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Goldman has a long, cozy history with New York Fed

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 30 September 2014 | 18.18

So, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D- Mass.) wants Congress to investigate Goldman Sachs' relationship with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This comes after a whistleblower tape-recorded conversations in which Fed officials seem to be treating Goldman with too much deference.

It's all words. Since Sen. Warren likes Wall Street's campaign contributions as much as the next politician, I doubt she'll follow through.

But if some miracle descended upon Washington and there actually is an investigation, I suggest Congress look at two columns I wrote.

The first, on Sept. 29, 2009, shows numerous calls between Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and Treasury Secretary (and ex-Goldman co-chair) Hank Paulson during the 2008 financial crisis.

These calls show just how well-connected Goldman was and is in Washington.

No firm should be this close to government policy makers.

The second column, which ran on Jan. 6, 2011, discloses how William Dudley, the head of the New York Fed and a former Goldman exec, was lunching with Goldman Chief Economist Jan Hatzius during a period in which Fed officials were not supposed to have contact with outsiders.

The Fed didn't seem to care when I broke that news. Neither did the politicians in Washington. And despite the noise Warren is now making, they won't care this time either.


Uber drivers are getting into a lot of trouble at Newark Airport. And you might be surprised at what it's costing them.

The innovative ride service hooks its drivers up with those who need a lift through a convenient app. And Uber, as you probably heard, has taken the world by storm as people in New York City and elsewhere look for a more convenient way to get from here to there rather than standing in the street trying to hail a yellow cab.

Regular Uber — using cars that have limousine license plates and commercial insurance and registrations — isn't the problem at Newark. UberX, which the company describes as a less expensive "ridesharing" service, is a different story.

Port Authority police have been stopping UberX drivers curbside at Newark and blasting them with thousands of dollars worth of tickets. And — the biggest punishments of all — they impound the cars, with the guy behind the wheel also facing a one-year suspension of his driver's license.

The Port Authority calls this crime "hustling." A spokesman says the PA doesn't keep track of tickets given out for this offense at Newark. But it does keep tabs of incidents of hustling that escalate and result in arrests. So far this year, there have been 134, compared with 110 in 2013.

How much does hustling cost the UberX driver? There's a $1,200 fine for illegally transporting passengers for hire; $1,200 for operating a limo without a special registration; $1,200 for failure to equip the car with a first aid kit and fire extinguisher; and another $1,200 for not having a two-way radio.

An Uber driver makes about $80 for a Newark Airport-to-Manhattan fare after the company gets its cut.

Let me see, that adds up to — a big operational problem for a company attempting to keep its prices competitive with yellow taxis.

An Uber spokesperson tells me, "We fully stand behind our driver partners and will cover any financial and legal costs if they are wrongly cited." And one driver who was ticketed at Los Angeles International Airport says the company did send a lawyer to fight his case.

But here's the rub: The drivers at Newark Airport aren't being wrongly cited. They are breaking the law, even if the law wasn't written for the digital age. So the drivers may be stuck for the cost despite what Uber says.

The problem apparently doesn't exist at JFK or LaGuardia because the Port Authority in New York has told Uber to take its ridesharing service and X-it. And the company apparently has taken the hint.

Uber told me it's just trying to "help administrators tackle long taxi queues … we welcome the opportunity to work together." Well, the Port Authority apparently doesn't care.

Here's how UberX drivers can avoid being hassled at Newark: They should know the full names — first and last — of the people they are picking. Someone should hop into the front seat as though he or she is family.

And a peck on the cheek wouldn't hurt since cops use a lack of apparent familiarity as a sign that the driver is doing something illegal.

One UberX driver reported being cited after he had a minor accident coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel on his way from Newark. "Why are these people in your car?" the cop asked. The driver reported on the Web site Uber Driver Diaries that he told the cop they were friends, "very new friends."

Wrong answer. Ticket, ticket, ticket, ticket.


I forgot to mention in my last column that the e-mail in which two Philadelphia Census Department workers discuss the more than 120 computers lost before the last presidential election is available online.

Search for my column dated Sept. 25, and you'll see how careless Census was with your personal information and how disreputable people could have messed with economic results in September 2012.

Congress is now looking into the matter.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

George Clooney and Rande Gerber are BFFs

This is the Pitts.

To serve as his best man at Saturday's wedding, George Clooney turned not to famous buddy Brad, but to Rande Gerber, a titan of the night-life world who really does spell his first name like that.

Gerber, who runs a string of high-end cocktail lounges, including New York's the Roof and Living Room, first met Clooney some 20 years ago at his Paramount Hotel hot spot, the Whiskey.

Gerber and his wife, supermodel Cindy Crawford, are among Clooney's closest friends, and they often vacation together. The group was on a 2002 getaway in Italy when Clooney spotted a house for sale in the Lake Como region. He later bought it.

George Clooney with his new bride Amal Alamuddin with Rande Gerber and his model wife, Cindy Crawford on a boat in Venice.Photo: AP

Not content to just travel together, Clooney and Gerber also live together — in a manner of speaking. The two own adjoining houses in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The bros also jointly own a tequila company, Casamigos. Cases of the stuff were reportedly flown to Italy for the wedding reception.

Clooney even tapped Gerber to decorate his LA house. The bar magnate tricked out the (then) bachelor pad with dark woods, chandeliers and a large photograph of Steve McQueen.

The two buds like to ride motorcycles together, and Gerber has called Clooney the funniest person he knows. Quit sucking up. He made you best man already.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Judge finds Argentina in contempt of court

A Manhattan judge took the extreme and rare action of finding a sovereign nation — Argentina —in contempt of court on Monday.

Judge Thomas Griesa, acknowledging it was an unusual ruling, said 'the court holds the Republic of Argentina is in civil contempt of court" because of the nation's recent efforts to evade his earlier orders.

Argentina recently passed legislation allowing some bondholders to swap their US debt for Argentine law bonds that ostensibly avoided Griesa's order to pay back $1.6 billion owed to hedge fund mogul Paul Singer and other creditors.

"Both [bondholder groups] have to be dealt with," said Griesa.

The ruling was a big victory for the Singer group.

"This is an extreme sanction," said Argentina's lawyer, Carmine Boccuzzi of Cleary Gottlieb.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

All aboard the George and Amal love boat

As the sun set pink over Venice on Saturday evening, George Clooney rode up the Grand Canal in a water taxi in his last few minutes of public bachelorhood.

A very happy George Clooney during his wedding weekend.Photo: AP

The 53-year-old actor looked happy and relaxed, waving to the crowds of well-wishers who shouted "Auguri, George!" ("Congratulations, George!") as he arrived at the luxury Aman Canal Grande Resort, where the ceremony would take place.

The water taxi was dubbed "Amore."

The groom wore a classic tuxedo by Armani.

And the bride, Amal Alamuddin, wore a breathtaking Oscar de la Renta gown.

But while the ceremony itself was kept private — the couple banned cellphones during the vows because they didn't want photos appearing everywhere — Clooney and the lovely Alamuddin seemed more than happy to pose for shots during the long wedding weekend.

On Friday, high-profile guests, including actor Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso, as well as night-life impresario and best man Rande Gerber and his wife Cindy Crawford, arrived in Venice.

Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso board a boat while Rande Gerber and his wife Cindy Crawford wait on a balcony to join the fun.Photo: GC Images

Later, Clooney, Gerber and pals headed to Da Ivo for a bachelor party dinner, where they drank tequila and red wine. Alamuddin, dressed in a stunning Alexander McQueen number, headed to the Aman resort with her mother, sister and lawyer friends.

The main event was held on Saturday night. Guests were given preapproved cameras that routed all photos to a centralized database, according to TMZ. The party was said to last until the wee hours.

On Sunday, the couple hosted a brunch at Venice's Belmond Hotel Cipriani, emerging again on Monday for a civil ceremony held at the Venice Town Hall. Every single appearance was the epitome of style and grace: Alamuddin sported four exquisite outfits fit for a classic Hollywood movie — including a dramatic wide-brimmed hat straight out of "Now Voyager." (And at an estimated $13 million cost, the wedding had a Hollywood budget, too.)

Over the course of her wedding weekend, Amal was spotted wearing: Giambattista Valli, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney.Photo: INF ; GC Images ; Splash News (2)

Clooney knows how to strike that fine balance between privacy and media participation; after all, when you're one of the world's most famous actors and you get married in Venice, you're pretty much begging the paparazzi to come along for the ride. It's tough to make a quick getaway on foot down those narrow, winding streets, and it's difficult to hide when you're waiting at your water taxi stand.

But the Oscar-winning heartthrob and his bride didn't seem to mind the attention.

George Clooney, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber enjoyed a morning coffee date.Photo: EPA

We saw him smiling while stepping into water taxis, waving to the crowd. There was Clooney sharing a wedding-day morning coffee with Crawford and Gerber — even bantering with photographers, who shouted, "Is this really happening, George?" "Yeah, right now!" Clooney replied in mock alarm, pretending to check his watch-less wrist for the time.

Even Clooney's regular Venetian taxi driver, Alessandro Greco, had been invited to the wedding and intended to take the day off from the taxi business, leaving his assistant in charge, according to reports from Us Weekly. (Greco also reportedly acted as witness at the couple's civil ceremony on Monday.)

But in a way, it was like we were all invited. There was so much for the casual laptop observer to enjoy about the occasion, not the least of which was the fact that the dapper Clooney's new wife is a 36-year-old human rights lawyer who, by pretty much everyone's account, is a wonderful person, in addition to being incredibly intelligent and great at what she does. Seriously, I have lawyer friends who have worked with her, and they rave about her. When was the last time you heard a lawyer say something good about another lawyer — or anyone, for that matter?

Bill Murray waves to the crowd while on a boat.Photo: Splash News

But what really knocked the whole thing out of the park — the Laguna, as it were — was the fact that Bill Murray was a wedding guest.

The 64-year-old actor recently delivered fantastic love advice to a Charleston, S.C., bachelor party he crashed.

"If you have someone that you think is The One, don't just sort of think in your ordinary mind, 'OK, let's pick a date. Let's plan this and make a party and get married,' " he advised. "Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you're still in love with that person, get married at the airport."

We can only hope that he delivered a similarly awesome toast to Clooney and his lady, and that it will at some point (soon, please) be leaked to an eager public. Don't let us down, Bill!

Auguri, George and Amal!

Where were Brangelina?

This probably halved the catering bill. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their gigantic brood of children were wedding no-shows. Rumors had Clooney falling-out with his friend because Pitt's young'uns trashed his Lake Como palace.

More likely: scheduling conflicts.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Four spectacular outfits and a wedding for Mrs. Clooney

Modal Trigger

Over the course of her wedding weekend, Amal was spotted wearing: Giambattista Valli, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney. Photo: INF ; GC Images ; Splash News (2)

Blooming Bride

Amal in Giambattista Valli CouturePhoto: Getty Images

The bride wore Oscar de la Renta for the Saturday nuptials, but her first post-wedding appearance on Sunday called for something equally exquisite. Cue this Giambattista Valli Couture dress — a structured, floral macramé-embroidered number fresh off the Italian designer's spring 2014 runway.

Fit for McQueen

Amal in Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueenPhoto: Splash News

For a Friday night pre-wedding dinner, Alamuddin stunned in a scarlet high-low gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Printed in an abstract baroque motif, the dress was a dramatic statement perfectly suited for an evening in the fabled Floating City.

La Dolce Vita

Amal in Dolce & GabbanaPhoto: Splash News

Alamuddin kicked off her enchanted weekend on Friday with a black-and-white dress by the masters of Italian glamour: Dolce & Gabbana. She accessorized the retro-inspired frock — from the designers' spring 2013 collection — with slingback heels and a hatbox lovingly monogrammed "A" and "G."

Practical Magic

Amal in Stella McCartneyPhoto: Splash News

Following the formal fête, the British barrister settled on bespoke Stella McCartney for Monday's civil ceremony. The smart-chic ensemble comprised billowing trousers that extenuated her leggy frame — paired with a matching top and wide-brim hat straight out of an Old Hollywood film.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Why hasn’t Kim Jong Un been seen for 3 weeks?

Written By kom nampuldu on Senin, 29 September 2014 | 20.50

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's authoritarian leader makes no public appearances for three weeks, skipping a high-profile event he usually attends. An official documentary shows him limping and overweight and mentions his "discomfort." What follows is a smorgasbord of media speculation about what's eating Kim Jong Un.

Maybe it's gout, unidentified sources tell South Korean reporters, or diabetes, or high blood pressure. A thinly sourced British report says the Swiss-educated dictator has been laid low by a massive cheese addiction. A headline in Seoul offers up the possibility of a common South Korean obsession: fried chicken and beer.

So what's going on? Maybe not much.

As is always the case, much more than what's seen publicly is happening behind the well-guarded scenes with North Korea's No. 1. But just the fact that Pyongyang acknowledges that Kim is ailing suggests that he may not be suffering from anything particularly serious. The hugely micromanaged state media, for instance, were tight-lipped when Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, suffered major health problems late in his rule.

The intense outside fascination with even scraps of information creates a scramble in South Korea and the West to play up any hint of change or turmoil in a country notorious for resisting outside prodding and for releasing information only as it sees fit.

Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju watching a performance by the Moranbong Band in Pyongyang, North Korea on September 3.Photo: EPA

North Korea is unique: a poor, largely cloistered, fiercely proud, nominally Stalinist country led from its founding in 1948 by a family that has passed down power through three generations. It's also in possession of a handful of crude nuclear bombs and working toward producing nuclear-armed missiles that could target the mainland United States.

Because of this, there's powerful curiosity about what would happen should Kim Jong Un be incapacitated. Kim is believed to have been groomed for the leadership by Kim Jong Il after the elder man suffered a stroke in 2008. Kim Jong Un, who is thought to be 31, reportedly has at least one young daughter but no adult heirs.

The recent health speculation started when Kim, always a large man, began showing up in pictures and video noticeably heavier, and with a distinct limp. For more than three weeks, he hasn't been seen performing his customary public duties in state media coverage, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry, which monitors the North.

And then, on Thursday, his usual seat was empty at a session of the country's rubber stamp parliament. Although Kim Jong Il occasionally missed the meetings, it was the first no-show for Kim Jong Un since he took over after his father's death in late 2011, Seoul officials said.

The same day as the parliamentary meeting, the North aired a documentary with footage from August that showed a limping Kim inspecting a tile factory. "Our marshal continues to light the path for the people like a flame despite his discomfort," a narrator said.

In a picture released on August 24, Kim Jong Un inspects the November 2 Factory of the Korean People s Army.Photo: Getty Images

The documentary, which was shown again Monday, marked the first and only time state media have made a direct comment on Kim's health since he took power, the Unification Ministry said.

South Korean officials told reporters Monday they don't think anything serious is happening, but that hasn't stopped the rumors.

North Korea's propaganda specialists carefully construct their media images, especially those of Kim, with an eye on the domestic elite and, to a lesser extent, on foreign, mostly South Korean, audiences.

The recent images of Kim limping and the documentary are "an attempt to quell rumors within the North Korean public and show confidence that Kim's health problems are trivial," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Kim Jong Il was reportedly a very sick man in the last years of his life, but state media was silent about the reported 2008 stroke.

Kim Jong Un is usually a near-constant one-man show in state media, but he has kept a low profile before. In 2012, he wasn't seen publicly for about three weeks, South Korean officials say.

Senior North Korean officials do vanish on occasion – sometimes for good.

Kim Jong Un takes a photo with the Korean People's Army paratroopers on August 30.Photo: Getty Images

After surviving several earlier purges, Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was publicly shamed and then executed on treason charges in December 2013. In 2012, North Korea purged its army chief, which also caused wild speculation in Seoul, including a report from a South Korean newspaper, citing "unconfirmed intelligence reports," that Ri Yong Ho may have been wounded or killed in a blaze of gunfire when soldiers loyal to him resisted an armed attempt to detain him. Ri's fate is still unknown.

Whatever's going on, avid North Korea watchers will get another chance for a carefully staged look on Oct. 10, when the North stages a celebration of the founding anniversary for the ruling Workers' Party.


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‘Transparent’ Season 1, Episode 6 Recap

Jill Soloway's breathtakingly beautiful new series, Transparentis about to become Amazon's first big hit. The show's pilot received rave reviews when it debuted last spring, and today you can stream the entire first season on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Get ready to meet and fall in love with the Pfefferman clan — a family that will either be torn apart or brought back to together by the revelation that their father is transgender.

When last we checked in, Maura's (Jeffrey Tambor) secret is out now and everyone in the entire family knows, including Josh (Jay Duplass).

How Is Maura Doing?

Maura might be learning how to be a woman, but she still has to be a father. He starts making errant promises to all three of his children with the caveat that they can't tell the others what's happening. He tells Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) that he'll pay for her schooling, Josh that he'll sell the house and give him some money to start a record label, and finally, he tells Sarah (Amy Landecker) that she and Tammy (Melora Hardin) can stay in the house. Obviously, he can't keep all three of these promises. Oh, and he still has to deal with bigotry from Sarah's ex-husband, Len (Rob Huebel).

Whoa. What happened with Len?

Len crashed a family dinner that Tammy and Sarah were hosting. He's obviously frustrated and confused, He not only became hateful, but he picked up a knife. Maura raised her voice and calmed him down. He explained it to him like this: "Baby, you need to get in this whirlpool or you need to get out of it."

So, Sarah And Tammy Hosted A Family Dinner?

Yup. They are building a family together in the Pfefferman family house. Bianca and Sarah's kids are staying with them. Maura's encyclopedias have been co-opted to enhance Tammy's design aesthetic. It's good. However, Sarah had the unenviable task of trying to explain to her kids that their grandfather was a woman. But we think the kids took it well.

Ali Is Going Back To School?

She wants study, uh, women's studies. She and Syd (Carrie Brownstein) sit in on a cringe-worthy feminist lecture that's being taught by Syd's ex. It's a hilarious scene that satirizes some of the more extreme arguments in modern feminism. Afterwards, Ali corners a trans man and pries into his personal life for more insight into what's happening with her father.

Is Josh Coming Around?

Josh is as lonely and as confused as ever. First, he goes to an online trans kink site in the hopes that he can get answers about his father's transition from a trans woman. The problem is this trans woman is only there to try to turn him on. Josh winds up seeking solace in a surprising place: the Temple. He goes to Shabbat services and afterwards has a sweet flirtation with Raquel, the female Rabbi (Kathryn Hahn).

What Else Happened?

We saw young Mort try to get young Shelly to give over a pair of her underpants under the guise of foreplay. She didn't think anything of it. Meanwhile, we also saw Maura and Marcy (Bradley Whitford) letting loose in a hotel. Maura wants Marcy to accompany her to a trans camp, but Marcy is wary.

Stream Transparent [Amazon Prime Instant Video]

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Photos: Amazon


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Ichiro makes mystery of Yankees future with 3,000 in sights

BOSTON — One future Hall of Famer ended his career on Sunday. Another doesn't know what's going to happen next.

Derek Jeter played his final game in a 9-5 win over the Yankees, hitting behind Ichiro Suzuki, who is a free agent.

The Cooperstown-bound outfielder made some cryptic comments regarding his situation in The Bronx.

"Obviously, there are a lot of things that go on that even the fans or media can't see that go on inside," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "But what I can say is the experiences I had this year … are gonna help me in the future."

When asked if he wanted to stay with the Yankees, Ichiro would only say, "That might be a question maybe you shouldn't ask right now."

OK.

But he would like to get to 3,000 hits with someone in the majors.

"Obviously, you want to get there, but that's not why you play the game and that's not why I'm gonna play the game," said Ichiro, who has 2,844 after a triple on Sunday. He added that he felt "great."

Ichiro was an in-season acquisition who played a key role in getting the Yankees to the playoffs in 2012. General manager Brian Cashman made a slew of moves this year that kept them in the race and now he has to figure out how many of them to bring back.

Chase Headley could stay on as the regular third baseman.Photo: Getty Images

"It's an interesting time," said Chase Headley, one of those acquisitions, coming from San Diego. "Not a lot of players are making it to free agency now. It's tough to do. Hopefully it works out in my favor."

While fellow in-season acquisitions Brandon McCarthy and Stephen Drew are also free agents, the Yankees are facing a big decision regarding a home-grown talent hitting the free-agent market — closer David Robertson.

"Whatever happens, happens," said Robertson.

Headley's case will be one of the more interesting cases, given the team's unique situation at third base with Alex Rodriguez on his way back.

"I know they have a player under contract," Headley said in response to a question about Rodriguez. "We'll see how that shakes out. We'll see what my role would look like."

He made it clear he considers himself an everyday player — ideally at third base.

"I feel like that's what I do the best," said Headley, who also played first base this season. "I want to be a guy that plays. At what position? Obviously, third base I think is my strongest position. I don't want to be a part-time guy."

While Headley helped stabilize the lineup, McCarthy was a huge addition to the rotation after struggling with Arizona.

"I was happy with the way it turned out," said McCarthy, who added he was also interested in returning to The Bronx. "It was a long road to get back to where I wanted to be."

Drew didn't find that success after his trade from the Red Sox. After missing spring training and the two months of the season because he didn't sign a contract, Drew never got going offensively and insisted 2015 isn't even on his mind yet.

"This year was totally crazy," Drew said. "I'm looking forward to a normal offseason. But I really like New York. They have something special here. We'll see how things play out."


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‘Django’ actress didn’t cooperate because of racial profiling at 16

The "Django Unchained" actress accused of having public sex with her boyfriend says she refused to give into a police request for identification because she was racially profiled as a teenager.

"Some experiences stay with us. When I was 16, my father was driving me home from a school play when we saw flashing lights. We hadn't been speeding," Daniele Watts wrote in an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times published on Saturday. "I remember my father asking the police officer what was wrong. The officer ignored his question and demanded information."

Watts made headlines in September after her run-in with the police went awry.

In her Los Angeles Times column, Watts says the incident during her teenage years left her father "disturbed."

"As we drove off, I asked my dad why he had given up his license when he had done nothing wrong," she wrote. "He gently explained to me what so many African Americans of his generation know too well: 'You don't want to mess with the police. They can judge you unfairly and make life very hard.'"

Watts went on to describe several more times in which she was stopped by the police, ending with her most recent incident involving her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, on September 11.

"I was standing on the grass near a public sidewalk when a Los Angles Police Department officer approached Brian," she wrote. "He said he had received a call about a couple engaged in lewd conduct and asked for our IDs. A few minutes before, Brian and I had been making out in his car; I was sitting on his lap. We were not having sex, and both of us had our clothes on."

After asking and answering a number of questions about her own actions during the stop — and about racial profiling in America — Watts asked, "If I had nothing to hide, why didn't I just hand over my identification?"

She answered, "But in saving myself time and pain, I would have lost something far more valuable: my right as an American to limit intrusions by police. … California law does not require you to produce identification simply because a police officer demands it."

Watts also warned against being submissive to police and allowing them to abuse their authority.

"I objected — and I continue to object — because if we are unclear about our rights, and we continue to believe that in every case when a police officer tells you to do something, you have to do it, as I was told, we allow the police to abuse their power."

Watts concluded her piece: "We have rights because people throughout history struggled and even died to secure them. If I had handed over my ID, I would have denied their efforts. And I would have turned my back on the 16-year-old who watched her father endure an unfair and humiliating stop by police."

The officers involved in the detainment are under investigation by the LAPD's internal affairs department.


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North West gets her own front row seat at Givenchy

PARIS — Mademoiselle North West is barely over a year old, but she's already commanding what fashionistas may have spent entire careers working toward: A front row seat at Givenchy.

Kim Kardashian and North WestPhoto: Getty Images

The celebrity offspring was seated in pride of place at "AA5 bis" next to proud mom, Kim Kardashian, in a revealing Givenchy black bodice look, and dad Kanye West. ("Bis" is a French term for additional, or last minute placing — which suggests that North's presence had been confirmed only fashionably late.)

The 15-month-old North West gave her mom a run for her money in the fashion stakes: in a demure black Givenchy tulle dress with patent black leather shoes and stylish thick white laces.

In fact, there was so much attention on the little star that people almost forgot the reason they were there: Riccardo Tisci's ready-to-wear clothes.


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SUNY offering ‘healthy breakup training’

Students at State University of New York campuses will soon be offered "healthy breakup training," while faculty will learn how to avoid sexual harassment.

The nation's largest public university system is taking a proactive approach to tackling sex crimes after 145 cases of verbal sexual harassment and 238 cases of sexual violence were reported last school year, according to an Associated Press analysis.

SUNY Delhi, for instance, saw a trend in harassment involving ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, so the campus now offers the course on breakups.

Pervy faculty at SUNY Cobleskill will get more training after too many were reported commenting on female students' cleavage or attire.

And two athletes at SUNY Plattsburgh were accused of sexual violence, prompting lessons for players and coaches.

SUNY's 29 state-operated campuses are now required to report harassment cases for the next two years to the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. That's because the feds found SUNY didn't always provide prompt or equitable resolutions to such complaints under Title IX, an amendment that protects students from sexual harassment and discrimination.


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Cuomo questions spread of terrorism while in Afghanistan

Cuomo questions spread of terrorism while in Afghanistan | New York Post
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September 29, 2014 | 5:36am

Gov. Cuomo wants to build "the most sophisticated homeland defense system ever designed" for New York, but said officials must first determine why terror networks like ISIS are growing at such an alarming rate.

Cuomo made his comments from Afghanistan, where he's visiting troops and officials until Tuesday.

"What's causing the continued growth of the source of the problem? Why is it spreading?" he asked.

Jeter goes 2-for-4 and ties a season high with three runs scored in a 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto.

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New Afghan president sworn in

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.

Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country's north and south.

In his first speech, Ghani Ahmadzai called on the Taliban and other militants to join the country's political process and lay down their weapons. However, extremist violence Monday killed at least 12 civilians and police officers as foreign forces prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of the year.

"We are tired of war," Ghani Ahmadzai said in a televised address. "Our message is peace, (but) this doesn't mean we are weak."

Ghani Ahmadzai, a former World Bank official and Afghan finance minister, wore a dark black turban popular in the country's south as he swore in his two vice presidents and then Abdullah.

Abdullah, a former foreign minister, spoke first and thanked Karzai for his service and the people of the country for casting votes in the millions despite the threat of attack from Taliban militants who tried to thwart the election process.

"We are committed as one in the national unity government," Abdullah said. "Our commitment will be fulfilled together as unified team to create national unity."

Ghani Ahmadzai then congratulated Karzai for a peaceful and democratic transition of power, and he thanked Abdullah for making the national unity government possible. The new president also promised to confront the country's endemic corruption.

"We want to be held accountable. I am your leader but I am no better than you. If I make mistakes, you should hold me accountable," Ghani Ahmadzai said.

Karzai — the only president Afghanistan and the West have known since the invasion — wore a wide smile as he greeted his presidential guards upon entering the palace. Karzai has said he is glad to be stepping down after more than a decade of what the U.S. ambassador recently said was one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

The inauguration caps a nearly six-month election season that began when ballots were first cast in April. A runoff election in June between Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah stretched on for weeks as both sides leveled charges of fraud. The United Nations helped carry out what it said was the most thorough recount in its history, a count that reduced Ghani Ahmadzai's vote percentage from 56 percent to 55 percent, but still gave him the win.

But the real power struggle was taking place in marathon talks between the two sides, often brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials. The political deal the sides agreed to created the new position of chief executive that Abdullah will now fill.

The inauguration took place eight days after the political deal was signed between Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah. Though Kerry played a big role in the political deal, the short notice of the inauguration date and events elsewhere in the Middle East did not allow him to attend. Instead, the U.S. was represented by John Podesta, counselor to President Barack Obama. Other notable guests included Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

U.S. officials have said they expect Ghani Ahmadzai to sign a security agreement with the U.S. shortly after his inauguration to allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends on Dec. 31.

Even as the inauguration unfolded in the heavily guarded presidential palace, two bomb attacks took place on the road connecting the country's main airport with the palace. One roadside bomb did not result in any deaths or injuries, but a second attack about a kilometer (half mile) from the airport by a suicide bomber killed six or seven people, police officer Abdul Latif said.

A bigger attack took place in the eastern province of Paktia. Police Capt. Mohammed Hekhlas said that a car bomb exploded near a government compound as gunmen attacked, sparking a gun battle that killed seven Taliban militants. Another police official, who gave his name as Azimullah, said four police officers and two civilians also were killed.

For Afghans watching the inauguration, that threat of violence and insecurity remained one of their top concerns.

"I hope Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai can bring peace and the rule the law in Afghanistan as former Afghan President Hamid Karzai could not bring peace," said Abdul Rahman, a 30-year-old police officer. "Our people have been suffering from the instability and poverty."


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US-led airstrikes hit four Syrian provinces

BEIRUT — U.S.-led coalition warplanes bombed Islamic State group positions overnight across four provinces in northern and eastern Syria, hitting a grain silo as well as the country's largest gas plant, activists said Monday.

Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition forces hit Islamic State group facilities overnight in Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour provinces. It said there were casualties, but that it did not have concrete figures.

Among the facilities hit was the entrance to Syria's largest gas plant, Conoco in Deir el-Zour province, and grain silo in the extremist-held town of Manbij in Aleppo province. It said the gas facility itself was not damaged.

Another activist group, the Aleppo Media Center, also reported the strike on the grain silo in Manbij, northeast of Aleppo city. It said the attack ignited a fire at the facility.

There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S. or its allies on the reported air raids.

More strikes Monday morning hit the town of Tel Abyad on the Syria-Turkey border, according to a resident on the Turkish side on the frontier.

Mehmet Ozer told The Associated Press by telephone that the raids hit an abandoned military base and an empty school, sending pillars of smoke and dust into the air. He said Islamic State fighters cleared out of the military about three or four months ago.

"They (the coalition) must not have fresh intelligence," Ozer said.

The Islamic State group has seized control of a huge chunk of Syria and neighboring Iraq, and has declared the establishment of a self-styled caliphate ruled by its strict interpretation of Shariah law there. Its brutal tactics, which include mass killings and beheadings, have helped galvanize the international community to go after the militants.

The U.S.-led campaign aims to roll back the extremists gains in Syria and Iraq, and ultimately to destroy the group.

The coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan. Several European countries also are contributing to U.S. efforts to strike the Islamic State group in Iraq, including France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Britain.

The Observatory says at least 19 civilians have been killed so far in coalition airstrikes.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said that it had confirmed the deaths of at least seven civilians — two women and five children — from apparent U.S. missile strikes on Sept. 23 in the village of Kafr Derian in Idlib province. The New York-based group said two men were also killed in the strikes, but that they may have been militants.

It based its conclusions on conversations with three local residents.

"The United States and its allies in Syria should be taking all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians," said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. government should investigate possible unlawful strikes that killed civilians, publicly report on them, and commit to appropriate redress measures in case of wrongdoing."


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More bodies found after volcano erupts

KISO, Japan — Five more bodies were found near the summit of a Japanese volcano on Monday, bringing the total presumed dead to 36, police said, as toxic gases and ash from the still-erupting mountain forced rescue workers to halt efforts to recover the victims.

Eight more bodies were airlifted off Mount Ontake before work on the ash-blanketed peak was called off around 1:30 p.m., said Naofumi Miyairi, a spokesman for the Nagano prefecture police.

Together with four victims brought down on Sunday, 12 bodies have now been recovered, leaving 24 near the summit. Exactly how they died remains unclear, whether from gases, suffocating ash, falling rocks or other causes.

Police said the latest victims were found near a shrine at the summit, the same area where other victims were reportedly found.

Japanese TV network TBS showed soldiers carrying yellow body bags one-by-one to a military helicopter that had landed in a relatively wide-open area of the now bleak landscape, its rotors still spinning.

The bodies were flown to a nearby athletic field, the surrounding forested hills contrasting with Mount Ontake's ash-gray peak in the background, a reduced plume still emerging from its crater.

The bodies were then taken to a small wooden elementary school in the nearby town of Kiso, where they were being examined in the gymnasium.

Family members of the missing waited at a nearby municipal hall.

More than 200 soldiers and firefighters, including units with gas detection equipment, were part of the search mission near the peak, said Katsunori Morimoto, an official in the village of Otaki.

The effort was halted because of an increase in toxic gas and ash as the volcano continued to spew fumes, he said.

"It sounds like there is enormous ash fall up there," he said.

The rescuers reported a strong smell of sulfur, Morimoto said.

Saturday's eruption was the first fatal one in modern times at the 10,062-foot mountain, a popular climbing destination 130 miles west of Tokyo. An eruption occurred in 1979, but no one died.

Japanese media reported that some of the bodies were found in a lodge near the summit and that others were buried in ash up to 20 inches deep.

The mountain erupted shortly before noon at perhaps the worst possible time, with at least 250 people taking advantage of a beautiful fall Saturday to go for a hike. The blast spewed large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky, blotted out the midday sun and blanketed the surrounding area in ash.

Hundreds were initially trapped on the slopes, though most made their way down by Saturday night.

About 40 people who were stranded overnight came down on Sunday. Many were injured, and some had to be rescued by helicopters or carried down on stretchers.

Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency tallied 40 people who were injured, including three seriously, and said it was trying to determine if any people were still missing.

Survivors told Japanese media that they were pelted by rocks from the eruption. One man said he and others went into the basement of a lodge, fearing that the rocks would penetrate the roof. He said he covered himself with a thin mattress for protection.


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Why Andy Kaufman might still be alive

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 28 September 2014 | 20.49

In 1980, legendary comedian Andy Kaufman and his writing partner, Bob Zmuda, wrote a script for a film called "The Tony Clifton Story," based on a character of Kaufman's.

On Page 124, there is a block of dialogue intended for Kaufman to speak as himself, informing viewers of Clifton's demise. Among the lines:

"On June 12, 1980 . . . Tony Clifton, at the age of 45, died of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Hollywood, California."

Four years later, at age 35, Kaufman himself would, supposedly, die — from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Hollywood, Calif.

It was no coincidence, Zmuda reveals in a new book, "Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally" (BenBella Books), written with Lynne Margulies, Kaufman's girlfriend.

Not only does he firmly believe that Kaufman faked his death, but that Kaufman will be emerging to reveal his great prank to the world very soon.

Longtime obsession

Zmuda believes the germ of this idea — and, it appears, many of Kaufman's mental-health issues — began with an incident in his childhood.

As Zmuda tells it, Kaufman, who first appeared to be "a normal young boy," had a grandfather he adored called "Papu" with whom he would "sing songs, play games and just have a great time." But when Papu died, Kaufman's parents made "a horrible mistake."

Instead of telling young Andy, his parents, fearing his heartbreak, said Papu "went away to another country far, far across the ocean and wasn't coming back." So rather than learning to deal with death, Kaufman thought he had been abandoned.

This, Zmuda says, is when Kaufman began withdrawing from the world. He would "lock himself in his room and start talking to the walls."

But it also, Zmuda believes, planted the idea that life and death "could be manipulated."

Kaufman on "Saturday Night Live" in 1982.Photo: Getty Images

"It was here where I believe Andy would develop the concept of 'bending reality' to suit his needs," writes Zmuda. "If his parents could fake his grandfather's not dying, Andy would just fake himself dying."

Kaufman, a "Saturday Night Live" regular who rose to fame on the sitcom "Taxi" and was immortalized by Jim Carrey in 1999's "Man on the Moon," was known for stunts, such as once taking his entire Carnegie Hall audience out for milk and cookies after a performance.

He began talking with Zmuda about faking his death several years before his "actual" death.

When SNL'er John Belushi died in March 1982, Kaufman was very upset — not for normal reasons, but because, as he told manager George Shapiro, "John Belushi is pulling my stunt, faking his death."

Shapiro, who recalls in the book that Kaufman truly believed this for a time, says Kaufman spoke often of faking his own death. "Could you imagine how this is going to blow everyone's mind?" he would say.

To 'die' laughing

Zmuda presents transcripts of several of his conversations with Kaufman on this topic.

Sometime in 1982, Kaufman called Zmuda at 4 in the morning, telling him he had decided to fake his death and insisting he meet him right away.

Bob ZmudaPhoto: WireImage

A half-hour later, as Kaufman devoured a bowl of chocolate ice cream at Canters Deli in Los Angeles, Zmuda told him what he was planning was illegal and refused to have any part in it.

Another time, they argued after Kaufman admitted telling a woman he was going to "fake my death by making people believe I had terminal cancer." (The woman's response, according to Kaufman? "She thought it was disgusting, and if I ever brought it up again, she'd never talk to me." Zmuda had to tell him that "people ­really get wigged out when you start f- -king with death.")

Zmuda also recalls a conversation in which Kaufman started coughing, and Zmuda said: "Stop with the coughing, already. I think it's a dead giveaway." Kaufman replied, "I don't know. Everyone seems to believe it."

Early on, Kaufman told people he was dying because he "ate too much chocolate." He had read a book called "Sugar Blues" that said that "too much chocolate can kill you."

"Maybe I'll just stick with cancer," Kaufman said, after which Zmuda asked how long he planned to stay dead. He said, "If I was going to be a little boy about it, I'd go into hiding for one or two years. But if I was going to be a man about it, it'd be 20 or 30 years."

Andy Kaufman in "Taxi"Photo: Corbis

Kaufman, Zmuda believes, found a "body double," someone with his general physical appearance, who was genuinely dying of cancer. Then he began changing his own physicality to match that of the dying man, including losing weight and shaving his head, and released ­photos of himself in this state.

Zmuda says that once, when Kaufman's brother Michael flew out to LA to visit his dying brother, Kaufman accidentally dropped the charade, appearing sick and frail one day but "back to his old self" the next. When Michael asked how it was possible, he was told, "medication."

Zmuda and Kaufman came to privately refer it as "the dying routine." In one of their final conversations on the matter, Zmuda says, they discussed his financial situation, since as Kaufman's writer, Zmuda's career was built around Kaufman's. Kaufman suggested leaving Zmuda money, but he said no, as it could implicate him when Kaufman returned.

By then, Zmuda claims, Kaufman had decided on 30 years as the time frame for his hoax and that he would keep Margulies out of the loop, letting her believe he had really died.

Even to Zmuda, who had helped create many of Kaufman's deceptions, it all began sounding "pretty f- -ked up."

"Bob, it's who I am and what I do," Kaufman said. "Nothing could ever top it. I've given it great thought. Besides, I'm getting psyched. I'm starting an entire new life."

Asked how he would start that life given that the world knew what he looked like, Kaufman suggested becoming a children's clown, which would allow him to wear makeup, and calling himself "something stupid like 'Zany Clowny.' "

When the body double died, Zmuda says, a switch was made, with the double buried as Kaufman, and Kaufman being spirited away to start his new life.

Alternate theories

Co-author Margulies doesn't seem to share Zmuda's feelings on this, but offers an alternate theory of Kaufman's passing.

Zmuda and Margulies reveal here for the first time that Kaufman was bisexual, and she floats the possibility that he died not of cancer but AIDS. The pair writes that Kaufman made them promise to keep his bisexuality a secret until both his parents were dead. Kaufman's mother died soon after he did, and his father passed away last year.

Andy Kaufman in 1978Photo: Getty Images

While it has long been known that Kaufman was a sex addict — in just one week, Zmuda says, Kaufman had sex with all 42 women working at the Mustang Ranch brothel in Las Vegas — they recall that he would also pick up men for sex in San Francisco's Castro District.

"Years after Andy 'died,' " writes Margulies, "a gay friend in San Francisco said that everyone knew Andy died of AIDS because they saw him in the Castro District constantly."

The book also reveals that ­comedian Dave Chappelle told Zmuda at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 2005 that his own infamous exit from comedy, when he walked out on his Comedy Central show, was directly influenced by Kaufman.

After being summoned to see the comic, writes Zmuda, Chappelle announced to the few people in the room: "Folks, listen up. It was because of this man and Andy Kaufman that I quit my job!"

Zmuda says he "winced" in response and asked, "I did?"

Chappelle then told Zmuda that "Chappelle's Show" "just wanted me to keep that same old step-and-fetch-it bulls- -t going. I wasn't going to do it! I don't care how much they paid me. That show was killin' me. Now I know how Andy was feeling having to do 'Taxi.' "

A late return

Toward the end of the book, Zmuda recalls how at Kaufman's funeral, he "didn't shed a tear" but "had to bite my lip a few times to keep from exploding in laughter." "Everyone was expecting Andy to jump out of the casket at any time," he says.

Zmuda believes that, given Kaufman's self-declared 30-year timeline, his return is imminent. Kaufman died in May 1984. If Zmuda is correct, then Kaufman is already late.

In the book's final pages, Zmuda addresses Kaufman directly, imploring him to emerge and laying out plans for how it could be done, including Zmuda coordinating a massive event at which Kaufman would appear.

Discussing his longtime code of secrecy with Kaufman about their pranks, Zmuda writes: "The only reason I'm giving it up now is that Andy set a time limit on this one. Thirty years. So I've kept my part of the bargain and kept my mouth shut. But no more. The prank's over. I want him back and he's coming back."


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Unions would rather have empty hotels than jobs

Is The Bronx making a comeback?

Unemployment in the nation's poorest urban county dropped below 10 percent in August — down from 13.9 percent in 2010, at the depth of the Great Recession.

Hallelujah?

Maybe. But don't pop the corks quite yet.

For while borough joblessness dipped to 9.8 percent, that still contrasts poorly with the city's overall rate — 7.3 percent.

More to the point, The Bronx remains notorious for its hostility to economic opportunity not linked directly to its politicians' own best interests. Indeed, the borough stands out even in a city well known for economic obstructionism.

That is, for its embrace of unionists, dead-ender environmentalists and ideological activists — at the expense of the uncounted thousands who come to the city every year in search of a future.

Consider:

  • In Queens, as The Post reported last Sunday, plans to rebuild a 487-room hotel at Kennedy Airport have fallen victim to opposition from a hotel-workers union.
  • In Brooklyn, the judge overseeing the endless Long Island College Hospital melodrama last week bought into a nurses-union grievance involving a handful of clinical positions — then all but wrecked an complex deal to ease the shutdown of a bankrupt hospital and clear the way for development of one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city.
  • And, back in The Bronx, the sad saga of the Kingsbridge Armory reclamation project drags on. The armory, a turreted, century-old behemoth, has stood empty and idle since 1996. It's arguably the world's largest armory, active or otherwise, and anywhere else in the world it would long ago have been put to productive use.

Not in The Bronx.

A proposed retail center for the armory that would have created 2,200 permanent jobs was rejected out of hand in 2010 by Borough President Ruben Diaz — who said that the positions weren't good enough for his constituents. That is, they weren't union jobs.

"The notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies," he said, infamously.

Well, no jobs is precisely what he got — or, rather, what The Bronx got — and subsequent development schemes haven't been any more productive.

Most recently, a proposal fronted by retired hockey all-star Mark Messier to convert the armory into an ice-skating emporium, of all things, is sinking into soft ice. Its principals say the deal is on track for 2017 — but they're suing each other at the moment, so who knows?

It's not just The Bronx, of course.

Large retailers who don't embrace the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union effectively are banned from the five borough, irrespective of the consequences for low-income shoppers.

Walmart's efforts to enter the city degenerated into low comedy long ago. No surprise, then, that the retailing giant simply quit trying two years ago — after being denied permits for a store in East New York.

The problem is that the city's political establishment invariably elevates labors' interests well above those of the millions of New Yorkers who don't hold a union card — but who ultimately pay the freight.

So now New Yorkers who can afford to travel to Westchester and Nassau counties reap the shopping savings — while those who can't, don't. (They're also losing out on a new, low-cost banking program for Walmart customers announced by the company just this week.)

Meanwhile, efforts by the Port Authority to resurrect the Ramada Plaza Hotel at Kennedy — closed since 2009 — have been equally unsuccessful, thanks to the Hotel Trades Council.

The union position is clear: It wants wages and benefits at Kennedy to mirror those paid at top-of-the-line Midtown hotels — even though the airport is, well, not in Midtown. And even though, as a consequence, the hotel wouldn't remotely be able to charge Midtown rates.

So, no hotel for you, Kennedy Airport.

Meanwhile, a deal to close Cobble Hill's Long Island College Hospital — all but blown up last week by state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes — was put back on track late Friday, at least temporarily.

Baynes, bizarrely, had ordered a major expansion in a nuisance lawsuit brought by the New York State Nurses Association — placing at grave risk an agreement to close LICH and clear the way for development of its Cobble Hill real estate.

But, in the end, he bowed to major pressure from Albany.

Nothing is ever final in this soap opera, of course. But this much is certain: While the (apparently) salvaged deal includes a new health-care facility, new housing, hundreds of jobs and mountains of tax revenue, nothing will fully satisfy the nurses' union and its activist allies.

Which certainly seems to include Baynes.

And Bill de Blasio, who has been in cahoots with New Yorks unions his entire career — and he has also made it clear that loyalty to his old allies will be central to his mayoralty.

Unions exist to protect the interests of their members, of course. And there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The problem is that the city's political establishment invariably elevates labors' interests well above those of the millions of New Yorkers who don't hold a union card — but who ultimately pay the freight.

Sometimes the hit comes directly — as with the brutal, economy-depressing tax load needed to fund, for example, New York's breathtakingly lush public-employee contracts.

But secondary consequences — opportunity denied by political favoritism and union obstructionism — are substantial, too. Especially at the entry level of the labor market.

It's terrific that The Bronx seems finally to be making progress. But imagine how far along that battered borough might be absent the malign influence of New York's unions, and the politicians they corrupt.

Much farther, one would guess. The city at large, too.


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Inside the plot against the middle class

Ever get the sense that the middle class is downwardly mobile, being pressed to the floor and squeezed to the limit? It's not happening by accident. Someone is doing the squeezing: a new class of entertainment and tech plutocrats, cheered on and abetted by a priesthood of media, government and academic elites.

Joel Kotkin's "The New Class Conflict" (Telos Press Publishing) paints a dire picture of the undeclared war on the middle class. What he calls the Oligarchy (Silicon Valley and Hollywood) and the Clerisy (the media, bureaucrats, universities and nonprofits) enrich themselves and gratify their own strange obsessions at the expense of the middle class.

"The New Class Conflict" by Joel Kotkin

This New Class, for instance, venerates the city and despises suburbia. They think you should feel the same way — and in innumerable magazine and newspaper pieces, they twist facts to make it sound as if America loves living in apartments and taking trains to work.

Though New York and a few other cities have seen population growth over the last 20 years, the real surges are out there, where the space is.

In 2012, nine of the 10 fastest growing metropolitan regions were in the Sun Belt, mainly in the Southwest. In 2013, lightly regulated Houston saw more housing starts than the entire state of California, writes Kotkin.

So, suburbanites are punished. In California, where the New Class reigns supreme, the middle class is being garroted by environmental and anti-sprawl strictures. Those who wish to live in houses are pushed farther and farther from their jobs, spending more and more on commuting and energy costs. Proposals being debated now would, for instance, allow only 3 percent more housing by 2035 in the exurban part of the Bay Area.

That will, of course, drive up the cost of housing within the approved development belt. Which is fine for the plutocracy that already owns property there.

War on the suburbs

Other California cities are pushing through policies that would radically restrict the construction of detached single-family homes, requiring a density of 20 homes per acre in many cases.

In the past 40 years, median home prices have more than doubled relative to household income in California. In Orange County, a biomedical engineer earning well over $100,000 may not be able to afford a house, writes Kotkin.

It isn't surprising that the state grows ever more top- and bottom-heavy. With 12 percent of the nation's population, California is home to about a third of its welfare recipients, while its 111 billionaires hold a collective $485 billion in wealth. The middle class is now an actual minority in the state.

Meanwhile, subsidies continue to flow to the cities: Sprawling San Diego is reserving most of its transportation spending not for its roads and highways but for a foolish mass-transit system that is expected to increase ridership only from 2 percent to 4 percent of travelers. California is, nevertheless, suing the city to get it to spend even more of its state funding on mass transit.

San DiegoPhoto: Reuters

Simple revulsion at ordinary American values and aspirations drove the initial elite snobbery toward the suburbs, which dates at least as far back as 1921. That's when sociologist Lewis Mumford derided the "dissolute landscape" of "a no-man's land that was neither town nor country."New Yorkers fleeing to Queens, Long Island and Staten Island built houses that were "blossoming hideously" at midcentury, in the words of historian Robert Caro.

Anti-suburban snobbery is now dressed up in a green cloak. "What is causing global warming is the lifestyle of the American middle class," declared developer Andrés Duany. Moving people back to urban cores would be a "climate change antibiotic," said influential architect Peter Calthorpe.

The New Class hasn't noticed that America, even as we "sprawl," has steadily reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, which have come down nearly every year since 2005 and now stand at 1994 levels.

Carbon tax attacks

The disaster fantasies of the Oligarchs and the Clerisy continue to obsess them. That would be fine if they weren't trying to stick the middle class us with the bill.

Last week, Hollywood oligarch Leonardo DiCaprio headlined a march for climate change, which in turn was cheered on by the media, the federal government and nonprofits.

Leonardo DiCaprio takes part in the climate change march in New York on Sept. 21.Photo: Reuters

As if to illustrate Kotkin's points about the close coordination of the elite groups he describes, take a pathetically low-rated Showtime show dedicated to climate alarmism, called "Years of Living Dangerously."

It was produced in part by tech billionaires such as Paul Allen and Eric Schmidt's wife, Wendy, and hosted by celebrity "correspondents" such as Harrison Ford and Jessica Alba, was promoted with an appearance by President Obama, who sat down with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to call for a carbon tax.

Got all that? Government, media, Hollywood and tech: Check, check, check, check. They're marshalling all of their powers to scare you into compliance.

The opinions of middle-class Americans are irrelevant to the workings of climate-alarmist machine: By and large, we don't care about climate change. In a March Gallup poll, climate change came second to last in a list of Americans' chief worries, well behind issues that the elites shrug off (drug use, the deficit, crime and illegal immigration).

Yet it's the middle class tax whose taxes subsidize the greeniacs, and it's they who suffer in the event of any new anticarbon legislation. Such strictures are designed to drive up the price of energy. Filling your gas tank and heating your home eats up a high percentage of your income, but these costs mean nothing to the oligarchy.

A recent carbon-tax law in Australia, exactly the kind of thing Obama was calling for, was billed as "urgent action to stop climate change."

It came to be understood, more accurately, as a tax on everything. And it would have virtually zero influence on global warming. Australians, when they figured out how the Clerisy had tricked them, booted the government responsible and repealed the tax.

Con jobs

Higher education is increasingly unaffordable, and many of the same forces are at work.

The government, with the media Clerisy cheering its efforts, offers cheap loans to "help the middle class." Those subsidies are in effect a tax that everyone pays in order to aid the next generation of elites. The extra money siphoned out of your wallet gets filtered through the government and into the pockets of the government-promoting universities, whose costs are shooting up because they keep fattening their payrolls.

Over the last 40 years, university bureaucracy has more than tripled in population — to some 750,000 administrators, who now outnumber professors on campus. All told, the universities employ 1.7 million people, most of them licking their lips at the prospect of indoctrinating 20 million students.

President Obama signs a memorandum on student loan debt reduction on June 9.Photo: AP

President Obama let the mask slip when he offered to cap payments on, and ultimately forgive, student loans when the graduate becomes a paid-up, fully vested member of the Clerisy — spending 10 years in a government or nonprofit job.

Yep, the regulators will happily pass along the costs of your tuition to the taxpaying suckers — as long as you join their cult and keep the cycle going. It's as if the Vatican spared no expense to educate the next generation of cardinals, then simply decreed that the general public pick up the tab.

Kotkin wonders whether there is a link between the business model of today's oligarchs and their obvious disdain for the middle class. Previous business titans — the Fords, Carnegies and Rockefellers — not only employed lots of middle-class workers but they needed the overall economy to grow to produce more and more consumers for their products.

Google, on the other hand, which is worth more than seven times as much as GM, employs one-fifth as many people, and few of those workers can be described as middle class. Google doesn't add to a thriving middle class, nor does it much care if one is out there: Like most tech companies, it mainly sells eyeballs. It has no cause to worry about growing the base of people who can afford major items like new cars.

Where the old industrial-age titans had a pious glint in their eyes as they talked up the holy pursuit of American growth, today's oligarchs murmur about "sustainability." As in sustaining their elite status.

Elitists know best

Just last week, an archbishop of the Clerisy urged middle-class America to get over their fears and submit to their natural rulers.

We need to get over the childish notion that we don't need a responsible leadership class, that power can be wielded directly by the people. - David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks noted that Congress hasn't passed much legislation lately. The assumption he didn't even need to state is that regulatory growth is, to the Clerisy, an axiomatically good thing, like economic growth was once held to be.

Brooks thinks we need to solve this alleged "leadership crisis" and get back to churning out more laws with lots of input from people like him — Brooks is among those clerics who has secret off-the-record chats with President Obama.

You may think the relationship between a journalist and a politician should be like the one between a dog and a lamppost, but Brooks' understanding is that the relationship should be more like the one between one dog and another dog's butt.

Wrote Brooks, "We need to get over the childish notion that we don't need a responsible leadership class, that power can be wielded directly by the people. America was governed best when it was governed by a porous, self-conscious and responsible elite."

Don't bother calling Brooks an elitist. He just called himself one.

The crisis is exactly the opposite of the one the Clerisy detects: The middle are feeling left out of the decisions. Home Depot shoppers and Subaru wagon drivers don't have revolutions, but that doesn't mean they're not angry.

"Almost every institution of power," notes Kotkin, "from government and large corporations to banks and Wall Street, suffers the lowest public esteem ever recorded."

Many tech moguls, Hollywood and government figures (Al Gore is all three) profit handsomely (as Gore does) by reeling in public subsidies for the green firms in which they invest. But some members of the Clerisy aren't wealthy. Their primary interest, wrote historian Karl Polanyi, is in safeguarding their social assets and their status. This means steering American life in the direction they choose.

When Samuel Coleridge first used the term in 1830, he said the clerisy were the bearers of the highest ideals of society. Their mission was to transmit them to the less enlightened orders.

What if the rest of us don't necessarily agree with all those ideals? What if we don't want to be enlightened? What if what we really care about is our jobs and our paychecks?

Reply the Clerisy and the Oligarchy: Shut up and listen to your betters.


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10 Essential Stylish and Sexy Thrillers

September 28, 2014 // 9:00am

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Photo illustration by Jaclyn Kessel; Courtesy of Everett Collection

This weekend sees the release of The Two Faces of January, a thriller based on a novel by master of suspense Patricia Highsmith. Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star as an American couple vacationing in Greece — a pair that also happens to be harboring some dark secrets. When they meet a fellow American, a con-man played by Oscar Isaac, the three become embroiled in a complicated plot that has the couple chasing their new acquaintance to Istanbul. It's a sumptuous and stylish thriller, one no doubt influenced by other suspenseful and sensual films of the past. The Two Faces of January is available on VOD (find out where on GoWatchIt), as are these ten other films that made waves for their adept balance of tension and style.

1

'Vertigo' (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece is a spellbinding and gorgeous tale of suspense, heightened by the auteur's signature cinematic tricks, Robert Burks' incredible cinematography, and Edith Head's masterful and stunning costumes. [GoWatchIt]

2

'L.A. Confidential' (1997)

Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential is an incredible ode to film noir is dripping with styles — from the fashions (specially the gowns worn by Oscar winner Kim Basinger) to the set pieces. It boasts an incredible cast of actors (including Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe) and has as many twists and turns as any classic suspense film from the '40s and '50s. [GoWatchIt]

3

'Body Heat' (16981)

Lawrence Kasden's steamy and erotic modern noir stars Kathleen Turner as an incredible femme fatale and William Hurt as her lover, whom she convinces to assist her in murdering her husband. [GoWatchIt]

4

'The Eyes of Laura Mars' (1978)

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Photo: Columbia Pictures; Courtesy Everett Collection

In this cult classic, Faye Dunaway plays a fashion photographer whose controversial photos, combining sexualized female models with violent imagery, bear a striking resemblance to the crime scenes of a serial killer. As it turns out, Laura Mars can see through the eyes of the murderer, and teams up with a police detective to track him down. [GoWatchIt]

5

'Blow-Up' (1966)

In another fashion-centric thriller, David Hemmings plays a photographer who may or may not have caught a murder on film. Vanessa Redgrave co-stars in Michelangelo Antonioni's incredibly influential Blow-Up, set in the late '60s mod era of London.  [GoWatchIt]

6

'The Talented Mr. Ripley' (1999)

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Photo: Paramount Pictures; Courtesy Everett Collection

Packed with a cast of the biggest independent film darlings of the '90s, The Talented Mr. Ripley is less of a compelling adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel and more of a lush film featuring beautiful people bopping around exotic locales in Italy. [GoWatchIt]

7

'Skyfall' (2012)

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Photo: Columbia Pictures; Courtesy Everett Collection

The James Bond franchise repeatedly popularized some classic fashions, but Sam Mendes' dark thriller Skyfall upped the ante when it came to redefining a series that has become so popular it's a genre in itself. Turning the James Bond enterprise on its head, Skyfall breathes new life into a nearly stale franchise and presents itself as an homage to its classic predecessors. [GoWatchIt]

8

'Match Point' (2005)

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Photo: DreamWorks Pictures; Courtesy Everett Collection

Though a master at crafting a comedy, Woody Allen also proves his brilliant hand at suspense and drama. With Match Point, he mixes those together with a tale of a tennis pro who falls in love with an American woman, the fiancée of his rich girlfriend's brother. Soon, their relationship begins to threaten the lifestyle he has grown accustomed to, and he makes a deadly choice to remedy the situation. [GoWatchIt]

9

'The Thomas Crown Affair' (1968)

Steve McQueen plays the titular dashing bank executive who pulls of a multi-million dollar heist. Faye Dunaway plays a beautiful insurance investigator who figures out what Thomas Crown has been up to. Together, they ignite the screen with an indelible chemistry in this cat-and-mouse caper. [GoWatchIt]

10

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' (2011)

A slow burn, for sure, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy features a lot of intrigue and style, and even if it's not a fast-paced suspense story, it's certainly easy on the eyes. [GoWatchIt]


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How George Clooney has betrayed bachelors everywhere

Congratulations, George.

George Clooney with his new bride, Amal Alamuddin.Photo: AP

And by that I mean: condolences. Condolences for the end of your single life. But condolences to all of us, too, all of us who wish we were you. Because of you, bachelorhood is deader than your ice-hockey scene with Mr. Freeze in "Batman & Robin."

On screen, on red carpets, in your Italian villa, you gave a credible approximation of being a hep new Sinatra. In the "Ocean's" movies, you seemed like a guy who was having fun. You were gettin' paid and gettin' . . . companionship.

Lots of it, in a bounteous cornucopia. You dated every cocktail waitress, model and lady WWE wrestler from here to Zanzibar. You sat in the front row of the fashion shows looking as pleased as a dog at the butcher shop, and it wasn't because you were interested in hemline trends. When you paused on the sidewalk, women lined up not to ask for your autograph but to give you their phone numbers. At no point did you allow yourself to get tied down.

Matt Damon, George Clooney and Brad Pitt at the screening of "Ocean's Thirteen."Photo: Splash News

Money rained down on you. You goofed around in Vegas with Pacino and Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts and called it work. George, speaking for every straight man on the planet, you were living our dream. You were like something out of Hugh Hefner's imagination, except with occasional pauses to win Oscars and talk about Darfur. Apart from that blunder with the nipples-first Batsuit, the only unpleasant thing that ever happened to you was you having to hang around with Matt Damon.

Now you've thrown it all away. Derek Jeter is talking about following suit and settling down instead of continuing to do things the easy, no-strings-attached way — sending his lady friends home with autographed baseballs after an evening's sport. Help us, Obi-Wan DiCaprio: You're our only hope.

Derek Jeter and model girlfriend, Hannah DavisPhoto: Charles Wenzelberg

I know you're a humanitarian, George, so spare a thought for the little people. Imagine the damage you've done to Todd in accounting. If you allowed yourself to be fitted for a ball and chain, what chance does he have? Next time Todd goes for an Orange Julius, he's going to turn around and see his girlfriend tapping her foot angrily and angling her head at Zales. "Todd, George Freakin' Clooney committed! Why can't you?"

Poor, poor Todd. All he wanted was a little nooky to unwind after the manly rigors of the evening shift on "Call of Duty," but thanks to you, in six months he's going to be blowing his life savings on lilac arrangements and lobster thermidor, and two years after that he'll be ruled by the iron dictates of mortgages, babies and Real Simple magazine. Bye-bye, "Call of Duty." Bye-bye, nooky. Bye-bye, Todd's personality.

George, dudes like to think of you as you were in "Gravity": Drifting jauntily in space, cracking jokes and untethered to any woman. We know you didn't really die when you went your own way. You just needed to make up some excuse so you could go hook up with a hottie at a cocktail bar on Mars.


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There’s something in the water at Charli XCX’s hometown

Charli XCX is prepping her concert tour and new album release, so we thought we'd do some digging into the "Boom Clap" singer's pop credentials. It turns out there's something in the water in her hometown of Bishop's Stortford in the UK.

The punky princess, who wrote Icona Pop's "I Love It," attended the same college as Ed Sheeran's manager, Stuart Camp, and Adele's producer, Paul Epworth, and Katy Perry's ex-husband, Russell Brand.

Bubbly Charli described the village to On the Money, "It's cool — a small town north of London. It's kind of quiet, with a few pubs you can play music in."

Her tour kicks off this weekend in Florida and the album, "Sucker," drops on Dec. 16 via Atlantic/Neon Gold, which is under Warner Music.

"I'm so excited for the US tour," she says, adding, "It's going to be punk Barbie girl." Interpret that as you will.

There may also be something in the water at Atlantic. The label has fielded a host of No. 1 albums in recent months, from Wiz Khalifa to Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Trey Songz.


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Raúl De Molina: Networks need to pay attention to Hispanics

Univision TV host and former paparazzi photographer Raúl De Molina was in town last week, drawing a parade of fans of his afternoon show as he visited restaurants across the city.

Bon viveur De Molina treated "On the Money" to breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel's Asiate.

His show, "El Gordo y La Flaca" (The Fat and the Skinny), is a variety show focused on fun and food, but he's serious about the mainstream media's lack of awareness about the power of the Hispanic viewer.

Cuban-born De Molina is an AT&T spokesman but adds, "We have come a long way from the days the networks didn't even know the Hispanic market existed, but we still have work to do to get major networks to pay attention to Hispanic stars that compete in ratings with the top American shows. Now people know we're here, but they don't know how to use us."


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Developer in battle over landmarked buildings

A developer claims it is being forced to keep two landmarked but "architecturally insignificant" Upper East Side apartment buildings because of "anti-developer political animus," according to a lawsuit.

For years, The Stahl Organization has sought to tear down the two buildings at 429 East 64th St. and 430 East 65th St., which it claims are hopelessly out of date and "simply unfit for modern living."

Stahl bought the century-old buildings in 1977.

In 1990, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission decided to landmark similar buildings nearby, but declined to extend the special status to the two on 64th and 65th.

But in 2006, when the developer sought to tear down the structures and replace them with a "modern, mixed-income condominium tower" it says would be worth $200 million, the LPC changed course and landmarked the buildings anyway.

Stahl is now suing the city and the LPC in state and federal courts in Manhattan to overturn the landmark status.


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Recent White House intrusion wasn’t even the worst of it

The recent White House security lapse, in which a crazed man with a knife to scale a fence and waltz through the unlocked front door, is nothing compared to a terrifying incident three years earlier, it was reported Saturday.

The Washington Post disclosed an incredible series of Secret Service screw-ups, surrounding gunman Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez.

The Idaho man, 21, who had been lurking in DC blending in with Occupy Washington protesters, opened fire on the mansion with a rifle from his parked car on Nov. 11, 2011.

At least seven of his bullets hit the White House.

President Obama and his wife were out of town, but daughter Sasha and the first lady's mother were inside. Daughter Malia was expected home shortly.

When shots rang out, Secret Service agents rushed to respond. One drew a handgun as they frantically searched for the shooter.

Suddenly, the newspaper said, a supervisor ordered the agents to stand down — because he believed the sound was a construction vehicle backfiring.

By the end of the night, the agents had decided it really was gunfire, but assumed the shots hadn't been aimed at the White House. They thought local gangbangers were firing at one another from two cars.

They didn't realize bullets had hit the mansion until four days later, when a housekeeper found broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor. The president and first lady were livid when they learned of the incident, the report said.

The gunman, who caused $97,000 worth of damage, was busted Nov. 16 and is serving 25 years.


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Rob Ford makes first appearance since cancer hospitalization

TORONTO — Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has jumped back into the spotlight for the first time since being hospitalized for cancer, receiving a boisterous welcome.

Rob Ford speaks at his first public event since being released from the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment.Photo: Reuters

Supporters chanted "Rob, Rob," as he took the stage Saturday at an annual family barbeque.

Ford told supporters that he loves them and vowed to beat the cancer he was diagnosed with earlier this month.

Ford refused to step down as mayor despite months of scandal and an admission he used crack cocaine while in a "drunken stupor."

But he bowed out of the race for re-election after doctors detected a tumor in his abdomen. Ford is still running for a seat on the city council. The mayor's brother, Doug, entered the race to replace him.


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Derek Jeter to finish career as DH against rival Red Sox

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 27 September 2014 | 20.49

BOSTON — Derek Jeter wants to watch the replay of his emotional and scintillating final game at Yankee Stadium because he admitted his mind wasn't always right during the evening that pebbled a lot of flesh.

Nevertheless, when the retiring shortstop views the historic game, there will be a degree of emptiness because a game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against the Orioles that will be celebrated forever came in the second straight season the Yankees won't be playing in October.

"Of course, that's why you play, you play to go to the playoffs and have an opportunity to win a championship,'' a tired looking Jeter said before watching the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Red Sox to open a meaningless three-game series against at Fenway Park on Friday night. "And that is not happening this year.''

The Yankees long ago lost touch with the Orioles, who ran away with the AL East. On Wednesday, they were eliminated from the race for the second wild-card spot. Yet the scene at Yankee Stadium late Thursday night looked and sounded as if the Yankees won their 28th World Series title.

On Friday, reality began to settle over the Yankees' universe.

Jeter, for the first time ever in a big league game, told manager Joe Girardi he didn't want to play, and didn't. The plan is for Jeter to be the designated hitter in the final two games of his Hall of Fame career because what he wanted to take from Yankee Stadium was a vision of him playing shortstop in the home pinstriped uniform.

In fact, if the Yankees were not in New England's living room, Jeter said Thursday night would have been the final game ever.

"If it was anywhere else, I don't know if I would be playing,'' said Jeter, who explained that due to his respect for the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the Red Sox organization and Red Sox fans, his career won't end in The Bronx.

Talking at a podium, Jeter looked like the guy who said he got two hours of sleep after the Yankees arrived at the team hotel in the wee hours of Friday morning.

"It was a wide range of emotions,'' Jeter said. "I couldn't think of a better way to end a career at Yankee Stadium.''

The home portion of his career entered the history books in dramatic fashion with Jeter admitting there were times during the long day and night he came close to breaking down in front of teammates and fans.

The road part and his legendary career ends sometime late Sunday afternoon at a ballpark, where many games of baseball's bitter rivalry have occurred.

As he said in the days leading to the farewell in The Bronx, Jeter explained he couldn't describe what Sunday will be like.

"I don't know, I can't imagine it like being in New York,'' Jeter said. "That has nothing to do with where I am. That pretty much is as good as it gets.''

Girardi offered Jeter the option of playing another position and Jeter rejected that. A lot of teams, when there is nothing on the line, turn to a veteran to manage the final game of the season. Girardi gave Jeter that option and was turned down, too.

So, he arrived as a skinny shortstop nobody knew would develop into what he did. Jeter leaves Sunday as a lean, 40-year-old DH in a park where he was a central figure in the best rivalry baseball has to offer.


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