Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar accused of sexually abusing hotel maid at The Pierre

Originally Published:Monday, May 30th 2011, 10:49 PM
Updated: Monday, May 30th 2011, 11:50 PM

Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, accused of groping maid at The Pierre hotel, is led by NYPD detectives from the 19th Precinct early Tuesday.
Vic Nicastro for News
Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, accused of groping maid at The Pierre hotel, is led by NYPD detectives from the 19th Precinct early Tuesday.

Alleged maid attacks

Do you believe maids should be protected better in hotels?

An Egyptian businessman has followed in the footsteps of pervy Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn - sexually abusing a maid in a swanky Manhattan hotel, police said Monday night.

Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, 74, former head of the Bank of Alexandria and now chairman of a leading Middle Eastern salt company, is accused of locking the 44-year-old hotel employee inside his $900-a-night room at The Pierre on E. 61st St. off Fifth Ave.

He had called for room service requesting tissues and answered the door in his pajamas, police sources said. When the maid, whom he had not specifically requested, arrived at his 10th-floor room, he asked her to put the box of tissues on a table, sources said. As she moved toward the table, he locked the door.

"He locked her in the room and had her trapped," a police source said. "He grabbed her breasts, groped her. He was grinding against her."

Omar then asked the maid for her phone number, a police source said. After she gave him a made-up number he let go, and she fled the room.

The incident happened about 6 p.m. on Sunday but was not reported to police until Monday morning.

"Experienced NYPD detectives found the complainant to be credible," said Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.

Omar was arrested at the hotel Monday afternoon and was charged with sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment, officials said. He was being held at the 19th Precinct stationhouse on the upper East Side Monday night.

"When I came in they were all talking about it," said a bellman at the hotel, who declined to give his name. "When she came to his room, he got carried away. He started grabbing at her. He wouldn't let her go."

The maid has worked at the hotel for about a year, co-workers said. She did not return to work Monday.

"I don't want to say it, but he tried to rape her," the bellman added. "It's a total copycat of what happened with the French guy."

Before becoming chairman of the Egyptian salt company, El-Mex Salines Co., Omar was head of the Bank of Alexandria in Egypt.

"They were saying the guest was a very nice guy, and then this," said a shocked housekeeper at the hotel. "Human beings are strange."

With Kerry Wills


Another Sexual Arrest at a Luxury Hotel in New York City

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jews Ordered Back to Egypt for Pyramid Duty

CAIRO—Citing thousands of years of grueling wear and tear on its famed pyramids, the Egyptian government recalled the Jewish people yesterday. The Jews, though currently spread throughout the world in a global Diaspora, are in the process of returning to Egypt to repair damages the Pyramids have suffered over the last 4,000 years.

With such famous landmarks as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids in horrible disrepair, Jews from around the world packed up their belongings and headed back to Egypt, where they will toil for centuries for the Pharaoh.

“They did a superb job the first time around, and we expect the same level of high-quality craftsmanship now,” said Egyptian Minister of Tourism Fekesh Sabah, a top assistant to the Pharaoh. “They are a highly skilled people.”

The Jews were urged to return by a forceful letter sent to every Jewish household in the world. The letter strongly suggested they return, if they knew what was good for them.

“The language of the letter seemed very sincere and forthright,” Detroit marketing analyst Roger Fine said. “It just came off like we really should go back.”

Fine is one of millions of Jews, or “Hebrewites,” who hastily quit his job, sold all his worldly possessions, and boarded one of the thousands of charter jets heading to Cairo International Airport.

Jews are massing in the Egyptian capital, where they are being sent out in labor teams of 600 to replace stones, repair crumbling walls and reinstall statuary to the sun god Ra. They will do this not only for the rest of their lives, but also for the lives of their children and their children’s children.

“This is very hard work,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, an accountant from Cherry Hill, NJ. “I do not enjoy this at all.”

Added Rachel Cohen of Los Angeles: “My job as a record label publicist has very little to do with hauling enormous, 40-ton sandstone slabs through the desert.”

To repair the pyramids, the Jews will employ many of the same effective building techniques used during their first construction, including the lever and the pulley.

“We have found that utilizing these techniques makes lifting the rocks up the 75-degree incline that much easier,” Project Coordinator Nassar Achbad said. “Doing it the old way, by hand alone, it would take over 500 years to complete the work. Now, it won’t take more than two or three centuries, if that.”

The Jews first built the pyramids between 2686 and 2181 B.C. under enslavement by numerous pharaohs. Only after Moses, a prophet of the lord Yahweh, rose up to lead them were they able to escape into the desert and relocate to the promised land of Israel. According to published reports, the Jews spent 40 years in the desert subsisting on an unleavened bread product and water, which was found by smashing magical scepters into rocks.

Once again, the Jewish people are hoping for a prophet to rise up from among the people and lead them back to freedom. This prophet may be Florida lawyer Barry Stern, whose successful defense firm in Fort Lauderdale has freed many white and blue collar workers from potential incarceration.

“The climate here is similar to Florida, a dry heat which is more bearable than the hu-midity of say, the Ama-zon rainforest. But I don’t enjoy be-ing whipped by my overseers,” Stern said. “If this continues, litigation may be pending.”

Though they do not fear legal recourse, Egyp-tian officials are hopeful that the Jews won’t pull out in a similar manner as last time, visiting a host of deadly plagues on the Egyptian people. This culminated in the parting of the Red Sea, which drowned over half the Egyptian army.

Said Sabah: “I hope they don’t do that again.“

Crew Bids Farewell to Space Station

In France, fear keeps gals mum but Dominique Strauss-Kahn has learned it's different in America

Jimmy Breslin

Jimmy Breslin

Sunday, May 29th 2011

Dominique Strauss-Khan is renting a house on Franklin St. in Tribeca while he awaits trial.
Joe Marino for News
Dominique Strauss-Khan is renting a house on Franklin St. in Tribeca while he awaits trial.

In the morning that seemed the start of summer, with Franklin St. in downtown Manhattan shining with sun splashes, the one side of the street was taken up by a sprawl of reporters and camera holders behind fencing, and the other by this three stories of cement, stone and iron elegance that housed a bent over French flop.

The name is Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

He rents this house at about $50,000 a month.

He is on huge bail. He has been indicted on charges of taking a black woman who works as a housecleaner and sexually abusing her as he felt. Why not? Who was she? Was she a floor scrubber who thought she had her own way in life?

There is evidence consisting of DNA, the initials for sperm that was left.

He lived a life of success that also caused a great number of stories of his brutal treatment of women. He was not alone. He just treated women French style. The common life in France had women in fear of coming forward with these stories about being assaulted because the men would ruin them.

So this cowardly form of French life must find this man quite surprised today to peek around one of his drawn shades on Franklin St. and see this crowd of reporters and camera people. Look at this, girls, chippies, pigeons, whatever you call them - just look at them, they should serve me and instead they want to blow my life away in the daily news everywhere.

Kala Ganesh, of the advocacy group CONNECT, has announcements on the Internet and all else starting with, "We are dedicated to the prevention and elimination of domestic violence and gender justice." She was found in front of City Hall Friday afternoon with a group of women. Many politicians, who let their voices tell of the disappointment in the verdict that freed two cops for their abuse of a woman. She was dead drunk and they were given the assignment of bringing her to her apartment. She didn't know where she was, but the two cops did. They were in and out of the apartment several times that night. But in the trial they were acquitted.

It kept the two cops out of prison, but they lost their jobs and pensions. And the crowd of women sounding against the idea of women being necessary victims of out-of-bounds police work, which they most certainly are, will certainly grow from demonstrations to new laws to change with such force old police neighborhood lives and its people.

This man Strauss-Kahn will have his aggressiveness on women argued about time and again when and if he goes to trial.

In putting this piece together, I asked for past rape cases from all over the city. "A rape case? Why sure. Here." The Brooklyn prosecutor's office now showed me a case of a man sexually assaulting a 7-year-old boy. I politely declined.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Michael Bloomberg Sued by Reporter Over Cathie Black Freedom of Information Requests


​Today, I am suing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Last year, Bloomberg baffled New Yorkers when he appointed publishing executive Cathie Black to be the city's next schools chancellor. Black was an unpopular choice, and for months, responses to her appointment ran the gamut of ridicule, confusion, and outrage.

Black's tenure came to an abrupt end in April, when the mayor asked her to step down from the post after just three months on the job. New Yorkers who opposed her appointment were vindicated, but the question remained: What led the mayor to make such a choice?

When he first appointed Black, Bloomberg insisted he'd cast a wide net to find the right fit. "I did have a public search, and I picked the best person," he said.

But critics responded with skepticism, and the New York Times' City Room blog added a healthy dose of snark when it begged anyone who was considered for the job, or even merely heard about it, to come forward.

No one did.

At the time, I was reporting for Runnin' Scared, and in November, I filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the mayor's office to ferret out more details about the "public search" that resulted in Black's appointment. I figured the modern conveniences of e-mail meant there was a decent chance I would find a digital trail leading to Black's nomination.

So on November 19, I asked City Hall for any e-mails between the mayor's office and Black (who, at the time, was still employed at Hearst Magazines). E-mails by city officials are, after all, presumptively public records under New York's FOIL.

The mayor's office dragged its feet (which is not particularly unusual in the case of public records requests, although a spokesman told me for a separate storythat Bloomberg's office received only 38 FOIL requests last year. I guess New York City doesn't have enough lawyers or something). On January 13, a city lawyer wrote that he was denying my request.

The e-mails, he argued, were privileged, internal documents and releasing them would violate someone's (although nobody said whose) privacy. Bullshit.

I appealed the decision, and was blocked again.

By then, I'd left the Village Voice for a reporting stint with the investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica and dropped the story until late February, when a friend of mine referred my case to the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School. In March, one of the clinic's students wrote me back, and we began working together to draft today's petition.

The case is being handled by Elizabeth Wolstein, a partner at Schlam Stone & Dolan and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who used to supervise appellate litigation for the United States in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The petition will be filed in Manhattan Supreme Court later this afternoon, after which the city will have 20 days to respond.

We'll keep you posted.

Sergio Hernandez is a freelance journalist in New York City. He is currently a reporter for ProPublica, a Pulitzer-winning nonprofit, investigative newsroom. Previously, he was a reporting intern for the Village Voice's Runnin' Scared blog and a contributing reporter for Gawker.com.

[sergio@cerealcommas.com / @cerealcommas]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New York Taxis Workers Alliance Oppose the Sale of 1,500 Taxis Medallions

“1,500 new medallion is an outrageous number. Not even one more is necessary. Fleets might increase their medallion equity and the city might make billions in sales but, all the while, driver incomes will plummet from over competition and more congestion. The 6,000 must fold the existing livery market into the new taxis and the licenses should be issued as zero value medallions distributed via lottery to experienced drivers and returning war veterans. If the economics don't change, the city and industry will just prey upon desperate workers during desperate times.
Those factions were on display yesterday outside City Hall, where hundreds of livery drivers complained that they would be left out in the cold if the mayor's plan for auctioning 1,500 new yellow medallions with 6,000 attached "borough only" medallions succeeded.
It’s not surprising that Fernando Mateo is standing with the big medallion owners and betraying the livery industry he claims to represent. Mateo is simply an opportunist and not worth discussing.” Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union of over 15,000 yellow taxicab drivers.

See the two videos bellow: on Video 1 the taxis drivers are marching around City Hall their cry is "Somos Taxitas" (We are Taxis workers). On the second video the executive editor of the Taxi Workers Alliance call Fernando Mateo an opportunist.

video 1 by Rafael Martínez Alequín

video 2 by Rafael Martínez Alequín

2,400 livery car drivers, dispatchers protest against TLC taxi medallion plan

Friday, May 27th 2011

Daily News File Photo

Some 2,400 livery car drivers and dispatchers descended on City Hall Thursday in a raucous protest against a taxi medallion plan they said would ruin them.

Waving signs that said "TLC Will Drive Us Out Of Business" and chanting, they complained a Taxi & Limousine Commission plan to sell 6,000 taxi medallions for yellow cabs to operate outside Manhattan would exclude them. The medallions are auctioned for as much as $1 million.

"We want a legalized and autonomous industry," Pedro Heredia, president of the Livery Base Owners, said in Spanish. He called for the sale of affordable permits or licenses for livery cars, separate from the yellow cab medallions, so livery drivers could legally pick up street hails.

Though they're supposed to respond only to dispatchers' calls, drivers are flagged down in the streets 150,000 times a day, according to the TLC.

"We are not giving up the keys to our cars and our businesses," Cira Angeles of the Livery Base Owners said in Spanish.

There are 22,000 livery cars and 38,000 drivers; many cars are used for double shifts.

"I have three kids, and I'm the head of the house - I can't afford a medallion," livery driver Nelson Espinal, 47, said in Spanish as protesters briefly blocked traffic on Broadway outside City Hall.

Bloomberg: Celebrity Ticket Fixes "Disgraceful"

A day after the Daily News reported Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was among the celebs and pols who had tickets fixed, Mayor Bloomberg called the practice "disgraceful."

arod jayz.jpgOur Lemire and Deutch report:

"It is wrong," Bloomberg said. "They shouldn't do it. The cops shouldn't do it and the elected officials [shouldn't do it]. And it is really disgraceful if the elected officials asked them to do it."

The News reported that star-struck cops fixed tickets for celebrities including A-Rod and former team owner George Steinbrenner, as well as two City Council members in Manhattan and one in the Bronx, citing sources.

Cops also squashed summonses for Jay-Z's driver and ex-Knicks star Raymond Felton, sources said.

The practice was so rampant, representatives for celebrities or politicians would sometimes call Police Headquarters directly to get their clients off the hook, sources said.

"It is not acceptable," Bloomberg said. "We will not tolerate it."

Bloomberg also said he discussed the scandal with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at their weekly meeting Tuesday.

A grand jury hearing evidence in the ticket-fixing probe is expected to hand up indictments next month. As many as 40 cops could be indicted, sources said.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parents call on Mayor Bloomberg to Support Speaker Silver's Push for Millionaier's Tax

Responding to Mayor Bloomberg's recent tirades against low-income, Latino and Afro-American families who are demanding the restoration of his proposed massive education cuts, parents parked a school bus at City Hall (5/25/11) today, rolled out a red carpet, and invited the mayor to stand with them, not against them. Meanwhile, the police security at City Hall, was informing the mayor's, who was returning to City Hall from LaGuardia Community College about the school's parent demonstration at the east gate of City Hall. Usually, when the mayor return to City Hall from Queens or Brooklyn he enter thru the east gate, today they turn around and enter City Hall thru the west gate (Broadway) to avoid the parents demonstration.
See the two videos bellow. Video 2 is the mayor avoiding the parents demonstration by entering thru the west-gate (Broadway).

Video by Rafael Martínez Alequín
Video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daughter of Indian diplomat plans to sue city for $1.5 million after wrongful arrest at her school

Tuesday, May 24th 2011, 5:15 PM

High school student Krittika Biswas, the daughter of an Indian diplomat who is accusing the city of improperly arresting her, leaves a press conference on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan Tuesday.
Kevin Hagen for News
High school student Krittika Biswas, the daughter of an Indian diplomat who is accusing the city of improperly arresting her, leaves a press conference on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan Tuesday.

An Indian diplomat's daughter got dragged out of a city school in handcuffs despite being innocent - and international law forbidding the arrests of diplomats and their families, the legal papers show.

After a night in jail, charges against the distraught girl were dropped when authorities realized she was wrongly accused of cyberbullying a teacher, her lawyer said.

The senior at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, sobbed, her hands over her face, at a press conference Tuesday when she tried to describe what happened.

"I was very broken down after this," Krittika Biswas, 18, said later, noting that clearing her name helped her get back to school.

"One of my friends asked me, 'Aren't you shameful. You got arrested?' So I was like, 'I didn't do anything,'" said Krittika. Her father, Debashish Biswas, is a vice consul of the Indian Consulate in New York.

After Krittika was held in jail overnight on Feb. 8, the Queens District Attorney dropped all charges, which stemmed from a menacing email sent to a teacher.

City schools took an additional month to clear Krittika of the charges, after she'd already been suspended.

The legal papers, which notify the city of an intent to sue for at least $1.5 million, note another student was later determined to have actually sent the emails and that he was never arrested

"When they accuse someone, they (should) actually get their facts straights. When they accused me, they based it on something they just thought I did," Krittika said.

Her lawyer, Ravi Batra, did an estimated $50,000 worth of work to prove her innocence to the city school, he said.

City Law Department spokeswoman declined to discuss any specifics of the case, releasing a statement instead. "Once we are formally served with the claim, we'll evaluate Ms. Biswas's case thoroughly," it said.


Video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Let's Just Go Ahead And Assume We've Learned The Lessons Of The Gabrielle Giffords Shooting


By Ellen Crawford-Price
May 24, 2011

On Jan. 8, 2011, we as a society were shocked and dismayed when 19 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman from Arizona's 8th District, were shot during a public meeting outside a local supermarket. Six people were killed and Rep. Giffords suffered a near-fatal head wound. In the wake of this national tragedy, there seemed to be a clarion call to have an open dialogue about gun control, a thoughtful conversation about the way this country treats its mentally ill, and a long overdue discussion about the consequences of overly inflammatory political rhetoric.

Well, seeing as I haven't heard so much as a word about any of those topics in the past three months, I'm going to go ahead and assume that at some point we thoroughly explored those complex issues, resolved them, and are now living our lives based on the lessons we learned from the in-depth conversations I assume we had.

After all, if the crucial, imperative questions raised by this shooting—and there were many—hadn't been satisfactorily answered, we'd still be discussing them, right? The violence was far too brutal and the loss of life far too tragic for the American people to treat the Arizona shooting like any other news event that consumes the country for a brief moment and is then virtually forgotten. So let's just say that we handled the tragedy with the sophistication it deserved. Let's say that we heeded the call for national unity and are as united today as we were five months ago; that the unspeakable violence left an indelible impression on all of us; that Congress came together and is currently working diligently on landmark gun control legislation; and that we are now living in a new era of mutual understanding. Can we do that?

If so, that would be great. Because after all, if we had just brushed aside the life-altering assassination attempt of a congresswoman, as well as the death of a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl without seizing the opportunity to address our nation's glaring problems, then all the shooting victims would have died in vain, and all 300 million of us would be irresponsible, superficial hypocrites with the attention spans of newborns.

That is why I am going to go ahead and say that we gave ourselves a good hard look in the mirror and opened up a desperately needed national dialogue on the legality of guns with 30-round magazine clips. We also had, I'm sure, a productive discussion as to whether or not states allocate enough money toward the identification and treatment of the mentally ill. I wasn't present for either of these dialogues and I never really saw or heard anyone engage in them, but I'm sure they happened. They must have. These questions were far too important to ignore and we, as responsible citizenry, completely understood that, let's just say.

After all, Jared Lee Loughner, whose name I'm going to assume readers of this editorial didn't forget because he was at the epicenter of every single news story for two straight weeks, opened fire on innocent U.S. citizens who were simply taking part in the democratic process. Husbands were widowed, parents lost their children, senior citizens were murdered. This shocking event ripped at the very fabric of our country, and instead of just forgetting about it when the news vans packed up and left, honest discussions about the consequences of deceitful political rhetoric that deliberately preys on people's fears persisted. Further, a responsible conclusion was reached, and our nation's leaders agreed that this kind of inciting, sinister language would stop forever.

That's what we should all agree happened. Please.

We should also just agree that members of Congress sat together at the State of the Union address after the shooting, not just as a publicity stunt, but as a true display of unity that I'm going to assume continues to this very day as they work together on deficit reduction, clean energy, and the economy. And I am willing to bet that, although I don't remember this happening, President Obama gave a rousing speech about gun control even though he knew it wasn't politically viable to do so. Because in a situation such as this, what probably happened was that someone as thoughtful as our president realized politics as usual should be thrown out the window.

And let's not forget Ms. Giffords herself. With all the media attention centered on her recovery, people haven't forgotten, I'm sure, why she is recovering in the first place. There was a deep, festering problem in this country that exploded on Jan. 8, a problem that involved not just political discord, but a growing distrust for our political leaders that had been propagated by irresponsible media personalities and by elected officials themselves. Throw in race, the lagging economy, and an overall feeling of national disunity, and you have a complex situation that desperately needed to be resolved.

For Gabrielle Gifford's sake, let's just assume that it was, okay?

So, yeah. It was. Good.

King: Giuliani 'very close' to joining GOP presidential race


Politics from the Nation's Capital

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose presidential campaign fizzled in 2008, is leaning toward another race for the White House, according to a close associate. New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who has known Giuliani for more than 40 years, says the former mayor "is very close to saying he's going to run."

"If he were to make the decision today, he would run," says King.

Speaking at a dinner with reporters in Washington, King, who was an enthusiastic Giuliani supporter in 2008, said the former mayor has been quietly lining up support and exploring strategy. Giuliani has also examined the mistakes his campaign made in '08, when he did not seriously compete in a contest until the Florida primary, by which time he was hopelessly behind in the race.

It's unclear what effect a Giuliani candidacy would have on the primary campaign. There is an ongoing conversation among Republican political insiders about supposed voter unhappiness with the GOP field, and after Indiana governor Mitch Daniels' decision not to run, pundits and strategists have focused on hopes that New Jersey governor Chris Christie or House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan might be coaxed into running. Others have mentioned the name of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Few observers have looked to Giuliani as a possible savior of the Republican Party.

Yet there are some indicators to encourage the former mayor. In a new poll of New Hampshire Republicans released Monday by television station WMUR, Giuliani tied for third, well behind frontrunner Mitt Romney but ahead of Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. When WMUR asked New Hampshire GOP primary voters which candidate is the strongest leader, Giuliani placed second to Romney, although a distant second. If Giuliani were to run, he would likely focus his efforts on the Granite State.

Still, the idea of another Giuliani campaign will strike some observers as implausible. Although revered by many in the Northeast as the man who saved New York City from decades of crime and decline, Giuliani's main claim to fame among most Republicans -- his performance after the September 11 terrorist attacks -- is nearly a decade in the past. Issues have changed. Voter priorities have changed. The political cast of characters has changed. Despite all that, the race might soon include Giuliani, and voters who are unhappy with their current choices might have another.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/05/king-giuliani-very-close-joining-gop-presidential-race#ixzz1NIpSxmjV

Monday, May 23, 2011

Craigslist Congressman’s Seat May Go to Democrat

May 23, 2011 4:57 PM

Tomorrow, New York's 26th congressional district will elect a replacement for Craigslist Congressman Christopher Lee, the Republican who resigned after wooing strangers—including but not limited to transgender hookers—he met on Craigslist. And, according to recent polls, NY-26 might go blue:

The first poll, from Siena College, shows [Democrat Kathy] Hochul with 42 percent of the vote, the Republican Jane Corwin with 38 percent, and Jack Davis—an unorthodox candidate who is running on the Tea Party ballot line but who has been affiliated with both major parties in the past—with 12 percent. The second, from Public Policy Polling, has Ms. Hochul with a 44-to-38 advantage over Ms. Corwin, and Mr. Davis at 13 percent

If Hochul wins, this will be the fourth time since the Civil War that NY-26 elects a Democrat. Let us call this momentous occasion in Greater New York history the Missed Connection Election of 2011.

Oh, and in case you'd forgotten, Tea Party candidate Jack Davis? Caught on tape slapping the shit out of a constituent two weeks ago. NY-26 promises not to disappoint. [FiveThirtyEight, WSJ, images of Hochul (L) and Corwin (R) via AP]

Madoff’s Curveball: Will Fred Wilpon be forced to sell the Mets?

  • Mike Lupica

    Fred Wilpon goes rougher on Mets players than on Irving Picard, channels inner George Steinbrenner

    Originally Published:Monday, May 23rd 2011, 9:04 PM
    Updated: Tuesday, May 24th 2011, 1:53 AM

    New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon tosses around blame in the recent New Yorker story in much the same way that late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (below) did in his time.
    David Handschuh/News
    New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon tosses around blame in the recent New Yorker story in much the same way that late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (below) did in his time.
    Paul Hawthorne/Getty

    Jeff Toobin, who wrote the big New Yorker piece on Fred Wilpon, called Wilpon a "stand-up guy" Monday. The problem is that Wilpon doesn't have a leg to stand on these days. He is under attack from the Madoff trustee, Irving Picard, he has to sell part of his baseball team and perhaps part of his network, his team has to fight to stay around .500. This is when the owner of the team turns himself into Boss Wilpon and goes after his own players. Steinbrenner had timing like this in the old days.

    In fact this is the way Steinbrenner used to do business, in a lot of years when he was a bad owner talking about players performing a whole lot better than he was. Wilpon throws some punches but is like a fighter leaving himself wide open as he does.

    So this is where we are: Already in a world of trouble, Fred Wilpon makes more trouble for himself, just not in court papers, in his own suite at Citi Field. It happened for Toobin the way it has happened for a lot of us, an interview subject gets talking this way and even as you can't believe what he is telling you, you begin to realize you would have to hit him with a baseball bat to make him shut up.

    That is why after an interview in which Wilpon uses the inelegant word "schmuck" to describe himself, he ends up looking like even more of one, even to Mets fans who can't disagree with much of what he said about Jose Reyes and David Wright and Carlos Beltran. I don't.

    Steinbrenner used to say everything about everybody, even Don Mattingly, then trash the Bronx for good measure. Now we build monuments to him. And by the way? The Yankees weren't always on top when he would start running his mouth. He went 18 years without winning the World Series before Torre's Yankees put him back on top, got suspended from baseball in there, never seemed to shut up.

    Now Wilpon won't shut up with Jeff Toobin one night when the two of them are watching the Mets play dreary baseball at an empty, dreary Citi Field. The Mets were a bad team that night. Now they have gotten a little better, are trying to be a team their fans want to watch, and the piece comes out with Wilpon saying what he says about Reyes and Wright and the rest of them.

    Of course this will be treated like the crime of the century around here. It's not, even if Wilpon ought to be on a plane to Chicago today to talk to these players face-to-face and explain to them what he was doing. Or what he thought he was doing. Reyes isn't worth $140 million and Wright, whom I like as much as any ballplayer in town, isn't a superstar. Beltran isn't what he was. All true.

  • The New Yorker
  • Reporting & Essays

Our Local Correspondents

by Jeffrey Toobin May 30, 2011

“We’re snakebitten, baby,” Wilpon said. Clockwise from left: David Wright, Wilpon, Jason Bay, Terry Collins, and Jose Reyes. Photograph by Steve Pyke.

Nearly a decade ago, Fred Wilpon, the chairman and chief executive of the New York Mets, had his first meeting with the architects of what would become Citi Field, the team’s new ballpark, in Queens. “The first day the architects came to the site, they started saying blah, blah, blah, and I said to them, ‘Let me tell you how this is going to work,’ ” Wilpon told me recently. “ ‘The front of the building is going to look like Ebbets Field. And it’s going to have a rotunda—just like at Ebbets.’ And then I said, ‘Guess what. Here are the plans for Ebbets Field.’ And I handed them over.”

As we spoke, Wilpon was walking through the rotunda of the new stadium, which opened in 2009. The façade does indeed resemble that of Ebbets Field, the home of the late Brooklyn Dodgers. The rotunda serves as a memorial to the life and work of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier when, in 1947, he joined the Dodgers, and who, for his achievements on and off the field, remains Wilpon’s hero. Photographs of Robinson line the rotunda walls, and in the middle of the vast room an aluminum sculpture of his number, 42, rendered in Dodger blue, stands as a kind of shrine.

When Citi Field opened, the Brooklyn focus drew some criticism. After all, the Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1957, and Ebbets Field was demolished shortly thereafter. Only the very oldest fans have any first-hand memory of the place. The Mets, who had been in existence for almost a half century, were virtually ignored in their own home. “All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part,” Wilpon told me. Still, the ballpark combined the guiding preoccupations of Wilpon’s professional life—baseball and real estate. More than that, the stadium, in its architectural homage to Ebbets Field, underlined the omnipresence of Brooklyn, where Wilpon grew up, in everything that followed.

Wilpon, who is seventy-four, has run the Mets since 1980—for more than half his adult life. He has the rolling, slightly pained gait of an ex-athlete, a well-trimmed crown of silver hair, and a taste for fine tailoring, even in casual clothes. He walks the corridors of Citi Field with such a proprietary air that it’s not necessary to make out the bodyguard, hovering at a discreet distance, to recognize that he is the boss. Wilpon has a deft touch with fans. “I bet my husband that you were the guy who owns the Mets,” a breathless woman said to him. “You win,” Wilpon replied.

In the past two years, the Dodger problem at Citi Field has largely been addressed. The team added a Mets Hall of Fame, just off the rotunda, and plenty of banners and photographs of the Mets’ storied and eccentric existence are now spread around the ballpark. The Mets are a family business, run by Wilpon, his brother-in-law Saul Katz, the president of the team, and his son Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer. Jeff supervised the construction of Citi Field on a day-to-day basis, but Fred has an almost tactile sense of every inch. “See the floor here?” he said, as we walked in the corridor outside the Mets’ locker room. “The concrete we put in was too slippery for the guys when they got out of the showers.” So a new, pebbly surface was added, in the Mets’ colors of orange and blue.

Wilpon was making a circuit to visit players and coaches before a mid-April night game. The Mets were off to an awful start. A loss the previous evening had given the team the worst record in the National League. (“THAT STINK? IT’S THE METS,” read the headline in the Post.) Wilpon stopped at the coaches’ locker room and chatted with Mookie Wilson, the first-base coach and long a favorite of both Wilpon and the fans. Mookie (who has almost never been known by anything but his first name) came up with the team in the early eighties and played in the Mets’ last World Series victory, in 1986. (“You want to talk about old?” Wilpon said later. “When Mookie came up, he always had this little kid running around his ankles in the locker room.” That was Mookie’s kid Preston, who went on to play for a decade in the major leagues. “Now that little kid is retired!” Wilpon said, with a laugh.) Wilpon inquired after the health of Mookie’s wife, who has been ailing, then commiserated about the team’s troubles. “We didn’t see these problems in spring training,” Wilpon said. He chuckled with Dan Warthen, the pitching coach, about a member of the staff who tends to dawdle on the mound. “Tell him to throw the fucking ball!” Wilpon said. As we walked on, toward the training room, he said to me, “Those guys are proud. They are teachers. It drives them crazy to lose.”

Three pitchers, including Jason Isringhausen, at thirty-eight the senior member of the staff, were perched on training tables, their arms iced and swaddled in yards of Ace bandages. Wilpon asked how they were doing.

Fine, they said, almost in unison.

“What are you doing in here if you’re fine?” Wilpon said.

They all laughed.

“C’mon, guys,” Wilpon said, more seriously. “One game at a time, one game at a time.”

He repeated the message when he stopped in to see Terry Collins, the manager, and Sandy Alderson, the general manager, who are both new this year, their predecessors having been dismissed after several seasons of dismal results. Wilpon stepped through the tunnel and onto the field, where the Houston Astros were finishing batting practice. He came upon Pedro Beato, a boyish six-foot-four-inch rookie pitcher with a broad smile displaying a mouthful of braces. Beato, who is twenty-four, was born in the Dominican Republic but went to high school in Brooklyn. Wilpon had shaken hands with the other players, but he gave Beato a hug.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/30/110530fa_fact_toobin#ixzz1NCIiA5kI

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg: Before You Engage Your Tongue, Disengage Your “Brain”

By Rafael Martínez Alequín

Cathie Black, Dennis Walcott, and Mayor Bloomberg at PS 109 last fall (NYC Mayor's Office)

It is about time for New Yorkers to tell Mayor Bloomberg before he opens his mouth—he should disengage his brain. Since he became Mayor, he has offended many people in this city, especially, the poor—Afro-American, Latinos, the handicap, the Irish-American the homeless, and even reporters.

His recent (slip of the tongue) was last Friday when responding to a lawsuit seeking to prevent New York City from closing 22 schools. He made a comment insulting the parents who support the suit filed by the N.A.A.C.P. and the teachers Union by saying: “Unfortunately there are some parents who just come from—they never had a formal education, and they don’t understand
the value of education,” Bloomberg said.


“Our Mayor should treat public school parents like partners, not problems. Telling parents that they do not understand the value of education is profoundly disrespectful. As a public school parent I believe that the Mayor should admit he made a mistake and apologize.”

Kenneth D. Cohen, an executive of the N.A.A.C.P., a plaintiff in the suit, which was filed Wednesday, lamented what he called Mr. Bloomberg’s broad-brush description of parents “who look like the majority of parents in city schools.” Zakiyah Ansari, a parent organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education, an umbrella organization that is also part of the suit, said she was insulted.

The mayor's comments is not only an insult to Black and Latinos, but is in the border line of a racist insult.

He want to be known as the "Education Mayor". He began insulting New York parents when he appointed Cathy Black as the School Chancellor. Presumably, the process that he used was that he and Ms. Black belong to the same exclusive club of the super-rich and powerful social gathering, not her lack of pedagogical knowledge. This was an insult to the over 1 million Public City School children enrolled in the school system. When he realized that Ms. Black was the wrong person for the job, he appointed as school Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, a political operative that will be carrying the water for the Mayor. When the Mayor asks Dennis to jump, Walcott responds “How High Your Divine Serenity.”

In the Mayor’s most recent insult to the School Parents, Chancellor Walcott said the Mayor’s comments had nothing to do with “race or immigrant status.” The Chancellor should tell this to an Afro-American or a Latino parent. He will find out he will be chased out of the room.
see the video bellow:

video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spain protests: 'We want change'

A protester at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, May 21, 2011
Protesters have been camping out on Puerta del Sol for a week

Tens of thousands of Spanish protesters are continuing to defy a government ban by camping out overnight in a square in the capital, Madrid.

The protesters are angry with the government's economic policies and have occupied the Puerta del Sol area of the city for the past week.

Here, readers in Spain describe the scene at the protests and their reaction to the demonstrations.

Carlos Gomez, Madrid

This is an historic moment. Thousands of people have been camping in Sol since last Sunday with no flags or affiliation to any party.

Start Quote

These protests are not only about unemployment. They are about the unfair political situation that exists in Spain”

Milena Almagro Garcia Madrid

Young people, old people, families, it does not matter.

Everything is organised. There are tents to place your suggestions to the movement.

There are tents with food, where people are giving to the campers, tents with political debates, even one for childcare.

We are not just asking for jobs. We are asking for a change in the political system.

We have no option but to vote for the two biggest parties in Spain, who are more or less the same. They are unable to solve any problem, it is just a nest of corruption.

We are tired. In short, we want a working democracy. We want a change.

Milena Almagro Garcia, Madrid

These protests are not only about unemployment.

They are about the unfair political situation that exists in Spain.

We protest against the political situation that allows more than 100 people who are accused of corruption across the country to stand in the next elections.

Moreover, it is about the electoral law in Spain, which has a vote computing system that benefits the big political parties, leaving the small ones without any choice of achieving any success.

Emilio Benitez, Madrid

Protesters camp at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid
Demonstrators have defied a ban to camp out overnight in capital

I think it is a shame that the socialist government of Jose Luis Rodri­guez Zapatero is allowing an illegal campsite right in the heart of Madrid.

It breaks all the democratic rules in this country.

Most of the protesters are obviously left-wing extremists and anarchists, who wish to destabilise the democracy that took so much effort and time to achieve.

Furthermore, there is not a single placard among the demonstrators demanding jobs.

Paco, Valencia

The protests are not really anti-government, but rather anti-big political parties, both the one in power and the main ones in opposition.

It's an anti-capitalism, anti-market ruled society, anti-banks, anti-political corruption, anti-failed democracy, anti-degraded democracy and pro-real democracy protest.

It's a protest that wants a better, real future, not the future that the government or parties in opposition seem to be able to provide.

The manifestos and proposals are quite left-leaning ideologically, but not linked to any political party, because right now, most of us don't feel represented by them.

Alberto, Madrid, Spain

The main reason to be in Madrid's Puerta del Sol is to show the anger of the Spaniards against all political parties for not sorting out the problems that we have been suffering for years.

Instead of finding solutions the main parties, PP and PSOE, spend most of the time fighting with one another.

People of all ages feel the necessity to express their point of view in a different way than voting, as this traditional way has not had any effect in recent years.

Paula, Vigo, Spain

The protests began against Spanish electoral law, as we want that to change.

Then other movements started joining in and many political parties tried to make the protests their own.

But this movement is affiliated to no political party whatsoever.

There are young people, old people, unemployed, civil servants, pensioners, immigrants, campaigners for local languages, freelancers, right-wingers and left-wingers all taking part.

It is a beautiful movement.

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Breaking: World to End, Narrowing G.O.P. field

Posted by Hendrik Hertzberg


For political reasons, I’m rooting for the world to end on schedule tomorrow, Saturday, May 21st. For one thing, the world won’t actually end right away. The plan is for the Rapture to take place tomorrow, accompanied by an earthquake or some such banal, increasingly frequent natural disaster. But the obliteration of the entire planet won’t happen until October—unless it doesn’t. That’s the key. Frankly, I find that part of the prophecy iffy at best.

The Rapture will usefully thin out the Republican field, which, since I assessed it in our current Comment, has already been culled by the departure of Trump and Huckabee. As of tomorrow, Palin, Bachmann, Santorum, and possibly Pawlenty (a Lutheran who attends an evangelical megachurch) will be out of the picture, having been bodily swooped up to Heaven (along with, redundantly, Huckabee).

Back here on Planet Earth, the two Mormons, Romney and Huntsman, will still be in the race, obviously. So will Daniels (mainline Presbyterian), Gingrich (hopelessly sinful), Paul (follower of militant atheist Ayn Rand), Bolton (Lutheran, but no sign he takes it seriously), Johnson (political pothead), and Cain (Baptist, but from the social-justice Dr. King wing).

That will leave eight men scrambling for the support of a very different Republican primary electorate. The religious right will still be a factor, but its numbers will be greatly reduced and those “left behind” are apt to be relative moderates. As before, I’ll look for one of the “gubernatorial grownups” (Romney, Huntsman, Daniels, or, if he’s still among us, Pawlenty) to emerge as the eventual nominee, but, whoever he is, he’ll be free to take more nuanced positions on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and Greater Israel. And, despite an easier path to the nomination, he’ll probably lose to Obama in the general, because on Election Day a big chunk of the G.O.P. “base” will be playing harps on clouds, far from any terrestrial polling station.

One possible wild card: with Palin and Bachmann gone, there’s an opening for a Republican “dark mare.”

On a personal note, tomorrow is our son’s thirteenth birthday. His religious views preclude any sudden departure, but I’ve been hoping to score a “The World Will End on May 21” T-shirt for him. The other day I ran into a procession of sign-bearing, chanting, T-shirt-wearing world-enders as they passed through Times Square. (Nice people, by the way, smilingly immune to the wisecracks of the urban masses.) Unfortunately, none of their merch was for sale.* But I’m told that getting Raptured hoovers you right out of your clothes, so tomorrow I might be able to find something just lying there crumpled on the street.

* Free stuff is another matter, however. At the official May 21st Web site, clicking on “Free Materials and Resources” takes you to a page that offers

Special Promotions
AVAILABLE THROUGH May-20-2011 to May-27-2011

As any orders placed from May 22nd on will have to be handled by infidels, one may surmise that Family Radio is an equal opportunity employer.

Photograph by Timothy Krause via Flickr.

It's Still Here! Harold Camping is soon to Recalculate

by Luis A. Garcia

And it's a good thing too. The world did not end today as 89 year old Harold Camping the founder of Family Radio Worldwide predicted. Nor did it end in 1994 when Camping first predicted the world would end.

Today, May 21st 2011 is a friend's birthday and it would just be a shame if the world had ended before his party started. It's also a pretty nice day out here in New York and two other friends of mine are getting married today (Congratulations Kim and Noel!) so I've got a few reasons to think it's a good thing that Harold Camping isn't exactly deserving of any awards for biblical hermeneutics. It is not as if there was any good reason to think he ever was. Lots of people lots of times have said the world is ending and then come back to thrill us with an infallible recalculation followed by the founding of a church, yet another recalculation or sometimes something far less laughable than that. Maybe I spoke too soon the day isn't over yet either way there is an open bar at the wedding where no Kool-Aid will be served.


1. Followers of William Miller, the founder of the 7th Day Adventist believed the world would end on October 22, 1844.

2. Jehovah's Witnesses have predicted the end of the world in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994.

3. Charles Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, predicted the world would end in 1794.

4. Famous prognosticator Nostradamus predicted the end would come in July 1999 a claim openly mocked by Y2K prophets.

5. English mystic Joanna Southcott predicted the world would end on October 19, 1814, when she gave birth to the Messiah.

6. Marshall Applewhite Leader of the Heaven's Gate Cult said 1997 was the last year before the aliens erased us

7. Edgar Casey the famous psychic dreamt the end will come in 2012

8. And Lyndon LaRouche says the sky is falling every five minutes