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At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

FBI Arrested Peter Madoff

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Peter Madoff, the younger brother of jailed Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff, has been taken into custody by the FBI.

Peter Madoff, 66, surrendered himself Friday morning at his lawyer’s office in midtown Manhattan ahead of an expected guilty plea to criminal charges related to the Ponzi scheme, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He is the eighth person to plead guilty to criminal charges in the government’s investigation into the collapse of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities since December 2008. Numerous Jewish foundations and individuals had invested with the firm. Among the victims were Hadassah, the American Jewish Congress and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

The former chief compliance officer is expected to plead guilty to falsifying the records of an investment adviser, and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, make false filings and commit other crimes. He has agreed to serve 10-year-prison term and forfeit all of his assets, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison for crimes associated with the Ponzi scheme.

Earlier this week former Madoff money manager J. Ezra Merkin agreed to turn over $405 million to duped investors in the scheme. That was the first settlement resulting from a government action against Merkin.

Romney Gaining Momentum As Obama Struggles

Monday, June 11th, 2012

A week of setbacks for President Obama has the GOP excited about Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s chances to emerge victorious in November.

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker survived a recall election, which was seen by many political observers as a referendum on the parties’ differing fiscal visions for dealing with the ongoing economic issues facing the United States. Initiated by opponents of Walker’s plan to curb collective bargaining rights for state employees, his victory was interpreted as a sign that voters were opposed to investment in government as a means to stimulate economic growth, which Obama supports.

More importantly, the Wisconsin recall election seemed to energize Republicans who have offered Romney lukewarm support at best. The New York Times, in a story today titled “GOP Mood Toward Romney’s Fall Prospects Brighten,” reported that consensus is building that Romney has a real shot at victory, quoting Republicans that had supported Romney’s opponents during the Republican primaries and conservatives that had previously been critical of him. The value of this growing consensus is found not merely in its moral victory but also in more vibrant fundraising and activism.

According to the New York Times piece, Romney and the Republican party already yielded more money in May than Obama and the Democratic Party ($76 million vs. $60 million), a significant achievement considering that Obama’s fundraising for the 2008 presidential campaign broke previous records for presidential campaigns, and is said to have revolutionized presidential fundraising.

Making matters worse for Obama, he made an uncharacteristic misstep last Friday by stating in a press conference that “the private sector is doing fine.” Known for its media savvy and disciplined message, the Obama administration spent the rest of Friday and the weekend focused on damage control, but Romney and the GOP had already seized on the comment as proof that Obama is out of touch with regular Americans and out of solutions for the American economy.

Last week also saw increasing pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the Justice Department’s botched ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running sting. Appearing before the House Oversight Committee by subpoena, Holder was accused of dragging his feet in providing information about which high-level Obama administration officials knew about the botched sting, which resulted in the death of a US border agent. As of this writing, the Committee is set to vote on holding Holder in contempt of Congress.

At the same time, the Obama administration is dealing with accusations that the White House had in recent weeks leaked highly classified information on the targeting of Al Qaeda militants by drones and the cyber-weapon Stuxnet. Republican lawmakers are claiming that the White House risked exposing intelligence operations for the purpose of political gain. Obama has strenuously denied the accusation, and Attorney General Holder has opened criminal investigations into the leaks.

Enthusiasm is also waning among people that only four years ago were die-hard Obama supporters. “Obama Girl,” AKA Amber Lee Ettinger, who became famous for her YouTube video “Crush on Obama,” told the Daily Caller on Friday that she is “not as excited as I was the last time,” and refused to offer Obama a public endorsement.

Of course, all of this negative publicity comes against the backdrop of economic numbers that suggest slowing economic recovery and job growth.

Recent polls are also bearing out Romney’s growing momentum. Rasmussen’s most recent poll has Romney leading Obama by one percentage point (46% – 45%), and a Gallup tracking poll from the first week of June shows the same results. Though this may seem like an early, insignificant lead, when viewed in light of the past month, there is a clear trend in favor of Romney. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from May 20 had Obama leading Romney 47%-43%; thus, a five point swing has occurred over 3 weeks.

Gallup also polled Jewish voters, and found that as of June 5, Obama was supported by 64% of Jewish voters, while Romney received the support of 29%. Although he holds a 35% point lead over Romney, it is worth noting that in the 2008 Presidential election Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote.

Rubin Reports: Bush and Obama Together At Last – In Misunderstanding the Middle East

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/bush-and-obama-together-at-last-in.html

In one of his first statements since leaving office, former President George W. Bush remarked on Middle East developments in an article, “The Arab Spring and American Ideals,” in the Wall Street Journal, May 18. The former president reflects certain American misconceptions about the Middle East that are starting to blow up big-time in the region.

Bush writes: “We do not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. We only get to choose what side we are on.”

While one should not overestimate U.S. influence, one should also not underestimate it. Consider:

–In the Gaza Strip, by supporting the inclusion of Hamas in elections for which it was not qualified to run (since it had not accepted the Oslo accords), Bush’s own administration ensured that there would be a radical Islamist revolution in the Gaza Strip. This weakened the already dim prospects for any Israel-Palestinian peace process, has already brought one war, and will certainly bring others.

–In Lebanon, by refusing to give strong support to the moderate forces, the last two presidents ensured that the “freedom revolution” in that country would end in an Iran-Syria-Hizballah takeover.

–In Egypt, by taking the side not only of a total overthrow of the regime and even openly and unilaterally supporting the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama Administration did help ensure that the fundamental transformation of Egypt began with the inevitable end of an anti-freedom Islamist regime.

–In Iran, by ignoring the upsurge of protest following the stolen election, the Obama Administration ensured that a “freedom revolution” didn’t get started there.

–In Syria, by refusing for all practical purposes to help the rebels, the U.S. government ensured that the “freedom revolution” would be defeated. Equally bad, by giving disproportionate help to the Islamists, the administration made it far more likely that if the rebellion succeeded it wouldn’t be a “freedom revolution.”

–And finally, in Libya, the United States and its European allies determined pretty much everything, overthrowing Muammar Qadhafi and determining who would rule the country.

Thus, a simple claim by Bush, which is also about the closest he and his successor would agree on any issue, is easily and can be demonstrably proven false. One hallmark of those favoring “neoconservative” positions is their lack of knowledge about the actual Middle East.

But that’s not all. The most important point of all is this one: “We only get to choose what side we are on.” The underlying assumption here is that there are two sides: evil dictatorship and noble democracy advocates.

In fact, there are three sides:

–Dictatorships of various levels of repressiveness, some of which are friendly and some that are sworn enemies of the United States.

–Moderate democracy advocates who want freedom in the Western sense of the word.

–Revolutionary Islamists who want a new, and anti-American, dictatorship run by themselves.

During the Cold War, American policymakers were very much aware of this three-part distinction (the third being Communists, in that case). They didn’t always choose correctly but they tried to evaluate each situation seriously. Sometimes they chose the dictators; sometimes they chose the democrats; and sometimes they even helped nudge the dictators (usually military juntas and especially in Latin America) into returning to the barracks and letting democracy resume.

No such careful process goes on now. In fact, the Obama Administration has repeatedly done the opposite of what a proper policy would be.

Bush also reflects Obama in using the be-on-the-right-side-of-history argument, a fatal flaw in a president of the United States who should be making choices based on U.S. interests.

Here is Bush’s argument annotated by me:

“The idea that Arab peoples are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever.”

Again, the question, sadly, is not necessarily dispensing with oppression altogether but which kind of oppression we’re talking about. They are either willing, or can be forced, into getting rid of the old Arab nationalist oppression and then substituting Islamist oppression for it. Bush argues as if they are going to jump out of the frying pan with no danger of ending up in the fire.

He speaks critically about policymakers who “argue [that America] should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.”

Boys, ADHD And Reading

Friday, May 4th, 2012

When I was a young boy, America’s elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can’t read.

- Thomas Spence, Wall Street Journal

In all my years of teaching kriyah and English reading, I have encountered more boys than girls who struggle with the skill. We are even subconsciously programmed to think of reading as a female endeavor. Picture a reader in a comfy chair, thinking, “Wow, what a great book! I can’t wait to share this with my friends.” Was the reader you imagined male or female? Chances are, you envisioned a female reader. The idea that the majority of readers are female is consistent with reading scores around the nation.

According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in 2001, fourth-grade girls in all of the 30-plus participating countries scored higher in reading literacy than fourth-grade boys by a statistically significant amount. In addition, According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test.

Accounting for the Reading Gap

Why is there such a large gap between girls and boys when it comes to reading? There are several theories that explain why boys test below girls their own age when it comes to reading:

Girls begin school with a larger vocabulary. Studies have shown that on a normal day, girls use 30% more words than boys their age. Simply because girls speak more, they are more comfortable with language. Then, when it comes to reading, they are more likely to synthesize new words into their everyday speech. This in turn will make their future reading more proficient.

The subject matter is tailored towards women. Because many teachers are female, and because mothers are often the ones helping children pick out their books, the subject matter of the reading tends to appeal to female audiences. Most boys would like to read about characters who are similar to them, but are often presented with books that have characters they cannot identify with.

Boys’ brains might be wired for non-fiction. While girls are great at comprehending narrative texts and expository style, studies have shown that boys prefer informational texts and newspapers. Teachers often devalue these non-fiction texts – prompting boys to feel they are not “reading” when they pick up a newspaper. This only discourages them from reading in the future.

Girls enter school with better fine motor skills. Biologically, girls often gain fine motor skills essential for writing at an earlier age than boys. While the girls quickly figure out how to write, the boys struggle with the same tasks. This struggle with writing can often lead boys to feel they are “not good” at reading or writing and therefore they will not even attempt to try.

An often undiscussed issue in this area is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We all know reading takes concentration – without it you can’t get to the end of a sentence. What many people don’t realize is that while ADHD is a common behavioral disorder affecting 8-10% of school age children, boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Of course, only a tiny fraction of boys have ADHD, but this fraction is significantly larger than the fraction of girls who do. This can also account for the differences in proficiency in boys and girls’ reading scores. Therefore, if you notice that your son is unable to focus, is easily distracted, and often fidgets, consider getting him tested for ADHD. His lack of reading skills could be attributed to a surmountable learning disability.

The most important thing to be aware of when parenting or teaching children with ADHD is that they are not “acting out.” Rather, it is difficult for these children to control their behavior without either medication or behavioral modification. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe medicine, but as an educator (or a parent) there are plenty of behavioral modifications you can implement in order to help a child become more attentive when reading or performing another activity that requires concentration.

Encourage fidgeting: Though this sounds counter-intuitive, children with ADHD benefit from distractions. In reality, it is not that they cannot focus – instead they focus on everything. So, give them a pencil to tap or a kush ball to squeeze while they are reading. Remember these are students who are designed to focus on more than one thing at a time. Providing them with the second activity, in addition to reading, will keep them from looking for what else they could be doing.

Rubin Reports: Egypt’s Elections – Titanic of Western Interests Meet Iceberg of Islamist Revolutionary Zeal

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/04/egypts-elections-titanic-of-western.html
Egypt will hold its presidential election May 23-24 with a possible run-off on June 16-17. It is impossible at this point to predict what’s going to happen but I can make a good guess. Eight weeks from now Egypt will be led by either a radical anti-American Islamist who wants to wipe Israel off the map or by a radical anti-American nationalist who just hates Israel passionately.
Let’s review the background and then analyze the likely events to come.
Since Egypt’s revolution began a year ago five propositions have monopolized the Western debate and coverage, all of which were wrong:
–That Egypt would become a real democratic state in which human rights and civil liberties would be respected.
–That this state would be dominated by moderate and modernist secular groups.
–That the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate and a bulwark against the really radical Islamists.
–That the army is simultaneously the main enemy of democracy in Egypt that should be opposed and yet also the force that would keep Egypt stable and pro-Western.
–That the new Egypt would remain an ally of the United States or at peace with Israel.
Only the second has been reluctantly dropped by governments and mass media. All the others are still in place today! Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood has become the substitute moderate democratic hope. This blindness ignores all the daily evidence to the contrary.
The “moderate democratic” forces up until now have defined the military as their main enemy. Perhaps they still do so.  But they also woke up to realize that a constitution written by a vast majority of Islamists wouldn’t be a great thing for them. So they followed the classical Arab mistake of boycotting the constitution-writing process, thus ensuring that the Islamists will have even more power.
Two Islamist candidates—the Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater and the Salafists’ Hazem Salah Abu Ismail—and one secularist—Omar Suleiman—have been disqualified. The Brotherhood simply substituted Muhammad Mursi, leader of its Freedom and Justice Party, for al-Shater, who returned to his job as deputy head of the Brotherhood.  Mursi told a news conference, “We intend to make the Palestinian issue our main issue.”
The other main candidate is the radical nationalist Amr Moussa. His stances have varied depending on whether he thought he could hope for the Brotherhood’s backing. Since his main rival is the Brotherhood-backed Mursi, Amr Moussa is in a relatively anti-Islamist phase.  And that’s not to say that Moussa, albeit the lesser of two evils, is any great prize – though he is certainly preferable.

There are now a total of 23 candidates, though it is possible there will be a few more before registration closes April 26.  Aside from Mursi and Moussa, they include two other Islamists, three moderates, and a leftist.

In all of this, there is a hugely important point that’s been generally missed: Unlike the Brotherhood, the radical Salafists have not yet produced an alternative candidate.  A lot of its members are endorsing Mursi. Now the Salafist al-Nour party has genuine differences with the Brotherhood, though more over timing and the desire for power than anything substantive. Still, al-Nour may be splitting over the party’s support for Mursi. But if the dissidents don’t have a candidate at all, who will the 25 percent of al-Nour’s supporters in the parliamentary ballot support?

In theory, then, Mursi can depend on 75 percent of the electorate — the Brotherhood and al-Nour voters — based on the parliamentary vote!  He won’t get that many because a lot of those who voted for Islamists may want some balance in the government or just happen to like Moussa, whose anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israel credentials are strong.

Still, will enough voters switch to Moussa to tilt the balance? Moreover, in a run-off between Mursi and Moussa, the former should be able to depend on stronger support from any al-Nour supporters who are ambiguous about how they will vote in the first round.

So nobody can predict the victor. Still, overall, one might better assume that Egypt is going to have an Islamist president and parliament just eight weeks from now, to be followed by an Islamist constitution.

As far as I can tell — and amazing as this might seem — there has been no preparation in the West for such an outcome.  In a Wall Street Journal op-ed we can read:

What is poorly understood in the West is how critical fundamentalists are to the moral and political rejuvenation of their countries. As counterintuitive as it seems, they are the key to more democratic, liberal politics in the region.

Of course, there is a grain of truth in what Reuel Gerecht said in his op-ed. If Islamists weren’t allowed to participate, there couldn’t be fair elections. And if they do participate and win, one can call the resulting system democracy.

ADL Praises Mormon Church Prohibition of Holocaust Victims’ Posthumous Baptism

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday welcomed a letter from Mormon Church leaders, to be read during services this Sunday, in which they remind LDS members that Jewish Holocaust victims should not be submitted to the church’s online genealogical registry for proxy baptisms.

“Without exception,” reads the letter from LDS President Thomas S. Monson and other church leaders, “church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims.  If members do so, they may forfeit their new family-search privileges.  Other corrective action may also be taken.”

The church directive comes in the wake of attempts by some members to submit the names of famous Jews – including diarist Anne Frank, slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, and relatives of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel – for proxy baptism in violation of Mormon Church policy.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, lauded LDS for their move and added: “As two minority religions who share histories as the target of intolerance and discrimination, we will continue to work with each other to bring greater understanding and respect to both of our faith communities.”

As Woody Allen once put it, ” The lion and the lamb shall lie down together but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”

Iran Passes Letter to US: You Killed Our Scientist

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

In a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, the Iranian foreign ministry relayed to the United States that it believes the CIA was behind the recent assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist.  Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s car exploded after a magnetic bomb was attached to the side of it during rush hour traffic on Wednesday by a speeding motorcyclist.

The United States and Iran have no formal diplomatic relations.  The Swiss embassy represents US interests in the country, and received the letter from the Iranian foreign ministry on behalf of the United States.

“We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the letter said, according to a Reuters report.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denied US responsibility for the attack, the fifth such assassination in 2 years.

Western intelligence sources told Time magazine on Friday that Israel’s Mossad is responsible for the scientist’s death.

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that the U.S. is preparing for the increasing possibility of an Israeli military assault on Iran.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/iran-passes-letter-to-us-you-killed-our-scientist/2012/01/15/

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