Thursday, March 12, 2009

German Shooter Previewed Massacre on Internet

German authorities say a teenager who shot and killed 15 people Wednesday announced his intention to do so in an Internet chatroom the night before his rampage.

Authorities quote 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer as saying, "I have weapons here and tomorrow I will go to my old school. You will hear about me tomorrow."

Baden-Wuerttemberg State Interior Minister Heribet Rech, who described Kretschmer as "completely unremarkable," said Thursday the chat involved a 16-year-old from Bavaria. Rech said the Bavarian boy showed the chat to his father after he heard about Wednesday's massacre. The father then contacted authorities.

The new revelations emerged as Germany mourned the victims and sought details of the killer's motives.

Kretschmer killed eight schoolgirls, one boy and three female teachers. He later randomly killed three bystanders, before committing suicide during a shootout with police in a neighboring town.

Television footage showed churches across much of Germany crowded with mourners late Wednesday. Flags across Germany flew at half-staff Thursday. The front page of the local newspaper in Winnenden, where the killings occurred, was a solid black with the word "Why?"

German new reports say the shooter came from a prosperous family. They described him as obsessed with computer shooting games, and said he had few friends.

Papelbon on Manny: `It's like cancer'

NEW YORK (AP) — Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon compared former teammate Manny Ramirez to cancer, saying Boston made the right decision when it traded the slugging left fielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer.

"He was on a different train! And you saw what happened with that. We got rid of him, and we moved on without him," Papelbon was quoted in the April issue of Esquire. The story was posted on the magazine's Web site Thursday.

"So Manny was tough for us," Papelbon added. "You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the ballgame, he can dictate the outcome of the game. And for him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man! It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening."

"Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us. And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse. We got Jason Bay — Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball — and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question."

Manager Terry Francona didn't condone Papelbon's remarks, while noting the closer usually says what's on his mind.

"That's Pap's personality," Francona said Thursday in Jupiter, Fla., before the Red Sox played the Cardinals. "The one thing we don't ever want is somebody criticizing their own teammates. They know that."

Francona would have preferred that Papelbon kept his thoughts to himself.

"Pap is pretty open about how he feels about everything," Francona said. "From my point of view, if I ever have something to say to a player, I'll say it to him in my office."

Ramirez was sent to Los Angeles on Aug. 31 as part of a three-team trade in which Boston received Bay from Pittsburgh. Ramirez became a free agent after the season, then agreed last week to a $45 million, two-year deal with the Dodgers.

"As an organization, we do what we think is in the best interests of our ballclub," Francona said. "That's what we did. That's what we'll continue to do. The moves we make, I think that speaks volumes enough."

Junk alert for space station crew

The crew had to move into the Russian Soyuz capsule

The crew of the International Space Station have been forced to shelter in the Russian Soyuz capsule after a close call with a piece of space debris.

The crew are now out of danger and have returned to the ISS, Russian mission control officials told the Reuters news agency.

Nasa said news of the debris threat had come too late for flight controllers to move the space station out of the way.

The scare comes just over a month after two satellites collided over Siberia.

Officials said the decision to move the astronauts had been a precaution and that the probability of an impact with the ISS had been low.

The space station's operating rules require crew members to be evacuated when debris is detected within a set distance.

But Russian Yury Lonchakov and Americans Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus took refuge for 11 minutes in the Soyuz escape capsule.

Tiny fragment

The debris was about one-third of an inch (1cm) in size and part of an old "payload assist motor" that was previously on either a Delta rocket or on the space shuttle, Nasa spokeswoman Laura Rochon told journalists.

Objects in orbit travel at tens of thousands of kilometres per hour. At these speeds, even a small piece of debris can knock out a satellite or, potentially, cause serious damage to the space station.

"The crew have returned to the station. They are in absolutely no danger and the debris has already passed by the station," a spokesman for Russia's mission control said.

"They didn't even close the hatch between the station and the Soyuz."

Experts recognise a growing threat to spacecraft from orbital debris and several events over the past three years have drawn attention to the problem.

On 10 February, the US Iridium 33 communications satellite collided with Cosmos 2251, a retired Russian intelligence comms sat.

The chances of such an event had been estimated at millions or billions to one. The impact produced two expanding clouds of debris in intersecting orbits.

In January 2007, China caused international alarm when it destroyed one of its defunct satellites in a missile test. The US military estimates that this event created 2,500 new pieces of debris in orbit.

Charli Rose Show: A conversation with Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education

A conversation with Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education

2 arrested in FBI raid at Obama appointee's office

WASHINGTON - A D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer employee and a private contractor have been arrested in a federal bribery sting, sources tell WTOP.
D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer employee Yusuf Acar and Advanced Integrated Technologies Corporation (AITC) President and CEO Sushil Bansal have been arrested, sources tell WTOP.

Acar, 40, was taken into custody Thursday morning by FBI agents at his home in Northwest D.C.

In 2008, Bansal's firm received .Net Development Support and Peoplesoft Consulting Support contracts from the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Office totaling $350,000.

AITC has also received contracts from the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. In 2008, Bansal received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Association of Indians in America, according to AITC's Web site.

Government records show Bansal is not a U.S. citizen and holds an H-1B visa, which is given to foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for D.C.'s U.S. Attorney's Office, tells WTOP that two people are in custody and should appear in federal court later Thursday.

The FBI is currently serving a search warrant at the office of D.C.'s Chief Technology Officer.

"We are there as part of a continuing ongoing criminal investigation," FBI Washington Field Office spokesperson Katherine Schweit tells WTOP.

Schweit would not comment on the details of the investigation.

More than a dozen FBI agents - including evidence technicians - are at the office, located at 1 Judiciary Square on 4th Street in Northwest, WTOP's Mark Segraves reports.

Most of the employees have been told to go home. Other employees have been segregated into a waiting room.

Segraves reports the FBI's search has expanded from 9th floor offices to 10th floor offices.

The 10th floor has been closed to the public while the FBI searches the offices that house the Administrative Services Modernization Program, Segraves reports.

On March 5, President Barack Obama named D.C. Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra as the federal government's chief information officer.

Kundra's last day was March 4.

Kundra, who was in charge of technology in the District since 2007, has been a consultant to Obama since he won the election.

Kundra has not been linked to Thursday's raid.

Seidman and Kudlow: Death for "Financial Terrorist" Madoff!

Former FDIC chairman Bill Seidman and CNBC's Larry Kudlow on CNBC, March 12, 2009

Madoff Victims: 'It's a Very Tangled Web'

Victims of Bernie Madoff talk about how his multi-billion dollar fraud has hurt them. (March 12)

Freddie Mac Posts $23.9 Billion Q4 Loss (FRE)

Bailed-out mortgage giant Freddie Mac (FRE) said Wednesday that it lost a massive $23.9 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, hurt by increasingly high investment and credit losses.

The McLean, Virginia-based company said that it lost $23.9 billion, or $7.37 per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter, compared with a net loss of $2.5 billion, or $3.97 a share, in the year-ago period.

The latest quarterly results included $13.3 billion in net mark-to-market losses on Freddie’s derivatives portfolio, as well as credit-related expenses of $7.2 billion.

For the full-year 2008, Freddie lost a staggering $50.1 billion. The company warned that further bailouts from the federal government may not be enough to keep the company solvent.

Freddie and its sister company, Fannie Mae (FNM), have agreed to temporarily halt all foreclosures sales and evictions, instead attempting to rework loans with struggling homeowners.

Freddie Mac shares have fallen 99% in the past year.

The Bottom Line
We are hoping the government has seen some of this data as they attempt to prop up the Fannie Maes (FNM) and Freddie Macs (FRE) of the world. The worst thing that can happen now is to underestimate the potential size of the continued bailouts. Public sentiment has a real short leash on what has been coming out of Washington, so the trends should be getting analyzed by people that understand the breadth of the problem.

Freddie Mac (FRE) does not currently pay a dividend.

Gates still world's richest; recession shrinks billionaires: Forbes

US tycoons are back on top with Microsoft founder Bill Gates again the world's richest man in a year when even billionaires felt the heat of the global recession, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

The wealthy few did not escape big shocks this year, with net worth on the list of 793 billionaires - down from 1,125 billionaires in 2008 - plummeting to 2.4 trillion dollars from 4.4 trillion, Forbes said.

"The biggest news today is that we are here and there still are billionaires," Forbes spokeswoman Monie Begley joked at a press conference.

The much-watched annual rich list put Gates back on top with a net worth of 40 billion dollars, although he saw his bank balance lose 18 billion over the last 12 months.

In second came investor Warren Buffett with 37 billion dollars, despite losing 25 billion dollars this year in the value of his Berkshire Hathaway shares.

Also losing 25 billion dollars, Mexican telecoms king Carlos Slim still managed to come in third with 35 billion dollars.

The US surge sent billionaires from India, Russia and Turkey into retreat.

US rich filled 10 of the 20 top spots and New York replaced Moscow as home to most billionaires, with 55 to 27. London comes in second with 28.

Russia, where wealth is closely tied to commodity prices, lost almost two thirds of its billionaires, down from 87 to 32.

Russian oligarchs have long been famous for flaunting their wealth, but this year, none of them make it into the elite top 20, compared to four in the 2008 list.

India lost more than half of its billionaires, with the total going from 53 to 24.

Two Indians appear in the top 20, notably steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal with just 19.3 billion dollars after losing 25.7 billion dollars over the last year.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at number 17, was notable as the only top 20 member to see a net gain.

That was not because of his salary, which is a symbolic one dollar a year, but thanks to re-evaluation of Bloomberg financial news agency after the mayor bought a 20 percent stake from Merrill Lynch last year for 4.5 billion dollars.

About 64 percent of the billionaires are self-made and their average age is 63.7, a slight rise resulting from the lower number of rich Russians and Chinese, whose average ages last year were 46 and 48.

By contrast with that aging trend, Gates is a relatively youthful 53.

The youngest billionaire prize this year goes to Albert von Thurn und Taxis of Germany, who is 25 and listed as having 2.1 billion dollars.

But one of the young success stories from last year - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - dropped off the list altogether.

The top concentrations of billionaires in the United States are in California, then New York and Texas.

One billionaire unlikely to welcome the attention though is Joaquin Guzman Loera, 54, whose one billion dollars is derived from cocaine trafficking.

List of the world's 20 richest people, their wealth, businesses or interests, and countries, according to Forbes:

1. Bill Gates, 40 billion dollars. Microsoft, United States.

2. Warren Buffett, 37 billion dollars. Berkshire Hathaway, United States.

3. Carlos Slim and family, 35 billion dollars. Telecoms, Mexico.

4. Lawrence Ellison, 22.5 billion dollars. Oracle, United States.

5. Ingvar Kamprad and family. 22 billion dollars. Ikea. Sweden.

6. Karl Albrecht, 21.5 billion dollars. Aldi, Germany.

7. Mukesh Ambani, 19.5 billion dollars. Petrochemicals, India.

8. Lakshmi Mittal, 19.3 billion dollars. Steel, India.

9. Theo Albrecht, 18.8 billion dollars. Aldi, Trader Joe's, Germany.

10. Amancio Ortega, 18.3 billion dollars. Zara, Spain.

11. Jim Walton, 17.8 billion dollars. Wal-Mart, United States.

12. Alice Walton, 17.6 billion dollars. Wal-Mart, United States.

12. Christy Walton and family, 17.6 billion dollars. Wal-Mart, United States.

12. S. Robson Walton, 17.6 billion dollars. Wal-Mart, United States.

15. Bernard Arnault, 16.5 billion dollars. LVMH, France.

16. Li Ka-shing, 16.2 billion dollars. Diversified, Hong Kong.

17. Michael Bloomberg, 16 billion dollars. Bloomberg, United States.

18. Stefan Persson, 14.5 billion dollars. Hennes and Mauritz, Sweden.

19. Charles Koch, 14 billion dollars. Manufacturing, energy, United States.

19. David Koch, 14 billion dollars. Manufacturing, energy. United States.

Iraqi Journalist, who threw shoes at George W Bush, gets 3 years jail term

Baghdad (24/7 News Network): Breaking News! Muntazer al-Zaidi, the 30-year-old Iraqi journalist, who threw shoes at former US President George W. Bush during a press conference last December, was sentenced to three years in jail by an Iraqi court. Muntazer al-Zaidi pleaded not guilty during the hearing at the Iraq Central Criminal Court. However, the court pronounced the verdict after taking the material evidence into account. "Iraq, long live Iraq", shouted Muntazer al-Zaidi, after the verdict was pronounced.

A large number of supporters gathered on various streets of Iraq to protest against the verdict. They claimed that Muntazer was innocent and whatever he had done, was to salvage the Iraqi pride.

Muntazer's family members also demanded his release, saying he did nothing wrong. Judge Abdulamir Hassan al-Rubaie said that he pronounced a lesser punishment for Muntazer, as he was young and it was his first offence.

Muntazer al-Zaidi was hailed as a hero in the Arab and Muslim world after the shoe-throwing incident. During the hearing, Zaidi said that his reaction was natural, just like any Iraqi. George W. Bush is considered as the most hatred figure in Iraq and Muslim world for his war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Labels: World

Jim Cramer vs. Jon Stewart on Daily Show Tonight: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer March 12, 2009

you are having trouble viewing our video player, check out MediaBytes on YouTube.

Hulu will add social networking features to its streaming video site. The NBCU-Fox joint venture plans to use social networking to boost consumer loyalty, as well as to mine data in hopes of attracting more advertisers. Dubbed “Hulu Friends”, the feature will allow users to create profiles, as well as share specific videos with other users.

Yesterday Apple unveiled a new iPod shuffle. Half the size of the old shuffle, the 4 giga-byte iPod can hold 1,000 songs. The new iPod shuffle is so small that the actual device has no buttons on it, rather the controls are on a plastic cord attached to the headphones.

Tom Hanks is getting into the SAG-AMPTP contract mix, urging both sides to get back to the negotiating table. SAG and the Studios nearly had a deal a few weeks back, however, talks came to a stalemate over the when the contract would expire. Currently, SAG will not sign a full three-year deal, as it wants the opportunity to renegotiate in 2011.

eBay plans to retreat from web retail, in order to focus on used and overstocked goods. The online auction house noted that the web retail market is dominated by companies like Amazon, with whom it can’t compete with. CEO John Donahoe noted “We aren’t a retailer” and that eBay will “focus where we can win.”

Mad Money’s Jim Cramer will appear on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight. The appearance comes days after Stewart berated Cramer for remarks about Bear Sterns days before the company collapsed. While cynics would note the appearance as a publicity stunt, since both shows are owned by different media companies, it is less than likely, though, both shows are sure to receive high ratings.

Governor’s Budget Means Higher Taxes for New Jersey- Again!

Despite having the worst tax climate in the nation, New Jersey still faces a massive budget deficit. Now the Governor is scratching his head as to how to make ends meet. And he is trying to force you, the taxpayer, to foot the bill. He is raising taxes again!
Under the proposed 2010 budget, Governor Corzine will:

Raise taxes on businesses, the state's upper income job producers, and anyone buying cigarettes, wine, or liquor
Eliminate income-tax deductions for property taxes paid, increasing income taxes for homeowners
Increase the payroll tax to prop up the dwindling unemployment-insurance fund

That will mean higher taxes once again in NJ including:

$380 million raise in income taxes
$80 million in increased business taxes
$48 million tax hike on cigarettes, alcohol and wine
$30 million in increased motor vehicle fees

After years of increasing taxes and state spending- New Jersey has had enough.
The Governor said he has cut spending in this budget- but it’s not nearly enough-- Call Governor Corzine today and urge him to cut spending even further. We simply can no longer afford the highest taxes in our nation.
You and I want New Jersey to be prosperous once again- If Governor Corzine wants New Jersey back on its feet he cannot raise taxes to keep government’s spending high.
All of us are being prudent during these times, and Governor Corzine should be too!


Governor Corzine has begun cutting spending from the budget, but we urgently need to cut more- NJ cannot afford to fund unnecessary programs paid for by hardworking taxpayers
New Jersey is slated to receive funds from the federal stimulus bill, which is simply future tax dollars printed in today’s money. Not even this money will prevent the Governor from increasing our taxes!
Less Spending, not Higher Taxes is the Answer-- Taxes hurt economic activity, period.
Call Governor Corzine today and urge him to cut spending even further!

Join AFP-NJ’s Effort to Protect Property Rights…..

New Jersey has done nothing to curb government abuse of Eminent Domain. In New Jersey, government bureaucrats can confiscate the property of those serving our country in the military, even while they are overseas defending our freedom.
Assembly Bill 3559 would protect the property owned by military personnel and first responders from condemnation. New Jersey property owners who are in the midst of dedicating service to their country through participation in military actions or by responding to disasters and emergencies should not be placed at risk of losing their property to condemnation.
Please call Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts today and request that A3559 be scheduled for a hearing.
District Office (856) 742-7600
Majority Office (609) 292-7065
Our service men and women our counting on you, they don’t let us down-- we cannot let them down.
Click here to read the full text of A3559.
Click here to listen to an important message from Senator Steven Oroho.

New Jersey to Battle COAH Mandates
AFP-NJ announces our voter education initiative, beginning in March, focused on combating the state’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). COAH’s heavy handed social engineering mandates that 100,000 low income housing units be forced into towns across our state causing increased crime, overcrowding schools, high density housing and lowered property values. These negative effects will eventually lead to increased property taxes on top of those already paid by New Jersey homeowners.
COAH spotlights the damaging legacy of an activist Supreme Court in New Jersey. We see the reappointment of two justices during 2009/2010 as an opportunity to end the court’s activism and allow the free market to determine the state’s housing need.
The battle against COAH will spread throughout the state with citizen education, petitions, and presentations to local organizations. Please visit the AFP New Jersey website to find a taxpayer seminar near you.