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Super Sunday! Bread and circuses and suicide bombings!

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.

Meanwhile, in other business…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Afghan Suicide Bomber Kills 18’

N.Y. Times: ‘Bailouts for Bunglers’ (Paul Krugman)

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.

N.Y. Post: ‘DEMS PUSH RENT CONTROL’

N.Y. Times: ‘A Month Free? Rents Are Falling Fast’

N.Y. Post: ‘DAVE TURNS A BLIND EYE TO SNL JAB’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Firms Getting U.S. Aid
Face Strict Pay Curbs’

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.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘No joke — I’ll fire 23,000, Mike warns’

Digital Journalist: ‘”Dr. Strangelove and President Bush’

N.Y. Times: ‘Gaza Notebook: The Bullets in My In-Box’ (Ethan Bronner)

NewsBusters: ‘Robert Gibbs, Reporters Laugh Off Fairness Doctrine Question’ [SEE TRANSCRIPT or VIDEO]

N.Y. Post: ‘OBAMA’S POLITICAL “PARTY”‘

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.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Herbert Hoover Lives’ (Frank Rich)

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.

N.Y. Times: ‘Welfare Aid Not Growing as Economy Drops Off’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Recession Gives Cobblers New Traction’

The shoe-repair industry has been given a new lease on life as Americans opt to repair shoes rather than replace them.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Brilliant student, pal cut down in stolen car crash’

N.Y. Times: ‘Risks Are Vast in Revaluation of Assets’

As the Obama administration prepares its strategy to rescue the nation’s banks by buying or guaranteeing troubled assets on their books, it confronts one central problem: How should they be valued?

Not just billions, but hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.

N.Y. Times: ‘Israeli, Palestinian Attacks Batter Gaza Ceasefire’

N.Y. Post: ‘PENSION TENSION’

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.

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Promises Review Board for Bailout Program’

N.Y. Post: ‘IN SURVIVAL MODE’

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.

N.Y. Times: ‘Oil Below $41 as US Crude Workers May Strike’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Super Bowl XLIII is no quick fix for the economy’ (Mike Lupica)

N.Y. Times: ‘Spinach and Peanuts, With a Dash of Radiation’

N.Y. Post: ‘DRUG DEAL BAD RX FOR JERSEY’

N.Y. Times: ‘Justice Dept. Under Obama Is Preparing for Doctrinal Shift in Policies of Bush Years’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘More than 100 killed in Kenya oil tanker explosion’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rising Acidity Is Threatening Food Web of Oceans, Science Panel Says’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Now Hiring: Lehman’

Lehman has become a hot source of work for finance professionals needed for the process of dissolving the firm.

N.Y. Post: ‘BOFA DISSIDENTS SET SIGHTS ON CEO LEWIS’

A group of angry Bank of America shareholders plans to demand that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis get the boot at the bank’s upcoming annual meeting.

N.Y. Times: ‘Phelps Apologizes for Marijuana Pipe Photo’

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.

IPS: ‘MEDIA-US: Gaza Coverage Echoed Govt Support of Israel’

<New Times (Phoenix): ‘Senator Shocks Press: “%$#@ Like A Beast!”‘

New Times (Phoenix): ‘Leapin’ Lizards’

Vos Iz Neias?: ‘Assemblyman Hikind: More Victims Coming Forward In Former Russian Principal Case’

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.”


‘The Madoff Scandal and the Future of American Jewry’

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.

Art Observed: ‘Brandeis University considers closing Rose Museum due to losses from Madoff investments’

CBS: ‘Double Trouble for Madoffs?: Brother Of Bernard Made Florida Real Estate Moves That Raise Questions About How Much Family Knew’
See [VIDEO]

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….

ABC: ‘The Imp in a Bottle: Ponzi/Madoff in a Broader Perspective: Ponzificating on Madoff, Pyramid Schemes and the Financial Crisis’

N.Y. Daily News: New York Post writer busted in bid to interview Bernard Madoff’

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.

Z Magazine: ‘Wall Street swindler inadvertently strikes powerful blows for social justice?’

N.Y. Times: ‘Art at Brandeis’

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.

 

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Barack Obama’s roadblocked info highway

Traffic is still backed up on Civics 101. What was touted in the web’s early days as the “information highway” has become too cluttered with political billboards.

This is not a vast right-wing conspiracy. The blizzard of b.s. is from Barack Obama‘s embryonic regime.

It’s not really a shock. Liberals work just as hard — usually harder — at social-engineering projects, as part of their well-meaning if often misguided attempts to improve people’s lives.

There’s reason to assume that, in many respects, the new administration will be more open than the Bush-Cheney regime, which, after all, did hatch all sorts of secretive plots and strategies of lies and agitprop, particularly about the Iraq invasion.

But in one basic area, the road from D.C. to the rest of the country, there are so many Obama ads that you can’t see the countryside whizzing past, and the view was actually less cluttered by presidential propaganda during the Bush Daze.

I noted this last week, and I’ll keep harping on it until the new administration takes down some of its self-promoting signage about “transparent government” and actually delivers transparency.

OK, it’s still early days for the Obama regime. But when the Bush regime took over for the Clintonians, there were changes to the whitehouse.gov site, but its core job of providing basic information remained intact.

Yes, you had to cut through the propaganda, but the transcripts, official White House photos of various events, videos of speeches to even nut groups were all there. And, yes, George W. Bush‘s malaprops were rarely expunged.

Eight years ago, of course, there was no YouTube. Now, government operatives are really into trying to bend the technology and are much more sophisticated about trying to give you what they want you to think you need. That must be why the Obama White House is — so far — less forthcoming with info about the prez’s activities than the Bush White House was.

And it’s apparently why the new administration is getting all creepy-crawly friendly on us by titling Obama’s regular weekly speech “Your Weekly Address.”

No, pal, it’s yours. Do you have to put a marketing spin on everything?

The country gave it up for you, Obama. Now give it up to us.

Meanwhile, here’s some other clutter to click on…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘”FARE SHARE” TAXIS: CITY EYES SPLIT RIDES’

Bloomberg: ‘”Fear” Signals U.S. Jobless Rolls to Swell in Recession’

What’s shaping up to be the longest and deepest U.S. recession in at least a quarter century may swell the number of Americans collecting jobless benefits by half this year.

Forbes: ‘The Incendiary IDF: The Israel Defense Forces use phosphorous shells — and forfeit credibility’ (Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch)

Forbes: ‘Bank Bonuses Should Make You Mad’

Taxpayer money is what’s lining the pockets of Wall Street executives. How can this happen and what can we do?

Wall Street Journal: ‘Lending Drops at Big U.S. Banks’

Lending at many of the nation’s largest banks fell in recent months, even after they received $148 billion in taxpayer capital that was intended to help the economy by making loans more readily available.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Teen sex rap for principal of Bensonhurst private school’

…the latest blow to Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. Since October, at least four Orthodox Jewish men in the borough have been charged with sexually abusing children.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Moves to Change Emissions Rules’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama’s Order Is Likely to Tighten Auto Standards’

N.Y. Times: ‘From Here to Retirement’

The wipeout in 401(k)’s has made it clear that there needs to be a better way to ensure that a lifetime of savings can’t be undone by forces beyond one’s control.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Cop shoots man with 17 bags of cocaine — but no gun’

Bloomberg: ‘Geithner’s Treasury Bonds Abetted by Paulson Failure to Restore Confidence’

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson‘s inability to restore confidence in the financial system is creating unprecedented demand for U.S. debt as his successor prepares to sell the most bonds in history.

N.Y. Times: ‘Counting the Walking Wounded’

The military estimates of the mental damage from war are too low because the method
used to determine the count is flawed.

N.Y. Post: ‘INTRIGUE AS FULD SELLS $13M HOUSE TO WIFE FOR $100’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Radomski covers all ‘Bases’ in new book’

Bloomberg: ‘Baboon’s Blood Offers Davos Chiefs Macbeth Magic to Cool Bewitched Market’

That old black magic has even the World Economic Forum in its spell.

N.Y. Times: ‘From Hospital, Afghans Rebut U.S. Account’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Brazilian amputee beauty queen dies’

N.Y. Times: ‘Melding Obama’s Web to a YouTube Presidency’

N.Y. Times: ‘Republicans Are Resistant to Obama’s Stimulus Plan’

N.Y. Post: ‘REVOLTIN’ JOE’S WHINE TURNS BITTER’

N.Y. Times: ‘Tenants Encouraged to Socialize, but Not Criticize’

Forbes: ‘Land Of The Free Speakers: Intellectual exiles come from democracies, too.’

…Consider Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. Israeli-born and resident in New York, Ehrenfeld has made a career of following money trails to their murkiest sources and been threatened and sued multiple times for her efforts.

Most recently she became a victim of so-called libel tourism. In Funding Evil, she wrote that a wealthy Saudi Arabian, Khalid bin Mahfouz, had financed terrorist activities. Under U.S. law her well-documented accusation doesn’t qualify as libel, so bin Mahfouz sued her in Great Britain.

The book had never been published in Britain or sold in book stores there, but a few copies had been obtained via online sellers. A British judge imposed a fine on Ehrenfeld and said her book should be destroyed.

N.Y. Times: ‘Infomercials Find Their Way to Television’s Prime Time’

A sign of the ailing economy, infomercials are now filling television slots that traditional advertisers like banks and automakers once owned.

Forbes: ‘This Bear Buys Stocks’

Jeremy Grantham, the bear who called the tech bubble and stayed out of stocks while the credit bubble inflated, finally sees opportunities in U.S. stocks.

‘When your husband is in jail, or heading to jail…’

Tips from Divorce Saloon:

Ruth Madoff and Michelle Schrenker are two lovely women whose husbands have done not so lovely things. As a result, both men are facing federal prison. Bernie Madoff, husband of Ruth Madoff, is facing prison for pulling off the biggest Ponzi heist in Wall Street history. Marcus Schrenker is facing prison for leaving his private plane unmanned and calling in a fake distress signal after defrauding his clients of millions.

Most women’s husbands who are facing jail or already in jail, probably haven’t done anything quite as exciting as these two particular husbands. But the concerns are the same. What now? Where does she go from there?

Well, all I can say is that in New York, if your husband is going to be incarcerated for more than 3 consecutive years, you can get a divorce on that basis and he does not have to agree to the divorce.

Palm Beach Post: ‘Trust fund teens take credit for decorating Madoff mansion, in toilet paper’

…Some teenage boys called The Palm Beach Post newsroom Sunday evening to take credit for the prank – one they said was sanctioned by their parents.

They said they were acting in retaliation after they lost their trust funds to the accused swindler.

bloggingstocks.com: ‘Is Madoff a psychopath?’

Israel Opportunity Investor: ‘Whatever Happened to Madoff’s List of Assets?’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Sons’ Roles in Spotlight: Madoff Siblings’ Contacts With Investment Arm Scrutinized’

 

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Entering a new phrase: Barack Obama’s inaugural address

Eire on the side of the new president: There’s no one as Irish as Bearach O’Bama.

Too short to be an oratorio, Barack Obama‘s inaugural speech (video) proved nevertheless that as an orator he’s got handle.

That guy can speak. Notwithstanding our gratitude to George W. Bush for the past eight years of malaprops, listening to the new president yesterday was like going to the dentist for a deep cleaning followed by a thorough rinse.

Can barely even taste George now, can you?

Yes, the nation will have to endure several root canals, but for now, the public seems numb with delight about having a president who can speak our language and sounds like a grownup.

Considering that Obama will have to deliver more bad news to Americans than any other president in memory, we’re fortunate that he’s such a skilled and inspiring speaker.

It was already gratifying that we’ll have a president who loves to play basketball. (As a former ballboy for the Phillips 66ers, I feel a special tug in the new president’s direction.) But it’s clear that no matter how much Obama likes to dribble, as a speaker he never drools.

One of the better analyses — up to a point — of Obama’s inaugural address was Thomas DeFrank‘s piece in the Daily News:

Whatever triumph and travail lie ahead, Barack Obama has already delivered the most critical 2,401 words of his presidency.

It was part sermon, part tutorial, part call to arms, well-packaged and elegantly delivered.

Yet for all the inspiring, hopeful flourishes of his 18-minute inaugural address, Obama also served up a stark, tough-love message:

Grow up, guys. No more of the same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney or we’re all doomed.

He declared war not just on global terrorists but on “the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and wornout dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics.”

Yes, Obama’s speech was so stirring and well-delivered that it made even the most hardened cynics’ knees buckle.

And DeFrank’s analysis is smoothly written. But let’s not get carried away about what DeFrank says about our having to “grow up.”

We will not grow up — and by “we” I mean politicians and their “same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney.” That will always be around, and every incoming president has to give us the same encouragement to pull together and forget the partisanship.

Yes, Obama had to say that, but partisanship is what democracies are made of, and other parts of Obama’s speech were more memorable — like when he said:

“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.”

You heard him. He actually included “non-believers” in there. What a refreshing change from the Bush regime, which tried to ram its evangelical nonsense down our throats.

Obama gave the obligatory shout-out to God, and I’m sure She’s happy about that, but he actually directed a conciliatory phrase right at the Muslim world. Astonishing.

The new president, you might notice, pointedly did not portray the planet as the battleground of a comic-book-style “clash of civilizations.” Instead, he actually tried to promote the idea that no matter what, we’re all human.

Leave aside the lingering doubts that Dick Cheney is one of us. You have to hope that those words of Obama’s will get under our skin and stay there.

Now, Obama, get to work on that New Great Depression.

And you out there: Start clicking on these items…unless you have to get back to work…if you still have a job…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Daily News: ‘BAM’S MESSAGE: TOUGH LOVE FOR TOUGH TIMES’

Wall Street Journal: ‘President Obama Urges Unity Amid “Raging Storms” of War and Recession’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rejecting Bush Era, Reclaiming Values’

Though couched in indirect terms, the inaugural address was a stark repudiation.

N.Y. Post: ‘DAY OF DESTINY FOR ALL AMERICA’

N.Y. Post: ‘Fatal Kitty Toss’

N.Y. Times: ‘Hope Mixes with Doubt as World Reacts’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Queens housing market hit hard’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bush: ‘”We Led With Conviction”‘

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Market tumbles 330 points on bank jitters’

On a day when America welcomed a new president, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 4 percent as investors worried that the worst is yet to come for banks.

FOX: ‘Obama Administration Moves to Halt Guantanamo Trials’

Hours after taking office, the president orders military prosecutors in Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to seek a 120-day halt in all pending cases.

N.Y. Post: ‘CITY TAKES BRUISIN’ OVER SLIPPERY BRIDGE BIKE LANES’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Report: Thousands of BofA layoffs coming this week’

Bank of America Corp. is expected to cut thousands of jobs in its capital markets business starting this week, and many will likely come from New York, a report says.

N.Y. Times: ‘Top Newsday Editors Return to Work After Dispute’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Is Cablevision meddling in Newsday’s coverage?’

Newsday: ‘Knicks center Eddy Curry slapped with sex suit’

Newsday: ‘Lawsuit filed against Eddy Curry (Warning: Explicit language)’

N.Y. Post: ‘NEWSDAY EDITORS “MISSING”‘ (Keith Kelly)

N.Y. Times: ‘Trials for Parents Who Chose Faith Over Medicine’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Tax Issue Won’t Derail Geithner: Senators Are More Concerned With How Treasury Nominee Will Help Fix Economy’

Timothy Geithner will call for a comprehensive and aggressive approach to tackling the U.S. financial crisis when he appears Wednesday at hearings on his confirmation as Treasury secretary, while also trying to assure lawmakers that he simply erred by failing to pay some payroll taxes earlier this decade.

At the hearing, Mr. Geithner will likely be grilled over his tax missteps and his role in helping to craft the Bush administration’s financial-sector rescue. But senators’ seeming reluctance to derail his confirmation while the economy is sputtering and the lending freeze is worsening makes it likely he will be confirmed for the cabinet post….

Some lawmakers, including many Republicans, are also relieved to finally have someone to deal with other than [Hank] Paulson, whose handling of the financial rescue angered many on Capitol Hill.

“Republican leaders think that Mr. Geithner was one of President Obama’s better cabinet selections. They believe they’ll be able to work with Mr. Geithner and have honest conversations,” said Sam Geduldig, a financial-services lobbyist and former aide to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.

N.Y. Times: ‘In Albany, Higher Taxes for the Rich Expected’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Kennedy Has Seizure at Inaugural’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Senate Confirms Raft of Cabinet Picks’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Chrysler-Fiat Deal Needs U.S. Loans’


‘Prosecutors Focus on Madoff’s Point Man’

From the Wall Street Journal:

As a key lieutenant to money manager Bernard Madoff for more than 30 years, Frank DiPascali Jr. said he headed stock-options trading and was the point man for investment-advisory clients who were told he executed their trades.

Now, he is a potential point man in the investigation of a Ponzi scheme that Mr. Madoff has told prosecutors he carried out over decades, according to a criminal complaint and people familiar with the matter, potentially bilking investors out of $50 billion….

Mr. DiPascali hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing. His lawyer, Marc Mukasey, declined to comment about Mr. DiPascali’s role with Mr. Madoff except to say that he had frequent contact with investors.

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Madoff victims likely to get little money back’

Investors in the alleged Ponzi scheme face a long and complicated legal process in order to recover funds.

 

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Barack Obama has the power to pardon Bush and Cheney — right now. Yes, he can!

Barack Obama has the power to immediately pardon George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of war crimes and of flouting the Constitution.

Yes, Obama can — even though Bush and Cheney haven’t really been charged, let alone convicted.

Oh, it would piss off Bush and Cheney and Karl Rove and the rest of that odious administration. But more than simple revenge and cruelty, it would be the right thing to do, and they would have no recourse.

A presidential pardon would of course imply — in the strongest possible terms — that they committed crimes for which they could be pardoned.

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. You think Obama can’t do it? Yes, he can.

No one has suggested it, as far as I know, but Slate‘s Jacob Leibenluft answered his own question last July, in “Pre-emptive Presidential Pardons: Can you be pardoned for a crime before you’re ever charged?”:

…Yep. In 1866, the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Garland that the pardon power “extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.” (In that case, a former Confederate senator successfully petitioned the court to uphold a pardon that prevented him from being disbarred.)

Generally speaking, once an act has been committed, the president can issue a pardon at any time–regardless of whether charges have even been filed….

Obama has already indicated that he’s not much interested in pursuing the Bush-Cheney regime for its numerous bad deeds, and he won’t have the time anyway, with the New Great Depression bearing down on the U.S.

Oh, and we know the acts have been committed, so think about it:

Bush and Cheney would forever wear the scarlet “P” for pardon on their foreheads, and there would be nothing they could do about it.

Oh, would they fight it in court? It’s not appealable, but would they even try? That would open arguments on the merits of their being pardoned. That’s a can of worms that Bush and Cheney would be unlikely to want to open.

So, my one and only suggestion to President Obama: Pardon Bush and pardon Cheney.

Spare us the expense of prosecuting them and their underlings for their malfeasance.

Don’t forgive them their trespasses on the Constitution. Make them official.

Obama could announce the pardons in his inaugural address (which is happening as I write this), but my money says he won’t.

Too bad. That would add to the history he’s already making.

UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Obama surely took Americans’ breath away with his inaugural address (video). But he didn’t take my advice to pardon Bush and Cheney.

To those readers who have insisted that Congressional hearings should be held so that the previous administration be held accountable for various tortures and other abuses of people and the law, I’ll just point out that wide-ranging, definitive hearings will most likely never be held.

So, short of our frog-marching Bush and Cheney to the waterboarding tank for some truth-telling sessions, it’s probably either the pardons or nothing.

Obama, you’ve got at least four years to think this over.

 

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On bereavement leave this week, mourning the exit of George W. Bush

The Bush Error is finally ending, and many of you may see this as the end of a national nightmare.

For reporters, it’s the end of a dream presidency.

Apparently, George W. Bush has decided to heed the Constitution, for a change, and leave office after two terms.

In doing so, he’s pointedly ignoring my plea in this week’s Voice print edition: “Don’t Leave, George W.! We Need You to Bail Out the Press.”

That’s why I’m bailing out for a few days.

Call it bereavement leave.

See you next week.

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We’re saved! Yankees bail out New York City!

Don’t worry if you’ve been laid off, your kid’s school has closed, your neighborhood’s community center has had to shut down, your bank (revitalized by your tax money) is pestering you to turn over your home, the prices of booze and cigarettes have gone up again, subway fares are soaring, you couldn’t afford to buy more than lumps of coal for your Christmas stocking, Bernie Madoff stole your gelt.

Taking the sting out of that: The Yanks signed Mark Texeira for $180 million in guaranteed money.

The local rags reported the great news as breathlessly as any hometown hack hinterlands newspaper would. From the Daily News:

In bagging free agents Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees have committed a guaranteed $423.5 million to those three contracts at a cost that will average $62 million a year. …

Teixeira’s contract pays him $22.5 million a year and includes a $5 million signing bonus as well as a no-trade clause. Together with Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter, the Yankees have the four highest-paid players in baseball.

Rodriguez will make $32 million this year and (for now) gets to fuck Madonna.

You — and ordinary New Yorkers like you — helped make it all possible with hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies and free land. Take some pride in that. Even if you can’t afford tickets to the games. Give yourself a pat on the back.

You also made New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon happy; the Mets got public money for their new stadium, making it possible for them to afford their new players.

But Wilpon wasn’t as lucky as Alex Rodriguez. Fred got fucked, but it was Bernie Madoff who turned the trick and it cost Fred $500 million.

Aside from that, more good news for the rich people you subsidize: If you’re one of those people who rents from city slumlord Isaac Toussie, raise a toast to him: George W. Bush just granted him a pardon.

Put a bucket under those drips and click on these …

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Washington Post: ‘The Dispirit of Christmas Present’

It’s beginning to look a not like Christmas, everywhere you don’t go.

Slate: ‘Bogus Trend of the Week: Booming Evangelical Attendance’

A Gallup editor punctures a religion bubble at the New York Times. …

Ordinarily when the Times traffics in a trend story, it indemnifies itself by quoting a skeptic on the other side of the issue or it tosses off a “to be sure” paragraph noting the weakness of its anecdotal evidence. Not here. Given this leap of faith, let’s hope the Times isn’t looking into the existence of Santa Claus. Imagine the headline: “Despite Naysayers, Hundreds of Millions Believe in St. Nick.”

McClatchy: ‘Salmon-tracking network upends some sacred cows’

Slate: ‘Blago’s Legal Eagles’

They’re the guys who defended R. Kelly. Can they get the Illinois governor off the hook, too?

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Scheme
Takes New Toll’

A sharper picture is emerging about the investigation into the alleged fraud by Madoff, how it evolved to ensnare bigger clients and how long it went on. …

Earliest suspicions now date back to ’91.

Slate: ‘Cheney Fought the Law. Cheney Won.’

N.Y. Post: ‘EX-BROKER FACES “HEDGE HOG” RAP’

A former securities broker was charged yesterday with helping disgraced lawyer Marc Dreier trick hedge-fund managers into making more than $380 million in bogus investments, authorities said.

Kosta Kovachev, who lost his broker’s license after being implicated in a time-share Ponzi scheme, is accused of impersonating various real-estate execs as part of Dreier’s elaborate scam to sell hedge funds phony promissory notes, according to the feds.

Kovachev, 57, and Dreier reportedly sneaked into the Manhattan offices of Solow Realty to meet with hedge-fund representatives in October. During that meeting, Kovachev pretended to be the company’s controller, according to a Manhattan federal court complaint.

L.A. Times: ‘Chinese seek to pull cats from the menu’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama, Two Aides Questioned in Probe’

N.Y. Post: ‘PITY PONZI-POOR PENNEY’

Washington Post: ‘SEC Chair Defends His Restraint’

Christopher Cox says agency’s measured response to crisis has been his greatest contribution.

N.Y. Post: ‘CITY BIGS FACE DEUTSCHE GRILL’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Suicide not a shock to other Madoff victims’

Washington Post: ‘Madoff Investor Found Dead in Office’

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet was found sitting at his desk at about 8 a.m. with both wrists slashed … A box cutter was found on the floor along with a bottle of sleeping pills on his desk. No suicide note was found. …

His fund enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe’s high society to garner clients.

Among them was Philippe Junot, a French businessman and friend who is the former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.

De la Villehuchet, the former chairman and chief executive of Credit Lyonnais Securities, also was known as a keen sailor who regularly participated in regattas and was a member of the New York Yacht Club.

N.Y. Post: ‘GOOD, BAD AND UGLY IN CITY CRIME STATS’

American Forces Press Service: ‘Commander in Chief Recalls His “Great Days”‘

McClatchy: ‘California will see clout increase at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue’

N.Y. Post: ‘SHEL SHOCKER: BEWARE CAROLINE, HE WARNS GOV’

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver yesterday strongly suggested that Gov. Paterson reject Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s replacement – because she might be more loyal to Mayor Bloomberg than to the governor.

McClatchy: ‘Flaunting, sales of luxury goods down’

BBC: ‘Cocoa prices hit a 23-year-high’

… Cocoa traded in the US has also been rising, although not as strongly because of the strength of the dollar.

BBC: ‘Dung souvenir based on holy phrase’

BBC: ‘Sopranos actor cleared of murder’

BBC: ‘NY Times admits to fake letter’

Washington Post: ‘Shoe-Thrower Is Called Defiant’

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Pope says humanity needs “saving” from homosexuality’

N.Y. Times: ‘Betrayed by Madoff, school adds lesson’

Jurist: ‘Russia upper house gives final approval to presidential term extension amendments’

Jurist: ‘Australia government lifts control order on ex-Guantanamo detainee Hicks’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Animal rights activists still target lab’

Four guilty of six-year campaign against companies
linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences knowledge

L.A. Times: ‘Afghanistan’s President Karzai laments coalition use of “thugs”‘

The leader of Afghanistan faults U.S.-led forces, saying they have hired warlords who have then been sent to mistreat ordinary Afghans.

 

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‘Shoe intifada’ vowed; we quake in our boots

Now we have another chance to peer into the soul of terrorists, rebels, and other insurgents.

Enraged at the alleged beating of the journalist who hurled at George W. Bush, a Muslim cleric in Iran has called for a “shoe intifada.”

Still unconfirmed: The cleric promised martyr wannabes 72 pairs of new shoes.

No time to tell you more. A snowstorm’s coming, and I need to leave for the city so I can stop at al-Payless before going to work.

So click on these …

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘REALLY HIGH MAINTENANCE’

The estranged wife of United Technologies Chairman George David says she has weekly expenses of $53,000 — more than what half the households in America earn annually and higher than the cost of attending an Ivy League school for a year.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Bush shoe protester has been beaten, Iraqi judge says’

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush was beaten afterwards and had bruises on his face, the investigating judge in the case said today, as a senior cleric in Iran urged others to wage a “shoe intifada” against the US.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Surgeon finds foot in baby’s brain’

N.Y. Post: ‘Bubba of Arabia’

BBC: ‘One in 10 Jobs Tied to Autos? Not so Fast’
Bailout Backers Claim 13 Million Jobs Rely on Auto Industry, but Economists Say It’s 2 Million

Xinhua (China): ‘Web site ordered to pay damages to China’s first “virtual lynching” victim’

Center for Responsive Politics: ‘Madoff and Company Spent Nearly $1 Million on Washington Influence’

The man behind a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that has roiled Wall Street and shaken up the nonprofit world was also a long-time contributor to Democrats,

Washington Post: ‘The Confessor in Chief’ (Dana Milbank)

Slowly, painfully, self-awareness has come to George W. Bush.

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘DreamWorks “struggling”: Everything Steven Spielberg touches usually turns to gold.’

N.Y. Post: ‘CITY TRIPLE-CROWNED BY ANOTHER TAX HIKE: PROPERTY BOOST FOLLOWS WHACKS BY GOV, MTA’

New Yorkers got slammed yesterday by the third leg of a triple whammy — a 7 percent property-tax hike, approved by the City Council, that takes effect on New Year’s Day.

Times (U.K.): ‘Barack Obama lays into SEC for its lack of “adult supervision”‘

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Increase in robots “could lead to lack of human contact”‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Records show Caroline Kennedy failed to cast her vote many times since 1988’

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Sandwiches cause woman to faint’

L.A. Times: ‘Health providers’ “conscience” rule to take effect’

The last-minute Bush administration declaration lets doctors, clinics, receptionists and others refuse to give care they find morally objectionable.

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Gay leaders angered by Obama’s prayer pick’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Two ex-Lehman brokers among 4 hit in insider ring’

The feds busted a $4.8 million insider trading scheme involving two ex-Lehman Brothers brokers who funneled confidential tips through a Playboy Playmate, officials said Thursday.

Times (U.K.): ‘It’s dramatic! It’s sensational! It’s the Fed rescue’

Quantitative easing may not sound exciting, but it is as momentous as the Gettysburg Address or the D-Day landings.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Fairfield Extended Madoff’s Reach: Investment Fund’s Marketing Effort Helped to Raise Billions for Money Manager’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Keen to Regulate Finance’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Clinton Reveals Donors’

Former President Bill Clinton‘s charitable foundation has taken in more than $140 million in the past decade from foreign sources, including the Saudi royal family and leaders of a Middle Eastern government now negotiating a controversial deal with the U.S. government to procure nuclear-energy technologies.

Those were among the details included in the list of 205,000 donors to the Clinton Foundation, released for the first time Thursday, as part of an unusual deal negotiated with Barack Obama when the president-elect decided to nominate Mr. Clinton’s wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, for secretary of state.

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Fellow Arabs honor journalist’s feat

Shoe-throwing journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi must feel as if he’d died and gone to suicide-bomber heaven. At least one of his fellow Arabs is offering him a woman who may or may not be a virgin.

Sure, it’s only woman, not the 72 promised to martyrs, but he’s alive and she’s alive and, well, you know.

And she’s thrilled about it, as Reuters reports from Cairo:

An Egyptian man said on Wednesday he was offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad on Sunday,

The daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. “This is something that would honor me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” she told Reuters by telephone.

Start unlacing, baby. But until marriage, no tongues.

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Mukasey Recuses Himself From Madoff Investigation’

N.Y. Post: ‘MTA OKS HIKE IN DOUBLE WHAMMY’

Agence France Presse: ‘Chrysler halts manufacturing as clock ticks on gov’t bailout’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Scientists debunk the myth that you lose most heat through your head’

Register (U.K.): ‘New York “iPod tax” incites media bleating: Four-cent proposal twists knickers’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Just like humans! Yes, a squirrel can waterski, just like us! And we have video of the versatile squirrel in action.’

Reuters: ‘Father offers daughter to shoe-thrower’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Selects Evangelist for Invocation’

The inauguration role positions the Rev. Rick Warren to succeed Billy Graham as America’s pre-eminent minister.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Regulator Schapiro to Run SEC for Obama’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Lillo’s smirks spur fury as jury deliberates’

Register (U.K.): ‘Censored scenes from the Congress WMD report: Last minute bioterror rewrites?’

N.Y. Post: ‘NYERS BET ON KENNEDY BUT WANT ANDY’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Antisemites feast on Madoff misery’

It has been a fertile financial week for bigots. The astonishing scale of corruption allegedly unmasked at the offices of Wall Street fund manager Bernie Madoff has caused disproportionate pain in the Jewish community, prompting unedifying sneers on the blogosphere. …

Register (U.K.): ‘Wikipedia self-flagellates over vanishing “farmsex”: The missing Zoophilia edits’

N.Y. Post: ‘SICK TRAN-SIT COP SLAY WIFE: HE WAS A CROSS-DRESSER’

A Queens cop shot to death by his wife earlier this year was a member of the “Hottie Police” — as a cross-dresser, her lawyer said yesterday.

Reuters: ‘HIV infects women through healthy tissue: U.S. study’

Instead of infiltrating breaks in the skin, HIV appears to attack normal, healthy genital tissue, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday in a study that offers new insight into how the AIDS virus spreads.

They said researchers had assumed the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, sought out beaks in the skin, such as a herpes sore, in order to gain access to immune system cells deeper in the tissue.

Some had even thought the normal lining of the vaginal tract offered a barrier to invasion by the virus during sexual intercourse.

Register (U.K.): ‘Yahoo! to! kill! most! search! engine! data! records! after! three! months!’

Register (U.K.): ‘Don’t delay: Delete your DNA today’

McClatchy: ‘Kabul residents have more fear of gangs than of Taliban’

Washington Post: ‘End of the Hedge Fund?’ (Sebastian Mallaby)

… Because it is possible to commit undetected fraud, the industry will attract fraudsters; eventually, investors will realize that they can’t tell the good guys from the bad and yank their money out. If this is going to happen, the Madoff scandal could be the catalyst, especially because it has hit at a time when hedge funds are in trouble for other reasons.

Hedge fund strategies depend on borrowing, or “leverage,” which is hard to come by now. They often depend on “shorting” stocks — that is, betting that they’ll fall in value — but regulators have restricted that practice. Even before the Madoff scandal, there were estimates that hedge fund assets might shrink from just under $2 trillion a few months ago to perhaps $1.4 trillion.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Iraqi officials arrested over coup plot against prime minister’

McClatchy: ‘Salazar pick indicates big change at Interior Department’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘UN tribunal jails Rwanda genocide mastermind for life’

Register (U.K.): ‘Economists say European ancestors are what make you rich: No shit, Sherlock’

 

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Bush makes Iraqis want to hurl

As various felonious and/or dumb-ass pols and athletes would say, let’s try to get that sandalous incident in Baghdad behind us:

George W. Bush got the boot Sunday in Iraq.

(Chorus) Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.

If the shoe hits, wear it.

(Chorus)

No matter what size the shoes were, they’re too big for Bush to fill.

(Chorus)

Just the presence of Bush makes you want to hurl.

(Chorus)

OK, that’s enough for now. See my item yesterday for more (and for photos and a video link).

I’m even more embarrassed that, along with most others, I ignored the fact that of course Barack Obama‘s shark, Rahm Emanuel, had dealt with Illinois Governor Rod “Obama is a Motherfucker” Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy.

Obama was certainly careful not to ignore it, when he said last Thursday, “I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I am confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat.”

Deals, no, Dealings, yes. Nothing nefarious about having to deal with the guy who has the power to name someone to Obama’s Senate seat. It would be shocking if Emanuel hadn’t talked with Blago about it.

Speaking of throwing shoes, that’s too good for Bernie Madoff. He needs to be beaten like a red-headed stepchild.

But the real whippings should be reserved for those banks, institutional investors, and already rich machers from Palm Beach to Beverly Hills to London to Geneva to New York who invested with the guy.

Here’s the SEC complaint against Madoff.

But where was the SEC a decade ago? As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:

An executive in the securities industry, Harry Markopolos, contacted the SEC’s Boston office in May 1999, urging regulators to investigate Mr. Madoff. Mr. Markopolos continued to pursue his accusations over the past nine years, he said in an interview on Thursday, and according to documents he sent to the SEC that were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“Bernie Madoff’s returns aren’t real and if they are real, then they would almost certainly have been generated by front-running customer order flow from the broker-dealer arm of Madoff Investment Securities LLC,” Mr. Markopolos wrote to the SEC in November 2005.

Finally, a hero on Wall Street.

But don’t blame only the SEC. Wall Streeters and the pols in their pockets have for years tried to de-fang the SEC by reducing its funding and luring away top regulators with higher-paying jobs and having them lobby their old pals.

A steady drumbeat of “Deregulate, deregulate” was all you heard from Wall Street for decades. This is what happens when you don’t regulate.

While you figure out how protect your millions from scamsters like Madoff …

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Agence France Presse: ‘Alwaleed still leads Arab tycoons despite losses’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web’

Google has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content.

N.Y. Post: ‘MADOFF SCAM BECOMES ‘EARTH’ QUAKE: $50B DISASTER RIPPLES FROM TOKYO TO GENEVA’

Times (U.K.): ‘Bush says he saw “sole” of Iraqi shoe attacker’

Throwing shoes is particularly insulting in the Middle East — a crowd of Iraqis used their shoes to whack a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein after the 2003 invasion — and [Muntazer] al-Zaidi was today hailed as a hero across the region while colleagues called for his release. …

His television station, Al-Baghdadia, repeatedly aired pleas for his release today while showing footage of explosions and playing background music that denounced the US presence in Iraq. …

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the influential London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote on the newspaper’s website that the incident was “a proper goodbye for a war criminal”.

Abdel-Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at An Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus, added: “This great Arab shoe sums up the history of the criminal Bush, who is responsible for the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands of Islamic sons and who remained arrogant, spiteful and mean-spirited until the last moment of his term.”

Guardian (U.K.): ‘George Bush: US will not walk away from Afghanistan’

Agence France Presse: ‘Lebanese send more money home in 2008, but crisis may slow remittances’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Emanuel, Blagojevich Aides Discussed Senate Seat: After Election, Obama Team Relayed List of Acceptable Candidates; No Evidence There Was Any Illegal Quid Pro Quo’

N.Y. Post: ‘PATERSON IN A BLIND RAGE OVER SNL SKIT’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Losses in Madoff Case Spread’

… In the wealthy Florida enclave of Palm Beach, four multimillion-dollar condos at Two Breakers Row, a peach-colored complex just north of the landmark Breakers hotel, on Friday and Saturday were put up for sale by owners who had invested with Mr. Madoff, said Nadine House, a prominent local real-estate agent.

Agence France Presse: ‘Journalist hurls shoes at ‘dog’ Bush during surprise Iraq visit’

Washington Post: ‘Bush Defends Iraq War During a Farewell Visit: Iraqi Journalist Hurls Two Shoes at Bush During Press Conference With Al-Maliki’

Wall Street Journal: ‘SEC Had Chances for Years to Expose Madoff’s Alleged Ponzi Scheme’

Economist (U.K.): ‘Ponzi squared: Just when Wall Street needs it least, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme takes financial fraud to new lows’

Followers of the past year and a half’s financial misadventures have become inured to bucketfuls of red ink. Even so, the potential losses from the scam perpetrated by Bernie Madoff, a Wall Street veteran, are jaw-dropping.

The $17 billion of investors’ funds that his firm supposedly held earlier this year have all but evaporated and the hole could be as big as $50 billion. That would make it the biggest financial fraud in history.

Scotsman (U.K.): ‘Banks braced for Madoff impact’ (Martin Flanagan)

Great Dr Strangelove-type name for an alleged corporate fraudster of the highest echelon, isn’t it? “Madoff.” …

It will certainly vindicate those who believed the next big domino waiting to fall in the banking game after sub-prime would be banks playing footsie, even indirectly, with hedge funds.

 

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Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush

A go-away present during president’s surprise visit to Baghdad.

An Iraqi journalist threw shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference Sunday in Baghdad.

Loafers for the loafer.

See the video yourself. AP reported:

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog!” shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

Bush ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head and landed with a thud against the wall behind him.

“It was a size 10,” Bush joked later.

The journalist had apparently just come to the realization that the emperor’s new clothes were an illusion and decided to present some footwear to him on behalf of the Iraq people.

With tens of thousands of Iraqis already dead since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, there’s no shortage of previously owned footwear in Baghdad to donate to Americans.

Al-Zeidi is believed to have hurt his chances of landing a network job in the U.S.

I can’t think of any more smart-ass lines right now.