Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How One Typo May Mean Goldman Just Blew $45 Million

Who says there's no God? BusinessInsider reports that according to the Economist (via FT Alphaville), on February 11th this year, the bank issued four warrants tied to the index "which were described in three separate filings amounting to several hundred pages."

Inside those several hundred pages, was a formula that determined the settlement price of the warrant. The formula read: (Closing Level – Strike Level) x Index Currency Amount x Exchange RateIt was supposed read: (Closing Level – Strike Level) x Index Currency Amount / Exchange Rate Goldman lawyers alerted the exchange to the mistake on March 31 and according to the Economist, the notes have been frozen ever since.

Now, Goldman has offered "to buy back the warrants from holders for a 10% premium on their purchase price, plus a fixed payment to cover broker fees." They say they're covered by their prospectus, which actually has a specific clause about dealing with such errors. But the warrant holders, of which there are 124, obviously want Goldman to honor the formula which was sent out -- a formula that would entitle holders to a pool worth about $45 million (HK$350m), instead of the $1.3 million Goldman is offering. Pity....


Over-Reaction 101: Pentagon Sets Stage for U.S. to Respond to Computer Sabotage With Military Force

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country's military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," said a military official…..

Recent attacks on the Pentagon's own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran's nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks…..

Read more at:

Madoff Victim Seeks Divorce Re-Shuffle

According to Dealbook, after 33 years of marriage, Steven Simkin and Laura Blank divorced in 2006. They agreed to split their considerable wealth equally. She got the apartment on the Upper East Side; he got the house in Scarsdale, N.Y. More than two years later, Ms. Blank received a voicemail message that stunned her: Mr. Simkin wanted to revise their settlement. She refused, and he sued.

When the couple split their assets evenly, the largest chunk of money was invested with Mr. Madoff. Mr. Simkin kept much of his funds in the Madoff account, which was held in his name. Ms. Blank, who said she had no interest in investing with Mr. Madoff, received her settlement proceeds in cash.

Shortly after Mr. Madoff admitted wrongdoing in December 2008, Mr. Simkin, a lawyer at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, filed court papers to drastically alter the terms of his divorce settlement. Ms. Blank, he argued in the lawsuit, should be required to turn over millions of dollars that she had received in their settlement to make up for the substantial losses he had sustained in the fraud.

The Simkin-Blank dispute has riveted the state’s matrimonial bar, and splintered opinions among the six judges who have already weighed in on the case….

Read more at:

Great Escapes: Ex-Wall Streeters encourage rat-race exits

According to Crains New York, former Merrill Lynch & Co. banker Mike Howe is moving to New York to help bored finance workers escape Wall Street for far-flung jobs and adventures, from Mongolian venture capital to African charities. The 26-year-old former money manager is opening U.K. startup recruitment website Escape the City Ltd. in the U.S. next month. The company has attracted more than 30,000 members since founders Rob Symington, 27, and Dom Jackman, 28, quit consulting firm Ernst & Young in 2009.

“Escape the City was created specifically to help talented people escape from unfulfilling corporate jobs after we realized that our own feelings of misery and frustration at work were shared by a lot of people,” Mr. Symington said in an interview in London. “We stumbled upon a business opportunity by following a hunch about job dissatisfaction to its logical conclusion.”

“I don't think I've ever met more people who are highly trained and unhappy in banking—except when it comes to the money,” said Peter Hahn, 53, a former Citigroup Inc. banker who lectures on finance at London's Cass Business School. The site “will probably appeal to people who have paid off financial liabilities like student debt and haven't settled down yet to family life. It's a sizeable but niche group,” he said.
Escape the City advertises jobs that meet its criteria of adventure and enterprise, Mr. Symington said. The company, which earned a profit in its first year, spreads the word with weekly e-mails of jobs from Indian microfinance to Moroccan surf camps, and evening events where adventurers regale crowds with tales of skateboarding across Australia or cycling around the world….

Wait, wait...read more at:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Take the rest of the day off

We're going to. See you all tomorrow morning

Weird Holden

Einhorn Deal Could Allow Majority Stake in Mets

The Wall Street Journal reports that David Einhorn's $200 million agreement with the New York Mets to buy a minority stake in the team is essentially a loan that, after three years, could allow the hedge-fund titan to acquire a controlling interest in the team, a person involved with the sales process said.

Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Einhorn, the president and co-founder of Greenlight Capital, would receive 33% of the team for $200 million. Because the team is carrying about $425 million in debt, the value of the team is roughly $1 billion, according to the person. In three years, Mr. Einhorn would have the right to acquire an additional 27% of the team based on the $1 billion valuation, a move that would make him the team's majority owner.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon can turn down that offer, but if he does, he must pay Einhorn back his $200 million investment and allow him to keep his one-third share in the Mets. Under this scenario, Mr. Einhorn would earn the equivalent of more than $200 million in interest on a three-year loan of $200 million. Not too shabby, right, sportsfans?

Don't stop now. Read more at:

Two More Hedgies Plead in 'Expert Network' Case

A former hedge-fund manager who ordered a co-worker to shred documents and an ex-analyst at a technology firm have become the latest to plead guilty to criminal charges related to an alleged insider-trading scheme involving "expert network" firms.

The guilty pleas by Samir Barai, the founder of Barai Capital Management, and Sonny Nguyen, a former senior financial analyst at Nvidia Corp., entered in two separate hearings on Friday, come amid a wide-ranging crackdown on alleged insider trading by federal prosecutors.

Mr. Barai and Mr. Nguyen are the seventh and eighth persons to plead guilty in the investigation involving expert-network firms that link investors with industry experts for a fee. A total of 13 people have been charged.
Mr. Barai pleaded guilty to several criminal charges, including securities fraud and obstruction of a grand jury investigation. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each fraud and obstruction charge.

Read more at:

Axe Your Hedge Fund, Hire Your Congressman

Would you believe according to Barrons’ Randall Forsyth the Holy Grail of investing has been found: get elected to the U.S. Congress.

Seriously folks, aAccording to an academic study published Wednesday in the journal "Business and Politics," members of the House of Representatives outperform the average stock-market investor by 55 basis points a month, or 0.55 percentage points, according to the Washington Times, which brought it to my attention. Extrapolated over a full year, that figures to an extra 6.8% per annum after compounding -- better than hedge-fund superstars.

To add just 68 basis points, let alone 680 basis points, consistently makes you the equivalent of a lifetime .300 hitter ...

Read more at:

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Little Weekend Weirdness: Cops hunt for "Goldilocks

According to those good folks at Reuters, British police appealed for help Friday in tracing a suspected burglar they have dubbed "Goldilocks" because he breaks into houses, eats food and then has a sleep.

Essex detectives said they were trying to trace Jesse Dobinson who is suspected of carrying out two burglaries at a house in Wickford, northeast of London, in February and March.

"On both occasions beds in the property were slept in and food eaten before items, including electrical goods, were stolen," police said in a statement. Unlike the fairytale character, Dobinson is also wanted in connection with an assault and a knifepoint robbery….

Wait, wait…there’s more at:

Pickens: We're Fueling Terrorism by Paying OPEC

CNBC reports U.S. dollars for OPEC oil help fund terrorists and the Taliban, T. Boone Pickens said today.

"I am trying to get away from the terrorists," he said. "I think the money we pay to OPEC gets in the hands of the Taliban." The U.S. is sitting on top of a huge supply of natural gas, he said — so much that American companies are selling it to China and other countries.

"So here we are, we’re exporting our clean-burning fuel and importing dirty oil from the enemy," he said. "We’re gonna go down as the dumbest crowd in history that’s ever come to town."

Pickens, chief executive of BP Capital Management, is a longtime natural gas operator and backer of federal legislation to encourage more natural gas development. He said he is pleased the Obama administration has said it backs using domestic resources for federal fleets in the future.....


Citi fights to keep Lehman’s $1 billion

Reuters writes that Citigroup on Thursday sought to dismiss an effort by Lehman Brothers to recover $1 billion in collateral that the investment bank was forced to post when it was teetering on bankruptcy in the fall of 2008.

In a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, Citigroup said it was entitled to keep the $1 billion, which it obtained from Lehman in order to continue providing clearing services for foreign exchange transactions.

The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Lehman Brothers filed the claim against Citigroup and its subsidiaries last March, arguing that the $1 billion was obtained under coercion and that the amount should be part of a general asset pool to be divided among creditors in accordance with bankruptcy law. Citi countered that it is entitled to keep the $1 billion under the Bankruptcy Code's "safe harbor" provisions, which shield certain financial transactions from being included in the creditors' asset pool.

Don't stop now....read more at:

Meet The 21-Year-Old JPMorgan Intern That Got Bill Ackman's And David Einhorn's Jaws To Drop

BusnessInsider tells us that JPMorgan didn't know, when it selected Indiana University student Sunjay Gorawara for its summer intern program, the bargain they were getting.
On Tuesday, Gorawara was just another impressive, highly talented business school student. On Thursday, he had been mentally tattooed with a stamp that said: David Einhorn and Bill Ackman think I'm awesome.

On Wednesday at the Ira Sohn Investor Conference in New York, Gorawara scored the jackpot of endorsements from Wall Street: Bill Ackman, David Einhorn, Michael Price and Seth Klarman plucked his stockpicking idea as the best out of hundreds of proposals in the Ira Sohn Investment Idea Contest.

Gorawara's prize-winning pick was for Bridgepoint Education -- a very game choice considering that at the same conference last year, Steve Eisman proclaimed that private education was the new sub-prime bubble, and Eisman was talking again this year, after Gorawara. Gorwara's presentation was -- even among those of heavy hitters like Ackman, Eisman, Einhorn, Phil Falcone and Jim Chanos -- seriously good.
Go figure.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sunjay-gorawara-ira-soh-investment-idea-winner-david-einhorn-bill-ackman-2011-5#ixzz1NZUTuIos

Hedge Guru Believes in Mets Turnaround With Fantasy Baseball Becoming Reality

Bloomberg reports that David Einhorn, the hedge-fund manager who said yesterday he would spend $200 million to buy a minority stake in the New York Mets, isn’t afraid of a fight. On the eve of the announcement, Einhorn, who heads New York’s $7.8 billion Greenlight Capital Inc., told an investment conference crowd of 1,800 that software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s board should oust Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

“It’s time for Microsoft’s board to tell Steve Ballmer, ‘All right, we see what you can do, let’s give so-and-so a chance,’” Einhorn, 42, said at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in New York.

Einhorn has never been shy. Four months before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt, he publicly questioned the firm’s accounting, and for years he fought lender Allied Capital over how it valued assets. The outspoken Einhorn’s next challenge is partnering with Fred Wilpon, the Mets majority owner who is trying to turn around his money-losing team and resolve a $1 billion lawsuit brought by the trustee representing victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme….

Read more at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-27/einhorn-believes-in-mets-turnaround-with-fantasy-baseball-becoming-reality.html

Only in America: 'No speak English - no service' sign TRIPLES restaurant's sales

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, some chefs spend their lifetimes unsuccessfully slogging away to improve business. But all it took for Reedy Creek Diner chef Greg Simons in Lexington, North Carolina, was to put up a controversial language sign and he’s seen his sales treble.

Mr Simons put up the ‘No speak English. No service’ sign in March and says he’s received great support - with some people asking for souvenir copies to take home.
Mr Simons took down the sign in March after receiving a deluge of complaints at the time from people concerned it may have been racist. It was originaly been put up after a group were offended because staff could not speak Spanish....

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389319/No-speak-English-No-service-sign-leads-Reedy-Creek-Diner-restaurants-sales-TRIPLING.html#ixzz1NXVYF4mD

The Day the United States Defaulted on Treasury Bills

Forbes reports that since the day of Alexander Hamilton, the United States has never defaulted on the federal debt.That’s what we budget-watchers always say. It’s a great talking point. One that helps bolster the argument that default should not be an option in Washington’s ongoing debt limit slowdown.

There’s just one teensy problem: it isn’t true. As Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal recently noted, the United States defaulted on some Treasury bills in 1979. And it paid a steep price for stiffing bondholders….

Wait, wait...read the rest at:

Weekend Weirdness: Zuckerberg's new challenge: Eating only what he kills (and yes, we do mean literally...)

Fortune’s Patricia Sellers reports that last year Mark Zuckerberg set out to learn Chinese. Now he's determined to get in touch with his food. If the goats, lobsters and chickens of Silicon Valley aren't trembling, they should be.

When he's not too busy connecting people across the universe, Mark Zuckerberg is pursuing a new "personal challenge," as he calls it. "The only meat I'm eating is from animals I've killed myself," says the Facebook founder and CEO.

It's an odd dietary direction for the 27-year-old Internet billionaire, but since he has taken to killing goats, pigs and chickens, "I'm eating a lot healthier foods. And I've learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising of animals," he says. "It's easy to take the food we eat for granted when we can eat good things every day."
Zuckerberg's new goal came to light, not surprisingly, on Facebook. On May 4, Zuckerberg posted a note to the 847 friends on his private page: "I just killed a pig and a goat…..."

You know you love this. Read more at:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hedges Settle Insider-Trading Claims

According to FinAlternatives, four hedge funds settled insider-trading allegations against them in the Washington Mutual bankruptcy, moving the former bank a step closer to getting out of bankruptcy protection.

WaMu's shareholders have settled their grievances with the hedge fund creditors, who have agreed to accept $160 million in debt and preferred equity in the reorganized company, instead of common stock. In addition, the "significant creditors" have also agreed to lend the firm, which sold its banking operations to JPMorgan Chase in 2008, as much as $100 million. In exchange for dropping their insider-trading probe, WaMu's shareholders will get common stock in the reorganized company and a litigation trust that will sue to raise money….

Read More at: http://www.finalternatives.com/node/16778

Goldman Sachs Challenged to a Fight

According to the Wall St. Journal, the CEO of Germany’s Deutsche Bank said today he could break Goldman Sachs’ nearly perennial post as the world’s top investment bank, reported Deal Journal colleagues Eyk Henning and Ulrike Dauer.

Deutsche Bank has a ways to go to catch the Squid. Goldman is No. 1 in terms of the volume of deals on which the Wall Street titan advised. Deutsche Bank is No. 5.

Maybe CEO Josef Ackermann should be more concerned about the leadership vacuum at his company?

Read more at http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2011/05/26/goldman-sachs-smackdown/?mod=WSJ_markets_liveupdate

Failed fund fraudster gets four years in the Slammer

According to the Toronto Star, Boaz Manor, convicted of defrauding thousands of investors in a Toronto-based hedge fund once worth $800 million, has been sentenced to four years in jail.

The sentence was handed down Wednesday morning by Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. It nearly puts an end to a six-year-old saga involving what was once Canada’s biggest hedge fund, the country’s largest life insurance company, a tangled web of offshore bank accounts, an extended stay in Israel, and nearly $9 million in diamonds that have never been recovered.

Manor co-founded Portus Alternative Asset Management Inc. in 2003. Regulators stepped in to prevent the company from opening new accounts in February 2005 because of concerns about investment suitability and record keeping. By then, the company had about 26,000 investors.The fund was forced into receivership and Manor left for Israel soon after. He returned about two-and-a-half years later after criminal charges were laid and surrendered to authorities.

There was no trial. Manor, 37, pleaded guilty in November to one count of money laundering funds obtained through breach of trust and one court of disobeying a court order. The four-year sentence was reached through an agreement between Manor’s defence lawyer, Brian Greenspan, and Crown prosecutor John Pearson, and approved by the judge….

Read more at:

Why 42 Year Old David Einhorn Makes 7 Year Old David Einhorn Very Happy

Bess Levin of Dealbreaker fame writes: Yesterday at the end of his Ira Sohn presentation (after telling Steve Ballmer to do the right thing and quit Microsoft), David Einhorn added “Go Mets!” with little grin on his face, like he had a secret…which apparently was that he just bought a minority stake in the team.

The New York Mets have agreed to sell less than 49 percent of the club for approximately $200 million to David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital Inc., sources close to the deal tell ESPN’s Karl Ravech. The sale will not include a stake in SNY, the television network owned by the Mets, the sources said.

Read more at http://dealbreaker.com/2011/05/42-year-old-david-einhorn-makes-7-year-old-david-einhorn-very-happy/

Hedge Star To Microsoft: Later For Steve Ballmer

"It's time for Microsoft to tell Steve Ballmer to go," the hedge fund manager said today at the Ira Sohn conference in Manhattan.
Einhorn's message for Microsoft: "Ballmer's continued presence is ruining your stock."
Why? "Ballmer is stuck in the past and is at best a caretaker at Microsoft."


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Galleon Founder Wants Judge to Dismiss Conviction

No, seriously folks….The Wall Street Journal reports that Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam asked a federal judge on Wednesday to set aside his conviction in a closely watched insider-trading case.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had alleged that Mr. Rajaratnam actively sought out nonpublic information from company insiders and others in order to make profitable trades, including shares of technology companies Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Google Inc.

Mr. Rajaratnam, 53 years old, was convicted by a jury on all 14 counts at his insider-trading trial earlier this month….

Read more at:

Weird America: As cougars prowl, some seek to cash in

Bloomberg/BusinessWeek writes that Karryn Russo goes by "Jerzee" and refuses to divulge her age. She also has a very dark, unhealthy-looking tan. On Apr. 29, Jerzee — who appears to be in her mid-40s and, not surprisingly, hails from New Jersey — was at the Manhattan nightclub Greenhouse in an extremely short tie-dyed skirt adorned with peace symbols. When younger men stopped to talk, Jerzee started to dance. "She's a cougar," crooned the rapper on stage, "I think I love her, I put no one above her."
Jerzee was one of more than 30 contestants vying for the title of Miss Cougar America, the marquee event of the third annual National Cougar Convention. And she appeared to be the odds-on favorite until the pageant's emcee, Rich Gosse — donning a black shirt, a yellow and orange paisley tie, and a thick, unmanicured mustache — announced the shocking news: The crown had gone to Aalsa Lee of Palm Springs, Calif. "We was robbed!" yelled a crestfallen Jerzee supporter who paid the $20 admission fee. Lee, who does not make a secret of her age, is 73.

In the decade since Valerie Gibson published "Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men," the very notion of older women dating younger men has gained acceptance in popular culture, in part, due to the emergence of high-profile women — such as Demi Moore, Katie Couric, and the fictional character Samantha Jones on Sex and the City — who have no qualms about dating younger partners. "There is a new archetype that's emerging," says Amy Luna Manderino, the reigning Miss Cougar International. "There have always been free-thinking, vital women over the age of 40. The difference today is our numbers have reached a critical mass." Christine Lehtonen, a principal at Asterix Group, a marketing and advertising agency in San Francisco, says there are more women in the U.S. aged 51 than any other single age. "Can you imagine what could happen," she says, "if all these women were marketed to?"

Increasingly, they are. A transcontinental economy is developing around conventions, dating sites, tourism, and other cougar-themed business ventures. Miss Cougar America is part of a larger pageant hierarchy that includes Miss Cougar Miami, Miss Cougar Las Vegas, and Miss Cougar Sydney. (The first known cougar pageant was held in 2009 in Palo Alto, Calif.) Aalsa Lee will soon head to Jamaica's Hedonism II — an X-rated version of Club Med — which hosts the Miss Cougar International pageant.

Yet the budding cougar industry is threatened by an existential problem. ….

Fascinated? Read more at:

SEC Okays Whistleblower Rule

According to Reuters, a divided U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a new program that would compensate whistleblowers who provide tips that lead to enforcement actions.

In a 3-2 vote on Wednesday, the SEC approved what has grown to become one of the most contentious provisions required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law.

Companies from Google to JPMorgan Chase have expressed fears the whistleblower rule could undermine internal compliance programs at public companies.

Under the final rule, whistleblowers whose tips lead to cases that result in sanctions exceeding $1 million can be eligible for a reward of 10 percent to 30 percent of the total sanctions. Although the rule encourages whistleblowers to first report problems internally, it does not mandate it…..

Guess Who’s NO. 1 in Wall Street Pay

Bloomberg reports that it's the Finkster, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told investors on a conference call in January last year that the world’s biggest money manager was “very well positioned” for 2010. At the end of the year, the market sent a different message: New York-based BlackRock’s total share return was negative 16 percent, while the Standard and Poor’s 500 Asset Management and Custody Bank Index rose 13 percent.

BlackRock’s disappointing stock performance followed its best year since 2000, with total return soaring 77 percent in 2009.

Even as Fink, 58, struggled to deliver shareholder value, he received $23.8 million in salary and stock. That made him No. 1 in the Finance 50, Bloomberg Markets magazine’s annual ranking of the best-paid CEOs at the largest U.S.-based financial companies by market capitalization. The ranking appears in the July issue of Bloomberg Markets....

There's more at:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CEO Wins $15.1 Million Playing Blackjack

HuffPo reports that over the last six months, the previously-unknown Don Johnson has won $15.1 million playing blackjack, The Press of Atlantic City reports. Johnson, a chief executive for a Wyoming-based company that wagers on horseracing, won at three different casinos during the course of his run, too. He confirms to the paper that he won roughly $4 million at Caesars Atlantic City in December, roughly $5 million at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and then $5.8 million in one 12-hour period at Tropicana Casino and Resort, the paper notes.

This isn't first time a high-level executive won big with cards. In 2009, Steve Begleiter, former head of corporate strategy at Bear Stearns, finished sixth at the World Series of Poker, winning $1.26 million

Still, Johnson insists he is not a professional gambler and denies gaming the system.

"I'm not breaking any laws," he said, according to The Press of Atlantic Citty. "I'm beating them with my own skills."


Circling The Drain: Debt Vote Is Forecast to Fail in House

According to the Wall Street Journal Republican leaders said Tuesday they are planning a House vote next week on a stand-alone bill to raise the federal borrowing limit by $2.4 trillion, with the expectation it would fail.

GOP leaders intend to show that a debt-limit increase can't pass the Republican-controlled House unless it is linked to a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit.

All House Republicans are expected to vote against the measure, because it does not include spending cuts. Many Democrats will oppose it, saying they don't want to align themselves with a debt limit increase if the measure is destined to fail…

Read more at:

German Gas Station Charges $40 A Gallon to Turn Off Customers

Myfoxdc reports that German drivers were left stunned Tuesday after a gas station was caught charging €9.99 ($14.59) per liter in a bid to stop customers from filling up.
The station was running low amid a nationwide shortage due to Easter traffic and a holiday ban on fuel tankers.

Police were called to the Esso gas station near Stuttgart late Monday after it raised the price -- equivalent to $40 a gallon -- in a deliberate move to deter motorists, German news website The Local reported.

Several customers filled up without noticing the hike, despite warning signs on the pump not to do so, German newspaper Bild reported. One customer told Bild he put 21 litres in his BMW and was asked to pay €209.98.

Customers slugged with the staggering bills called police, but were told they needed to pay. The gas station had done nothing wrong, police said, because the price was determined by head office….


From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Ben Laden: Saudi Woman Re-Arrested For Driving

The Huffington Post and other news sources report that a Saudi woman was arrested for a second time for driving her car in what women's activists said Monday was a move by the rulers of the ultraconservative kingdom to suppress an Internet campaign encouraging women to defy a ban on female driving.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," urging authorities to lift the ban and posted a video clip last week of al-Sherif behind the wheel in the eastern city of Khobar. The page was removed after more than 12,000 people indicated their support for its call for women drivers to take to the streets in a mass drive on June 17. The campaign's Twitter account also was deactivated.

Al-Sherif, a 32-year-old IT expert, was arrested at dawn on Sunday and accused of "violating public order," according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. She was ordered held for five days while the case was investigated; her brother, Mohammed al-Sherif, who was in the car while she was driving, also was taken into custody.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.


An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Strauss-Kahn's pals bid to pay off maid's kin

Shame, shame, shame! The New York Post reports that friends of alleged hotel sex fiend Dominique Strauss-Kahn secretly contacted the accusing maid's impoverished family, offering them money to make the case go away since they can't reach her in protective custody, The Post has learned.

The woman, who says she was sexually assaulted by the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund, has an extended family in the former French colony of Guinea in West Africa, well out of reach of the Manhattan DA's Office.
"They already talked with her family," a French businesswoman with close ties to Strauss-Kahn and his family told The Post. "For sure, it's going to end up on a quiet note."

Prosecutors in Manhattan have done their best to keep the cleaning woman out of the reach of Strauss-Kahn's supporters, but the source was already predicting success for the Parisian pol's pals.

"He'll get out of it and will fly back to France. He won't spend time in jail. The woman will get a lot of money," said the source chuckling, adding that a seven-figure sum has been bandied about.

While the DA's office has sequestered the maid -- and is even monitoring her phone calls -- her extended family lives in a village that lacks paved roads, electricity and phone lines. The average monthly income is $45, which is near-starvation, and some of her family members can't even afford shoes.....

Read more at:

Weirder Than Fiction:: 50% of Americans Couldn't Come Up with $2,000

According to those good folks at the Atlantic nearly half of Americans are living in a state of "financial fragility," a new paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals. To determine this statistic, researchers from the George Washington School of Business, Princeton University, and Harvard Business School asked survey participants whether they would be able to come up with $2,000 for an "unexpected expense in the next month." 22.2 percent predicted they would be "probably unable" and 27.9 percent said they'd certainly be unable to foot the unplanned bill. The hypothetical cost "reflects the order of magnitude of the cost of an unanticipated major car repair, a large co-payment on a medical expense, legal expenses, or a home repair." But, it was the participants' method of coping that really determined their fragility:

Taken together with those who would pawn their possessions, sell their home, or take out a payday loan, 25.7% of respondents who were asked about coping methods (equal to 18.6% of all respondents) would come up with the funds for an emergency by resorting to what might be seen as extreme measures,” the authors write. “Along with the 27.9% of respondents who report that they could certainly not cope with an emergency, this suggests that approximately 46.5% of all respondents are living very close to the financial edge….

Don’t stop now. Read more at:

Nice Work If You Can Get It: Lehman Paid Bankruptcy Lawyers, Managers $27.1 Million in Fees

Good God! Bloomberg reports that Lehman Brothers Holdings whose fees to advisers have exceeded $1.26 billion during its bankruptcy, paid lawyers and managers $27.1 million in April.

Restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal LLC, whose co-founder Bryan Marsal runs the defunct investment bank, made $431.7 million in “interim management” fees for 31 1/2 months of work, including $8.9 million last month, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, based in New York, was paid $293.8 million through April for acting as Lehman’s lead bankruptcy law firm, including almost $7.9 million last month.

Lehman’s monthly fees fell from about $30 million in recent months and as much as $45 million for November. Marsal, who bills Lehman hourly, aims to raise $61 billion by selling the defunct company’s assets to pay $322 billion in claims, giving creditors 18.6 cents on the dollar, on average.

Total administrative costs exceed $2.4 billion for the Lehman bankruptcy, including separate liquidations of Lehman Brothers Inc., the remnants of the brokerage, and Lehman Brothers International Europe, the investment bank’s U.K. unit.

Read more at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-23/lehman-paid-bankruptcy-lawyers-managers-27-1-million-in-fees-in-april.html

Only in America: High student says he was preparing for Rapture, loaded car with guns, ammo

Michael Boyko feared there was truth to the prediction the world would end Saturday. According to the News-Press, the 17-year-old from North Fort Myers loaded his Dodge Neon with a trove of weapons, ammunition, bolt cutters and a ski mask, according to a Lee County sheriff’s report. He wanted to protect himself in the event the Rapture happened, he would tell Riverdale High School administrators.

The high school senior’s plan to protect himself went awry when someone saw him with a gun at a school event Saturday and told a teacher. On Monday, school administrators and the school resource officer searched the Neon and found Boyko’s arsenal.

But after hearing Boyko, a senior, was not even required to be at school Monday as a member of Riverdale’s graduating class, Lee deputies continue to investigate what the teen’s true motives might have been, according to Boyko’s arrest report…..


Goldman Sachs’ Summer Intern Problems?

Rumor has it that Goldman Sachs blew its summer intern recruiting this year, according to BusinessInsider
"It seemed like Goldman just sent out the offers and waited for the acceptances to roll in," we hear from a future intern who rejected Goldman's offer.
He says that the word among this year's incoming summer interns (they start in June) is that Goldman's acceptances didn't roll in as the firm expected, and worse, that 80% of the class it accepted turned Goldman down. And when the firm asked the students for feedback, it came back quite negative.

"People from JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley called me [4 or 5 times after I was accepted to check in and ask, 'do you have any questions, what are your thoughts, etc' but no one from Goldman did]," says one source.

Read more at:

'Fear Gauge' Jumps 4.8%

The stock market's volatility index rose to its highest level in two months on Monday as investor concern over the worsening European debt crisis carried over to U.S. markets and drove stocks down.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, jumped nearly 15% to 20.03 early Monday morning, rising above 20 for the first time since March 23. Higher VIX readings for a third-consecutive session suggest investors are increasingly wary ...

After Morgan Stanley Fiasco, Is Jack DiMaio B-a-a-a-c-k?

BusinessInsider reports that ever since his abrupt departure from Morgan Stanley this winter, people have been wondering what became of the former head of Fixed Income and Interest Rates Jack DiMaio.

Now we have a hint. Word is that the hedge fund DiMaio (formerly known as the $15 million man at Credit Suisse) co-founded in 2005, DiMaio Ahmad Capital, is expanding to Singapore, where the firm plans to open an office, according to a report in Bloomberg.

The fund also recently began running a managed account for an institutional investor focused in Asia, and now the firm has about $3 billion under management, according to Bloomberg. (DiMaio Ahmad Capital had about $4.3 billion under management in 2009.)
Not much has been said about the credit hedge fund since DiMaio left the fund to join Morgan Stanley in 2009. Then in January this year, DiMaio reportedly left Morgan Stanley after a disastrous bet on the direction of Treasuries lost the company tons of money…

Read more at:.

How Goldman Proved Wall Street Didn’t Screw LinkedIn

New York Magazine writes that LinkedIn's IPO may be a few days old, but the tech press can't stop arguing over whether the company's Wall Street underwriters, like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, purposefully underpriced its shares, robbing LinkedIn of $200 million in lost proceeds. The charges leveled against Wall Street banks are as follows: LinkedIn was priced at $45 a share, but more than doubled on the first day of trading. The difference between the offering price and opening price is referred to as an "IPO's pop."

While some argue that a big pop is a sign of a successful IPO, others, like the New York Times Joe Nocera and Business Insider's Henry Blodget say the mis-pricing ended up benefiting the banks' big investor clients — "rich mutual fund firms like Fidelity and hedge funds like SAC Capital" who could buy the stock cheaply and watch it climb.

According to Nocera and Blodget, Wall Street banks are paid handsomely to know things like whether a company's shares are going to double in price. But Reuters' Felix Salmon has a different take. Salmon argues that although banks do deliberately underprice IPOs, we need only look at the vampire squid's behavior to know that this was more of a foible than a con…

Read more at:

Oopsie Daisy! The Apocalypse Rescheduled for October 21

Gawker reports that Harold Camping, the radio host who predicted the world would end on Saturday, made his first post-non-apocalypse public appearance on his radio show Monday night. "The first question," he told listeners, "is 'Camping, what about you? Are you ready to shoot yourself or go on a booze trip or whatever?'"
The answer, it soon became clear, is no. Camping had spent millions promoting May 21 as "the rapture" — the day when true Christians would be taken up to Heaven on an angelic shuttle bus to have a free continental breakfast with Jesus — and the start of the end of the world. A huge earthquake was supposed to hit at 6 p.m., and the earth would face death, destruction and famine for five months, until the real "end date" of October 21.

Obviously, it didn't happen quite as predicted. Journalists confronted Camping on his doorstep on Sunday, where he told them he was "flabbergasted" by the failure of his predictions and would "say more" on Monday.

And so he did. "I can tell you personally," Camping told his listeners, and a collection of journalists live in the studio, "that when May 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me." He spent Saturday night in a hotel, avoiding the press and praying. But "the light dawned" when he read a quote from his friend Gabriel Otero, who told "local newsmedia" that, back on September 7, 1994, the last time Camping predicted the end of the world, God had returned "in a mystical way." And, in reading Otero's words, Camping realized that he had been "looking at the Bible too earthly... when the Bible is a very spiritual book…."

Don’t stop now. There’s more at

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grim News: Fatal explosion at iPad factory (to hurt Apple earnings)

The Financial Post reports that two people are dead and 16 are injured following an explosion at a manufacturing facility in Chengdu, China owned by Foxconn Electronics, multiple sources reported on Friday.

The Taiwan-based company is a major manufacturing partner for Apple Inc. and the Chengdu location is where a number of the global gadget giant’s iPads are made, leading some observers to suggest Apple’s earnings for the next quarter will take a negative turn as a result.

"It is unclear what proportion of the market-leading tablet’s global supply is built at the Chengdu location, as Foxconn’s plant in Shenzen is known to be an iPad-producer as well. Local officials have already ruled out the possibility of foul play, saying the explosion “didn’t have a human factor.” The China-based Economic Observer newspaper was quoted by the AFP as saying the early evening explosion “appeared accidental” to eyewitness Foxconn employees…."

Find out more at:

More Strauss-Kahn sleaze stories hit the fan

According to the Daily Telegraph, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF accused of attempted rape, was reported on Sunday to have made suggestive comments to an airline stewardesses just minutes before he was detained onboard an Air France jet.
Fresh allegations about the behaviour of Mr Strauss-Kahn emerged as the apartment building where he is staying on bail became an unlikely tourist attraction.
Crowds of Asian and European holidaymakers gathered on Sunday outside the building on New York's Broadway while guides on passing tour buses told customers: "On your right is the building where the French guy accused of attempted rape is staying."

Read more at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/dominique-strauss-kahn/8529791/Dominique-Strauss-Kahn-Fresh-sleaze-allegations.html

Is There Any Justice on Wall Street?

No...seriously people, the Miami Herald writes: “The conviction of billionaire Wall Street tycoon Raj Rajaratnam by a New York federal jury this month may be a welcome and overdue sign that the criminal justice system can still hold major white collar criminals accountable. But if the founder of Galleon Group hedge fund turns out to be just a sacrificial lamb, his conviction won’t do much to win back the public’s trust.
Ever since the collapse of the economy began in 2007, Americans have been rightly skeptical about the ability of regulators to prevent the rampant market manipulation and self-enrichment that generated huge profits for insiders and enormous losses for defenseless investors.....

Today, justice remains on hold. Prosecutors have been either unwilling or unable to pursue the wrongdoers. Early on, two Bear Stearns executives, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, were indicted after their internal hedge fund collapsed, but a jury acquitted them. Apparently, that made prosecutors decide that financial fraud cases were too hard to win.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Justice Department would not prosecute an emblematic figure in the collapse of the U.S. housing market — Angelo Mozilo, former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender. Prosecutors let Mr. Mozilo walk even after he agreed to pay $67.5 million to settle a civil fraud case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission for concealing the risks of the subprime mortgage markets in public statements to shareholders...

This sorry record has undermined public confidence — in markets, in the justice system, in the government. In all these cases, insiders got the check, taxpayers got the bill. Some blame a lack of resources — the FBI is too busy pursuing the threat of terrorism — or the difficulty of proving financial fraud beyond a reasonable doubt. Either way, the feeling persists that there’s no justice.

Raj Rajaratnam’s insider-trading practices were typical of the rampant avarice that motivated so many of those who were responsible for the economic collapse. His conviction sends a needed signal to Wall Street that, as U.S. Attorney Pheet Bharara declared, “Greed, sometimes, is not good…..”

Wait, wait..don't stop now. There's more at:

Goldman Loathing: But Would Anyone Turn Down A Goldman Job Offer?

A Forbes blog writes: “…if Lloyd Blankfein comes calling are you going to tell him you can't work for his evil firm?
Ask someone whose knowledge of Wall Street is limited to Gordon Gekko what they think of Goldman Sachs and chances are their answer will be a negative one.

Goldman, arguably the world’s most successful financial institution with its remarkable profits and unmatched deal-making skills, has been called everything from a “great vampire squid” to the “root of all evil.” But the calls for punishment against Goldman hasn’t hurt its ability to hire the best on the Street.

While there is a general feeling of anger for anything Wall Street there’s seems to be a separate feeling of fury and hate set aside just for Goldman Sachs. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase might have improperly foreclosed on thousands or millions of homeowners across the country but Goldman..well, Goldman is an animal of its own. It’s comes off as indestructible and appears unfazed by much of anything which is why we might enjoy it a little more when it’s a the center of investigations, civil and criminal suits, settlements and probes.

Has that hurt Goldman’s ability to hire the best on the Street? Nope.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone on Wall Street who would make the decision [to turn down a job offer at Goldman Sachs because of bad press]. I haven’t come across anyone who has,” says Constance Melrose eFinancial Careers’ managing director for North America.

“You get paid three ways on Wall Street: what you earn, what you learn and who you meet. That’s the motivation for professionals on Wall Street, and they know that what they learn at Goldman and who they meet at Goldman will reward their careers,” Melrose adds.

Don't stop now. Read more at:

Helping Themselves to the Help

The Wall Street Journal’s Cailin Flanagan writes:

“…We find ourselves this week confronted with two more stories of the particular miseries of this modern-day droit du seigneur. Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to having a sexual relationship with a woman who worked in his home, which resulted in the birth of a son. Meanwhile, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, faces charges of sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid; he denies the allegations.

The storylines feel almost ancient. In Mr. Schwarzenegger's case, the woman was a member of his domestic staff for 20 years. According to widespread press reports, she, like her former employer, is an immigrant to this country, and I imagine that the very different experiences they brought to the U.S. served to foster the nasty interplay of social class, privilege and race, heightening the excitement of the affair for Mr. Schwarzenegger and ensuring that she would remain the subservient party.

Also new to this country were the New York City hotel maid and Mr. Strauss-Kahn—one an immigrant, the other a visiting foreign dignitary. The alleged victim is a mother and a devout Muslim who wears a headscarf to work, according to press reports; her lawyer has said that she and her daughter moved from Guinea seven years ago and were granted asylum.

The French people have protested Mr. Strauss-Kahn's being treated like any other sex criminal (so much for equality, fraternity and all that), tossed in Rikers Island. But then the French do not have a great history where the fair treatment of northern Africans is concerned. It's easy to imagine that his alleged use of this woman is not unrelated to her race and accent, and—more than anything else—to her lowly position as a maid.

Obviously, there is a world of difference between these two events….

Read more at:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just in Case: 11 Things You Need To Know About The Non-Rapture

According to the folks at BuzzFeed,

1. An 89-year-old radio broadcaster named Harold Camping is behind the May 21, 2011 “end of the world” movement. Harold Camping has been in charge of the Family Radio Christian network since 1961.

2. Previously, Harold Camping predicted the world would end in 1994, but that was a false alarm. Blame the question mark.

Harold says, “I thought that at that time that there was a possibility it might be 1994, and so I wrote a book, 1994?, but I put a big question mark after it, and in the book it also indicated that 2011 was also a good possibility.” He also says, “It's a learning curve, like with anything, the first time someone rode a bicycle if it didn't have training wheels they'd fell over. And you have to get more experience.”

3. Why May 21, 2011? Here's the math…..

Read more (while you still can) at:

What Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn have in common (More than you think….)

According to the Globe and Mail two VIPs (very important penises) got into world-class trouble this week. And amid the shocking allegations by a New York hotel chambermaid of sexual assault against the now former leader of the International Monetary Fund, and the far less surprising news that Arnold (Who’s Your Daddy?) Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his housekeeper right under his wife Maria Shriver’s nose, came the familiar theories, including the classic “powerful men behaving badly” as well as a new “Europig” twist.

In both cases, four women – two rich, attractive and accomplished wives; two more vulnerable domestic workers – became, as a New York Times article pointed out, “collateral damage” as prurient interest in them skyrocketed.

Did Patti the housekeeper pursue Ahnold? And weren’t those Facebook pics of her a trifle blowsy? I mean, compared to Maria? Please! And are you sure that the 32-year-old hotel chambermaid, whose name is legally not publishable in North America, is on the level? I mean, she could be part of an international set-up, or maybe just savvy enough to have ensnared a man whose sexual appetites were bound to trip him up sooner or later.

There was one common thread running through the middle of these two very different cases, and that was the thread of denial…..

Wait, wait…there’s more at:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Catching Cooties: Top firm fears rival’s trashy ways

Remember “cooties’ from sleep away camp? According to John Carney of CNBC.com, if Wells Fargo is going to acquire the wealth management business of UBS it is going to face at least one big challenge: assuaging the fears of the brokers that they’ll catch them. Rumors have surfaced in press reports that UBS is considering selling the division, which was previously known as PaineWebber. Wells Fargo has been cited as a potential buyer. UBS has said stories of an imminent sale are wrong.

"We believe UBS CEO [Oswald] Grubel would be a seller at the right price, while the recent Wells Fargo buy-back announcement implies that they have the resources to pursue a deal should they wish,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Matthew Clark said in a research note Monday.

A large number of the brokers seem to disapprove.“Wells Fargo is a terrible brand. When I think of them, I think of credit cards being handed to college kids drunk in Cancun,” one financial adviser said....

Read more at:

….And more insider traders get ready to bite the dust

Did somebody say conspiracy? Yes, folks, right on the heels of the Raj Rajaratnam guilty verdict, another insider trading trial has begun. Fomer Galleon employee Zvi Goffer, his brother Emanuel Goffer, and trader Michael Kimmelman all stand accused of illegal insider trading.

In the same courthouse in which prosecutors racked up the big win over Rajaratnam, a jury will deliberate similar issues. Once again, wiretaps will play a big role in the government's strategy. Prosecutors will likely introduce up to 60 wiretapped telephone calls.

The case is expected to last five to six weeks. It will not feature the star-studded cast of characters that made its way to the witness stand in the Rajaratnam trial. Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein will not appear. But there will plenty to keep the jury from nodding off.

The Goffer brothers and Kimmelman , for example, stand accused of bribing lawyers at law firm Ropes & Gray with tens of thousands of dollars for confidential information on takeover targets. At least one lawyer from the firm will likely testify….

Read more at:

Wealth Worries: Sales of luxe-y doomsday bunkers soar 1,000%

Maybe you can take it with you. According to CNNMoney -- A devastating earthquake strikes Japan. A massive tsunami kills thousands. Fears of a nuclear meltdown run rampant. Bloodshed and violence escalate in Libya. And U.S. companies selling doomsday bunkers are seeing sales skyrocket anywhere from 20% to 1,000%.

Northwest Shelter Systems, which offers shelters ranging in price from $200,000 to $20 million, has seen sales surge 70% since the uprisings in the Middle East, with the Japanese earthquake only spurring further interest. In hard numbers, that's 12 shelters already booked when the company normally sells four shelters per year.

"Sales have gone through the roof, to the point where we are having trouble keeping up," said Northwest Shelter Systems owner Kevin Thompson.

UndergroundBombShelter.com, which sells portable shelters, bomb shelters and underground bunkers, has seen inquiries soar 400% since the Japanese earthquake. So far sales of its $9,500 nuclear biological chemical shelter tents are at an all-time high -- with four sold in California last week, compared to about one a month normally. Hardened Structures said inquiries have shot up about 20% since the earthquake -- particularly for its apocalyptic 2012 shelters, radiation-protection tents, and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) air filters….

Read more at:

What’s Love Got To Do With It? : Man confesses to sex with 1,000 cars

The Daily Telegraph reports that a man who claims to have had sex with 1,000 cars has defended his "romantic" feelings towards vehicles.
Seriously, Edward Smith, who lives with his current "girlfriend" – a white Volkswagen Beetle named Vanilla, insisted that he was not "sick" and had no desire to change his ways.

"I appreciate beauty and I go a little bit beyond appreciating the beauty of a car only to the point of what I feel is an expression of love," he said.
"Maybe I'm a little bit off the wall but when I see movies like Herbie and Knight Rider, where cars become loveable, huggable characters it's just wonderful….


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Employees Axed For Hosting Kinky Hooker P-a-r-t-y

Dealbreaker writes that Ergo Versicherungsgruppe, [a Munich Re subsidiary] hosted the party for about 100 guests at the historic Gellert spa, Handelsblatt reported in a preview of an article to be published tomorrow. Women wore color-coded armbands, the newspaper said, citing unidentified guests, with red for hostesses, yellow for those available for sexual favors and white for women reserved for executives and top agents. After each trip to beds set up near the thermal baths, a woman would receive a stamp on her forearm, the paper reported… Senior management involved in organizing the event are no longer employed at Ergo, he said.

According to a spokesman for the unit, standard incentive trips for especially successful salespeople “definitely don’t usually proceed the way it’s described….


Meet the Hedge Farm! The Doomsday Food Price Scenario Turning Hedgies into Survivalists

The New York Observer writes: On the rare occasion that New Yorkers talk about farming, it's usually something along the lines of what sort of organic kale to plant in the vanity garden at the second house in the Adirondacks. But on a recent afternoon, The Observer had a conversation of a different sort about agricultural pursuits with a hedge fund manager he'd met at one of the many dark-paneled private clubs in midtown a few weeks prior. "A friend of mine is actually the largest owner of agricultural land in Uruguay," said the hedge fund manager. "He's a year older than I am. We're somewhere [around] the 15th-largest farmers in America right now."

"We," as in, his hedge fund.

It may seem a little odd that in 2011 anyone's thinking of putting money into assets that would have seemed attractive in 1911, but there's something in the air-namely, fear. The hedge fund manager and others like him envision a doomsday scenario catalyzed by a weak dollar, higher-than-you-think inflation and an uncertain political climate here and abroad…..


Gross: Russia arrests man who ate human liver with potatoes

Russian police said on Tuesday they had detained a man who was caught eating an acquaintance's liver. Police tracked down the suspect after a trail of severed body parts including limbs and a head were found across Moscow.

"When the police came to arrest the suspect, he was eating a human liver with potatoes," a police spokeswoman for the Moscow's western district said by telephone.

The rest of the human liver was found in a refrigerator in the suspect's flat. The police spokeswoman said the cause of the acquaintance's death was not clear.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

U.S. sues Starbucks for firing dwarf from barista job

Yes, folks, The U.S. government is suing Starbucks Coffee Company for firing a barista in El Paso because she is a dwarf at least according to Reuters.

When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission, which filed the lawsuit on Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training....


Protester handcuffed at JPMorgan Chase shareholder meeting

Yahoo reports that Shareholders trying to get into JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s annual meeting held Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio were greeted by heavy security and over 400 protesters shouting slogans outside every entrance.

At least one person was handcuffed after a group of about 400 protestors marched up Chase's property and placed a sign on a raft floating in a pond in the bank's premises. The sign read: "Foreclosed: Chase sinks our economy."

Police had each entrance blocked ahead of the meeting, as protesters gathered in the rain and cold chanting slogans such as "Make Banks Pay" and carried signs that said: "Chase gets rich, we lose homes, jobs, services." At least 20 police cruisers circled the building.

Read more at:

Maid's Brother Speaks Out, As DSK Accuser Described As "Shy, Religious" Immigrant From West Africa

BusinessInsider reports that some more details are beginning to emerge about the chambermaid that was allegedly assaulted by DSK: her older brother spoke to the Daily Mail and the Daily News (via the Atlantic). She lives in the Bronx; has a daughter; is a devout Muslim; and is very shy.

The Sofitel maid apparently called her brother, who manages a restaurant in Harlem, before anyone else about an hour after the alleged attack. He then told her she should call an attorney. Crying the entire time, she said that a guest had "done "something really bad" to her and that he'd trapped her inside the hotel room.

The brother told the Daily Mail, "No family should have to go through this. She is a hard-working woman who is just a victim. She is a wonderful West African immigrant who just wants to work hard I love her, she is my little sister and she is doing better now she has had a chance to talk to a lawyer. She is somewhere very, very safe and will stay that way….."

Wait, wait…there’s more at http://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-the-sofitel-maid-in-dsk-scandal-2011-5

Soros Dumps Nearly His Whole Gold Stake

According to the Huffington Post, Billionaire George Soros, who called gold "the ultimate bubble," dumped almost his entire $800 million stake in bullion in the first quarter, well before a commodities slump blamed partly on reports he was liquidating his holdings.

Famed gold bull John Paulson held his ground, but Soros was joined in the retreat by several other big names, including Eric Mindich and Paul Touradji, according to 13-F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that provide the best insight into where hedge funds are placing their bets.

Soros, who has been bullish on gold in the past several years, cut his holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust to just $6.9 million by the end of first quarter, compared with $655 million in December, becoming the most high-profile investors to turn his back on one of the market's best-performing assets. He also liquidated a 5 million share stake in the iShares Gold Trust, the filings showed. His total holdings in gold-backed ETFs was $774 million as of December.

Read more at:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Surprise…Surprise..: TRUMP NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT (The Donald just needed a little publicity)

According to BusinessInsider’s own Megan Angelo who is currently at the NBC Upfronts, Trump just came on stage announced the decision live to the crowd: "After getting so many calls from Bob [Greenblatt] and Steve [Burke] I've decided we're going to continue on. I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to."

Trump's statement:
After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-not-running-2011-5#ixzz1MXFd0Bl0

10 Weird and Not-So-Weird Questions About The Strange Case Of The Chambermaid and Dominique Strauss-Kahn

According to John Helmer of BusinessInsider:

1. How (mechanically or electronically) did the door lock on the inside of Mr Strauss-Kahn’s room?
2. Did the cleaning lady, who is the complainant and alleged victim in this case, ring the door-bell before using her key to enter?
3. Was Mr Kahn’s room unoccupied on the evening before the alleged incident?
4. Did the alleging victim attempt to use her key to get out of the suite?
5. What was the criminal sex act charged against the defendant — the NY Post claims sodomy, the Daily News claims oral sex?
6. How or why can it happen that a cleaning person in a room that is not occupied at 1 pm when the room is occupied.
7. What is the official title of the alleging victim’s employment functions?
8. How many mobile telephones have been found in the hotel over the past 12 months by guests inadvertently forgetting them on their departure?
9. Does the IMF have an account with the hotel or chain covering stays by IMF officials?
10. For check-out with such account clientele, is the minibar always checked before the guest can sign out on departure?

If answers occur to you, dear readers, they are urgently requested to submit them to Deputy New York Police Department Commissioner Browne and the Manhattan District Attormney’s office….

Read more at:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Only in America: Florida Store Will Give You a Shotgun If You Buy an Air Conditioner

Yes folks, according to the Miami New Times, as the long summer sets in here in Florida, air conditioning businesses should see their business increase. However, one Florida electronics store isn't just banking on the hot sun to increase profits, they also see potential sales happiness in a warm gun. Yep. United Electrical Systems in Plant City will be giving away a 12-gauge shotgun to anyone who buys a new A/C unit.

The store, owned by Tim Toole and Jim Harden, is struggling, and hopes that offering customers free Remington model 870 12-gauge shotguns if they also buy and install a new A/C system will help their business fortunes. The pair is also starting a licensed gun shop called Shoots-n-Irons, so it makes a little sense. A tiny bit, at least.

Toole says he's just trying to promote his businesses, and doesn't think he's making any sort of pro-gun stance. "I'm not in this to make a political statement," Toole told MyFoxTampaBay. "I'm not in this to promote the NRA. I'm not in this to do anything, but promote my business…."

You're a glutton for this kind of stuff, aren't you. Read more at:

The Mostly Fabulous Life Of Billionaire Raj Rajaratnam (Before He Was Convicted)

Businessinsider writes: as you probably know, Raj Rajaratnam was just found guilty of all 14 counts on insider trading and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
The insider trading evidence that was revealed in the wiretaps of Raj's conversations with a spunky (some people might even say slutty, or as Raj put it, "trashy") hedge fund analyst, McKinsey execs, a Goldman board member, and an Intel executive was fascinating. We covered it extensively.

In addition to all of the damning evidence, the tapes also gave a look into the life of a billionaire: Raj's vacations to France, Italy, Miami, and the Caribbean, his dinners at Nobu, Raj jet-setting, eating dinner with important people, getting honored at fancy dinner parties, and much more…

Read more at:

Bye Bye Blankfein!

T.T.F.N. That's the message that's being sent to Goldman Sachs' top boss Lloyd Blankfein, New York Post says.

Over the past two weeks, a growing number of industry players have been suggesting the Goldman chief executive might have to relinquish his post in order to get the firm out from under the Klieg lights of negative press and appease Uncle Sam.
Yesterday, analyst Dick Bove at Rochdale Securities added his voice to the chorus betting that Blankfein will be forced to turn over the keys to the executive washroom.

Goldman -- dinged by a record $550 million penalty to settle fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year -- has since been dubbed in some circles as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity," an infamous quote that dates from a 2009 Rolling Stone article.

Since then the world's most profitable investment bank hasn't been able to improve its deteriorating image even after launching its first-ever ad campaign and pursuing an extensive overhaul of its business practices. Also looming is an ongoing Department of Justice probe sparked by a recommendation by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), head of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The committee's 650-page report laid much of the blame for the mortgage meltdown and resulting financial crisis at Goldman's doorstep.

"If the Justice Department acts upon recommendations by Congress, there's no way that Blankfein will be able to stay. He will have to leave," Bove told The Post.

Wait, wait...there's more. Read it at:

Meet the Sheriff of Wall Street

The folks at the Washington Post report that the Justice Department official credited with bringing down hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam is a wisecracking, self-effacing, Bruce Springsteen-loving prosecutor who is deadly serious about what he views as rampant insider trading on Wall Street.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has been hailed by some in the financial media as the “sheriff of Wall Street.” His office has ramped up white-collar enforcement, charging nearly 50 people in an insider trading crackdown that led to Wednesday’s conviction of Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon hedge fund, on 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Yet some who know Bharara, while crediting him with aggressive enforcement, say he is following the tradition of an office known for policing Wall Street since Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken were sent to prison two decades ago. The Rajaratnam investigation began during the George W. Bush administration, though Bharara oversaw the case after taking office in August 2009.

“I think this ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ stuff is a bunch of press hype,” said David N. Kelley, a former U.S. attorney in Manhattan. “Preet is doing what all U.S. attorneys have done. . . . He’s a very effective prosecutor and lawyer, and he’s very smart.’’


Shocker: More Than 300 People Are Suing Donald Trump … for Being Donald Trump

What is it about The Donald? Seriously, Trump's propensity to slap his name on everything from strip steaks to an Amway-like network of vitamin-sellers has been well documented. But more than 300 people must have missed the paper all those days. They're suing him for branding luxury high-rises in cities like Tampa and Philadelphia with the Trump name- — literally, they were called Trump Tower and Trump International — and making appearances to woo buyers, but exiting when the financing fell through, leaving them millions in the hole while he made off with the licensing fees.

The suit alleges that the buyers wiped out their savings or tapped out their credit lines just to own a piece of the Trump legacy. “The last thing you ever expect is that somebody you revere will mislead you,” Alex Davis, who invested $500,000 in a property Trump marketed in Fort Lauderdale, told the New York Times. If the allegations even make it to court, we have a feeling the judge's verdict will be something along the lines of: You get what you pay for. Sad but true.


Rent boy? There’s even an Apple app for that

Don’t ask zdnet.com how “Leading sugar dating website, SugarSugar, managed to gets its SugarSugar Dating App through Apple’s Puritan application wall, but the company claims that it’s “an innovative mobile application for locating singles interested in the ’sugar’ lifestyle’” will be out on June 1st.

OK. And, what the heck is a “sugar” lifestyle. I’m glad you asked. According to the site, it’s “for generous men looking to spoil, and dynamic kids looking for financial support with bills, or who just need some excitement in life!” Ah., OK, prostitution in other words. Or, I suppose you could look it as a try-out system for would-be prosties.

There’s nothing new about the world’s oldest profession being online. Sure, over-zealous prosecutors managed to chase Craigslist out of the adult services business. So what? I see that another online classified ad site, Backpage, is now offering adult services ads. Anyone want to bet me that if Backpage is hammered in the same way Craigslist was there will be yet another online general purpose ad site with adult services ads up and running before the day is out?

But, to the best of my knowledge there’s never been an app. for escorts before. The company claims that “The new, location-based app is designed to provide Sugar Daddies and Sugar Babies with a quick, effective and discreet way to locate one another as they go about their every-day lives….”

There’s more where that came from. Find it at:

The Monster (Divide) That's Ripping Apart Europe

According to BusinessInsider, everyday we get more evidence that the Eurozone is ridiculous, and vastly favors the core countries like Germany and France.

In a shock to nobody, Germany killed its expectations, with Q/Q growth of 1.5%. French GDP of 1% also exceeded expectations. And then on the flipside, you have Italian GDP growth of just 0.1%, below expectations of 0.3%. It's growing at its slowest in a year.

And yet despite all the evidence that the Eurozone structure vastly favors the Germans, it's still believed that the periphery are the moochers. Instead, they keep losing, with a currency that's too strong, and debt rules that aren't ideal for them.
Anyway, in this instance, nobody is getting too worked up. Markets are staging a nice rally, keying off the news....

Read more at:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wall Street's Fav Drugs

In case you were worried about Wall Streeter's health and resilience, here's one sign Wall Street won't get crushed by the recent regulation attacks.

BusinessInsider writes that the people on Wall Street are getting stronger, physically and mentally. From an informal survey of sources, we've learned that there's a bit of a health craze happening on Wall Street.
People are cleansing with juices and spending more hours at the gym to get in fighting shape.

Of course, vices call. But the drugs that Wall Streeters do use regularly are often performance-enhancing drugs. Rather than brain-eating drugs like heroin and ecstasy, Wall Street turns to drugs that will make them operate at 150%.

Out of our list of the 11 most popular drugs on Wall Street, there are only 3 drugs that are considered "depressants," (we included marijuana in that, although technically, it's a stimulant). Most of them purport to make you sharper, smarter, and in some cases, better looking (at least in your own opinion).

Read the rest at:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wanted: 91-year-old Batman Needs a New Sidekick

According to Metro, New Zealand war veteran John Bray, who calls himself a modern-day Batman, is on the lookout for a sidekick – after being banned from going out and fighting crime alone at night.

Special forces veteran and modern day Batman John Bray has been told to stop carrying out solo night patrols on the streets of Waipawa The 91-year-old served in a raiding unit in World War 2 and therefore considered himself more qualified to deal with the criminals in the North Island town of Waipawa, enlisting himself as a member of the local community patrol. This organisation cruises the streets at night and reports on any suspicious activity to the police, thus acting as their 'eyes and ears'.

Just like Batman, Mr Bray started out with a Robin-like partner, but decided to ditch him after he kept falling asleep on duty. Mr Bray has now been told by the head of the community patrol organisation to put his career on hold as he cannot work alone. He must find a new partner if he wants to get back on the rota.

'I want to keep going so now I have to find a new partner,' Mr Bray said. He also described his crime-fighting role – in which he drives through the streets at night armed only with a spotlight and mobile phone – as a success....


Guess Who’s Up for Steve Carell’s Job on The Office: Warren Buffett

No seriously. According to the New York Magazine, Thursday's finale of The Office has added one more big name: The Buffett will appear, as a guy interviewing for Michael Scott's job, alongside Jim Carrey, Ricky Gervais, Will Arnett, James Spader, Ray Romano, and Catherine Tate. Also, on a related note, apparently The Office cast took part in a skit shown during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting last month. So Warren really likes The Office! Does he also have an opinion on Community's paintball episodes? Was he super pissed when Outsourced bumped Parks and Rec off the NBC lineup? Does he secretly take improv classes?!

read more at:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weird News You Can Use: How what you do outside the office can get you fired

How you behave when you’re not at work has an impact, especially in these days of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to the Toronto Star. And while your behaviour may not be as questionable as the Quebec teacher who was dismissed after it was discovered she moonlighted as a porn star, conduct outside the office can have negative results.

Employees who believe that their conduct away from the office is immune from discipline are mistaken, says workplace lawyer Daniel Lublin. “Behaviour unrelated to the workplace but which nonetheless injures an employer’s interests can amount to cause for dismissal,” he says.

Take Facebook, for example, the reason for a firing in B.C. when an employee made comments about a supervisor over Facebook. “It was found a justifiable case for dismissal,” Lublin says, “as was the case of the lady who worked in a retirement home who made blog posts of some of the residents, disclosing information about the work.”

The issue is much more prevalent than the stories making the news, he says. because these are the cases making it to trial. “It’s happening all the time; a lot of people are ashamed of it, not challenging their employers….”

Wait, wait, read more at:

Weird But True: Burglar Breaks Into Home, Devours Raw Chicken In The Nude

According to AOL’s Weird News, If you are what you eat, then this alleged burglar is a rare bird, according to police in Texas. When East Dallas resident Jennifer Espinoza left her apartment to take her daughter to school Monday morning, she left a frozen chicken in her kitchen sink to thaw. When she returned at around 7:45 a.m., she noticed the window to her bathroom was broken.

"Once I opened the door, I saw the guy sitting in the sink, fully naked, eating [the raw chicken]," Espinoza told Dallas' Fox 4 News.

The in-the-buff burglar allegedly ignored shouts from Espinoza to get out of her apartment and continued chowing down on the bird. When Espinoza ran outside to call for help, the man reportedly locked her out of the house.

According to investigators, when police arrived on the scene, they were forced to kick in the door and had to use a moderate amount of force to subdue the suspect….

Read more at:

Romans gripped by fear of quake forecast for May 11

According to Topix, if tourists find Rome unusually quiet next Wednesday, the reason will probably be that thousands of locals have left town in fear of a devastating earthquake allegedly…

Read more at:

Not One, Not Two, Not Three, But Fourth marijuana conviction gets man life in prison

He didn't fare too well after moving to St. Tammany Parish, however. A single such conviction on the north shore landed the 35-year-old in prison for the rest of his life.

State Judge Raymond S. Childress punished Hood under Louisiana's repeat-offender law in his courtroom in Covington on Thursday. A jury on Feb. 15 found the defendant guilty of attempting to possess and distribute marijuana at his Slidell home, court records show.

Hood moved from eastern New Orleans to the Slidell area after he admitted to separate charges of distribution of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana on Dec. 18, 2009, in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. He received a suspended five-year prison sentence and five years' of probation for each -- which was precisely the same penalty he got in that court after pleading guilty to possessing and intending to distribute marijuana on Feb. 22, 2005…..


Weird but true

He's the best little firestarter in western Pennsylvania, reports the New York Post

A 3-year-old boy was found walking down a road in Shenango Township wearing just a T-shirt and carrying a blowtorch -- which he'd used to set his family's garage and porch on fire.

The child, who managed to do $5,000 damage while his mom was asleep, was picked up by police and brought back home.


Friday, May 6, 2011

'Home Alone' house for sale for $2.4M

The red-brick Winnetka Georgian so bravely defended by Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone is being put up for sale Thursday for $2.4 million. Homeowners John and Cynthia Abendshien, empty-nesters who purchased the home in late 1988 for $875,000, acknowledge that it may not be the best time to put a high-end house on the market but believe the home’s attributes and its cachet may net a buyer.

The couple also researched the housing market and were advised that it might not bounce back for another three to five years. “We just decided we wouldn’t wait any longer,” Cynthia Abendshien said.

The 4,250-square-foot, 14-room home sits on a half-acre lot and features four bedrooms, 3.2 baths, a large screened-in porch with a chandelier and, of course, the staircase sledded down by Culkin in John Hughes’ 1990 film.

“The $2.4 million isn’t just because of its cinematic history,” said the home’s listing agent.


Grim: Gold Trader arranged to have wife killed, plotted to kill hitmen

According to the account in the LATimes, a man suspected of masterminding the fatal stabbing of his estranged wife at a Century City parking garage confessed to a jail cellmate that he had arranged the slaying and then plotted from behind bars to kill other participants in the crime, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Eric Harmon said James Fayed told the inmate, who was cooperating with authorities, that the people who carried out the killing passed up several better opportunities he had arranged before striking in the busy Westside area of the city.

The prosecutor said Fayed organized the killing because he was embroiled in a bitter -– and potentially expensive –- divorce with his estranged wife, Pamela, and feared she would cooperate with a federal investigation into Goldfinger, Inc., their international gold trading business.

Harmon played excerpts of the inmate’s recorded conversation in which Fayed expressed contempt for his “money-grubbing” wife and said she would not listen to reason. Fayed, 48, is on trial for murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the July 28, 2008, killing and could face the death penalty if convicted…..

Read more at:

Credit Suisse Gets SEC Subpoena (And Tons Of Flack) For Giving A $1 Million Loan To A Stripper

According to the good folks at businessinsider, in the motion the insurance giant MBIA just filed against Credit Suisse (dated April 29, filed today), there's an interesting conversation between a handful of Credit Suisse bankers.

The subject of the emails: Why did we give a $1 million loan to a stripper? The conversation begins on April 10, 2007, when Credit Suisse's Jeffrey Martin realizes that the stripper's first payment, due 2/1/07, hasn't been paid.

In the same motion, MBIA says that "Credit Suisse is now the subject of an investigation by the SEC, which issued a subpoena this week seeking the same types of documents as MBIA seeks with this motion."

Read more at: .

Billionaire Destroys $44 Mil Mansion in Temper Tantrum

Oh, to be rich and ridiculous. Super wealthy hedge fund manager, David Tepper scooped up a gorgeous 6,165 square foot Hamptons mansion that includes marble baths, huge bedrooms, oceanfront views, a tennis court, and the requisite swimming pool for a whopping $43.5 million bucks. But being one of those greedy Wall Street types, Tepper decided this palace wasn't good enough for his family of five, and he's knocking it down and building 11,268 square feet of ostentatiousness. The new pad will improve the ocean views by building up over the dunes (you know those dunes, such an eye sore!), and include a sunken tennis court -- versus that crappy traditional that's already on the property.

Not exactly a great way to celebrate Earth Day, Tepper....

Read more at:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Only In California: Grannies Grow Weed

Gawker reports that police in San Bruno, California on Friday responded to a burglary call after neighbors spotted two men busting down the door of a home shared by two little old ladies. Officers arrested the men down the road carrying $12,000 in cash, plastic baggies and seven hits of ecstasy. But when they returned to the scene of the crime, police found a marijuana jungle.

Inside the house they found some 800 marijuana plants and an illegal electricity bypass that was tapped into a Pacific Gas and Electric line. How crafty. The residents, Aleen Lam — a very young looking 72-years-old, we might add — and and Virginia Chan Pon, who's 65 and has nice hair, were arrested and are being held pending $100,000 bail each that must be proved "legitimate." DA Steve Wagstaffe spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle about the crime:

"I have never seen or heard of women in their 60s and 70s running a grow house," Wagstaffe said. "I certainly hope it is aberrational rather than a trend. I suppose profiteering in illegal enterprises crosses all the generations."

Cowabunga, 800 plants! Not too shabby, dudettes!

Read more: