Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Michael Jackson: dead, but lucrative

apple1 Michael Jackson: dead, but lucrative
The sudden death of Michael Jackson made his bereaved fans put into their pockets and transform the most profitable dead celebrity this year, with revenues of $ 275 million, according to a ranking released on Monday by Forbes magazine.

Jackson posthumously earned more than the sum of 12 other celebrities from the list. He died on June 25, 2009, and the list last year he appeared in third place with $ 90 million billed.

Second on the list this year comes from Elvis Presley, who died in 1977. Business and collecting fees at the mansion-museum, Graceland (Tennessee), a Cirque du Soleil and more than 200 licensing agreements and advertising yielded $ 60 million to his estate.

Jackson died at age 50, victim of an accidental drug overdose, while preparing a tour to resume his career in London. He left three sons and a debt of half a billion dollars.

But his estate has generated millions of dollars since his death, mostly by selling records, the film-show “This Is It,” for contracts to launch new albums and a Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Rose said the “King of Pop” won last year more than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z together.

CNBC: Berkshire's Hiring of Hedge Fund Manager Creates Instant Leading Contender for Warren Buffett's Investment Role

By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett
Getty Images
Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway revealed tonight (Monday) that Todd Combs, a 39-year-old hedge fund manager from Connecticut, will "soon be joining Berkshire as an investment manager."

That instantly launches the relatively unknown investor into the spotlight as a leading contender to eventually succeed Buffett as manager, or one of the managers, of Berkshire's vast portfolio.

He's not, however, the only candidate. In July, Charlie Munger told the Wall Street Journal that it was a "foregone conclusion" Chinese investor Li Lu would become one of Berkshire's top decision makers on investments.
In a news release, Buffett is quoted as saying, "For three years Charlie Munger and I have been looking for someone of Todd’s caliber to handle a significant portion of Berkshire’s investment portfolio. We are delighted that Todd will be joining us."
The release says Combs has been managing Castle Point Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut, for the past five years.
Fortune's Carol Loomis, Buffett's friend and editor of his annual letter to shareholders, writes tonight that Buffett met Combs through Munger, who thought Combs would fit in well at Berkshire.
Loomis reports:
Buffett described Combs as an "all-American type" who is not the least bit interested in publicity, an attitude unlikely to shield him from it. Now a resident of Darien, Conn., Combs is by birth a Floridian who graduated in 1993 from Florida State University with majors in finance and multinational business operations.
Buffett also tells Loomis that Combs' investment record during the financial crisis was "pretty good" and Loomis calls his hiring a clear indication Buffett is satisfied with Combs' performance.

According to Loomis, Combs will continue to work out of Connecticut and won't be moving to Omaha.
Combs' Castle Point is described as a long/short hedge fund that takes positions in financial services companies. It began full-scale investing in late 2007, the same year Buffett began his search. 

Loomis says it would have "met immediate disaster" during the financial crisis if it had only gone long on financials, but was "apparently saved" by its short positions.

She also notes that Combs "ducked all the most famous disasters," by not going long on AIG, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

That, she writes, is consistent with Buffett's stated intention in his 2007 letter to hire someone who is "genetically programmed to recognize and avoid risk, including those never before encountered."

In its most recent 13-F filing with the SEC, Castle Point lists U.S. Bancorp ($22.8 million), Mastercard ($20.4 million), and State Street ($19.0 million) as its three largest long positions as of June 30. Berkshire also reports holding U.S. Bancorp stock. Its 69 million shares, as of June 30, would have a current market value of $1.6 billion.

Berkshire Portfolio
It is important to note that today's announcement does not signal Combs will automatically become the "next" Warren Buffett and eventually run all of Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett has said for some time now that when he's no longer running Berkshire, his duties will be split among a new CEO, who would oversee the operating businesses, and one or more investment chiefs.

Loomis notes that the hiring of Combs "at least partially satisfies" Buffett's 2007 plan to "hire a younger man or woman with the potential to manage a very large portfolio, who we hope will succeed me as Berkshire’s chief investment officer when the need for someone to do that arises."

He noted at the time that "as part of the selection process, we may in fact take on several candidates."
Longtime Buffett-watcher Whitney Tilson says in an email tonight that given Berkshire's many "enormously successful" investments in financials, "and the likelihood that there will be more busts/panics in this sector over time (human nature never changes) – it makes sense to have a specialist in this area be one of the investment managers going forward."

Tilson speculates that with Li Lu concentrating on Asia and China, and Combs focused on financials, Berkshire could name another investment manager, perhaps with a background in consumer products and retail.

Current stock prices:
Berkshire Class B: [BRK.B 83.33 --- UNCH (0) ]
Berkshire Class A: [BRK.A 125030.0 --- UNCH (0) ]

Iraq Court Sentences Tariq Aziz to Death

Tariq Aziz
BAGHDAD — Tariq Aziz, a former top aide to Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on Tuesday for crimes against members of rival Shiite political parties.

The ruling was the latest in a series of criminal cases against Mr. Aziz, 74, whose frequent media appearances and travels abroad made him the bespectacled face of Mr. Hussein’s regime. For years, Mr. Aziz served as a staunch and public defender of Mr. Hussein before the American-led invasion of 2003.

Because Mr. Hussein rarely left Iraq out of fears about his safety, Mr. Aziz represented Iraq in the diplomatic world. He surrendered to American forces shortly after the invasion, aware that, for Americans, he was among Iraq’s most hunted officials and one of the best known emblems of the Saddam Hussein era.

Mr. Aziz’s death sentence stemmed from charges of persecution against members of the religious Shiite Dawa Party, which counts Iraq’s current prime minister, Nuri Kamal-al Maliki, among its members.

It was unclear when Mr. Aziz would be executed.

One of Mr. Aziz’s lawyers, Badea Araf Azzit, said he was considering whether to appeal. He dismissed the sentence as a ploy aimed at distracting attention from Iraq’s political stalemate and the recent publication of a trove of American war records that described widespread prisoner abuse by Iraqi guards and security forces.

“It is a political judgment,” Mr. Azzit said.

Mr. Aziz’s lawyers have long claimed he was only responsible for Iraq’s diplomatic and political relations, and had no ties to the executions and purges carried out by Mr. Hussein’s Baathist government. Mr. Hussein was himself hanged in 2006, less than two months after his death sentence was handed down.

Mr. Aziz’s lawyer said he remained in poor health. In January, the American military said in a statement that he suffered a blood clot in the brain. He was taken to an American military hospital north of Baghdad for treatment.

In March 2009, Mr. Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity, but he was acquitted earlier that year on charges of ordering a 1999 crackdown against Shiite protesters after a revered Shiite cleric was assassinated.

He is also serving a seven-year prison sentence for a case involving the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he predicted he would die in prison, citing his old age and lengthy prison sentences.

Death sentences were also handed down on Tuesday against other former officials in Mr. Hussein’s government including Abed Hammoud, a former secretary to Mr. Hussein, and former Interior Minister Sadoon Shaker.

Under Mr. Hussein, Mr. Aziz cultivated a reputation as a cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking, worldly diplomat who used his official posts to justify the invasion of Kuwait, the efforts to obscure Mr. Hussein’s weapons program, the mass killings of Kurds and Shiites in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and the use of chemical weapons at the Kurdish town of Halabja, among other things.

Only weeks before the American-led invasion in 2003, he had an audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, one of dozens of encounters with world leaders.

When he surrendered to American troops in his hometown, Mosul, in northern Iraq, he apparently did so for his own safety in the face of mobs hunting down officials of the ousted government.

He was No. 43, and the eight of spades, on the Pentagon’s ”pack of cards” listing the 55 most wanted officials of Mr. Hussein’s government. American officials said that, after his surrender, Mr. Aziz offered to testify against Mr. Hussein on the condition that he be released early, a proposition eventually rejected by an Iraqi court and its American advisers.

Source: The New York Times, October 26, 2010

Michele Kalina Kept Murdered Babies In Closet Po

Posted by Sierra on October 26th, 2010 at 12:30 pm
michele kalina 27c625d0565a82d3 370x278 300x225 Michele Kalina 
Kept Murdered Babies In Closet
Nurse's aide Michele Kalina has been charged with murdering five of her own newborn babies.

A Pennsylvania nurse’s aide, Michele Kalina, has been arrested for murder after her husband and daughter found the bones of five newborn babies hidden in her closet.

Kalina is believed to have conceived the babies through an affair with a man who knew nothing of the pregnancies.

Resorting to murder as a means of birth control seems so unimaginably awful you’d think this case would be unique, but it’s chillingly like a recent one in France. There, another nurse’s aide, Dominique Cottrez, is alleged to have killed 8 newborn babies and buried them in her backyard.

These cases are so similar, and so awful, that it’s impossible not to wonder what connects them. There have been several cases of multiple infanticides in Europe in the past few years: a woman in Germany murdered 8 of her newborns and buried them in her parents yard; another French woman killed 3 of her own babies.
Not only is this kind of serial infanticide unthinkable to me, I’m in shock just imagining being pregnant 5, 6 or 8 times. And hiding all those pregnancies from everyone I knew and loved. And giving birth, multiple times, alone, in secret. These women must have suffered incredibly, in the process of committing these grotesque crimes.

One theory about serial infanticide points to “pregnancy denial”: a woman may refuse to acknowledge she is pregnant, and then kill her baby in a panic when she’s given birth and can no longer deny it. But to do so five or six or eight times? Surely that is a whole other level of madness.

Is there some unrecognized and blessedly rare mental illness that causes women to serially murder their own newborns?

As a psychologist commenting on the Cottrez case told MSNBC:
Even if we don’t know enough to put a label on it, I cannot imagine this occurring over and over again if this woman’s mental faculties were not impaired to some degree. Whether she is psychotic or an abuse survivor, or whatever, certain psychological factors contributed to these incidents occurring over and over again.
The Kalina case mirrors the Cottrez case to a truly frightening degree: both women were nurse’s aides, both were in their mid-40s when they were caught, both had two children they raised (though Kalina’s son died ten years ago).
What happened to these women? Were there warning signs their families could have watched for years earlier?

Peter Bossman becomes Eastern Europe's first black mayor

Peter Bossman and some of his supporters celebrate his victory in the Slovenian Adriatic town of Piran yesterday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
A Ghana-born doctor nicknamed "the Obama of Piran" became the first black mayor in eastern Europe yesterday after he was elected in Piran, south-western Slovenia.

Peter Bossman, 54, said he was "happy and proud" to have been elected to the post after winning a second round runoff in the town with just over half the votes.

Bossman settled in Slovenia, then still part of Yugoslavia, in the 1970s after arriving in the country to study medicine. He decided to stay after marrying a fellow student from Croatia.

Speaking about his campaign, in which he said he would introduce electric cars to the town, Bossman said: "I based my campaign on a dialogue, and I think the dialogue has won."

But Bossman was criticised during the campaign for not speaking fluent Slovene, the country's official language, prompting him to say in an interview with Delo, one of Slovenia's leading newspapers, that a friend and professor of Slovenian had "offered to give me additional lessons".

However the new mayor, who runs his own private medical practice and is a member of Slovenia's governing centre-left Social Democrat party, said he had not suffered racial discrimination.

"In the first months after coming to Slovenia I felt that some people did not want to be with us [African immigrants]. But for the last 10 or 15 years … I have no problems at all and I think people no longer see the colour of my skin when they look at me," he said.

Slovenia has a population of around 2 million, the majority of whom are native Slovene, and immigration is more common from ex-Yugoslavian countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. There are very few black people living there. The town of Piran, which lies on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea, has a population of around 17,000.

Vlado Miheljak, a political analyst, said the vote in Piran was a test of whether Slovenia was "mature enough to elect a non-white political representative."

Dollar Decline and Paper “Prosperity”

By Bill Wilson
The Bretton Woods monetary system, which was established after World War II and solidified the U.S. dollar’s place as the world’s reserve currency, is collapsing before our eyes. That’s too bad, because that status may be one of the last assets the American people have left in the global economy.

For the past 65 years, that status has guaranteed a greater demand for dollars worldwide since it can be used in most transactions. This has resulted in commodities priced in dollars, generated for a larger flow of capital back to the U.S., and allowed the nation to borrow at low interest rates.

The premise for the dollar’s special status was two-fold. The first was military supremacy and the wide protection offered by courageous U.S. forces abroad. For other nations this has meant having a strong ally against potential invaders, but also protected trade routes, and access to wide markets and first class technology. By and large, the U.S. has kept up this part of the bargain.
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Will Juan Williams take down public broadcasting?

By Rebekah Rast
The Juan Williams firing by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has given budget hawks an answer to the most pressing budget question that they have faced in this election cycle, “What are you going to cut?”

The answer is being provided by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who has legislation before Congress that would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a first mini-step toward slimming down America’s $13.6 trillion debt.

In an exclusive interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG), Rep. Lamborn discussed the outlook of his legislation to defund CPB and how the American people can get involved and stop their hard-earned tax dollars from being spent on unnecessary government-sponsored programs.
Get full story here.

Warren Harding: Do We Need Him Today?

By David Bozeman
Yes, that Warren Harding. November 2nd marks the birthday of the historians’ perennial choice for the worst president ever. Tea Partiers are embracing the folksy, budget-cutting Calvin Coolidge, who assumed office upon Harding’s death in 1923, but only a few prominent conservatives have dared to try reviving the legacy of our 29th president, tainted forever with the stench of Teapot Dome and other scandals, along with all-night poker and sexual debauchery.

His reputation as a failure is so ingrained in our collective memory that detailing a rebuttal of his supposedly sleazy tenure is clearly not possible in this tiny space. Suffice it to say, the scandalous dealings of his Interior and Veteran’s Affairs secretaries reflect his poor judgment, and his moral shortcomings are as emblematic of the 1920’s as flappers and bootleg gin. But the worst president ever?

Proof that the Harding name can’t get a break is that his wife Florence is generally considered the worst of all first ladies. In a just world, this strong, trail-blazing patriot (an advocate for veterans, she referred to them as her “boys”) would be extolled as a role model and forerunner of such activist presidential wives as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton. But the die was cast shortly after the president’s death, and later generations accepted as gospel the proclamations of the historians.
Get full story here.

T.I.’s drug case has been magically dropped!

T.I. was recently sentenced to 11 months in prison for violating his probation, but in a legalistic irony, the drug case that got him in trouble has been dropped.
T.I. and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, were arrested Sept. 1 in L.A. after police said they smelled marijuana coming from their car during a traffic stop. According to papers filed today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney is no longer pursuing charges against T.I., specifically because an Atlanta judge has already ordered him back to prison. The District Attorney’s office declined to comment on reports suggesting that there may have been additional issues with the evidence against T.I.
“The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office’s decision to reject T.I.’s case was the right thing to do under the circumstances,” said lead defense attorney Steve Sadow in a statement provided to EW. “Both his Los Angeles defense attorney Blair Berk and myself commend the LADAO for exercising its discretion to reject prosecution in light of the legal and factual issues involved.”
Magic works when you’re a celeb…..

Michael Bloomberg: Now That I've Had Three Terms, Let's Go Back To Two Only

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that it's time to go back to the old two-term limit. In 2008 Bloomberg backed changing the law which enabled his current third term. The New York Times blasts:
It was the latest installment in the story of Mr. Bloomberg’s ever-evolving relationship with term limits. An outspoken supporter of two terms, he once called Council members who proposed extending them “disgraceful.” Then, as his own time in office wound down, he reversed himself and advocated for three terms, saying they offered voters greater choice. “You can make that case for two terms or three terms,” he said at the time. “In this case, after listening to everybody, I’ve been convinced that three terms is right.” Now he seems to have settled on something of a compromise: three terms for him, and only him. Mayoral allies pointed out that Mr. Bloomberg had kept his word by bringing the issue back to voters, who originally passed the two-term limit in a 1993 referendum, only to watch it be dismantled by the mayor and the Council.
Bloomberg's expected successor in 2008 was openly lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who backed the three-term change, saying Bloomberg's leadership was needed during the Wall Street meltdown. But ten days before the November 2009 election, Quinn endorsed City Controller Bill Thompson, who ended up losing to Bloomberg by a mere four points. Quinn will doubtlessly run for mayor in 2013, but faces strong opposition by a faction of the LGBT community, some of whom show up to protest many of Quinn's public appearances.
posted by Joe


News Release
For Immediate Release—October 26, 2010
Contact:  Daryl M. Brooks at daryl@liberist.com   


Trenton, NJ—Daryl M. Brooks, Co-Founder of the Greater Trenton Tea Party and long time community activist, called the newly released voter fraud video implicating officials at NJEA at being complicit in a voter fraud cover-up as being most disturbing.  We must get to the bottom of this and I will be bringing this video along with yesterday’s released video to the New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow so an immediate investigation can begin into the practices of the NJEA.  Brooks made these new demands in light of the just released voter fraud video posted at www.liberist.com

"NJEA’s close association with the Democratic Party has long been known but this is worse than even I imagined.”  Brooks continued, "When you think of voter fraud, you think of people voting twice, or people using the name of a deceased voter.  This is wholesale abuse of democracy itself."

"We cannot allow yesterday’s allegations to fade either.  I will continue to demand from NJEA officials the name of the teacher involved, and call for their immediate suspension until a full investigation into this incident and other similar incidents are explained.  It is absurd to think a teacher could be allowed to make such disgusting remarks and continue to remain in the classroom, and do so with immunity just because they are tenured.  I will be calling for a protest in front of NJEA headquarters next week if my demands are not met.", added Brooks.

James O’Keefe responsible for the producing the newest video concluded, “Don’t crucify the messenger, examine the message.  These are serious allegations and must be looked into.  Free and clean elections are at the very cornerstone of our Democracy and everything must be done to insure nothing interferes with it.  The public must have confidence in the electoral process and this cuts to the very core of that confidence.  I hope the NJEA works with me in putting light on these allegations, so the public can be assured these practices do not continue to exist.”