Monday, October 19, 2009

Farrakhan: Don't be 'pacified' by Obama election

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Minister Louis Farrakhan on Sunday urged his followers not to become complacent by President Barack Obama's election and to work to repair communities.

The 76-year-old Nation of Islam leader said in a speech commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Million Man March that people shouldn't become pacified by the election of the first black president.

"This can pacify you and lull you to sleep in a dangerous time, making you think that we live in a post-racial America — when the opposite is true," he said to loud applause.

The Chicago-based Nation of Islam has embraced black nationalism since its founding in the 1930s, and has used Obama's election as a launching point for celebration, intellectual discussion and a call to action.

"You may not be pleased with everything he's saying and doing, but you have to understand that he's been voted in to take care of the affairs of a nation, and not yours and mine particularly," Farrakhan said. "He's the American president, not the black president."

Given those broad responsibilities, African-Americans need to "accept responsibility to build our own communities," Farrakhan said.

Farrakhan has recently had a strong presence at events addressing a rise in youth violence. He has said the death of Derrion Albert, a Chicago high school honor student fatally beaten by other teens in an attack captured on video, should be a call to action.

Sunday's speech was billed as a plan to focus on reducing crime. Farrakhan didn't lay out details in his 2 1/2-hour address, but said members of the Nation of Islam have shown a blueprint for helping people repair their lives. The organization has long focused efforts on recruiting in prisons by encouraging inmates to study the movement's teachings.

"They're going to prisons and they make a man and a woman whole, the prostitute gets cleaned up, the drug addict gets changed," he said. "You see a model in Muslims in the Nation of Islam when our people come into the mosque toxic and then are made useful."

Farrakhan said the theme of repairing communities will become the basis of a series of future lectures. The leader regularly speaks at the movement's headquarters, Mosque Maryam. The lectures are widely distributed throughout the movement.

Farrakhan was joined on stage by recently resigned Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who has announced a Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a white congressman who has represented the mostly black House district for two terms.

In comments to the crowd before the speech, Herenton recalled presenting Farrakhan with a key to the city despite the controversy it caused.

"It was easy for me as a mayor to present a key ... to a man who is worthy, to a man who speaks truth, to a man who possesses wisdom, to a man who is courageous in thought and in action," said Herenton, who was the first elected black mayor of Memphis. "To an anointed man."

Panel Recommends Privatization of Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac

By Ravi Bhatia

A panel proposed some options for the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Monday at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C, with one member recommending the privatization of the two organizations and another suggesting that the government-sponsored enterprises be abandoned in order to establish Mortgage Credit Guarantor Entities (pronounced “McGees”) in their place.

“Fannie and Freddie pose a systemic risk to the financial system, unfairly benefit from their regulatory privilege, and they do not create enough benefits for the American people,” said David Reiss, guest panelist and Professor at Brooklyn Law School. “As a result, the company should be privatized in one form or another.”

Two of the panelists, Chief Economist and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association Jay Brinkmann and Vice President of the National Association of Home Builders David Crowe, will testify their findings before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Tuesday morning. Brinkmann detailed the concept behind MCGEs, which he claims would be privately capitalized and thus would benefit from private equity, while the ownership structure of the MCGEs would depend on “the method the private capital comes into it.”

“Whether its strictly stock held, there’s an opening here for doing a co-op type structure,” Brinkmann said. “We don’t specify [the ownership structure of the MCGEs] that way.”

According to Brinkmann, the MCGE’s would be chartered by a new federal regulator and would do away with a Congressional charter, which he claims posed problems in the past.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed about half of the $12 trillion U.S mortgage market as of 2008, according to a New York Times article written the same year. According to Reiss, the number currently hovers around 44 percent.

“Fannie and Freddie’s overall success in exploiting the benefits of their government charter has concentrated an extraordinary amount of risk in the two companies,” Reiss said while explaining the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis. “And this has been compounded by their successful fights over the year to expand the reach of their business model. They’ve been winning additional privileges from Congress to move into subprime, exotic parts of the jumbo market, making them larger and larger and larger.”

Hedge Funds Scramble to Step Up Compliance Following Rajaratnam Arrest

Following the startling arrest of Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of the Galleon Group, hedge fund managers are seeking to quickly step up their own internal checks on the activities of their funds and their traders. The FT reports that hedge funds fear that “what used to be seen as minor trading floor indiscretions have the chance to be prosecuted as significant crimes.”

One portfolio manager told the FT that

60 per cent of the [Galleon-related] charges are for the kind of stuff you see people doing all the time. Swapping rumours and trading on them is how the whole system works. It’s always the hedge funds that get targeted though because we’re perceived as being fair game.

The FT adds that at most of the biggest funds, at least, robust regulatory and compliance programs similar to those at banks are already in place.

Read the FT article.

Pentagon: Authorities Call Off Search for Missing F-16 Pilot

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2009 -- Authorities are still looking for the wreckage of an Air Force F-16 fighter jet that crashed with its pilot into the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina’s coast last week.

An official at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., said today that there is nothing new to report since authorities announced Oct. 17 that Air Force Capt. Nicholas Giglio likely didn’t survive a mid-air collision with another F-16.

Shaw is the home of the 20th Fighter Wing, to which the jets belong.

Two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on a routine training exercise collided over the Atlantic Ocean about 40 miles east of Folly Beach, S.C., around 8:30 p.m. Oct. 15. The pilot of one plane, Air Force Capt. Lee Bryant, was able to safely land his damaged jet at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

Giglio, the other pilot, was reported missing. Coast Guard officials in Charleston, S.C., announced Oct. 17 that they were suspending the search-and-rescue operation.

“In spite of an intense search conducted by hundreds of professionals from the Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force, we have found no trace of Capt. Nicholas Giglio,” Air Force Col. Joe Guastella, 20th Fighter Wing commander, told reporters that day.

Preliminary investigation of the accident, Guastella said, revealed that the mid-air impact probably proved fatal to the pilot, who wasn’t seen to have ejected from his stricken aircraft.

Authorities at Shaw pledged to make every effort to recover Giglio’s aircraft and his remains.

“The thoughts and prayers of all of us at Shaw are with Nicholas Giglio, his family, and his friends,” Guastella said.

Coast Guard searchers found crash debris believed to belong to Giglio’s F-16 jet the day after the accident.

“The Coast Guard has found some debris in the ocean that is apparently from our missing F-16,” Robert Sexton, chief of public affairs at Shaw Air Force Base said during an Oct. 16 telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.

No cross-dressing at Morehouse College

Morehouse College has added a new item to its dresscode, which prohibits students from wearing pajamas in public, sagging pants, and do-rags. The all-male, private college has now banned crossdressing. From CNN:

"We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men," (vice president for student services Dr. William Bynum) said.

Before the school released the policy, Bynum said, he met with Morehouse Safe Space, the campus' gay organization.

"We talked about it and then they took a vote," he said. "Of the 27 people in the room, only three were against it."

Those breaking the policy will not be allowed to go to class unless they change. Chronic dress-code offenders could be suspended from the college.