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Sunday, March 16, 2008
So im at this stripclub in hempstead and its really wack
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Scientists fight to save the last Java gibbons
Primatologist Dr. Jatna Supriatna scans the treetops in a national park on the island of Java, looking for gibbons. This area is home to about 150 of the remaining 4,000 Java gibbons. These highly acrobatic creatures are easy prey on the ground and live well above it in the jungle canopy.
"They like the trees here, the fruit from the trees, so sometimes they are here," Supriatna says softly, as we trek through the natural beauty with midday light streaming through the foliage.
"This is keystone to the gibbons. You can't kill the trees" he continues emphatically, pointing out the dainty figs that are a staple part of the gibbons' diet.
But that's exactly what's going on. Indonesia has the shameful distinction of holding the "highest deforestation" title in the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records, destroying an estimated 300 soccer fields of forest every hour.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, these shy and elusive creatures are the most endangered of all ape species.
"They don't have any too big a natural enemy, but encroachment," Supriatna explains.
Through the foliage we can see the electrical towers from the human communities, slowly eating away at what's left of this protected land.
Baby gibbons are also subject to illegal poaching because they are considered cute pets and, according to Supriatna, selling for thousands of dollars on the black market.
"They kill the mother because they want to have the baby," Supriatna says. "So if they kill the mother, there is no chance for survival of the population, of the gibbon."
In a project run by Conservation International, primatologists are trying to rehabilitate gibbons they saved from people's homes. UuUu, a 7-year-old female, is tranquilized and gently moved to the "introduction cage."
Because gibbons live in family groups, her only chance of survival in the wild is with a mate. As she sits hunched over in a corner, drooling and smacking her lips from the effect of the drugs, in the neighboring cage, Kiss Kiss, a male, emits low whimpers, a visible sign of his agitation. Watch the effort to get the pair to mate
UuUu slowly shakes off the drugs and groggily clambers on the fencing.
"They will spend at least a week watching each other," Supriatna explains laughing. "Not like humans. They have to invest a lot in the pairing because when they are in nature, they have to find the right guy for the female because their entire life, they will be there. It's not like they can choose one and just move to the other."
For this species, there are no one-night stands. And Kiss Kiss can attest to just how picky female gibbons can be. He was already rejected by a female he spent six months with.
In the five years since this project began, there have only been three successful couplings, between the 16 gibbons at the center. So far no couples have been introduced back into the wild. Not only do the primatologists have to get the pairs to mate, but they also have to teach them vital lessons about their diet. For these gibbons that were snatched from the wild, nature can be poisonous.
This makes preserving those already there even more important. Gibbons are a vital part of this already fragile ecosystem, crucial to seed distribution and the health of the ecosystem. Supriatna warns that changing the balance of nature will cause disasters.
In the distance, as the afternoon rains start to roll in, we can hear the gibbon's melodic song. Supriatna's picks out the male-female duet.
"Listen, the female [is] usually singing a little bit longer and louder."
The haunting melody gets louder, but the gibbon pair it's coming from isn't close enough for us to see. But its easy to imagine them deftly swinging through the canopy. And the realization sets in, that the gibbon song, like the nature we hear it in, risks being a thing of the past.
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INSTANT VIEW: JP Morgan to buy Bear, Fed cuts discount rate
Monday, Mar 17, 2008 2:13AM UTC
NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> said on Sunday it would buy stricken rival Bear Stearns <BSC.N> for just $2 a share in an all-stock deal valuing the fifth largest investment bank at about $236 million.
In a surprise move to stem the fast-spreading debt crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve also lowered the discount rate it charges on direct loans to banks to 3.25 percent, effective immediately, and announced a new lending program under through it which will lend to other big financial firms.
U.S. stock index futures <SPc1> gained on initial news of the Fed moves but then fell sharply on Sunday evening as investors worried that fallout from a global credit crunch will continue to spread, damaging more banks and undermining the financial system.
Asian stocks also fell while the dollar sank to a record low against the euro <EUR=> and a fresh 12-year low against the yen <YEN=>. Treasuries <TYv1> climbed and Gold <XAU=> hit a record high as the Fed move failed to calm panicky investors.
To read all stories on Bear Stearns, click on <BSC.N>, for all stories about the Fed moves, click on <FED>
GREG ORRELL, PORTFOLIO MANAGER OF THE $165 MILLION OCM GOLD
FUND IN LIVERMORE, CALIFORNIA, ON RATE CUT:
"You don't fight the inflationary implications. That's not the battle of the day. You'll worry about that later ... The battle of the moment is trying to maintain the financial system and not having a complete break down. That's where we're at. You're having a run on confidence."
"We really don't have enough transparency in the financial system to have confidence ... We still have no understanding of how structured debt products and their derivatives will play out."
"Gold is still going to find broader participation ... It is certainly going to find some strength through the week."
MARK PERVAN, SENIOR COMMODITIES ANALYST, ANZ:
"The Bear Stearns announcement highlights the risks facing the banking sector as the reporting season gets going. I think a lot of investors are parking money in gold.
"Investors will want to move their money as far from the United States as possible and Australian and Asia resource stocks might be a good play."
EMANUEL WEINTRAUB, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF INTEGRE ADVISORS IN
ON BEAR STEARNS: "I think its scary for what it says about the value of financial assets, if a company is worth only a small percentage of book value. But what we need to see is that counterparties are being stopped from failing and this deal does that. The futures falling is a knee-jerk reaction. This deal had to happen, and JPMorgan is the best candidate for this because their capital position is stronger and their sources of funding is stronger. I do think this is the best possible scenario for financial markets."
ON FED DISCOUNT RATE CUT: "I guess the Fed cutting the discount rate is more of the same, they're trying to boost liquidity, but there's no sense, that this last cut in the discount rate will change anything at all."
HIROSHI ARANO, ADVISER, MIZUHO ASSET MANAGEMENT, TOKYO:
"They don't have an impact big enough to change the negative market mood. The discount rate cut was only 25 basis points, and the Bear Stearns move simply averted the worst case.
"For the Japanese market to reverse the fall, we have to wait for the end of the Fed's rate cut cycle, meaning the end of the U.S. economic slowdown. Japanese stocks are seen by foreign investors as sensitive to U.S. economic cycles."
MITSUSHIGE AKINO, CHIEF FUND MANAGER, ICHIYOSHI INVESTMENT
"These are quite speedy responses by the U.S. authorities. Quick measures like these make investors wonder if it is all right to keep on selling (stocks and the dollar).
"We are entering a phase where we need to think about potential risks of just sticking to the selling side. These developments should have some effects of dulling downward momentum, although the effects do not seem to have emerged yet."
HIDEKI HAYASHI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, SHINKO SECURITIES, TOKYO:
"The Fed's discount rate cut is nothing more than a quick-fix policy and may not be taken as a much of surprise by investors after the acquisition of Bear Stearns."
"The string of reports about Bear Stearns had a huge impact on investor confidence as credit markets have broken down."
SEAN FENTON, FUND MANAGER, JENKINS INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT,
"Obviously, Bear Stearns was hit by a crisis of confidence and bit of a liquidity run, so they are gone. The Fed has just backed JP Morgan to buyout Bear Stearns. That is sort of consolidation. The Fed stepping in to provide support might give a degree of support to the market but it is hard to see huge amount of confidence coming back into the financial sector in the short-term."
STEPHEN ROBERTS, CHIEF ECONOMIST, LEHMAN BROTHERS, SYDNEY
"The cut in the discount rate suggests that the Fed is trying to narrow the gap with the cash rate and make it less expensive for borrowing funds. But risk flares will continue and the U.S. dollar will weaken as write-offs in the problem areas are looking up. Irrespective of the decision on Sunday, I think the Fed will do what it has to do on Tuesday with regard to the cash rate (at its scheduled meeting to review interest rates).
"Bonds will benefit, but the fact that the U.S. dollar is under pressure and gold is surging suggests a loss of face for some currencies.
"The Bear Stearns acquisition is a back-stop move and I think the credit crunch has still some way to go and there would be a few more months of strife ahead. The U.S. economy is weakening and there is no point being impatient about it."
DAVID COHEN, ECONOMIST AT ACTION ECONOMICS, SINGAPORE
"The Bear Stearns development was anticipated but it's still a source of nervousness for the markets. The fear is how many more skeletons in the closet are still there in the global credit markets?"
On Fed rate cuts and liquidity initiatives: "This is another effort by the Fed to calm things down, but the cloud on the horizon is just how much more of these credit issues are still out there. And we won't know until we see the U.S. housing market bottoming out.
"The Fed can try to smooth out the availability of credit but as long as the fear dimension is in the market, it is difficult to assure the availability of bank credit."
"The big question is what will be the effort on the real world economy. For now that is still being supported by healthy export demand from China and the oil producing countries.
ON FED MOVE
CHRISTOPHER THORNBERG, ECONOMIST WITH BEACON ECONOMICS, LOS
"The Federal Reserve's whole motivation at this point is to prevent bad debt from affecting good debt through a traditional run on the bank," said "The only way to prevent this is for the Federal Reserve to come into the market and be the lender of last resort."
MADELINE SCHNAPP, DIRECTOR OF MACROECONOMIC RESEARCH AT
TRIMTABS INVESTMENT RESEARCH, SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA
"I would have been surprised if the Fed hadn't (moved) given the turmoil in the financial industry and the events that emerged with Bear Stearns last week .... If they hadn't, for the equities market it would have been all over but for the crying."
CRAIG JAMES, CHIEF EQUITIES ECONOMIST, COMMSEC, SYDNEY
"Desperate times need desperate measures. The Federal Reserve is doing what it takes to restore stability and it means cutting the discount rate on a Sunday night in the U.S., then so be it.
"The fact that the Federal Reserve is responsive has got to be comfort to investors. There may be more bad news out there but investors should take the view that the Fed is not going to sit idly by."
KUMAR PALGHAT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KAPSTREAM CAPITAL, SYDNEY
"It's a short-term measure. They are using all the tools they can and I don't expect any market rebound."
ON JP MORGAN/BEAR
KOSUKE HANAO, HEAD OF FOREX SALES, HSBC, TOKYO
"Market players are afraid that there will be the second and third Bear Stearns out there."
CRAIG JAMES, CHIEF EQUITIES ECONOMIST, COMMSEC, SYDNEY
"The fact that this transaction looks like it has been stitched up very, very quickly shows the urgency that the Federal Reserve had applied to this and no doubt that it sat down with the parties to ensure that the situation can be attended to straight away."
Bombed by The Black Rider at 9:02 PM
Financial Times FT.com
COMMENT & ANALYSIS
We will never have a perfect model of risk
By Alan Greenspan
Published: March 16 2008 18:25 | Last updated: March 16 2008 18:25
The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war. It will end eventually when home prices stabilise and with them the value of equity in homes supporting troubled mortgage securities.
Home price stabilisation will restore much-needed clarity to the marketplace because losses will be realised rather than prospective. The major source of contagion will be removed. Financial institutions will then recapitalise or go out of business. Trust in the solvency of remaining counterparties will be gradually restored and issuance of loans and securities will slowly return to normal. Although inventories of vacant single-family homes – those belonging to builders and investors – have recently peaked, until liquidation of these inventories proceeds in earnest, the level at which home prices will stabilise remains problematic.
The American housing bubble peaked in early 2006, followed by an abrupt and rapid retreat over the past two years. Since summer 2006, hundreds of thousands of homeowners, many forced by foreclosure, have moved out of single-family homes into rental housing, creating an excess of approximately 600,000 vacant, largely investor-owned single-family units for sale. Homebuilders caught by the market’s rapid contraction have involuntarily added an additional 200,000 newly built homes to the “empty-house-for-sale” market.
Home prices have been receding rapidly under the weight of this inventory overhang. Single-family housing starts have declined by 60 per cent since early 2006, but have only recently fallen below single-family home demand. Indeed, this sharply lower level of pending housing additions, together with the expected 1m increase in the number of US households this year as well as underlying demand for second homes and replacement homes, together imply a decline in the stock of vacant single-family homes for sale of approximately 400,000 over the course of 2008.
The pace of liquidation is likely to pick up even more as new-home construction falls further. The level of home prices will probably stabilise as soon as the rate of inventory liquidation reaches its maximum, well before the ultimate elimination of inventory excess. That point, however, is still an indeterminate number of months in the future.
The crisis will leave many casualties. Particularly hard hit will be much of today’s financial risk-valuation system, significant parts of which failed under stress. Those of us who look to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder equity have to be in a state of shocked disbelief. But I hope that one of the casualties will not be reliance on counterparty surveillance, and more generally financial self-regulation, as the fundamental balance mechanism for global finance.
The problems, at least in the early stages of this crisis, were most pronounced among banks whose regulatory oversight has been elaborate for years. To be sure, the systems of setting bank capital requirements, both economic and regulatory, which have developed over the past two decades will be overhauled substantially in light of recent experience. Indeed, private investors are already demanding larger capital buffers and collateral, and the mavens convened under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements will surely amend the newly minted Basel II international regulatory accord. Also being questioned, tangentially, are the mathematically elegant economic forecasting models that once again have been unable to anticipate a financial crisis or the onset of recession.
Credit market systems and their degree of leverage and liquidity are rooted in trust in the solvency of counterparties. That trust was badly shaken on August 9 2007 when BNP Paribas revealed large unanticipated losses on US subprime securities. Risk management systems – and the models at their core – were supposed to guard against outsized losses. How did we go so wrong?
The essential problem is that our models – both risk models and econometric models – as complex as they have become, are still too simple to capture the full array of governing variables that drive global economic reality. A model, of necessity, is an abstraction from the full detail of the real world. In line with the time-honoured observation that diversification lowers risk, computers crunched reams of historical data in quest of negative correlations between prices of tradeable assets; correlations that could help insulate investment portfolios from the broad swings in an economy. When such asset prices, rather than offsetting each other’s movements, fell in unison on and following August 9 last year, huge losses across virtually all risk-asset classes ensued.
The most credible explanation of why risk management based on state-of-the-art statistical models can perform so poorly is that the underlying data used to estimate a model’s structure are drawn generally from both periods of euphoria and periods of fear, that is, from regimes with importantly different dynamics.
The contraction phase of credit and business cycles, driven by fear, have historically been far shorter and far more abrupt than the expansion phase, which is driven by a slow but cumulative build-up of euphoria. Over the past half-century, the American economy was in contraction only one-seventh of the time. But it is the onset of that one-seventh for which risk management must be most prepared. Negative correlations among asset classes, so evident during an expansion, can collapse as all asset prices fall together, undermining the strategy of improving risk/reward trade-offs through diversification.
If we could adequately model each phase of the cycle separately and divine the signals that tell us when the shift in regimes is about to occur, risk management systems would be improved significantly. One difficult problem is that much of the dubious financial-market behaviour that chronically emerges during the expansion phase is the result not of ignorance of badly underpriced risk, but of the concern that unless firms participate in a current euphoria, they will irretrievably lose market share.
Risk management seeks to maximise risk-adjusted rates of return on equity; often, in the process, underused capital is considered “waste”. Gone are the days when banks prided themselves on triple-A ratings and sometimes hinted at hidden balance-sheet reserves (often true) that conveyed an aura of invulnerability. Today, or at least prior to August 9 2007, the assets and capital that define triple-A status, or seemed to, entailed too high a competitive cost.
I do not say that the current systems of risk management or econometric forecasting are not in large measure soundly rooted in the real world. The exploration of the benefits of diversification in risk-management models is unquestionably sound and the use of an elaborate macroeconometric model does enforce forecasting discipline. It requires, for example, that saving equal investment, that the marginal propensity to consume be positive, and that inventories be non-negative. These restraints, among others, eliminated most of the distressing inconsistencies of the unsophisticated forecasting world of a half century ago.
But these models do not fully capture what I believe has been, to date, only a peripheral addendum to business-cycle and financial modelling – the innate human responses that result in swings between euphoria and fear that repeat themselves generation after generation with little evidence of a learning curve. Asset-price bubbles build and burst today as they have since the early 18th century, when modern competitive markets evolved. To be sure, we tend to label such behavioural responses as non-rational. But forecasters’ concerns should be not whether human response is rational or irrational, only that it is observable and systematic.
This, to me, is the large missing “explanatory variable” in both risk-management and macroeconometric models. Current practice is to introduce notions of “animal spirits”, as John Maynard Keynes put it, through “add factors”. That is, we arbitrarily change the outcome of our model’s equations. Add-factoring, however, is an implicit recognition that models, as we currently employ them, are structurally deficient; it does not sufficiently address the problem of the missing variable.
We will never be able to anticipate all discontinuities in financial markets. Discontinuities are, of necessity, a surprise. Anticipated events are arbitraged away. But if, as I strongly suspect, periods of euphoria are very difficult to suppress as they build, they will not collapse until the speculative fever breaks on its own. Paradoxically, to the extent risk management succeeds in identifying such episodes, it can prolong and enlarge the period of euphoria. But risk management can never reach perfection. It will eventually fail and a disturbing reality will be laid bare, prompting an unexpected and sharp discontinuous response.
In the current crisis, as in past crises, we can learn much, and policy in the future will be informed by these lessons. But we cannot hope to anticipate the specifics of future crises with any degree of confidence. Thus it is important, indeed crucial, that any reforms in, and adjustments to, the structure of markets and regulation not inhibit our most reliable and effective safeguards against cumulative economic failure: market flexibility and open competition.
The writer is former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and author of The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.
Storms kill two in Georgia before pushing east
* Story Highlights
* Sheriff: Possible tornado caused heavy damage in Prosperity, South Carolina
* "We are unable to respond to all of the calls," dispatcher says
* Deaths reported in Polk and Floyd Counties in Georgia on Saturday
* Saturday's storms followed EF-2 tornado that tore through Atlanta on Friday
(CNN) -- Storms that killed two people in northern Georgia spread Saturday night into South Carolina, where possible tornadoes downed trees, blew roofs off homes and broke power lines, weather forecasters said.
There was heavy damage in Prosperity, South Carolina, where residents reported seeing a tornado touch down, said Newberry County sheriff's Capt. Todd Johnson. Prosperity is 40 miles northwest of Columbia.
A woman was severely injured when a tree fell on her trailer, trapping her inside, Johnson said.
About 56,000 customers remained without power Sunday morning after storms swept through Savannah knocking out power while the coastal Georgia city was in the midst of its St. Patrick's Day celebrations, said Carol Boatwright of Georgia Power.
Damage was reported Saturday night in the counties of Newberry, McCormick, Edgefield, Lexington, Aiken and Kershaw.
"We have numerous reports of tornadoes touching down. There is a lot of damage, and we are unable to respond to all of the calls," a dispatcher for the Aiken County Sheriff's Department said.
Meanwhile, the storm danger passed in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. A Friday night tornado packing winds of up to 135 miles per hour cut a path 6 miles long and 200 yards wide through downtown in less than 30 minutes. VideoWatch a flyover of a damaged area in Georgia »
There was heavy damage to many structures, including the CNN world headquarters. On Saturday, windows were still popping out from a high-rise nearby. Heavy rain and hail passed through in the afternoon. VideoWatch video of storm damage in Georgia »
Two people died in northern Georgia on Saturday as waves of dangerous thunderstorms pounded the area, and storms continued into Saturday night. A possible tornado destroyed mobile homes in Jefferson County, and another possible tornado was reported in Clarke County, where Athens is located, the weather service reported.
A woman died and her husband was seriously injured when a tornado leveled their home in the Live Oak community, just north of Aragon, Polk County officials said. Aragon is about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta. VideoWatch damage in Polk County »
Aragon police were assessing damage when they found the house about 12:30 p.m., Polk County Police Chief Kenneth Dodd said. The part-brick, part-frame home was reduced to rubble.
The injured man was taken to a Rome, Georgia, hospital, Dodd said.
Five dead dogs were found in a nearby field, and other injured animals were taken to an animal control agency, he said.
A family across the street from the couple's home lost part of their roof. Another person was seriously injured elsewhere, said Thomas Wilson, Polk County's 911 director.
The second fatality was in Floyd County, about 7 miles southeast of Lindale in the Wax community, where a possible tornado struck about 4:30 p.m., said Scotty Hancock, the county emergency management director. VideoWatch damage in Floyd County »
The National Weather Service estimated that 20 homes were destroyed in the area.
Damage was also reported in Taylorsville and Cartersville, about 40 miles northwest of Atlanta, and suspected tornado touchdowns were reported in Gainesville in Hall County, near Homer in Banks County and near Maysville in Jackson County.
A tornado was also reported in northern Forsyth County, sheriff's Capt. Michael Honiker said. At least one structure fire was reported, he said.
Hail nearly 3 inches in diameter was reported in Dawsonville, the National Weather Service said.
There were 41,000 people without power statewide Saturday evening, according to Georgia Power.
Saturday's severe weather followed an EF-2 tornado, with top winds of up to 135 mph that ripped through downtown Atlanta on Friday night. There were no fatalities, and only one serious injury was reported.
Rain, wind and hail caused additional power outages Saturday in the Atlanta area and triggered delays of more than an hour for flights leaving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to an airport spokesman.
CNN's Audrey Irvine contributed to this report.
All AboutGeorgia • National Weather Service • South Carolina
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The New York Times
March 16, 2008
Dalai Lama Won’t Stop Tibet Protests
By SOMINI SENGUPTA and HARI KUMAR
MCLEODGANJ, India — The Dalai Lama said Sunday that he would not instruct his followers inside Tibet to surrender before Chinese authorities, and he described feeling “helpless” in preventing what he feared could be an imminent blood bath.
“I do feel helpless,” he said in response to a question at a wide-ranging, emotionally charged news conference here in what has served as the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile for nearly 40 years. “I feel very sad, very serious, very anxious. Cannot do anything,”
His aides said they had received reports from Tibet of 80 killings on Thursday and Friday alone, in and around the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, including 26 slain just outside a prison called Drapchi. Chinese state media has reported 10 deaths and characterized most of them as shopkeepers ”burned to death” during protests.
Tibetan exiles here said they had also received news of at least two Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire as an act of protest; that claim could not be independently confirmed.
For the second straight day on Sunday, protests spread into different Tibetan regions of China. Buddhist monks and police reportedly clashed in a Tibetan region of Sichuan Province. A crowd of 200 Tibetan protesters burned down a local police station, news agencies reported.
One witness said a police officer was killed in the confrontation. But the India-based Tibet Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported that the police in the region had killed at least seven Tibetan protesters.
The Dalai Lama, who heads the government in exile and serves as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, called Sunday for an independent international inquiry into the recent violence.
He endorsed the right to peaceful protest, called violence an “act of suicide,” and accused Beijing of carrying out “a rule of terror.”
Asked if he could stop Tibetan protesters from flouting Beijing’s deadline to surrender by midnight on Monday, the Dalai Lama, 72, replied swiftly: “I have no such power.”
He said he had received a call on Saturday from Tibet. “‘Please don’t ask us to stop,’” was the caller’s request. The Dalai Lama promised he would not, even though he said he expected the Chinese authorities to put down the protests with force.
“Now we really need miracle power,” he said, and then laughed. “But miracle seems unrealistic.”
As he entertained questions for over an hour here inside a temple in the lap of snow-capped Himalayas, the limits of his influence, and even his “middle path” message of freedom for Tibetans, rather than total independence for Tibet, came into sharp relief, as thousands of mostly young Tibetan exiles raised a chorus of stridently anti-Chinese slogans and called for secession.
“We the young people feel independence is our birthright,” said Dolma Choephel, 34, a social worker active with the Tibetan Youth Congress and who gathered Sunday morning at a demonstration outside the gates of the main town temple. “We understand the limitations of the Dalai Lama’s approach. What we got after six rounds of talks — this violence?” She was referring to the six negotiating sessions between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities since 2002.
Just behind where Ms. Choephel stood, Buddhist monks began a hunger strike. Protesters laid down Chinese flags on the road, inviting cars and pedestrians to trample on them. Later, thousands streamed down the hill, to Dharamsala town, the largest Tibetan settlement in India. Many of them had painted their faces with the colors of the Tibetan flag. “Long live the Dalai Lama,” they chanted, which made it plain that despite their far more radical calls, they remained loyal to his spiritual leadership.
Late Sunday evening, candles were lit on window sills and balconies across these hills. Tibetan-owned shops were closed in solidarity with the demonstrations across the border.
The Indian authorities, meanwhile, found themselves in an uncomfortable diplomatic spot. The Indian police earlier last week had arrested a group of demonstrators who vowed to walk roughly 900 miles from here to Lhasa, but allowed a second group to set off Saturday morning unimpeded.
India has hosted Tibetan refugees since the Dalai Lama’s exodus in 1959, but on condition that they not protest against Chinese government on Indian soil. New Delhi’s efforts to warm up to Beijing in recent years has made the Tibet issue an exceptionally tricky matter. The Dalai Lama, while acknowledging Indian hospitality to Tibetan refugees — there are an estimated 130,000 Tibetans in India — described the official government position on Tibet as “overcautious.”
A young Tibetan monk was less circumspect about government restrictions on the proposed march from India to Tibet. After all, said Tenzin Damchoe, the Indian-born child of Tibetan refugees, Tibetans had learned the art of the peaceful protest march from Gandhi. “It’s a little bit disgrace,” Mr. Damchoe, 30, said.
As for the revolt inside Tibet, he said he could only imagine the worst. “They crushed their own people,” he said of the Chinese response to the Tianemen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. “There’s no doubt they will crush the Tibetan people.”
The Dalai Lama, for his part, seemed unfazed about the dissent among Tibetans over full independence versus greater autonomy. Even his elder brother, he recalled, had admonished him many years ago for not advocating independence from China. “ ‘My dear younger brother, the Dalai Lama,’ ” his brother told him. “ ‘You sold out the Tibetan legitimate right. Like that.’ ”
The Dalai Lama described dissent as “a healthy sign of our commitment to democracy, open society.”
Chuckling, he added that the idea might come as “a surprise to our Chinese brothers and sisters.”
He described himself as a Marxist Buddhist, quoted Mao Tse Tung’s endorsement of dissent in the party, and blamed local Communist Party officials inside Tibet, rather than the party leadership in Beijing, for what he called the rise of government repression against Tibetan Buddhists in the last couple of years.
He accused Chinese officials of resorting only to force when confronted with a crisis. “They have no experience how to deal with problems through talk, only suppress,” he said.
Asked several times whether he endorsed the protests, which had at times had turned violent over the last week, the Dalai Lama said Tibetans were entitled to air their grievances peacefully. “Protest, peaceful way, express their deep resentment is a right,” he said.
He said he was aware that the Chinese government blamed him for fomenting rebellion. “I’m happy they found some scapegoat,” he said, in half-jest, and then described what he said were deep-rooted grievances.
“Whether the Chinese government admits it or not, there is a problem. The problem is a nation with ancient cultural heritage is actually facing serious dangers,” he said. “Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place.”
He maintained that he was not calling for secession from China “in terms of material development is concerned.” “We get much benefits,” from being a part of China, as he put it and said he could endorse only nonviolent protest. He said he remained supportive of China’s hosting of the Olympic Games, but called on the international community to exercise its “moral responsibility” to remind Beijing about human rights.
Jim Yardley contributed reporting from Beijing.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
New York Post
THE MCGREEVEYS' SECRET
By JEANE MacINTOSH
March 16, 2008 -- A former driver and aide for former N.J. Gov. Jim McGreevey says Dina Matos McGreevey must have always known her husband was gay - because he was the other man in bed with them.
In an explosive interview with The Post, the McGreeveys' longtime man-in-the-middle, Teddy Pedersen, recounted explicit details of alleged, titillating, three-way sex romps he had with the now-divorcing duo, starting during their courtship and continuing into the marriage.
Pedersen - who said he has already spilled the beans on the steamy ménage a trios arrangement under oath in a deposition for the couple's divorce battle - hinted that he thinks his presence was required to get Jim's motor running for Dina.
Matos McGreevey's basic claim in her divorce war with the former Garden State gov is her argument that he covered up his homosexuality and tricked her into a loveless marriage.
Pedersen - who is named in Matos McGreevey's court papers - agreed to talk about the reputed unconventional relationship after Dina repeatedly sounded off to the media last week about Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal and blasted the fallen pol as a hypocrite.
"It's frustrating to hear her call Gov. Spitzer a hypocrite while she's out there being as dishonest as anyone could be about her own life," said Pedersen, 29.
"She's framed herself as a victim - yet she was a willing participant, she had complete control over what happened in her relationship," he said.
"She was there, she knew what was happening, she made the moves. We all did. It's disgusting to watch her play the victim card."
The trio's trysts started after Pedersen was hired as a campaign driver when McGreevey was mayor of Woodbridge, NJ, the former chauffeur said.
"We called it the Friday Night Special," Pedersen said. The "intense" end-of-the-work-week escapades, he said, usually began with a "couple of drinks" at a local T.G.I. Fridays and culminated in "a hard-core consensual sex orgy" among the three of them at McGreevey's Woodbridge condo.
He said the action also spilled over to out-of-town business trips, where Pedersen, a handsome, clean-cut Rutgers grad, would share a single hotel suite with Jim and Dina - right under the noses of other McGreevey staffers.
The threesomes began in the late 1990s, while Dina and Jim were dating, and continued after their October 2000 marriage but had ended by the time McGreevey was elected governor in November 2001, Pedersen said.
"He liked watching me, and she would watch me while she was [performing sex acts] with Jim," noted Pedersen. "In my opinion, me being a part of their sexual relationship enhanced it for both of them."
Pedersen, who lives with his girlfriend of several years, said he revealed the sexual shenanigans during the couple's divorce proceedings only because Dina's camp subpoenaed him.
The former driver said he believes that Dina subpoenaed him as an end-run around her estranged hubby, to see what he would say if he was called on by McGreevey's side. Pedersen said he believes that Dina never expected him to talk about their trysts.
"I would have kept my mouth shut about this forever, but she subpoenaed me, and now it's all going to come out at trial,'' Pedersen said.
He said he expects to be called as one of the first witnesses at the trial.
Details of the lust triangle have been quashed once before, according to a source at now-disbanded Regan Books, which published McGreevey's 2006 memoir, "The Confession."
"There was a coy and gentle reference to a third person, but McGreevey took it out because he thought it was unnecessarily harmful," the insider said.
Pedersen said the threesome started as an "idea" he and McGreevey tossed around during the aide's long hours behind the wheel for the Woodbridge pol.
"We developed a good relationship - we were colleagues, but we were friends," Pedersen said, adding that, once Dina and Jim's romance bloomed, she was often in the car with them headed to various political events.
"There was a level of comfort that evolved into, eventually, hints of pushing it into this sexual realm," Pedersen said.
"Jim and I thought we could see if she would go for it - beyond just the hints in conversation," Pedersen said.
"So one night we came in, I went down to the basement bathroom, and when I came up, to my shock, she was basically undressed and on the loveseat with Jim. So I sat on the couch and watched and eventually joined in.
"And that's how it got going," he said. "We came up with this nice little formula for making it work."
Sometimes, the trio took their show on the road. On business trips - including to the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City - they shared one room, leaving others in the entourage baffled.
"It became almost laughable - I would never have my own hotel room," Pedersen recounted. "Everyone thought that this was weird, but we'd just brush it off."
Pedersen's presence wasn't always welcomed by Matos McGreevey.
In her 2007 memoir, "Silent Partner," she recounted her fury when he showed up, bags packed, to drive Jim and Dina to Montreal for the Valentine's Day weekend in 2000 during which McGreevey proposed to her.
Matos McGreevey - who described Pederson as "a handsome college student . . . one of a crowd of guys in their 20s who always seemed to be around" - said she wasn't happy when McGreevey told her the young buck was taking them to Canada.
"Was he kidding?" Dina wrote of McGreevey's desire to bring Pedersen along. "I'd really been looking forward to this weekend together. The two of us, not the three of us.
"I dug my heels in," she continued, recounting that she told McGreevey, "If Teddy is going, I'm not."
Said Pedersen, who wound up not making the trip: "I think she knew he was gonna propose, and she knew if I went, there was going to be a threesome. She had the decency to say, 'Let's make this sort of special' and just the two of them."
But the strange relationship continued even after the McGreeveys wed in October 2000. The Friday Night Special, Pedersen said, was replaced by a more subdued Saturday morning routine.
"I'd go to the condo, and usually they'd still be in bed," Pedersen said. "I'd sometimes go up, sit on the edge of the bed, rub Dina's legs through the comforter and go from there. Saturdays were a lot more low-key.
"Things hit their peak before the marriage. Afterward, there was this sort of soft landing, and it eventually tapered off and ended," he said.
Asked why it stopped, Pedersen said, "In my mind, I figured, 'Dina's married, she doesn't have to play into it any more.
"She sealed the deal, she got what she wanted, the nice life, the governor's mansion, and she would do everything in her power to keep it."
Neither Dina nor Jim McGreevey returned calls for comment.
Lawyers for both said, "No comment.''
In her written memoirs, Dina insists she never knew McGreevey was gay.
"Not only would I not knowingly have married a gay man, but I would never have allowed a gay man to father my child," she said. The pair have a 6-year-old daughter, Jacqueline.
Jim McGreevey resigned as governor in 2004 after admitting he was gay and had hired a boyfriend as his homeland security adviser. Last year, he filed for divorce from Matos McGreevey.
She countered with a civil suit claiming fraud and asking for $600,000 in punitive damages - a figure she claims reflects the perks she was cheated of when Jim's early resignation forced them from the governor's mansion.
The McGreeveys are due back in divorce court Thursday.
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Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Strive for Sale, People Say (Update2)
By Yalman Onaran and Elizabeth Hester
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- Bear Stearns Cos. executives were striving today to strike an agreement to sell the crippled securities firm to JPMorgan Chase & Co. before financial markets open in Asia, people with knowledge of the talks said.
The companies may announce an agreement in principle as soon as this evening in New York, giving a range of potential sale prices and leaving details of the transaction unresolved, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Negotiations were ongoing, including with other potential bidders, and it was unclear whether a deal would be completed, they said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the sale price may be about $2.2 billion, less than $20 a share and about half of the firm's $4.08 billion stock market value. Bear Stearns, led by Chief Executive Officer Alan Schwartz, was also preparing to file for bankruptcy protection if no deal is reached, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.
JPMorgan, backed by the Federal Reserve, provided emergency funding to Bear Stearns on March 14 when the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm ran out of cash after speculation about its financial soundness prompted customers and creditors to withdraw $17 billion of assets. Bear Stearns plummeted a record 47 percent to $30 in New York trading, pulling down financial stocks and sparking concern that other Wall Street firms could be affected.
`Do What It Takes'
``Right now it's a very potent short-term problem,'' said Brian Barish, who manages about $8 billion as president of Denver-based Cambiar Investors LLC. ``If Bear fails you're going to augment this liquidity problem materially because all kinds of trades are going to fail and people are going to be stuck with Bear as a counterparty. So it's better to find a way to handle Bear.''
Russell Sherman, a spokesman for Bear Stearns, declined to comment. JPMorgan spokeswoman Kristin Lemkau didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
``None of these things is done until they're done,'' Treasury Department spokeswoman Michele Davis said today, adding that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was involved in the discussions.
``The government is prepared to do what it takes to maintain the stability of our financial system,'' Paulson told the ``Fox News Sunday'' television program in Washington today. ``Our focus, our No. 1 priority, is the stability of our financial system.''
Teams of Bankers
J.C. Flowers & Co., the New York-based private equity firm, is among the other potential bidders that have been in contact with Bear Stearns since its cash shortage surfaced, according to people familiar with the matter. Ed Grebow, a spokesman for J.C. Flowers, didn't return a call seeking comment. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. was also involved alongside Flowers, the Journal reported today on its Web site, citing a person familiar with the discussions.
Hundreds of Bear Stearns employees worked yesterday to help with the process along with teams of bankers from JPMorgan who descended on Bear Stearns's 45-story headquarters on Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan, people with knowledge of the matter said.
A sale for $2.2 billion, or less than $20 per share, would mean that Bear Stearns's value has fallen more than 88 percent from its peak of $171.51 in January 2007. The 85 year-old firm paid employees $3.43 billion last year.
Bear Stearns's prime brokerage, which provides loans and processes trades for hedge funds, is a potentially desirable asset for JPMorgan, which has said it wants to buy such a business. The Bear Stearns unit generated $1.2 billion in revenue last year. Talks between the two New York-based firms have moved beyond that business and an outright acquisition of Bear Stearns is under discussion, the people familiar with the talks said.
JPMorgan and rival banks and securities firms are trying to find additional revenue streams after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market forced them to absorb more than $195 billion of writedowns and losses since the start of last year.
Bear Stearns's prime brokerage was the third-largest behind Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley as of April 2007, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Bradley Hintz.
``Prime brokerage is a fee-based business that has a fairly steady revenue and income through all market cycles,'' said Glen Dailey, head of Jefferies Group Inc.'s prime brokerage in New York. ``As long as people buy or sell it makes money.'' Dailey ran Bank of America Corp.'s prime brokerage from 1997 until 2006.
JPMorgan, led by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, was tapped March 14 for the bailout, after Bear Stearns's cash position had ``significantly deteriorated'' the previous day, company officials said. JPMorgan agreed to help the New York Fed provide financing for up to 28 days.
Steven Black, co-CEO of JPMorgan's investment bank, said Feb. 27 that the firm was considering an opportunity to buy a prime brokerage from an unnamed seller. Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said on Jan. 15 that it planned to sell its prime brokerage.
Dimon said three years ago that he didn't see the point of trying to compete with the likes of Morgan Stanley or Goldman in prime brokerage for stock trades. It's ``just too late,'' he said on a January 2005 conference call. Instead, he said he would focus on serving hedge funds in debt trading.
Buying a business with a damaged reputation carries its own risks. Prime brokerage customers have been leaving Bear Stearns since last summer, said Bob Sloan, managing partner of S3 Partners, a New York-based company that serves as an outside financing desk for hedge funds.
There's little incentive to return once they've departed, said Sloan, whose clients have withdrawn a total of $25 billion from Bear Stearns.
``When Bear passed around a circular in July saying everything was safe and secure and funding was not a problem, we recommended to all our clients to pull,'' said Sloan, who ran Credit Suisse First Boston's prime brokerage for six years until 2002.
Bear Stearns, which first sold shares to the public in 1985, helped trigger a crash in the market for home loans to borrowers with blemished credit histories after two of its hedge funds collapsed in July. The failure of the funds, which invested in securities linked to subprime mortgages, prompted a sell-off of the assets, which led investors to shun other high- yield debt.
Hintz, the Sanford Bernstein analyst, said a takeover by JPMorgan may not revive the securities firm.
``Unfortunately it's easy to concoct a scenario that says this becomes a run-off strategy,'' Bernstein's Hintz said. ``It doesn't mean the assets aren't worth anything, it doesn't mean the franchise isn't worth anything, but I'm not at all certain how you put the defibrillators on and jumpstart the company again.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Yalman Onaran in New York at email@example.com; Elizabeth Hester in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;
Last Updated: March 16, 2008 18:00 EDT
Obama's church accuses media of character assassination
By: Lisa Lerer
March 16, 2008 05:16 PM EST
CHICAGO – The church attended by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) fought back Sunday against mounting criticism of its pastor, accusing the media of character assassination and “crucifixion.”
Otis Moss II, the current pastor of Trinity United Church, used his pulpit to defend his congregation and its past minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., from a wave of controversy stemming from inflammatory statements made by Wright.
"We have listened and watched as the wonderful work of our church has been vilified this week," he told about 3,000 congregants on Palm Sunday morning. "This week should be special for us because I guess we know a little something about crucifixion."
The church also released a statement that began: “Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.”
Trinity United, an 8,000-member church on the South side of Chicago, came under intense scrutiny over the past week for statements made by Wright that harshly criticized American society as racist and blamed U.S. leaders for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Moss delivered a fiery sermon Sunday, defending the African-American church’s right to speak out about social issues. He stressed Trinity's work in its still-impoverished community, mentioning the church's scholarship programs, drug counseling, SAT prep classes, and missions to Africa.
"Our very sanity is connected to the church. If it hadn't been for the church we would have lost our minds in the insanity of racism," he said, in a sermon titled, "Why the Black Church Won't Shut Up."
Although Moss never mentioned Obama explicitly, he alluded to his most famous parishioner in a prayer asking God to "do something amazing in this country" and "break down walls that are centuries old."
Neither Wright or Obama were present Sunday.
Moss’s sermon also echoed the inclusiveness theme that runs though Obama's stump speeches, highlighting how the church welcomes worshipers of every color, creed, and sexual orientation.
In the statement released to reporters, Moss said called criticism of Wright and the church an “attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”
Obama's relationship with his church has been a long-running hot button issue for his campaign. But new tapes that circulated of Wright last week reignited a firestorm of criticism.
"God bless America? No. God (expletive) America!" preaches Wright in one particularly fiery sermon circulated in news reports last week.
In a Friday column posted on The Huffington Post, Obama both rejected and condemned Wright's statements.
"The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation," wrote Obama.
On Friday, Wright also stepped down from Obama's African-American Religious Leadership Committee. The 66-year-old pastor is currently in the process of retiring from his position as head pastor of the church.
Obama first distanced himself from Wright early last year, when he withdrew an invitation for the pastor to deliver a public prayer at his announcement for the Democratic nomination.
But in his commentary, Obama made clear his strong ties to his congregation.
Wright built the church from a small flock of less than 100, to a strong pillar of African-American Chicago. The church preaches an Afro-centric theology, describing itself as "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian."
Their black heritage is seen throughout the sanctuary. Painted glass windows depict famous scenes from black history, like the founding of the NAACP, and church officials wear bright African print tunics and robes.
The church is a social force in the South side of Chicago, running everything from computer centers to addiction counseling programs.
Trinity also takes on various political causes as part of its mission, encouraging members to write the Cook County Board of Commissioners to stop cuts in the health care system and boycott Wal-mart.
It was at Trinity that Obama had his own spiritual awakening, while working as a community organizer in the community. A 1988 sermon by Wright, called "The Audacity to Hope," became the title of Obama’s second book, published in 2006.
In Wright's farewell sermon, early last month, he did not mention Obama by name but alluded to his biography and stump speech slogan.
"But, if you use your mind, instead of a lost statistic in a hate-filled universe, you just may end up a law student at Harvard University. In fact, if you use your mind, you might end up as the editor of the Harvard Law Review. If you use your mind, instead of [being] a statistic destined for the poor house, you just may end up a statesman destined for the ... Yes, we can!" he told cheering congregants.
On Sunday, business went on mostly as usual at Trinity. The 150-person choir rocked, 10 babies were blessed, and congregants prayed.
But Moss was well aware that he was hosting some guests. At least a dozen reporters sat in the pews, taking notes on the services. Moss asked them to be respectful and his congregants not to grant any interviews.
"Some people, looking for their 20 minutes of fame," Moss teased his flock, "No interviews."
Here is the full text of the statement, with the headline, “AN ATTACK ON OUR SENIOR PASTOR AND THE HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH”:
Chicago, Ill. (March 15, 2008) — Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.
“Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” said the Reverend Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.
During the 36-year pastorate of Dr. Wright, Trinity United Church of Christ has grown from 87 to 8,000 members. It is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination.
“It saddens me to see news stories reporting such a caricature of a congregation that has been such a blessing to the UCC’s Wider Church mission,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, in a released statement. “ … It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends.”
Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global. The following ministries have been developed under Dr. Wright’s ministerial tutelage for social justice: assisted living facilities for senior citizens, day care for children, pastoral care and counseling, health care, ministries for persons living with HIV/AIDS, hospice training, prison ministry, scholarships for thousands of students to attend historically black colleges, youth ministries, tutorial and computer programs, a church library, domestic violence programs and scholarships and fellowships for women and men attending seminary.
Moss added, “The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices. This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached the Christian tenet, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Before Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, he preached, “The 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated hour in America.” Forty years later, the African American Church community continues to face bomb threats, death threats, and their ministers’ characters are assassinated because they teach and preach prophetic social concerns for social justice. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.
Mike Allen contributed to this story.
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Three missing after New York City crane collapse
Three people were missing Sunday, a day after a crane collapsed, killing four construction workers on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.
Rescue workers were searching for two construction workers and a neighborhood resident in the wreckage of a five-story townhouse destroyed by the top portion of the crane.
The accident occurred Saturday when a piece of steel fell, shearing a tie holding the crane to a skyscraper under construction.
In addition to the four dead and three missing, 24 people were injured, three of them critically.
The crane damaged six nearby buildings, including an 18-story residential high-rise across the street from the construction site.
A dozen other buildings in the area were evacuated, Bloomberg said. Watch scene of destruction
City officials inspected the crane Friday and found no violations.
The crane's tumble damaged buildings on 50th Street and 51st Street near Second Avenue.
City officials told The Associated Press they had issued 13 violations to the site in the past 27 months, a normal amount for a project of that size.
On March 4, a caller told city officials that the upper part of the crane appeared to lack the proper number of ties to the building, AP reported, citing City Building Department records.
On March 6, a city inspector at the site determined there was no violation, AP reported.
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Affidavit: Spitzer met with prostitute 'Kristen'
Federal prosecutors have unsealed a 47-page affidavit that details a nearly 2½-hour rendezvous that took place in a Washington hotel room last month between New York's Gov. Eliot Spitzer and a prostitute.
The affidavit does not mention Spitzer by name, but a source with knowledge of the case said the subject identified as Client 9 is the governor.
The prostitute, identified only as "Kristen" worked for the Emperors Club, which charged between $1,000 and $5,500 an hour and operated in New York; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; London, England; and Paris, France, according to court papers.
According to the affidavit, defendant Temeka Rachelle Lewis -- who is accused of working as a booking agent for the club -- wrote a text message Monday, February 11, asking the operation's day-to-day organizer to "pls let me know if (Client 9's) 'package' arrives 2mrw. Appt wd be on Wed." Prosecutors say the message was a reference to a deposit.
On Tuesday, according to the affidavit, Lewis sent a message to Kristen, saying Client 9's deposit had not arrived but she should be able to "do the trip" if it arrived the next day.
In a later conversation, Lewis and Kristen discussed when the prostitute could take a train from New York's Penn Station to Washington's Union Station, the affidavit says. Client 9 would be "paying for everything -- train tickets, cab fare from the hotel and back, mini bar or room service, travel time, and hotel."
The affidavit says that, about 5 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, Lewis spoke with Client 9 on the telephone and told him that his "package arrived today." The client asked Lewis whom he would be meeting and, when told it was Kristen, said, "Great, OK, wonderful."
The two discussed how the woman would get a key to his room for a Wednesday rendezvous and how they could arrange credit for future services.
"Client 9 asked Lewis to remind him what Kristen looked like and Lewis said that she was an American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet 5 inches and 105 pounds," the affidavit reads.
In a call to Lewis, Client 9 was told the balance would be $2,712.41, but Lewis suggested he give Kristen $1,500 or $2,000 more so that he would have a credit.
According to the affidavit, Kristen called Lewis about 9:32 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, and told her she was in Client 9's room -- number 871 -- at the Washington hotel.
Four minutes later, Client 9 was in the hotel, Lewis told Kristen in another call.
No more calls were logged until 12:02 a.m. Thursday -- Valentine's Day -- nearly 2½ hours later. At that time, Kristen told Lewis Client 9 had left and she had collected $4,300.
Lewis told the prostitute she'd been told that Client 9 "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think are safe -- you know -- I mean that ... very basic things," the affidavit says.
Kristen told Lewis, "I have a way of dealing with that. ... I'd be like, listen dude, you really want the sex?"
"I don't think he's difficult," Kristen is quoted as saying. "I mean it's just kind of like ... whatever ... I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I am not a ... moron, you know what I mean."
Spitzer, who has not been charged, went before reporters Monday to confess to an undisclosed personal indiscretion, saying he had acted "in a way that violates my obligations to my family, that violates my or any sense of right and wrong." Watch Spitzer's apology
He did not deny the allegations, which were first revealed Monday in the New York Times, nor did he take questions.
Spitzer is married with three children.
His alleged involvement with the ring was caught on a federal wiretap, the source said.
Spitzer, who built his career on rooting out public corruption as New York attorney general, became a national figure with a series of high-profile Wall Street investigations. He is also known for prosecuting prostitution rings.
Now his lawyers may be questioned about how he paid for the alleged hotel encounter, whether the trail was concealed and whether any banking laws were circumvented as a result, the source said.
The investigation into the Emperor's Club, which began in October 2007, included evidence from a confidential source identified in court papers as a prostitute who worked at the club in 2006 and was given immunity. That is according to statements from an undercover officer who posed as a customer, more than 5,000 intercepted phone calls and text messages, more than 6,000 e-mails recovered with search warrants, bank records, travel and hotel records and physical surveillance.
Despite the high cost of the club's services, the job was not alluring to one potential employee, who sent an e-mail to the club's management January 28 after speaking to a friend who was working for the agency.
"I wasn't very happy to find out that it's only 500 ph + over 50% commission fees ... This is the kind of money I make very easily in photo shoots and the reason I wanted to join your site [was] to make an extra money."
She added, The other think (sic) I was a little bit shock and confuse that she had a sex with him twice in an hour and without her taking her out for dinner before. ... So I am very sorry I don't think this is my kind of thing."
People who know Spitzer were surprised by the allegations.
"To say this is a shock is an understatement," said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who went to law school with Spitzer.
Toobin called Spitzer "the straightest arrow I know."
"I think there's no question if he is involved -- and I'm not saying he is, because we don't know all the facts -- I would say he'd have to resign," said James Tedisco, the Republican minority leader in the state Assembly.
Tedisco said that Spitzer's push to reform government "loses all validity if he was involved in something illegal like that."
The Republican Governors Association called on Spitzer, a Democrat, to resign to "allow the people of New York to pursue honest leadership."
"The American people are tired of corrupt and hypocritical politicians. The governor of New York is just another in the long list of politicians that have failed their constituents," said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Governors Association.
Spitzer's office, the U.S. Attorney's office in New York and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all declined to comment.
Spitzer, 48, served as New York's attorney general for eight years before being elected governor.
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Friday, March 14, 2008
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She came to N.Y. looking for record deal instead she got hooker ring offer
BY SEAN EVANS and LARRY McSHANE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Friday, March 14th 2008, 4:00 AM
Ashley Dupré shows some skin for the camera, but is well-covered in family photo she posted on her MySpace page.
Ashley Dupré shows some skin for the camera, but is well-covered in family photo she posted on her MySpace page.
Her grandfather in New Jersey said Dupré was 'very nice. She's a beautiful girl.'
Her grandfather in New Jersey said Dupré was 'very nice. She's a beautiful girl.'
Ashley Alexandra Dupré hit New York City in 2004 as a teenager with big dreams, but quickly fell into the shadowy world of hustlers, wanna-be celebs and high-class hookers.
Instead of record deals, she got an offer from a high-class prostitution ring called NY Confidential.
Jason Itzler claimed he met Dupré in the Gansevoort Hotel and she instantly caught his eye. Itzler said he gave the then-19-year-old his card and she called him two days later after visiting the NY Confidential Web site.
"She says, 'Hey, Jason ... I want to work for you.' When I caught my breath, I said, 'Do you know what I do?'" he claimed. "She's like, 'Yeah.' I said, 'Get over here.' "
He rechristened the Jersey-girl-turned-call-girl "Victoria," and she quickly became a favorite of the Confidential clientele - four years before she became $4,300 hooker "Kristen" and torpedoed Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Itzler, 41, the self-proclaimed "King of All Pimps," claimed Dupré, a sexy brunette with a fetching smile and a colorful tatoo on her left shoulder, attracted a large and grateful clientele, earning tens of thousands of dollars a month.
After her first date, Itzler claimed, he rewarded her with a $2,000 pair of Manolo Blahniks - the favored footwear of Sarah Jessica Parker's character on "Sex and The City."
"I used to get e-mails [that said] 'Now I can die happy,'" Itzler said of Dupré, who came to Manhattan pursuing a musical career before a random hotel lobby encounter changed her life.
"This was probably the sexiest, hottest girl I had," Itzler said. "She's no joke. She's an awesome, awesome, supercool girl."
Dupré's lawyer didn't return a phone call or e-mail about Itzler's tale on another busy day in the Eliot Mess:
* Dupré posted a simple online message on her MySpace.com page: "Yeah, I did it." The page was later changed to read: "Thank you all for your support, it means alot to me."
Nightlife sources recalled Dupré as a club rat decked out in "amazing clothes," carrying "a lot of money" and hanging with celebrities like music producer Jermaine Dupri. They also mentioned "crazy vacations," including a visit to St. Tropez, France, with Dupré insisting the cash came from her wealthy suburban parents. "If she was a prostitute, she hid it well," said one source.
* Club photographers claimed she rubbed elbows at parties with hard partiers such as convicted Brazilian madam Andrea Schwartz.
* Dupré's friends from the music world stepped forward to defend her as sweet, friendly and kind.
"You would never think in a million years that she was doing that kind of work, she never came off depressing or desperate," said producer Jonathan Elhers, who helped her cut a 2004 demo. "She was very cool, very easy to get along with."
* Her family, like the governor, remained tight-lipped, with Dupré's grandfather telling reporters at his New Jersey home, "She's very nice. She's a beautiful girl."
Dupré's former classmates in Wall Township, N.J., recalled she hung out with an older crowd, drank when she was underage and had a "bad reputation."
Itzler, sipping a Bloody Mary at noon inside Union Square's Coffee Shop, talked about his time with Dupré as a tape of Spitzer's resignation played on a TV over his shoulder.
He seemed oblivious to the bizarre juxtaposition as he recalled hiring Dupré in the months before his January 2005 arrest.
It was near the end of Itzler's run atop his escort service, with $2,000-an-hour working girls such as Natalia McLennan - and, he claimed, Ashley Dupré.
Itzler claimed Dupré was "Victoria" - one of the women dressed as cheerleaders whom he sent to actor Charlie Sheen for a night of role playing that hit the gossip pages two years ago.
Itzler, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to running the $25,000-a-night prostitution ring, said he recognized Dupré after seeing her photo while appearing Wednesday on CNN.
He went home and looked up her MySpace.com page to check out more pictures.
Dupré, despite her tender age, was a workaholic who was on the job six days a week, Itzler claimed. She was often called for repeat business.
"She thrived on it, like a fish in water," he said. "Almost like an actor on stage on Broadway. Alive, you know?"
A check with the Manhattan district attorney's office indicated Dupré avoided arrest when Itzler's operation was closed.
With Stephanie Gaskell, Patrick Hugenin and Mike Jaccarino
Pilot killed in F-16 combat training
* Story Highlights
* Aircraft goes down 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona
* Student pilot was practicing air-to-air combat with another F-16
* Rescuers find pilot's parachute and gear near impact crater
PARKER, Arizona (AP) -- The pilot of an F-16C fighter jet that crashed in a rugged area of western Arizona was killed when his plane went down, Air Force officials confirmed Saturday.
The student pilot was practicing air-to-air combat with another F-16 from Luke Air Force Base about noon Friday when his plane crashed, base spokeswoman Mary Jo May said.
Aircraft from the Air Force, Marines, Civil Air Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety spent hours trying to find the wreckage, which was spotted late Friday in a remote area about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.
Rescuers could reach the site only by helicopter and arrived at daybreak Saturday, May said. They found the pilot's parachute and some of his gear about 150 feet from an impact crater. It took several hours for the Air Force to confirm that he had died in the crash.
The pilot, whose identity hasn't been released pending notification of relatives, was part of the 62nd Fighter Squadron, one of eight squadrons at the base. The base is in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale and is the world's largest F-16 training base with about 185 F-16s.
There have been 17 other crashes of Luke-based F-16s since 1998, and only one of those resulted in a fatality, May said. That crash happened in May 2004, when a pilot with the Singapore air force died after his jet went down during a training mission at an Air Force bombing range in southwest Arizona.
The most recent crashes came in 2006. A pilot ejected safely from an F-16 in April 2006 after the lone engine on the jet exploded just after takeoff from the base. The aircraft came down in a cornfield.
Nearly nine months later, a two-seat F-16 crashed during a training mission at the same range where the Singapore pilot died. The pilot and instructor bailed out safely.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Paulson Says He'll `Do What It Takes' to Calm Markets (Update4)
By Brendan Murray
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, defending the bailout of Bear Stearns Cos., said policy makers will do whatever is needed to prevent disruptions in financial markets from hurting the economy.
``The government is prepared to do what it takes to maintain the stability of our financial system,'' Paulson told the ``Fox News Sunday'' television program in Washington today. ``Our focus, our No. 1 priority, is the stability of our financial system.''
Paulson, 61, spoke two days after the Federal Reserve rescued Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm, with an emergency loan. The move failed to avert a crisis of confidence among Bear Stearns customers and shareholders, who drove the stock down a record 47 percent.
In three appearances today, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. several times said the Fed made ``the right decision'' and expressed ``great confidence'' in its chairman, Ben S. Bernanke. Paulson said that in the case of Bear Stearns, the risk to financial stability outweighed his concern about so- called moral hazard, in which investors come to expect government rescues.
``I'm as aware as anyone is of moral hazard,'' he said in a CNN interview. ``I'm also aware of the importance of keeping our economy strong, of orderly capital markets, of the stability of the financial system doing things that promote orderliness and minimize the disruption.''
Paulson said ``conversations are going on over the weekend'' about Bear Stearns. ``I'm very involved in those conversations.'' He declined to be specific about the future of the 85-year-old firm, the second-biggest underwriter of U.S. mortgage bonds, or to say whether any additional government steps are planned.
``There's always a decision to be made to say what's best for the stability of the marketplace, the orderliness of the marketplace,'' Paulson said. ``I think we made the right decision.''
The Treasury chief refused to say what a growing number of economists have concluded -- that the economy has entered a recession.
``Economists are going to be debating that for months and months,'' he said. ``It's much less important what you call it than what you're doing about it.''
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index is down 12.3 percent this year, while the dollar is down 5 percent against a basket of currencies of major U.S. trading partners. Home foreclosures in January and February were up 58 percent from the first two months of 2007.
``I've got great confidence in our financial markets and our financial institutions,'' Paulson said. ``Our markets are resilient, are flexible. Our institutions -- our banks and investment banks -- are strong.''
Paulson repeated his support for a ``strong dollar,'' and said the long-term strength of the U.S. economy would be reflected in the country's currency.
President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet tomorrow with his Working Group on Financial Markets. Paulson chairs the group, which includes Bernanke and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox.
The Bush administration has resisted the use of government funds or guarantees to stem the surge in foreclosures. Paulson has brokered a series of voluntary accords among lenders to freeze interest rates on subprime loans and negotiated a one- month moratorium on foreclosures.
Plans in Congress
A credit crisis that began in August has left markets ``more fragile than we would like right now,'' Paulson said in a separate interview on ABC News's ``This Week'' program. ``My concern is to minimize the impact on the broader economy.''
Paulson said the administration doesn't support measures in Congress to help struggling homeowners.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd offered a plan last week to let the Federal Housing Administration insure refinanced mortgages after lenders reduce principal to help struggling borrowers.
The two lawmakers are leading congressional efforts to tackle the surge in foreclosures, which reached record levels in the fourth quarter of 2007. Their plan goes beyond the Bush administration's approach that relies on voluntary agreements between lenders and loan servicers to modify mortgages for borrowers who can't make their monthly payments.
``I'm looking very carefully at any proposal, but all the ones I've seen call for much more government intervention, raise more problems, do more harm than do good,'' Paulson said in the ABC interview.
In an interview on CNN, Paulson said there's ``no silver bullet'' to prevent home prices from falling and foreclosures from rising.
Paulson last week proposed that U.S. regulators heighten their scrutiny of lenders, mortgage brokers and debt-rating firms to prevent a reoccurrence of the credit crisis roiling capital markets. Writedowns from subprime securities will probably rise to $285 billion, Standard & Poor's said in a report March 13.
``This has become the Bush recession,'' Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Fox News program. ``The president's hands-off attitude is reminiscent of Herbert Hoover,'' who led the country from 1929 to 1933.
Bush yesterday said he won't be stampeded into ``bad policy decisions'' that might harm the economy.
``The market now is in the process of correcting itself, and delaying that correction would only prolong the problem,'' he said in his weekly radio address. ``I believe the government can take sensible, focused action to help responsible homeowners weather this rough patch.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Murray at email@example.com
Last Updated: March 16, 2008 13:08 EDT
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The international Cassini spacecraft collected science data on mysterious geysers spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus and recorded new images of its surface during a close flyby, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Thursday.
The pass Wednesday brought Cassini as close as 30 miles to the surface of the moon. It went through the icy geysers at 32,000 mph and an altitude of 120 miles, the lab said.
MORE ON CASSINI: NASA's mission page
It's hoped that instrument data on density, size, composition and speed of plume particles will provide clues to whether there's a water ocean or organics inside the frozen moon. The geysers spew water vapor from fractures in the moon's south pole.
New pictures taken by Cassini show the surface of the north polar region is much older than the southern hemisphere and is pitted with craters, the lab said.
Cassini imaging scientist Carolyn Porco said the images provide an important comparison for "working out the moon's obviously complex geological history."
Porco, of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said the next big step will be getting detailed images of the surface sources of the plumes during a low-altitude flyby this summer.
The lab said that during Wednesday's flyby, one of Cassini's instruments, the Cosmic Dust Analyzer, had an unexplained software problem that prevented it from collecting data during closest approach, but it did collect data before and after. Other instruments functioned properly, it said.
Website address: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2008-03-14-saturn-geysers-cassini_N.htm
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By Ariel David, Associated Press
Leonardo da Vinci drew everything from war machines to anatomy sketches. Now it seems he may have also been an early illustrator of the chess puzzle.
Experts say the Renaissance genius, whose interests included painting, mathematics, music, engineering, anatomy and botany, may have illustrated the puzzles in a long-lost chess treatise recently recovered in the library of an aristocratic family in northern Italy.
The manuscript was penned around 1500 by Luca Pacioli, a mathematician and friend of Leonardo, and some experts believe the artist may have drawn the elegant pieces that illustrate the chess puzzles discussed in the treatise.
"The pieces are exceptional for that era," said Franco Rocco, a Milan-based architect and sculptor who studied the illustrations. "Even today they look futuristic."
The treatise, "De Ludo Schaccorum" Latin for "Of the Game of Chess" includes more than 100 chess problems that challenge the player to reach checkmate in a certain number of moves. Today such mind-twisters are popular fixtures in newspapers.
The sole copy of the treatise was found in 2006 among 22,000 volumes collected by the Coronini family in their palace in Gorizia, on Italy's border with Slovenia.
"It was like a Holy Grail of chess," said Serenella Ferrari Benedetti, cultural coordinator of the foundation that manages the Coronini estate. "We knew it existed but nobody had ever seen it."
The illustrations of the red and black chess pieces were themselves a puzzle. The slender, abstract design was so unusual that Ferrari Benedetti asked Rocco to study the drawings.
After a year of research, Rocco concluded that Pacioli enlisted Leonardo's help to draw the pieces.
Rocco, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, noted that the two men had earlier collaborated in Milan when Leonardo helped illustrate a treatise on proportion while also painting The Last Supper.
Rocco said the futuristic style of the chess pieces is in sharp contrast with the way other pieces were represented at the time.
Every piece also was proportionally related to each of its parts and to the other pieces, a trademark of Leonardo's art, he said. In addition, some pieces directly recall other works by Leonardo, including a queen similar to a fountain drawn in one of the artist's manuscripts.
Not all the pieces display the same quality and some were drawn with a right hand and others with a left, Rocco said. This indicates that Leonardo, who was left-handed, may have only drawn a few pieces to provide examples, or that he simply suggested the designs to Pacioli, Rocco said.
Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to the artist in his hometown of Vinci, told the AP that the idea that Leonardo drew the pieces is plausible, but documented proof would be needed.
"We can't say that he drew the pieces. It's a very interesting hypothesis, but it needs to be verified," said Vezzosi, who was not involved in Rocco's research.
Pacioli's manuscript, normally not on public display, was exhibited last summer in Florence and will be briefly shown in Gorizia in June.
Website address: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2008-03-14-leondardo-chess-puzzles_N.htm
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By Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press
In New Jersey, the governor's e-mails might shed light on whether he inappropriately conferred with a labor leader he once dated. In Detroit, the mayor's text messages revealed a sexually charged scandal. In California, a fight rages for access to e-mails sent by a city councilwoman about a controversial biological laboratory.
Even the White House has been under pressure from Democrats in Congress over its problem-plagued e-mail system.
While e-mail and text messaging has become a hugely popular way to communicate throughout society, governments at all levels are often unwilling to let the public see the e-mails of their elected officials.
Officially, e-mails in all but a handful of states are treated like paper documents and subject to Freedom of Information requests. But most of these states have rules allowing them to choose which e-mails to turn over, and most decide on their own when e-mail records are deleted.
"There seems to be an attitude throughout government at all levels that somehow electronic communications are of its own kind and not subject to the laws in the way that print communications are," said Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org.
"So we keep hearing reports of governors and mayors who decree that their e-mail records can be destroyed, in six weeks or six months, with no appraisal for permanent value and no review by an independent body," she said.
Open records advocates contend by keeping electronic communications private, states are giving their elected officials an avenue to operate in secret they use taxpayer-funded computers to send and receive e-mail but with little or no obligation to make such communications public.
"The public needs to realize that is their possibility for accountability and historical review that is being put through the electronic shredder," McDermott said.
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine is fighting in court to keep secret his e-mails with ex-girlfriend Carla Katz, the leader of a powerful union representing thousands of state workers. State Republicans sued when Corzine refused to turn over his e-mails.
"He seems to think he's still running a private company where he gets to set the rules and ignore them when it serves his purpose," said Tom Wilson, the New Jersey Republican Party chief. "He isn't doing business. He's leading a government established by and for the people."
Corzine says he's protecting privileges afforded governors to keep communication private while also keeping his personal life shielded from public examination.
"I think in the American system, people believe that people have a right to a private life," Corzine said.
Corzine is among several governors who say they don't use e-mail. But without a system that grants access to e-mails, open records advocates wonder how the public would know if that's true.
An Associated Press survey conducted in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort to draw attention to the public's right to know found e-mails for governors in at least seven states are officially exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
But even in the other states, access to e-mail is limited, at best. Public records guardians decide which e-mails they'll turn over and which ones they won't.
"Now that e-mail has replaced faxes and standard mail as the preferred mode of communication, it is important that these e-mails fall under open public records acts," said Heather Taylor of the Citizens' Campaign, a New Jersey-based group fighting for open government.
Public access to elected officials' e-mail is largely an untested area of open records law, even as government e-mail use proliferates.
"This is becoming a pretty hot issue," said Karl Olson said, a San Francisco attorney representing a newspaper in a fight to get e-mails from a city council member.
State laws vary on how long e-mails must be retained, and some states charge exorbitant fees for providing copies of e-mail. There's also debate whether e-mail sent by a public official from private accounts should be subject to Freedom of Information requests.
"Some authorities purge old e-mails sooner than others," said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. "And the Legislature, in its wisdom, exempted itself from the retention rule in place for other state officials so lawmakers can simply delete e-mails that may point to unethical or criminal conduct."
Wisconsin law defines public records as books, papers, maps, photographs, films, recordings and electronically formatted documents.
The state Department of Justice issued a compliance guide to local government officials last year that said e-mails created in connection with official business are generally considered public record. No legal precedence in Wisconsin, however, addresses whether personal e-mail received or sent on government equipmment is considered a public record, the guide said.
Across the country, denials of requests for electronic communications seem to be commonplace.
Journalists from the Detroit Free Press sought access to text messages sent between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. The Free Press was unable to get access to the messages through a records request, but still got about 14,000 text messages on Beatty's city-issued pager from 2002 and 2003 through another source it hasn't named.
The Free Press' parent company, Gannett, also owns USA TODAY.
SUNSHINE WEEK: Text messages enter public-records debateQUIZ: How much do you know about open records?
Those messages unleashed a sexually charged text-messaging scandal that has prompted calls for Kilpatrick's resignation.
The mayor's office contends the text messages don't fall under public information requirements because they were transmitted on a leased device, not on city-owned equipment.
When governments do release e-mails voluntarily or not these documents can prove revealing to the public. For example:
In 2005, several media outlets, including the AP, sought e-mails from the office of Jim Black, then the House speaker in North Carolina, about possible lobbying work performed by his political director, who was also working for a lottery company seeking to do business for the state.
Black eventually released documents sought by a federal grand jury and 300 additional pages of e-mails, some of which showed his political director was actively lobbying the speaker even though she wasn't registered to lobby.
E-mails obtained by AP in Iowa showed how the staff of Gov. Chet Culver formulated a public statement following August's bridge collapse in neighboring Minnesota. The e-mails show a staff eager to assure citizens of their safety, but at odds over what kind of guarantees the governor could offer that Iowa's bridges were safe.
Retention rules questioned
The issue of e-mail retention is acute in Texas, where the governor's office deletes e-mails regularly on a weekly basis for e-mails not deemed to be of public importance.
As in most states, the Texas governor's e-mails are considered open records unless they fall into exceptions, such as legal negotiations or state security. Otherwise, e-mails from a state agency can be requested and must be provided.
The Texas retention policy prompted a fight with a Wisconsin man who in November began asking Gov. Rick Perry's office for several days worth of government e-mails. The man, computer consultant John Washburn, launched twice-weekly computer-generated requests to Perry's office.
Perry's office initially hesitated to provide the e-mails, but then agreed providing Washburn paid for the cost of what it said was staff time spent sorting through which ones could be released. The bill came to $568 for the first four days of requested messages.
Washburn said he wonders whether Perry's seven-day e-mail deletion policy is really about eliminating only "transitory" messages.
"I think the more obvious explanation is e-mails come back to bite you," he said.
In Missouri, e-mail retention policies drew attention last September after the Springfield News-Leader, a Gannett newspaper, reported Gov. Matt Blunt's office had denied an open-records request for e-mails from his chief of staff, Ed Martin. The News-Leader sought information about Martin's communications with anti-abortion activists about a Planned Parenthood lawsuit.
Martin, who has since resigned, told the newspaper that he didn't save the e-mails.
Blunt later acknowledged he and his staff routinely delete some e-mails, although Blunt denied that his office violates state law. Others in government, including staff for Attorney General Jay Nixon, also acknowledged deleting some e-mails but denied any legal violations.
Blunt has ordered work to begin on a $2 million plan to archive government e-mails in response to concerns about deletions in his office and elsewhere.
That issue is also a concern in New Jersey, where the state attorney general's office said e-mails sent and received by top officials in former Gov. James E. McGreevey's administration were deleted from state computers, despite regulations dictating electronic records must be reviewed and archived.
McGreevey was elected in 2001 and resigned in 2004 after announcing he was gay and had an affair with a male staffer.
Don Craven, a lawyer who represents the Illinois Press Association, said most court cases over electronic records involve fees, not access to the documents.
For instance, in Missouri, the AP requested copies e-mails for several people in the governor's office, prompting the governor's office to respond with a cost estimate of more than $20,000.
"Some want us to pay for the systems to maintain the records, while we think we only need to pay the cost of reproduction," Craven said. "We usually win that one."
In California, the Tracy Press sued the city of Tracy to obtain e-mails between Councilwoman Suzanne Tucker and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory over the possible siting of a biological laboratory in 2006. A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge ruled in August that the e-mails are not public records because they were sent and received at Tucker's personal computer at her home.
"The big question at this stage is whether or not a public official can avoid the requirements of the law by simply going home at night and using a personal computer," said Tom Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
That's the issue in San Francisco, where messages to Mayor Gavin Newsom about a fuel spill were sent to and from Newsom's personal iPhone, said Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard, and were sought by a citizen not affiliated with the news media.
"We're not going to start handing over the personal messages of someone just because they work for the city," Ballard said.
The messages were between Newsom and his chief of staff and involved the city's spill response, Ballard said.
"We're not going to violate the person's privacy and hand over messages they receive on their personal cell."
McDermott questioned such reasoning, which she described as "willful delusion."
Utah's open-records law was enacted in 1991 before e-mail became an established form of communication. but Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff advises state officials and agencies to treat e-mail like other government records subject to disclosure, his spokesman Paul Murphy said.
State officials can delete only junk mail, personal notes, calendar items and draft memorandums on state policy, which means they save most of their e-mails; Murphy said he had 7,772 items in his inbox in early January.
Washington, D.C.'s Freedom of Information law states that the public has a general right to inspect or copy "any public record of a public body," but community activist Dorothy Brizill, of the group DCWatch, said requests for e-mail correspondence often are met with the response "no records exist."
Last year, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty issued an order that would have purged most city e-mails after six months. Brizill raised alarm and, faced with pressure from the city council, the mayor withdrew the order in November.
"We have an administration that functions with e-mails," Brizill said. "They don't write memos. If you want to know how a decision was made and why, it's critical to have access to the electronic correspondence."
...for the entire review, visit www.usatoday.comWebsite address: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/internetprivacy/2008-03-15-emails_N.htm
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