These Stories Are Shaping The Future

An instant reflection of what the world is talking about at any given moment.



Can Organized Labor Climb Over Its Biggest Obstacle?






Perry Attack Backfires.. While Bachmann Tumbles.. Pizza Man: Peace Out







National Rodeo Competition Las Vegas

Will Lowe, of Canyon, Texas, rides in the bareback competition












… Then He Moved In Next Door






‘Johnny Depp Will Burn In Hell,’ Christian Group Says

 'Johnny Depp Will Burn In Hell,' Christian Group Says














SWAT Raids, Stun Guns, And Pepper Spray:
America’s Governments Adopting Increasingly Militaristic Tactics






Herman Cain Suspends Presidential Campaign






Photo  on the personal effects left behind by Occupy L.A. protesters on the lawn surrounding City Hall after the Los Angeles Police Department shut down what was the nation’s largest remaining Occupy camp.




Santa Ana winds wreak havoc across Southern California








The Legend of Elizabeth Taylor

A collection of dresses owned by Elizabeth Taylor

A collection of dresses owned by star of the silver screen Elizabeth Taylor are on display ahead of an auction at Christie’s in New York later in the month.






Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely, White House Threatens Veto

Military Detention











Gays in the Military Aren’t So Bad


Gen. James F. Amos, the head of the U.S. Marines who wasn’t too thrilled with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being repealed in September, is thrilled today with how the lift on the ban of gays in the military has gone so far.




Fed Bank Bailout Was Way Bigger Than Anyone Thought

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.







Cops Focus On Drug Arrests At The Expense Of More Serious Crimes








Turkey and Laughter and Love





Cookies in the shape of singer Lady Gaga go on display inside Gaga’s Workshop at Barneys department store in New York. The shop is teaming up with the flamboyant pop singer for a Christmas holiday campaign with her interpretation of Santa’s Workshop.

Lady Gaga shaped cookies







The Rise And Fall of Hope









Google Takes Aim At iTunes With New Music Store
SIDE BY SIDE: Google Music vs. iTunes vs. Amazon MP3











Cops Evict Zuccotti Protesters.. Demonstrator: ‘We’ll Survive This’

LATEST: Judge Says Protesters Can Return To Zuccotti With Tents
Bloomberg: Occupation Became Public Safety Threat.. WATCH: Police Clash







Obama: U.S. will consult China, Russia on Iran

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011.
photo: AP / Charles Dharapak






Toy Lego characters join the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park, New York.


Toy Lego characters, holding signs in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, are seen on a table in Zuccotti Park, New York




Heavyweight Champ Joe Frazier Dies

Joe Frazier


Former boxing champion Joe Frazier passed away late Monday at age 67. The heavyweight champion, who battled in the ring with Muhammed Ali three times and was the first to beat him, suffered from liver cancer.






Camp Pendleton honors Marines killed in Afghanistan

Pendleton Marines remember fallen camrades






Breeders’ Cup campaign feeds horse trainer’s lifelong passion

A lifelong passion

November 3, 2011

Bill Spawr gets to the racetrack way before the crack of dawn and could be in line for a big career highlight if 5-year-old gelding Amazombie wins the sprint race at the Breeders’ Cup this weekend





Rise In Extreme Poverty Leaves Millions Stranded






U.S. Plans Major Post-Iraq Troop Buildup In Persian Gulf






Pentagon: Afghanistan Strategy ‘Risky’.. Afghan Civilians Dying In Record Numbers.. Summer IED Attacks Reach All-Time High





Romney, Perry Character Contest Dominates GOP 2012 Race




Generations After The Great Migration, Many Blacks Return To Southern Roots







The Electric Daisy Carnival



The Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day rave in Las Vegas this weekend,  was expected to draw more than 70,000 people each night. The annual music festival previously took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where last summer a 15-year-old girl attending the festival died, spurring scrutiny of the event. The company that produces the festival, Insomniac Productions, subsequently moved the event to Las Vegas. The Electric Daisy Carnival, spread across five stages at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, features electronic dance music and  performance artists





U.S. Incomes Declined More During Recovery Than In Recession






‘Remembering That You Are Going To Die Is The Best Way I Know To Avoid The Trap Of Thinking You Have Something To Lose’











Staggering Number Of Youngest Children Live In Poverty













Obama Proposes Tax Increases On Wealthy & Corporations In $3 Trillion Debt Plan








How The Housing Bust Could Hurt College Attendance

Household Wealth Falls In Spring For First Time In Year



U.S. To Spend Billions Retreating To Mother Of All Embassies In Iraq




Iraq: The War Is Not Over In Country’s South

Iraq War Over

America, Aug. 29, 2011 photo, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Trevor Hall, 28, walks through the village of Bani Hashem, Iraq after a group of American troops handed out water and toys.











Click here to find out more!

Record 46.2 million Americans live in poverty, Census Bureau says

September 13, 2011

High joblessness and the weak economic recovery pushed the ranks of the poor in the U.S. to 46.2 million in 2010 — the fourth straight increase and the largest number of people living in poverty since record-keeping began 52 years ago, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The share of all people in the U.S. who fell below the poverty line rose to 15.1% last year from 14.3% in 2009. That matched the poverty rate reached in 1993 before falling steadily to 11.3% in 2000. Since then the poverty rate has risen, accelerating after the recession began in late 2007, and is now approaching levels not seen since Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty in 1965.

Last year the share of children under 18 living in poverty jumped to 22%, from 20.7% the previous year.

The Census Bureau’s report also showed an increase in the number of people without healthcare coverage rose to 49.9 million last year from 49 million in 2009, though the percentage of uninsured was statistically unchanged. And there was a further erosion of incomes at the middle of the middle class.

Inflation-adjusted median household income in the U.S. fell 2.3% in 2010 from a year ago, to $49,445.

Taken together, the data all point to the severe and widespread financial strains of a nation in the throes of an economic crisis. And the report, coming shortly after President Obama’s proposed package of $447 billion in tax cuts and spending to revive job growth and the recovery, is almost certain to intensify the debate over the government’s role in helping the poor and unemployed at a time of budget deficits and painful cutbacks in public services. Extended federal unemployment benefits, for example, helped some people rise above the poverty line.

Analysts had widely expected the poverty rate for last year to edge higher, given that the nation’s unemployment rate averaged 9.6% in 2010 compared with 9.3% the previous year. The latest jobless figure, for August, was 9.1%.

By the Census Bureau’s latest measure, the poverty threshold last year was an income of $11,139 for one person and $22,314 for a family of four.

The government’s official poverty rate doesn’t count food-stamp benefits and low-income tax credits as income. If those programs, which totaled about $150 billion last year, were included, many more people would have been counted as being above the poverty line.

At the same time, analysts say other factors understate the real level of poverty in the U.S. Many more young adults have stayed or moved back home because they can’t find jobs, and others have doubled up with friends and relatives. Moreover, experts agree that the poverty thresholds, designed in the early 1960s, doesn’t capture people’s spending and living needs in today’s economy.





Led By For-Profit Colleges, Student Loan Defaults Jump







Obama: ‘No Matter What Comes Our Way, We Will Carry On’.. Bush And Obama Stand Together At Ground Zero.. Ceremonies Around The World.. Arianna: ‘An Entire Nation Remembers’







‘Cyber 9/11’: The Risks, The Hype, The Reality
















Hurricane Irene among the costliest catastrophes in the U.S.

Hurricane Irene among the costliest catastrophes in the U.S.
photo: US Army / Rick Breitenfeldt
Hurricane Irene will most likely prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation’s history, but analysts warned that much of the damage might not be covered by insurance because so much of it was caused not by winds but by flooding, which is excluded from many standard policies. Industry estimates put the cost of the storm at $7 to 10 Billion







Long-Term Unemployed Losing Hold On Middle Class






Expanding to Los Angeles, the Affordable Art Fair Hopes to Woo a New Pool of Budget-Conscious Buyers

The Affordable Art Fair was a big hit in New York City, Spring 2011.






East Coast Bracing For Hurricane.. States Declare Emergencies












Charitable Groups Under Fire For Broken Promises











Youngest U.S. Troops Bore Heaviest Toll In Iraq War

















Critics Question Competency Of Nuclear Agency Watchdog






Hacker Group Anonymous Promises To ‘Kill’ Facebook Over Privacy

Anonymous Operation Facebook






At DefCon, Even The Hackers Get Hacked











Congresswoman Casts Debt Vote Seven Months After Shooting





The Scandal Just Keeps Spreading…





As Layoffs Hit Wall Street, Lowest-Paid Workers Lose Jobs












The US love affair with drones

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle with the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron taxies toward a parking ramp on Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Nov. 20, 2008, following a mission.
photo: USAF file / Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson
One of the pleasures of traveling through the developing world is that things develop. They change. There’s always something new. Afghanistan is, depending on one’s point of view, developing, deteriorating, or doing both at once. Example: Last August found me and two fellow Americans in a hired taxi zooming past bombed-out fuel trucks through…



A Libertarian Foreign Policy?

TheDC Interview: Reason editors Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch discuss America’s role in the world




And Your  Favorite











Then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger makes the announcement that money had been raised to purchase and protect the land around the Hollywood sign in April, 2010. The former governor will return to the big screen in ‘The Last Stand.’ (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

Arnold Scwarzenegger returns to the big screen in ‘The Last Stand’


Arnold Schwarzenegger will test his post-marital scandal popularity by starring in director Ji-Woon Kim’s western action film ‘The Last Stand.’ ‘The Last Stand’ will feature Schwarzenegger as an aging U.S. sheriff.








Space Shuttle Program Draws To A Close As NASA Launches Final Flight

A LOOK BACK: The Most Historic Images.. Scenes From Atlantis’ Final Launch.. PHOTOS: 30 Years Of The Space Shuttle.. Inside NASA’s Secret Beach House


The space shuttle Atlantis has blasted off on its final mission on Friday, ending the 30-year-old US space shuttle programme with a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.





Hashing It Out

White House uses Twitter to bully critics as part of more aggressive rapid response tone






The Last Godfather


Whitey Bulger Arrested

AP Photo

In sunny Santa Monica, California, just a few blocks from the glistening Pacific Ocean, Whitey Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, had seemingly found their Shangri-La. Under the assumed names of Charles and Carol Gasko, they strolled the beach and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica like any number of mature couples who had left the urban hustle of their native cities behind to retire to the gentle climes of Southern California.







SIPA-Getty Images

Welfare for Dictators

A NEWSWEEK investigation reveals how Pentagon billions are flowing to strongmen in the Middle East.






‘Obama Has Simply Not Made The Case For Action’




It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

With 14 million Americans still out of work, in this week’s Newsweek the 42nd president offers more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis—from painting roofs white to offering cash incentives and cutting corporate taxes.

June 19, 2011

In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned with the motto “It’s the economy, stupid,” promising to bring the country out of a recession. He delivered, and presided over years of growth. Now the 42nd president has some ideas about how to bring America out of its current slump. They range from the large-scale (giving tax credits to manufacturing startups, getting U.S. corporations to invest in a second stimulus) to the small (retrofitting buildings to be more energy-efficient and painting rooftops white). Next week, Clinton’s organization, the Clinton Global Initiative, will turn its attention to the U.S. for the first time, unveiling a blueprint for job creation. In this week’s Newsweek are 14 of his ideas.

Clinton’s Economic Ideas

Bill Clinton


D.C. Flag Tattoo Day: Show off your city pride

Marcia Vottero, a bike messenger, sports a tattoo above her ankle that’s a version of the Distric flag. (BILL O’LEARY – TWP)

Some District of Columbia residents are so passionate about the city, they sport tattoos of its flag.

On Tuesday, they’ll gather at Dupont Circle at 6 p.m. to show off their ink and make the case for district voting rights in Congress.

Tuesday is Flag Day, and the Washington event is called D.C. Flag Tattoo Day. It’s billed as the largest-ever gathering of people with D.C. flag tattoos. Organizers claim thousands of people sport the two bars and three stars of Washington’s flag on their bodies. District of Columbia Shadow Representative Mike Panetta and former D.C. Council candidate Bryan Weaver recently got flag tattoos.

Flag tattoos reportedly got their start in the district’s punk music scene, but they’ve become more of a political statement in recent years.

Mark Cuban will pay for your $110,000 bar tab. And your parade

By Kelly Dwyer

Mark Cuban will pay for your $110,000 bar tab. And your parade

In the Dallas Mavericks‘ NBA Finals after party, team owner Mark Cuban bought a bottle of champagne for his team, and then left a 22 percent tip. We also should point out that the bottle was nearly half the size of the 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki(notes), it cost $90,000, and his tip was $20,000. The New York Post reports that this made up the entirety of his tab for the night, but we suspect Cuban bought more than that.

From the Post:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spent $110,000 in four hours celebrating at club Liv at Miami’s Fontainebleau after his Mavs beat the Heat to take the NBA Championship. Cuban spent most of it on a $90,000 bottle of Ace of Spades Champagne for teammates Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry(notes), Brian Cardinal(notes) and Shawn Marion(notes). After partying with the trophy until 5 a.m. yesterday and taking in a performance by Lil Wayne, Cuban left a $20,000 tip for the wait staff. “Worth every penny,” he cheerily told us via e-mail.

You can tell the measure of a man, or woman, by how well they tip. There are ridiculous and pointless unwritten rules about tipping that make the whole exercise frustrating to some who don’t understand the practice, but at its core it shows a sincere understanding for what other people have to do at their jobs. Which is sort of the point of empathy.

Oh, and you can also tell the measure of a man’s bank account by their ability to finance a parade, which is what Mark Cuban is doing for Dallas sometime this week:

Cuban repeated Monday that he will personally pay for the celebration. Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway says the city is in a budget crunch but still plans a parade, with details to be announced later.

According to Forbes, Cuban is ranked 459th on the “World’s Richest People” list, with a net worth of $2.5 billion, so while he can’t grab the check like this every day, this month’s fun has been well within his means.

No word on the rumor that Cuban then returned home to make a delicately prepared club sandwich from the comfort of his kitchen, because “we had to use the rest of that turkey up, before it went bad.” Before jetting off to the Cayman Islands to kibitz with Lorne Michaels and Alec Baldwin.








It is a stunning image and one that is bound to be reproduced over and over again whenever they recall the history of the US space shuttle.




Mad as Hell

As unemployment hits 9.1 percent, Americans are losing their cool. A Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds rising anger levels affecting everything from work to sex drive.











John Edwards Indicted: Charged With Conspiracy, Campaign Finance Violations By Federal Grand Jury




Honoring Memorial Day


Memorial Day in the Nation's Capital

Memorial Day in the Nation’s Capital
A shrine dedicated to the POW/MIA soldiers of the Vietnam and Korean Wars sits with a backdrop of an American flag on the mall, May 25, 1998. The shrine was constructed by the Massachusetts Vigil Society for Memorial Day. UPI ms/Michael Smith












A Divine Calling?




142 Dead And 44 Still Missing Joplin Mo.


These were the devastating scenes in the Missouri city of Joplin today after a tornado reduced it to rubble, ripping buildings apart and killing at least 142 people after it tore a six-mile path of destruction. Rescuers warned that the death toll could climb higher as heavy winds, strong rain and quarter-sized hail stones forced teams to halt the search effort. It was the worst single tornado to hit America since a twister hit Worcester, Massachusetts in 1953.

Scores killed as tornadoes batter Midwest

Scores killed as tornadoes batter Midwest
People have been confirmed dead in the city of Joplin, in south-west Missouri, after a massive storm system spawned tornadoes across the Midwest.
By News Wires (text)

Schwarzenegger says he’s putting Hollywood comeback on hold

Days afer acknowledging that he fathered a child outside of marriage, the former governor says he’ll be devoting time to his personal life, according to his entertainment advisors.

No green light for now

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured in April at his Santa Monica office, holds pages from “The Governator,” an animated children’s series that is now on hold — along with other projects — after he acknowledged fathering a child with a member of his household staff. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)




Tracking Inflation: How Fast Are Prices Really Rising

Fringe Players




Democrats Class Warfare

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

What’s all this talk about “shared sacrifice”? New Daily Beast columnist Michael Medved says the GOP needs to blow the whistle on rhetoric that’s merely an excuse for more big government.



Pakistan Hints China Wants a Peek at Secret Helicopter






America’s Middle Class Crisis: The Sobering Facts

Two recessions, a couple of market crashes, and stubbornly high unemployment are all wreaking havoc on America’s middle class.

In the accompanying interview, The Daily Ticker’s Aaron Task discusses the state of the middle class with Sherle Schwenninger, director of economic growth and American strategy programs at the New America Foundation. Schwenninger’s recent report “The American Middle Class Under Stress” has some stunning facts that highlight the struggles the average American is having getting a decent-paying job and keeping up with rising cost of living.

Party In The Streets

Thousands rally in front of White House to celebrate news of bin Laden’s death






Soaring Costs Mean Tough Economic Choices




Ron Paul Launches Presidential Campaign


Chet Susslin

Rep. Ron Paul’s long-held advocacy of smaller government and less taxes has made him a tea party hero.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, whose outspoken libertarian views and folksy style made him a cult hero during two previous presidential campaigns, will announce on Tuesday that he’s going to try a third time.

Sources close to Paul, who is in his 12th term in the House, said he will unveil an exploratory presidential committee, a key step in gearing up for a White House race. He will also unveil the campaign’s leadership team in Iowa, where the first votes of the presidential election will be cast in caucuses next year.

Meet the GOP’s Potential Candidates

Paul, 75, ran as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, finishing with less than one half a percent of the vote. After more than a decade as a Republican congressman, Paul gave it another shot in the 2008 presidential election, gaining attention for being the only Republican candidate calling for the end to the war in Iraq and for his “money bomb” fundraising strategy, which brought in millions of dollars from online donors in single-day pushes.

Paul took 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and 8 percent in New Hampshire’s primary. He finished second, with 14 percent of the vote, in the Nevada caucuses, and eventually finished fourth in the Republican nominating process with 5.6 percent of the total vote. Paul’s campaign book, The Revolution: A Manifesto also reached No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list in 2008.

This would seem to be an ideal year for Paul: Since the last election, the Republican Party has moved much closer to his view on deficit reduction, which made him an early tea party favorite. All of the party’s top-tier presidential hopefuls are focusing on lowering debt, government spending, and tax rates, issues Paul has long advocated.










Peter Cottontail was originally conceived in 1914 by children’s story writer Thornton W. Burgess. But Thornton’s adventuresome bunny really rose to fame in 1949, when Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote the catchy tune, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” In 1971, Thornton co-wrote a TV special of the same name, based on a 1957 book entitled The Easter Bunny That Overslept. In 2005, the show was made into a far less memorable movie sequel.

Romney’s Countdown

297 Days to New Hampshire Primary



St. Louis Airport Closes Indefinitely After Tornado Rips Through Busiest Terminal

April 22: Storm damage is seen next to a parking garage outside terminal one at St. Louis International Airport in St. Louis. Several people at Lambert Airport in St. Louis were injured Friday after an apparent tornado touched down, spewing debris over the airfield, bursting glass in the concourse and damaging cars atop a parking garage. (AP)April 22: Storm damage is seen next to a parking garage outside terminal one at St. Louis International Airport in St. Louis. Several people at Lambert Airport in St. Louis were injured Friday after an apparent tornado touched down, spewing debris over the airfield, bursting glass in the concourse and damaging cars atop a parking garage. (AP)

April 23, 2011Sat, 23 Apr 2011 04:00:00 GMT11:04 PM EST

The international airport in St. Louis closed indefinitely Saturday after a tornado swept through a terminal, injuring several people.



It is not clear who is benefiting more – the tabloids that profit from giving the sordid details or offering photos that show the train wreck that Sheen’s life has become, or perhaps Sheen himself who is having the last laugh with tweets worth millions and lucrative merchandising contracts.

In any case, Chuckles (as he’s been nicknamed by the American press, comparing him to a famous clown from a 1970s sitcom), is raking in the dough. And everyone is having fun, pretending to forget that Charlie Sheen is most likely not just crazy and a cokehead (these two things could be related) also has a long history with domestic violence. Definitely someone to have a few laughs with, right?

It would be interesting to know if he will be making a profit off of the upcoming comic book that shows him looking incredibly young (not even in the Platoon era did he look like this), to be written by Mark Shapiro. A comic book that promises not to sugarcoat any of his exploits and will obviously focus on his most recent trials and tribulations. Having been fired from Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen is now forced to reinvent himself; his own madness could be his all-time best role.


It was surely only a matter of time before Hollywood’s biggest studios set their eyes on the world’s most famous hacker-activist’s incredible story. There you have it: Steven Spielberg has secured the rights to WIKILEAKS: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, the book authored for PublicAffairs by David Leigh and Luke Hardin, two journalists of the British Guardian –media partner, together with the New York Times and Der Spiegel, of the revelations from the highly confidential diplomatic cables.

In order to tap into a broader source of information, the American producer and film-director bought also the rights to Inside WikiLeaks penned by former executive, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Apparently Spielberg is planning to turn the books into a thriller along the lines of “All the President’s men” to be produced in association with DreamWorks, the company he founded about seventeen years ago with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.


Coachella With Sci-Fi Art: How Intel And David Lynch Infiltrated The Desert Music Festival

Posted: 04/20/11 06:59 AM ET


Looking back on this year’s edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — that three-day extravaganza in Indio, California, which drew to a close on Sunday — one will perhaps recall Kanye West, riding onstage on a mechanical arm and then bursting into tears during his rendition of “Hey Mama.” Or maybe one will recollect the seemingly infinite array of flowing knitwear, oversize sunglasses, and floppy hats sported by “High School Musical” sweetheart Vanessa Hudgens, who spent the weekend cavorting all over the Empire Polo Fields. But while the music and the various bright-eyed, vintage-sporting starlets have remained a constant feature of the festival over the years, one notable change for in the event could be found in the festival’s art offerings, which got a tech-savvy update thanks to Intel and Vice.


Chris Milk’s “Summer Into Dust” LED balloons during Arcade Fire’s Coachella set. / Courtesy AFP/Getty Images
While art at the desert affair is usually marked by a DIY, folksy aesthetic — with sculptures imported from Burning Man for the occasion — this year the technology giant teamed up with nefarious-activity-loving publication to deploy their Creators Project, showcasing artists and filmmakers who engage with digital technology. The result was a series of art installations around the festival grounds, as well as enlivening main-stage performances with light shows and futuristic effects courtesy of the U.K.’s United Visual Artists.





One Year Later, Congress Hasn’t Passed A Single Oil Spill Law



America’s Top Liars

James Stewart explains how Barry Bonds, Martha Stewart, and others built houses of deceit—and how America lost the truth.

books-OM04-vl Illustration by Gluekit; source photographs clockwise from top: Hiroko Masuike / Getty Images; Gerald Herbert / AP, Jeff Chiu / AP; Andrea Renault / PolarisClockwise from upper left: Bernie Madoff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Barry Bonds, and Martha Stewart.


Clad in a dark suit and purple tie, Barry Bonds walked out of a San Francisco courthouse last week, capping years of near-total seclusion. But although he may be cleared of perjury charges, the home-run king (and presumed steroidal hulk) shed no new light on the alleged lies he told a 2003 grand jury. For that, one has to turn to James Stewart’s Tangled Webs, which throws open the doors on the Bonds case and three other blockbuster trials—with previously secret testimony, exclusive interviews, and investigators’ notes. Stewart reports that Bonds told the grand jury why he refused to let his personal trainer and friend testify, yet never rewarded him for his loyalty. “I’m black,” he says, “and I’m keeping my money. And there’s not too many rich black people in the world … And if my friends can help me, I’ll use my friends.”

That’s not the only delectable line in Stewart’s epic. Through three decades, eight books, and countless articles, the gentleman scribe has made exposing liars the leitmotif of his career. Just don’t ask him to explain why. “It’s in the Ten Commandments!” he exclaimed recently over a plate of candied-almond pancakes. “Do you want to see what a society looks like where everyone lies? It’s horrendous! It’s corrupt!” It’s also America, at least as Stewart presents it, sounding the alarm on “a surge of concerted, deliberate lying” at all levels of society. When done under oath, it’s a felony punishable by up to five years in prison (downgraded from the old English preference for cutting out the liar’s tongue or making the offender stand with each ear nailed to the pillory).

What concerns Stewart the most isn’t the everyday street criminals who blinker cops but white-collar royalty, those at the pinnacle of media, politics, sports, and business, who are supposed to be role models, not rogues. Although there are no data on this clean-handed corruption, Stewart believes it’s on the rise, threatening to swamp the legal system, stymie the courts, and sow cynicism nationwide. Ultimately, he argues, “it undermines civilization itself.” That’s a grand statement. Limited to the kind of blockbuster cases that Stewart examines, however, it’s hard to deny its essential truth. Lying under oath is poisonous to a society rooted in fair play and rule of law. And when the most public of liars aren’t pursued and punished, more lying ensues, reducing the chance of any one person getting caught and encouraging still others to deceive.

Good thing, then, that we have Stewart to play The Ethicist, retrying Bonds but also Martha Stewart, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Bernie Madoff—and nailing some ears to the post. “Somebody has to,” says Stewart, elegantly dressed in jacket and tie. All of Stewart’s subjects have already been convicted of perjury (or a related crime), but what Stewart does is pinpoint the moment when each person parted ways with the truth. The results are startling. Media mogul Martha Stewart tried to shake insider-trading charges by destroying evidence in her assistant’s calendar and concocting a story with her equally culpable broker. Former Cheney adviser Libby created “a parallel universe,” complete with a fictitious conversation with the late Meet the Press host Tim Russert, to avoid admitting that he leaked the name of a CIA agent for political gain.

In the last chapter, Stewart rakes the case of multibillion-dollar fraudster Madoff, somehow finding new façades used to fool the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2004, for example, SEC investigators obtained emails from the top-flight hedge fund Renaissance Technologies that questioned Madoff’s stellar returns. When they confronted Madoff, he turned the conversation into story time, regaling the younger investigators with swashbuckling tales of Wall Street glory. When pushed, he explained his success in terms of “cooking a meal,” albeit one involving “a blender” and “carrots and oranges and a whole bunch of stuff.” Then, he got concrete: “Some guys have more guts than others,” he explained, and “some people feel the market.”

The SEC, to its credit, sensed only bull, and by 2006 it had evidence of Madoff ladling it out under oath. At the time, his scheme involved about $20 billion. When it collapsed two years later, it had tripled to $65 billion, a fact that leaves Stewart aghast at the SEC. “Failing to pursue [Madoff’s] lies cost innocent victims another $45 billion,” he writes.

But what can we really do about it? Stewart itemizes the contributing factors of perjury, including unscrupulous defense lawyers, overworked prosecutors, and a collective shrug from the culture at large. These days loyalty has replaced honesty as the highest virtue. But he acknowledges a still bigger problem with snuffing it out: people themselves. Lying seems to be an inherent part of human nature—something that we’re all capable of when pushed. Most people have never been tried the way Stewart’s subjects have been, never had to choose between what they perceive to be their careers or their friends, and the truth. Not even Stewart has been put to such a test—and he’s not so sure he’d pass. “One would like to think,” he confides, but “there for the grace of God go all of us.



Wall Street’s Loan Sharks Prey on Poor Neighborhoods

Three largest online poker sites indicted and shut down by FBI



The founders of the three largest online poker sites were indicted on Friday in what could serve as a death blow to a thriving industry.

Eleven executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and a number of their affiliates were charged with bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed in a Manhattan court. Two of the defendants were arrested on Friday morning in Utah and Nevada. Federal agents are searching for the others.

Prosecutors are seeking to immediately shut down the sites and to eventually send the executives to jail and to recover $3 billion from the companies. By Friday afternoon Full Tilt Poker’s site displayed a message explaining that “this domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. pursuant to an Arrest Warrant.”

The online gambling industry has taken off over the last decade, drawing an estimated 15 million Americans to bet online.

In 2006 Congress passed a law curtailing online gambling. Most of the leading sites found ways to work around the law, but prosecutors allege that in doing so they broke the law.

“These defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

Poker fans took to Twitter in droves, worried about the money in their online gaming accounts, fretting that online poker’s days were at an end.





Whats Going On with Gabby

Left: Charles Ommanney for Newsweek
Whats Going On with Gabby

Giffords is walking, talking, and wants to attend her husband’s space shuttle launch. But will she ever fully recover? In this week’s Newsweek, Peter J. Boyer has her untold story.




Final Hours

Boehner presses Obama, Reid to pass stopgap spending bill