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Urban Myths Legends and Hoaxes: Debunk Your Life

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The Martha Stewart Scandal: A Tempest in a Cuisinart...

Don't Save Kony, Help Bring Him To Justice!

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

The Martha Stewart Scandal, The Stock Market, and You

10 Years After Martha Stewart Was Prosecuted For a Tiny Stock transaction, Has Anything Really Changed?

Feb 28, 2012 -- Has anything changed since Martha Stewart was jailed for selling a few shares of stock? The answer is yes, due to massive deregulation, it is now much easier for those who want to engage in financial fraud to profit from their actions!

Just 10 years ago we made the comparison to the big scandals of the day, from Enron to Worldcom and other "major" scandals of the day that now pale by comparison to the massive financial losses which came after Martha Stewart was locked up to supposedly keep us safe from financial fraud.

The scale of the real estate collapse and the profiteering from it, and from the total deregulation of the banks, was not fully understood until late in 2008 when President Bush signed a trillion dollar check to Wall Street banks to allegedly save them and capitalism as we know it from total collapse.

The bailout was for the banker's widespread practice of making bad bets on real estate, derivatives, and other assets which the banks overvalued and sold off to the first availabe sucker. The bankers won, everyone else lost.

The truth is the banks knew their investments were bad, and the proof is that most if not all were betting on them to go bad. Ironically, this was and is still completely legal. Its not not legal for you or me to sell a product or service we know is bad, then turn around and profit from it, but for the banks that is perfectly legal. They call is capitalism, in reality is is crony-capitalism.

Which is why not a single CEO of any bank, or even any low level manager has been charged with a crime. Because on Wall Street, this type of crime is perfectly legal.

When they arrested Martha Stewart and said they were making Wall Street safer for the average investor, what they didn't tell you was at the same time they were making it easier for banks and hedge finds to manipulate the market, driving stock prices up and down, repackaging junk grade investments and selling them off to pension funds in the US and towns in faraway places like Sweden that have now collapsed all because of this completely legal fraud.

The question is why was it illegal for Martha to sell her shares of stock which were worth exactly what the market said they were worth, but perfectly legal for everyone else on Wall Street to sell worthless or junk investments as if they were A-rated securities?

The answer is that the system was and is rigged for those who pay the politicians who write the laws. The campaign finance laws that have created billion dollar campaigns has wrecked the idea of fairness as today only the very wealthy have access to many who write the laws that could stop this abuse from happening.

Our political system is clerly broken. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney personifies the vulture capitalist at his best, shutting down companies after taking on massive debt, outsourcing the jobs and then cashing out. Yes, Mitt sure knows how to create jobs, on both Wall Street and in China.

Luckily a new movement, as seen clearly in Occupy Wall Street and other groups, has begun to address the question of fairness. Unfortunately the politicians, especially the GOP, and Fox News, have taken to bashing Occupy Wall Street as if they are the problem.

So America, when will you wake up and take back your country? Will you do so after you win the lottery, or after you watch the next episode of Jersey Shore? After all, it's your money they are playing with. Remember, it used to be your country until someone else bought it.

Will you procrastinate once again? Or will you do it now, now that finally the robber barons have finally taken too much of your future away from you, forever? Once again, it is up to you.

When will MSO Shares Recover?

As Martha gets ready for life after Kmart,
iinvestors look for her next big move...

Update: After a roller coaster ride of a week in the stock market, MSO closed down 8.5% on Friday, once again proving that everything and everyone involved in the markets today is nuts. As the US real estate market melts down, many seemed concerned that Martha would suffer too, but that has yet to be determined. So if you're feeling rattled by all of the turbulence, we recommend sticking to your knitting, making a nice cup of hot cocoa followed by a long walk on the beach with your prized Labraddodles, and enjoying the rest of these nice warm days before the leaves start falling and the first frost starts nipping at your vegetable garden. If that doesn't work, try retail therapy.

MSO Surges, In The Wrong Direction Martha Stewart Omnimedia's shares closed under $12.00 Monday, and investors are wondering what will happen next as the company transitions out of Kmart (finally!) and into Macy's, where the merchandising for her products will at long last no longer resemble the 99 Cent Store look of which Kmart has grown so fond. But the deal with Kmart is doesn't end until 2009, and Kmart is dumping products to make way for...what? More cheap crap from China? Meanwhile, Sears-Kmart holding company stock is down 20% this year, and investor Eddie Lampert has lost $4 billion on paper. The whole situation is making everyone nervous. Everyone but Martha, that is. Does she have some inside information that the market does not? Is a big fat buy opportunity on the way? Stay tuned...

LAMBERT'S KMART TRICKS NO TREAT FOR STEWART--NY Post
August 5, 2007 -- Former billionairess Martha Stewart is not seeing eye-to-eye anymore with billionaire Eddie Lampert. It's not about who's richer - it's about their business - or lack of it. Stewart, now worth just half of her former $1 billion fortune, is miffed that Lampert's Kmart chain isn't doing enough to sell her popular items in his stores, causing a drag on her company's own earnings, insiders say. It's a predicament Stewart publicly calls the "Kmart gap," but internally is code for Lampert's own troubles: namely, not investing enough money into sprucing up his own thread-bare stores, while reducing shelf space for sure winners such as Stewart's line of housewares, furniture and sheets.

The next Martha Stewart of the Green Movement...is...Martha?!

How Martha's Fans Can Make Green The New Black

"Martha should pull an Al Gore to become the icon for "creative conservation". She could be a platform for all the geek chic energy out there to use art and design to encourage sustainability and could transform conservation from cheap to chic for the masses." The Eightfold, via Treehugger

Is Martha Stewart the Queen of Green? Folks over at The Eightfold and Treehugger think so. As Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the movement to reduce, reuse and recycle continue to gain steam, the drive to reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East will need a champion who can bring the necessary knowledge to the mainstream. We think Martha could be this person.

So what can you do? Write to Martha and ask her to join the movement. Start ecycling to recycle your computer and other electronics, which contain toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and plastics which can leach into the water and pollute the air when incinerated. Calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to use less energy in your home. Watch An Inconvenient Truth and learn the facts behind global warming. Get green.

Reader Mail

It seems as if saving Martha just wasn't enough for some fans. They want the old Martha back on TV. And we agree; enough with the celebrities trying to roll dumplings and chew gum at the same time, lets see Martha do it the right way! And one fan recently had a a very disturbing experience at a Borders bookstore after a book signing. Read about her creepy experience with security, and our response on how this is all probably part of the vast anti-Martha conspiracy...

Dear John,
In response to the article about the dipping ratings for Martha-I would like to express how I'm feeling as a long-term reader & watcher who has been a loyal fan since day one.

First let me say thank you for this fantastic site that has kept all of us up to date on what happened during the trial & what is happening since.

I remember when Martha first came to television.  My entire Sunday centered around her show.  I would have coffee & breakfast ready so that I could sit and escape into the beautiful world of Turkey Hill.  Martha was meticulous.  She was instructive & everything she did was substantive.  When the show went daily I was concerned.  Would Martha be able to keep me enthralled every day?  She did.  I loved the weekly version of Living as much as the weekend show.

Now to MARTHA!.  I started out really trying to like the format.  I faithfully Tivo'd it every day.  I found myself fast forwarding through half the episode by the end of last season. 

Learn how Martha was wrongly convicted by the media and a judicial system gone mad.

Available now through Amazon.com

Why wasn't Martha teaching cooking, crafting, decorating with the same detail that I had come to love?  How come instead of showing a project all the way though-I lost the end of it because it was cut off because she had to go to commercial break.  And most of all, why did I have to sit and listen to celebrity who doesn't even like to cook make jokes through a cooking segment where I am trying to get the good information I'd come to expect from Martha.  The show just wasn't aesthetically pleasing anymore.  The show wasn't beautiful.

While I still love the magazine and will remain a loyal fan, I'm sorry to say, Martha has lost me from her viewing audience.  I don't have to have the exact same show she had before-but I do need to have the teacher & creative genius back that has melted into rosie-oprah-dinah shore kind of host.  (although I love all of them, they aren't Martha!) Until that time I'm afraid I'm not tuning in.  Is anyone else feeling the same way I am? 

Perhaps a campaign to write the show would help, I'm not sure.  Right now I just feel lost without my Martha that helms the best magazine on  the market-not being the same one I see on TV.
 
Christopher

Dear Christopher,

Thanks for the thoughtful note, I think its something that is on the minds of many people who miss the original show . The good news is that advertisers are coming back in droves--who knows, maybe they would sponsor a second show that is more like the original?

John

Peter Bacanovic To NY Times:
Martha refuses to pay his legal bills
Save Martha to Peter: Get Over It and Move On

Bacanovic says Martha refuses to pay his legal bills as he struggles to recover from the ImClone stock scandal

Why the NY Times is digging up the dirt

The Broker Who Fell To Earth Peter Bacanovic is no longer referring to Martha by name, and he is bitter that she refuses to help him pay is legal bills. It's just another sad chapter in a story that ruined many lives, even as the real crooks like Enron's Jeffrey Skilling only now are receiving their sentences.

While the Martha Stewart case was just a spectator sport for some, and a source of high ratings, late night jokes and ad dollars for others, the people who were in the center of the scandal have spent the last few years in a state of recovery. Martha's friend Sam Waksal remains in prison, unable to accept gifts of catered food from his favorite eatery Da Silvano. Douglas Faneuil, the Merrill Lynch assistant who turned state's evidence to save his own skin has gone underground. Mariana Pasternak, Martha's former close friend who provided conflicting testimony, is no longer in Martha's inner, or even outer, circle. And broker Peter Bacanovic, now out of jail, is struggling to put his life back together.

Surprisingly, aside from Martha, none of the major players has written a book or given a major interview about the experience until now. Peter Bacanovic sat down with the NY Times. Martha's former broker Peter Bacanovic now says the thing he hates most is being referred to as "Martha's broker." To say he is bitter about the experience would be an understatement, and he will no longer refer to Martha by name. Here's a portion of the recent NY Times interview:

...the degree to which he has turned against Ms. Stewart, whose connections propelled his career at Merrill, is surprising.

His grievances are many. They range from not being among those who received a Christmas card from her while she was in prison, to her legal strategy. He claims that she turned down offers from the government to settle charges, which would have resulted in no trial and perhaps no prison term. He also blames her for the $75,000 fine he recently paid to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle insider trading charges.

In his view, Ms. Stewart could have reached her own settlement with the commission at any point between late 2004 and this spring, obviating the need for him to pay a fine. This April, as Ms. Stewart continued to delay, Mr. Bacanovic took matters into his hands and called Ms. Stewart’s daughter, Alexis, a longtime friend of his who had introduced him to Ms. Stewart.

The family friendship no longer existed, but Mr. Bacanovic would ask one last favor — if Ms. Stewart was going to trial, would she help pay his legal fees, as Merrill Lynch had stopped doing so.

“I said, “This is harming me,’ ” Mr. Bacanovic, who had to borrow money to pay his fine, recalled saying. “And she said, ‘No one here feels we owe you anything.’ ”

Message to Peter: The only way to get your life back is to move on The subtext of the NY Times article is very clear: Here's yet another old friend of Martha's who has turned on her, joining the ranks of the Donald Trumps, the Mariana Pasternaks, the friends of Martha who finally just throw up their hands in exasperation with her behavior and walk away. It is a continuation of the media demonization of Martha, and as we have predicted it will likely never end. Unless Martha's friends help end it.

While Peter Bacanovic may feel justified in going public by airing this dirty laundry, it only makes him look bitter, and ultimately it only prevents him from putting this mess in the past so that he can move on to rebuild his life. Martha has moved on and put this all behind her. And that seems to be working out well for her.

Martha Settles Insider Trading case with SEC!
She does not admit to Insider trading allegations
Agrees to pay $195,000 fine plus 5 year public company ban

Yes Virginia, There Was No Insider
Trading Conviction in The Martha Stewart Case

Saving Martha, The Epilogue Three years after being indicted for everything but insider trading, and almost five years after making a minuscule stock trade that rocked Wall Street and the media world, Martha settled her case with the SEC without any admission of the insider trading allegations that have plagued her from the beginning.

After the millions of dollars wasted on thousands of lawyer's billing hours and after countless of malicious and inaccurate print, radio and TV stories later, the case ends in a whimper without Martha ever having been convicted of or admitting to insider trading. What a colossal waste of taxpayer time and money. And what a shame the general public didn't realize what a sham it all was until it was too late.

This affair was like watching a heavy weight title fight go 15 rounds and ending up with a no decision. Fiasco or mere farce? We may never know. The biggest crime in this case was the distraction it created away from Enron, which took so long to prosecute that Ken Lay was able to avoid prison time by dying. The second biggest crime was the damage it did to Martha's empire, which is only now repairing the damage. But repair it she will, because that's what she does best.

In a strange and twisted way we are glad it all happened. Not for Martha's sake, for she certainly could have done without this, but we are glad but for meeting all of the good people who helped come together in support of a unique cause the world had never seen before; defending a female billionaire who certainly had the resources the defend herself in her time of need. Some defended her because they realized that a witchhunt is always wrong. Others defended her because they realized this case was being overblown for political gain and for the media dollars that go along with every scandal. And others did it because they love what Martha brings to the world, a sense of goodness and peace at home, something especially needed today.

In the end, justice and goodness and life are not really about how much money you have, but about how many friends and good people we surround ourselves with. By that standard, Save Martha was a success, and to all those good people who came out to rally the courthouse steps and at Kmart and in Bedford, we say Thank You.

But don't be deceived, there are still those who will try their best to trip up Martha (and other strong women) for the simple reason that they cannot stand a woman who is smarter or more successful than they are. And we will be here to defend them.

Saving Martha (and all other strong women),

John Small
Editor

Martha Stewart settles SEC charges--AP
Homemaking diva Martha Stewart will pay about $195,000 and cannot serve as the director of a public company for five years under a settlement announced Monday on civil insider trading charges with the SEC. Under the settlement, the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., a multimedia empire dedicated to stylish living, agreed to make a payment relating to losses the government said she avoided on her sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in December 2001.

In addition to accepting a five-year ban on being a company director, Stewart agreed to limits for five years on her service as an officer or employee of a public company. During that period, she will be prohibited from participating in financial reporting and disclosure, internal controls, audits, SEC filings and monitoring compliance with the federal securities laws. In settling the charges, Stewart and Bacanovic neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the SEC complaint.

Martha Stewart settles SEC charges--AP
Homemaking diva Martha Stewart will pay about $195,000 and cannot serve as the director of a public company for five years under a settlement announced Monday on civil insider trading charges with the SEC. Under the settlement, the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., a multimedia empire dedicated to stylish living, agreed to make a payment relating to losses the government said she avoided on her sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in December 2001.

Summer Fever July is always our favorite MS Living issue of the year. It's the one that's always the most relaxed, it makes for perfect summer beach reading, it's full of color and cool creamy deserts. And this year it comes in two flavors: Martha and kids eating parfaits on the subscriber edition, and a close-up of the red white and blue parfaits on the newsstand edition. And don't worry, even if the congress does succeed in passing the anti-flag burning amendment, we hear it will still be legal to eat food that looks like the flag, just as long as it's not cooked on the barbecue!

Is Martha's long nightmare almost over? It was quite a surprise when Martha Stewart, while doing a crafts segment on the Today Show on Wednesday, said that she is close to reaching a "happy" settlement with the SEC. Since the SEC usually bars its settlees from running a publicly traded company ever again, this would be a first. What could Martha be cooking up with the Feds? Just last week the news reports said she would fight the case against which she has always maintained her innocence.

In any case, Martha taking the helm of MSO ever again is considered by some to be a long shot; she has a great management team in place, she gets to do all the fun creative stuff, and she still has the ridiculous status of "convicted felon" hanging over her. Unless President Bush pardons Martha, that is.