How’s this for action. Northern Trust — the bank TMZ exposed this week for throwing a series of lavish parties and concerts in L.A, is giving back the $1.6 billion in federal bailout money! We had our cameras out as the bank hosted fancy dinners for hundreds of clients and employees.
We had video of the Sheryl Crow concert it threw after closing down the House of Blues. And then there were concerts by Chicago, as well as Earth, Wind & Fire … and the Tiffany gift bags for the ladies. The story triggered a furor in D.C … Congressman Barney Frank demanded that Northern Trust repay the money it blew.
Archive for February, 2009
Now that’s multi-tasking.
Ohio cops busted a woman after she was spotted driving, breast-feeding and talking on the phone – all at the same time! Genine Compton, 39, was charged with child endangerment after another motorist called cops in Kettering to report her.
“She literally has the little girl on the steering wheel,” the caller said in a 911 call, according to the Dayton Daily News. He said he admonished Compton – and she asked if he wanted to breastfeed the child.
“I’m like, ‘You can feed your kid when you stop.’ It’s like wet out here. It’s full of traffic. It’s ridiculous. She’s got like three other kids in the car,” he told the 911 operator.
Hat tip to Kara!
This is either proof that the art collectors are still spending, or that they have lost their minds. Maybe both. The piece in question is a chair — resembling a turd with with tusks — that gaveled yesterday at Christie’s Paris auction for an eye-popping (pooping?) $28.3 million. The leather and wood chair that swaddled the ass of Yves Saint Laurent was among the items fetching $484 million, almost $60 million more than the estimated total sales of the “Auction of the Century,” which critics said would determine the future of all art auctions.
The couple that bought the 90-year-old armchair (entitled Dragons—yes, the chair is art, it has a title) paid far more than the $3.8 million estimate. “It is the price of desire,” sniffed the buyer. A Christie’s rep was astounded at the sale of Dragons, which was designed by Irish artiss Eileen Gray. “It was a remarkably strong piece, but what it went for was beyond our wildest imagination.”
Italian investigators testified Friday in the murder trial of an American student and her former boyfriend, with one saying the American turned cartwheels in the police station after the killing.
Profazio said Knox and Sollecito had a “strange attitude” when they were brought to the police station for questioning following the discovery of Kercher’s body. He said that on one occasion Knox sat on Sollecito’s lap.
“I told them it was not appropriate,” Profazio said.
He also recalled other officers reporting that Knox was doing cartwheels and splits in the police station.
Police say a teenager who soaked her hair in gasoline to try to kill head lice was severely burned when the gas fumes ignited and set her head ablaze.
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Brooks was in serious condition today at the burn unit at University Hospital in Louisville, Ky. She was burned Sunday night at her apartment in Evansville, Ind.
Police said Brooks was in her bathroom letting her hair soak in gasoline just before a pilot light from a water heater ignited the gas fumes and her hair.
The mayor of Los Alamitos is coming under fire for an e-mail he sent out that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons, under the title “No Easter egg hunt this year.”
Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday she received the e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose’s personal account on Sunday and wants a public apology.
“I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes,” Price told The Associated Press. “I honestly don’t even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor—come on.”
Lion owner Jeffrey Harsh tells authorities that a man staying at the Free Breakfast Inn motel next to the refuge near the town of Oakley apparently made his way Saturday into an outer perimeter lion cage.
Thomas County Sheriff Rod Taylor says that when Harsh showed up to feed the animals that evening he found the man with his arm over the top of a gate on the inner cage. A Barbary lion had grabbed his right arm.
University of Otago students’ annual toga parade dissolved into chaos last night, leaving the city with a big mess to be cleaned.
Dunedin’s main street was left littered with eggs, rubbish and glass, car and shop windows were smashed and some participants were injured.
The Otago Daily Times reported three teenagers had been arrested on minor disorder charges.
Otago University Students Association president Edwin Darlow said a breakdown in communication was believed to have resulted in hundreds of first-year students assembling an hour earlier than the official 7.30pm start, which may have fuelled the trouble.
Susan Wells was thrilled to learn she’d won a $2 million house in a raffle days after her husband had been laid off from his job. “I’m floored,” said Wells, who bought the ticket as a surprise to celebrate the couple’s 16th anniversary. “I can’t believe this has happened. Needless to say, my husband is very surprised.”
The house is in upscale Marin County, just north of San Francisco. The couple already own a home in Danville, a suburb south of San Francisco, and if they don’t want to move they have the option of $1.2 million in cash.
They’re still deciding what do, but Brad Wells, who had been a sales executive for a Silicon Valley high-tech company, said the winnings are definitely a boost.
“I got laid off on Wednesday and the company went bankrupt on Friday,” he said. The couple got word of their win on Saturday. “It’s been a really rough ride for the last year. This gives us an unbelievable lift.”
Two teenaged girls were arrested for allegedly pimping other students for prostitution, Phoenix police said.
Jazmine Finley and Tatiana Tye, both 16, allegedly used contacts from local schools and their friends to lure other young girls into prostitution, MyFOXPhoenix reported.
Investigators said the suspects recruited at least five girls, ages 14 to 17.
Finley and Tye, who were allegedly involved in prostitution themselves, were responsible for recruiting, teaching and receiving money from the other girls who worked for them, police said.
Stocks were tumbling last fall as the new school year began, but at Harvard University, it was as if the boom had never ended. Workers were digging across the river from Harvard’s Cambridge, Mass., home, the start of a grand expansion that was to eventually almost double the size of the university. Budgets were plump, and students from middle class families were getting big tuition breaks under an ambitious new financial aid program.
The lavish spending was made possible by the earnings from Harvard’s $36.9 billion endowment, the world’s largest. That pot was supposed to be good for $1.4 billion in annual earnings.
Behind the scenes, though, a different story was unfolding. In a glassed-walled conference room overlooking downtown Boston, traders at Harvard Management Co., the subsidiary that invests the school’s money, were fielding questions from their new boss, Jane Mendillo, about exotic financial instruments that were suddenly backfiring. Harvard had derivatives that gave it exposure to $7.2 billion in commodities and foreign stocks.
With prices of both crashing, the university was getting margin calls–demands from counterparties (among them, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs for more collateral. Another bunch of derivatives burdened Harvard with a multibillion-dollar bet on interest rates that went against it. It would have been nice to have cash on hand to meet margin calls, but Harvard had next to none.
That was because these supremely self-confident money managers were more than fully invested. As of June 30, they had, thanks to the fancy derivatives, a 105% long position in risky assets. The effect is akin to putting every last dollar of your portfolio to work and then borrowing another 5% to buy more stocks.
Autonomous military robots that will fight future wars must be programmed to live by a strict warrior code, or the world risks untold atrocities at their steely hands.
The stark warning — which includes discussion of a “Terminator”-style scenario in which robots turn on their human masters — is part of a hefty report funded by and prepared for the U.S. Navy’s high-tech and secretive Office of Naval Research.
The report, the first serious work of its kind on military robot ethics, envisages a fast-approaching era where robots are smart enough to make battlefield decisions that are at present the preserve of humans.
Travis the chimpanzee’s relationship with his owner was closer than those of some married couples. Sandra Herold gave him the finest food, and wine in long-stemmed glasses. They took baths together and cuddled in the bed they shared. Travis brushed the lonely widow’s hair each night and pined for her when she was away. If she left the house alone, Travis would give her a kiss.
Well, stories don’t get much worse than this.
A 14-year-old boy in China was killed when his chair exploded, sending chunks of metal into his rectum. The bleeding this caused killed him. The alleged explosion came from the gas cylinder that was in the base of the chair, the part that allowed the user to adjust the seat up and down.
The canister gets compressed when you sit on it, but can it actually create enough energy to make the seat cushion explode like that and kill a man? I doubt it, but this is what people are reporting.
There are so many mice in one Florida county courthouse that they’ve been seen falling from ceiling tiles. One judge at the Palm Beach County Courthouse calls it an infestation. Some staffers say they check their handbags for stowaways before leaving the building each day. Court employees and lawyers say the rodents scuttle down corridors, munch legal papers and scratch behind the walls. Last week, one mouse ran around a courtroom floor for an hour during a burglary trial.
OK, so the DTV transition hasn’t been perfect.
While the early analog-cutoff of 421 TV stations on Feb. 17 has gone relative smoothly according to most reports, that was not the case of at least one Missouri man, according to KARE-TV Minneapolis-ST. Paul.
The station reports that a 70-year-old Joplin man was arrested and charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm after shooting his TV set. Responding to a report of shots being fired, the station reported, the police found the man angry that he had both lost his cable and had been unable to get his new DTV converter box to work.
Our moral and economic system is based on individual responsibility. It’s based on the idea that people have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This makes them more careful deciders. This means that society tends toward justice — people get what they deserve as much as possible.
Over the last few months, we’ve made a hash of all that. The Bush and Obama administrations have compensated foolishness and irresponsibility. The financial bailouts reward bankers who took insane risks. The auto bailouts subsidize companies and unions that made self-indulgent decisions a few decades ago that drove their industry into the ground.
The stimulus package handed tens of billions of dollars to states that spent profligately during the prosperity years. The Obama housing plan will force people who bought sensible homes to subsidize the mortgages of people who bought houses they could not afford. It will almost certainly force people who were honest on their loan forms to subsidize people who were dishonest on theirs.
This morning Rick Santelli went nuclear on the entire “fraudulent mortgage” game – the culmination of a series of rants that he has (correctly) launched over the last year.
Here’s the point folks, when you get down to it:
* The entire last two decades of so-called “Economic Growth” has been fueled by one fraud after another, starting with the Internet Bubble.
* This fraud has been systematic and the mainstream media has been both an implicit and explicit enabler of these frauds, instead of doing its job, which is to root them out. The looks on the faces of the other CNBC “anchors” was one of abject fear – perhaps parts of “The Fourth Estate” is coming to realize that when the pitchforks and torches come out – and they certainly will if we hold the course we’re on – they might have some trouble explaining why they shouldn’t be near the head of the list of those being “sought”?
* The conflicts of interest in the media, where their advertising dollars come from those who are promulgating and profiting from these frauds means that they must choose between their job of protecting the public (their essential purpose under The First Amendment) and being a willing accomplice in the theft being performed by the prime actors in these frauds.
* With the exception of a few months around 1995 (which roughly coincided with Microsoft’s release of Win/95, the first “consumer” system of wide acceptance that had a dialer built in along with a web browser) the Internet NEVER doubled in size every three months. Yet this was paraded as the statistic to justify all the bubble companies up until the bubble burst in the spring of 2000.
Members of an Indian tribe have married off a toddler to a female dog in eastern India in a bid to prevent his predicted death at the hands of a tiger.
The ceremony at a Hindu temple in Orissa state’s Jajpur district was conducted with all the rituals observed at traditional weddings, including a dowry for the bride – the village bitch.
The dog sported two silver rings and a silver chain, the UNI news agency reported.
Parents of the groom, one-and-a-half year old Sangula, were advised to arrange the marriage when they noticed a tooth growing from their infant son’s upper gum – considered a bad omen.
The European Union has turned into an undemocratic and elitist project comparable to the Communist dictatorships of eastern Europe that forbade alternative thinking, Czech President Vaclav Klaus told the European Parliament on Thursday.
Klaus, whose country now holds the rotating EU presidency, set out a scathing attack on the EU project and its institutions, provoking boos from many lawmakers, some of whom walked out, but applause from nationalists and other anti-EU legislators.
Klaus is known for deep skepticism of the EU and has refused to fly the EU flag over his official seat in Prague during the Czech presidency, saying the country is not an EU province.
He said current EU practices smacked of communist times when the Soviet Union controlled much of eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic and when dissent or even discussions were not tolerated.
A giant rat with one-inch-long teeth has been caught in the southern Chinese province of Fujian.
The rat, which weighed six pounds and had a 12-inch tail, was caught at the weekend in a residential area of Fuzhou, a city of six million people on China’s south coast.
The ratcatcher, who was only named as Mr Xian, said he swooped for the rodent after seeing a big crowd of people surrounding it on the street.
A Hong Kong chef on Thursday began a 20-month jail sentence for attacking a woman diner with a meat cleaver after she complained about his food. Cheng Chi-wai, 50, hit the 47-year-old woman on the head with the cleaver after she grumbled about the meal she was served in the seafood restaurant in the city’s Wan Chai district. He ran into the kitchen and emerged with two meat cleavers after she remarked on the poor quality of his cooking and hit the woman on the forehead with the blunt side of one of the cleavers.
The remains of a five-year-old Australian boy have been found in the stomach of a crocodile, police say.
Jeremy Doble was last seen on 8 February playing near his family’s home beside a flooded mangrove swamp in northern Queensland.
Police now say he was attacked and eaten by a 14ft (4.3m) crocodile who was then trapped in a flooder river.
Queensland officials say the animal will now be sent to a crocodile farm or zoo.
A 16-year-old girl was found dead and another teenage girl was discovered unconscious in a barracks on this Army base south of Tacoma, the Army said Monday.
In a statement issued about 36 hours after base emergency personnel responded to a 911 call early Sunday morning, Fort Lewis spokesman Joe Piek said a Madigan Army Medical Center doctor declared one girl dead at the scene. The second teen was taken to Madigan for emergency medical care and was reported in stable condition Monday.
Forensic experts will soon be able to reconstruct facial features and skin just by reading DNA, U.S. scientists said.
‘Forensic molecular photofitting’ maps the genes that are linked to skin pigmentation and facial structure which means a person’s face could emerge from the analysis, Dr Mark Shriver from Pennsylvania State University said.
The process has already been used to help identify and convict serial killer Derek Todd Lee who murdered seven women in Louisiana.
Witness statements said the offender was white but genetic testing of DNA at the crime scenes showed he was African American – which helped lead to his arrest.
If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.
Austria’s finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria’s GDP.
“A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector,” reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc. The Vienna press said Bank Austria and its Italian owner Unicredit face a “monetary Stalingrad” in the East.
For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.
The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.
In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.
The doctor who helped Nadya Suleman get pregnant with octuplets has reportedly transferred at least seven embryos to another patient.
According to the Los Angeles Times , a woman in her late 40s went to Dr. Michael Kamrava hoping to become pregnant with one baby. The Times now says she is 5-months pregnant with quadruplets and hospitalized.
The paper adds that the woman has no insurance so she was transferred to a county hospital where she will stay until the births which might not be for two or three months.
Japan’s finance minister is facing calls for him to resign amid claims he was drunk at a recent G7 meeting.
Shoichi Nakagawa has apologised for his behaviour but blamed cold remedies for a slurred performance at a news conference in Rome at the weekend.
He said he had not drunk more than a sip of alcohol before facing the media.
Eight members of a man’s poverty-ridden family were shot and beheaded before their bodies were thrown into a river in eastern India after he secretly married a wealthy girl, police said Wednesday.
Police in the eastern state of Bihar found the eight bodies floating in a river and have charged 15 people, mostly from the girl’s family, with the murders.
The weekend killing took place after 21-year-old Ratan Mandal eloped with 18-year-old Kanchan Kumari and got married secretly, afraid their families would never approve due to an old social rivalry.
Hat tip to Kara!
Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India’s Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.
The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.
Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called “gau jal”, or “cow water” – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched “very soon, maybe by the end of this year”.
“Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too,” he told The Times from his headquarters in Hardwar, one of four holy cities on the River Ganges. “Its USP will be that it’s going to be very healthy. It won’t be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins.”
At least three police officers and 10 civilians were hurt in China in a riot sparked by dozens of traditional dragon dancers angered over being banned from performing, police and state media said Monday.
The disturbance occurred Sunday in rural Guizhou province in southwestern China after police banned the dance, part of traditional Lunar New Year celebrations, out of safety concerns, Xinhua news agency said.
The dancers then went to the local government headquarters in Dejiang county to stage a protest dance but were stopped by police. Clashes ensued that drew in crowds of more than 2,000 people, it said.
The Czech Republic has been strongly criticised by Europe’s leading human rights body for continuing to surgically castrate male sex offenders.
The Council of Europe said castrations had sometimes been performed without warnings of side effects and on men not capable of making an informed decision.
Those requesting castration feared life in jail if they did not do so, it said.
It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.
His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.
Flight attendants initially ignored passengers’ complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped “making trouble”. As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.
One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was “not such a big deal” if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.