Obama to bankers: 'It's a shonda!' (Or words to that effect.)

Eli Valley's 'The Shonda!'

PRESS CLIPSYou won't see edgy Bernie Madoff-related work like this in U.S. mainstream papers, but New York's own Jewish Daily Forward, as always, is up to the task of covering Jewish politics and news with a minimum of politically correct tiptoeing.

Above, an excerpt from Eli Valley's "The Shonda!" in the Forward.

Valley, sort of the Jewish version of R. Crumb, touts his work as "Ethnocentric Parochialism for the Whole Family!"

See Valley's profile on Jewcy.com, where I just discovered that, like me, he's a huge fan of noir-era cinematographer John Alton. No wonder I like Valley's work so much.

For more Madoff-related news that's not of the cartoonish persuasion, go to the end of this post for my daily Gelt Trip aggregation.

But first, please note that Barack Obama isn't being so politically correct either. Now in charge of a generally conservative country long dominated by profligate financiopaths, the nation's first black president is chewing out Wall Street bankers and generally acting like some kind of goldurned liberal.

Watch your back, my brother. And tell the Secret Service to do the same.

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: 'Senators Approve Health Bill for Children'

A newly empowered Democratic majority brushed aside objections with a bill to insure four million children.

N.Y. Daily News: '23,000 JOBS FACE AXE'

15,000 teachers? Gone. Rebates for homeowners? Forget 'em. And that's just the tip of Mayor Bloomberg's shocking cuts.

Bloomberg: 'Hidden Bonuses Enrich Government Contractors as Taxpayers Pay $100 Billion'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Not again! 4-year-old disabled boy abandoned on bus'

A driver and matron were arrested Thursday after failing to drop a disabled child at school and then leaving him on the bus.

N.Y. Post: 'O SENDS ANGRY ME$$AGE'

President Obama delivered a blistering message to Wall Street yesterday, blasting the big-bucks bonuses doled out to fat-cat execs...

N.Y. Daily News: '15 yrs. for ma who killed, dumped baby'

N.Y. Times: 'Few Ways to Recover Bonuses to Bankers'

Wall Street Journal: 'U.S. Eyes Two-Part Bailout for Banks'

Top economic officials are discussing new efforts to help banks while trying to mitigate the cost to taxpayers. Obama stepped up his attacks on these banks, calling Wall Street bonuses "shameful."

Bloomberg: 'Investors May Pour Billions Into Tide Power as Obama, EU Push Green Energy'

Three decades ago, engineer Peter Fraenkel created an underwater turbine to use river power to pump water in Sudan, where he worked for a charity. Civil war and a lack of funding stymied his plans. Now, his modified design generates electricity from tides off Northern Ireland.

N.Y. Post: 'SURVIVORS' GILT: GIVE US MORE, US AIRWAYS PASSENGERS DEMAND'

N.Y. Post: 'THREE CANDIDATES KILLED AS ELECTION NEARS'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Workers waste no time erasing Blagojevich pictures, name from Capitol'

N.Y. Times: 'On His Way Out, Blagojevich Makes a Day of It'

On his final day as governor of Illinois, Rod R. Blagojevich was, by turns, furious, morose and full of gallows humor.

N.Y. Times: 'Suicides of Soldiers Reach High of Nearly 3 Decades'

At least 128 soldiers killed themselves last year, as the Army suicide rate surpassed that for civilians for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to Army statistics.

N.Y. Post: 'EX-COP SUIT IS FLUSHED'

A former cop seeking line-of-doody disability pay for breaking a finger on an overflowing toilet is spit out of luck, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

Bloomberg: 'Peres Says Israel's Ties With Turkey Unaffected by Erdogan Spat'

CNN: 'Alaska volcano "more energetic," scientists say'

N.Y. Post: 'ELIOT'S MADAM GETS 6 MONTHS'

N.Y. Post: 'ACCUSED PSYCH-CENTER RAPISTS DODGE JAIL TIME'

Three workers accused of raping underage girls at an acclaimed upper Manhattan psychiatric treatment center have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor endangering charges and will do no prison time...

Brooklyn Paper: 'City budget whiz says Bruce's Yards deal needs retooling'

N.Y. Post: 'DOORMAN'S COURAGE'

He chased down a lunatic serial stabber in Times Square, and lived to tell a jury about it yesterday.

"I don't know if it was more heroic or stupid," former W Hotel doorman Adam Szpiler, 32, said of his bravery after testifying against accused knifeman Kenny Alexis, charged with attempting to murder three tourists and a cook in a 13-hour rampage in the summer of 2006.

Wall Street Journal: 'Gaza Tensions Erupt At Davos Session'

Bloomberg: 'DVD Plunge, Viewer Shift to NetFlix May Force Studios to Write Down Films'

N.Y. Times: 'U.S. Says Jailed C.I.A. Mole Kept Spying for Russia'

Bloomberg: 'Citigroup Guarantees Test Obama Pledge to Tell Public More on Bailout Risk'

U.S. government guarantees on securities totaling $419 billion for bank bailouts provide an early test of President Barack Obama's pledge to be open with taxpayers about what they have at risk in the credit crisis.

N.Y. Times: 'Bloomberg Will Seek Increase in Sales Taxes'

N.Y. Times: 'M.T.A. Planning to Spend Stimulus on Fulton St. Hub'

The M.T.A. expects to spend $497 million in federal stimulus money to complete the stalled and over-budget Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan.

N.Y. Times: '"Mourning" the M and R Subway Lines'

Transit advocates held a mock funeral to protest proposed service reductions on the M and R subway lines.

Wall Street Journal: 'Europe Basks as U.S.-Style Capitalism Draws Fire'

Add another voice to the chorus of city officials who say that the city should renegotiate its deal with developer Bruce Ratner, whose Atlantic Yards mega-project is in jeopardy due to the economic crisis.

N.Y. Times: 'Debate on Mayoral Control of Schools Is Renewed'

Onion: 'Blagojevich Claims Behavior Was Just Elaborate Plan To Surprise Patrick Fitzgerald With Senate Nomination on His Birthday'

N.Y. Times: 'Springsteen Promises High-Energy Halftime Show'


'BERNIE FACES BOOT'

MADOFF WATCHFrom the Post:

Start packing, Bernie.

Accused Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff's luxurious penthouse apartment -- where he currently whiles away the hours under house arrest -- could soon be up for sale, the Post has learned....

[Real-estate] brokers have been invited by lawyers working for Irving Picard, the trustee appointed by a federal bankruptcy-court judge to oversee the liquidation of Madoff's Manhattan investment firm.

Picard presumably would use any sale proceeds to help pay back, at least somewhat, Madoff's creditors.

Because he must remain inside the two-story apartment as a condition of his $10 million bail, Madoff will be in awkward proximity to brokers when they eyeball its four bedrooms, at least five bathrooms, kitchen and library.

N.Y. Times: '2 Banks to Send Madoff Trustee $535 Million'

Vos Iz Neias?: 'Manhattan Banks Find $500M in Madoff Accounts'

Jewish Daily Forward: 'Madoff's Lawyer Plays Both Sides of the Court'

Wall Street Journal: 'Ex-Merrill Executives Got Burned by Madoff'

Bloomberg: 'Madoff `Dull But Steady' Returns, Internal Probe Didn't Alarm Notz Stucki'

Notz, Stucki & Cie., a Swiss money manager, probed and later dismissed concerns about Bernard Madoff investments, which offered "dull but steady" returns.


Jews v. Arabs: It's war, even if the 'Times' tries to avoid calling it that

Al Jazeera reporting on the war in Gaza


PRESS CLIPSWill somebody please call this a war?

You won't find the word "war" in this morning's lede story in the New York Times on Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

Is the Times afraid of offending New York's Jews, especially the right-wing Jewish establishment? Is it fearful of provoking a slew of accusations from that hawkish establishment that the paper is antisemitic? Probably.

But that's nuts. The word pops up several times in the city's main Jewish newspaper, the Daily Forward, which is definitely not a lefty publication.

For example, the Forward's lede story this morning is from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (the Chosen People's wire service), for whom Dina Kraft writes:

Just as in the summer of 2006, when the northern part of the country huddled in bomb shelters during the Second Lebanon War and the rest of the country carried on with its business, a new war has come that affects Israelis — at least in part — according to geography.

Practically all of the U.S. mainstream press goes through gyrations to avoid calling what's going on in the Middle East a "war."

That's why if you want to read the un-P.C. skinny about the current war between Arabs and Jews and about the complex, murky, often slimy world of American-Israeli politics, you have to read the Forward. Or at least the press in other countries.

Depending on your political or gastronomic persuasion, order another bagel or sfiha and click on these stories...

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: 'CAR FUMES KILL LOVERS'

Wall Street Journal: 'Israel to Discuss Gaza Cease-Fire'

A high-ranking Israeli delegation was scheduled to arrive in Egypt to discuss the possibilities of a cease-fire in the Jewish state's 12-day assault on the Gaza Strip.

N.Y. Post: 'MAN FATALLY STABS HIS PIT BULL'

Wall Street Journal: 'Job Test Spawns Culture of Cheating'

Online personality tests have helped retailers to automate hiring. But the tests are also creating a culture of cheating and raising questions about their fairness.

Jewish Daily Forward: 'Dovish Jewish Groups Break Ranks, Call for Cease-Fire'

N.Y. Post: 'UNEMPLOYMENT OUTAGE'

Department of Labor, please hold. A rush of out-of-work New Yorkers overwhelmed the state's unemployment system yesterday, forcing the program's automated phone banks and...

Wall Street Journal: 'Obama Pushes States to Cover More Unemployed'

Village Voice: 'Mayor Mike and the Yanks: City Hall gift-wraps another present for baseball's richest team' (Tom Robbins)

N.Y. Post: 'New York City animal shelters scramble after strep outbreak kills dogs'

N.Y. Times: 'Obama Seeks to Mend Rift Over Panetta'

N.Y. Post: 'OY VEY, WHAT A 'SNATCH': GEM BANDITS USE FILM-STYLE HASID DISGUISE'

N.Y. Times: 'Facing Losses, Billionaire Takes His Own Life'

N.Y. Daily News: 'You don't scare me, thug'

A Queens grandmother who fought off a prowler said she wants to confront her attacker.

Jewish Daily Forward: 'As Bush Exits, Four High-Profile Felons Hope For Pardons'

...Public campaigns have been launched on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, the Navy analyst who was sent to jail for spying on behalf of Israel, and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a leading neoconservative and former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Jewish philanthropist and former junk-bond king Michael Milken had his application for pardon submitted by Washington bigwig Ted Olsen.

N.Y. Post: 'YANKEE PANKY: NEW SLUGGER'S SMOOCHY COUP'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Free perking for ex-MTA official'

N.Y. Times: 'Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza'

N.Y. Daily News: 'B'klyn stops being polite: The Real World comes to Brooklyn for its 21st season'

ABC: 'The Burris Circus and the Politics of Race'

Onion: 'Terror Experts Warn Next 9/11 Could Fall On Different Date'

Wall Street Journal: 'India Outsourcer Rocked by Fraud'

Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju Wednesday resigned admitting to falsifying company accounts and inflating revenue and profit figures over several years, sending the company's shares plunging 78%.....

Satyam's clients include General Electric Co., General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Applied Materials Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Sony Corp.

N.Y. Post: '45% FAVOR CAROLINE'

Forty-five percent of Americans want Gov. Paterson to name Caroline Kennedy to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a poll released yesterday.

N.Y. Times: 'Cuomo Aide Is Said to Try to Slow Kennedy Bid'

Jewish Daily Forward: 'Israel's Stark Choice in Gaza: Cease-Fire or Regime Change?'

N.Y. Post: '"EX" SEX EXTORT ARREST'

N.Y. Times: 'Specter Attacks Choice for Attorney General'

N.Y. Post: 'POL BUS KILLS KID: CANDIDATE DEVASTATED'

A campaign bus for a candidate in the City Council's special election killed a 9-year-old Queens boy scampering home from school yesterday...


MADOFF WATCHN.Y. Observer: 'Palm Beach Ponzi Pique: Why Did Madoff Bilk Own Mishpocheh?'

Wall Street Journal: 'Madoff Tried to Stave Off Firm's Crash Before Arrest'

Ten days before his arrest, Bernard Madoff received $250 million from a man who helped give him his start on Wall Street, a move that shows how the investment manager tried to raise cash to stave off his firm's collapse.

Mr. Madoff received $250 million around Dec. 1 from Carl Shapiro, a 95-year-old Palm Beach, Fla., philanthropist and entrepreneur who is one of Mr. Madoff's oldest friends and biggest financial backers, according to people familiar with the matter.

N.Y. Post: 'SEC GAL FIRES BACK'

Former SEC exec Meaghan Cheung, who oversaw a 2006 probe of swindler Bernard Madoff's firm, defended herself yesterday against claims that she and others blew it by not uncovering his huge...

N.Y. Post: 'NYU "BERNED" FOR $94 MILLION'

New York University lost as much as $94 million when a hotshot money manager, against the school's wishes, invested the cash with swindler Bernie Madoff, its lawyers told a judge yesterday...


Daily Flog: Smears and schmears; meltdowns on Wall Street and in the Arctic

Running down the press:

Post: 'HOLY SOW! BAM'S LIPSTICK BUNGLE: TAKES A PIG AND A POKE AT PALIN'

This'll teach Barack Obama to stick a fork in the other white meat:

Barack Obama stuck his foot in his mouth yesterday when he said "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig"- which the angry McCain campaign immediately denounced as an out-of-bounds attack on running mate Sarah Palin.

The U.S. has made at least some progress: Only 60 years ago, he would have been lynched for talking like that about a white gal.

Obama wasn't directly referring to Palin as a pig — he was talking about the GOP's braying about how it stands for "change." But as the L.A. Times notes, his using that simile on the heels of Palin's "lipstick" comment — not to mention the mentioning of the sensitive word "pig" anywhere even near a female candidate — left him wide open.

Palin presents a potentially big problem for the Democrats. With only a short time before the election, how are they going to reveal her as a know-nothing, religious-right wingnut? Etiquette, unfortunately, precludes them from simply laughing at her. Joe Biden is a hard-working pragmatic pol, but his tight little smile and penchant for chattering on and on aren't made for TV. Besides, the Republicans know that any hard attack on Palin will only stir up the anti-intellectual reverse snobbery that gave two full terms to such an uninterested-in-issues moron as George W. Bush.

In some ways, Palin is more dangerous than Bush. Both are proud of not being brainy, and that's clearly no handicap these days — them East Coast big shots aren't going to tell us how to run our country. But she has the zeal of her extremely conservative convictions, like any number of other anti-Darwinists whose presence on the planet actually proves their own point that humans haven't evolved.

Poke the pig at your own peril.


Post: 'RANGEL HAS A BAD CHAIR DAY'

Charlie's provocative musing about reinstating the draft? Now there's a draft afoot to oust him from his powerful job:

Embattled Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel is facing possible ouster from his powerful committee chairmanship as he scrambles to file new tax returns in a desperate bid to hold on to his job.

The amended returns will reflect years of income he never bothered reporting from renting out his beachfront Caribbean villa, his lawyer said yesterday.

House Republicans yesterday pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to dump Rangel as head of the Ways & Means Committee, which writes the nation's tax laws.


Post: 'DAVE AND MIKE PUT TAX HIKES ON TABLE'

The last thing you want to hear is moaning from the state and city governments about their budget problems. What this and every other story doesn't tell you is that there's plenty of money in Manhattan; it's just being diverted, with little or no regulation, into the pockets of the Wall Streeters who churn money from your mortgage payments, bank fees, and pension funds to their own benefit.


Times: 'Across Country, New Challenges to Term Limits'

Good puff for Mike Bloomberg's attempt make himself into NYC's version of Turkmenbashi and other presidents-for-life:

A decade after communities around the country adopted term limits to force entrenched politicians from office, at least two dozen local governments are suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse, with legislative bodies from New York City to Tacoma, Wash., trying to overturn or tweak the laws.


Post: 'BEATLE GAL PAL'S EX IN MAYOR RUN'

Free advertising from David Seifman for a former stooge of the fabled Nassau County GOP machine:

Add another name to the list of mayoral contenders - Republican Bruce Blakeman, whose estranged wife is hot and heavy with Paul McCartney.

After months of sounding out would-be supporters and pondering his chances in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, Blakeman told The Post yesterday: "I am going to be running for mayor."

Here's more from the press release that poses as a story:

A 52-year-old former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Blakeman said he intends to follow in the mold of both Mayor Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, and to build upon their accomplishments.

"I think there's a real desire for continuity," said Blakeman.

Great quote!

Blakeman was one of the top officials spawned by the Nassau GOP, which was long controlled by Al D'Amato and responsible for George Pataki's ill reign. Until only a few years ago, the Nassau GOP (headquartered, fittingly, in a former bank building) was the most hilariously crooked local political machine in the country that was still controlling a sizeable population.

That background — not even a sanitized version — isn't in Seifman's story.


Wall Street Journal: 'Lehman Faces Mounting Pressures'

The head may not mean too much, but the story contains a frightening description of the U.S. economy:

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. came under mounting pressure Tuesday after hopes faded for an investment deal with a Korean bank, helping to trigger a 45% fall in the firm's shares.

Lehman's troubles mark the latest installment in the worst financial-system crunch in decades, coming just two days after the U.S. government announced its plan to take over the two giants of the mortgage business. U.S. stocks fell Tuesday, giving back gains that had greeted the weekend bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Yes, "the worst financial-system crunch in decades."

Forget that Toyota "sales event." If you really want a smokin' deal, bring your checkbook to Lehman's HQ at 745 Seventh Avenue — it's a closeout, clearance, fire sale! As the Financial Times (U.K.) notes this morning:

The bank said it would spin off the majority of its commercial real estate assets into a public company by the first quarter of next year, a move which will vastly reducing its exposure to the troubled sector.

It also intends to sell a majority interest in its asset management division.

Any second now, Lehman will be changing its corporate history, which now describes the company as "an innovator in global finance."

Soon to be a major non-player in global finance, Lehman does have a fascinating history. The Lehman boys immigrated from Europe and founded their company in 1850 in Montgomery, Alabama. The company made its fortune trading cotton in that slave-based economy.

Now, 150 years later, the whole cotton-pickin' conglomerate is about to go under.


Jewish Daily Forward: 'First Criminal Charges Filed Against Agriprocessors Owners'

The only NYC paper to cover the hell out of the slaughterhouse jive in Iowa — one of the most interesting immigration stories unfolding anywhere in the U.S. — is the Forward. Nathaniel Popper continues his fine coverage:

The first criminal charges were filed against the owners of the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors, in connection with a May immigration raid at the plant.

The Iowa attorney general filed more than 9,000 separate child labor charges against the company, its human resources managers and members of the family that owns the plant, including Aaron Rubashkin, CEO of the company, and Sholom Rubashkin, who had overseen operations at its Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse.

In the immediate aftermath of the charges, the leading kosher certifier in the United States, the Orthodox Union, said it would suspend its certification of Agriprocessors unless the company finds new management within a few weeks.

The Forward doesn't just cover the Jewish angle of this mess — it also explores the exploitation of slaughterhouse workers. Sticking close to home, the paper wades into the labor practices of another big Kosher processor operating right here in NYC. Popper's September 4 piece, "Workers Speak Out at Nation’s New Leading Kosher Producer," is a detailed feature that starts:

Luis Molina lost part of his middle finger to a 2,000-pound food mixer while working at what is now the country’s largest producer of kosher beef, Alle Processing.

Molina, 23, said that the accident, which happened when a fellow employee flipped a power switch, was not a surprise, given that he and others on his team had not received safety training. But he also said that what’s happened since then has added insult to injury.

The company, which operates a plant in Queens, stopped his pay the same hour he got injured, he said, leaving him in the lurch financially. Then, he continued, when he went into the office to talk to his supervisor, he was told that when he returned to work he would be suspended for four weeks without pay, because he used the machine improperly. After three years with the company, Molina said even this was not unexpected.

“They love suspending people there for any little thing,” Molina said while recuperating at his home in Brooklyn as his two children ran around him. “Two weeks, three weeks, they think it’s a joke ’cause they got that little power.”


Jewish Daily Forward: 'With White House at Stake, Ultra-Orthodox Work To Get Out the Vote — in Israel'

More praise for the Forward, which is the only NYC paper to consistently cover (and without doses of political correctness) right-wing Jews' political maneuvering. This one's about the black hats — the Haredi, the most ultra-Orthodox of Orthodox Jews — seeing McCain as the guy with the white hat:

As the American presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain heads into its final stretch, a group of leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel is preparing to release a statement that urges the country’s American expatriates to exercise their voting rights in November by casting absentee ballots.

The statement comes on the heels of a visit to Israel by Haredi lobbyist Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, who is the director of government affairs at Agudath Israel of America, a leading Haredi advocacy organization. Kalish spent a week in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak early this month, meeting with rabbis to request their help in mobilizing Americans living in Israel to register and vote.

Imagine the consternation in the U.S. press if some overseas imam controlling mosques over there and in the U.S. injected himself into our presidential campaign. Anyway, Nathan Jeffay's story gets past the bullshit and right to the heart of matters:

“Every vote cast from Eretz Yisrael comes from someone concerned for the safety and security of people living there, and this will be understood in Washington,” Kalish told the Forward. Aaron Spetner, a Jerusalem-based Agudath Israel activist who is heading the campaign, added that “if thousands of voter registration forms are coming in from Israel, it makes us powerful in Washington — with the president, senators and congressmen.”

There are an estimated 200,000 Americans living in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Only 35,000 are currently registered to vote.

Several experts contacted by the Forward voiced skepticism, however, at the organizers’ claim of nonpartisanship, pointing to conservative leanings among Haredi voters. “While I can’t be sure, Haredim are much more right-wing and want to show McCain that they are capable of delivering the goods,” said Bar-Ilan University sociologist Menachem Friedman, an expert in Haredi culture.

Political activists were more direct. “You would have trouble convincing me that this is not done in support for McCain by people who favor McCain,” said Gershon Baskin, founder and CEO of the dovish Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.


Times: 'A New Voice From Within'

Michael Kimmelman's lede strikes just the right note of condescension:

The name Thomas P. Campbell probably won’t ring many bells with the public. Inside the Metropolitan Museum, though, the news of his ascension to director is likely to be greeted by many colleagues with pleasure and relief.


McClatchy: 'Federal deficit soars, but McCain, Obama offer no answers'

Somehow managing to provide news with interpretation and also flaying both presidential candidates, David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall hold the smears and hold the schmears. Instead they write:

Just weeks before the government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday projected a near-record federal budget deficit of $407 billion, sharply higher than White House projections six weeks ago and more than double last year's figure.

Mammoth federal-budget deficits feed inflation, make America dependent on foreign lenders, cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments on the growing national debt and drain capital savings from more productive investments.

The widening gap between what the government spends and the revenue it brings in is sure to weigh on the next president and impede his efforts to spend on new or larger programs or to cut taxes.

Yet John McCain and Barack Obama show few signs that they're ready to take tough steps to curb deficits, according to budget analysts.


McClatchy: 'Low levels of Arctic sea ice signal global warming's advance'

One great thing about global warming: We don't have to worry about destroying the Arctic ice by drilling into it because it's already gone. Renee Schoof explains:

This year will see the second-biggest loss on record of Arctic sea ice — a sign that the area of ice coverage is shrinking at a pace faster than once expected.

The trend also suggests that global warming is likely to increase, polar bear habitat will decline and previously icebound areas could be opened to oil and gas exploration.



Daily Flog: Crime, kvetching, corporate looting --and tanks for nothing, 'Times'

Running down the press:

Daily News: 'Cops: Psycho girlfriend tortures and slices up boyfriend in Brooklyn flat'

Great crime day in the News. Check these out, too:

'Judge's house shot up'

'Queens mom lured to her death'


Post: 'EDWARDS SCANDAL'S NEW TRYST'

Though Dan Mangan mistakenly assumes that needle-dick politicians are even capable of steaming up mirrors, he efficiently essays an effective presentation of these tabloidian buzz words: "disgraced," "secretly," "steamy," "affair," "confessing," "infidelity," "cancer-stricken," and "explosive":

Disgraced ex-presidential candidate John Edwards secretly rekindled his steamy affair with his campaign videographer after confessing his infidelity to his cancer-stricken wife, according to an explosive new report.

Cogito argot sum.


Post: 'TOP OF THE WORLD: PHELPS SETS RECORD FOR CAREER GOLDS'

Yet another breathless, confessional dispatch from Beijing by Mike Vaccaro, a big-city-tabloid version of a small-town-broadsheet hack sportswriter (note the absence of true tabloidian buzz words):

That's it. The thesaurus is exhausted. The dictionary has just declared bankruptcy. With Michael Phelps, all the fitting adjectives have been used and re-used and worn down to the nub: amazing, astounding, astonishing, remarkable. Incredible, unbelievable, implausible, inconceivable.

So stop writing you don't.

You'll want a better lede and a better read, so check out the reliable Filip Bondy in the Daily News:

'More gold and another day at the office for Michael Phelps'

Two more golds, two more world records, four Olympic immortals surpassed. Just another day at the office with leaky goggles, and Michael Phelps won't even file for overtime.

Phelps' journey has become so routine and so spectacular at the same time, you get confused sometimes about whether to get excited (yes, you should). Phelps himself doesn't seem particularly overjoyed very often, unless he has relay teammates or fellow medalists standing around him to share the glory.


Daily News: 'Grief for Council pols over car perks'

Classic local-news reportage, courtesy of Lisa L. Colangelo. It's one thing to have a free parking spot in downtown Dubuque. It's another to have one in New York City.

While all Council members receive parking placards from the DOT that allow them to park in many restricted areas and even avoid paying the meter, four have their own private parking spots on city streets.


Despite Dick Cheney, a unilateral strike on Iran's nuke sites — and the resulting radioactive clouds circling the planet — now seem less and less likely.

Despite practically no mention in the U.S. press of this developing story during the past two months, we can read that no-nukes-is-good-news story this morning.

See Aluf Benn's "U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for Iran strike" in today's Haaretz. Benn notes:

U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests. Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran. . . .

These private messages were accompanied by a series of leaks from the Pentagon that Israel interpreted as attempts to thwart any possibility of an attack on Iran. For instance, the Americans revealed details of a major Israel Air Force exercise in the Mediterranean; they also said they doubted Israel had adequate intelligence about Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition, Mullen spoke out publicly against an attack on Iran.

Two weeks ago, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak visited Washington for talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, and Vice President Richard Cheney. Both conversations focused on Iran, but the two Americans presented conflicting views: Gates vehemently opposes an attack on Iran, while Cheney is the administration's leading hawk.

If piece-lover Paul Wolfowitz and dual-loyalist Doug Feith were still at the Pentagon, we might be instead planning end-of-the-world parties.


Forward: 'Greatest Jewish Olympian Sulks Over Losing the Champion Spotlight'

Dan Levin of the city's venerable Jewish daily that is the consistently best source of news in the U.S. about the formidable Jewish-establishment lobby — though it's not as good a paper as New York City's now-defunct Yiddischer Amerikaner Volks-Kalender, which my ancestor Alexander Harkavy edited a century ago — noted this yesterday, before this morning's splish-splash everywhere about Michael Phelps:

Usually it's Jewish mothers who boast and brag about their children's accomplishments. A big ego on a nice Jewish boy, however, is rather unbecoming. . . .

[Mark] Spitz, who is possibly the greatest living Jewish sports legend, has been pouting over the fact that he wasn't officially invited to the Beijing Olympics.

"I never got invited. You don't go to the Olympics just to say, I am going to go. Especially because of who I am," Spitz, 58, told AFP [Agence France Presse]. "I am going to sit there and watch Michael Phelps break my record anonymously? That's almost demeaning to me. It is not almost — it is."

That's right, Spitz, stay in the shallow end.


Post: 'PHELPS' PIG SECRET: HE'S BOY GORGE'

Clemente Lisi's lede:

Swimming sensation Michael Phelps has an Olympic recipe for success — and it involves eating a staggering 12,000 calories a day.

Next stop: Coney Island's royal gorge.


Times: 'Russia, in Accord With Georgians, Sets Withdrawal'

You'd think that with all the practice over the past five years the Times would learn to cover a war, but no, the paper always insists — like the paper of record it thinks it still is — on going with what the top officials say and do.

Like this morning's story, which is careful to include the Russkie president's middle initial but misses the point of what's really going in Georgia:

The presidents of Georgia and Russia agreed early Wednesday morning on a framework that could end the war that flared up here five days ago, after Russia reasserted its traditional dominance of the region.

Declaring that "the aggressor has been punished," President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia announced early Tuesday that Russia would stop its campaign. Russian airstrikes continued during the day, however, and antagonisms seethed on both sides.

"Antagonisms seethed on both sides"? Typical of the Times to meticulously quote "world leaders" while being cautious and vague about real events. Read this morning's dispatch in the Guardian (U.K.):

'Georgian villages burned and looted as Russian tanks advance'

Villages in Georgia were being burned and looted as Russian tanks followed by "irregulars" advanced from the breakaway province of South Ossetia, eyewitnesses said today.

"People are fleeing, there is a mood of absolute panic. The idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous," Luke Harding, the Guardian's correspondent, said.

Russia denied any advance, however Georgian authorities claimed that about 50 tanks and armoured vehicles were near the strategically important town of Gori.


Times: 'Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks'

Now this is a great job by the Times. John Darnton's lede:

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace.

Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: "win+love+in+Rusia."

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia's Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests —known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.


Times: 'Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax'

Boring hed, fascinating story:

Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.


Post: 'HUGE TIX HIKE BEANS MET FANS'

Hasani Gittens forces down our gullet some news that makes us hurl:

No wonder it's named after a bank - Met fans are going to have to open up their safe-deposit boxes to afford seats at Citi Field next season. The choicest seats will cost $495 - a 79 percent increase.

This will be especially bitter for those Mets fans who are among the tens of thousands laid off by Citigroup.


Post: 'SON OF A GLITCH! MTA IS OUT 74G'

Love the hed, but the story itself is somewhat of a slog:

Regular straphangers took the MTA for a $74,000 ride by accident - in addition to the $800,000 authorities say a trio of scammers bilked from the agency.

A suspected software glitch allowed people to buy MetroCards and commuter railroad tickets without being charged - the same error authorities believe Christopher Clemente, 37, Lisa Foster Jordan, 37, and Cary Grant, 40, allegedly exploited in order to peddle hundreds of thousands of dollars in rides since 2005.

Cary Grant? What a shame. He was such a hero in North by Northwest.


Times: 'Mechanism for Credit Is Still Stuck'

A year after financial tremors first shook Wall Street, a crucial artery of modern money management remains broken. And until that conduit is fixed or replaced, analysts say borrowers will see interest rates continue to rise even as availability worsens for home mortgages, student loans, auto loans and commercial mortgages.

The conduit, the market for securitization, through which mortgages and other debts are packaged and sold as securities, has become sclerotic and almost totally dependent on government support. The problems, intensified by bond investors who have grown leery of these instruments, have been a drag on the economy and have persisted despite the exercise of extraordinary regulatory powers by policy makers.

It's the Times that's sclerotic, and it's a lack of regulation that caused this problem in the first place.

"Crucial artery of modern money management" — what a riot!

You wouldn't know it from this story, which treats mortgage securitization as something that practically sprang from the Founding Fathers' loins, but it's actually a devious diversion scheme that really got cooking in Wall Street's '80s heyday and that Wall Street has fought hard to keep unregulated.

It's more like a shunt that drains our mortgage payments directly into the pockets of Wall Streeters without even giving a taste to the millions of Americans who give them the ante to play with. What a scam.

I wrote about this back in June 2000 ("In the Land of Milk and Money") during the Senate race between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio. One of the key figures behind Lazio was Lewis Ranieri, and I noted:

Ranieri created — yes, personally created — the multitrillion-dollar trading market on collateralized mortgage bonds, made possible by the Reagan era's relaxation of trading rules and his lobbying of Congress to establish federal agencies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae to make mortgage-bond trading more lucrative. [See Wayne Barrett's recent "Andy's Kids" for the current crisis revolving around Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.]

Ranieri ranks with junk-bond king Michael Milken among "the most influential financiers of the 1980s," according to Edward Chancellor's highly respected book Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation.

Journalist Michael Lewis, a former bond trader for Salomon Brothers, where Ranieri was once the biggest of what were called the "Big Swinging Dick" traders, wrote in the best-seller Liar's Poker that Ranieri and Milken were "the great bond missionaries of the 1980s," crisscrossing the country, trying to persuade institutional investors to buy mortgage securities.

It worked.

Daily Flog 8/5/08: Death of a smart Alek, crime by kids, mad scientists, veep intrigue, close shaves, kosher giraffes

Running down the press:

Daily News: 'Crime by kids soars - blame the iPhone'

Don't ever trust crime stats touted at NYPD press conferences, especially by a pinch-faced commissioner hungering to be mayor someday, but . . .:

Muggers are getting younger — and the iPhone is to blame.

Kids ages 11 to 19 make up a growing proportion of the crooks arrested this year for theft, fueled in part by a lust for the snazzy new phones, police said.

"The explosive popularity of these devices has also made them inviting targets for thefts. Teens are commonly the culprits as well as the victims," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Juveniles accounted for 29% of the 7,340 robbery arrests and 27% of the 4,566 grand larceny busts this year, an 8% jump in each category compared to this time last year, police said.

Electronics - mostly iPhones, iPods and Sidekicks - were the stolen booty in 20% of the robbery arrests and 12% of the grand larceny arrests.


Post: DR. ANTHRAX WAS KREEPY KAPPA LOVER: HE FIXATED ON SORORITY NEAR 'THE' NJ MAILBOX

Love the angle, and the Post and everyone else has posthumously convicted him, so what the hell:

The mad scientist suspected of orchestrating the deadly 2001 anthrax-letter spree was obsessed with a prestigious sorority that keeps an office just 300 feet from a Princeton, NJ, mailbox where the poisonous missives were dropped. Bruce Ivins' creepy fixation on Kappa Kappa Gamma may explain why he chose that spot - some 200 miles from his Frederick, Md., home and workplace - to mail the seven anthrax- laced letters that killed five people, sickened 17 and petrified a nation still reeling from the 9/11 terror attacks.

Ivins was obsessed with KKG going back to his college days at the University of Cincinnati, when he apparently was spurned by a woman in the Columbus-based sorority, US officials told The Associated Press - and the fixation never waned in the decades after he left with a Ph.D. in microbiology.

If you can't go Greek, go geek.


Daily News: 'Goats penetrate fence at heavily guarded base of Verrazano Bridge'

Obvious but fun:

Watch out for these weapons of grass destruction.


New Yorker: 'Deep In the Woods'

The best seven-year-old story today — and the best high ground amid the flood of lame stories about Russia "saying farewell" to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — is this reprise of editor David Remnick's August 2001 Letter from Moscow. This isn't from the lede, because the New Yorker doesn't deal in traditional nut grafs, but it does indicate that many people said their farewells to the gulag-bred polemicist years ago:

When [Boris] Yeltsin left office, on the eve of 2000, Solzhenitsyn was furious that the new President, Vladimir Putin, had granted his predecessor immunity from prosecution. Solzhenitsyn declared that Yeltsin "along with another one or two hundred people must be brought to book."

By now, Solzhenitsyn had managed to alienate almost everyone. The Communists despised him, of course, and the hard-line Russian nationalists, who had once hoped he would be their standard-bearer, found him too liberal. The liberals, who looked west for their models, could not take seriously Solzhenitsyn's derisory view of the West as a trove of useless materialism and a wasteland of spiritual emptiness. Nor could they abide conservative positions such as his support for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

When Solzhenitsyn first arrived in Moscow, his name was invoked as a possible successor to Yeltsin. This was always a fantasy, but it did indicate his enormous prestige. And yet with time, and with Solzhenitsyn's weekly exposure on television, the majority of the public soured on him or grew indifferent. His television appearances were cancelled. He fell in the political ratings and then disappeared from them. He began to appear less and less in public. But still he continued to write. I was able to obtain, through his sons Ignat, a concert pianist and conductor in Philadelphia, and Stephan, an urban-planning and environmental consultant in Boston, an advance copy of the first volume of "Two Hundred Years Together" and made plans to pay him a visit on the outer edge of the capital.

As it happened, I arrived in Moscow just after George W. Bush had met with Putin in Slovenia. . . .

You probably can't tell from the above excerpt, but nobody (including Hunter Thompson) wrote better first-person journalism since A.J. Liebling's The Earl of Louisiana (1961) than Remnick's Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire (1993). Even if that turns out to be Remnick's high-water mark (and it probably will, because now he's an editor), what a high. Just about anything Remnick has written about Russia — not boxing, but Russia — is worth reading today. Even if, like this piece, it's seven years old.


New York Observer: 'VP Speculation Is Much Ado About Something'

A wonkish and pretty thorough history lesson from Steve Kornacki, including this:

A VP candidate whose selection captures the country's interest (in a positive way) and who performs skillfully in the fall debate can dramatically improve the public's instinctive, knee-jerk impression of the presidential candidate with whom he or she is running – making it much more likely that voters will view that presidential candidate favorably when they consider "the issues."

A terrific example of this is 2000. On the Republican side, [Dick] Cheney brought Bush a week's worth of favorable press about the wisdom he, an inexperienced and untested governor, had displayed in tapping such a wise and seasoned foreign policy master and his "gravitas." Cheney followed that up with a surprisingly strong and humorous showing in his VP debate with [Joe] Lieberman. It's impossible to quantify the effect Cheney had, and you certainly can't pinpoint it to one state or region. But his presence, and the press he received, almost certainly made many voters more receptive to Bush and his message.


Times: 'An Olympic Stadium Worth Remembering'

The Times promo'ed this review of Beijing's National Stadium with classic Gray-Lady-with-pince-nez phrasing:

The National Stadium reaffirms architecture's civilizing role in a nation that is struggling to forge a new identity out of a maelstrom of inner conflict.

Would you click to read more? Too bad, because Nicolai Ouroussoff's piece is considerably less pretentious (what isn't?) and starts out pretty damned well:

Given the astounding expectations piled upon the National Stadium, I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed under the strain.

More than 90,000 spectators will stream through its gates on Friday for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games; billions are expected to watch the fireworks on television. At the center of it all is this dazzling stadium, which is said to embody everything from China's muscle-flexing nationalism to a newfound cultural sophistication.


Times: 'Aux Barricades! France and the Jews'

Roger Cohen's op-ed piece adds a schmear of smut — the phrase "shaved Jewess" — to the Times. For the full flavor of a story practically ignored by the isolationist U.S. press, here are the first several grafs:

It's not quite the Dreyfus Affair, at least not yet. But France is divided again over power and the Jews.

While the United States has been debating the New Yorker's caricature of Barack Obama as a Muslim, France has gone off the deep end over a brief item in the country's leading satirical magazine portraying the relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy's fast-rising son, Jean, and his Jewish fiancée.

The offending piece in Charlie Hebdo, a pillar of the left-libertarian media establishment, was penned last month by a 79-year-old columnist-cartoonist who goes by the name of Bob Siné. He described the plans — since denied — of Jean Sarkozy, 21, to convert to Judaism before marrying Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress to the fortune of the Darty electrical goods retailing chain.

"He'll go far in life, this little fellow!" Siné wrote of Sarkozy Jr.

He added, in a separate item on whether Muslims should abandon their traditions, that: "Honestly, between a Muslim in a chador and a shaved Jewess, my choice is made!"

Nobody paid attention for a week: Siné is a notorious provocateur whose strong pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist views have in the past crossed the line into anti-Semitism. I'd say he's far from alone in that among a certain French left.

But this is the summer, news is slow, and since a journalist at the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur denounced the article as "anti-Semitic" on July 8, France has worked itself into a fit of high intellectual dudgeon.


Forward: 'Ad Hoc Outreach Effort May Hinder McCain's Bid for Communal Vote'

From just about the only paper that covers establishment Jews' financial and political clout, some fascinating nuggets about not only McCain's campaign strategies but also Obama's and Bush Jr.'s. And unlike the blather from the mainstream press, these nuggets aren't first mined from the eager mouths of each campaign's flacks and "advisers." Anthony Weiss's July 31 lede:

In a year when polls suggest that Senator John McCain is positioned to garner more Jewish votes than any Republican candidate in the past two decades, his campaign is attempting to woo Jewish voters with a small, decentralized operation that critics are charging has no single address.

In contrast to the corporate discipline of George W. Bush in 2004 and the well-staffed ground operation of Democratic opponent Senator Barack Obama, McCain is counting on an ad hoc, almost informal approach to reaching Jewish voters. To date, the McCain campaign's Jewish outreach has been conducted through a combination of political donors and campaign surrogates that campaign insiders defend as reflecting sensitivity to needs on the ground.

And here's the context:

Some Republican Jewish insiders have criticized this approach, arguing that it has led to competing centers of influence and no clear lines of authority or communication. These critics point out that at this point in the 2004 campaign, the Bush campaign had dispatched Jewish outreach teams to several states, organized multiple fundraisers and was well into the planning stage for a Jewish leadership event at the Republican convention.

McCain's defenders respond that the senator is simply running a different campaign, reflecting both the aftermath of a chaotic primary season and McCain's own management style.

The debate comes in a year when a number of observers have suggested that McCain is uniquely well positioned to reach Jewish voters. Recent polls released by Gallup and by the left-leaning lobbying organization J Street both showed McCain running well for a Republican candidate, polling 29% and 32%, respectively. Supporters cite McCain's long record on Israel-related issues and national security, and McCain faces, in Barack Obama, a candidate who has struggled to define a positive image for himself in the Jewish community, particularly on issues related to Israel. Jewish voters could be especially significant in a number of potential swing states, particularly Pennsylvania and Florida.

But McCain's Jewish outreach also must go up against a formidable Obama operation that has had a staff member serving as a Jewish liaison for more than a year and began building a national grass-roots operation during the primary season.


Forward: 'Giraffe Milk Is Kosher'

Stanley Siegelman's Siegelmania column milchs this item for all it's worth. An Israeli rabbi declared that a giraffe "has all signs of a ritually pure animal, and the milk that forms curds strengthened that." Siegelman's resulting doggerel starts: "Imagine milking a giraffe! ..." Or, put another way:

Oysmelkn ken men a zhiraf?
Der moyekh zogt tsu unz: S'iz tough!
Di hoykhenish iz a problem,
Der nopl iz vayt avek (ahem!)

Di milkh iz yetst derklert nit treyf,
Der rebbe zogt der sheid iz safe.
A curd farmogt es — gantz O.K.!
Shray nit "gevald," shray nit "oy whey"!


Post: 'CITY LEAVING FERRY VICTIM FOR DEAD; LEGAL BID TO "STIFF" HIM'

Stefanie Cohen's hot-blooded take on a typically cold-blooded legal maneuver:

In a heartless legal maneuver, city lawyers say they shouldn't have to shell out too much cash to a man who was paralyzed from the neck down in the Staten Island Ferry crash because he's not going to live that long anyway, according to court papers.

James McMillan Jr., 44, has only 16 more years to live, according to a doctor hired by the city, and the lawyers hope a jury uses that number to determine what his payout should be, the papers show.

McMillan's lawyer, Evan Torgan, says his client, if properly cared for, could live much longer than that.

"The city paralyzed him, and now they're saying that he is going to die young because of the damage they caused," Torgan said. "They're turning a personal-injury case into a wrongful-death case."

An epidemiologist hired by the city, Michael DeVivo, wrote in court filings, "The injury has reduced Mr. McMillan's current life expectancy by 13.8 years or 46 percent."


Post: 'NOT GUILTY IN CULT ATTACK; SHOCKING VERDICT FOR SI HIPPIE'

Apparently it's open season on cult leaders. That's really too bad. It's also too bad that the story interjects predictable reaction quotes too high. Skip from the first graf . . .:

In a stunning verdict, a jury cleared ex-hippie Rebekah Johnson of all charges in the attempted murder of a Staten Island cult leader who was ambushed outside his home and shot six times as he begged for his life.
. . . to these grafs:

The jury rejected prosecutors' claims that an obsessed Johnson targeted Jeff Gross in May 2006 after he repeatedly booted her from the Ganas commune and rebuffed her demands for millions of dollars.

It was unclear whether the jurors cleared Johnson because they didn't think she fired the shots or because they believed she was the victim of cult brainwashing.

They made a hurried departure from the courthouse, declining to speak to reporters.


Post: 'EMBEZZLER LED 'JOHN DOUGH' LIFE'

Good, all-purpose hed for a story on a lamster wannabe:

He thought his port-a-potty scam would leave him flush with cash. Instead, it got him thrown in the can.

An accountant for Tishman Construction will be indisposed in prison for the next seven years after pleading guilty yesterday to embezzling $2.8 million.

He altered checks payable to Mr. John, a company that deals in portable bathrooms, and made them payable to himself - Mr. John Hoeffner. . . .

Prosecutors said the suddenly-wealthy Hoeffner then blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on a girlfriend in Cali, Colombia.



Now Trending

Links

Loading...