Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Washington lobbyist sues The New York Times over article linking her with McCain


Feds seek extension for Blagojevich indictment

Crain's Chicago Business reports:
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has filed a motion seeking a 90-day extension to return an indictment against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Federal prosecutors normally have 30 days to file an indictment against a defendant. That deadline would have been Jan. 7, and the extension would give prosecutors until April 7 instead.

Authorities arrested Blagojevich on Dec. 9 on corruption charges that accuse him of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Degrees of Separation? Not in Illinois Politics.

The Washington Post

Creative borrowing catches up with California cities

The L.A. Times

Charles Barkley arrested on suspicion of DUI

The L.A. Times

John Paulson Criticizes Hedge-Fund Managers for Limiting Withdrawals


For sheer brazenness, nobody surpasses Rod

John Kass

Tainted gov making Illinois a national joke

Richard Roeper

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Facial Expressions Hardwired

Web Md

Roland Burris Went to Rezko-Blago Fundraising Event

Anne Leary has unearthed this gem on Blago's pick for the Illinois Senate seat:
Among the notable figures who attended the Blagojevich campaign event was the governor's "kitchen cabinet" adviser Antoin Rezko, a wealthy businessman who has raised political funds for him. Also present were Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, who introduced the governor before his speech, and former attorney general Roland Burris. - Governor raises $4 million, Copley News Service, June 17, 2005
or this:
Blagojevich's administration has been beset by investigations and the conviction of Rezko, a onetime top adviser and fund-raiser. But a crowd still turned out, including former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris, lobbyist Al Ronan and ex-Blagojevich staffer-turned-lobbyist John Wyma. Backers turn out for gov's fund-raiser, Chicago Sun Times, June 27, 2008

You'll want to read the whole article.It's great to know that President-Elect Obama has nothing to do with these kinds of people!

AIG's Fall

The Washington Post reports:
The computer model was based on years of historical data about the ups and downs of corporate debt, essentially the bonds that corporations sell to finance their operations. As AIG's top executives and Tom Savage, the 48-year-old Financial Products president, understood the model's projections, the U.S. economy would have to disintegrate into a full-blown depression to trigger the succession of events that would require Financial Products to cover defaults.
Should AIG have read The Black Swan?

Taxpayers May Be On The Hook For Some Madoff Losses, Via AIG



Reason TV

Public pension scandal investigations mushrooming

Instapundit reports:
At Newsday, the story began when an anonymous reader told an editorial aide that Reich was a private lawyer getting public benefits for free. That led to a story in February. Records showed that five Long Island school districts falsely reported him as a full-time employee at the same time, enabling him to secure a public pension of nearly $62,000 a year, as well as health benefits for life. In one year, records showed, he was reported as having worked 1,286 days.

While the school districts reported Reich as an employee, they also were paying his law firm millions of dollars. That raised legal questions because the Internal Revenue Service taxes employees and independent consultants differently.

Although Reich defended the arrangement as a "common practice," the story set off a firestorm. The FBI and IRS subpoenaed the school districts' records the next day; a few days later, Cuomo launched a parallel investigation.
Ken Lay got into the wrong business.

Japan auto sales plunge as young lose interest


Renters caught in middle: Problems start when landlords are foreclosed

The Miami Herald

People Pulling Up to Pawnshops Today Are Driving Cadillacs and BMWs

The Wall Street Journal

Blagojevich to name Burris to Senate seat

Crain's Chicago Business

Should We Stimulate Consumption?

Joel Kotin

Colleges, offices scrap land lines

USA Today

Ward Connerly - "Lessons From My Uncle James"

Montana’s got wind, needs power lines

CS Monitor

California State fees for divorces, parking fines other services rise Jan.1

Sacramento Bee

Firefighters ordered into 'gay' parade back in court


Hong Kong legislators slam HSBC for role in selling Lehman-backed bonds


A new way to beg for Obama jobs


93% of Jobs Created in New Jersey Were Government Jobs between 2000 to 2007

The Wall Street Journal reports:
From 2000 to 2007, says the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the government added 54,800 jobs. To put that in proper perspective, that works out to 93% of all jobs created in New Jersey over those seven years.
Is New Jersey going bankrupt?

Bristol Palin could earn $300,000 for baby pics


Home prices post 18 percent annual drop in October

The San Francisco Chronicle

The Washington Post Sees Chicago School Reform As U.S. Model

The Washington Post has a nice suck up article on Chicago Public Schools and Arne Duncan:
With a 408,000-student system, smaller than only New York's and Los Angeles's public schools, Chicago has become a laboratory for reform in Duncan's seven-year tenure. Officials here court new charter schools, teacher training is being reinvented, and some low-performing schools have been shuttered and reopened with new staff. Officials are also offering some students cash for good grades and seeking proposals for boarding schools. In addition, Duncan backed a plan to start a gay-friendly high school. For the most part, the changes came with little organized opposition, except for some skirmishes with the teachers union.
We kind of wonder why the Post would consider a school system with 150 half empty schools a "role model"? Maybe, a role model in corruption.No word yet on why Barack Obama didn't have confidence in sending his two kids to Arne Duncan's "innovative" school system.



Monday, December 29, 2008

The Importance of Productivity in National Transportation Policy

New Geography

FBI can listen even when phone is off

You Tube

In Chicago is Corruption Still King?

American Fraud

U.S. Agrees to a Stake in GMAC:Treasury to Buy $5 Billion in Preferred Shares

The New York Times

Will Work for Praise: The Web's Free-Labor Economy

Business Week

Private banks get public capital

Bailout sleuth reports:
The Treasury Department announced a new wave of bank investments, including stakes in the first privately held institutions to get taxpayer money through the $250 billion Capital Purchase Program.

BailoutSleuth has turned up 23 new participants, approved for a total of $626 million in taxpayer capital. Of those, 13 are privately held companies and one is classified as a community development financial instutition.
You'll want to read this one.

Genetic Tests Offer Promise of Personalized Medicine

The New York Times reports:
Experts say that most drugs, whatever the disease, work for only about half the people who take them. Not only is much of the nation’s approximately $300 billion annual drug spending wasted, but countless patients are being exposed unnecessarily to side effects.

No wonder so much hope is riding on the promise of “personalized medicine,” in which genetic screening and other tests give doctors more evidence for tailoring treatments to patients, potentially improving care and saving money.

Californians Shape Up as Force on Environmental Policy

The Washington Post reports:
California Democrats will assume pivotal roles in the new Congress and White House, giving the state an outsize influence over federal policy and increasing the likelihood that its culture of activist regulation will be imported to Washington.

In Congress, Democrats from the Golden State are in key positions to write laws to mitigate global warming, promote "green" industries and alternative energy, and crack down on toxic chemicals. Down Pennsylvania Avenue, Californians in the new White House will shape environmental, energy and workplace safety policies.
there's more:
Pelosi has had to find common ground between conservative and liberal Democrats. But she has been firm about her intention to bring the kind of climate-change legislation embraced by California to the national level
.I guess some people want more regulation,higher prices,and less employment.

With fewer jobs, fewer illegal immigrants

CS Monitor

Lehman's Chaotic Bankruptcy Filing Destroyed Billions in Value

The Wall Street Journal

With a Digital Stereo, Cisco Systems Is Starting a Push Into Home Electronics

The New York Times

Blagojevich Impeachment Inquiry Shifts to Contracts


Curious Behavior by Senate Candidate 3: Jan Schakowsky

The Chicago Daily Observer

List of Troubled Banks

LRC Blog

Feds Reveal More Blagojevich Related Wiretaps

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Federal authorities had more wiretaps than previously disclosed in the investigation of Gov. Blagojevich -- including the cellular telephone of a member the governor's inner circle.

A new government filing in federal court indicates that in November, authorities tapped the cell phone of "Lobbyist 1." The Sun-Times has identified lobbyist 1 as Lon Monk, the governor's first-term chief of staff. Monk later became a fund-raiser and state lobbyist.

Feds Showed Interest in Blagojevich's Hirings Before He Took Office

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Federal investigators probing hiring irregularities in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration were seeking detailed personnel records dating back to even before the governor took office, according to several subpoenas released to the public today.

The 17 pages of documents were made public following a state appellate court ruling last month that directed the reluctant governor's office to release the subpoenas in response to a lawsuit filed by the Better Government Association.
Here's the documents.

The staggering thievery of Lenin and the Bolsheviks

City Journal

Chinese Women Made It Into FBI Academy Before Getting Busted For a Sham Marriage to Get Citizenship

Tickle the Wire

Chicago May Ban Smoking in Apartment Buildings

The Chicago Tribune

Prosecutors seek to release Blago's calls

The Chicago Sun-Times

No-bailout resolution percolates at RNC

The Washington Times

Blago Has to be in 2 Places at One Time: Constitutional Problem

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Embattled Gov. Blagojevich is supposed to be in federal court on Jan. 14 in Chicago. He also has the constitutional duty that day to preside over the state Senate in Springfield as new members are sworn in.

The clash between the governor's duties and his legal problems promises to get interesting. The state Constitution requires the governor to be in the Capitol to run the Senate until its members elect a president.

But Blagojevich is also required to show up for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there's probable cause for the case against him to proceed.
A very interesting constitutional issue.

Democrats May End Minimum Tax on Municipal Bonds to Spur Market

Bloomberg reports:
Congressional Democrats are seeking to expand funding for airport runways, housing projects and sewage-treatment plants through a new tax break for municipal bondholders.

The Coming Entitlement Crash of 2010

Terry Paulson

The Obama-Blago Senate Seat Auction:The Bizarre Earmark of Candidate Number 3?

Doug Ross at Directorblue reports:
Remember hearing about "Senate Candidate 3" in the complaint filed by the U.S. District Attorney against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?

You may recall that "Senate Candidate 1" was Barack Obama's choice: his friend, the ultra-qualified Valerie Jarrett. And "Senate Candidate 5" was Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., a man with a better sense of "fundraising" than Carolyn-esque entitlement. But who was "Senate Candidate 3"?

That would appear to be none other than Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, what else?). An anonymous tipster pointed me to a fascinating post at Red County. It describes Schakowsky's sordid unique background. Her story would be shocking, appalling, perhaps even the lead story on the national news -- were she anything but an Illinois politician.
There's more, much more,concerning Jan Schakowsky and his husband Robert Creamer.

Yale club with noted members faces tough times


Saying Good Night to Charles Rangel

Eric Alterman reports on Charles Rangel:
he has all too effectively played the part in which conservatives have typically cast big-city liberals for decades: corrupt, hypocritical, concerned only for their own comfort and providing for their families at the expense of a gullible and exploited public. Need I repeat that this is the man who sits atop the most powerful tax-writing committee in Congress? It is almost as if the Republican Party had commissioned a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein to create a monster designed to undermine Barack Obama's claim of "change."
An article well worth your time.

Man warns public about his HIV wife


Lehman bankruptcy filing wiped out billions: report


Lawyers' bills pile high, driving up health care costs

USA Today reports:
Health care costs are out of control, as we heard constantly during the presidential campaign. Yet that doesn't stop sensible physicians from shunning the sickest patients or ordering needless hospitalizations, drugs, tests and invasive procedures.

Against their better judgment, physicians practice "defensive medicine" — actions designed to protect themselves from lawsuits rather than serve patients' best interests.

Why? The threat of being sued is pervasive, and doctors simply don't trust the legal system. One in seven obstetricians/gynecologists has stopped delivering babies, and three-quarters have been sued at least once, according to a 2003 study. Years of staggering malpractice premium increases have forced many to alter their practices or quit treating patients.

A study last month by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that 83% of its doctors practice defensive medicine at a cost of at least $1.4 billion a year. Nationally, the cost is $60 billion-plus, according to the Health and Human Services Department.
You'll want to read the whole article.

16% of Mortgages to be in Foreclosure by 2012

Orange County Register

Veterans of ’90s Bailout Hope for Profit in New One

The New York Times

California warns companies they may owe use tax

The L.A. Times

Unions Look for New Life in World of Obama

The New York Times

Obama fails to disclose transition meetings

The Chicago Sun-Times

Eric Holder's hearing might be rocky

The Boston Globe

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Illinois Supreme Court rejects motion questioning its impartiality

The Chicago Reader reports:
And last month, when the Pinnicks' new attorney, Charles "Pat" Boyle, filed a motion asking the supreme court to hear the case, he coupled that to a fairly extraordinary request. He asked justices Thomas Fitzgerald, Charles Freeman, Robert Thomas, and Anne Burke to recuse themselves -- "as all Justices have received campaign contributions well in excess of $10,000 from Defendants or Defendants' counsel, experts and witnesses."

The motion cited Rule 63 of the Illinois Supreme Court, which says, "A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned," and identifies one such instance as a proceeding in which a judge, or the judge's spouse, "has an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding."

According to Boyle's motion, Fitzgerald has received over $52,000 from Corboy & Demetrio partners, Freeman $5,000, Thomas over $16,000, and Burke and her husband, Alderman Edward Burke, over $25,500.

But Boyle argued that the appearance of impartiality was sullied by more than money. In addition to those "substantial financial contributions," there were the "close and confidential relationships between Defendants and several Justices [and] Defendants' frequent invitations to Justices to participate in social gatherings, home and office visits."

In a footnote, Boyle pointed out that Philip Corboy Sr., the firm's founding partner, "as special counsel to the Illinois Democratic Party, has for years hosted parties to which several members of the Illinois Supreme Court are frequent invitees."

Thomas Eagleton's FBI file offers glimpse into Watergate era

St.Louis Dispatch

No Word on GMAC Vote As Deadline Expires

The New York Times

Union Hands Out Leaflets at McDonald’s Restaurants

Workforce Management

Flashback:Hayek on Meet the Press June 22,1975

Mises Institute Audio

Monday Is Payday for Chrysler, GM: Industry Trackers Predict Eventual Bailout Total Will Top $100 Billion

ABC News

Recession Could Bring Big Change in What Consumers Demand in New Homes

The Washington Post

Wal-Mart lands Springsteen's hits in Exclusive

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will put out a greatest-hits album next month, and the only place to get it will be Wal-Mart.

The disc, exclusively available at the discount store chain, will arrive Jan. 13, two weeks prior to the group's new studio album, "Working on a Dream."
Springsteen throws the union bosses under the bus!

Tough Times For Retailers

The Hartford Courant reports:
Nationwide, store closures are up 25 percent this year over last. An estimated 148,000 stores are expected to close by the end of the year, resulting in a loss of 600,000 to 800,000 retail jobs, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Another 73,000 stores are expected to close during the first half of 2009.

Abbas blames Hamas for bringing Israel's wrath


Flashback 2005: Emanuel Gets Mayor Daley's Illegal Patronage to Get out the Vote-CBS TV Chicago

Click on the video link to the CBS TV Chicago report on how Rahm Emanuel got Mayor Daley's illegal patronage army to win him his Congressional seat.Just so you know, Frank Coconate was paid a settlement by the City of Chicago for its patronage abuse.

Hollywood's Hate of the Suburbs

The Wall Street Journal reports:
In the last couple of decades, the antisuburban film has become as much a staple of Hollywood as the Serious Crime Drama With an Incomprehensible Plot.
The hatred of America's middle class aspirations.An article well worth your time.

Part-Time Government Employees Earn $160,000 a Year

Overpaid Government Worker has this one from economist Dean Baker:
I hate to play scrooge on Christmas, but $160k for part-time work seems a bit steep. The WAPO reported this would be the pay for Fannie Mae's new 10-person board of directors today.

The remarkable part of this story is that the Washington Post did not cite anyone in this piece who raised a question about the compensation levels for the board. Keep in mind that this is a newspaper that is absolutely apoplectic over autoworkers getting $27 an hour. If we assume that the board members on average will devote 500 hours a year to their duties, this puts their pay rate at $320 an hour.
No word from Senator Dodd on this one.

Secrets of the bailout


Avoiding the Ax: Where the Jobs Are

The Wall Street Journal

Axelrod on NBC's "Meet the Press" tells Gregory Obama team will not offer up Blagojevich inquiry notes, transcripts

The Chicago Sun-Times

NY Times' Clinton-Blagojevich Impeachment Double Standard

Legal Insurrection

5 Business Books Every Business Owner Should Have

Bridget Ayers

Parents ‘killing children with kindness’


Israeli Attacks in Gaza Strip Continue for Second Day

The New York Times

Fair-Weather Friends of the Free Market

Robert Higgs

Chicago's newspapers facing troubled futures

The San Francisco Chronicle

The Indiana College that Say Reading a Book is Racial Harassment


Hospitals ill from more bad debt, credit troubles

Huffington Post

The Worst Predictions About 2008

Business Week has some of the bad predictions of 2008.Here's one:
"I think this is a case where Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under…I think they are in good shape going forward." —Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008
Barney Frank has a most loyal voting bloc.

Axelrod: Warren prayer 'a good thing'


A Housing Boom, but for Whom?

New Geography reports:
We just passed an era when the “American Dream” of home ownership was diminished as the growth of home prices outpaced income. From 2001 through 2006, home prices grew at an annual average of 6.85%, more than three times the growth rate for income.

This divergence between income and housing costs has turned out to be a disaster, particularly for buyers at the lower end of the spectrum.
An article well worth your time.Check the interesting charts on this one.

Massive Surge In Municipal Bankruptcies Coming


By Saying Yes, WaMu Built Empire on Shaky Loans

The New York Times

Global warming: the new eugenics

Canada Free Press

Are Most Americans Smart Enough to Get a 4 Year College Degree?

Charles Murray writes in The New York Times:
For most of the nation’s youths, making the bachelor’s degree a job qualification means demanding a credential that is beyond their reach. It is a truth that politicians and educators cannot bring themselves to say out loud: A large majority of young people do not have the intellectual ability to do genuine college-level work.

If you doubt it, go back and look through your old college textbooks, and then do a little homework on the reading ability of high school seniors. About 10 percent to 20 percent of all 18-year-olds can absorb the material in your old liberal arts textbooks. For engineering and the hard sciences, the percentage is probably not as high as 10.

No improvements in primary and secondary education will do more than tweak those percentages. The core disciplines taught at a true college level are tough, requiring high levels of linguistic and logical-mathematical ability. Those abilities are no more malleable than athletic or musical talent.

You think I’m too pessimistic? Too elitist? Readers who graduated with honors in English literature or Renaissance history should ask themselves if they could have gotten a B.S. in physics, no matter how hard they tried.
No word yet from the Big Education Lobby on this one.

The End of VHS

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Pop culture is hitting the eject button on the VHS tape, the once ubiquitous home video format that will finish this month as a creaky ghost of Christmas past.

After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes.

"It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Southern California businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."

One has to wonder how many more years the DVD and Blu-ray format have.

Single men turning to surrogates


Publisher Cancels Holocaust Memoir After New Republic Magazine Exposes Hoax

The New Republic reports:
Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, announced tonight that it was canceling Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, which was set to be published on February 3. In a statement, Berkley's director of publicity, Craig Burke, said: "Berkley Books is cancelling publication of Angel at the Fence after receiving new information from Herman Rosenblat's agent, Andrea Hurst. Berkley will demand that the author and the agent return all money that they have received for this work." Just yesterday, Berkley released a statement defending the author and his memoir.

Obama aides avoid subpoenas in Blagojevich impeachment hearings

The Chicago Tribune

‘Hooking Up’ Is Nothing New

Pajamas Media

Lack of tax-credit market hurts subsidized building trade

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The biggest source of funding for affordable rental housing shriveled by nearly half this year, putting tens of thousands of homes and at least as many construction jobs at risk around the state.

Why College Is A Waste of Money

The Daily Beast reports:
Offering admission and financing to virtually every student who wants to enroll in college has resulted in a dropout rate of nearly 50% -- and an incredible amount of money down the drain.

A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere

The New York Times

Florida proposes tough new rules for mortgage brokers


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Census Estimates Show Clout Again Likely to Go West and South

CQ Politics

Samuel Huntington, Harvard Political Scientist, Dies


Flashback:Most Dangerous Job in America is Being a Chicago Patronage Worker

With Chicago corruption in the news,here's a flashback from October 19, 2006 article from The Chicago Sun-Times:
The most dangerous job in America?

Underground coal miner? Foundry worker?

How about patronage worker at Chicago's City Hall.

City workers with political clout claim to be injured at a rate that far exceeds any occupation tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times that raises questions about whether all those city workers really were injured, and whether the city adequately investigates workplace accidents.

City workers with political clout claim to be injured at a rate that far exceeds any occupation tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor
Rod Blagojevich's Chicago.

An Illinois Dynasty Versus Blagojevich


25% of Retailers May Go Bankrupt


New Chicago Scandal Brewing: How Did Ghost Payroller Get Back on City Payroll?

Frank Coconate reports:
City Water Management employee John Whirity was caught on the ghost pay roll for months by Mayor Daley's former Chief of staff, Ron Huberman and Former Water Management Commissioner Brian Murphy. Yet after one year he was allowed to go back to work by the City Law Department. Why?
No word yet from Mayor Daley or Alderman Burke on this one.

Exclusive Interview With Blagojevich:ABC TV Chicago

ABC TV Chicago has an exclusive video interview with Rod Blagojevich.The Governor says he shouldn't be impeached because he's provided free medical care for children and free bus rides for seniors! What's amazing is this is the same TV station, that days ago, ran three stories on how Rod Blagojevich was a bookmaker who paid street tax to the Chicago Mob.Here's the story ABC TV Chicago did on a former senior FBI agent talking about the Blagojevich bookmaker allegations.Whatever you say about Blago,you can't say he holds a grudge against TV stations that run stories about him being a Chicago Mob bookmaker!

How Iceland Collapsed

The Wall Street Journal

Chicago Furniture Company Mocks Illinois Governor in Newspaper Ad

Cleveland Plain Dealer Via Illinoize

Holdout Against Developers Left a House and a Legacy

The New York Times reports:
People love to point out Edith Macefield’s tiny house in the old fishing village of Ballard and recount how she refused an offer of $1 million from developers who wanted to buy it. They had planned to level her home to make way for a boutique supermarket and a health club.
Check out the picture.

Cops accused of Toys for Tots thefts ‘tarnished’ police’s image, official says

Overpaid Government Worker reports:
The four District of Columbia police officers reportedly caught on tape stealing from Toys for Tots “tarnished” the department’s image, a police official said.

Police confirmed that the four officers had been put on desk jobs as internal affairs investigates them for stealing toys. Officials said if the officers did take the toys intended for the city’s youth, they will be prosecuted.

A Super Bear Is Upon Us - Dow target 5,665

Michael Markowski

Bailout of Long-Term Capital: A Bad Precedent?

The New York Times

Reform law could have helped Blagojevich corruption scheme

TopNews reports:
By coincidence, a good-government reform measure, which President-elect Barack Obama - as Illinois Senator – backed in 2003, has probably helped Gov. Rod Blagojevich in an alleged corruption scheme which involved hospital construction.

The legislation, related to the revamping of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, reduced the size of the board, thereby setting new limits on the State governor’s ability to appoint members of his own political party on the panel.

According to the federal criminal complaint filed against the governor, he abused the authority invested in him – he put together a friendly, five-member majority on the shrunken board, and along with his allies, extorted money from companies that sought approval for building medical facilities. An FBI affidavit filed in the case says that the top man involved in this design was Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko, who is both a friend and a major fund-raiser for both Blagojevich as well as Obama.
As we've said before,you'll be hearing more about the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

Frozen home equity loan hurts family

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Jim and Cindy Ranallo are determined to give their two sons one thing they don't have: a four-year college degree.

But the home equity line of credit they were relying on to get both boys through school was unexpectedly frozen by JPMorgan Chase weeks before their elder son's recent tuition payment was due.

On Sept. 13, the account's balance went from $44,004 to $0.00.
These people found out the hard way that a house isn't a liquid asset.You'll want to read the whole article.

10 Worst Real Estate Markets for 2009


Israeli Gaza Strike Kills More Than 200

The New York Times

There's No Pain-Free Cure for Recession

Peter Schiff

Eligibility remains focus of Supremes' conferences


'Dear Mr. Obama,' Why are our Kids so Brainwashed?


Student loans turn into crushing burden for unwary borrowers

The L.A. Times reports:
Natalie Hickey, who graduated from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, picked up $140,000 in student loans, some of it at rates as high as 18%. Monthly payments of $1,700 are more than her rent and car payment combined.
Maybe getting a four year degree isn't such a great deal like the Education Lobby says:for many people.

Madoff Must Reveal All Assets by New Year’s Eve, Judge Rules


Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lawyer criticized by lawmakers

The Chicago Tribune

Flashback 2007:Blago and Congressman Luis Guiterrez Teamed Up to Put Convicted Felon on Illinois Payroll

Here's a flashback from September 2007.It was front page news from The Chicago Sun-Times:
A high-ranking official in Gov. Blagojevich's office spent nearly two years in a federal prison for refusing to aid a government terrorism probe into a series of bombings in Chicago and New York City.

Steven Guerra, Blagojevich's $120,000-a-year deputy chief of staff for community services, was identified by federal prosecutors as a member of the Puerto Rican separatist group, FALN, which was behind a wave of violence and killings in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Before al-Qaida and Timothy McVeigh, the nation's most feared terrorism group was FALN, an organization that sought Puerto Rican independence through a wave of terror more than a quarter century ago.

More than 130 bombings in New York, Illinois and Puerto Rico were attributed to the group, including at least 28 here. Five people were killed, and 84 were injured, including four police officers.

Between 1975 and 1979, FALN took credit for or was suspected in bomb attacks at the Merchandise Mart, the Chicago Police Department headquarters, Woodfield Shopping Center and a former Marshall Field's department store, among others.

In March 1980, gun-toting sympathizers stormed the Carter-Mondale presidential campaign office in Chicago and held campaign workers hostage.

But a month later, FALN suffered its most severe setback when 11 members were arrested in a stolen truck in Evanston.

In 1983, Guerra, now 53, was among five people convicted in New York of contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the group. The felony conviction resulted in a three-year prison sentence for Guerra, who was released in 1986 after serving 23 months.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez(Democrat-Tony Rezko) really helped Guerra with his Blagojevich connection.

Accounting Standards Wilt Under Pressure

The Washington Post reports:
In October, largely hidden from public view, the International Accounting Standards Board changed the rules so European banks could make their balance sheets look better. The action let the banks rewrite history, picking and choosing among their problem investments to essentially claim that some had been on a different set of books before the financial crisis started.

The results were dramatic. Deutsche Bank shifted $32 billion of troubled assets, turning a $970 million quarterly pretax loss into $120 million profit. And the securities markets were fooled, bidding Deutsche Bank's shares up nearly 19 percent on Oct. 30, the day it made the startling announcement that it had turned an unexpected profit.
No word yet from European social democrats,who blame the recent market downturn on American capitalism,on this one.

Ohio Begs for Federal Handout

The Washington Post

Friday, December 26, 2008

Disney pulls out of next 'Narnia'

The L.A. Times

Detroit is dying: The Statistics of Decline

The Weekly Standard reports on Detroit :
In a city often known as the nation's murder capital, with over 10,000 unsolved murders dating back to 1960, the police are in shambles through cutbacks and corruption trials. (They have a profitable sideline, though, as one of the nation's largest gun dealers, having sold 14 tons of used weapons out-of-state.) Their response times are legendarily slow. Their crime lab is so inept that it has been closed. One Detroit man found police
so unresponsive when trying to turn himself in for murder that he hopped a bus to Toledo and confessed there instead.

Detroit schools haven't ordered new textbooks in 19 years. Students have reported having to bring their own toilet paper. Teachers have reported bringing hammers to class for protection. Declining enrollment has forced 67 school closures since 2005 (more than a quarter of the city's schools). The graduation rate is 24.9 percent, the lowest of any large school district in the country. Not for nothing did one frustrated activist start pelting school board members with grapes during a meeting. She probably should've reached for something heavier.

An internal audit, which was 14 months late, estimates next year's city deficit to be as high as $200 million (helped along by $335,000 embezzled from the Department of Health and Wellness Promotion). With a dwindling tax base--even the city's three once-profitable casinos are seeing a downturn in revenues (the Greektown Casino is in bankruptcy)--the city has kicked around every money-making scheme from selling off ownership rights to the tunnel it shares with neighboring Windsor, Canada, to a fast food tax. It's perhaps unsurprising that Detroit now has the most speed traps in the nation.

It also has one of the highest property tax rates in Michigan, yet has over 60,000 vacant dwellings (a guesstimate--nobody keeps official count), meaning real estate values are in the toilet. Over the summer, the Detroit News sent a headline around the world, about a Detroit house that was for sale for $1. But it's not even that uncommon. As of this writing, there are at least five $1 homes for sale in Detroit.

The city council has been such a joke that one former member demanded 17 pounds of sausages as part of her $150,000 bribe. Its prognosis for respectability hasn't grown stronger with Monica Conyers, wife of congressman John Conyers, taking the helm. She has managed to get in a barroom brawl, threatened to shoot a mayoral staffer as well as have him beaten up, and twice called a burly and bald fellow council member "Shrek" during a public hearing. But with all the problems facing the city, the council still found time to pass a nonbinding resolution supporting the impeachment of George W. Bush.

How bad is Detroit? It once gave the keys to the city to Saddam Hussein.

Over the last several years, it has ranked as the most murderous city, the poorest city, the most segregated city, as the city with the highest auto-insurance rates, with the bleakest outlook for workers in their 20s and 30s, and as the place with the most heart attacks, slowest income growth, and fewest sunny days. It is a city without a single national grocery store chain. It has been deemed the most stressful metropolitan area in America. Likewise, it has ranked last in numerous studies: in new employment growth, in environmental indicators, in the rate of immunization of 2-year-olds, and, among big cities, in the number of high school or college graduates.
Great moments in Blue America!

Compliance Pitfalls Arise in Negotiations on Starting Salaries

Workforce Management

Flashback 2005: Larry Kudlow "Says The Housing Bears Are Wrong Again- This tax-advantaged sector is writing how-to guide on wealth creation"

Here's a blast from the past from Larry Kudlow:
Homebuilders led the stock parade this week with a fantastic 11 percent gain. This is a group that hedge funds and bubbleheads love to hate. All the bond bears have been dead wrong in predicting sky-high mortgage rates. So have all the bubbleheads who expect housing-price crashes in Las Vegas or Naples, Florida, to bring down the consumer, the rest of the economy, and the entire stock market.

Autoworkers Union Keeps $6 Million Golf Course for Members at $33 Million Lakeside Retreat

Fox News reports:
The United Auto Workers may be out of the hole now that President Bush has approved a $17 billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry, but the union isn't out of the bunker just yet.

Even as the industry struggles with massive losses, the UAW brass continue to own and operate a $33 million lakeside retreat in Michigan, complete with a $6.4 million designer golf course. And it's costing them millions each year.
Solidarity forever!

New Web site a network for nonprofits

The San Francisco Chronicle

Blagojevich Impeachment Panel Split on Subpoena for Obama Aides


The wise guy who brought down the mob

The Japan Times

U.S. Treasuries Head Toward First Weekly Loss Since October


Rezko Fallout: Venture defaults on tollway oases loan

Crain's Chicago Business reports:
A California venture has defaulted on a more than $87-million construction loan used to finance the redevelopment of the seven Illinois Tollway oases, a lender on the project disclosed last week.

The default is another black eye for Wilton Partners Tollway LLC, which has been plagued by controversy since its selection as rest-stop developer in 2002. Questions surfaced about contributions worth $85,000 to Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the firm's agreement to lease space in the oases to restaurants owned by associates of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Blagojevich confidant convicted earlier this year of federal criminal charges.

Third of top aides become lobbyists

USA Today

Chicago, America's most segregated big city

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Blacks make up about 35 percent of Chicago's population of nearly 3 million and are largely concentrated on the South and West Sides. Whites make up nearly 28 percent, largely located to the north and in slivers of the South Side, while Hispanics, about 30 percent of the population, are scattered to the Northwest and Southwest Sides of the city center.
Why don't urban liberals in the big,Blue City want to experience "diversity"? No word yet from the urban lovers, on why Chicago is only 28% white: when we keep hearing stories about whites moving back to the Chicago.Also,no word yet from Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama on sending their kids to public schools to "experience" diversity.

Westfield London mega-mall has something to prove

The L.A. Times

Bush signs pension relief bill into law


For-profit post-secondary schools on the rise in Madison area

The Wisconsin State Journal

There’s Lots of Tech Help, Yes, on the Internet

The New York Times

Rezko attorney 'owns' Obama mansion: Lawyer at firm where Democrat worked receives property tax bill

WorldNetDaily reports:
An attorney for convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko is listed as the owner and taxpayer for Barack Obama's Chicago mansion, according to records obtained by WND.

William Miceli is a lawyer at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which also formerly employed Obama.

The controversy began when a website called News and Commentary for Thinking People published a 48-page document that lists Miceli as the owner of the Obama home at 5046 S. Greenwood.

Miner, Barnhill & Galland was Obama's employer when he did extensive legal work for Rezko, who awaits sentencing after he was convicted in June of fraud, money laundering and bribery-related counts.
There's more:
Eric Herman, a spokesman for the Cook County assessor, confirmed to WND that the Treasurer's Office records were correct and that Miceli did receive the Obama property tax invoice by mail.

Miceli did not return a call WND placed to him at Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

Herman told WND a second PIN number, 20-11-115-036-0000, identified the vacant lot next to the Obama mansion that was purchased by Rita Rezko, Tony Rezko's wife.
You'll want to read the whole article.Here's more documents thanks to Gina Cobb.Is there more to this Washington Times article?

Obama's Secretary of Earmarks: His Transportation nominee is a spending superstar

The Wall Street Journal

The Rev. Jesse Jackson warns of 'jail hotels' during annual visit to Cook County, Ill., jail

Newsday reports:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson has warned against prisons becoming "jail hotels" during his annual Christmas visit to the Cook County, Ill., jail.

Jackson told 500 inmates gathered to meet him Thursday that people must stop thinking of prison as "free meals, medicine, heat and recreational activities." He urged them to vote and get tested for HIV.

Jackson's Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, says 25 inmates took HIV tests and several registered to vote.

Jackson also urged the inmates to "make better decisions."

No word yet on Jesse Jackson demonstrating against Jesse Jackson for some of these comments.

Chrysler Thanks, Suckers : Chrysler spends $100K on a full-page ad in USA Today thanking American taxpayers for a bailout most of the public opposed

Obama to Work With Congress on Statist Health Care

The Boston Globe

Market for Corporate Jets Goes Into Free-Fall

The New York Times

Racist Music Goes Digital


Why the whole world is in a Twitter


A New Liberty Now

Lew Rockwell

S.F. Commercial renters may find bargains in 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle

Retail Sales Plummet

The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Between Obama and the Press

The New York Times

The danger of DNA: It isn't perfect

The L.A. Times

The fallen giants of finance

The Financial Times

Bush's Giant Spending Increases on Health Care

The New York Times reports on big government man President George Bush:
President Bush leaves office with a health care legacy in bricks and mortar: he has doubled federal financing for community health centers, enabling the creation or expansion of 1,297 clinics in medically underserved areas.
Do you think Barack Obama really wants to get rid of George Bush's economic policies? We doubt it.

What If New York Goes Bankrupt

The Daily Beast

Seattle, Minneapolis most literate of big cities

USA Today

New Calif. Law School Offers Free Tuition


Pinched colleges squeezing their alumni

The L.A. Times

Once Trusted Mortgage Pioneers, Now Pariahs

The New York Times

Wiesel Foundation loses nearly everything in Madoff scheme


Big IRA Change: Minimum Distributions On Hold


Blagojevich's Lawyers Seek Subpoenaes for Emanuel, Jackson Jr.

Fox News

2008 Investment Predictions Missed: Jim Cramer;Goldman at $300" By the End of 2008

New York Magazine has some rather funny investment 2008 predictions that didn't come through.Here's Jim Cramer :
"Goldman Sachs makes more money than every other brokerage firm in New York combined and finishes the year at $300 a share. Not a prediction — an inevitability.”
Can Jim Cramer be so wrong again in 2009?

Casinos might owe Fry's Electronics for exec's Gambling losses

The San Francisco Chronicle

Canada: passport to higher ed, lower cost

The Boston Globe

Bigger in Texas? Austin's Real-Estate Glut Counts

The Wall Street Journal

Americans prefer news from Web to newspapers: survey


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obama Questioned by FBI for Two Hours

Politico reports:
It seemed like a typical day: a trip to the gym, back home for a shower and then a press conference followed by a day in the Chicago transition office. But last Thursday, President-elect Barack Obama was interviewed for two hours by two FBI agents and two federal prosecutors investigating charges that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich had tried to sell off the Senate seat Obama vacated after winning the presidency.

Obama's interview — and those with two of his top incoming White House lieutenants, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett — only became public Tuesday, the day before Christmas Eve, when they were mentioned in passing in the transition's five-page report intended to demonstrate that no ethical or legal lines had been crossed in their dealings with Blagojevich. None of the three have yet spoken to the press about the investigation since the report's release.
Obama was interviewed for two hours but much of the MSM tells us he has nothing to do with Blagojevich or Operation Board Games! Just a reminder,here is an actual court document where Tony Rezko claims Fitzgerald's prosecutors are looking for dirt on Obama and Blagojevich.Two hours is a long time to talk to the FBI when you claim you've had no contact with Blagojevich.Obama is the first black President-Elect but he's also the first President-Elect to be questioned by the FBI about a major criminal investigation.Did the FBI ask Obama about this subject or was it just about Blagojevich?

Al Capone's house to go on the market

The Chicago Tribune

This Year in Scandals: Congressmen Behaving Badly

Pro Publica

Are Jim Cramer's Stock Picks Usually Wrong?


JPMorgan dumping WaMu's leased space in Seattle

The Seattle Times

Lehman Roils Muni Swaps as Collapse Forces Payments


Rachel Maddow Busts Morgan Stanley Board Member for Lack of Transparency

David Sirota in The Huffington Post reports:
Last night, Rachel Maddow did something I never thought I'd see a journalist do: In the name of transparency, she went back and clarified that a bailout-justifying guest of hers actually had a blatant conflict of interest. Watch the clip here.On Monday, Maddow had on Berkeley professor Laura Tyson to talk about the bailout. You can watch that clip here. As you'll see, Tyson defended the firms that have received bailout money, saying they are not at fault in either how they are using the money, or in how they are refusing to answer questions about their use of the money. She also insisted that companies that get bailout money should be able to keep paying dividends to their shareholders.

Yet, Tyson didn't tell viewers that she sits on the board of directors of Morgan Stanley, a bank that has received $10 billion in bailout money. That's right - according to Morgan Stanley's SEC filings, Tyson makes about $350,000 a year from Morgan Stanley in total compensation from that position, and she now owns about 79,000 shares of the company. In other words, she has a direct financial interest in defending the bailout, absolving bailout recipients of wrongdoing, and justifying the use of bailout money for shareholder dividends.
No word yet from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC's parent company getting a $140 Billion bailout.

Netflix sees the future, and it's digital

The San Francisco Chronicle

Congress Targets Philanthropy

The Wall Street Journal

Wall St Santa rally small comfort after grim year

The Financial Times

The Next Wave of State Taxes

The Wall Street Journal

Pardon Lasts Just One Day for Developer in Fraud Case

The New York Times

CBOE chief slams SEC staff over Madoff Scandal

The Financial Times

For New Orleans immigrants, pathway to American dream winds through a troubled city

The L.A. Times

Blagojevich Probe Expands to Include Prison Closing

Bloomberg reports:
The federal investigation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has expanded to include his decision to shut a state-run maximum-security prison.

FBI agents and investigators from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office interviewed Illinois State Senator Dan Rutherford, whose district includes the Pontiac Correctional Center, about the circumstances surrounding Blagojevich’s announcement in May that the facility would close, Rutherford said today.

“Information came to me that caused me to pause,” Rutherford, a Republican from Pontiac, said in a statement on his Web site. “Since the closure of Pontiac was announced, it was obvious the decision was not made as a planned effort to improve the correctional system.” He didn’t give details.
The saga continues.

UAW to taxpayers: $%^@ you!

Michelle Malkin

Census Data Suggest More Power for South in Congress

The New York Times

Paying People Not to Work

John Hoover reports:
Michael Bloomberg wrote, in the December 18th edition of the New York Post, that the city has finally reached the point this year where it spends more on paying pensions and pensioners’ benefits than on the salaries and benefits of current employees. With more and more Boomers retiring each year, this disparity and imbalance is likely to keep tipping toward the working and taxpaying few supporting the retired many for 20 to 30 more years. Where’s the money going to come from to pay off the promises?
Just remember,when the Obama Administration is asked to bailout the cities this is what the money will be going:bloated pensions.Now you know why government workers are "politically" active.The pay out is quite good.

Pension Funds Collapse: The End of Retirement?


More in middle class using payday lenders

The L.A. Times

Emanuel wanted to keep his seat 'warm'

The Chicago Sun-Times

74% Support Religious Displays on Public Property


The Madoff Economy-When Trust Runs Out

Gary North

Ex- Mass. State senator wants double pension

Overpaid Government Worker

Laptop shipments top desktops for first time; Netbooks a factor


Caroline Kennedy: The $100M Woman

The New York Daily News

Losing Faith in Gambling's Allure

Business Week

Obama had to answer feds' questions about Blago

The Chicago Sun-Times

American Express Will Get $3.39 Billion in TARP Funds


Calif. home prices down 26%, nation’s worst — again

Orange County Register

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 population estimates, changes since 2000

USA Today

Entries associated with the tag "10th casino license"

The Chicago Reader reports:
Amid a bit of uncertainty about who, if anyone, is actually running state government, the Illinois Gaming Board voted today to award a casino license to Midwest Gaming, a firm run by real estate and gambling baron Neil Bluhm.

It probably won't shock anyone to hear that Bluhm, his business partners, and his family have shown a keen interest in state politics over the years, or at least a willingness to be charitable with the state's most important elected officials.

Since the mid-1990s Bluhm himself has donated at least $231,500 to political candidates and causes in Illinois, including $36,500 to state comptroller Dan Hynes; $18,500 to attorney general Lisa Madigan; $13,000 to state rep Lou Lang, who chairs the House gaming committee; $10,500 to Chicago alderman Ed Burke, chairman of the City Council's finance committee; $10,000 to governor Rod Blagojevich; $10,000 to House speaker Michael Madigan; and even $500 to lieutenant governor Pat Quinn.

Other states fueling most Texas growth

The Houston Chronicle

Municipal bankruptcies: the next shoe to drop

Overpaid Government Worker
"If Vallejo is successful in unwinding pension agreements, you could see Chapter 9 become a whole new industry."
If you can't defeat them at the ballot box,there's Chapter 9.

Orange County Government Workers Protest Layoffs

The L.A. Times

Chicago Water Department official target of probe

Crain's Chicago Business reports:
A high-ranking city of Chicago official with ties to the Daley family’s 11th Ward Regular Democratic Organization is being investigated for allegedly dispatching water crews to work on private sites, including a politically connected Bridgeport church.

The city’s inspector general’s office is trying to find out whether Deputy Commissioner Tommie Talley improperly ordered Chicago Water Management workers to fix or improve sewer and water pipes for private owners who should be paying for such work themselves, sources say.

Mr. Talley hung up on a reporter who called him Tuesday to discuss the investigation. A spokesman for the Water Management Department declined to comment.

A source says investigators are looking into a number of locations, including Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, the Bridgeport parish in which Mayor Richard M. Daley was raised.

The pastor, the Rev. Daniel Brandt, says a sewer did clog in the spring, and city crews worked on the public right-of-way. But the church hired a contractor to handle repairs on parish property, costing “upwards of 10 grand.”

“I’d open up my books to them and open up my doors to them to let them know the work on the property was fully paid for,” Rev. Brandt said. “I’m sure there was a day and a time when the city would do things, but that’s just suicide now, especially in the high-profile parish that this is.”

“We go above and beyond to make sure we have all the permits. . . .Any improvements, we make sure we dot all our i’s and cross all the t’s.”
It's not any water department.It's this one from February 11, 2004:
Mayor Daley's Water Department operated as a "racketeering enterprise," raking in more than $500,000 in bribes for at least a decade, a federal grand jury charged Thursday, greatly expanding the Hired Truck investigation.

The feds say the criminal conspiracy was headed by Daley's first deputy water commissioner, Donald S. Tomczak, who had previously been charged with taking bribes. He is now accused of racketeering, just like a mobster.

Tomczak demanded bribes from Hired Truck companies, the indictment says. Some of the cash went into his pocket, and some of it was used as campaign contributions to various politicians, none of whom were identified in the indictment. At least $20,000 went to Tomczak's son, Jeff, who lost re-election last month as Will County's top prosecutor.
This infamous church had a fundraiser for some important convicted felons.How many church's do you know that have "made members" of the mob helping out?

Kwanzaa Created by a Rapist and Torturer?


Contractor Teng is engineering firm named in Blago complaint

Crain's Chicago Business

A Tangled Web: Operation Board Games

The Washington Post

Being Blago's Brother : "Fundraiser A" keeps it in the family

NBC Chicago reports:
The brother of embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be a former military man with a record of accomplishment in the business world, but he's likely to forever be known in Illinois as "Fundraiser A" and the guy who agreed with the governor that he wasn't doing anything illegal "unless prospectively somebody gets you on a wire."
Robert Blagojevich.

Obama Interviewed In Blagojevich Probe-Eric Whitaker's Name in Report

Smoking Gun reports:
President-elect Barack Obama and two of his top advisers were interviewed last week by federal prosecutors probing Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's alleged bid to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat, according to a report issued today by an Obama lawyer.
Was Obama interviewed at any other time during the Operation Board Games investigation? Obama's good friend Eric Whitaker's name came up.The Chicago Sun-Times of October 28, 2008 explains Whitaker's "connections" :
Dr. Eric Whitaker and Sen. Barack Obama go way back.

Their friendship began when they were graduate students at Harvard University. Now, Whitaker is one of Obama's closest advisers.

Whitaker, 43, of Chicago, often travels with the presidential hopeful on the campaign trail and has vacationed with him in Hawaii. There's talk Whitaker could be in line for a federal appointment if Obama becomes president.

Five years ago, Obama, then an Illinois state senator, gave a "glowing'' reference for Whitaker to Tony Rezko, the now-convicted political fixer who helped Gov. Blagojevich find people to run state agencies. Blagojevich hired Whitaker to be the state's public health director.

Obama has said that's the only time he can recall talking to Rezko -- who was a major campaign fund-raiser for him and for Blagojevich -- about getting anyone a state job.

"Somebody who I do remember talking directly to Tony about was Dr. Eric Whitaker," Obama told the Sun-Times in March. "He and I played basketball together when he was getting his master's in public health at Harvard, while I was in law school there. He had expressed an interest in that job. I did contact Tony, or Tony contacted me, and I gave him a glowing recommendation because I thought he was outstanding.''
The Rezko-Obama-Blagojevich network at work.

Publishing Industry Shake Up:The Downsizing of "Black Wednesday" December 3,2008

Salon reports:
The end of days is here for the publishing industry -- or it sure seems like it. On Dec. 3, now known as "Black Wednesday," several major American publishers were dramatically downsized, leaving many celebrated editors and their colleagues jobless. The bad news stretches from the unemployment line to bookstores to literature itself.

"It's going to be very hard for the next few years across the board in literary fiction," says veteran agent Ira Silverberg. "A lot of good writers will be losing their editors, and loyalty is very important in this field."

One of the most visible victims was Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher of Philip Roth, Margaret Drabble, Richard Dawkins and J.R.R. Tolkien, among many others. Just before Thanksgiving, the publisher (actually two venerable houses, Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, which were bought and merged by an Irish company over the past two years) had announced an unprecedented buying freeze on new manuscripts. On Dec. 3, they laid off what former executive editor Ann Patty described as "a lot" of employees (the industry trade publication Publishers Weekly confirmed at least eight), among them the distinguished editor Drenka Willen, whose list of authors included Günter Grass, Octavio Paz and José Saramago.
An article well worth your time.

Obama Transition Staff Contacts With Blagojevich's Office: The Report

Here's the PDF file

Scientist Fired by Al Gore Over Global Warming Skepticism

Ace of Spades

"Ponzi Scheme" at Citigroup? : Suit Slams Robert Rubin

The New York Post reports:
A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking.

Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.

Investor-plaintiffs in the suit accuse Citi management of overseeing the repackaging of unmarketable collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that no one wanted - and then reselling them to Citi and hiding the poisonous exposure off the books in shell entities.
Is Robert Rubin another Bernie Madoff? Does Bernie Madoff wish he would have given even more money to the Democratic Party?

Fitzgerald's Letter to the Illinois House Committee Investigating Blago: Don't Call Rezko as Witness

United States Attorney Northern District.Bloomberg reports:
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined to help an Illinois impeachment panel targeting Governor Rod Blagojevich, saying cooperation may compromise his own inquiry into political corruption.

Fitzgerald won’t provide affidavits, wiretap applications, fundraising lists or names of anonymous witnesses, according to a letter the House legislative committee released today. He asked lawmakers to avoid Blagojevich’s staff, as well as fundraisers such as developer Antoin Rezko, who was convicted in June for seeking millions of dollars in kickbacks.
A good indicator the Rezko is cooperating.

Subprime, Alt-A Delinquencies Piling Up

The Housing Wire

Planned EU tax could kill mobile TV: chip maker


American Express Lowers Credit Limit For some, lowering based on where they shop

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
Kevin D. Johnson returned from a dreamy Jamaican honeymoon in October eager to check out wedding photos and help his new wife open stacks of beautifully wrapped wedding gifts.

Before getting distracted by the fun stuff, the 29-year-old entrepreneur opened the mail. Johnson’s mood soured when he got to a letter from American Express, saying it had slashed the credit limit on his account.

Kevin Johnson, 29, sits in his Peachtree Street office. After returning from his honeymoon, American Express informed him it was lowering his credit limit.

Johnson was surprised, since he has a perfect payment history and a high credit score. And he was floored by one of the reasons American Express cited: It didn’t like where he shopped.

“Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express,” the letter said. Johnson complained to American Express by phone and letter.
A rather interesting article.

In Hard Times, Houses of God Turn to Chapter 11 in Book of Bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal

Chicago records year's 500th homicide

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Chicago has hit a mark it would have preferred to miss: 500 homicides for 2008 with more than a week to go in the year.

Monique Bond, a Police Department spokeswoman, said the 500th slaying unofficially had been Monday night, but she wouldn't immediately identify the victim.

Gun control doesn't seem to be working in Chicago.No word yet from Mayor Daley on why Houston has a lower murder rate but an armed populace.

Is there a Quid Pro Quo in Gifting to the Clintons?

The Chicago Daily Observer

Pay-to-Play: Could It Happen With National Health Care Reform?


Head of Fund Invested in Madoff Said to Commit Suicide

The New York Times

Unions sue Schwarzenegger over mandatory days off

The L.A. Times

Banking Demystified

Doug French reports:
Those under the delusion that it was an orgy of deregulation and lack of government oversight in financial markets that has led to the current crash and rash of bank failures and bailouts will be overjoyed to learn that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is doubling its operating budget for 2009 to $2.24 billion and will increase its workforce by 30 percent to 6,269.

The pace of bank busts is quickening, with nearly half of this year’s 25 failures coming in the current quarter. There were only three failures in 2007 as the real estate boom still had fainting signs of life left in it and there were no failures from June 2004 through February 2007 when the boom was in full swing. This boom was driven by huge increases in the money supply created by the Federal Reserve which led to massive mal-investment in: row after row of single family tract homes that were scooped up by panting speculators who financed their punts with cheap no-money down loans, strip malls and suburban office buildings, skyscrapers and casinos the world around.
If you want to understand banking read this article.

Official says Calif. could be broke in 2 months

The AP reports:
California's chief financial officer warned Monday that the state would run out of money in about two months as hopes of a Christmas budget compromise melted into political finger-pointing by the end of the day.
For a broader look at this subject,because it's expensive to pay over 3600 California prison guards over $100,000 a year.

Regulator Let IndyMac Bank Falsify Report: Agency Didn't Enforce Its Rules, Inquiry Finds

The Washington Post reports:
A senior federal banking regulator approved a plan by IndyMac Bank to exaggerate its financial health in a May federal filing, allowing the California company to avoid regulatory restrictions only two months before it collapsed, a federal inquiry has found.

The same regulatory agency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, allowed similar legerdemain by other banks, according to a letter sent yesterday to members of Congress by the Treasury Department's inspector general, Eric Thorson. The letter did not provide details about the other incidents.

The finding that OTS on several occasions "blessed a fiction," in the words of one congressional staffer, renews questions about the agency's relationship with the companies it regulates and about its complicity in the collapse this year of several of the nation's largest thrifts, including Washington Mutual and Countrywide Financial.
The government can't save you from bogus accounting numbers.

Madoff Victims May Have to Return Profits, Principal

Bloomberg reports:
Under New York state law, which can be invoked for Madoff recoveries, a trustee can seek redemptions going back six years, said Tracy Klestadt, a New York bankruptcy lawyer.
You'll want to read this one.

The Rise of the Four-Day Work Week?

Business Week

Median Home Price Plunges to $181,300


Fear of Chicago Mob Links Lands 10th Illinois Casino License Away from Rosemont

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Illinois gambling regulators on Monday chose the lowest bidder among three finalists for the state's only unused casino license, saying the company that plans to build in Des Plaines didn't raise the ethical concerns posed by finalists for Waukegan and Rosemont.

Midwest Gaming and Entertainment LLC beat out its competitors on a 3-1 vote of the five-member Illinois Gaming Board. Panel member Eugene Winkler refused to vote because he said he was not convinced that any of the finalists deserved permission to operate slot machines and betting tables.

"We have become accustomed to the stench of gambling and its effects in Illinois," said Winkler, a Methodist minister. "That's the problem we have grown used to. Corruption in government, pay-to-play, headline grabbers and behind-the-scenes operators, but real moral and ethical issues are at stake."

The recent corruption arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich cast a new pall over a selection process that has been mired in controversy for more than a decade, when the license was last used. Questions about ties between the Waukegan bidder and Blagojevich fundraisers helped sink that plan, and investors in Rosemont could not overcome concerns about mob influence in the village that helped derail two previous attempts to open there.

No word yet from Blagojevich casino "adviser" Eric Holder on this one.

Another Reason Not to Trust So-Called Housing Experts

Seeking Alpha

How a natural tragedy in the Mississippi Delta spurred the birth of the blues

The Wall Street Journal

Blog Links on the Left Side-Changes

We've moved some of the links on the left side around.Everything is still there,we just re-arranged the order.Since the election is over,we moved the polls to near the bottom.The American newspapers are closer to the top.Check out the links in the left side,we hope you find it more user friendly for what you are looking for.

GDP shrank 0.5 percent in third quarter as forecast


7 Extra Pounds: Even a tiny bit of flab raises heart failure risk

Reuters reports:
Even a little bit of extra weight can raise the risk of heart failure, according to a U.S. study published on Monday that calculated the heart hazards of being pudgy but not obese.

It comes as little surprise that obesity makes a person much more apt to get heart failure, a deadly condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body.

But researchers who tracked the health of 21,094 U.S. male doctors for two decades found that even those who were only modestly overweight had a higher risk -- and it grew along with the amount of extra weight.

In men who are 5 feet 10 inches tall, for every seven pounds (3.2 kg) of excess body weight, their risk of heart failure rose on average by 11 percent over the next 20 years, the researchers wrote in the journal Circulation.
Just 7 extra pounds.

Economy influences the decision to have babies: In recession, high cost of raising children makes couples wonder if they can afford kids

The Chicago Tribune

Boston Real Estate Deals:Condos Sold for $23,000

The Boston Globe

Finding Treasure in a Spooky Bond Market

Business Week

The Op-Ed the New York Times Wouldn’t Run

Pajamas Media

Blagojevich Got 435 contributions of $25,000 or more

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
20 companies, which gave a combined $925,000 to Friends of Blagojevich, had been paid or were under contract for $365 million by state government.
Rent-seeking gone wild.

More companies lining up for piece of bailout fund


Good-Bye, Gentry

Joel Kotkin reports:
the drive for the Kennedy nomination suggests how powerful, pervasive and even cocky the gentry class has become.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Environmental Research Affected by Bernie Madoff's Alleged Crimes

US News and World Report:
Daily Kos today declared Bernie Madoff public enemy No. 1 for progressives not only because of his alleged Ponzi Scheme swindling, but also because he will instantly result in a loss of funding for hundreds of progressive organizations - some of which were doing environmental work. Madoff controlled the funds of the JEHT Foundation, a major source of grants for organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. According to a statement from President and CEO Robert Crane, the foundation will close its doors next month. Virtually all of its grants will be cancelled.

ACORN, Soros Linked to Franken Vote Grab


What if The Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model is Wrong?


Boston is home to nonprofit kingpins

The Boston Herald

Blagojevich's Nashville Brother Hires Lawyer

NBC Nashville

Banks unable or unwilling to disclose how they're spending billions in aid


CFTC oks clearinghouse for interest rate derivs.


GM, Ford Debt Cut Further Into Junk by S&P, Moody’s


Blago Impeachment panel takes break

The Chicago Tribune

History of U.S. Gov't Bailouts

Pro Publica

'Sopranos' actor cleared of murder in NYPD death

The Baltimore Sun

Newspapers to sell buildings, but who's buying?


Taxpayers in Revolt

Doug French reports:
Many taxpayers just couldn’t pay at the depth of the depression and others wouldn’t pay for ideological reasons, believing that government should suffer along with taxpayers. The tax revolt movement attracted 30,000 members in Chicago alone and the Windy City’s government was faced with financial collapse as property owners stopped paying.

The movement had such momentum that the federal government resorted to a national "pay your taxes campaign." Chicago teachers were even enlisted to chant "Pay Your Taxes!" at rallies around the city. Municipal and government workers, along with academics tried to sell the virtues of a more active state on the radio in a nationwide series called "You and Your Government" that ran from 1932 to 1936.
Some people have a vested interest in higher taxes.

FBI man is Senator Stevens case whistleblower

Anchorage Daily News reports:
A five-year FBI agent assigned to the Alaska corruption investigation is the whistleblower who brought a complaint of misconduct against other agents and at least one prosecutor involved in the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

The redacted -- meaning partially blacked-out -- complaint was publicly filed this afternoon in Washington, D.C., by the judge in the Stevens trial over the objections of Justice Department lawyers and the attorney for the unidentified whistleblower. Stevens' lawyers wanted the full document released without restrictions.

The whistleblower's name was blacked out, as were the names of nearly everyone else in his complaint. But the whistleblower's explosive allegations about misconduct by other members of the FBI and the prosecution suggest intimate, firsthand knowledge of the full investigation from the start, and of the activities surrounding Stevens' trial.

"I have witnessed or learned of serious violations of policy, rules and procedures as well as possible criminal violations," the whistleblower asserted in his complaint to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.

The whistleblower said agents got too close to sources, took gifts and favors from sources, and revealed confidential grand jury and investigation information to sources and reporters.
You'll want to read the whole article.

The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008

Foreign Policy has some really bad predictions in 2008:
“Peter writes: ‘Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?’ No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear! That’s just being silly! Don’t be silly!” —Jim Cramer, responding to a viewer’s e-mail on CNBC’s Mad Money, March 11, 2008
CNBC's got Jim Cramer and their parent company GE is getting subsidized by federal bailout money.

Sarbanes-Oxley Revisited


Bad economy slows population growth in South, West

The AP

As Refis Swell, Is There Enough Warehouse Credit?

The Housing Wire

Routing the Rails Through the Chicago Suburbs: Canadian National Plan to Avoid Inner-City Freight Bottleneck Triggers Protests

The Wall Street Journal

L.A. can use race as factor in magnet schools

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Los Angeles can continue to seek racial balance in assigning tens of thousands of students to specialized magnet schools despite California's voter-approved ban on race preferences in government programs, a state appeals court has ruled.

Friday's decision by the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles preserves the long-standing desegregation program in the state's largest school district in the face of a challenge by backers of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure. Lawyers in the case disagreed on whether the ruling could also affect a lawsuit against the use of race in Berkeley school enrollments.
For a school district that's not even 10%,it's sad race would be used as a factor.For those of us who aren't fans of public education:the elimination of magnet schools would be the first step in destroying coerced education.

Money market funds reel as yields near zero

The Financial Times

Census: Texas the fastest-growing state

Austin Business Journal

Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn Picks Rezko CFO for Transition Team

Chicago Daily Observer

With Senator Stevens’s Fall, a Lobbyist Pipeline Shuts Off

The New York Times

Senator Schumer and Bernie Madoff's Money

Pajamas Media reports:
we haven’t seen the ordinarily omnipresent Senator Chuck Schumer lately. He made headlines in the New York Times for his sweetheart relationship with the financial institutions which were subject to regulation and legislation that came before his committees. They gave boatloads of money to him and his Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. He took the money and made clear to all who would listen (and who would tell their generous friends) that he would go easy on regulation and investigation. Now, Madoff was a top Schumer and DSSC donor. Did he and Schumer ever meet? Were there discussions about Madoff’s operation? Was Schumer aware of the SEC investigation? We don’t yet know.
Chuck Schumer(D-Bernie Madoff)?

Conn. can bar lobbyists from making campaign donations

The AP reports:
A federal judge late last week upheld Connecticut’s ban on lobbyists and state contractors making contributions to state political campaigns.

In a 98-page decision, U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport on Dec. 19 said the General Assembly was justified in enacting such a ban given Connecticut’s history of public corruption scandals involving high-ranking state politicians.

“I conclude that the legislature had a constitutional, sufficiently important interest in combating actual and perceived corruption by eliminating contributions from individuals with the means and motive to exercise undue influence over elected officials,” Underhill wrote in Green Party v. Garfield.

The judge maintained that the state’s campaign-finance law, which passed in wake of the corruption scandal that drove former Gov. John G. Rowland from office in 2004, does not “materially undermine” lobbyists’ constitutional right to free speech or to freely associate with candidates and political parties.

Some lobbyists at the state Capitol were outraged by the ban, saying they and their family members were unfairly targeted because of the scandal. Besides the lobbyists and state contractors, the law also bans their immediate and minor family members from making political contributions to candidates for legislative and statewide offices, candidate-affiliated political action committees and party committees.
You'll want to read the whole article.