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To read: Thomas Frank discusses Barry Lynn’s 2006 essay “Breaking the Chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart”
Why do you think the S.E.C. failed to wake up to Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme until he turned himself in?
They weren’t even asleep at the switch; they were comatose. They didn’t respond to heat and light, much less evidence of wrongdoing. They were not engaged in the fight..
This was when William Donaldson was head of the S.E.C.?
Donaldson was too tough on Wall Street, so he got the ax. Then you had Christopher Cox, because he wasn’t going to do his job. That’s why he got the job.
You met last year with Mary Schapiro, the current head of the S.E.C. How did that go?
I would say she was coldly polite. Her general counsel, David Becker, did most of the talking. He and I did not get along at all. He was getting ready to come across the coffee table and strangle me.
In the year since you testified before Congress about the S.E.C.’s failures, many of the agency’s employees have been replaced.
They’ve redisorganized. They redisorganized the enforcement unit. I actually approve of that. I think Robert Khuzami, the new head of the enforcement division, has got fire in his belly.
Are you saying the S.E.C. under Schapiro is about to catch fraud on Wall Street?
She has the wrong staff. They’re a bunch of idiots there.–“Math Is Hard: Questions for Harry Markopolos,” interview by Deborah Solomon, New York Times
Karl Rove may be slightly less than totally, completely truthful: “Would the Iraq War have occurred without W.M.D.? I doubt it”;
is ACORN really “a crime syndicate dedicated to tightening the Democratic Party’s grip on America” or is it more like the mafia or the Ku Klux Klan?;
how in the world did Milton Friedman save Chile?
An American visitor in Pakistan can’t help thinking at times that he has arrived in a parallel universe. Asked about the presence of Al Qaeda on their country’s soil, Pakistanis deny that there is any evidence of it. They lionize A. Q. Khan, who created the country’s nuclear weapons program and sold essential nuclear technology and knowledge to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and they are incensed by American worries about the security of their country’s nuclear assets. Suicide bombings and political assassinations are near-daily occurrences, yet many Pakistanis are astonishingly complacent about the murderous groups behind them. They rail instead against the government that is powerless to prevent these attacks and an America that would like nothing better than to see an end to them….Denial is a national habit in Pakistan. With a long history of failed governance and political leaders who put their personal interests first, Pakistanis point their fingers at the United States, their arch-enemy India, or the all-purpose malefactor often described in the local news media as the “hidden hand”—anyone but themselves to explain their nation’s past failings and precarious present. –“Planet Pakistan,” Robert M. Hathaway, The Wilson Quarterly
Police to New Jersey pervert: cover that naked snowman!;
Boston PD’s peeping Toms: the thin blue line between a security cam and a pornographic fantasy;
Mitt Romney’s pathological fear of Sarah Palin: “be careful what you say about her… She has a rifle, you know”
College student-loan debt has revived the spirit of indenture for a sizable proportion of contemporary Americans. It is not a minor threshold that young people entering adult society and work, or those returning to college seeking enhanced credentials, might pass through easily. Because of its unprecedented and escalating amounts, it is a major constraint that looms over the lives of those so contracted, binding individuals for a significant part of their future work lives. Although it has more varied application, less direct effects, and less severe conditions than colonial indenture did (some have less and some greater debt, some attain better incomes) and it does not bind one to a particular job, student debt permeates everyday experience with concern over the monthly chit and encumbers job and life choices. It also takes a page from indenture in the extensive brokerage system it has bred, from which more than four thousand banks take profit. At core, student debt is a labor issue, as colonial indenture was, subsisting off the desire of those less privileged to gain better opportunities and enforcing a control on their future labor. One of the goals of the planners of the modern U.S. university system after the Second World War was to displace what they saw as an aristocracy that had become entrenched at elite schools; instead they promoted equal opportunity in order to build America through its best talent. The rising tide of student debt reinforces rather than dissolves the discriminations of class, counteracting the meritocracy. Finally, I believe that the current system of college debt violates the spirit of American freedom in leading those less privileged to bind their futures. –“Student Debt and the Spirit of Indenture,” Jefrey J. Williams, Dissent
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”