By Harvey Tobkes

Reading this morning’s Miami Herald, I was hoping to find something positive that was a sign we have learned a thing or two from the damage and pain caused by the Madoff scandal. I was even naive enough to think perhaps the Israelis and Hamas would both realize that living together in peace is better than the game of “You Kill Mine, I Kill Yours.”

Instead here’s what I found on the front page of the business section:

  • Miami based Lennar Corp., ranked as one of the nation’s largest homebuilders is accused of a Ponzi type fraud and their stock plunged 20%.
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  • GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors, and one of America’s elite corporations, announced that chairman J. Ezra Merkin is stepping down, (a euphemism for being caught with his pants down). Merkin was also the boss of Ascot Partners, a prominent investor in the firm managed by Madoff. He is alleged to have influenced many prominent people to invest in his Fund, which then reinvested with Madoff.
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  • Michael Bienes one of the best known philanthropists in Broward County allegedly had ties to Madoff. According to the SEC, Bienes ran an investment firm that was a major feeder firm for Madoff. He and his wife have their name emblazoned on Holy Cross Hospital. He has helped local causes, including the Opera Guild, Miami city Ballet and the Archdiocese of Miami, just to name a few. In 2000 in a ceremony with Miami Archbishop John C. Favolora, Bienes was promoted to the Knight Commander rank of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great, an honorary position acknowledging service to the church.
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  • If that’s not enough to turn your stomach, the Israeli/Hamas conflict rages on with no solution in sight.

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