from Massachusetts road-tripped it to Columbia University every weekend for the past two months -- stealing wallets from gymnasium lockers and a dozen laptops, the Post has learned.
Fraud investigator Harry Markopolos blamed the Securities and Exchange Commission's "financial illiteracy" for failing to heed his warnings about money manager Bernard Madoff.
Mr. Markopolos had warned the SEC for nearly a decade that Mr. Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. Mr. Markopolos is set to testify before a House committee Wednesday, and 311 pages of his written testimony became public Tuesday evening.
From the New Yorker's "Your Eustace, 2009," the mag's annual contest for the best new version of Rea Irvin's classic cover, this entry (one of 12 winners — and my favorite) is "Eustace, the Undead New Yorker," by David Cook of Suwanee, Georgia.
Further proof of the schizophrenic media culture: Despite the widespread political correctness that infects discourse on numerous topics, Governor David Paterson keeps getting hammered because his eyes don't work right.
Israel's ever-increasing crackdown on Arabs (the most ludicrous new idea is an Israeli-controlled 30-mile-long tunnel connecting Arab enclaves ) is the
apartheid that dares not speak its name — at least most of the U.S. media don't dare speak of it.
But Paterson continues to get blistered because of his bad eyesight, which he can't help and which, after all, doesn't make him a more hapless and mediocre accidental governor.
A hospital trade group and a health-care union yesterday released a bizarre new attack ad -- using a sightless man wearing sunglasses to slam legally blind Gov. Paterson for budget cuts.
"Why are you doing this to me?" the unidentified patient asks Paterson halfway through the 30-second spot, funded to the tune of $1 million a week by the Greater New York Hospital Association and Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union.
To some observers, the blind man's role in the statewide attack ad against Paterson's plan to cut health care by $3.5 billion seems too personal by even Albany's standards for no-holds-barred budget battles.
On the other hand, Paterson does seem to have blinders on when it comes to the outrageous Wall Street bonuses. As the Gothamist noted in mid-December, before Barack Obamascolded Wall Street:
In what continues to be a familiar story of cat and mouse in politicians pointing the finger as to where funds aren't coming from, Governor Paterson yesterday claimed the state lost hundreds of millions in tax revenue because less big Wall Street bonuses are being given out this year.
Nothing personal, but what Paterson fails to see is that the state loses far more gelt by not taxing hedge fund goniffs' pay.
New York City hedge funds earned $20 billion to $39 billion last year, far outstripping the profits of Wall Street banks and demonstrating how outdated the city's tax system risks becoming, a new study said on Tuesday.
A hospital trade group and a health-care union yesterday released a bizarre new attack ad - using a sightless man wearing sunglasses to slam legally blind Gov. Paterson for budget cuts.
"Why are you doing this to me?" the unidentified patient asks Paterson halfway through the 30-second spot, funded to the tune of $1 million a week by the Greater New York Hospital Association and Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union.
The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday proposed the construction of a 30-mile tunnel that would connect the northern Gaza Strip with the southern West Bank, thus enabling freedom of movement between the two disjointed Palestinian territories.
While stumping on the campaign trail before students at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Barak said it was possible to dig the tunnel, which would remain under Israeli sovereignty while the Palestinians would maintain authority over the corridor's traffic.
How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view? The question is more urgent than ever following the recent settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who were suing it for alleged breach of copyright.
The ringleader of a gang of racist thugs that went on an election-night rampage on Staten Island pleaded guilty to federal charges yesterday and told a judge he was drunk and angry about President Obama's victory.
Israeli Arabs committed treason by protesting the country's offensive in the Gaza Strip last month. Hamas should be dealt with the way the U.S. handled Japan in the last days of World War II. Egypt, at peace with Israel since 1979, actually plans to attack.
These are just some of the recent comments made by Avigdor Lieberman, whose party could become the third-largest bloc in parliament following Israel's Feb. 10 elections, polls show.
Lieberman's jump in popularity may boost the coalition- building efforts of front-runner Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, while undermining prospects for peace with the Palestinians. Netanyahu's lead over Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's ruling Kadima party has grown as Israel's war in Gaza raised voter concern about security.
Harry Markopolos, the Boston-based investor-turned-investigator who for years warned regulators that Bernard Madoff was running a huge Ponzi scheme, has received pitches to appear on television shows, make movies and write books elaborating on his experience.
But rather than enjoy a sense of vindication, Mr. Markopolos says he is miserable. He has trouble sleeping and is haunted by the apparent suicide of Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, a French money manager found dead shortly after Mr. Madoff's Dec. 11 arrest on fraud allegations.
Although a colleague of Mr. de La Villehuchet's says he doesn't know of any warning, Mr. Markopolos says he told Mr. de La Villehuchet as well as investors at other firms that he thought Mr. Madoff was a fraud. He regrets that he couldn't persuade many of them.
Part of the reason he didn't press his warnings: Fear of retribution by Mr. Madoff, says Mr. Markopolos. A lawyer for Mr. Madoff declined to comment.
The Taliban conduct a night ambush against U.S. troops on January 24. A commenter on this YouTube video wrote: "holy cow, tracer rounds are so cool!" Yeah, really cool.
What a Sunday in sports and terror: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer fought to the death in a Grand Slam final, and so did the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. Best Super Bowl I've ever seen. Best display of tennis skills I've ever seen.
Now that those matches are over, let the real games begin.
Sorry, Cardinal fans, but the worst news Sunday was the latest fight to the death in Afghanistan — yet another suicide bombing by the Taliban:
A man wrapped in explosives walked into a compound filled with Afghan police officers Monday morning and detonated his payload, killing 21 officers and himself, the Interior Ministry said.
The attacker struck in Tirin Kot, the capital of Oruzgan Province, a mountainous area where the government's authority is being contested by the Taliban. Oruzgan is the birthplace of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban movement.
This is ominous news, and not because of the location. Here's some context missing from the New York Times story quoted above. The BBC (yes, it uses a different spelling for the Taliban) explains:
The Taleban have changed tactics since facing foreign troops in open battles two years ago, says the BBC's Ian Pannell in Kabul.
The tactics of insurgents in Iraq are being duplicated, with more suicide bombings, roadside bombs and hit-and-run ambushes, our correspondent says.
Just another reason to rue the Bush regime's unjustified invasion of Iraq. Taliban fanatics were able to hone their killing skills by adopting a strategy perfected by other fanatics in Iraq. Once again, we're reminded of George W. Bush's most enduring legacy, his accidentally truth-telling words from 2004:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
One could argue that the scary increase in suicide bombings in Afghanistan probably wouldn't be happening if not for the Bush-Cheney regime's vital contribution of spreading the "war on terror" to Iraq and thus giving fanatics the chance to think of new ways to commit suicide/homicide.
Question: what happens if you lose vast amounts of other people's money? Answer: you get a big gift from the federal government -- but the president says some very harsh things about you before forking over the cash.
Am I being unfair? I hope so. But right now that's what seems to be happening.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the Obama administration's plan to support jobs and output with a large, temporary rise in federal spending, which is very much the right thing to do. I'm talking, instead, about the administration's plans for a banking system rescue -- plans that are shaping up as a classic exercise in "lemon socialism": taxpayers bear the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives get the benefits if things go right.
When I read recent remarks on financial policy by top Obama administration officials, I feel as if I've entered a time warp -- as if it's still 2005, Alan Greenspan is still the Maestro, and bankers are still heroes of capitalism.
The White House is expected to impose tougher restrictions on executive compensation at firms that get substantial government aid, as part of an effort to improve public perception of the $700 billion financial bailout.
President Obama watched last night's Super Bowl with a few political pals - and a couple of foes.
Obama, a Steeler fan, had 11 Democrats and four Republicans over -- including Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, who once warned electing Obama would spark "dancing in the streets among the terrorists of the world."
Here's a bottom line to keep you up at night: The economy is falling faster than Washington can get moving. President Obama says his stimulus plan will save or create four million jobs in two years. In the last four months of 2008 alone, employment fell by 1.9 million. Do the math....
What are Americans still buying? Big Macs, Campbell's soup, Hershey's chocolate and Spam -- the four food groups of the apocalypse.
Just when it started to look as if The New York Times Co. had found a way to dig itself out from under its massive debt load, the beleaguered newspaper company may be on the verge of getting knocked down again.
The cash-strapped publisher last week reported that its pension plan was facing a $625 million shortfall at the end of 2008, compared with a deficit of $48 million a year earlier....
More than $1 billion in debt is looming over the ad-starved company, which was forced to get a $250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim at a steep 14 percent interest rate, to put its stake in the Boston Red Sox up for sale and to negotiate the sale of part of its brand-new Eighth Avenue headquarters.
Now, the company is getting socked again by the financial crisis and subsequent market turmoil as it wreaks havoc on its pension plan. To be sure, the Times doesn't owe billions in retirement benefits like the Big Three automakers, but it's one of hundreds of US companies suffering from a severe pension squeeze.
Last week was a painful one for magazines, as Condé Nast decided to shutter Domino and Readers Digest's parent laid off a chunk of its staff. While advertising pages are down across the board, there are a number of mags that are fighting for their survival.
The Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps quickly acknowledged his poor judgment after a photograph showing him inhaling from a marijuana pipe was published Sunday in a British newspaper. Although his admission is unlikely to effect his swimming eligibility, it could affect the millions of dollars he has secured in endorsement deals....
Since his record-breaking performance in Beijing, Phelps has added Kellogg's, Mazda and Subway, among others, to an endorsement portfolio that already included Visa and AT&T. In a 60 Minutes interview that aired in December, Phelps's agent...said that Phelps could earn more than $100 million over his lifetime.
On his weekly radio show this just-past Motzoei Shabbos, Assemblyman Dov Hikind revealed that according to his information, [confirmed by VIN News] another victim has come forward with allegations that he was abused by the disgraced former principal of Elite High School of Brooklyn.
On the show, Mr. Hikind also discussed the accused principal's admission of guilt.
Most significantly, Hikind announced a major yom tefilah to be held on March 1, 2009 in front of the Borough Park "Y" on 48th Street to demonstrate a communal request for forgiveness from Hashem for not doing enough to protect our children from, and inform our community of, heinous crimes that have been occurring over the past decades in which we turned a blind eye to abuse victims.
Mr. Hikind said that he would continue his crusade, and said "those who are upset with what I do, I ask them: 'Take over what I do.' I even offered one of the biggest Chasidic institutions many months ago, when they were upset at my work, to take over--and I never heard back from them."
From the conservative, Jewish-establishment magazine Commentary:
...Perhaps this will set off a war of scarcity between Jewish groups fighting over the money of those who are still giving, but the initial indications are that cooperation may prevail over chaos.
Representatives of thirty-five of the largest Jewish foundations in the country met in New York on December 23, 2008, to coordinate their responses to the crisis and agreed to offer millions of dollars in loans to not-for-profits victimized by Madoff--a heartening display of a community banding together in a time of crisis.
But the real problem facing specifically Jewish charitable organizations is not a scarcity of dollars to be spread among rival Jewish causes, but rather competition from secular groups that have also been injured by the economic crisis.
An assimilated Jewish donor who feels the charitable impulse but has fewer dollars to contribute might feel a greater sense of affinity and cause with an environmentalist group or an arts organization, and focus his reduced power on them instead. Just as the openness of American society has made it less likely for Jews to marry other Jews, so, too, it is less likely that Jews will give primarily to Jewish causes....
The long-term threat for Jewish philanthropy, then, isn't Bernard Madoff but rather the overall threat facing the larger Jewish community in the United States--what came to be known, nearly two decades ago, as the "continuity crisis."
When the 1990 National Jewish Population Study reported alarming rates of intermarriage, numbers that offered the terrifying prospect of the eventual withering away of the Jewish population in the United States, a debate began in the organized Jewish world about how to address the approaching demographic disaster.
Peter Madoff's role in the scam, if any, remains unclear. But timing of the homestead exemption requests raises questions as to who knew what and when....
CBS News has learned that [Bernard] Madoff and his brother, along with their wives, took steps two years ago -- around the time that federal regulators started probing Madoff's business activities -- that could help prevent their Florida homes from being taken away from them, something possible under Florida state law.
"Florida has very unique laws and has been described by some as a debtor's haven," said John Pankauski, a Florida estate attorney. "People who may want to protect their property will seek the protection of Florida laws."
Florida's "homestead" laws, which are unlike what any other state has, in part allow homeowners facing legal judgments (or other financial issues) to protect their primary residence fully -- keeping it out of the hands of potential creditors. One of the key steps in qualifying for the home-protection is seeking "homestead exemption," which provides homeowners with a tax break.
On May 10, 2001, Peter Madoff bought the home at 200 Algoma Road in Palm Beach, Fla., along with his wife Marion. Both were listed as owners at the time.
Five years later, on Nov. 8, 2006, Peter transferred the title to Marion making her the sole legal owner of the home....
A bumbling New York Post reporter was busted Saturday after he tried to sweet-talk his way into Bernie Madoff's upper East Side penthouse, police said.
Josh Saul, 25, claimed to be a real-estate broker when he entered the Ponzi scheme swindler's building at 133 E. 64th St. around 1 p.m., police said. "He misrepresented himself," a police source said.
Saul was escorted upstairs by a doorman and was near the front door of the $50 billion scam artist's $7 million duplex when he was unmasked, cops said.
The hapless hack's weekend at Bernie's did not end with the exclusive interview he was angling for. Instead, he was arrested, charged with trespassing and issued a summons.
Saul, 25, of Greenwich Village, has been working at the Post for about a year. He is also the dubious star of a Web site that includes photos of him dancing in his underwear, chugging beer from a keg, wearing a woman's wig and balancing objects on his head.
Reached Saturday night, he referred all questions to his newspaper.
Post spokesman Howard Rubinstein declined to comment.
The fact-challenged tabloid quoted an anonymous source on Friday as saying that brokers have been invited by the trustee of Madoff's firm to assess the disgraced investor's apartment.
Hard times force hard choices on everyone. But that does not require bad decisions too. At Brandeis University, President Jehuda Reinharz has made hard times worse by deciding to close the university's Rose Art Museum and sell off more than 6,000 works in its collection....
The Madoff scandal and its effects on some of Brandeis's major donors have made new fund-raising possibilities especially bleak.
Selling the university's art collection would help plug its financial gap, but it would create a gaping hole in Brandeis's mission and its reputation. It would default on one of the great collections of contemporary art in New England, one built early on with extraordinary artistic acumen. The core works were acquired by the museum's founding director from such young artists (at young artist prices) as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
You won't see edgy Bernie Madoff-related work like this in U.S. mainstream papers, but New York's own Jewish Daily Forward, as always, is up to the task of covering Jewish politics and news with a minimum of politically correct tiptoeing.
Above, an excerpt from Eli Valley's "The Shonda!" in the Forward.
Valley, sort of the Jewish version of R. Crumb, touts his work as "Ethnocentric Parochialism for the Whole Family!"
For more Madoff-related news that's not of the cartoonish persuasion, go to the end of this post for my daily Gelt Trip aggregation.
But first, please note that Barack Obama isn't being so politically correct either. Now in charge of a generally conservative country long dominated by profligate financiopaths, the nation's first black president is chewing out Wall Street bankers and generally acting like some kind of goldurned liberal.
Watch your back, my brother. And tell the Secret Service to do the same.
Three decades ago, engineer Peter Fraenkel created an underwater turbine to use river power to pump water in Sudan, where he worked for a charity. Civil war and a lack of funding stymied his plans. Now, his modified design generates electricity from tides off Northern Ireland.
He chased down a lunatic serial stabber in Times Square, and lived to tell a jury about it yesterday.
"I don't know if it was more heroic or stupid," former W Hotel doorman Adam Szpiler, 32, said of his bravery after testifying against accused knifeman Kenny Alexis, charged with attempting to murder three tourists and a cook in a 13-hour rampage in the summer of 2006.
U.S. government guarantees on securities totaling $419 billion for bank bailouts provide an early test of President Barack Obama's pledge to be open with taxpayers about what they have at risk in the credit crisis.
Add another voice to the chorus of city officials who say that the city should renegotiate its deal with developer Bruce Ratner, whose Atlantic Yards mega-project is in jeopardy due to the economic crisis.
Accused Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff's luxurious penthouse apartment -- where he currently whiles away the hours under house arrest -- could soon be up for sale, the Post has learned....
[Real-estate] brokers have been invited by lawyers working for Irving Picard, the trustee appointed by a federal bankruptcy-court judge to oversee the liquidation of Madoff's Manhattan investment firm.
Picard presumably would use any sale proceeds to help pay back, at least somewhat, Madoff's creditors.
Because he must remain inside the two-story apartment as a condition of his $10 million bail, Madoff will be in awkward proximity to brokers when they eyeball its four bedrooms, at least five bathrooms, kitchen and library.