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.

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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.


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