Archive for December 30th, 2008

JibJab – 2008 Year In Review

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FBI steps up search for evidence in Bernard (Bernie) Madoff scandal

The FBI is understood to be monitoring key individuals connected to the $50 billion (£34 billion) Bernard Madoff investment scandal as the federal agency comes under increased pressure to construct a criminal case against the 70-year-old financier.

The agency is scrutinising bank withdrawals made by former employees of Mr Madoff and their personal activities, including where they travel and with whom they mix. The use of such methods came to light as it emerged that Frank Dipascali, Mr Madoff’s chief financial officer, has been interviewed by investigators over his role at Madoff Investment Securities. Marc Mukasey, Mr Dipascali’s lawyer, failed to return calls yesterday.

As regulators scour documents seized from Mr Madoff’s offices in Manhattan, the financier is under pressure to meet tomorrow’s deadline to provide details of all investments, assets, loans, lines of credit and accounts held by his company to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).


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Napolitano backs security tech

Gov. Janet Napolitano — President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to run the Homeland Security Department — has strongly advocated using advanced security technology as a law enforcement tool, drawing praise from police and raising concern among civil liberties groups that warn about privacy invasion.

As Arizona’s Democratic governor since 2003, Napolitano has:

• Pushed state police to use cameras that scan license plates of moving cars to find vehicles that are stolen or linked to a criminal suspect.

• Promoted “face-identification” technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people by comparing someone’s face with a photo database of suspects.

• Signed a 2007 bill making Arizona one of 12 states that collect and store DNA samples of people accused but not convicted of certain crimes, including murder, burglary, sexual assault and prostitution.

• Proposed an optional state ID for legal citizens only that features a radio-frequency chip to allow authorities to read the card. State lawmakers blocked the effort this year.

“She sees technology as the panacea of all our law enforcement problems and immigration issues,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, head of Arizona’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter. “It’s like she’s embracing these technologies without taking the time to appreciate the privacy implications.”


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We’ve got so used to the carnage of the Middle East that we don’t care any more – providing we don’t offend the Israelis. It’s not clear how many of the Gaza dead are civilians, but the response of the Bush administration, not to mention the pusillanimous reaction of Gordon Brown, reaffirm for Arabs what they have known for decades: however they struggle against their antagonists, the West will take Israel’s side. As usual, the bloodbath was the fault of the Arabs – who, as we all know, only understand force.

Ever since 1948, we’ve been hearing this balderdash from the Israelis – just as Arab nationalists and then Arab Islamists have been peddling their own lies: that the Zionist “death wagon” will be overthrown, that all Jerusalem will be “liberated”. And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise “restraint” – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas’s home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course. (more…)

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What Happened To Madoff’s Money?

Almost since the news broke that Bernard Madoff had confessed to running a “$50 billion Ponzi scheme”, one of the key unanswered questions has been, what happened to all that money?

The short answer is, we don’t know yet. “It is still too early to say with any certainty what was going on inside Madoff’s business,” said Stephen Harbeck — who heads the SIPC, which is serving as the receiver for Madoff’s now-defunct brokerage firm — at a press conference outside U.S. bankruptcy court last week.

It’s worth noting at the outset that the $50 billion figure, which came from the SEC complaint quoting Madoff’s own confession, may be inflated. The Associated Press has calculated that investors cumulatively have said they have lost $30 billion.

That’s not exactly pocket change. And despite Madoff’s lavish lifestyle, it would be virtually impossible for him to have blown through that amount, or even a significant fraction of it, on his own or his family’s personal expenses.

Madoff has promised to give an accounting of all his assets by the end of the year. But until the legions of forensic accountants with the FBI, the SEC, and other investigative bodies complete their enormous task of independently tracing the funds, we’ll likely remain largely in the dark.

Still, piecing together various reports, several possible answers are beginning to emerge, which, taken together, may go some way to explaining the mystery.


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Report: Economic Crisis Here Could Lead to Civil Unrest, Military Rule

This isn’t sounding quite as crazy as it used to:

EL PASO — A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report “Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development,” which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities … to defend basic domestic order and human security,” the report said, in case of “unforeseen economic collapse,” “pervasive public health emergencies,” and “catastrophic natural and human disasters,” among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a “strategic shock” within the first eight months in office.

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