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Who needs a bailout? The New York soldiers heading to Afghan War frontlines.

The frightening Taliban invasion of the Afghan capital Kabul, courtesy of Al Jazeera‘s Todd Baer. Compare the CNN and Al Jazeera stories.

Bailout? If by accident of birth, you were in Kabul yesterday, you’d be dying to bail out. You would have been running for your life while crazed Taliban stormed major government buildings and blew themselves up. A score of non-Taliban people were killed and fourscore wounded yesterday in Afghanistan’s capital in the ominous assault.

Not to worry: Hell is on the way. U.S. troops, led by New York’s 10th Mountain Division, are returning to Central Asia after being unjustifiably diverted from Uzbekistan (where they named their camp’s muddy streets after the L.I.E., Fifth Avenue, and so on) to Iraq a few years ago to be blown up by Iraqi rebels. Bad news, everybody: There’s a spring offensive coming against the Taliban, and it won’t be like the relatively bloodless capture of Baghdad. It’ll be like what happened after George W. Bush declared, “Mission accomplished!”

See the sprightly agitprop “10th Mountain Division Leads New Deployments to Afghanistan” from the Defense Department’s American Forces Press Service. Or check out the previews from ABC and CBS.

So, prepare yourselves for depressing news this spring of a non-financial variety: The expected sudden rise of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan will shove at least some of the Wall Street-inspired news off the front pages.

After all, if by the grace of Darwin or God you happen to live in the U.S., you may very well lose your home or job, but you probably won’t be blown up. Unless you’ve been brainwashed by the government’s ad campaigns and have joined the military. In which case, you, too, might find yourself in beautiful downtown Kabul trying to stamp out the Muslim fanatics.

It was only 25 years ago that Ronald Reagan hosted the Taliban in the White House, praised them as heroic “freedom fighters,” and drummed up money for them. And Texas oilmen feted the creepily fundamentalist Taliban leaders with backyard barbecues.

Now the Taliban are returning the favor by trying to barbecue Americans. They no longer need a stimulus from the White House.

You need one, so have another cup of coffee and click on these headlines…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Bloomberg: ‘Bank Failures May Reach 1,000 on Bad Loans’

N.Y. Post: ‘BE MY CUT-RATE VALENTINE’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mother cries “tears of happiness” after baby’s life-saving brain surgery’

N.Y. Post: ‘COP WILL SURRENDER IN BEATING’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘A daring river rescue by man down on luck’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Wants Funds Restored to Stimulus’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Job well done?! 4 Merrill execs got $121M in bonuses on eve of bailout’

N.Y. Times: ‘In New Procedure, Artificial Arm Listens to Brain’

N.Y. Post: ‘B’KLYN COP SHOOTS TEEN GUNMAN’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Gov waffles on tax hikes for wealthy’

Reuters: ‘U.S. mortgage applications slump to 8-year low’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Attack in Kabul Leaves 26 Dead’

N.Y. Post: ‘SULLY AND PAL RELIVE BIRD BLITZ’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Another day, another $294G’

N.Y. Times: ‘Comeback for 10-Year-Old Spaniel’

N.Y. Post: ‘ALOMAR IN “AIDS” SHOCK: EX-LOVE SUES MET GREAT’

N.Y. Times: ‘New School Faculty and President Remain at Odds’

International Herald Tribune: ‘U.S. is looking to the “vultures” to rescue banks’

N.Y. Post: ‘BRAVE GAL IDS “HIT MAN”‘

Wall Street Journal: ‘Economists React: Treasury Announcement Fails to Satisfy’

N.Y. Post: ‘I WAS ANGEL OF FAKE DEATH’

N.Y. Times: ‘Gates Orders Review of Policy on Soldiers’ Coffins’

N.Y. Post: ‘LOTTERY MAY BET ITS MARBLES ON THE MARKET’

N.Y. Post: ‘SHOVEL MURDER’

N.Y. Times: ‘On Trail of War Criminals, NBC News Is Criticized’

N.Y. Post: ‘BIG PUSSY $ETTLES WITH EX’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Foreclosure “Tsunami” Hits Mortgage Servicers’

N.Y. Post: ‘”GRAFT” RABBI OFF HOOK IN DOC ASSAULT’

Forbes: ‘Geithner’s Cash For Trash’

Forbes: ‘Why A $99 iPhone Is Bad For Apple’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”Booty call” sparked fight’

Bloomberg: ‘Buffett, Who Invests “Forever,” Finds Shorter Time Horizons Unprofitable’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mark Green wants his old public advocate gig’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Paterson puttin’ Lotto faith in stock market’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Reverse ban on pics of soldiers’ coffins, say families of fallen soldiers’

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New York City’s jobless rate soars; Toyota drives off a cliff; Sullenberger lands in limelight

Heaven can wait: Chesley Sullenberger live, in “US Airways Flight 1549 Full Cockpit Recording”

To try to counter the sickening economic news, remember another horror story that actually had a happy ending.

Sully Sullenberger knows what “sickening” feels like, although his voice in the above cockpit recording doesn’t reveal it. Now, Sully is talking in detail about his astounding, life-saving jet landing on January 15 in the Hudson River, as the Post reports this morning:

First came the bird strike. Then everything went dead silent.

“It was the worst, sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling I’ve ever felt in my life,” hero pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III told CBS’s 60 Minutes, according to excerpts released yesterday.

“I knew immediately it was very bad,” he said in the interview, set to air Sunday at 7 p.m.

When asked if he wondered how he could get the crippled plane down safely, Sullenberger said he was just stunned.

“My initial reaction was one of disbelief,” he said.

And now for some bad news that only seems unbelievable…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘SULLY RELIVES SPLASH: JET’S “SICKENING” SILENCE’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Bronx teen missing for a month spent it misidentified in city morgue’

N.Y. Times: ‘In the Red, Toyota Sees Loss Tripling’

N.Y. Post: ‘CITY JOBLESS RATE MAY HIT CRIPPLING 10.5 PERCENT’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘N.Y.C. so costly you need to earn six figures to make middle class’

N.Y. Times: ‘As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘More soldiers committed suicide in January than killed by Al Qaeda’

N.Y. Times: ‘Violence and Abuse at City-Run Psychiatric Unit’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Butt-grabbing pervert strikes for 5th time in Gramercy Park’

N.Y. Times: ‘U.N.’s Gaza Refugee Director Criticizes Israel and Hamas’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Anti-Arab Israeli Party Surges’

Polls Show Avigdor Lieberman’s Far-Right Platform Gaining Ahead of Vote

N.Y. Observer: ‘New York’s Stimulus Take: At Least $41 Billion’

Newsday: ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospitalized with pancreatic cancer’

N.Y. Post: ’10 YRS. LATER, RED TAPE KEEPS DIALLO MOM FROM HIS GRAVE’

N.Y. Times: ‘Pakistani Nuclear Scientist Set Free’

A Pakistani court declared disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan free on Friday, ending five years of house arrest for the man at the center of the world’s most serious proliferation scandal.

Khan, lionized by many Pakistanis as the father of the country’s atomic bomb, confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004, but was immediately pardoned by the government, although his movements were restricted to effective house arrest.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Does New Jersey smell? Just ask the folks who live there…’

N.Y. Post: ‘UNIFORMLY ABSURD’

New uniforms for everyone!

The massive $900 billion stimulus bill making its way through Congress would require the feds to purchase up to 100,000 uniforms for the Transportation Security Administration and other Department of Homeland Security workers — a provision critics say won’t do anything to spark the economy.

ChannelWeb: ‘Privacy Group: Google Latitude Could Track Unsuspecting Users’

N.Y. Post: ‘”CUT!” & RUN LOOMS: NY OUT OF FILM LURE$’

Wall Street Journal: ‘When People Stop Moving, So Do Congressional Seats’

Seeking Alpha: ‘The Next American Revolution: Main Street vs. Wall Street’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Toyota Flags $3.84 Billion Full-Year Loss’

Seeking Alpha: ‘Stimulus Watch: How the Devil Are They Going to Finance All of It?’

N.Y. Times: ‘Sales Fall Sharply for Retailers Not Named Wal-Mart’

N.Y. Post: ‘MIKE SCOFFS AT ELEX-CASH CAP’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Deutsche Bank Fallen Trader Left Behind $1.8 Billion Hole’

The fall of Boaz Weinstein, once one of Wall Street’s hottest traders, speaks volumes about why financial firms still are reeling from the shattered global markets.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Octuplet mom Nadya Suleman released from hospital — to what kind of future?’

N.Y. Times: ‘In New York City, an Aromatic Mystery Solved’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Judge might toss damning evidence against Barry Bonds’

N.Y. Post: ‘BABY MAMA OUT FITTY MIL’

A Manhattan judge has thrown out a $50 million lawsuit against 50 Cent by the baby mama who said he’d promised to always take care of her.

Bloomberg: ‘Fertility Drugs Don’t Raise Ovarian Cancer Risk, Study Shows’

N.Y. Times: ‘A Diverse Group of Senators at Center Stage in Economic Debate’

Seeking Alpha: ‘Why Are the Fed and Treasury Working Against Each Other?’

Seeking Alpha: ‘Sleepwalking to Economic Oblivion’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Nations Rush to Establish New Barriers to Trade’

N.Y. Post: ‘SPITZER GAL BARES EXEC HO $CANDAL’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Turns Up Heat, Slams GOP Ideas’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Panetta Hearing Focuses on Bush-Era CIA Challenges’

Pick to Run Agency Calls Waterboarding Torture, but Says Employees Following U.S. Lawyers’ Opinions Shouldn’t Be Prosecuted

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Presses Europe for Aid in Afghanistan Amid Political Chill With Russia’

 

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Wall Street’s bonus army pulls bank robbery; Al Jazeera’s Josh Rushing joins his U.S. mates in Afghanistan

In “Taliban resurgence pushes troops to change tack,” Al Jazeera‘s Josh Rushing joins U.S. troops on the frontline in Afghanistan. Watch this and then ask yourself: Why isn’t this as freely available on your cable as CNN or Fox News? And yes, you’ve heard Rushing’s name; he’s the former Marine flack during the Iraq invasion who was featured in the documentary Control Room and then defied the Pentagon by talking about his experiences with Al Jazeera. Now he works for Al Jazeera.


Unlike Wall Street’s short-sellers, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but capitalism is not dead, despite the moaning and groaning from Davos to D.C.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that the global economy will come to “a virtual halt.” No, not yet and not for everybody. For evidence, see “What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses” in the Times:

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.

On the other hand, you can say that capitalism is in trouble, judging by the surprisingly cynical, lively tone of Ben White‘s above story.

In fact, this is one of the rare moments when a Times story is sharper and more skeptical than the tabloids’ stories on the same topic. Compare this morning’s Daily News story: “City takes hit as Wall St. bonuses cut.” Or the Post‘s: “WALL STREET BONUSES DROP TO LOWEST IN 30 YEARS.”

Yes, the fact that the bonuses sharply fell indicates trouble on Wall Street. But the main thing it indicates is that the bonuses in past years have been staggeringly unconscionable and are now falling back to being merely unconscionable.

In any case, Barack Obama, the nation’s first Kenyan-Kansan president, has already used his bully pulpit to preach social responsibility and rail against greed. Looks as if he might have to summon these Wall Street gangsters to the basketball court and posterize them. You know, add them to his In-Your-Facebook.

And you can just ignore the caterwauling by Capitol Hill’s Republicans about Obama’s stimulus plan. Even the Wall Street Journal reports that corporate types look favorably on Obama’s package.

For those of us accident victims bleeding after being run over on Wall Street or gasping for breath at the foot of Capitol Hill, that stimulus package can’t come too soon. The depression is finally hitting home: I almost dropped my laptop when I heard that profits earned by my Sony baby daddy dropped by 95 percent. Poor little laptop overheats as it is.

If yours still works (and if you’re reading this, it is), click on these items…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘MTA BOARD FARES BADLY AT HEARING’

Members of the MTA board were called “callous” and “oppressors” at a fare hearing in Brooklyn last night that drew nearly 500 people.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Continuing Jobless Claims Hit Record’

N.Y. Times: ‘What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses’

Despite crippling losses in 2008, employees at financial companies in New York collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

N.Y. Post: ‘DEAD LETTER DAY IS LOOMING: POSTAL SERVICE LICKED BY $6B DEFICIT, LOOKS TO SLASH DELIVERIES’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mobster put body in acid, then gave boss the finger — in soup’

N.Y. Post: ‘CONEY ISLAND’S ROCKET SPARED’

Astroland Park’s popular Rocket won’t be blasting out of Coney Island after all. City officials confirmed yesterday that the park’s longtime operator, the Albert family, has donated…

N.Y. Times: ‘House Passes Stimulus Plan Despite G.O.P. Opposition’

Without a single Republican vote, President Obama won House approval for an $819 billion economic plan as Democrats sought to temper their own differences.

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Moves to Aid Credit Unions’

Bloomberg: ‘Gore Says Stimulus Package’s Investments Will Help Combat Global Warming’

N.Y. Post: ‘DA: #!@ ATT’Y $CAMMED SICK
MORGY CURSIN’ MAD OVER LOST MILLIONS’

It takes a special kind of thief to get Morgy this mad. Manhattan’s gentlemanly district attorney, Robert Morgenthau, yesterday needed a pair of profanities to describe a big-shot…

N.Y. Times: ‘Youth Charged With More Attacks on Latinos’

The seven defendants in the deadly assault on Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, are accused of assaulting or attempting to assault a total of eight other Latino men.

N.Y. Post: ‘”BIZ BILK” GAL WANTS LOOT BACK FROM FEDS’

The wealthy Upper West Side woman charged with bilking $80 million from Fortune 500 firms is complaining that she can’t live without her Rolex, Warhol and MontBlancs…

Bloomberg: ‘Mitchell’s Firm Lobbied For Dubai’s Ruler to Help Quash Camel Jockey Suit’

George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special Middle East troubleshooter, was chairman of a law firm that was paid about $8 million representing Dubai’s ruler in connection with a child-trafficking lawsuit.

CBS: ‘CIA Officer In Algeria Accused Of Rape’

N.Y. Times: ‘Backers of Mayoral School Control Face Resistance’

N.Y. Post: ‘BEEF AT GAY INSULT: VEGETARIAN SUES’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘15,000 school jobs may go: Klein’

N.Y. Times: ‘Friends, Until I Delete You’

As your circle of friends on Facebook widens, you may wonder if there’s an etiquette to “defriending” someone, just in case.

FOX: ‘Curvy Kim Kardashian Thinks Curvy Jessica Simpson “Looks Hot”‘

N.Y. Times: ‘On Iraq, Obama Faces Hard Choices’

In redefining the nation’s mission in Iraq, President Obama must decide between abandoning a campaign promise and risking a rupture with the military.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Chinese Premier Blames Recession on U.S. Actions’

CBS: ‘LA Cardinal Subject Of Federal Probe’

N.Y. Times: ‘Stimulus Package’s Components Vary in Speed and Efficiency’

The impact of the $819 billion economic stimulus package will be felt within weeks once the final version becomes law, but estimating its effectiveness is far more complex.

N.Y. Times: ‘After the War on Terror’ (Roger Cohen)

In his first White House televised interview, with the Al Arabiya news network, President Obama buried the lead: The war on terror is over.

N.Y. Times: ‘Blagojevich to End Boycott of His Own Trial’

N.Y. Times: ‘White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code’

N.Y. Times: ‘Musicians Hear Heaven in Tully Hall’s New Sound’


‘JPMorgan Exited Madoff-Linked Funds Last Fall’

From the Times:

…the bank suddenly began pulling its millions out of [funds that invested with Madoff] in early autumn, months before Mr. Madoff was arrested, according to accounts from Europe and New York that were subsequently confirmed by the bank. The bank did not notify investors of its move, and several of them are furious that it protected itself but left them holding notes that the bank itself now says are probably worthless.

N.Y. Post: ‘MADOFF: I’M WEAKENED AT BERNIE’S’

He’s “The Prisoner of Park Avenue.”

Bernie Madoff is whining to anyone who’ll listen that he’s being held captive in his palatial penthouse and unable to traipse around the Big Apple as he did before being busted for running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, a source familiar with the scam artist told the Post.

“I’m a prisoner in my own house!” Madoff fumed. “I can’t go anywhere! I’m stuck here all day!”…

In recent days, The Post has learned, private contractors have been moving at the request of federal authorities to install wiretaps on Madoff’s apartment phones and computers.

“If he surfs the Web or makes a call, it’s going to be tracked,” a source said.

NY1: ‘Queens Warehouse May Be Linked To Madoff Scheme’

Bloomberg: ‘Madoff’s Tactics Date to 1960s When Father-in-Law Was Recruiter’

Bloomberg: ‘Ex-Madoff Worker Objects to $58,000 Bill for Boss’s Mercedes’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Painting the Scene of Madoff’s Operation’

Forbes: ‘Wells Fargo becomes the first major U.S. bank to report Madoff-related loan losses’

CNBC: ‘Accused Swindler Cosmo Owed Thousands to Mob’

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Obama: A president of the Hebrew persuasion

That is, a president who’s finally trying to persuade Hebrews.

With just a few big steps, Barack Obama has erased George W. Bush‘s plodding steps in the Middle East sands.

After eight years of an administration that slavishly followed a pro-Israel bias, thanks mostly to the presence of dual-disloyalists like Doug Feith, Obama has jumped in with both feet — and right in the middle.

Whether Obama will leave a lasting impression won’t be known for a while, of course, but the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment has taken notice.

For a change, it seems, a U.S. president didn’t consult the powerful Jewish establishment lobby before trying to change tack.

Not that Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross are anti-Israel — far from it. (Ross, in fact, is somewhat of a hardline pro-Israel Jew.) Obama isn’t intent on pissing off the right-wing Jewish establishment’s leaders, but it has to shake them that the new president threw the Arab world an olive branch with his al-Arabiya interview and with his choice as envoy of George Mitchell, who’s not known for any particular pro-Israel bias.

These are not moves that were first vetted by the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment.

You have to go beyond the mainstream U.S. press to try to gauge what’s happening in the Middle East. A good source is the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is sort of the Associated Press for Jews.

In “Mitchell’s questions may matter more than his past answers,” the JTA’s Ron Kampeas notes that Mitchell issued a 2001 report on the Arab-Israeli death dance.

Mitchell is one of many who have already tried and failed to broker a peace. But it wasn’t for lack of effort. Haaretz recalls:

Mitchell’s 2001 report on the Israelis and Palestinians called for Israel to freeze construction of new settlements and to stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and Palestinians to prevent attacks and punish those who perpetrated them.

OK, zero for two. But now he has the support of a president who — it seems — intends to do something. So the JTA’s Kampeas writes:

Hawks and doves in the pro-Israel community have read into the Mitchell selection the wishes and fears that have characterized their approaches in the U.S. Jewish community.

The Zionist Organization of America and Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, have fretted about Mitchell’s “evenhandedness” in the 2001 report, which faulted the Palestinian Authority for hardly attempting to rein in terrorists and Israel for not freezing settlements.

In his report, the ZOA said, Mitchell “promotes the false anti-Israel belief that Jews living in communities in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] is the biggest obstacle to peace — not Arab terrorism or Arab incitement.” In an interview, ZOA President Mort Klein said that blaming both sides equally for lack of progress was not “evenhanded,” but inaccurate and unfair.

On the other side, dovish groups emphasized Mitchell’s credentials in brokering Northern Ireland peace. The statement from the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, like those of J Street, Americans for Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum, cited his work in that endeavor.

The truth so far is that no one knows for sure where the U.S. administration stands. To actually have an administration that is leaving both sides guessing is a big step. And it’s smart strategy to keep both sides from either counting on or counting against U.S. support. That’s called diplomacy.

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From baseball to hardball: George Mitchell lands in Mideast to probe the deadliest beanball war — Jews vs. Arabs

The Wall Street Journal, reporting from Davos, asks (gulp), “Is Capitalism, as We Know It, Dead?”

Pumped up from his experience as chief investigator of steroids abuse in baseball, George Mitchell is now in for some really heavy lifting: the testosterone-laden, rage-filled Arab-Jew death dance in the Middle East.

No coincidence that Mitchell’s arrival in the region as President Barack Obama’s peacemaker was accompanied by a flareup of violence.

In the former Maine senator’s baseball probe, few of the players would even talk to him, so he relied heavily on former Mets batboy Kirk Radomski.

This time, however, he’ll be dealing with some people who throw serious heat — rocks, rockets, white phosphorus — and everybody will be talking all at once. Whether they’ll listen to him is another thing.

But he has experience in cutting in on partners locked in death dances: Mitchell won praise a decade ago for helping to hammer out an accord in Northern Ireland.

If he has any success at all in the Middle East, Mitchell will get more than just a feather in his cap. He would indeed replace James G. Blaine in the history books as the plumed knight from Maine.

Meanwhile, in other business…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Village Voice: ‘What Cooked the World’s Economy? It wasn’t your overdue mortgage.’ (James Lieber)

Time: ‘Is California the State Closest to Economic Ruin?’

N.Y. Post: ‘NY HOME$ IN RECORD PLUNGE’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Unemployment Rises in Every State: Joblessness Is Worst Where Housing, Manufacturing Are in Trouble, but Spreading Fast’

N.Y. Post: ‘AXED DAD SLAUGHTERS FAMILY’

Bloomberg: ‘Pfizer’s Wyeth Purchase Puts New Jersey Town’s Jobs, Taxes, Deli in Peril’

Pfizer Inc.’s agreement to buy Wyeth has Main Street in Madison, New Jersey, toting up potential damage.

Time: ‘The GOP Grapples with Obama’s Charm Offensive’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Taxpayers’ running tab on Yankee Stadium parkland’

Taxpayers will get socked for nearly $194 million to replace parkland gobbled up by the new Yankee Stadium – almost 70% more than first estimates.

N.Y. Post: ‘LI “PONZI” BIG HIRED PRISON CHURCH CON’

N.Y. Times: ‘Iranian Leader Demands U.S. Apology’

A day after President Obama struck a conciliatory tone toward Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Washington on Wednesday to apologize for its actions toward his country for the past 60 years and said it was unclear whether the new American administration was merely shifting tactics or wanted real change.

But, in a speech in the western city of Kermanshah, he did not explicitly rebuff the American president’s gesture.

Time: ‘How Al-Arabiya Got the Obama Interview’

N.Y. Post: ‘FAULTY DOORS HAVE SUBWAYS OFF-TRACK’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Top execs still living like kings’ (Juan Gonzalez)

How much longer will Congress use billions in public money to bail out the nation’s biggest banks, then let the top executives remain in charge?

New Yorker: ‘Ms. Kennedy Regrets: Why Caroline Kennedy dropped out’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rove Subpoenaed on U.S. Attorneys’

N.Y. Post: ‘SCHUMER: MOVE SEC TO NEW YORK’

Harper’s: ‘Weekly Review’

…Former vice president Dick Cheney attended the inauguration in a wheelchair, Senator Edward Kennedy had a seizure, Aretha Franklin‘s voice cracked, and Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill performed with the aid of a backing track….

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Blabbering Blagojevich turns to puppy talk’

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich cranked up his Manhattan media blitz Tuesday as FBI tapes detailing alleged pay-to-play deals were featured at his impeachment trial back home.

Bloomberg: ‘Bankruptcy Lawyers Seek $18.50 a Minute as Creditors’ Recoveries Shrink’

Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, home to former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, are asking as much as $1,110 an hour for bankruptcy work while creditors are recovering less of their loans through company restructurings.

N.Y. Post: ‘UNHAPPY MEAL: EXECS NOW DINING AT MCDONALD’S’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Blowfish testicles poison diners’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Novartis Posts 70% Rise in Net’

…The company said it expects record results in 2009, but also warned that the market and economic environment is becoming increasingly challenging.

Novartis, based in Basel, also reported a small pipeline setback, saying it will file meningitis vaccine Menveo for approval for use in infants in 2011, which is later than planned. This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked to test the vaccine on an additional 1,500 infants.

Bloomberg: ‘Obama Broadband Plan Is Too Small, Has Too Many Conditions, Companies Say’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Flare-Up Tests Mideast Truce as Mitchell Arrives’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Medics Say They Were Blocked from Hard-Hit Gaza Village’

Bloomberg: ‘Pakistani Crackdown on Mumbai Attack Suspects Leaves Imams Preaching Jihad’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Illinois Senators Hear Blagojevich’s Taped Conversations’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Times Square hotel tops list of dirtiest hotels in America’

The Hotel Carter was named the dirtiest hotel in America Tuesday by TripAdvisor.com, marking the third time in four years that the W. 43rd St. dump has topped the list.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Barclays Chiefs Join Growing List of Davos No-Shows’

Two top executives from Barclays PLC of the U.K. became the latest prominent bankers to decide against going to global capitalism’s big annual conference, as the financial crisis takes its toll on the major finance houses.

Bloomberg: ‘Schwarzman Pledges “Wonderful Time” for Buyouts as Wealth Drops $7 Billion’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Defendant hurls human feces at jury’

Bloomberg: ‘Olympic Bailout Puts Vancouver Taxpayers on Alert for a Montreal “Big Owe”‘

The athletes’ village rising in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics is casting a shadow over the city’s finances.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Davos: Is Capitalism, as We Know It, Dead?’

Bloomberg: ‘TARP Bank Shares Index Losses Are Four Times the S&P 500’s’

Since the U.S. Treasury began investing in banks through its Capital Purchase Program, a gauge of participating companies’ share prices has lost four times as much as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Bloomberg: ‘Mack Tells Wife He May “Lose” Morgan Stanley Before Staking All on Brokers’

It was early September, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 15 percent for the year. The credit squeeze was grinding on. Deals were few. Morgan Stanley’s John Mack, a chief executive officer who loves a prank, sent three of his deputies small, gray electronic blood pressure machines with Velcro wristbands….

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bill Clinton Speech Fees Topped $4.7 Million in ’08’

Wall Street Journal: ‘High Priest of Sex and Suburbia’


‘Gay vs. Madoff’

Tommy De Seno‘s Jersey Shore Blog offers a math lesson:

Brothers Lawrence and Kenneth Gay are facing a plea bargained sentence of 11 years in prison for stealing $13,000 from a poker game in Brick, New Jersey.

That’s one year in jail for each $1,181.00 stolen.

By that math, Bernie Madoff, who stole $50 billion, should be sentenced to 43 million years in prison.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Perjury Charges Being Considered: SEC Officials Believe Madoff Lied to Them During Past Examinations’

Securities Docket: ‘Testimony of SEC’s Linda Thomsen Before Senate Banking Committee (Madoff Matter)’

Bloomberg: ‘Madoff Enablers Winked at Suspected Front-Running’

Wall Street Journal: ‘In Echoes Of Madoff, Ponzi Cases Proliferate’

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On track: Barack Obama’s conjunction junction

Can’t get enough of Obama’s January 17 train ride. Here it is again.

Even before today’s inauguration, Barack Obama‘s whistle-stop trip to D.C. brought the best of two worlds to America.

Besides being just a really cool thing to do — complete with speeches by the mellifluous new president to cheering crowds — that trip was truly astonishing.

As a Oklahoma boy who used to ride his bike to the train station to see the 8:55 Oil Flyer pull into Bartlesville in the ’50s, I would sometimes sneak into the “colored” waiting room just to try to soak up the inequality.

I did it when I thought no one was looking, and then I raced outside to take a quick sip at the “colored only” water fountain.

It’s not a protest if no one else sees it. I didn’t face danger. The worst that could have happened was a scolding by the stationmaster. Big deal. A black person who refused to sit in that waiting room and tried to take his or her place in the regular waiting room would have earned much more than a scowl.

Still, that was as much rebellion as I dared, and it wasn’t much, because I was overcome by fear — unlike Rosa Parks, who had to fight off mortal fear to risk the consequences. Nearly a century after “emancipation,” she dared to keep her bus seat on December 1, 1955.

And now there’s a black president? And he took the train to D.C. in a great, old-fashioned whistle-stop tour? That really is the best of two worlds and just as significant a victory for white Americans as it is for blacks.

No more separate waiting rooms. Black Americans aren’t being forced to ride out of town on a rail.

A black president is riding into town. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A conjunction that your imagination couldn’t have invented.

If you feel like tearing yourself away from today’s historic moment, here are some clickables:

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Newsday: ‘Experts: Plane that crashed had prior engine problem’

An aircraft that aviation experts say is the same one that crash-landed in the Hudson River Thursday experienced engine problems in mid-flight just two days before, according to passengers.

Whether that problem had any role in Thursday’s crash of the same plane remained unclear, but the [prior] incident on Jan. 13 proved a harrowing experience for passengers.

N.Y. Post: ‘CONEY IS. PLAN BITES NATHAN’S’

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to revitalize Coney Island could mean the end of the original Nathan’s Famous hot-dog stand.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Who Won the War?
Israel Touts Overwhelming Victory, Critics on the Right Disagree’

New Yorker: ‘A Lonesome Death’ (The Wire‘s David Simon)

N.Y. Times: ‘Billionaire Reaches Deal On Funding For Times Co.’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Is Cablevision meddling in Newsday’s coverage?’

Newsday: ‘Newsday, Cablevision execs mum on rumored firings’

Dolan clan said to have axed top editors over Knicks coverage, but a Newsday story disputes details.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Student auctions her virginity, bids reportedly reached $3.7M’

N.Y. Post: ‘GOV: I’M CLUELESS ON SENATE CHOICE’

N.Y. Times: ‘For the Jobless, Hope and Fear for a New Day’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘New York to lead U.S. in job losses’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘NY, TX top list of states with strong housing markets’

N.Y. Post: ‘TEEN STABBED AT GORY 3-D HORROR MOVIE’

The credits rolled but the blood kept flowing. A Long Island security guard allegedly stabbed a moviegoer after a showing of the gruesome splatter flick My Bloody Valentine 3-D

New York: ‘Barack Obama, Party of One’

Without entirely realizing it, America elected its first Independent president.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Fiat to Take Stake in Chrysler’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘BAM launching $300M capital campaign’

The Brooklyn Academy of Music plans to build new theaters, grow its endowment and finance several ambitious artistic endeavors, despite the economy’s woes.

New Yorker: ‘Back Issues’

If the newspaper has a doomsday, it may be coming soon. That makes this a good time to ask: what was the beginning about?…

New York: ‘The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady’

What are these renegade cybergeeks doing at the New York Times? Maybe saving it.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Gazans Rally Behind Hamas’

N.Y. Times: ‘Anxiety Grips Restaurants, New Ones in Particular’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Inauguration means big bucks for prostitutes, coke dealers’

N.Y. Times: ‘At the Office, Taking a Break for the Oath of Office’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Suit: Man died after being jailed for parking tickets and missing chemo’

Unpaid parking tickets proved fatal for a terminally ill Queens man who died after callous cops locked him up for four days for a minor traffic offense, a lawsuit claims.

N.Y. Times: ‘Bush Commutes 2 Border Agents’ Sentences’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Deficits Restrict Obama as His Promises Come Due’

New York: ‘Christopher Hitchens Blames Torture on Common Americans, Demands “Tongue” From Andrew Sullivan’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Nearly 1/2 of all women and 1/3 of men prefer the Internet to sex’

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Hebrew School for All?’

New York is about to witness a historic experiment in the nature of Jewish engagement in American society: the planned opening in August 2009 of the city’s first Hebrew-themed public school.

The school, to be known as the Hebrew Language Academy, will be organized as a charter school, publicly funded but operated by a private not-for-profit association. It must be open to all applicants regardless of religion or background, and its curriculum is to be strictly secular, with no preaching of religion.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Prominent politician posts picture of herself in shower on Facebook’


‘Madoff’s Ponzi Case Leaves PETA Cowed’

From the Wall Street Journal‘s Brody Mullins:

The downfall of Bernard Madoff has claimed a far-flung, new victim: a plan by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to lobby Barack Obama at the inaugural festivities to be a vegetarian.

The animal-welfare organization viewed Mr. Obama’s election as a turning point. So when PETA saw that Mr. Obama would win the election last summer, the group began looking for a way to get an audience with Mr. Obama.

Unfortunately, the plan it cobbled together — which required bidding in an online auction and recruiting a former professional-basketball star/vegan — also involved an investment firm with ties to Mr. Madoff, the billionaire investor who recently confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘The Gargantuan Gonif’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Cuomo Subpoenas Madoff Investor’

Madoff investor J. Ezra Merkin was subpoenaed by New York’s attorney general, over whether his funds defrauded nonprofit groups.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Vienna Banker in Spotlight as Madoff Fallout Spreads’

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘The Long Arm of Halacha: Jewish Law and the Madoff Scandal’

 

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On bereavement leave this week, mourning the exit of George W. Bush

The Bush Error is finally ending, and many of you may see this as the end of a national nightmare.

For reporters, it’s the end of a dream presidency.

Apparently, George W. Bush has decided to heed the Constitution, for a change, and leave office after two terms.

In doing so, he’s pointedly ignoring my plea in this week’s Voice print edition: “Don’t Leave, George W.! We Need You to Bail Out the Press.”

That’s why I’m bailing out for a few days.

Call it bereavement leave.

See you next week.

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Americans start acting responsibly, sending country deeper into depression

Your own private Idaho.


When you can no longer afford even a night out in Boise, Idaho, your country’s in deep financial trouble.

In a clever immorality tale about 21st century capitalism, the Wall Street Journal tells us this morning that people in the Intermountain West are having to give up meet and potatoes. Like many other families throughout the country, the average-American Capp and Muir families have had to stop spending and start saving.

No more nights out in downtown Boise. The Capps now have to stick close to their suburban home. But — the bad news keeps piling up — they’ve had to sacrifice cable TV! And they have teenagers in the house! (Memo to the parents: If you can’t afford to put meat on the table, at least serve your kids Robot Chicken.)

Kelly Evans‘s story, “Hard-Hit Families Finally Start Saving, Aggravating Nation’s Economic Woes,” fascinates, not only because it’s a detailed yet smooth human-interest yarn, but also because it points out the financial perversity spreading through the land because of Wall Street’s meltdown.

Don’t feel sorry for these hinterland families. The fact that they’re desperately trying to save their money, instead of going into more debt, spells doom for the rest of us. By trying to extricate themselves from their own mess, they’re just making it worse for all of us…and for themselves. Screwy, huh? Here’s the explanation, per Evans’s story:

As layoffs and store closures grip Boise, these two local families hope their newfound frugality will see them through the economic downturn. But this same thriftiness, embraced by families across the U.S., is also a major reason the downturn may not soon end. Americans, fresh off a decadeslong buying spree, are finally saving more and spending less — just as the economy needs their dollars the most.

Usually, frugality is good for individuals and for the economy. Savings serve as a reservoir of capital that can be used to finance investment, which helps raise a nation’s standard of living. But in a recession, increased saving — or its flip side, decreased spending — can exacerbate the economy’s woes. It’s what economists call the “paradox of thrift.”

It’s more like a “Cash-22.” I mean, you finally start acting responsibly, saving money instead of piling up even more outrageous credit-card debt and purchasing gizmos and gewgaws that relentless advertising has brainwashed you into lusting after, and that’s bad for you, your family, and the country? More from Evans:

U.S. household debt, which has been growing steadily since the Federal Reserve began tracking it in 1952, declined for the first time in the third quarter of 2008. In the same quarter, U.S. consumer spending growth declined for the first time in 17 years.

That has resulted in a rise in the personal saving rate, which the government calculates as the difference between earnings and expenditures. In recent years, as Americans spent more than they earned, the personal saving rate dipped below zero. Economists now expect the rate to rebound to 3% to 5%, or even higher, in 2009, among the sharpest reversals since World War II.

The truth is that our economy demands that you continue acting like suckers by trying to live beyond your means. And when you stop being a sucker — like when you’re laid off and you don’t have a choice because you have to start saving your money to pay your bills and plan for the hard times — then you’re blamed for not being a good citizen.

Oh well, Wall Street’s worse-than-usual greed may have caused this problem, but we New Yorkers can be part of the solution. Bailouts of Wall Street haven’t worked, so why not try to rescue some other downtowns?

Road trip to Boise!

Now that you know that the real goniffs are yourselves instead of people like Bernie Madoff, you’re free to click on the following news items…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Death Toll Mounts in Gaza Offensive’

As European diplomats sought a cease-fire, Israeli troops poured into Gaza City, expelling residents and shooting militants. Meanwhile, Israeli troops suffered casualties from so-called “friendly fire.”

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Binge drinking raises HIV risk, report says’

New Yorkers who consume five or more drinks in one sitting face increased risk of HIV and other STDs, according to a new study from the city Department of Health.

N.Y. Post: ‘MODEL SNARED IN UGLY WEB: FIGHTING GOOGLE OVER “SKANK” BLOG’

FOX News: ‘U.S. Embassy in Iraq Largest, Most Expensive Ever’

N.Y. Times: ‘Ex-Detainee of U.S. Describes a 6-Year Ordeal’

Though never charged with a crime, Muhammad Saad Iqbal spent six years in American custody, during which he says he was secretly taken to Egypt and tortured.

Editor & Publisher: ‘Daily Show Returns — As Alan Colmes Becomes Stephen Colbert’s Co-Host’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘New poll sez Caroline is unsweetened’

Caroline Kennedy’s popularity has plunged as her push to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate hit rough patches, a new poll finds.

N.Y. Post: ‘CAR-NAGE! DECEMBER AUTO SALES CRASH & BURN’

Editor & Publisher: ‘Ann Coulter Kicked Off NBC’s Today Show

Editor & Publisher: ‘Locked Out: Israel STILL Keeping Foreign Reporters from Gaza War Zone’

N.Y. Post: ‘EL LOCO CHOKE-O: LEFTY HALTS OIL AID OVER MONEY WOES’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Hard-Hit Families Finally Start Saving, Aggravating Nation’s Economic Woes’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Analysis: Third stage will be war’s hardest test’

The hard part of Israel’s war against Hamas lies ahead — and the public’s willingness to fight on will determine its course.

N.Y. Times: ‘Toyota to Shut Factories for 11 Days’

N.Y. Post: ‘ARAB FLIER GETS 240G OVER SHIRT BAN’

A JetBlue passenger who was forced to cover up a T-shirt that read, “We will not be silent” in Arabic and English before boarding a cross-country flight won a $240,000 settlement from…

N.Y. Times: ‘Panetta Chosen as C.I.A. Chief in Surprise Step’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rent Reprieve for a Fixture on the Upper West Side’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘2 NY mortgage firms agree to restitution’

HCI Mortgage and Consumer One Mortgage will pay $665,000 for charging black and Hispanic borrowers higher…

N.Y. Post: ‘ALBANY POLS STILL SUCK’


Bloomberg: ‘Madoff Investor Awaits “Imbecile” or “Dupe” Verdict’

Patrick Littaye, 69, [co-founder of Access International Advisors,] invested all of his own money with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC last year, enticed by the firm’s positive returns as other hedge funds slumped. His error was compounded because he borrowed money to increase the return on his investment, leaving him with $4 million in personal debts, Littaye said in telephone interviews from Jan. 2 through Jan. 4. He declined to specify the amount he had lost.

“I’m going to sell everything I have and start over,” Littaye said from Brussels, adding that he planned to subsist on his French social security payments. “For Access, we’ll go to our investors over the next couple of weeks and we’ll see what they think of us.”

Littaye’s partner, Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, chose a different course. The 65-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer of Access was found dead Dec. 23 at his office in New York. Villehuchet killed himself after it became clear he wouldn’t be able to recover the funds he and his clients invested with Madoff…

N.Y. Times: ‘Bid to Revoke Madoff’s Bail Cites His Gifts’

Bernard L. Madoff tried to hide at least $1 million in assets from investigators, prosecutors told a judge.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘The city’s star crook: Fed entourage protects Madoff’

Bloomberg: ‘Madoff Sons Reported Jewelry Violations to U.S., Lawyer Says’

The sons of Bernard Madoff, who is accused of orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme, told prosecutors last week that their father violated a court-ordered asset freeze by mailing them jewelry, watches and other items, his lawyer said.

Time: ‘The Ponzi Scheme in Every Hedge Fund’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Madoff’s victims number 8,000 — and counting’

In a further sign of the sheer enormity of Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, on Monday a count-appointed trustee announced it had mailed claim forms to 8,000 former customers–an irate army of investors that is still only a fraction of the total number who may have been defrauded.

Bloomberg: ‘Bard College Had Losses of $3 Million Tied to Madoff’

Reuters: ‘New York University sues fund exec over Madoff’

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Mike Bloomberg launches preemptive trip to Israel; invasion of NYC unlikely

Waltz With Bashir, a movie that sprang from a previous Israeli invasion of Lebanon, won Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics. A free Madoff Watch T-shirt to the reader who suggests the best title for the first movie spurred by Israel’s current invasion of Gaza.


On an overseas trip while Rome burns, Mike Bloomberg is acting as if term limits remained intact and he couldn’t run for another term.

The mayor’s in Israel, having a “blast,” as the Post puts it, during the invasion of Gaza.

While the rest of the city’s inhabitants are facing an onrushing New Depression, Bloomberg is occupied with the occupiers. Focusing primarily on getting his aides to make sure he stays alive, the mayor’s not exactly concentrating on the crisis back home. How does a New York City mayor keep schools, health clinics, transit service, and libraries from being slashed? He dunno.

Meanwhile, a woman was slashed while jogging behind Gracie Mansion. If Bloomberg had been at home, he (or his valet) might have peeked out the window and shooed away her attacker.

Lots of other news follows, for the all the good it will do you. Plus, at the end of this aggregation, see a cluster of Madoff Watch items…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Editor & Publisher: ‘Media Commentary Muted as Israel Invades’

N.Y. Post: ‘BLOOMBERG HAS ‘BLAST’ IN ISRAEL: TAKES SHELTER AFTER ROCKET ROCKS HIS “BOOM!” TOWN VISIT’

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Transition Slows Negotiations Over Gaza’

N.Y. Times: ‘Gaza Hospital Fills Up, Mainly With Civilians’

Bloomberg: ‘Israel Troops Drive Deep Into Gaza; Sarkozy Leads Truce Effort’

N.Y. Times: ‘Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant in G.O.P. Convention Case’

Vanity Fair: ‘The Good, the Bad, and Joe Lieberman’ (James Wolcott)

Bloomberg: ‘Journal of a Plague Year: Faith in Markets Cracks Under Losses’

N.Y. Times: ‘The End of the Financial World as We Know It’ (Michael Lewis)

N.Y. Post: ‘SLAY RAPS IN CRANE TRAGEDY’

It has been a year of record misery: the largest bankruptcy, bank failure and Ponzi scheme in U.S. history; $720 billion in writedowns and losses by financial institutions; $30.1 trillion in market valuation wiped out.

Bloomberg: ‘Buffett Has “Nowhere to Hide” Amid Berkshire’s Plunge’

N.Y. Times: ‘For Israel, Chance to Strike Before an Ally Departs’

N.Y. Post: ‘QNS. SLASHER HUNT: WOMAN, 86, BRUTALIZED IN HER BED’

N.Y. Times: ‘Woman Slashed While Jogging in Park Behind Gracie Mansion’

Vanity Fair: ‘The Ultimate Bubble?’

Media Week: ‘Kathy Griffin In Hot Water Over Comments on CNN’

Gawker: ‘Kathy Griffin’s “Dicks” Banned From Times, “Magic Negro” OK’

Bloomberg: ‘Engines of Recovery Flame Out as Economy Seeks Obama-Fed Rescue’

N.Y. Times: ‘Blood Sugar Control Linked to Memory Decline, Study Says’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Israel’s Ground Assault Marks Strategy Shift’

N.Y. Post: ‘GRAN GETS BOOT FOR CHRISTMAS’

Gawker: ‘Scientology Founder Slams Drugs That Might Have Saved Travolta’s Son’

Bloomberg: ‘Obama Moves to Counter China With Pentagon-NASA Link’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Stress and the city: New York is gripped by fear. Are we headed back to the bad old days of the 1970s?’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mayor Bloomberg whisked into bomb shelter in Israel as rocket fire erupts during solidarity trip’

N.Y. Post: ‘FISHY NUPTIALS FIASCO’

A proud father wanted the best for his daughter on her wedding day, but the fairy-tale event turned into a $100,000 fiasco that ended with the blushing bride kneeling over the toilet vomiting…

N.Y. Post: ‘FUMING MAD: SUIT OVER WEDDING MONOXIDE’

A Long Island couple whose wedding celebration evaporated in a cloud of carbon monoxide is still furious over unpaid expenses for the ruined reception…

Daily Beast: ‘Carnival of the Shameless: What do Dubya, Blago, Bernie Madoff, and Roland Burris have in common? No regrets!’ (Christopher Buckley)

N.Y. Post: ‘NARCO COP ‘ROID SLAP’

New York: ‘Stephon Marbury May Soon Destroy Celtics’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”I’m not guilty,” yells bus driver’

New York: ‘The Catastrophe Capitalist: Short-seller Jim Chanos is having the time of his life through this crisis’

Muckety: ‘Ties to former Paterson aide may help Caroline Kennedy’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Thacher Proffitt: case closed: Downward spiral touched off by mortgage crisis claims its most prominent legal victim’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Residential permits down 74% in November’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Majority of arts groups cutting back’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Analysis: Gov. leaving Kennedy in limbo’

N.Y. Post: ‘SUPPORT FOR BUS MATRON: DISPATCHER FINGERED’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Hard Times: News brand shops assets to cut debt’

In the past year, The New York Times Co. has slashed the dividend it pays investors by 75%, cut the companywide head count by 8%, raised the newsstand price of the flagship paper while merging its sections, and consolidated two New York area printing plants into one.

Big steps, but apparently not big enough. The world’s foremost newspaper brand ended 2008 with its stock price down more than 60%. To raise $225 million to pay down long-term debt, the company is planning a sale-leaseback of part of its Renzo Piano-designed headquarters. It is also actively shopping its minority stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Like every other newspaper publisher, the Times Co. is grappling with an unprecedented collapse in print advertising and a dramatic slowdown in online ad growth. In the first nine months of 2008, revenues fell 7%, to $2.2 billion. Meanwhile, net income–which was boosted in the year-earlier period by the sale of the company’s broadcast unit–plunged 92%, to $27.3 million. The company, which has roughly $1 billion in debt, is negotiating with lenders over the more than $600 million in loans that are coming due this year and next.


Bloomberg: ‘SEC Said to Examine More Ponzi Schemes After Madoff’

FOX News: ‘Report: Former Madoff Employees Selling Memorabilia on eBay’

New Yorker: ‘Cheat, Pray, Love’

Crain’s New York: ‘Milberg rides Madoff: Scandal-plagued law firm rebuilds image, representing Ponzi scheme victims’

Huffington Post: ‘Madoff Employees Still Being Paid Despite Nothing To Do’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Why the Bernie Madoff Scandal Is a Good Thing’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Gives Prosecutors Details of His, Firm’s Assets’

Muckety: ‘Even Dr. Doom invested with Madoff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘How the SEC Can Prevent More Madoffs: Bolster its risk-assessment and enforcement staff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Chasers Dug for Years, to No Avail’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Took Funds Near Arrest’

ABC: ‘The Safeguard Madoff Victims Missed: How Custodial Accounts at Banks Can Help Avoid Madoff-Type Schemes’

 

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Happy holidays: Madoffs shop, Gov. Paterson gallivants

Only three shopping days ’til Depression. But no need to hurry as in years past because you may have already been laid off, so have that second cup of coffee before you head off to longingly press your noses against those store windows.

If you still have a job, it probably won’t matter if you take off from work (because you’re probably not going to have your job much longer anyway) to grab that new bauble for your spouse (because diamonds are forever).

Let’s face it: You’re fucked. (No really, Xmas season is the peak time of mating.)

Anyway, this could be your last chance to get that plasma TV. Next year you could be at the blood bank cashing in your plasma just to put food on the table.

This morning’s best headline is the New York Post‘s “DEATH-LEAP SUV GAL WAS BOOZY: BAR BOSS.” And the most heart-warming Xmas story also comes from the Post: yesterday’s joyous shopping spree by one of Bernie Madoff‘s sons. The Post was on the scene:

Bernard Madoff’s investors have lost everything, but his son and daughter-in-law seemed without a care in the world yesterday as they dashed around SoHo on a holiday shopping spree.

Andrew Madoff, 42, who worked with brother Mark at their dad’s now-failed financial firm, still drives around in a BMW SUV to do his holiday shopping, loading up with purchases from J.Crew, Longchamp, Kidrobot and other tony stores in SoHo.

Andrew and wife Deborah, 41, who live on the Upper East Side, also shopped at American Eagle and a high-end lamp store, and checked out the windows at Vera Wang.

No word on whether the couple also went shopping for a shiny, new Ponzi to give to their dad. Take us for a ride, Bernie!

Already going for a spin at our expense is Governor David Paterson, who went to Iraq to “spread holiday cheer” to the troops, as the Daily News reports.

WTF is he doing in Iraq!? He has no say on decisions concerning the war. Some government is paying for that trip. The Daily News sez:

Paterson, joined by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens) and Steve Israel (D-L.I.), arrived in Iraq with Yankees and Mets baseball caps for the soldiers.

He said he came to thank them for their service but wound up being “overwhelmed” by their appreciation in return.

It’s bad enough that the two congressmen are over there for no practical purpose. But while tens of thousands of New Yorkers and other Americans are standing on line for the first time to collect food stamps and other dwindling social services, Paterson’s collecting good wishes from the troops? We know that pols live for applause, but WTF!?

Stranded, we point and click to these items …

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘MADOFF’S SON IN SHOPPING GALL: POSH-GIFT SPREE AMID $UFFERING’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Obama probe clears top aide Rahm Emanuel of too much Blago blabbing’

McClatchy: ‘Stimulus plan could be mother of all “Christmas tree” bills’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Stars of David: A-listers do Chanukah’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Investors Lose Faith, Pull Record Amounts’

Rank-and-file investors, who likely account for half or more of all U.S. stock holdings, are losing faith in stocks just as in past, long market downturns. Investors withdrew an estimated $72 billion from stock funds overall in October.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Stampede for “Bush shoe” creates 100 new jobs’

Ramazan Baydan, owner of the Istanbul-based Baydan Shoe Company, has been swamped with orders from across the world, after insisting that his company produced the black leather shoes which the Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi threw at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last Sunday.

Baydan has recruited an extra 100 staff to meet orders for 300,000 pairs of Model 271 – more than four times the shoe’s normal annual sale – following an outpouring of support for Zaidi’s act, which was intended as a protest, but led to his arrest by Iraqi security forces.

Times (U.K.): ‘Gordon Brown puts millions on table to save car maker Jaguar Land Rover’

BBC: ‘Windows XP allowed to live again’

N.Y. Post: ‘”ID-THEFT CELL SCAM” HITS COPS IN B’KLYN’

Maybe it wasn’t the “Finest” idea. Two identity thieves ripped off cops at a Brooklyn station house after they got hold of a 15-year-old personnel roster and used the information …

Wall Street Journal: ‘The Presidential Pickup Game’

With the naming of ‘the best basketball-playing cabinet in American history,’ hoops madness is hitting Washington. But don’t count out the bowling lobby.

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Developers Seek
Their Own Bailout’

Big property developers are asking to be included in a new $200 billion loan program as a surge in commercial mortgages comes due.

The Age (Australia): ‘Japanese protest against Google Street View’

A group of Japanese journalists, professors and lawyers demanded Friday that the US Internet search giant Google scrap its “Street View” service in Japan, saying it violates people’s privacy. … The service was expanded to 12 major cities in Japan in August and six cities in France in October. …

The Google Japanese unit earlier said it was blurring the faces of people seen in Street View scenes by special technology and that it would delete the pictures of people and buildings upon request.

Japan has stricter protections on privacy in public than in the United States, with Japanese able to stop their pictures from being used against their will.

Saudi-U.S. Relations Information Service: ‘Election 2008: Arab World Views’

“When you talk to Arabs they talk about the American media, they say American media is synonymous with Fox.

“Well, no, American media is not synonymous with Fox. And great things are published by the American media. Great things are published by the American media. The American media covered the Shabra and Shatila massacres in a more dignified professional way than all the Arab media put together. Make no mistake.”

Times (U.K.): ‘FBI diverts anti-terror agents to Bernard Madoff $50 billion swindle’

Washington Times: ‘Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately: Met with thousands of war injured, kin out of spotlight’

Times (U.K.): ‘Three near-invisible drawings discovered on back of Da Vinci masterpiece’ [VIDEO]

Wall Street Journal: ‘Mortgage Applications Surge on Falling Rates’

Times (U.K.): ‘Bad for investors, good for lawyers: Grandchildren of Madoff investors will still be suing grandchildren of hedge fund managers in fifty years’

Washington Post: ‘Cheney Defends His Tenure, Administration’s Actions’ [TRANSCRIPT]

Vice President Cheney offered an unabashed defense of the Bush administration’s claims of broad executive powers today, mocking criticism from Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and saying the president “doesn’t have to check with anybody” before launching a nuclear attack.

AP: ‘AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs’

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. …

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Sunday Mail (U.K.): ‘Fury as bust bank flies 100 branch managers to New York on junket’

CRISIS-HIT bank HBOS came under attack yesterday after rewarding 100 branch managers with an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

The four-day holiday – which includes tickets for their partners and spending money – comes weeks after taxpayers bailed out the bank with £11.5 billion.

The managers are being rewarded for hitting performance targets – in a year that ended with the bank facing collapse.