Incompetent SEC examiners kept scheme alive – says Madoff

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Nobody was more surprised that the Securities and Exchange Commission did not discover Bernard L. Madoff’s enormous Ponzi scheme years ago than Mr. Madoff himself.

After all, it would have been pretty simple, he said in a transcript of a jailhouse interview that is part of a trove of official exhibits released on Friday by the S.E.C.’s inspector general, H. David Kotz.

In the interview, Mr. Madoff said that the young investigators who pestered him over incidentals like e-mail messages should have just checked basics like his account with Wall Street’s central clearinghouse and his dealings with the firms that were supposedly handling his trades.

If you’re looking at a Ponzi scheme, it’s the first thing you do,” he said.

Those simple steps, he added, could have revealed years earlier that he was running the largest Ponzi scheme ever, a crime that has now dragged the S.E.C. into the worst scandal in its 75-year history. “It would have been easy for them to see,” he added.

The new exhibits consist of 6,157 pages of interviews, letters, e-mail messages, telephone records and other background material gathered during Mr. Kotz’s 10-month investigation of how the commission handled, and mishandled, numerous tips and warnings it received about Mr. Madoff over the years. His full report, released last month, found the agency had received six substantive complaints since 1992 — and botched the investigation of every one of them. He found no evidence of any bribery, collusion or deliberate sabotage of those investigations.

You needn’t worry much about investigators when you know the highest agency of the electorate – the United States Congress – has abdicated any responsibility for oversight. It started in 1994 with Newt’s Contract on America – accelerated and grew through K Street and C street – culminating in the Halliburton Years with Dickie and George W..

Saving jobs in education the highest priority in Obama’s stimulus

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.

That’s reason enough for the Republican Party to throw a hissy-fit. Rating education a higher priority than infrastructure? There’s nothing to be skimmed off for lobbyists or military contractors.

On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs…

Hard hats could surpass teachers next year, as more construction projects get under way. In Florida, for instance, one of the biggest infrastructure projects is its plan to build the Indian Street Bridge in Martin County. But with a big, complex project like that, it takes a while before construction can start. That project, which will cost more than $72 million, claims to have saved or created just one job so far…

Officials did not count jobs that were indirectly created by the $84 billion pumped into the economy through tax cuts so far, or from the billions of dollars’ worth of unemployment benefits and aid to states for Medicaid. If those were included, the administration estimated, the tally of jobs saved or created would rise to more than 1 million…

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Political opportunism over drugs – British style


The government’s former chief drug adviser has accused the prime minister, Gordon Brown, of tightening the law on cannabis for political reasons.

Professor David Nutt warned that other experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) could resign in protest at his sacking by the home secretary, Alan Johnson…

Nutt told the BBC today that Brown had “made up his mind” to reclassify cannabis despite evidence to the contrary.

“Gordon Brown comes into office and, soon after that, he starts saying absurd things like cannabis is lethal… it has to be a class B drug. He has made his mind up.

“We went back, we looked at the evidence, we said, ‘No, no, there is no extra evidence of harm, it’s still a class C drug.’ He said, ‘Tough, it’s going to be class B’…”

The decision followed the publication of a paper by the Centre for Crime and Justice at King’s College London, based on a lecture Nutt delivered in July. He repeated his familiar view that illicit drugs should be classified according to the actual evidence of the harm they cause and pointed out that alcohol and tobacco caused more harm than LSD, ecstasy and cannabis…

Richard Garside, the director of the Centre for Crime and Justice at King’s College London, accused Johnson of undermining scientific research.

He said: “I’m shocked and dismayed that the home secretary appears to believe that political calculation trumps honest and informed scientific opinion.”

No one in the United States would be “shocked and dismayed” over politicians locked into opportunism and butt-kissing for the Eedjit Vote.

Bible-thumping ignoramuses control a significant portion of the popular vote delimited by a 6th-grade education and 3rd-rate political parties. That the best politicians in world history were willing and able to lead a populace from the front means nothing to the craven and cowardly lot the Anglophone millenium has inherited.

Factory Five electric ’33 Ford will debut at 2009 SEMA Show

Based on the award-winning Factory Five ’33 Hot Rod…the battery electric vehicle (EV) is powered by UQM technologies electric drive and A123 Systems high-power lithium-ion batteries. It produces 300+ HP and over 660ft/lbs of torque in a 2400lb car and delivers a range of 100+ miles and 0-60 acceleration in an estimated 4 seconds!

The vehicle was designed by Factory Five Racing using SolidWorks CAD software in partnership with HP. The electric drive system and batteries were custom installed by the team of experts at Amp=D.

This critter will be making its electric debut at the 2009 SEMA Show.

Rock on, rock on!

Vatican condemns Halloween

The Vatican is warning parents not to let their kids dress up as ghosts and goblins this weekend for Halloween, calling it a pagan celebration of “terror, fear and death,” Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports in a dispatch from Rome…

The Vatican issued its warning through its official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in an article headlined “Halloween’s Dangerous Messages.”

It quotes a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals as saying, “Halloween has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian.”

Parents should “be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death,” says Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites.

In many European countries, particularly those with large Catholic populations, the focus is on All Saints’ Day, on Nov. 1, when many families visit cemeteries to remember deceased loved ones.

Yup. Don’t dress up like an anti-Christian. Celebrate like a proper Catholic:

Sussex Gang rips out a kilometer of buried phone cable

Hundreds of people were left without their landline phone service for nearly 48 hours after thieves stole 1km of copper cabling.

BT said telephone services to up 800 homes and businesses in Berwick were restored on Thursday evening.

The estimated cost of repairing and replacing the cable was £45,000.

Officers believe thieves posing as workers wearing uniforms or high-visibility jackets used a vehicle to pull the cable out of the ground and take it away.

Pc Thomas Stallard said: “Manholes running along the side of the road were used to access the cables and it appears the grass over some of the manholes was dug up to reach the sealed covers.

Dedicated thievery. Who says people aren’t willing to work hard, anymore, eh?

BTW – Since the lubricant utilized to pull the cable into place – remains after installation – it helps folks remove the cable, as well.

Dance of a sea dragon


One of the most elegant courtship rituals in the animal kingdom has been captured on film by a BBC crew.

The dance of the weedy sea dragon takes place every year in the shallow seas off the coast of Australia. During the ghostly dance, two beautifully odd-looking fish mirror each other’s every movement.

At the end of the ritual, the male fish is the one to get pregnant, giving birth two months later…

The mirror dance usually takes place in the fading evening light.

In a graceful duet, each partner mirrors the actions of the other, swimming and wriggling their bodies.

“What’s so lovely is you feel you have seen the most intimate moments of their lives,” says Adam Chapman.

Lovely underwater photography.

Chinese completing first detailed land map of Antarctica

Chinese scientists from the country’s 26th Antarctic expedition are expected to complete the world’s first land cover map of the Antarctica at the end of this year.

It will be the most accurate map of the continent, presenting various land features, they told Xinhua correspondent aboard Xue Long (Snow Dragon) icebreaker in a recent interview…

The map, with the application of high resolution remote sensing technology, will for the first time in the history show the distribution of key features on the continent, including sea ice, snow, blue ice, rocks, soil marshes, lakes and ice crevasse…

The map is also based on 1,073 remote sensing images acquired from the U.S. satellite Land Sat mainly during the austral summer from 1999 to 2002, Cheng Xiao, deputy dean of the College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, told Xinhua via email…

The map will provide not only more accurate ground parameters for scientists to forecast global change or global warming with climate system models, but also important data for detection on the change of Antarctica land cover in a long run, Cheng said.

I’ve always been one of those geeks crazy about maps. Looking forward to seeing the final product.