Financial-oversight regs OK'd

WASHINGTON - The House yesterday passed the most ambitious restructuring of federal financial regulations since the New Deal, aiming to head off any replay of last year's Wall Street failures that plunged the nation deep into recession.

The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators.

The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it.

While a victory for the administration, the legislation dilutes some of President Obama's recommendations, carving out exceptions to some of its toughest provision. The burden now shifts to the Senate, which is not expected to act on its version of a regulatory overhaul until early next year.

Gov. Sanford & wife to split

CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford may be keeping his office, but he is losing his marriage.

First lady Jenny Sanford capped a tumultuous week by filing for divorce yesterday, two days after state lawmakers stopped short of recommending her husband's removal for a top-secret June rendezvous with his Argentine mistress.

Jenny Sanford, a former Wall Street executive who helped launch her husband's political career, said yesterday their 20-year marriage could not be repaired.

"This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family," she said in a statement released as her divorce complaint was filed in family court.

Flynt knockoffs: Barely legal?

LOS ANGELES - When it comes to porn, Larry Flynt wants you to know his videos are a cut above other smut on the rack.

So when a pair of nephews launched their own company last year and using the family name, the creator of "Barely Legal" wasted no time suing the upstarts for trademark infringement.

Flynt accused his brother Jimmy Flynt's sons in federal court of tarnishing his image by launching Flynt Media Corp. and producing a series of videos he says are nothing but cheap knockoffs.

He testified that his nephews, Jimmy Flynt Jr. and Dustin Flynt, were a pair of bumbling, incompetent employees that he only kept on the payroll for years out of a sense of family obligation.

Soon after being fired, Jimmy Jr. launched Flynt Media Corp. and brought his younger brother aboard. They produced a handful of sexually explicit videos before Flynt got a court order.

Jimmy Jr., 37, and Dustin Flynt, 34, testified that when they named their company and began producing videos with "FLYNT" in large letters on the boxes, they had no intention of being confused with their uncle.

$1.5B: Because you're worth it

PARIS - A French court yesterday ordered a photographer accused of bilking France's richest woman out of cash and art worth $1.5 billion to stand trial for exploitation.

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers has waged a two-year legal war against the man she accuses of taking advantage of Liliane Bettencourt, her 87-year-old mother and the heiress to the cosmetics giant L'Oreal, including an attempt to have her mother put under court-ordered supervision.

Yesterday, a court ruled that Francois-Marie Banier, 62, will be tried in April for exploitation. He faces up to three years in jail and a more than $100,000 fine.

Bettencourt Meyers, 56, an only child, claims that author and photographer Banier, who has befriended other high-society celebrities in France, has taken advantage of her mother's alleged mental frailty.