Monday, March 31, 2008


Today, March 31, 2008 marks the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Dana Rishpy. Her family continues to grieve but maintains hope for a miracle. The agony of the unknown is unbearable. In the interim, the Mexican government has arrested "El Hungaro", a friend of principal suspect, Mathew Walshin for drug dealing.

Flor Pastrana, another friend of Walshin's, forwarded an extensive protest to this blog proclaiming her innocence. Anonymous postings detail the innocence of Walshin although he is yet to make a statement or detail his version of the night that Dana disappeared. Contrary to promises that "Mati would come forward", he has chosen to hide behind a veil of silence. And although he did speak with Dana's parents, followup calls and details of that night were omitted. He is still considered the primary suspect.

Dana has not been abandoned nor forgotten. The pursuit of justice is as fervent now as one year ago. Clues that once seemed elusive have risen to the surface. Those who are responsible for Dana's disappearance should not confuse the wind on their face with the breath of justice. It is closer than you think.


A 19-year-old Lakewood man has been identified as the suspect sought by authorities in an armed robbery at Reich Jewelers, where two employees were held at gunpoint and forced to fill duffel bags with jewelry.Law enforcement agencies are searching for fugitive Avraham Rotenberg, 19, of Birch Street, Lakewood, in connection with the Feb. 17 robbery.

Rotenberg is wanted on charges of first-degree armed robbery, theft and possession of a weapon — a shotgun — for an unlawful purpose, according to the arrest warrant, Howell police Detective Eileen Dodd said.Some of the jewelry was recovered after a Lakewood rabbi received a mysterious call at about 4:30 a.m. March 6 telling him to look outside his door for packages, police said.

The rabbi called Lakewood police and reported the call.Lakewood police responded and found two bags of jewelry outside the home of Rabbi Michael Rottenberg on Heathwood Avenue. The bags contained some of the proceeds from the Reich Jewelry store robbery.Dodd said Reich Jewelers was robbed about 11:35 a.m. Feb. 17 by Rotenberg, who then fled the store with bags of jewelry.

During the robbery, Rotenberg kept the shotgun trained on the employees while demanding that they fill two duffel bags with jewelry from the display cases and the safe.There were two employees and two customers in the store at the time of the robbery, which is located in the Grebow Shopping Center on Route 9, Dodd said. The robber fled in a 2004 Acura TSX with New York tags, and was found abandoned by Lakewood police off Miller Road in Lakewood the day after the robbery.


Pink slips are on the horizon for more than 40 of the city's elected officials, and many are scrambling to keep them at a distance. Musical Chairs: Shuffling Seats in City GovernmentTo do so, some officials are playing a session of musical chairs, hoping to land seats -- possibly with larger constituencies -- when the music stops in November 2009. Others are shuffling their political decks a little sooner, fishing for possible employment in Albany, where the entire Senate and Assembly will be up for reelection this November.

While the public clearly passed term limits twice, some question whether the eight-year restrictions breed good policy and if it has bolstered the democratic process and public participation. Others wonder whether term limits perpetuate a system of backroom politics where a stagnant staff controls the reins in City Hall and politicians shuffle between the city and Albany or vice versa.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Not so fast on senior homes, sez Quinn

Saturday, March 29th 2008, 4:00 AM

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn urged City Hall Friday to "slow down" its overhaul of senior citizens centers in a rare clash with the Bloomberg administration.

"We are concerned that this restructuring is moving too quickly," Quinn (D-Manhattan) said Friday.

She wants the Department of Aging to postpone plans by six months. Requests for proposals on the project are to go out this summer.

Council members fear attempts to modernize the city's 329 senior centers will force some of them to close permanently. The plans also impact delivery of meals to seniors.

Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago of the Department for the Aging wants to transform the centers by adding cafes and activities to attract the city's growing senior population. He contends that 44% of the current centers are vastly underutilized.

The Bloomberg administration is considering the postponement request but maintains it has discussed the changes with elected officials and community leaders for more than a year.

Quinn wants the Department for the Aging to create job training for employees, many of whom are seniors, who face the ax when centers close.

City Controller Bill Thompson has also urged the department to delay restructuring the centers.

Spitzer May Have Lied, Prosecutor Says

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

The office of P. David Soares, the Albany prosecutor, issued its second report on the Bruno investigation on Friday.

Published: March 29, 2008

ALBANY — Evidence collected by the Albany district attorney’s office indicates that Gov. Eliot Spitzer lied to the public last year about his role in an effort to discredit a political rival and may have misled the district attorney’s office itself in an interview last year, according to a report released late Friday.

In sworn testimony, Darren Dopp, Mr. Spitzer’s former communications director, portrays Mr. Spitzer as keeping closely abreast of aides’ efforts to compile evidence that the State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, the state’s top Republican, misused state cars and helicopters, according to the report. Mr. Dopp goes as far as to describe the governor as enthusiastically issuing the final order to release Mr. Bruno’s travel records to the press.

Mr. Spitzer, by contrast, told the public — and the district attorney’s office — that he was barely involved in the release of the records and had been misled by his own staff about the collection and release of the documents about Mr. Bruno.

The report, by the office of the Albany County district attorney, P. David Soares, was the latest twist in the controversy that began last summer after Mr. Spitzer’s office disseminated those travel records to a reporter from The Times Union of Albany. Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s office issued a report last July finding that the governor’s staff had misused the State Police as part of a coordinated effort to release records damaging to Mr. Bruno, but his office was not able to interview the governor or his staff.

Mr. Dopp was suspended in July after the Cuomo report was published and eventually left the administration; he was granted immunity by the district attorney in his investigation. He testified that when he warned the governor that Mr. Bruno would be angered by the release of the information, the governor responded with a series of expletives and told him to “shove it” into Mr. Bruno “with a red hot poker.”

“As he was saying it, he was like spitting a little bit,” Mr. Dopp told the investigators. “He was spitting mad.”

The former governor and his staff will not face criminal charges, but Mr. Soares said in his report that Mr. Spitzer’s statements to the district attorney’s office conflicted with that of Mr. Dopp and that the discrepancies would have been presented before a grand jury had the governor not resigned.

The district attorney said in his report that he considered asking a grand jury to review whether Mr. Spitzer engaged in misconduct as a public official. But he dropped that plan after Mr. Spitzer resigned this month amid an investigation into a prostitution ring. Mr. Soares probably would have had difficulty making a perjury case because he did not interview Mr. Spitzer under oath last year.

The latest report by the district attorney was a turnaround from one Mr. Soares issued in September, which largely exonerated Mr. Spitzer. After releasing that report, Mr. Soares said, “I do not believe there was a plot to smear Senator Bruno,” adding, “It’s pretty hard to believe that they actually conspired.”

His latest report, however, said that “political plotting and games are not in the best interest of New York State.”

Republicans assailed the district attorney on Friday for not pressing forward with a criminal case now and for his handling of the case.

“The report confirms what I have been saying all along, that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer lied to the people of this state about his direct knowledge and involvement in the Troopergate scandal,” Mr. Bruno said in a statement. “I feel it was a serious mistake not to present this information to a grand jury and proceed with a prosecution,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer declined to comment Friday night.

Mr. Soares, who declined to comment, had sought to release a more detailed report but was deterred by grand jury secrecy rules. The district attorney had asked the administration of Gov. David A. Paterson to allow it to release material collected in response to a grand jury subpoena, but Mr. Cuomo’s office, representing the executive branch, released an opinion on Friday saying such a move was not permissible.

The report, which is built largely around Mr. Dopp’s testimony, portrays the former governor as heavily involved in the entire Bruno effort, e-mailing Mr. Dopp frequently after the report was released, keeping close tabs on the progress of the story and analyzing how it played in the press. The governor had his staff arrange for a former top State Police official to talk to The New York Times to keep the story alive, according to the report, in an attempt to show that concerns about Mr. Bruno’s use of the state plane extended back several years.

The latest report is not the end of the matter. The Commission on Public Integrity and the Republican-led Senate Investigations Committee are also conducting inquiries. Mr. Soares’s second investigation started after the integrity commission referred to his office a potential perjury case against Mr. Dopp late last year.

Unlike the last one, Mr. Soares’s new report appeared to vindicate Mr. Cuomo’s findings, which said the administration had tried to discredit Mr. Bruno.

“A political plot involving State Police by senior state officials is a toxic brew,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Friday. “In government, even a legitimate goal does not justify unscrupulous means. This situation also proves the old adage, ‘The cover-up is worse than the crime.’ ”

The report differed from Mr. Cuomo’s findings in one respect. While Mr. Cuomo’s report suggested that a Freedom of Information request for the travel records filed in late June by The Times Union may have come at the urging of the Spitzer administration, Mr. Dopp’s testimony indicated that the reporter who filed the request, James Odato, was making inquiries about the travel records in early May. However, Mr. Soares’s report offered limited detail about the back and forth between The Times Union and the administration.

The inquiries began, according to the report, with questions about the governor’s use of state aircraft for trips that involved fund-raisers. Mr. Spitzer’s aides analyzed those records to see if there were “possible problems for the governor”; they concluded that one of Mr. Spitzer’s trips to Rochester for a political fund-raiser for the local Democratic Party was “the most problematic.”

Eventually, however, Mr. Odato asked about other state officials’ use of the state aircraft. At that point Mr. Spitzer’s aides started talking about Mr. Bruno’s possible use of the aircraft for political purposes.

The report says that the governor, last May, was not eager to press forward with releasing records related to Mr. Bruno, saying he didn’t “want anything to interfere with the possible ... conclusion of the legislative session.”

However, Peter Pope, Mr. Spitzer’s policy director, wanted to bring the information to light, even suggesting that there might be an obligation to turn it over to the state inspector general’s office or the United States attorney’s office, according to Mr. Dopp’s testimony. But other aides dismissed those ideas.

Mr. Spitzer’s attitude changed because of a breakdown in relations with Mr. Bruno at the end of the legislative session in late June — “frustration had been building with the inability to get an accord,” Mr. Dopp said.

The district attorney interviewed a number of aides in his investigation, as well as Mr. Dopp’s wife, Sandy, who was angered by the treatment of her husband. When the governor’s counsel, David Nocenti, came to visit the family during her husband’s suspension, she told him, “You guys screwed this thing up so bad.”

She said she and her friends “could have handled it better,” adding, “We’re housewives.”


March 28, 2008
Clothing drive for the poor in Israel charges to donate

This truck purports to be running a clothing drive for people to donate clothing to be sent to poor people in Israel, yet they charge $12 a bag to 'donate'.
Leave Comment ---This article posted by Chaptzem : 10:38 AM11 comments

Call Girl Linked to Spitzer Knew Reputed Mob Affiliate

Published: March 29, 2008

Federal investigators have developed information that the prostitute whom Eliot Spitzer is said to have met in Washington last month has some relationship with a man who the authorities contend is an associate of organized crime, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

It was unclear on Friday whether the investigators had determined the precise nature, or timing, of the relationship between the 22-year-old woman and the reputed organized crime figure, Anthony Scibelli, 37, a building contractor now under federal indictment in a separate case in Brooklyn.

But prosecutors and F.B.I. agents involved in the prostitution case have begun asking questions about whether anyone involved with the ring that the former governor is believed to have patronized, the Emperor’s Club V.I.P., understands how Mr. Scibelli knows the woman, Ashley Alexandra Dupré, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

A lawyer for Mr. Scibelli acknowledged that his client knew Ms. Dupré but said that the two did not have a sexual relationship.

“He doesn’t deny knowing her, but he does deny having any illicit relationship with her,” said the lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel. “Anthony Scibelli is a hard-working contractor. He is not a mob member. He is not a mobster. He is someone who goes to work every day.”

Mr. Shargel said his client’s only contact with Ms. Dupré, an aspiring rhythm and blues singer, was related to his efforts to further her music career. “He has contacts in the music business,” Mr. Shargel said. “She was introduced to him because of his contacts in the music business, and she obviously thought that he could help further her career, and that was the sole basis of the relationship.”

He said the two met through a mutual friend whom he did not identify.

There is no indication that Mr. Spitzer was aware of Ms. Dupré’s relationship with Mr. Scibelli, or that Mr. Scibelli knew Mr. Spitzer had reportedly been a client of Ms. Dupré’s. Indeed, two people with knowledge of the case said Ms. Dupré’s only apparent contact with the governor had been the Feb. 13 rendezvous at the Mayflower Hotel, a meeting that became famous after it was disclosed that Mr. Spitzer was referred to as Client 9 in a federal complaint against the prostitution ring.

But the fact that the scope of Ms. Dupré’s contacts included someone the federal government lists as an organized crime associate underscores the dangerously vulnerable position Mr. Spitzer put himself in if he consorted with prostitutes.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer, Brandy Bergman, said the former governor had no comment, as did a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan. A lawyer for Ms. Dupré, Don D. Buchwald, also declined to comment. Ms. Dupré did not respond to messages.

Mr. Scibelli is listed as the owner of one construction company and as an executive in another that does business in the New York metropolitan region. He served a state prison sentence in the early 1990s for felony drug sale, according to state prison records.

Last month, he was one of 62 people charged in a sweeping indictment brought by federal prosecutors against the Gambino crime family, including 3 reputed leaders of the family, 6 reputed capos, 16 men the authorities classified as soldiers and others, like Mr. Scibelli, whom the government identified as mob associates.

Specifically, the government accused Mr. Scibelli of extortion and extortion conspiracy, claiming he shook down another contractor and took over the man’s portable cement plant.

He was charged along with three other men, Nicholas Corozzo and Leonard DiMaria, identified in the indictment as Gambino captains, and Mr. Corozzo’s son-in-law, Vincent Dragonetti, a reputed soldier who is involved in a construction business with Mr. Scibelli.

Mr. Shargel noted that Mr. Scibelli was not charged with racketeering conspiracy in the Brooklyn case, as were 25 of the other defendants. And he was named in just two of the 80 counts in the 170-page indictment.

He is now free on $1 million bond that was secured by the house where he lives with his wife in Medford, N.Y., and a home there owned by his parents.

Mr. Corozzo, Mr. DiMaria and Mr. Dragonetti face more serious charges: murder, racketeering conspiracy and nearly two dozen other alleged crimes for Mr. Corozzo; racketeering conspiracy and 30 extortion, gambling and other counts for Mr. DiMaria; and a litany of construction-related extortion, money laundering and gambling charges for Mr. Dragonetti.

Mr. Dragonetti and Mr. Scibelli are involved in a construction firm called Hunter-Atlantic, in Red Bank, N.J. Mr. Scibelli is the vice president and business records list Mr. Dragonetti as the registered agent.

Mr. Scibelli also has another company, VMS Consulting Inc., which is based at his home in Medford, according to business records.

Hunter-Atlantic was involved in shoring up a landmark six-story cast-iron building adjacent to the planned site of a 20-story condominium building called 57 Reade Street in TriBeCa. The city’s Buildings Department halted work there in November after the excavation for the new building left the landmark listing.

Serge F. Kovaleski contributed reporting.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Feds charge Puerto Rico gov., 12 others


Associated Press Writer

Puerto Rico's Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila delivers the annual State of the Territory speech in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in this Tuesday, March 6, 2007 file photo. Gov. Acevedo Vila was charged Thursday, March 27, 2008, with 19 crimes, including conspiracy to violate U.S. federal campaign laws, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and giving false testimony to the FBI. The indictment also charged 12 others associated with Acevedo's Popular Democratic Party as a result of a two-year grand jury investigation, acting U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said.
Brennan Linsley / AP Photo
Puerto Rico's Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila delivers the annual State of the Territory speech in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in this Tuesday, March 6, 2007 file photo. Gov. Acevedo Vila was charged Thursday, March 27, 2008, with 19 crimes, including conspiracy to violate U.S. federal campaign laws, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and giving false testimony to the FBI. The indictment also charged 12 others associated with Acevedo's Popular Democratic Party as a result of a two-year grand jury investigation, acting U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said.

Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila indignantly denied wrongdoing Thursday and gave no sign he would abandon his re-election effort after being charged with campaign finance violations that carry a penalty of 20 years in prison.

Acevedo, a superdelegate to this summer's Democratic convention, accused U.S. prosecutors of pursuing a politically motivated indictment alleging that the governor and a dozen other people conspired to illegally pay off his campaign debts.

"I am going to defend my rights and protect the dignity of my family and of the people of Puerto Rico who support me," the governor said in a statement hours after the FBI arrested most of those named in the indictment in San Juan, Philadelphia and Washington area.

Acevedo served in Washington as the island's nonvoting delegate to Congress then was elected governor in 2004 after campaigning on an anti-corruption platform.

"I want to assure the people of Puerto Rico that I have never solicited nor accepted a contribution in exchange for a government contract, never permitted the illegal use of public funds nor acted illegally," he said. "I know very well several of those accused today, and I am convinced that they never accepted a bribe or stole a single cent."

At a late-night meeting with members of his Popular Democratic Party, Acevedo agreed to do anything necessary - including resign - to keep the investigation from harming the organization, former party leader Miguel Hernandez Agosto said.

"That, to me, is a very serious, important and patriotic declaration," Hernandez said. "You cannot be more clear."

Hernandez and other party members declined to say whether they had asked the governor to resign. Acevedo left the closed-door meeting without answering reporters' questions.

Acevedo canceled all his public events and remained sequestered all day in the island's powder-blue colonial governor's residence with his wife and two children. He said he would turn himself in Friday.

In a brief address on Puerto Rican television Thursday evening, he repeated his denials and accused U.S. authorities of distracting him from trying to revive the island's struggling economy. "They want blood not your well being," he said of federal prosecutors. The governor did not take questions.

His indictment on 19 charges, including conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws, conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and giving false testimony to the FBI, made him the latest U.S. governor to run into legal trouble.

Others include New York's Gov. Eliot Spitzer, forced to resign after he was accused of soliciting prostitutes, and Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, convicted for corruption in 2006 in what his allies allege was a politically motivated prosecution.

Acevedo's indictment could create some awkward moments for Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama if they campaign as expected on the island ahead of its June 1 Democratic primary.

The governor is one of the island's seven superdelegates and has endorsed Obama, but Amy Brundage, a spokesman for the Illinois senator, said Acevedo has no formal campaign role.

In recent months, Acevedo had accused the Justice Department of targeting him, in part for his criticism of a 2005 FBI raid in Puerto Rico during which a fugitive independence militant was killed.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, who said authorities agreed to let Acevedo surrender "in deference to his position," dismissed his allegation that the charges are politically motivated.

"Nobody is above the law. We all lose when electoral processes are compromised," Rodriguez said. "For our part, we are not politicians, we do not make political decisions."

Luis Fraticelli, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Juan office, also rejected the claim of political bias. He said the agency opened the formal investigation three months before the shootout in which Filiberto Ojeda Rios was killed at a farmhouse in western Puerto Rico.

Acevedo, 46, a Harvard-educated attorney and career politician, served in Washington as the island's nonvoting delegate to Congress in 2000-04, then ran a successful campaign for governor.

The governor's Popular Democratic Party supports maintaining Puerto Rico's semiautonomous relationship to the United States. His chief rival in November's gubernatorial election, who wants the island to become the 51st state, called on Acevedo to resign.

The governor "does not have the moral standing to govern the people and resolve this mess that he has gotten us into," said Luis Fortuno, who is also the island's nonvoting congressional delegate.

Acevedo's claims of political persecution resonate on the island, where many people feel a deep sense of nationalism and a resentment toward the U.S. But in interviews across the capital, most Puerto Ricans appeared to focus their anger on the governor.

"He should pay for what he did," said Carmen Martinez Burgos, a 77-year-old retiree walking near San Juan's federal building.

Jorge Menendez, a 62-year-old businessman from the San Juan suburb of Guaynabo, said the indictments should serve as warning to all public officials. "No one is above the law," he said.

Fraticelli said the FBI began the investigation after receiving detailed allegations from an undisclosed source about potentially illegal contributions to Acevedo's campaign to be the island's nonvoting delegate to Congress.

The information suggested that Acevedo received an unusually large number of campaign contributions from dental clinic employees and other people in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas and that some may have contributed money through others to avoid campaign donation limits, Fraticelli said.

In June 2005, the FBI opened a public corruption investigation and agents "slowly began to uncover an elaborate illegal campaign contribution scheme," he said.

Authorities eventually determined that after wracking up a $545,000 campaign debt during the 2000 campaign, Acevedo allegedly sought and received illegal contributions to cover the shortfall and bankroll later campaigns, according to the indictment.

Acevedo is also accused of filing false tax returns to conceal cash payments that he received. Authorities say he also used campaign money for personal expenses, including clothing purchases and family trips to Florida, Costa Rica and China.

The 55-page indictment also charges Acevedo personally helped a group of Philadelphia-area businessmen in their efforts to obtain Puerto Rican government contracts after they delivered illegal campaign contributions from their own staff and family members.

Four defendants from Pennsylvania have been accused of conspiracy, including Candido Negron Mella of Glenn Mills, who served as the governor's U.S. deputy campaign finance chairman. His lawyer declined comment.

Associated Press writers Rebecca Banuchi, Laura Perez Sanchez, Michael Melia, and Yaisha Vargas contributed to this report.


Chinatown's been redlined
Dozens of protesters stood inside and out of a Community Board 3 meeting yesterday, claiming that a proposed rezoning plan was racist and could result in the displacement of minority community members.Critics claim that the rezoning specifically outlines the already-gentrified areas of the LES and East Village, while excluding the less affluent and more ethnically diverse areas like Chinatown.

Zoning off the proposed area will supposedly push the development of high-rises and displace residents into the excluded communities.Chinatown Residents Object to Rezoning ExclusionYep, that's how it works in redlined communities.
Posted by Queens Crapper at 3:05 AM 0 comments Links to this post



March 28, 2008 -- In the latest twist in New York politics, Rudy Giuliani is eyeing a run for governor in a special election this fall should Gov. Paterson be forced to resign, sources say.
A top adviser to the former mayor, who pulled the plug on his presidential bid in January, yesterday dangled the possibility of Giuliani's running in a special election.
It would happen in a year in which presidential nominee John McCain would be at the top of the GOP ticket.

The Post reported this week that state lawmakers started researching the line of succession after Paterson's first week in office was spent responding to questions about extramarital affairs and the questionable use of campaign funds.
If Paterson resigns before August, a special election would have to be held in November.
New York's new governor has spent his brief time in office dropping one bombshell announcement after another. He admitted that both he and his wife had affairs during a rough patch in their marriage and that he abused drugs decades ago.

It appears, however, that those disclosures have raised little outrage, either from the public or his colleagues in Albany. If anything, coming on the heels of Eliot Spitzer's sex-scandal resignation, Paterson's candor has prompted questions among Albany insiders as to whether he may face further troubles.
He added this week that he was done talking about his personal life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


March 27, 2008
Caught on Tape: NYPD Beats Down Buddhists

There have been several Free Tibet protests happening around town this month; one of them even featured city council member Tony Avella. While Tibetan protesters are routinely beaten, imprisoned and even killed by police in China, police brutality is something you might be surprised to see in New York City, unless of course you've attended demonstrations over the years and experienced it first hand. During a Free Tibet protest near the UN on March 14th, some NYPD officers were documented threatening, arresting and clubbing activists seemingly without provocation. In the below video it appears the protesters do nothing more than carry flags, walk on the sidewalk and chant. Yet officers identified as Leroy, Delgado and Serano, and others are depicted clubbing them even when they're down.

The cameraman stridently narrates while filming, saying, "Look at these cops, clubbing people in front of the UN, unbelievable, protesting to free Tibet, cops clubbing people in their legs on the sidewalk, in front of the UN in America, unbelievable, this is not China." He also notes that Officer Serano had threatened to kill two protesters, something the officer later admits to on tape. Don't cops learn about YouTube at the Police Academy these days?

When we contacted the NYPD, asking if they had a statement about the beatings caught on tape that day, we were told that they "wouldn't call what happened a beating." We're currently waiting for an emailed statement which we'll update this post with when received.


Puerto Rico governor, Obama supporter, indicted
By Sam Youngman

Puerto Rican Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila (D), who is a superdelegate supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president, was indicted on 19 counts Thursday stemming from financial dealings in three political campaign.
Acevedo reportedly denied the charges of illegal fundraising and election fraud, and The New York Times reported he will turn himself in to authorities.
The Obama campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Acevedo becomes the third Democratic governor in recent days to find himself in an unwelcome spotlight.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), a supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), resigned earlier this month amid allegations that he was part of a prostitution ring.
Spitzer’s successor, Gov. David Paterson (D), acknowledged in interviews after taking office that he and his wife both engaged in extramarital affairs and that he used drugs in the past.


45 charged in Mob-run gambling and drug ring (2 Public School Teachers Arrested) ^ Tuesday, March 25, 2008 MICHAEL GARTLAND
Posted on 03/26/2008 10:28:00 PM PDT by Coleus

The athletic director and a guidance counselor at North Bergen High School were arrested Tuesday in a drug and gambling ring sting that authorities say was controlled by the Genovese crime family. Athletic Director Jerry Maietta and Guidance Counselor Ralph Marino were among 45 swept up in raids that began at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli described the two as lower level operatives in an expansive network of bookies, package holders, drug dealers and drug distributors.

Mark Iafelice, 49, of Edgewater; Brian DiGuilmi, 48, of Emerson; James W. Skinner, 69, of Allenwood; and his son James J. Skinner Jr., 40, of Hazlet, led the operation and have connections with the Genovese family, Molinelli said.
"Individuals in this business – particularly individuals in the Genovese crime family – don’t usually give you a lot of time to pay back the money," he said. "You place a bet with somebody and if you don’t pay, it could be dangerous for you, for your family, for your children." The Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police and the East Rutherford Police Department have been investigating gambling in southern Bergen County since August after a confidential informant told authorities where to place a bet. At least one undercover officer frequented a bookie and eventually infiltrated the network, which led investigators up the chain to Iafelice, DiGuilmi and the Skinners.

On Tuesday, police executed 24 search warrants that led to the seizure of $5 million, five vehicles and at least five pounds of marijuana in Bergen, Hudson, Monmouth and Ocean counties. In North Bergen, the arrests have led the schools superintendent to reconsider the future of the two employees. "Wow," said North Bergen Superintendent Robert Dandorph. "I am absolutely blown away about it … If all this is true, I would be nervous about their future."
Dandorph said that after confirming the news with Molinelli’s office today, he will meet with the school board’s president and lawyer to begin implementing their own investigation. Marino, a guidance counselor at the high school, has been a fixture of the North Bergen sports scene for years and his arrest Tuesday came as a shock to those who know him.

CBS Exposes Hillary Clinton Bosnia Trip.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Sanford Rubenstein Says No To Sign-in Sheet at 16 Court St.
by Ryan Thompson (, published online 03-24-2008

By Ryan ThompsonBrooklyn Daily Eagle
COURT STREET — Prominent civil-rights attorney Sanford A. Rubenstein, who works out of his law firm on the 17th floor of 16 Court St., has sent a letter to the building’s new owners in protest of the planned policy of having all who enter sign their names.
“I wish to express my opposition to this new policy as a tenant of long standing at 16 Court Street. Requiring a sign-in will create a hardship for potential clients of my office who may not want to stand in line to sign in as a condition for visiting my office. There is no need for this type of security in the building, and it will cause a hardship for tenants such as my law firm who have a busy law practice with clients visiting my office on a regular basis and new clients visiting for the first time,” Rubenstein wrote.

Rubenstein, who was in Miami on Friday after the Sean Bell trial in Queens had adjourned, sent the letter to the building’s new landlord, SL Green Realty Corp., on March 13. The letter was specifically addressed to Nick Hayden, the portfolio manager at SL Green Realty, and Hayden said Friday that he only received the letter on Thursday and was in the process of responding to Rubenstein.
Hayden did not finish his response by press time, but said simply that the plan was to institute a “standard sign-in policy.”

However, Rubenstein, who has been a tenant of 16 Court St. for nearly 20 years, said that a standard sign-in policy is unnecessary, and that he doesn’t know of any similar office building on Court Street that employs such a requirement.
“I think it’s an unnecessary intrusion,” he said. “It’s almost intimidating to require people who come in to the building to sign in.”

Rubenstein believes the main burden on his clients will be having to stand in line, go through the sign-in procedure, and experience the unnecessary delay.
“Please be placed on notice that if this policy creates a loss of business for my law firm, it will be because of a new policy which is unnecessary and which creates a hardship on your tenants,” Rubenstein further wrote.

The 38-story building at the corner of Montague Street, which is the tallest commercial building in Brooklyn, now that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank clock-tower has been converted to residential space, was purchased last year by SL Green Realty and The City Investment Fund for $107.5 million.
© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008


For an excellent analysis on how the Bear Stearns collapse may influence the entire world financial market, check out the following link:


Call New York City what you will: The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. The Capital of the World.
While the city has had a number of nicknames over the years, no official second appellation exists. Now, one elected official is pushing the City Council to designate “Gotham City” as New York City’s chief nickname just in time for the summer release of "Batman: The Dark Night."
Queens Councilman Hiram Monserrate, who counts Batman as one of his childhood heroes, views his Gotham City pitch as a tourist lure. “I see that as a marketing tool, ‘Come visit the real Gotham City,’ taking advantage of this movie which will be one of those gate-breaking, record-selling movies like it always is,” he said.

Armed with this tagline and capitalizing on the flick’s buzz, Monserrate envisions theater-goers spending dollars on the streets of the living, breathing Gotham. “Come visit the real Gotham City and come visit our shops,” he said. “When we talk about Gotham we talk about tremendous, tremendous nightlife, restaurants, lounges, clubs and cafes, frappuccinos and everything else that we have in this City, the Village, Queens.”

The designation would also resonate with the art community, he added. “When we talk about Gotham we also talk about the rich architecture that our City enjoys. A lot of Gothic architecture exists in New York City. So Gotham’s also obviously related to Gothic and Gothic architecture which is a form of art, so it’s very important for our art community to strengthen its reconnection to being a Gotham City,” Monserrate said.

The dark and gritty streets of Batman fame were modeled after the landscape of Lower Manhattan. But long before the D.C. Comics depiction connected New York City and Gotham City, Washington Irving made the reference in 1807, drawing a comparison between the residents of the City and those of the town of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, England who evaded taxes by faking dementia, a condition thought to be contagious at the time.
Irving’s words, though referenced in the Council resolution, aren’t part of the marketing vision. When Monserrate plans to unleash a publicity campaign by the end of spring in an effort to energize the economy, he knows Batman is the real draw. “Batman is a childhood hero to millions of New Yorkers,” he said. “We all understand that Gotham is really about New York. So we are the Gotham City.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Video: The Hillary in Bosnia movie

Now, Sen. Clinton's apparent exagerration of her trip to Bosnia has been YouTubed.

Roger Stone: It takes a sleaze....electability in crisis


Why don't we just suspend democratic elections in the style of a South Asian dictatorship and have Roger Stone choose our leaders? That way you don't have to be elected with 70 percent of the vote. Between this and Hevesi, elections are getting nullified in New York. Talk about a democratic republic in crisis. Here is the latest from the Miami Herald which tells us how the master of Democratic disaster tipped off the feds, which if it holds up blows up the workaday narrative about how alert bank employees heard this and that and activated red flags etc....Then again, in Stone's world, you really have to have proof. Was the letter authentic?

Dan Janison


Hillary's Bosnia Story Her First Lie In 12 Years
Hillary went on Pittsburgh radio station KDKA today to talk more about that time snipers were shooting at her in Bosnia -- you know, the thing that never happened. Yesterday she claimed that she "misspoke" when she said "I remember, particularly, a trip to Bosnia, where the welcoming ceremony had to be moved inside because of sniper fire," as a qualification to be president of the United States. In today's interview she asks for a little slack, because it's the first time she's misspoken in 12 years:

"You know I have written about this and described it in many different settings and I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign. Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else. The military took great care of us. They were worried about taking a First Lady to a war zone and took some extra precautions and worried about all sorts of things. I have written about it in my book and talked about it on many other occasions and last week, you know, for the first time in twelve-or-so years I misspoke."

Justices Rule Against Bush on Death Penalty Case

Published: March 25, 2008

WASHINGTON — In a death-penalty case that has become an international issue, the Supreme Court declared on Tuesday that President Bush had no power to tell the State of Texas to reopen the case of a Mexican who has been condemned for murder and rape.

By 6 to 3, the court ruled that the president went too far in 2005, when he decreed that the states had to abide by a 2004 decision by the World Court. That decision found that several dozen Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to death in the United States had not been given the assistance from Mexican diplomats that they were entitled to receive under an international treaty.

The center of the dispute is Jose E. Medellin, now 33, a onetime gang member in Houston who took part in the rape and slaying of two teenaged girls on June 24, 1993. The victims were abused for an hour, then killed to prevent them from identifying their tormentors. Mr. Medellin strangled one girl with her shoelaces, the trial revealed.

He was arrested five days later, and signed a confession after being given his Miranda rights. Crucially, however, the law enforcement authorities neglected to tell him of his right under the Vienna Convention to notify Mexican diplomats of his detention.

Mr. Medellin’s conviction and sentence were upheld in the Texas courts despite the 2004 finding by the World Court, and the Supreme Court concluded on Tuesday that President Bush had no authority to order the state courts to reverse themselves, no matter what the World Court said.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that neither the defendant nor his supporters “have identified a single nation that treats I.C.J. judgments as binding in domestic courts.” (The World Court is formally known as the International Court of Justice.)

The Supreme Court ruling acknowledged that President Bush, in pressing Texas to take another look at the Medellin case, was acting on behalf of the “plainly compelling interests” of fostering observance of the Vienna Convention and trying to maintain good relations with other countries.

However, the ruling added, “The president’s authority to act, as with the exercise of any governmental power, ‘must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.’ ” The language cited was from a 1952 ruling in which the high court found that President Harry S. Truman did not have the authority to have the federal government seize and run steel mills.

The issue of capital punishment has divided the United States from many other countries, including long-time allies, who have outlawed the death penalty. The Medellin case has the potential to be a particularly divisive issue between the United States and Mexico.

It is not entirely clear what will happen next, although Roe Wilson, a prosecutor in Houston, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that her office would seek an execution date. Texas has executed far more prisoners in recent decades than any other state.

“It was a heinous murder of two young girls who were only 14 and 16,” Ms. Wilson said. “It’s certainly time the case be resolved and the sentence be carried out.”

Joining Chief Justice Roberts were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

A sixth justice, John Paul Stevens, concurred in the overall judgment, but wrote separately to strongly urge the Texas authorities to review Mr. Medellin’s case anyway, acting on their own authority rather than at the president’s behest. “Texas’s duty in this respect is all the greater since it was Texas that — by failing to provide consular notice in accordance with the Vienna Convention — ensnared the United States in the current controversy,” Justice Stevens wrote.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Congress has done nothing to suggest that it disagreed with President Bush’s stand, the dissent asserted.

The majority’s conclusion, the dissenters said, “erects legalistic hurdles that can threaten the application of provisions in many existing commercial and other treaties and make it more difficult to negotiate new ones.”

The case has put President Bush in an odd position. As governor of Texas in the 1990’s, he declined to intervene in dozens of executions. As president, Mr. Bush initially objected to the lawsuit Mexico filed before the World Court that led to that tribunal’s 2004 decision.

But in 2005, the White House announced that it would abide by the World Court’s ruling and would instruct the states to reconsider the convictions and sentences of Mexican nationals on death row. The Texas courts refused to go along, however.

When the case was argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 10, R. Ted Cruz, the Texas solicitor general, argued that the president had gone beyond his authority, and that if he wanted to enforce the World Court’s judgment, he should have asked Congress for authorization to do so.

“In over 200 years of our nation’s history, I’m not aware of any other directive from the president directly to the state courts and state judges,” Mr. Cruz said, in a presentation that the majority found persuasive.

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a California-based organization that lobbies for victims’ rights and had filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the family of one of the murdered girls, was pleased by the Supreme Court decision. “This brutal murderer had already received all the process he is due,” said the organization’s legal director, Kent Scheidegger. “It is high time that justice was carried out in this case.”

But the People for the American Way Foundation had an opposite reaction. “This deeply troubling opinion is a reminder of how much the Supreme Court has changed during the Bush administration, and how important future nominations to the Court will be,” said the group’s president, Kathryn Kolbert. “Our individual rights and respect on the world stage depend on the future makeup of the court.”

Missing the Old Days in Albany

Published: March 25, 2008

Don’t you find yourself missing the old Albany? We’re talking about a distant past that is now no more than a gauzy outline in memory.

We’re talking about February.

Don’t you miss “three men in a room”? That’s long been a scornful reference to the trilateral cabal — made up of the governor, the State Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker — that convened to settle all important state matters.

Now New Yorkers hear mainly about one man and one woman in a room, with the woman possibly having been rented for the night, depending on which governor we’re discussing.

On the plus side, New York is not New Jersey. There, when they talk about three in a room, they mean the former governor, his wife and the driver who says he had sex with one while the other watched.

Don’t you miss the days when “pay for play” was Albany shorthand for the method by which businesses won state contracts, and didn’t refer to a governor’s sexual habits?

Don’t you miss the days when “politics makes strange bedfellows” was a metaphor for acts of convenience, and not an expression to be taken literally?

Don’t you miss the days when “constituent services” referred to traffic lights installed on streets where kids were being hit by speeding cars, and wasn’t code for a politician’s hotel stay with someone who might have lived in his district?

Don’t you miss the days when “lulu” was Albanyspeak for extra money slipped to lawmakers — it was shorthand for “payment in lieu of expenses” — and you didn’t have to wonder if it might be the name of a politician’s girlfriend?

Don’t you miss the days when officials in Albany spoke with worry about unions and they meant powerful labor organizations, not their marriages? Don’t you, while we’re at it, miss the days when the word “dysfunctional” routinely modified the political process in Albany and not husband-and-wife relationships?

Don’t you miss “the Bear Mountain Compact,” under which everyone stayed mum about any fooling around that politicians indulged in once they were north of the Bear Mountain Bridge? Now the hanky-panky has moved southward, to hotel rooms in Washington and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Don’t you miss the days when complaints about being late with the money referred to a delay in passing the state budget, and didn’t mean the governor had dilly-dallied in reimbursing his political campaign for clothes and heaven knows what else?

Don’t you miss the days when a mention of “Ashley” alluded to one of the most popular names in New York for newborn girls, and didn’t make you think immediately about a high-priced call girl?

Don’t you miss the days when “prostitution” was a harsh metaphor for political deal-making and was not to be taken as a literal description of a governor’s supposed sexual preferences?

Don’t you miss the days when it would have been inconceivable for a reporter to ask a governor at a news conference if he had ever patronized a prostitute?

Don’t you miss the days, way back in the week of March 10, when a governor’s response to that cheeky question — “only the lobbyists,” he said — produced laughter and not wonder about whether he was telling the whole truth?

Don’t you miss the days when the biggest scandal in Albany focused on a possible misuse of state aircraft by the Senate majority leader and questions about whether the governor had gone too far in trying to wreck the senator’s career?

Don’t you miss the days when curiosity about what went on behind closed doors turned solely on questionable political bargains?

Don’t you miss the days when a politician in Albany fiddled with money other than his own so that his ailing wife could have a driver, and not so that he himself could have extramarital sex?

Don’t you miss the days when governors stood alone at news conferences and didn’t drag along their wives to stand beside them?

Don’t you miss the days when a governor’s wife was taken to task for leaning on political groups to buy a children’s book that she’d written — that would be Libby Pataki, for those of you who do not remember — and was not called to account for her own dalliances beyond the marital bed?

Don’t you miss the days when talk in Albany about reining in spending applied to government programs, not the cost of a hotel room?

Don’t you miss it all?

We do, even knowing that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.



House where civil-rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois lived not landmarked
BY NICHOLAS HIRSHON daily news writer
Tuesday, March 25th 2008, 4:00 AM
Shailesh Saigal
W.E.B. Du Bois weds Shirley Graham in 1951. They lived in southeast Queens home (below, shot in the late '40s).

Dressed in a tuxedo, civil-rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois married an activist nearly three decades his junior on Feb. 27, 1951, in a posh house in southeast Queens.
The exterior of the Addisleigh Park home where Du Bois, 83, wed Shirley Graham, 54, is remarkably unchanged from what the couple's friends would recall. But it also remains unlandmarked at a time when a building boom is sweeping across the borough.
"It's a site that needs some recognition by the Landmarks Commission," said NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, heaping praise upon Du Bois, the organization's co-founder.
"They certainly ought to take note of it," Bond added. "I'd advise them at least that a plaque be placed nearby."

Jane Cowan, a research consultant for the Historic Districts Council, said she was combing through city finance records a few months ago when she found a deed connecting Graham Du Bois to 173-19 113th Ave.
Queens News matched the address to a photo taken of the home in the late 1940s. The photo was given by Graham Du Bois' son, David Du Bois, to author Gerald Horne as he researched his 2000 book "Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois."
The home's current owner, Helen Baldwin, said her family moved there in the 1970s and has made only minor changes, like fixing the roof and adding a layer of stucco.

Baldwin said she wants to stay in the house, but developers keep calling unprompted to ask if she's selling it. She also said she wouldn't alter its look, adding, "I like it the way it is."
Even if it's sold, high-rise developers need not apply. Recent zoning changes restrict the area to one-family homes, said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12.
But only landmarking would prevent someone from knocking down the historic house.
"It deserves landmark status," said Horne, an African-American studies professor at the University of Houston. "It's not only redolent with black American history, but U.S. history."
Guidelines require landmarks to be at least 30 years old and possess a "special historical or aesthetic interest or value" to the "heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation."

The commission declined to provide its recent survey of 12,495 Queens structures to Queens News, so it's unclear if the home is under consideration.
Historian Jeff Gottlieb said the commission is more likely to designate it if the state and national historic registers do so first.

Graham, a noted playwright and biographer, moved into the house in 1947, shortly after locals canceled a covenant that forbade blacks from living on the block, Cowan said.
At the 1951 wedding, guests dined on toasted sandwiches, canapes, ice cream and sparkling punch, as a news reel crew captured every move, David Du Bois told Horne.

In a letter to a friend, Graham Du Bois wrote she would sell the home because "it's too far out from the center of our activities - takes too long to get back and forth," specifically to and from Harlem.
The powerful pair soon moved to Brooklyn. He died in 1963; she died in 1977.


How Much Is That Stadium In The Window?
Posted by Neil deMause at 12:40 PM, March 20, 2008

Baseball may be a game of numbers, but this is ridiculous: Sports fans (or just concerned taxpayers) who opened their morning paper today could read that the city cost of building new parks to replace those obliterated for a new Yankees stadium had risen 48% to $190 million, and also 122% to $288 million. It's enough to make WXRL seem easy to understand by comparison.
The explanation, it turns out, is that it depends on what you mean by "parks."

The Parks Department rolled out two new numbers for Yankees-related costs at a council budget hearing yesterday: $282 million for all direct city expenses, including a new Metro-North station, road and water main work, and demolition of the old ballpark; and $190 million for just the new parks themselves. It's the latter figure, Parks spokesperson Jama Adams told the Voice, that represents the best apples-to-apples comparison, as an increase of 48% over the city's initial $130 million projection; to blame, she says, are not just the general inflation afflicting all construction projects these days, but unforeseen obstacles like an old oil tank that was unearthed once digging began.

Only one problem: $130 million was not the original cost for parks alone. Mayor Bloomberg's initial announcement of the Yankees stadium deal in June 2005 indicated the city would spend $135 million "to replace parkland and make necessary infrastructure improvements." The parkland cost itself, according the draft environmental impact statement released by the city that fall, was expected to be just $101.3 million — making the most recent parks-only numbers a nearly 88% jump in less than three years.

As for the larger $282 million figure for the city's total tab, Economic Development Corporation spokesperson Janel Patterson breaks it down this way:
$190 million for replacement parks
$39.6 million for the city's share of a new Metro-North Station (the state is kicking in another $51 million)
$25-30 million for "infrastructure such as sewer relocations, street reconstruction, retaining walls, etc."

The mathematically inclined will note that this adds up to, at most, $260 million, leaving a $22 million gap that Patterson hadn't explained as of the time of this post. Does Jason Giambi count as infrastructure?

Monday, March 24, 2008


WASHINGTON - President Bush pledged Monday to ensure “an outcome that will merit the sacrifice” of those who have died in Iraq, offering both sympathy and resolve as the U.S. death toll in the five-year war hit 4,000.
“One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, ‘Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve because they laid the foundation for peace for generations to come,’ “ Bush said at the State Department after a two-hour briefing on U.S. diplomatic strategy around the world. “I vow so long as I am president to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

The president received another two-hour briefing earlier Monday at the White House on Iraq, this one from Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, via secure video hookup from Baghdad. Petraeus and Crocker are due to testify on Capitol Hill on April 8-9.

The deaths of four U.S. soldiers in a roadside bombing late Sunday in southern Baghdad pushed to 4,000 the number of American service members killed as the war enters its sixth year.
Grim milestones usually go unremarked upon by Bush. But he chose on this occasion to note the losses, albeit briefly and without taking questions from reporters.
A message for families“On this day of reflection, I offer our deepest sympathies to their families,” the president said. “I hope their families know that citizens pray for their comfort and their strength, whether they were the first one who lost their life in Iraq or recently lost their life in Iraq.”

The White House said Bush is likely to embrace an expected recommendation from Petraeus for a halt in troop withdrawals beyond those already scheduled to be completed by July, with the expectation that reductions would resume before the president leaves office in January. Bush also is to receive a briefing on Wednesday at the Pentagon “on what actions his advisers recommend for cementing those gains and taking action that will lay the foundation for further additional troop drawdowns,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.
Petreaus believes a so-called pause in drawdowns, lasting a month or two, is needed to assess the impact of the current round.

Perino said that Bush sees “some merit” in that idea. “I think that’s not unlikely,” she said. She said Bush is under “no deadline” to make a decision about troop levels before leaving next week for a NATO summit in Romania.
Bush himself has hinted in recent speeches that he supports Petraeus’ position. But he did not tip his hand at all during his remarks Monday.

“Our strategy going forward will be aimed at making sure that we achieve victory and therefore America becomes more secure,” he said, adding that it is important that these “young democracies survive” as the 21st century progresses.
With the war entering its sixth year, Bush has been making the argument that defeating extremists in Iraq makes it less likely that Americans will encounter enemies at home. Iraq has taken a heavy toll on his presidency, contributing to Bush’s low poll ratings.


When are we all going to realize that we are guests in a Christian country and as such we should keep a low profile. Hasn't history taught us anything? By displayng this grotesque scene , our non jewish neighbors get the impression that we are a radical religion and no different then other radicals. This only causes more hate and antisemitism
Comment Credit ---This article posted by Anonymous : March 23, 2008 8:34 PM

This is disgusting. Yidden are not a violent people and we have kavod for bodies even of criminals. Certainly Haman and his sons had it coming and deserved what they got, but it was Achashverosh who had him hanged, not the sanhedrin, so we shouldn't broadcast "lynching" or hanging bodies out the window of a yeshiva as something we endorse.


For decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration has measured the price and purity of illicit drugs. Its methodology is cryptic, but the dea says it's a reliable way to spot trends.
And it says it has spied one: The cost of pure coke rose 44 percent in the United States between January and September 2007. The DEA credits its own efforts, of course, along with increased Mexican and Colombian cooperation, for the downturn in supply it says caused the price hike.
But the agency omits an important factor: the plummeting value of the dollar, especially as compared to the soaring euro.

Even as the DEA has made it more bothersome to bring coke into the United States, the sliding dollar has made importing it less profitable. Both the UN and dea note that a kilo of coke brings in two times as much in Europe as it does in America.

As with any commodity, producers look to maximize earnings by selling in markets with the strongest currencies. But unlike oil, for instance, the value of which is measured in dollars, the cocaine market is more fluid.

"The euro has become the preferred currency for drug traffickers," declared then-DEA administrator Karen Tandy at an anti-drug conference last May. "We're seeing a glut of euro notes throughout South America," she said, adding that "9 of 10 travelers who carried the $1.7 billion euros that came into the United States during 2005 did not come from Europe...They came from Latin America."

Europe has become attractive to traffickers not just because of its healthy economy, but also for its open borders, less stringent drug policies, and increasing demand. American officials estimate that just a few years ago U.S. consumers snorted several times more blow than their Old World counterparts. That gap has dramatically narrowed as Europe feeds a cocaine binge that has been compared to America's in the '80s.

This new European focus is changing global drug-supply routes. West African nations have become important staging areas for packages on the way from South America to Spain and Portugal, the region's main points of entry. The UN estimates that cocaine seizures in Africa increased nearly sixfold between 2005 and 2007 and that more than 90 tons of coke were intercepted in Portugal and Spain in 2006, more than was seized in all of Europe in 2004.
So how does all this affect the end market here at home?

"The guy from the suburbs may be paying a little more, but there are no crackheads going without crack," says Dale Sutherland, a narcotics investigator with the Washington, D.C., police department. That's likely because increased costs are passed on down to low-level slingers who are more inclined to cut their product with talcum powder than risk being undercut by competitors. Indeed, the DEA reported that during the same period when prices rose, there was a 15 percent decline in the purity of coke that officers seized or bought on the street. As they say on The Wire, "All in the game, yo. All in the game." (