History Book: The fall of financier Bernie Madoff | WORLD
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History Book: The fall of financier Bernie Madoff


WORLD Radio - History Book: The fall of financier Bernie Madoff

Plus, a deadly shooting in New Zealand and the invention of the World Wide Web

Bernard Madoff exits federal court in New York City, March 10, 2009. Getty Images/Photo by Mario Tama

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday March 11. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next, the WORLD History Book. Thirty-five years ago, a computer scientist proposes an idea that becomes the World Wide Web.

And, 51 people perish in the mosque shootings in New Zealand.

EICHER: But first, 15 years ago, a financier is convicted for one of the biggest frauds in Wall Street’s history. Here’s WORLD Radio Reporter Emma Perley:

EMMA PERLEY: It’s March 12th, 15 years ago, and financier Bernie Madoff is on trial for one of the biggest frauds in the history of Wall Street. Audio here from CNBC as Madoff arrives at the courthouse.

CNBC: He is 70 years old, he will plead guilty to 11 criminal counts, and almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison. There goes Bernie Madoff.

Since the ‘80s, Madoff made wild claims about the enormous gains of his firm. But almost 20 years later, financial analyst Harry Markopolos realized that the firm’s profits were mathematically impossible. Here is Harry speaking with 60 Minutes in 2009.

HARRY MARKOPOLOS: It took me five minutes to know that it was a fraud. It took me another almost four hours of mathematical modeling to prove that it was a fraud.

Despite several investigations into the firm’s asset management unit, the scam continued until Madoff’s two sons informed the police in December 2008. Audio courtesy of Sky News only a few days after the revelation.

SKY NEWS: They invested their money with Madoffs, in some cases all of their money, tens of millions of dollars which apparently he was taking, reporting to be getting 10%, 15% returns of their money when in fact he had lost all of it. 50 billion dollars in assets are wiped out, gone.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years for his crimes. Here is Madoff speaking from prison with Business Insider in 2014.

MADOFF: I sort of rationalized that what I was doing was okay, you know, it wasn’t going to hurt anybody and it was a temporary thing.

The Justice Department is still reimbursing the victims of the fraud to this day, and has since recovered over 4 billion dollars.

Next, on March 15th, 2019, an armed gunman opens fire in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

ADRIAN WRIGHT: The first shot went off, and the Imam paused. It was dead silent.

That’s survivor Adrian Wright speaking with CBC News.

WRIGHT: When the other shots went off, and people started screaming, that’s when noise erupted in the Masjid. Just a flurry of gunshots started coming through, and I was seeing it hit the ceiling, hit the walls, hit people.

A white supremacist named Brenton Tarrant enters the Al Noor mosque on a Friday afternoon and begins shooting in a premeditated attack. After seven minutes of terror, the shooter drives to Linwood Islamic Centre. Abdul Aziz tells Global News he heard the shooter arrive at the Centre.

ABDUL AZIZ: We heard some gunshots. And at first I thought it was somebody probably playing firecrackers or something.

Aziz ran outside to distract him.

AZIZ: I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t have any fear on me or anything, my only concern was to save other people from that, doesn’t get hurt. And I was screaming to the guy, “Come, I’m here! Come, I’m here!” I tried to put his focus on me.

The shooter continues inside and opens fire again. He drives away three minutes later. Police pursue the shooter in his vehicle, eventually ramming his car off the road and arresting him. Justice Cameron Mander stated this at the trial:

JUSTICE MANDER: Your victims include the young and the old, men, women, and children. Your actions were inhuman.

The shooter was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 51 murders, 40 attempted murders, and terrorism.

Finally, we end on March 12th, 1989. Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee writes a technological proposal that will radically change the nature of communication. He calls it an information management system, or rather, the World Wide Web. Here is Berners-Lee discussing his ideas with the BBC.

BERNERS-LEE: The basis of the web is fundamentally very simple. The idea that any piece of information can have an address that you can point to it is very simple.

Berners-Lee works at CERN, a scientific research organization. And he encounters a problem: all the computers have separate softwares and programs. Information cannot be communicated from one computer to another. Audio courtesy of the Washington Post:

BERNERS-LEE: All these systems are incompatible. And if I’m sitting at one computer system, I can’t get any information on the other one. I had to log into it separately and have to learn a completely different program.

So he proposes a plan for just one system which all computers can access. His manager accepts his proposal a year later, calling it “vague but exciting.” After designing the first web browser and server, Berners-Lee distributes internet instructions for users to implement it themselves. Soon, millions of people join the World Wide Web. Audio courtesy of a 1994 BBC broadcast:

BERNERS-LEE: Imagine a world where every word ever written, every picture ever painted and every film ever shot could be viewed instantly in your home via an information super highway.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Emma Perley.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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