Thursday, March 19, 2009

As AIG Proves, The Gov't Can't Run Anything


By LAWRENCE KUDLOW | Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 4:20 PM PT

This whole AIG fiasco — where the entire political class is suddenly screaming over bonuses paid to derivative traders in AIG's financial products division — is just a complete farce.

What it really shows is how the government has completely bungled the AIG takeover. Blame the Bush administration and the Obama administration. It also shows, once again, why the government shouldn't run anything, because it cannot run anything.

AIG should have been placed in bankruptcy last fall under some sort of government sponsorship. While in bankruptcy, all the salary contracts (and every other AIG contract) would have been nullified and voided. At the same time, there would have been an orderly liquidation and sale of AIG's assets and separate divisions.

But as things stand now, there still is no clear road map for the dissolution of AIG. There are ideas, but nothing is set in concrete.

And as for the $165 million or so in AIG bonus payments, the Obama administration — including the president, Treasury man Tim Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers — knew all about them many months ago. They were undoubtedly informed of this during the White House transition.

So there's no big surprise. Nobody should be shocked. But President Obama is doing his best play-acting ever. He knows full well that the nationwide outcry against federal bailouts and takeovers is only going to get worse on his watch. His poll numbers are already falling, and this AIG episode is going to pull them down more.

Incidentally, has anybody asked Team Obama why it is more than willing to break mortgage contracts with a bankruptcy-judge cramdown, but won't cram down compensation agreements for AIG, despite the fact that the U.S. government owns the company? Kind of odd, don't you think?

The Wall Street Journal editors get it right when they ask: Who's in charge, and what's the game plan? The whole AIG story is an outrage.

What's more, AIG is acting as a conduit for taxpayer money that is being sent to dozens of derivative counterparties, including foreign banks and American banks like Goldman Sachs. If we're going to bail out all these other firms, why not bail them out in full taxpayer view? Why is the money being laundered furtively through AIG? And where exactly is the end game for AIG? How are the taxpayers going to be repaid?

And what is Treasury man Geithner's role in all this? He appears to be the biggest bungler in what has become a massive bungling. My CNBC friend and colleague Charlie Gasparino thinks Geithner can't survive this. I am inclined to agree.

Nevertheless, behind the furor over AIG, there is some good news to report on the banking front. This week's decision by the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to allow cash-flow accounting rather than distressed last-trade mark-to-market accounting will go a long way toward solving the banking and toxic-asset problem.

Many experts believe mortgage-backed securities and other toxic assets are being serviced in a timely cash-flow manner for at least 70 cents on the dollar. This is so important.

Under mark-to-market, many of these assets were written down to 20 cents on the dollar, destroying bank profits and capital. But now banks can value these assets in economic terms based on positive cash flows, rather than in distressed markets that have virtually no meaning.

Actually, when the FASB rules are adopted in the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see if a pro forma re-estimate of the last year reveals that banks have been far more profitable and have much more capital than this crazy mark-to-market accounting would have us believe.

Sharp-eyed banking analyst Dick Bove has argued that most bank losses have been non-cash — i.e., mark-to-market write-downs. Take those fictitious write-downs away and you are left with a much healthier banking picture. This is huge in terms of solving the credit crisis.

I recently suggested that not one more dime of government money is necessary for the banks. Instead, the marriage of the cash-flow valuation of bank assets and the upward-sloping Treasury yield curve will do the trick.

Net interest margins are rising as banks purchase money for near-zero interest and loan it out at profitable rates. And the new mark-to-market reform will allow banks to hold their toxic assets for several more years and work them out — just as they did back in the 1990s.

We don't need more TARP. We don't need to take over more big banks. And we don't need to have the government run things it simply isn't capable of running.

Our New Terror Policy: Safety Last?


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Homeland Security: Are you safer now than you were two months ago? From the handling of captured terrorists to airborne security, the U.S. government has quietly relaxed post-9/11 protections.

Read More: Global War On Terror

For years, liberal Democratic politicians and the establishment media have worked to paint a picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney as a demon with godlike powers. The Washington Post, in a Pulitzer-winning series of articles, called him "the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president."

During President George W. Bush's first term, Cheney was depicted as the real power and brains in the White House, scheming to manipulate the commander in chief to assert bold new executive authorities as a new era of terrorism unfolded.

After Bush's re-election, however, the running mate as puppet-master mantra lost much of its plausibility, and the press focused more on Cheney's hunting mishaps and low poll ratings.

So how surprising to find so much media attention paid to the first post-Bush administration interview of someone they were waving good riddance to less than two months ago.

The explanation may not be the media's usual sensationalist tendencies, but the simple fact that the former vice president knows intimately how and why America has stayed safe for nearly 7 1/2 years after September 11, 2001.

Cheney told CNN that the reversal by the Obama administration of the use of some of the tough interrogation practices approved by the president's predecessor has placed Americans at risk within the homeland. President Obama, he said, is "making some choices that in my mind will raise the risk to the American people of another attack."

He called enhanced interrogation of terrorist detainees "absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11."

Cheney added: "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles," he maintained.

It is worth remembering that Cheney's immediate, and apparently instinctive, reaction to 9/11 was that just these kind of powerful tools would be needed in this new kind of war.

Less than a week after the attacks, the vice president was telling NBC that for America to defend itself, the U.S. government would have to "work . . . sort of the dark side, if you will. . . . A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful."

The very next day, President Bush gave written authorization for the CIA to establish a "hidden global internment network" to interrogate terrorist prisoners.

The successors of Bush-Cheney seem in some respects to be just as instinctively opposed to such powerful tools. This week, CIA Director Leon Panetta announced that he has tapped former New Hampshire liberal Republican Sen. Warren Rudman to serve as his "special adviser" to help the administration and the Senate Intelligence Committee dredge up details of the Bush interrogation and detention program in what is expected to be a year-long probe.

One of President Obama's first acts was an executive order shutting down the remainder of the CIA terrorist prisons abroad, closing the Guantanamo Bay naval base's detention camp in Cuba — sure to lead to the release of some of the 245 enemy combatants being held there. Even that term — "enemy combatant" — has been renounced by the new administration.

On top of that, as reported by the Washington Times, the president is without fanfare applying gun-control ideology to homeland security by scrapping the federal firearms program, which allows some 12,000 airline pilots to carry guns with them in their cockpit during flight. Pilots say that already the approval process for authorizing pilots to carry guns has slowed considerably.

It is said that in our modern age of dazzling gadgetry and CGI-enhanced movie and TV entertainment, Americans' attention span and collective memory are shorter than ever. Have we, in less than eight years, already forgotten that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — as well as being the price of safety from Islamist terror for ourselves and our families?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson dies after fall on ski slope

Natasha Richardson dies after fall on ski slope

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer Hillel Italie, Ap National Writer – 1 hr 35 mins ago

Slideshow:Actress Natasha Richardson dies at 45 Play Video Video:Actress Natasha Richardson has died AP Play Video Video:Ski Safety: Calls For Mandatory Helmets CBS 2 New York NEW YORK – Natasha Richardson, a gifted and precocious heiress to acting royalty whose career highlights included the film "Patty Hearst" and a Tony-winning performance in a stage revival of "Cabaret," died Wednesday at age 45 after suffering a head injury during a beginners' ski lesson.

Alan Nierob, the Los Angeles-based publicist for Richardson's husband Liam Neeson, confirmed her death in a written statement.

"Liam Neeson, his sons (Micheal, 13, and 12-year-old Daniel), and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha," the statement said. "They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

The statement did not give details on the cause of death for Richardson, who suffered a head injury and fell on a beginner's trail during a private ski lesson at the luxury Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec. Seemingly fine after the fall, about an hour later she complained that she didn't feel well.

She was hospitalized Tuesday in Montreal and later flown to a hospital in New York, where family members had been seen coming and going.

Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson's mother, arrived in a car with darkened windows and was taken through a garage when she arrived at the Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side about 5 p.m. Wednesday. An hour earlier, Richardson's sister, Joely, arrived alone and was swarmed by the media as she entered through the back of the hospital.

It was a sudden and horrifying loss for her family and friends, for the film and theater communities, for her many fans and for both her native and adoptive countries. Descended from at least three generations of actors, Richardson was a proper Londoner who came to love the noise of New York, an elegant blonde with large, lively eyes, a bright smile and a hearty laugh.

If she never quite attained the acting heights of her Academy Award-winning mother, she still had enjoyed a long and worthy career. As an actress, Richardson was equally adept at passion and restraint, able to portray besieged women both confessional (Tennessee Williams' Blanche DuBois) and confined (the concubine in the futuristic horror of "The Handmaid's Tale").

Like other family members, she divided her time between stage and screen. On Broadway, she won a Tony for her performance as Sally Bowles in a 1998 revival of "Cabaret." She also appeared in New York in a production of Patrick Marber's "Closer" (1999) as well as 2005 revival of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire," in which she played Blanche opposite John C. Reilly's Stanley Kowalski.

She met Neeson when they made their Broadway debuts in 1993, co-starring in "Anna Christie," Eugene O'Neill's drama about a former prostitute and the sailor who falls in love with her.

"The astonishing Natasha Richardson ... gives what may prove to be the performance of the season as Anna, turning a heroine who has long been portrayed (and reviled) as a whore with a heart of gold into a tough, ruthlessly unsentimental apostle of O'Neill's tragic understanding of life," The New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote. "Miss Richardson, seeming more like a youthful incarnation of her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, than she has before, is riveting from her first entrance through a saloon doorway's ethereal shaft of golden light."

Her most notable film roles came earlier in her career. Richardson played the title character in Paul Schrader's "Patty Hearst," a 1988 biopic about the kidnapped heiress for which the actress became so immersed that even between scenes she wore a blindfold, the better to identify with her real-life counterpart.

"Natasha Richardson ... has been handed a big unwritten role; she feels her way into it, and she fills it," wrote The New Yorker's Pauline Kael. "We feel how alone and paralyzed Patty is — she retreats into being a hidden observer."

Richardson was directed again by Schrader in a 1990 adaptation of Ian McEwan's "The Comfort of Strangers" and, also in 1990, starred in the screen version of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."

She later co-starred with Neeson in "Nell," with Mia Farrow in "Widow's Peak" and with a pre-teen Lindsay Lohan in a remake of "The Parent Trap." More recent movies, none of them widely seen, included "Wild Child," "Evening" and "Asylum."

She was born in London in 1963, the performing gene inherited not just from her parents (Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson), but from her maternal grandparents (Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson), an aunt (Lynn Redgrave) and an uncle (Corin Redgrave). Her younger sister, Joely Richardson, also joined the family business.

Friends and family members remembered Natasha as an unusually poised child, perhaps forced to grow up early when her father left her mother in the late '60s for Jeanne Moreau. (Tony Richardson died in 1991).

Interviewed by The Associated Press in 2001, Natasha Richardson said she related well to her family if only because, "We've all been through it in one way or another and so we've had to be strong. Also we embrace life. We are not cynical about life."

Richardson always planned to act, apart from one brief childhood moment when she wanted to be a flight attendant — "wonderful irony now since I hate to fly and have to take a pill in order to get on a plane. I'm so terrified."

Her screen debut came at age 4 when she appeared as a flower girl in "The Charge of the Light Brigade," directed by her father, whose movies included "Tom Jones" and "The Entertainer." The show business wand had already tapped her the year before, when she saw her mother in the 1967 film version of the Broadway show "Camelot."

"She was so beautiful. I still look at that movie and I can't believe it. It still makes me cry, the beauty of it. I could go on and on — in that white fur hooded thing, when she comes through the forest for the first time. You've never seen anything so beautiful!" Richardson said.

She studied at London's Central School of Speech and Drama and was an experienced stage actress by her early 20s, appearing in "On the Razzle," "Charley's Aunt" and "The Seagull," for which the London Drama Critics awarded her most promising newcomer.

Although she never shared her mother's fiercely expressed political views, they were close professionally and acted together, most recently on Broadway to play the roles of mother and daughter in a one-night benefit concert version of "A Little Night Music," the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical.

Before meeting up with Neeson (who called her "Tash") Richardson was married to theater and producer Robert Fox, whose credits include the 1985 staging of "The Seagull" in which his future wife appeared.

She sometimes remarked on the differences between her and her second husband — she from a theatrical dynasty and he from a working-class background in Northern Ireland.

"He's more laid back, happy to see what happens, whereas I'm a doer and I plan ahead," Richardson told The Independent on Sunday newspaper in 2003. "The differences sometimes get in the way but they can be the very things that feed a marriage, too."

She once said that Neeson's serious injury in a 2000 motorcycle accident — he suffered a crushed pelvis after colliding with a deer in upstate New York — had made her really appreciate life.

"I wake up every morning feeling lucky — which is driven by fear, no doubt, since I know it could all go away," she told The Daily Telegraph newspaper in 2003.


Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless in London and Drama Writer Michael Kuchwara in New York contributed to this report.

Octuplets' mom brings two of her babies home


March 18, 2009

Nadya Suleman walks outside her new house for a video crew in La Habra, California, on March 10.

Nadya Suleman walks outside her new house for a video crew in La Habra, California, on March 10.

(CNN) -- Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to octuplets in January, brought two of her babies home from the hospital late Tuesday.

She brought the infants to her new house in La Habra, California. Members of the media and gawkers crowded the cul-de-sac, as news helicopters hovered overhead. Media swarmed the family's vehicle as it slowly made its way through the crowd, into the home's garage.

The babies discharged from the hospital were Noah Angel, known as Baby A, and Isaiah Angel, known as Baby C, according to the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center.

The medical team that delivered the babies identified them by letters of the alphabet. On discharge, Noah weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and Isaiah weighed 5 pounds, the hospital said in a news release.

"Both infants are able to bottle feed, are gaining weight and are able to maintain their body temperature," the release said.

"This is a happy moment for everyone -- the family, physicians, nurses and entire NICU (neonatal intensive care unit staff)," the release quoted neonatologist Mandhir Gupta as saying. "It is always rewarding whenever a premature infant goes home as a healthy baby." Video Watch as crowd welcomes babies home »

The remaining six babies continue to progress well at the hospital, Kaiser said. All continue gaining weight as they get formula or donated breast milk.

Hospital representatives made several home visits before the babies were discharged, to determine whether Suleman could provide safe housing, enough child care support and the supplies needed to care for the first two children, Kaiser said.

Until recently, Suleman had been sharing another home with her parents and her other six young children. But that house ended up at risk of foreclosure, and Suleman moved into her own home.

Last week, she disputed news reports that her father had bought the new house.

"I earned it. ... No, my father did not purchase this house for me. I did it on my own," Suleman told Radar magazine's Web site during a recent video tour of the 2,583-square-foot house.

"It's 1,000-square-footage bigger than the old house," she said on the video. "They [her older children] like it more than Grandma's house." Watch Suleman take other children to theme parks Video

Showing the new house to Radar, Suleman toured the living room, dining room and kitchen, and a den off the kitchen that she said she planned to turn into a nursery.

All the cribs will be kept in that room and two babies will share each crib, she said at the time, "unless one is sick, because they are so strong and healthy right now. ... Six are ready to come home."

Suleman, 33, added that they would come home two at a time.

"Two are little and they need to gain weight, and that's it. There's no medical problem," she said. reported that their new home, which was listed for $564,900, has four bedrooms and a large back yard.

"My ultimate goal is not to be a burden on ... taxpayers," she told Radar. "So there have been a couple of offers. ... I selectively picked a couple of opportunities to earn some resources for the kids."

Suleman gave birth to the octuplets through in-vitro fertilization, fueling controversy. News of her collecting public assistance for some of her children also outraged many taxpayers.

Stimulating Illegals


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Economy: At least 300,000 of those stimulus jobs will go to illegal aliens who are likely to send that money home to their native countries. Just whose economy are we stimulating?

IBD Exclusive Series: Inside The Stimulus

The stimulus package is supposed to stimulate the American economy and create American jobs, but missing from it are measures to guarantee that. As a result, say both the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies, hundreds of thousands of these jobs will go to illegal aliens, and much of the money they earn will not be spent here.

The original House version included a provision requiring employers to check registration status with the E-Verify system before hiring. This provision was missing from the Senate bill and was not in the final version sent to President Obama.

The Obama administration has also delayed at least until May 21 a Bush administration executive order requiring federal contractors to use E-Verify. It was supposed to take effect in January.

Last Tuesday, 75 representatives of both parties sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner urging them "to protect taxpayers and legal workers by including these critical jobs protection provisions in any future economic recovery legislation."

In a February report by the Heritage Foundation, senior research fellow Robert Rector looked at the 2 million construction jobs the stimulus is supposed to create. "Without specific mechanisms to ensure that workers are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants authorized to work," he concluded, "it is likely that 15% of these workers, or 300,000, would be illegal immigrants."

Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, comes up with the same figure for construction jobs based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and other independent findings that 15% of all construction workers in the U.S. are illegal aliens.

Camarota says the total number of stimulus jobs going to illegals may be higher. At least a million more jobs are said to be created by the stimulus, and with 5% of the overall U.S. work force consisting of illegals, they could get another 50,000 non-construction jobs.

Rector sees another downside. "The fact that illegal aliens send a substantial portion of their earnings abroad reduces the stimulus effect that their employment has in the United States," he says.

Remittances, Mexico's second-largest source of foreign income after oil, dipped 3.6% to $25 billion in 2008, compared with $26 billion the previous year, according to Mexico's central bank. Will our stimulus improve Mexico's economy?

"It's outrageous that in a bill designed to provide employment for Americans, Congress has deliberately chosen to allow jobs to be given to illegal immigrants," Rector adds.

We think so too.

Bush's Big Victory


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, March 16, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Mideast: In most ways, the news from Iraq couldn't be better. People there feel more secure, and are more committed to democracy, than ever. Is it possible that President Bush was right after all?

Read More: Iraq

A poll of average Iraqis conducted by ABC News, the BBC and Japan's NHK shows significant progress on virtually all fronts. Yet, we've heard nary a peep about it from anyone.

Some 85% of respondents said their neighborhood security was "good," vs. 62% a year ago and just 43% in August of 2007. And 52% said security had gotten better in the last year — during the Bush-Petraeus "surge," which was widely ridiculed at the time as an unnecessary escalation of the Iraq War.

Support for democracy jumped to 64%, a 21-percentage-point gain since 2007, according to a report on As for how Iraqis felt about the general state of affairs in Iraq, 58% called it "very good" or "quite good," up significantly from 43% last year and 22% in 2007.

When asked what their concerns are today, Iraqis sound a lot like Americans: Jobs and prices are at the top of their list — not war, not security, not terrorism.

In short, it sounds like we not only won the war, but the peace as well. And for those who cast a skeptical eye on the idea that any Islamic country could ever be democratized, it turns out the former President Bush is winning that debate too.

With President Obama in the middle of withdrawing troops from Iraq on a schedule that looks suspiciously identical to the one that Bush had in place, it's safe to say that Obama increasingly sees the wisdom of what his predecessor tried to do in Iraq.

Maybe the rest of us should as well.

It's become de rigueur to deride Bush's "failed" policies in Iraq. No one speaks well of them — except, maybe, Iraqis.

But here are the facts, stark as they are: During his vicious 20-year reign, Saddam Hussein — remember him? — killed an estimated 5% of Iraq's population. That works out to about 5,000 people a month slaughtered by the regime.

You might disagree that Bush was right to depose this murderous thug. But in doing so, you would then have to defend the deaths of thousands of innocents.

For those who say Bush went to war in Iraq under false pretenses — you know, "Bush lied, people died" — there's this: He made a lengthy, nuanced defense of his decision to get rid of Saddam. It was reflected in Congress' own resolution in late 2002, which cited 23 reasons for removing Saddam from power.

The ideas that it was all about oil or that Congress was bamboozled on WMD are both false.

Bush, Congress and our foreign allies all saw the same intelligence, and all came to the same conclusion: Saddam had a nuclear weapons program, and intended to build one as soon as he was able. That was, and remained, true.

After being bashed relentlessly in the media and on the campaign trail, President Bush left the White House with his approval ratings low and little, except his dignity, intact.

If he is to have a Truman-like reprieve in the public eye, it will surely come as we all start to realize that on Iraq, contrary to popular and elite opinion, Bush got it right. Mission accomplished.

No Use For Unions


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Labor: In the same week legislation that would kill the secret ballot used to form a union is introduced, a poll finds fewer than one in 10 non-union workers wants to join a union. No wonder coercion is necessary.

Read More: Business & Regulation

The bill is called the Employee Free Choice Act. But instead of liberating workers, it would enslave them to unions.

Under current law, a work force is organized when a simple majority of workers, voting with secret ballots, approves of unionization. The Employee Free Choice Act, more appropriately called the card check bill, turns that honorable practice on its head.

If it becomes law, unions would be certified if a simple majority sign the cards that are used to gauge employee interest in voting on union participation. The signing is done publicly, where workers are vulnerable to intimidation from union representatives.

Further, the bill requires government arbitrators to step in and set the terms of the initial contract if the union and management can't agree on a deal three months after certification.

If workers don't lose the private ballot, unions' place in the U.S. work force will continue to diminish. Private-sector unionization, at 7.6% in 2008, has been steadily falling since its 1958 peak of 39%.

Clearly, workers have learned that self-reliance, productivity, investing and an entrepreneurial spirit, not dependence on the union, is the key to advancement. According to a Rasmussen poll taken Friday and Saturday, only 9% of nonunion workers would want to join a union, while 81% would not.

There is no increase in union interest among employees who are afraid they will be laid off in the near future. Only 9% of those workers say they would want to be in a union.

The political left, long in line with organized labor, is pushing hard for card check legislation, betting that it will boost falling private-sector union membership.

But there's a downside to expanding the rolls, according to Anne Layne-Farrar, an economist with the Law and Economics Consulting Group. She believes card check "would likely increase the U.S. unemployment rate and decrease U.S. job creation substantially."

If the law "were to increase the percentage of private-sector union membership by between 5 and 10 percentage points," she reckons, "unemployment would increase by 2.3 million to 5.4 million in the following year and the unemployment rate would increase by 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points."

The reason is that labor, when organized, becomes more expensive.The average worker likely isn't aware of Layne-Farrar's findings. But as the Rasmussen poll clearly reveals, he or she instinctively knows that union membership is overrated.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking Update: The Tragic Death Of Andrew 'Test' Martin

Breaking Update: The Tragic Death Of Andrew 'Test' Martin

By Ryan Clark | March 14, 2009

Andrew Martin, best known for his days as Test in WWE, has been found dead in his apartment at the age of 33. He would have been 34 in four days. Authorities in Tampa, Florida, where Martin lived, have not provided any details yet.
They have stated that a body was found in a condo, but have not confirmed that the body in question was Martin, however multiple people within the wrestling industry have confirmed that it was Martin's body that was found.

Martin was released from WWE back in February of 2007 after failing a drug test. He then worked for TNA but was not offered a contract and went on to work a bit in Japan.

Once again, we would like to send our condolences to the family and friends of Andrew Martin.

The following is an article from Slam! Wrestling:

THE wrestling world is in mourning following the death of Andrew Martin at the age of just 33.
Best known as Test in the WWE, Martin won the federation’s intercontinental, European, hardcore and tag titles.

In his peak in the late 90s, he was regularly involved in storylines with The Rock, Triple H and the McMahon family.

Police in Tampa, Florida, were called to his home at 8pm on Friday night after his neighbour reported she could see a man lying motionless inside.

The officers forced entry and found Martin dead.

His body was transported to the local Medical Examiners Office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Martin's last stint in the WWE lasted from 2006-2007 but he left under a cloud after falling foul of the company’s strict Wellness Policy.

Questions over steroid abuse also stopped rival wrestling company TNA giving him a full-time job shortly afterwards.

In April 2008, Martin made local news headlines when he was arrested on a drink-driving charge in Florida. His police mugshot showed a man very different to in his wrestling prime.

Martin announced his retirement from the grappling business in December 2007 – although he was supposed to be going on a farewell tour of Ireland this March.

It is thought he wanted to return to college and become a personal trainer, leaving his dark days behind him.

The star – who had dated WWE Divas Stacy Keibler and Kelly Kelly – recently wrote on his MySpace page: “They say nobody retires from wrestling.

“I can't tell you how much I hate to see guys keep working long after they should be dead or permanently disabled.

“You have to come to terms when you ask yourself what is your health worth? To me? You can't put a price on it!

“So what are you wrestling for? One man's greed so he might throw you a bone?

“I loved wrestling, it was good to me. I'm still young, I'm in the shape of my life I've got some money tucked away.

“I never got into wrestling to be rich and famous.”

There are no further details as yet on the cause of death or funeral arrangements.

Martin was just a few days away from celebrating his 34th birthday.