Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

One of the traits which made Osama bin Laden such an effective leader of the organization he founded was his ability to get individual terrorists and terror groups to look past their political, sectarian, and national differences and focus on a common goal. This ability to overlook contradictions apparently extended into his personal life.

Then:

I knew from the beginning that [bin Laden] was not willing to drink any soft drinks from American companies, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Sprite, 7-Up. He was trying to boycott all American products because he believed that without Americans, Israel cannot exist.
– Palestinian journalist Jamal Ismail, who met bin Laden in 1984
Source: Peter Bergen, “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” p. 39

Then:

“My Muslim Brothers: The money you pay to buy American goods will be transformed into bullets and used against our brothers in Palestine. By buying these goods we are strengthening their economy while our poverty increases. We expect the women of the land of the two Holy Places and other countries to carry out their role in boycotting American goods. The security and intelligence services of the entire world cannot force a single citizen to buy the goods of his/her enemy. The boycotting of American goods is a very effective weapon for weakening the enemy.”
– Osama bin Laden
“The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places”
August 23, 1996
Source: Peter Bergen, “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” p. 165

Now:

May 4 (Bloomberg) — The two polite Pakistanis who helped Osama bin Laden hide in the shadow of their country’s army bought bulk food orders, chose major brands and equally favored Pepsi and Coke, neighbors and a local shopkeeper said.

Here’s a good guide from CNN on what will/won’t be affected by the government shutdown.

Update: Also see this guide from the Washington Post about how government agencies will be affected. Their shutdown countdown clock at T-minus 4 hours and counting…

“The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they’d follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things — resign, or go commit suicide.” – Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on AIG bonuses.

Mea Culpa

Posted: March 13, 2009 in Economy
Tags: , , ,

madoff

As expected, Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty to all 11 criminal counts during his hearing and went to jail immediately after it was over.

But to get a sense of how vast and deliberate his scheme was, read his statement to the court. Absolutely mind-boggling stuff.

Not a good sign… Soon we will probably have at least one, if not several major cities, without a daily newspaper. Sad state of the economy and the industry.

Madoff expected to plead guilty for running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme in court today. He could spend the rest of his life in prison.

money

Government Executive has this story about a new memo from the OMB listing the requirements for disclosing spending from the stimulus bill, contracting, and risk management.

While this, and the new recovery.gov website, are great tools in theory for investigative journalists, watchdog groups, and taxpayers to keep an eye on how all this money is being spent, it sounds a little overwhelming. I also have a feeling that the new transparency and disclosure requirements are going to come back and haunt somebody, either in one of the government agencies or the White House or Congress.

There’s a new sheriff in town at the SEC.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday named a former federal prosecutor as its new enforcement chief to lead the embattled agency’s drive to strengthen its pursuit of financial fraud.

Robert Khuzami has been a top legal official on Wall Street at investment firm Deutsche Bank since 2004. Before that he worked for 11 years in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and prosecuted insider trading cases, Ponzi schemes and other financial crimes.

Khuzami, 52, replaces Linda Thomsen, the SEC enforcement director since May 2005. Her departure was announced last week.

Thomsen became a lightning rod for criticism over the SEC’s failure to detect the $50 billion Ponzi scheme allegedly run by money manager Bernard Madoff, despite red flags raised to the agency staff by outsiders over the course of a decade.

The naming of Khuzami by new SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro came two days after the agency accused Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford in a civil lawsuit of a “massive” $8 billion fraud that lured investors with sham promises of double-digit returns on certificates of deposit.

Besides leading several major financial fraud cases, Khuzami also prosecuted the “Blind Sheik” Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman in what was then the largest terrorism trial in U.S. history following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Ten defendants were convicted of operating a terrorist organization responsible for the bombing, the assassination of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, and planning bomb attacks on law enforcement and other high-profile targets.

Other than Patrick Fitzgerald, I can’t think of another prosecutor who would scare me more if I were under investigation.

598k

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Economy
Tags: ,

Just got the following Breaking News email from CNN:

U.S. unemployment rose by 598,000 to 7.6 per cent in January, Labor Dept. reports, the worst monthly job loss since 1974.

Update: Including the newest figures, the U.S. economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

This story in the Washington Post is unbelievable. If this had happened in the private sector, people would have been fired immediately.

This exchange really captures the severity of it all:

“Isn’t that a terrible way to look after the taxpayers’ money and to make purchases anywhere?” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said at a hearing on oversight of the bailout.

Warren replied, “Senator, Treasury simply did not do what it said it was doing.”

“In other words, they misled the Congress, did they not?” said a visibly flustered Shelby.

When a Republican senator is openly accusing the Bush Treasury Department of misleading Congress, you know it’s bad.