Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
40 Years Ago It Was The Lindsay Snow Storm, Today the Media Kid Gloves Shields Bloomberg From Blame"
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Perhaps no event has shown how much the media is in the tank with the mayor than the Sunday's snowstorm. 40 years ago the NYT, Daily News and other media charged Mayor Lindsay for Paralyzed the city Remembering a Snowstorm That Paralyzed the City(NYT) * WINTER OF DISCONTENT LINDSAY'S SNOWSTORM, 1969 (DN) * The "Lindsay Snowstorm" (Feb. 9-10, 1969) * WINTER OF DISCONTENT LINDSAY?S SNOWSTORM, 1969 (DN)
Today the Media Shields the Mayor From Blame
Outrage as transit stops, Bloomy insists 'the city is going on' (NYP) * Choreographing a Snowplow Ballet, to Mixed Reviews (Again) (NYT) *Christmas Blizzard of 2010: LaGuardia, JFK airports are back flying, but mass transit remains a mess (DN)
Even the NYP Editorial Was Soft on the Mayor Next time, try harder (NYP Ed) After 9 years of practice in office and his eye on the presidency fat chance.
When real problems were written about the media distanced blame from the mayor or included this public relations team spin - Mayor explanation for 3 hour 911 backup "To many non emergency calls"
Only the WSJ Brought Up the Budget Cuts as a possible cause Budget Cuts Seen Slowing Cleanup(WSJ)
Mayor John Lindsay, the republican Kennedy they called him, nearing the end of his first term went to Queens and attempted to walk the streets to calm people. His limo got stuck. He got in a four wheel drive truck but it didn?t help. Lindsay walked. Just as he did in Harlem when he stopped race riots from breaking out the year before. The storm was crueler. People booed him. Others yelled ” get out of here you bum.”
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thus, in his attempt to curry favor with the bike crowd, he has created another and perhaps lethal traffic hazard.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 www.chaptzem.blogspot.com
Update on Ft. Hamilton Pedestrian Islands Issue
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) met today with New York City Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner David Wallach about the recent installation of pedestrian islands along Fort Hamilton Parkway. The meeting took place at the contested site, where Hikind was able to demonstrate to the Deputy Commissioner the extreme dangers the islands pose to first responders, firefighters and sanitation workers, as well as the frustration of business owners and motorists.
Since the installation of the islands, firefighters have reported that their response time has been slowed, while the ability of ambulance companies to swiftly reach Maimonides Medical Center has also been negatively impacted. At the Community Board 12 meeting last week, Hikind relayed an incident where a patient in cardiac arrest, who was being transported to Maimonides, died en route to the hospital after traffic was snarled because of the pedestrian islands.“Did DOT consult with the people who live and work in this community before installing these islands?” Hikind asked Mr. Wallach. “Did you take into consideration that Maimonides is one of the busiest hospitals in New York City, with dozens of ambulance companies shuttling patients to the emergency room, where every second counts?”
Hikind also asked Deputy Commissioner Wallach what criteria the DOT used in selecting the four blocks along Fort Hamilton Parkway where the pedestrian islands were installed.Of the ongoing battle to remove the islands, Hikind said, “The fight is not over. But at least now, the DOT is listening to our concerns. If the community is as determined as I am to fight this, then with God’s help, we will be successful in getting these islands removed.”Deputy Commissioner Wallach promised to convey Hikind’s questions and remarks to his superiors and report back to the Assemblyman. The DOT has previously defended the installation of the islands, claiming they were necessary to improve senior safety.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
At a news conference Tuesday, Muhammed Khalil told reporters including 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that a Division of Youth and Family Services worker unleashed a barrage of insults at him in a crowded Paterson restaurant.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
Khalil, a green card holder originally from Egypt, said the case worker asked him “where is your knife? You’ll slit my throat” and also asked “where is your bomb strapped on you?”
Another Muslim woman, Sandy Dahmra, who was with Khalil at the restaurant, was allegedly told “go back to your country.”
Both Khalil and Dahmra said they had other comments directed toward them including “terrorist,” “Bin Laden lover” and “why don’t you call your Allah.”
The case worker also publicly declared he would never get his boy back, Khalil said.
Khalil has not seen his 6-year-old son since he was taken from his mother’s home a year ago and placed with foster parents for reasons unknown because of privacy laws. Khalil was not living there at the time and is separated from the boy’s mother.
Khalil wants an investigation and said the worker also violated privacy laws by disclosing the case in public. Ultimately, though, Khalil said he just wants his little boy back.
“I only want my son. I want my son,” he said, breaking into tears. “I think I have all the reason to have my son with me, give him toys, enjoy with him.”
Khalil claimed he has had run-ins with the case worker before, but that there were never any witnesses.
The Department of Children and Families said it was “aware of the alleged incident” and “is looking into this allegation.”
The agency said it “continues to have an ongoing dialogue” with CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), which is supporting Khalil in his fight.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
video by Rafael Martínez Alequín
If there was any value left in the local Pulitzer or TV news Emmy awards, a journalist who most of his City Hall colleagues try to discredit and humiliate because they feel he is not worthy of their status, should win this year. Rafael Martínez Alequín, long a pariah among the City Hall press corps, did what his colleagues don’t bother to do anymore. He investigated Pedro
Espada - and in so doing, broke one of the biggest stories of the year. Because Martinez is a blogger his work has been ignored by the Main Street Media and the physical violence he received at the hands of Espada and his indicted son was covered up by the Bronx DA.
Shame on the NYP The Post takes some credit for taking Espada down.
More than Espada Take Credit for Ethics Laws they Ignore
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Much of the news in Today's morning papers was available on the Internet from many sources, not just the paper that printed the story the day before, in many cases days before it came out in printed.
The final and most important result of new news delivery system is that during this transition period from newspapers to online journalism, the most important job of a free press, that of being a watchdog of the pols and government is failing. The failure is not only because of the move to online, it has a lot to do with the loss of mom pop owners of the newspapers and the fact that in the past copy boys become reporters after they learned journalism with the attitude of their owners that pols and rich were the bad guys. Today newsroom are filled reporter from very expensive Ivy League journalism school, high salaries and the owners of papers are big businessman who make their money by tapping onto the government's tit, mostly thought real estate and Wall Street Investments like pension funds. So over the last three decades newspaper owners have changed from and adversary relationship with government and pols to a partnership. Government Patronage Have Moved Away From the Individual to the Boardroom and Super Rich
Tom Robbins of the Village Voice wrote an excellent column last year about the results of the change in journalism The unexamined world of Mike Bloomberg. Robins could have also written other similar columns about the unexamined slush fund at the City Council or the corruption in the city's pension funds or how Albany has become an organized crime enterprise.
WikiLeaks founder spent a week in jail after bail was denied at earlier hearing
updated 15 minutes ago 2010-12-14T15:29:15
LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrested in Britain on Swedish allegations of sex crimes, was granted bail Thursday by a British judge.
Assange appeared in a packed central London courtroom on Tuesday to fight his extradition to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation.
Assange supporters rallied in an effort to prove to the judge that the controversial activist would not flee the U.K. if granted bail.
Vaughn Smith, the director of the Frontline Club journalism organization which had been housing Assange before his arrest, offered the court assurances that the WikiLeaks founder could stay at his 10-bedroom estate, which he said is within one mile of a police station, NBC News' Peter Alexander tweeted from the courtroom.Timeline: WikiLeaks timeline (on this page)
Smith and others also offered to put up money for bail, and Assange’s attorney Geoffrey Robertson said authorities could place an electronic tag on his client for tracking purposes, other reporters posting to Twitter from inside the courtroom said.
Assange, wearing a dark suit with a white shirt, appeared more ashen that he did at this last appearance, the reporters said.
The 39-year-old Australian was ordered to prison by a judge at a hearing Dec. 7 after surrendering himself to Scotland Yard to answer a Swedish arrest warrant.
Assange is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of sexual misconduct in separate encounters in Sweden over the summer. Lawyers for Assange say he denies the allegations and will contest the attempt to extradite him for questioning.
The disclosures, which have continued unaffected since Assange was detained in prison, have offended some U.S. allies and angered its rivals. Officials in Washington claim some other countries have already curtailed their dealings with the U.S. government as a result.
Earlier, Assange spoke from his prison cell to defend himself and attack the financial companies that suspended payments to his controversial website, Australian television reported Tuesday.
Assange told his mother that he remained committed to publishing some 250,000 pages of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, despite condemnation from Washington and elsewhere.
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Australia's Network Seven asked Christine Assange to ask her son one question during a visit to his London jail: Was it worth it?
"My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them," said Assange, according to his mother who supplied the network with a written statement of her son's answer.
"If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct."
'Illegal and immoral attacks'
In his statement from jail, Assange was also critical of the major finance companies who suspended payments to his WikiLeaks site, saying, "We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It's not something we knew before."
"I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks," he said.
Some of Assange's supporters suspect the extradition request has been motivated by WikiLeaks' decision last month to begin publishing its trove of the secret U.S. diplomatic cables, something Swedish officials have denied.
The U.S. Justice Department has been looking into a range of criminal charges, including violations of the 1917 Espionage Act, that could be filed in the WikiLeaks case.
Assange and his lawyers have voiced fears that U.S. prosecutors may be preparing to indict him for espionage after WikiLeaks' publication of the cables.
At an hour-long court hearing last week, lawyer Gemma Lindfield — acting for Swedish police — said Assange is accused of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion.
She told the court one woman had accused Assange of pinning her down and refusing to use a condom during an encounter on Aug. 14 in Stockholm. That woman also accused of Assange of molesting her in a way "designed to violate her sexual integrity" several days later.
A second woman has accused Assange of having sex with her without a condom while he was a guest at her Stockholm home and she was asleep.
In Sweden, a person who has sex with an unconscious, drunk or sleeping person can be convicted of rape and sentenced to up to six years in prison.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrested in Britain on Swedish allegations of sex crimes, was granted bail Thursday by a British judge. Full story
Assange's Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, claims the courts are stacked against defendants in sex cases in Sweden.
However, a 2009 European Commission-funded study found only 10 percent of sex offenses reported in Sweden result in a conviction.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report
Dick Cheney. (Photo: Jean-Bernard Sieber / World Economic Forum)
Dick Cheney is officially a wanted man.
The former vice president was charged by Nigerian officials Tuesday along with eight other individuals in a bribery and conspiracy scheme over the construction of a liquefied natural gas facility in the country that took place while Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton.
Halliburton and its one-time subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), were also charged. KBR, which also has handled lucrative US government support contracts for US troops in Iraq and elsewhere, was spun off from Halliburton in 2007 into a separate company.
"It includes Dick Cheney," said Nigerian prosecutor Godwin Obla, about the 16-count charge filed in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. "There are conspiracy charges and giving gratification to public officers. There is also a charge for obstruction of justice...It is important to stress that the filing of this charge today is just one out of many steps that would be taken by the prosecution."
"The illicit proceeds of that enterprise would be located. Properties acquired in consequence of this would be traced and forfeited and organizations associated with the criminal enterprise may be liable to forfeiture to the state of Nigeria," Obla added.
Although Nigerian government officials said they would seek Cheney's extradition to respond to the charges, it's all but guaranteed the US government won't entertain such a request.
Cheney's lawyer, Terrence O'Donnell, said an investigation conducted by federal prosecutors in the United States "found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton."
"Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless," O'Donnell said.
Tara Mullee, a Halliburton spokeswoman said, “It is still our position that Halliburton was not involved in the project to which this bribery investigation relates and there is no legal basis for charges."
The charges revolve around $180 million in bribes allegedly paid to Nigerian government officials between 1994 and 2004 to win a $6 billion construction contract for the Bonny Island natural gas liquefaction plant. The bribes allegedly went to the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and some of his subordinates.
The cash allegedly was laundered through UK lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, who served as a consultant to KBR after it was formed in a 1998 merger that Cheney engineered between Halliburton and Dresser Industries. Tesler was hired in 1995 as an agent of a four-company joint venture that was awarded four engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts by Nigeria LNG Ltd., (NLNG). Tesler was indicted last year and he is fighting extradition to the US.
The charges against Cheney and others come as Nigeria prepares for a presidential election in April. Anti-corruption officials last week raided Halliburton's Lagos offices and arrested 23 people, including 10 who worked for the company, and seized documents. Those arrested have since been released.
On Monday, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced that Tesler's associate, Wojciech J. Chodan, the former vice president to KBR's UK subsidiary, pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for his role in the bribery scandal.
Chodan was extradited to the United States last week from England. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February and faces a maximum five years in federal prison.
The bribery investigation was launched in 2003 when Georges Krammer, a former executive with the French company Technip (also charged Tuesday), a member of the consortium for the Bonny Island project, informed French magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke that the contracts his group obtained came as a result of payments Tesler made to Nigerian officials from a slush fund the lawyer allegedly managed.
In June, the DOJ, which had also been investigating the bribery scheme, filed a deferred prosecution agreement and criminal information against Technip. The company, also charged in the bribery scheme in Nigeria Tuesday, agreed to pay $240 million in criminal fines and retain an independent compliance monitor for two years.
For more than a year, the magistrate poured over evidence to determine whether Cheney may have been responsible under French law for at least one of four bribery payments to the Nigerian officials.
Under French law, "the head of a company can be charged with 'misuse of corporate assets' for bribes paid by any employee - even if the executive didn't know about the improper payments." Authorities in the UK and Switzerland were also investigating the matter.
During Cheney's tenure, Halliburton did expand operations in Nigeria despite human rights abuses by General Abacha's regime and environmental damage to the Niger Delta caused by international oil companies, Shell and Chevron, both of which signed contracts with Halliburton subsidiaries.
In April 2000, Brown & Root Energy Services, a business unit of Halliburton, was selected by Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria to work on the development of an offshore oil and gas facility, the first of its kind for Shell.
The deal, valued at $300 million, has been questioned by activists who have tried to hold Shell accountable for the pollution and the human rights abuses that have harmed Nigerian indigenous groups in a part of the Niger Delta known as Ogoniland.
In its four-plus decades of oil exploration in Nigeria, Shell has been responsible for repeated environmental calamities, involving oil spills, noxious gas flares, cleared forests, despoiled farmland and pipeline blowouts.
General Abacha's appreciation for the money that Shell's operations put into his coffers made him an eager ally when the oil industry faced popular protests, which were crushed by the dictator's army and security forces.
In 1995, the year Cheney joined Halliburton, renowned writer and environmental advocate Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were hanged by the Abacha government for their efforts to prevent Shell from continuing to poison the environment of the Niger Delta.
It is estimated that more than 2,000 people have been murdered for their involvement in protests against Shell's activities in the Delta. Most of those murdered were Ogoni who had rallied behind Saro-Wiwa in the early 1990s.
In 1998, General Abacha died of an apparent heart attack.
Lengthy Federal Probe
In its quarterly filing to the SEC in April 2008, Halliburton said the DOJ "has evidence of payments to Nigerian officials by another agent in connection with a separate KBR-managed project in Nigeria called the Shell EA project."
The footnote's reference to Shell was the first time the petroleum giant was linked to the bribery suspicions.
In a quarterly filing in October 2007, Halliburton said it was subpoenaed by the DOJ and the SEC over the use - by the KBR-led consortium known as TSKJ - "of an immigration services provider, apparently managed by a Nigerian immigration official, to which approximately $1.8 million in payments in excess of costs of visas were allegedly made between approximately 1997 and the termination of the provider in December 2004 and our 2007 reporting of this matter to the government."
The TSKJ consortium was also charged Tuesday.
Halliburton's April 25, 2008 filing marked the first time that specific evidence was cited to support claims that Halliburton bribed Nigerian officials while Cheney headed the company.
Last year, KBR pleaded guilty to violating FCPA and admitted that it paid $180 million in "consulting fees" to Tesler and a Japanese trading company for use in bribing the Nigerian government officials. KBR paid a $402 million fine as part of its plea deal.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, KBR agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years to ensure it is abiding by US laws, limit its use of foreign agents and promised to file regular reports on the compliance program with the DOJ.
KBR said in a 10-K filing with the SEC last year, however, that "limitations on our use of agents as part of our efforts to comply with applicable laws, including the FCPA, could put us at a competitive disadvantage in pursuing large-scale international projects."
"Most of our large-scale international projects are pursued and executed using one or more agents to assist in understanding customer needs, local content requirements, and vendor selection criteria and processes and in communicating information from us regarding our services and pricing," the company said in its quarterly filing, which was first reported by Footnoted.org, an investigative business news web site whose reporters dig through SEC filings and pull out important nuggets of information.
"As a result of our settlement of the FCPA matters ... a monitor will be appointed to review future practices for compliance with the FCPA, including with respect to the retention of agents. Our compliance procedures and our requirement to have a monitor may result in a more limited use of agents on large-scale international projects than in the past. Accordingly, we could be at a competitive disadvantage in successfully being awarded such future projects, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to win contracts and our future revenue and business prospects."
But did not impact KBR’s ability to secure lucrative government contracts.
In fact, according to KBR's SEC filing last year, the company said said it received written notification from the US. Department of the Army “stating that it does not intend to suspend or debar KBR from [Department of Defense] contracting as a result of the guilty plea by KBR LLC.”
Additionally, KBR revealed in the same SEC filing that the company uncovered "information" that shows former executives may have been involved in a bidding scheme with its competitors, but that the DOJ agreed not to pursue the matter in exchange for KBR's guilty plea.
"In connection with the investigation into payments relating to the Bonny Island project in Nigeria, information has been uncovered suggesting that [former KBR Chief Executive Albert "Jack"] Stanley and other former employees may have engaged in coordinated bidding with one or more competitors on certain foreign construction projects, and that such coordination possibly began as early as the mid-1980s," KBR said in its SEC filing. "In connection with KBR LLC's agreeing to enter into the plea agreement described above, the DOJ has agreed not to pursue any further investigation or penalties relating to the coordinated bidding allegations."
According to the DOJ, at critical junctures before the EPC contracts were awarded, Stanley and others allegedly met with three successive former holders of a top-level office in the executive branch of the Nigerian government to ask the office holder to designate a representative with whom the joint venture should negotiate the bribes.
In September 2008, Stanley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiring to violate FCPA.
Stanley was a close associate of Cheney, who promoted him in 1998 to head KBR. Stanley faces seven years in prison and nearly $11 million in restitution payments. He remains free on bail pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for January.
According to last year's plea deal, Stanley started paying bribes beginning in 1995, the year Cheney was named chief executive of the corporation, and ended when Stanley was fired in 2004.
Stanley, KBR's current CEO William Utt and Halliburton CEO David Lesar, were also named in the indictment filed by Nigerian officials Tuesday.
Aggressive Accounting Practices
Although Cheney's five-year tenure at the helm of Halliburton made him a rich man, controversies surrounding the Houston-based company have dogged him since he became vice president.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Halliburton agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over suspect accounting practices that took place during Cheney's affiliation with the company.
The SEC said Halliburton changed the way it accounted for construction revenues in 1998 and did not report that change to investors for more than a year, a violation of securities rules.
The accounting sleight of hand by Halliburton caused the company's public statements regarding its income in 1998 and 1999 to be materially misleading, boosting Halliburton's paper profits by $120 million.
"In the absence of any disclosure, the investing public was deprived of a full opportunity to assess Halliburton's reported income more particularly, the precise nature of that income, and its comparability to Halliburton's income in prior periods," the SEC said.
The changes to the company's accounting practices led to a "significant difference in their respective effects on Halliburton's financial presentation: the new practice reduced losses on several large construction projects" and allowed the company to report a higher profit, the SEC said.
The accounting practices, which gave Wall Street the false impression that the oil-field services company was profitable between 1998 and 1999, boosted the value of Halliburton's stock and helped Cheney earn more than $35 million when he sold his shares in 2000.
The New York Times quoted two former Dresser Industries executives in a May 22, 2002, story as saying that after Cheney guided the merger of Dresser with Halliburton in 1998, Halliburton "instituted aggressive accounting practices to obscure its losses."
The accounting change altered the way Halliburton booked revenues from cost overruns on construction projects. Previously, the company waited until a figure was agreed upon with a client. After 1998, however, Halliburton booked revenues that it assumed a customer would pay even though the agreed-upon number might turn out to be lower.
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said at the time that Cheney "was aware we accrued revenue on unapproved claims in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles."
The gimmick, signed off on by the now-defunct accounting firm Arthur Andersen, allowed Halliburton to add $89 million in revenues to its books in 1998, helping the company beat its earnings target by 2 cents a share for the year and boosting its stock value.
If the accounting change hadn't been employed, said Wall Street analysts, the company would have missed its earnings target by 11 cents a share, which would surely have depressed the stock price.
During Cheney's tenure, accounting irregularities at the company exceeded $234 million, according to documents obtained by the watchdog group Center for Public Integrity.
Halliburton also faced allegations that it overbilled for work at Fort Ord in California under Cheney's watch, a complaint similar to more recent charges that Halliburton padded its military contract work in Iraq.
Following revelations that Cheney made $35 million from his sales of Halliburton stock before the company's share price fell on the announcement in 2000 that the company was being investigated, The Washington Post, on July 16, 2002, summed up Cheney's tenure at Halliburton this way:
The developments at Halliburton since Cheney's departure leave two possibilities: Either the vice president did not know of the magnitude of problems at the oilfield services company he ran for five years, or he sold his shares in August 2000 knowing the company was likely headed for a fall.
As Halliburton's CEO, Cheney was responsible for Halliburton's books. He went out of his way to praise the work done for Halliburton by Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that unraveled in 2002 after it was found guilty of obstruction of justice for destroying documents for another energy-related client, Enron.
In a 1996 promotional video for Arthur Andersen, Cheney lauded the firm for its business advice:
One of the things I like that they do for us is that, in effect, I get good advice, if you will, from their people based upon how we're doing business and how we're operating, over and above the, just sort of the normal by-the-books audit arrangement.
The SEC questioned Cheney during its two-year-long probe of Halliburton's accounting irregularities and concluded that he should not be held responsible for what went on behind the scenes at the company.
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