The New York Times sends a reporter to consumer debt court in Brooklyn and finds a judge holding bankers up to ridicule for charging 29% interest rates. The judge is identified as Noach Dear: "John Gotti must be looking down and smiling," Judge Dear said. "Even he wouldn't have the chutzpah to charge that interest." The Times doesn't offer any further identification of Judge Dear, but the Village Voice has his number in a 2007 article that reported, among other things, that the state attorney general ordered him to repay charitable funds that he used to pay for first-class airfare to Israel for his family; that he accepted an Apartheid-era trip to South Africa funded by the whites-only Johannesburg City Council; that he "stiffed suppliers to a kosher restaurant of which he was an owner" when the restaurant went bankrupt; and that he left investors who had invested $170,000 in the restaurant in the lurch. That this same Mr. Dear is now sitting as a judge in debt court is a kind of chutzpah in its own right, albeit one upon which the Times does not remark. The rest of the Times article is devoted to a discussion of an effort to revive prohibitions on usury. One can see why the Times would support such an effort; it's paying 14.053% interest to Carlos Slim at a time when 30 year mortgages are 5% and two-year Treasury yields are less than 1%. Less clear is why Judith Trachtenberg of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun on Manhattan's Upper West Side would join the anti-usury campaign, as the Times reports she has, given that efforts to enforce laws against usury drive have historically been rooted in Christian animosity toward Jewish money lenders, who in medieval times regularly charged interest of 33% or more. But that's another matter.