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'


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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.


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