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    24 February 2009

    Disgusting game puts you in the role of rapist: Sex assault prevention groups, politicians voice outrage

    The cover, left, and scenes from “Rapelay” depict scenarios in the game where the player takes on the role of a pervert who sexually assaults women. photo By Metro New York Newspaper February 24 2009
    “Rapelay,” a Japanese video game, was recently pulled from Web sites such as Amazon and eBay, but anti-violence advocates are shocked it’s still available for download elsewhere. As described on mobygames.com, “Rapelay” players take the role of a pervert who, after an arrest for molestation, sexually assaults the young woman he first attacked, along with her mother and younger sister. “This is not what you want in the world if you want to end sexual violence,” said Harriet Lessel, executive director of New York Alliance Against Sexual Assault. “Does it talk about the seriousness of rape and how it destroys people’s lives?” Yesterday, she and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn urged video game distributors to pull the game. Illusion, the Yokohama-based software company that released “Rapelay” in 2006, states on its Web site that the product isn’t available for sale outside Japan. At a video game store near City Hall, John Ormiston, 37, was buying “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” “Rapelay” sounded outlandish, he said, but thought other games weren’t much better. He recently watched a friend’s 12-year-old son play Grand Theft Auto IV: “He killed a cop, stole the cop car, ran over people, saw a woman yelling out, ‘I got crack.’ He jumped out, robbed and beat her, stole the crack and got back in the car.”
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    22 February 2009

    Obama Plans to Slash U.S. Budget Deficit by 2013

    [NEW YORK.] >>President Barack Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy and cut spending for the war in Iraq as part of a plan to slash the U.S. budget deficit to $533 billion by the end of his first term, according to an administration official.

    Obama wants to reduce the deficit because he’s concerned that over time, federal borrowing will make it harder for the economy to grow and create jobs, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    The deficit Obama inherited on taking office last month was $1.3 trillion. The administration is scheduled to hold a so- called fiscal-responsibility summit at the White House tomorrow, with about 130 people invited, including about 50 members of the House and Senate from both parties. An overview of Obama ’s budget proposal for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, will be released Feb. 26.

    “We have been on an incredible spending spree,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said today on CNN. “So I think it’s timely that the president’s having a meeting at the White House tomorrow to talk about the deficit because we’re spending money at a very, very rapid pace, far beyond anything in history.”

    Most of the savings will be realized from increased revenue from Americans making more than $250,000 a year and winding down the war in Iraq, said the official. The New York Times said yesterday Obama will propose letting President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy lapse in 2010.

    Barbour Objections

    “I don’t think there’s an economist in the United States that thinks when you’re trying to get out of a recession and to create jobs, you ought to raise taxes,” Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program today.

    Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said investors won’t respond well to an Obama administration plan for higher taxes. “Wait ‘til you see the markets’ reaction to what he unveils later this week,” he said.

    Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” disagreed. The idea that “raising taxes on the richest people” will harm the economy is “rubbish and it ignores history,” he said.

    ‘Same Arguments’

    “We heard these same arguments when Bill Clinton raised taxes on the top 2 percent of the richest people in America to get rid of the deficit,” Rendell said. “He got rid of the deficit. And guess what happened? We produced 24 million new jobs. We had the eight years that were the most successful in the second half economically of the 20th century.”

    To increase revenue, Obama will also propose taxing the investment income of hedge-fund and private-equity partners at ordinary tax rates, which are now as high as 35 percent and may rise to 39.6 percent under the administration’s plan, the Times reported yesterday. They are currently taxed at the capital- gains rate of as much as 15 percent.

    Obama promised during the campaign that he would slash federal programs that weren’t working. “The president has said he can’t kick the can down the road anymore,” Kenneth Baer, spokesman for the White House budget office, said last week.

    The $1.3 trillion deficit Obama inherited equals 9.2 percent of gross domestic product, said the administration official. The administration’s budget proposal cuts the deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2013, at the end of Obama ’s first term.

    Workers’ Paychecks

    Obama yesterday talked about the importance of reining in the ballooning federal deficit in his weekly address. He said the Treasury Department will begin ordering employers today to cut taxes taken from workers’ paychecks as part of his effort to pull the economy out of a recession.

    The president said a “typical” family will start getting at least an extra $65 a month by April 1 as a result of the $787 billion stimulus package he signed into law this week. He said the measure is only a “first step.”

    The president has also pledged $275 billion to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and plans to announce measures to stabilize banks. Companies from General Motors Corp. to Alcoa Inc. are slashing jobs and cutting production as the recession threatens to become the worst slump in the postwar era.

    Falling Home Sales

    Government reports this week are likely to show sales of new homes plunged to a record low in January while durable goods orders dropped for a sixth month, economists said.

    A Feb. 26 Commerce Department report will show new-home sales fell to 324,000 on an annual basis, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The same day, the department may report demand for goods meant to last several years dropped 2.5 percent.

    A surge in foreclosures and plummeting demand for homes has depressed prices, sending the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index down 18.3 percent in December from a year earlier, according to a separate Bloomberg survey. Meanwhile, shrinking household worth pushed auto sales in January to the lowest level in more than 26 years, and factories are scaling back production as demand from consumers and businesses erodes.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    Crews begin work on 7 line extension

    7 symbol7 symbolFlushing Local and Express

    The front of a tunnel-boring machine was lowered into a hole, 125 feet deep, near 11th Avenue Thursday, after Mayor Bloomberg hailed his extension of the 7 subway line as critical to the city’s future. Others worried that hole might become a drain on the MTA.

    From the hole at 25th Street, the machine will dig a tunnel north past the new line’s only station at 34th Street and then turn east on 41st, where it will continue to Times Square. The 1.5-mile line is “being paid for by the city,” Bloomberg said, but the city’s refusal to guarantee cost overruns has already led to the dropping of a planned second station at 10th Avenue. It also won’t pay nearly $200 million for the new cars needed to make the extension run.

    “We’re going to do this on-time and on-budget,” Bloomberg said confidently. “The city’s involved.”

    The city’s financing the project with $2.1 billion in bonds that will be repaid from tax revenues realized from the future development of the Hudson Yards area. But the credit crunch has now delayed a deal to build office and apartment towers over the MTA’s West Side rail yards, and the city has yet to move on an additional bond offering.

    “I’m worried,” said rider advocate Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. He points to estimates that the 7 line extension could ultimately cost $3.5 billion to $4 billion. “You tell me where the money’s going to come from,” he said. “The project is a threat to the MTA’s finances and the rest of its capital program.” 

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    16 February 2009

    Asnycnow15 World News February 16th

    Bird Flu Has Hong Kong. Legislators are concerned that the latest bird flu scare on the mainland could lead to an epidemic on a scale comparable to SARS in 2003. There’ve been eight reported cases of human bird flu so far this year in different parts of China. Civic Party leader Audrey Eu accused the Hong Kong government of not taking enough precautionary measures. She said answers given by the Secretary for Food and Health, York Chow, at a meeting were merely recitations of existing policies against bird flu.

    Cops Suspect Man Was Eaten By Tribe. Six Indians from a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon have been accused of cannibalism. Brazilian police charged the members of the Kulina tribe with murdering Ocelio Alves de Carvalho, a 21-year-old local farmer, and eating parts of his body.  

    According to the police, the body was quartered and then carved up, with more than 100 cuts. Several organs, including his heart, brain and liver, were missing when the body was found. 

    Danish Criminals Take Toll On Blood. People all over Denmark are getting phone calls from their local blood banks because of a war in the criminal underworld. A gang war has caused a great deal of shootings and stabbings in the last few months, and so the Danish blood bank is in dire need of 600 extra blood donors in order to save the victims in the ongoing fighting. 

    NBA. Everyone knows what’s good about the league right now. Kobe and LeBron are unstoppable, the Celtics are the best defensive team again and the Spurs are shockingly back in the mix.

    On the third stop on our preseason tour through the American League East, we check in with the Toronto Blue Jays. Warning: If you don’t like sad stories, this might not be the column for you.

    There was a little humble pie dished out at the T.D. Banknorth Garden this past week. The World Champion Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins, possessors of the NHL's best record, hosted some fellow contenders at home in the last seven days, and lets just say that the results left something to be desired.


    Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, said global insurance rates need to rise to reflect a projected increase in losses related to natural disasters.

    General Motors Corp., the biggest U.S. carmaker, should sell its Opel and Vauxhall brands because plans to keep and reorganize the European units put them at risk of closure, the company’s labor leaders in the region said.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English. [http://twitter.com/Asnycnow15News]

    Chavez Wins Term Limit Vote, Opens Campaign for 2012

    BLOOMBERG.   Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez scored a victory in his drive to stay in power as voters scrapped constitutional term limits that would have forced him from office in 2013.

    The amendment carried with 54.4 percent of the vote to 45.6 percent, according to preliminary results, said Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council. The referendum marked the second time in 14 months Chavez sought to remove the limits that kept him from seeking unlimited re-election.

    “I’ve received an injection of patriotic fire,” Chavez , 54, said last night in a victory speech from a balcony at the Miraflores presidential palace as thousands of supporters cheered and waved flags below. “I’ll dedicate myself for life to the service of the Venezuelan people.”

    Chavez now has a chance to extend his drive to turn the oil- exporting country into a socialist state, which he says will take until 2019. Without a constitutional check on his power, the former army lieutenant colonel may stay in office indefinitely, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said.

    Chavez already controls Venezuela’s energy wealth through the state oil company, and holds sway over congress and the courts through supporters and appointees, Lopez said in an interview.


    The president, who celebrated 10 years in office on Feb. 2, announced he’ll be a candidate in 2012 as fireworks were launched across Caracas. Chavez has spent billions of dollars in oil revenue to offer free health care, subsidized groceries and reading programs for the poor.

    “He’s clearly going to be very emboldened,” said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue. “He’s going to move ahead in radical fashion with his revolution.”

    Voters narrowly rejected removing term limits in 2007, Chavez ’s first electoral defeat since winning the presidency in 1998.

    In the referendum, Chavez regained some of the support he lost in 2007, when the country suffered widespread food shortages. More than 6 million votes were cast in favor of the amendment yesterday, 1.6 million more than in the last referendum. Still, that’s short of the 7.3 million votes Chavez won in the 2006 presidential elections.

    The opposition garnered 5 million votes yesterday, an increase of about 535,000 over 2007.

    ‘Passed the Barrier’

    “We’ve passed the barrier of 5 million,” opposition leader Omar Barboza said in comments broadcast by Globovision. “We’ll continue with our proposal of a different country. Sooner or later we’ll triumph.”

    Chavez , known for his confrontational style, adopted a conciliatory tone toward the opposition in a news conference yesterday, and on the day before the vote offered to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama anytime. He regularly accused former President George W. Bush of aiding Venezuela’s opposition, and last year expelled the U.S. ambassador in Caracas.

    Chavez rushed to hold the referendum ahead of a looming economic recession. He proposed the vote the day after regional elections in November when the opposition won the three biggest states and Caracas, and instructed the National Assembly to act quickly.

    Venezuela, the fourth-largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S., depends on oil for 93 percent of export revenue and half the government’s budget. Crude prices have plunged 74 percent since touching a record in July.

    Recession, Inflation

    Caracas-based Banco Mercantil said in a Feb. 3 report that oil income will fall 66 percent this year, and Morgan Stanley forecasts the economy will contract 1 percent, even as inflation accelerates. Consumer prices rose 30.7 percent in January from a year ago, the fastest pace in Latin America.

    The prospect of re-election may push Chavez to take “needed but unpopular” measures now to deal with the economy, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Alberto Ramos wrote in a note to investors yesterday, citing devaluation of the currency, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar, and less government spending.

    New taxes and higher gasoline prices are also now more likely, Alejandro Grisanti, an economist at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, said today in a research note.

    The price on the government’s benchmark bonds due in 2027 was quoted at 51.42 cents on the dollar in European trading at 3:24 p.m. in London, down from 51.90 cents on Feb. 13. The yield on the debt rose 0.121 basis points to 18.65 percent, almost double the 9.34 percent yield from a year ago. A basis point is equivalent to 0.01 percentage point.

    Unpaid Bills

    There are already signs the government is low on cash. Chavez ordered the central bank to transfer $12 billion of reserves into a development fund last month. Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez said yesterday the government may back out of a planned takeover of Banco de Venezuela, the local unit of Spain’s Banco Santander SA.

    Service providers to Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, have complained of unpaid bills and begun to take drilling rigs out of service.

    Still, Chavez may view the victory as a renewed mandate to squeeze the private sector, Ramos said.

    After his 2006 re-election, he took advantage of a five-year run-up in oil prices for nationalizations. He took over the biggest telecommunications and electricity companies, a steel mill and the cement industry. He also forced foreign oil companies Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp. and Repsol YPF into joint ventures as minority partners.

    The collapse of oil prices means hard choices lay ahead, said Carlos Luna, a professor of international relations at the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

    “He’s going to have a clock running against him,” Luna said. “People are expecting big things from him at the exact moment that the economic crisis is knocking at the door.”Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    Pakistan Acknowledges Mumbai-Attack Link, Charges 8

    BLOOMBERG. Pakistan acknowledged for the first time that its territory was used to plot the November terrorist attack in Mumbai and said eight suspects have been charged.

    Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s comments today reverse his government’s denials of any significant Pakistani role in the Nov. 26-29 assault on India’s financial center. Terrorism and cyber-crime charges were filed today against the suspects, who are accused of helping 10 gunmen attack hotels and other targets, Malik said.

    In India, whose officials have said Pakistan was stalling in the Mumbai investigation, the Foreign Ministry called Malik’s announcement “a positive development.” The ministry said in a statement that “we will share whatever we can” after Malik said Pakistan needs more information from India.

    India handed Pakistan and other governments a dossier on Jan. 5 that cited intercepted communications and other evidence to identify the banned Pakistan-based guerrilla group Lashkar-e- Taiba as the author of the attack. India demanded that the plotters be extradited and repeated today that “we would also expect that the government of Pakistan take credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan.”

    “The fact that they are admitting some culpability by Pakistanis is a huge start,” said Vikram Sood, a retired Indian intelligence chief who leads a New Delhi institute on international affairs. “But there still are very big questions: Why has Pakistan not made the ban on Lashkar-e-Taiba effective?”


    The U.S. government has pressed Pakistan to cooperate in prosecuting the plotters and Malik stressed that his government is doing so. “Our sincerity is pure, we have gone the extra mile,” he said at a press conference in Islamabad.

    Pakistan announced on Feb. 9 it would charge the suspects, after a meeting of its cabinet committee on defense, which includes Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the chiefs of the politically powerful armed forces. That announcement came the day before U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke arrived for his first visit to Pakistan as President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the region.

    As Malik commented at the news conference, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anshuman Gaur said officials were watching him live on several Indian television networks -- a sign of the importance of Pakistan’s response to relations between the neighboring countries.

    “People are watching it not only here at the ministry, but right across the country,” Gaur said.

    Banned in 2002

    While Pakistan formally banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002, the group continued to operate under the name Jamaat ud-Dawa, according to independent analysts and a United Nations counter- terrorism committee. Pakistan appears likely to be “seriously constrained” from any broad crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba by its military and intelligence agencies, the Washington-based RAND Corp. said in a Jan. 19 report.

    India’s allegation that Lashkar carried out the Mumbai assault is sensitive for Pakistan’s military, whose Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate has backed Lashkar and other Islamic groups as proxy forces in Kashmir, the territory both countries claim. While Pakistan formally denies supporting the groups, independent Pakistani and U.S. scholars, retired officials and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, have confirmed the policy.

    Indian Help Sought

    Malik said Pakistan’s investigation into the Mumbai attack so far has been flawed “because of lack of evidence from India, so we have sent a set of 30 questions to India for which we need answers.” He said Pakistan wants the full statement of the surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab, who is in Indian custody.

    Six of the eight people charged by Pakistan are under arrest, Malik said. He didn’t specify what charges they face or the penalties if they are convicted. While Malik did not specify the nationalities of the suspects, Pakistan has acknowledged it is holding several Pakistani citizens in its investigation.

    Malik named Hamad Amin Sadiq, who has been arrested, as the “main operator” in the plot, without elaborating. Sadiq’s role was previously unreported. Others held include Zarar Shah and Zia-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who has been described by U.S. and Indian officials as a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander.

    Funding was obtained in Spain and Italy and the terrorists used mobile phone SIM cards from Austria and India, Malik said. One person involved in the attacks , Javed Iqbal, lived in Barcelona, and Malik declined to give details about his arrest.

    The group used e-mail to communicate using Internet domains based in Russia and Houston, he said. Malik said the attackers sailed in three boats from near the Pakistani port city of Karachi and that one of the boats has been seized.

    Spanish authorities had no knowledge of any connection to Spain in the case and have been in contact with their Pakistani counterparts since the arrests were announced today, according to an Interior Ministry official in Madrid who declined to be identified.
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    14 February 2009

    BNO News: From Twitter To A Breaking Newswire

    The newsgathering role of mobile-phone tool Twitter continues to gather pace, as one subscriber capitalises on his account's success to launch a breaking-news service/news aggregator.

    As a Twitter service, BreakingNewsOn (BNO News) became known for breaking news before it hit traditional media houses' wires. The Twitter account was set up in May 2007 by Michael van Poppel, based in Tilburg in the Netherlands. He says he realised the value of news that September, when he got hold of an unpublished videotape of Osama bin Laden which he sold to Reuters.

    Twitter is a micro-blogging/social networking tool for mobile phones and web users. Launched in March 2006, it enjoyed an explosive rate of growth in 2008, with registered users topping six million, a 600 per cent increase in just 12 months.

    The service allows users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters (known as "tweets"). Messages are displayed on the user's profile page on the Twitter website (www.twitter.com) and also delivered to those who have signed up to receive them, so-called "Followers". (At this stage, the social networks on Twitter are not as large as those found on social-networking sites such as Facebook. Barack Obama, for instance, had 232,970 followers on Twitter and 5,073,529 Supporters on Facebook, on 4 February).

    The 26 November Mumbai attacks are considered a watershed, when Twitter activity marked the point (as Forbes reported on its website) that citizen journalism progressed to "real time". 
    "It was Twitter's moment. Users tagged posts with information or commentary on the crisis, turning a service that specializes in distributing short, personal updates to tight networks of friends and acquaintances into a way for people around the world to tune into personal, real-time accounts of the attacks."

    Forbes points out that Indians were already "infatuated" with SMS, which went some way to explaining why the technology was so quickly harnessed in a crisis.

    BNO News supplied 59 hours of continuous coverage of the Mumbai attacks, from 26 November. The BNO News blog (http://www.bnonews.com/blog) recorded on 3 December: "As the day went on, and as the news spread across the world, a record number of people joined BreakingNewsOn ...

    "BNO News brought you updates from local media, international media, news agencies and even BNO News sources in Mumbai. BNO News worked over the course of the events on a detailed casualty list which showed the number of dead, the injured and their nationalities for each local hospital. The list was updated several times.

    "BNO News also provided exclusive information from the Taj and Oberoi hotel management. Their staff shared up-to-the-minute details with our team about the situation inside the hotels and ruled out conflicting media reports.

    "BNO's coverage on BreakingNewsOn also grabbed widespread attention among our current followers with hundreds of so-called 'retweets' [that is, tweets forwarded to other users] over the course of three days.

    "And it also shows how journalists are following the service. De Pers, a national newspaper in the Netherlands, showed live updates from BreakingNewsOn on its website during the first six hours of the Mumbai coverage. Also, De Tijd, a newspaper from Belgium, cited information directly from our Twitter coverage in their stories. The story also told its readers to follow BreakingNewsOn for the latest news from Mumbai."

    BNO signed up over 1,000 followers during and in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. It now (on 4 February) has 23,517 followers.(http://twitter.com/BreakingNewsOn).

    The immediacy and growing popularity of Twitter has been a crucial part of BNO's success, and now Van Poppel hopes to expand the service into a breaking-news website (www.bnonews.com), planned to launch in late February or March.

    Twitter alerts will provide an initial news item and a follow-up link to more reports on the BNO site. Alerts will be labelled "developing", "urgent" or "flash". RSS feeds, email alerts, compatibility with instant messaging platforms and SMS alerts are also in the pipeline.

    BNO News "tweets" headlines from wire services and major news events, but currently does not link Twitter "followers" to the stories on the web. Twitter users often use URL-shortening services such as bit.ly to allow longer URLs to be used as links within Twitter's 140-character limit.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    Hank Aaron Says Bonds Can Keep HR Record

    He may no longer have the record, but Hank Aaron remains one of the classiest men to have ever played the game of baseball.

    There's been quite a renewed uproar in baseball over steroids during the last week. With Barry Bonds in court defending himself on perjury charges for possibly lying about his steroid use, and Alex Rodriguez admitting that he took steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers, baseball once again finds itself mired in the muck as America's dirtiest past-time.
    Whether this is fair or not -- certainly nobody in the NFL uses steroids -- doesn't matter, what does though is that baseball must try to clean up its image. Which is why commissioner Bud Selig has been scrambling to come up with anything that might appease the sports fan base, and even suggested earlier this week that Bonds be stripped of the home run record and that Hank Aaron be reinstated as the game's all time home run leader. It's an idea so ridiculous that not even Hammerin' Hank thinks it's a good idea. In an interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore published Friday, Aaron made it clear he does not want the record to revert back to the 755 he compiled in his 23-year Hall of Fame career. "In all fairness to everybody, I just don't see how you really can do a thing like that and just say somebody isn't the record holder anymore, and let's go back to the way that it was," Aaron told the Journal-Constitution on Friday. Aside from the fact that re-writing the record books could set a dangerous precedent, there's also the fact that Selig was planning on punishing Bonds for things that weren't even illegal in the sport. Not to mention that Bonds hasn't been found guilty of anything yet. Maybe the best thing Selig could do for the sport is step down as its commissioner. After all, he's the one who ignored the steroid problem when it was obvious to anybody paying attention to the game that there was one. All for the sake of keeping the turnstiles clicking, seats filled, and lining the pockets of team owners. Let Hank Aaron take over his job as King of Baseball, at least he seems to have sense and would restore class to the office.
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/English

    07 February 2009

    A-Rod Tested Positive for Steroids: Report

    Alex Rodriguez won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award when he played shortstop for the Texas Rangers back in 2003. But apparently he had a little help with his game. Four different sources have told Sports Illustrated that A-Rod tested positive for two anabolic steroids. 

    He was one of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs that year. A-Rod balked when Sports Illustrated confronted him about the steroid use at a Florida gym this week. 

    "You'll have to talk to the union," Rodriguez told the reporters. When asked if he could explain the positive results, A-Rod told them, "I'm not saying anything."

    Rodriguez's name showed up on the list of players who tested positive in the Major League Baseball's 2003 survey testing. The testing of nearly 2,000 players was part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association to find out how deep-seeded drug use was and whether mandatory random drug testing should be imposed across the league, according to Sports Illustrated.  

    A-Rod didn't get in trouble for his positive results because there were no penalties for a positive test in 2003, despite the fact that the MLB's drug policy had prohibited steroid use without a prescription for more than a decade. No one was even supposed to find out about the test results. They were supposed to be anonymous under the agreement, but the feds seized the tests a year later during the government probe of 10 MLB players connected to the BALCO scandal. 

    A-Rod was never linked to BALCO, the company that supplied high-profile athletes with human growth hormone for years, but his test results were seized along with everyone else's. More than 5 percent of the players tested in 2003 showed up positive, so the MLB imposed random testing with punishments for positive results in 2004.  

    The list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003 is under lock and key in California, but four independent sources familiar with the government evidence and testing results told Sports Illustrated that A-Rod's name was on it. He tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, an anabolic steroid -- and went on to win his third league home run title in a row and an MVP award that year. With 553 career home runs, A-Rod is on his way to becoming the MLB's home run king. 

    In 2007, the Yankees signed the 33-year-old to a 10-year deal worth upwards of $305 million, according to Sports Illustrated. But it doesn't appear there will be any cash consequences for Rodriguez's actions. Sources told the magazine there aren't any stipulations in the contract about steroid use that could detract from A-Rod's $275 million in guarantees.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    06 February 2009

    MTA Discovers TV

    There was a time when the New York City public transit system was a marvel of modern engineering. And yet it was only yesterday that the MTA discovered television, this just a week after they admitted that they can't figure out how to use GPS.
    In addition to the LED signs at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station that tell riders when they can expect an L train, the MTA Thursday unveiled video monitors that let riders know exactly where along the train's route the L is. The monitors show the location of every train on the line and is updated every 15 seconds.
    Just last week, after more than a decade of tinkering, Robert Walsh and Sassan Davoodi of the MTA confessed that the agency had yet to harness GPS technology that would tell riders the location of the next bus.
    "Totally unacceptable!" bellowed outraged City Councilman John Liu of Flushing, reported to the New York Post..
    Despite the fact that any moron can walk into a Best Buy and by a GPS for their car for less than $300, the MTA can't figure out how to put one on a bus and relay that information to electronic signs at bus kiosks throughout the city.
    Of course it was just a couple days ago that they started letting people submit lost-and-found reports via the Internet.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    04 February 2009

    Google's Creepy New Plot Tracks Users

    Google is releasing a new service today called "Latitude" which will display a user's location based on GPS, cell tower or WiFi triangulation of a mobile phone or laptop. While the software offers privacy settings and the company promises not to store location information, the new project is creepier than previous privacy-invading services like Google Maps Street View by an order of magnitude. The Mountain View company makes money primarily by selling highly-targeted advertising on Web sites, and CEO Eric Schmidt has gone on record saying the company sees mobile devices and location-based targeting as the next big revenue growth opportunity. Google's share price has plummeted to $350 from a high of $602 in the last year -- with even insider Paul Otellini, the CEO of chipmaker Intel who has a seat on the Google's board unloading thousands of shares. While Latitude is presented as a service to "See where your friends are in real time," even if you opt out of making your location publicly available Google's all-seeing algoritm can still use the information to better target ads as you browse sites with your smartphone. Black helicopters and tinfoil hats aside, it's not paranoia if they really are out to track you. [Source NBC BAY AREA-KNTV © 2009 NBC Local Media]

    Copyright © 2009 NBC Local Media
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    03 February 2009

    Porn Clip Airs During Super Bowl On Phoenix's KVOA

    PHOENIX — A Tucson television station's broadcast of the Super Bowl on Sunday was interrupted for some viewers by about 30 seconds of pornographic material, the station said. 
    A short clip from an adult movie channel showing full male nudity interrupted the Comcast feed came just after the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald scored on a long touchdown reception during the final minutes of the game, the Arizona Daily Star reported. 

    The 30-second interruption was from the adult film Club Jenna and showed a woman unzipping a man's pants followed by a sexual act between the two, the paper reported. 
    "I just figured it was another commercial until I looked up," Arizona resident Cora King told the Daily Star. "Then he did his little dance with everything hanging out." 
    A Comcast spokeswoman said she had "no idea" how the porn got into the feed. KVOA TV said it will investigate the incident. 

    "When the NBC feed of the Super Bowl was transmitted from KVOA to local cable providers and through over-the-air antennas, there was no pornographic material," KVOA president and general manager Gary Nielsen said in a statement. 
    The KVOA statement said the station was dismayed and disappointed that some Comcast customers and their families were subjected to the material. 

    "KVOA will continue to investigate what happened to our clean signal and make sure our viewers get answers," Nielsen said in the statement. 
    Comcast spokeswoman Tracy Baumgartner confirmed that the company's standard feed was interrupted during the Super Bowl, although she said its high definition feed was not. 
    Baumgartner said engineers were investigating Sunday night. 
    Tucson media outlets reported that they received calls from irate viewers about the pornographic material. 

    A spokesman for Cox Cable said the company had not been affected. 
    "We have received no evidence that any inappropriate material was broadcast on any of our channels during the Super Bowl," Mike Dunne said. "The alleged incident appears to be isolated to the Comcast territory. We will offer our support to all appropriate organizations to help them determine what happened."
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    Missing St. John's Student Found Alive

    A missing St. John's student was found alive and was reunited with her family Monday after admitting she ran away rather than tell them she was expelled from school. Erica Desai,19, called 911 Monday morning from a pay phone at Stillwell and Avenue B, claiming she didn't know where she was. Desai said she had been abducted, but after further questioning by police she admitted to running away. Desai had been missing since Jan. 20 when a cousin dropped her off at her dorm near Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway in Queens. Police said that university officials told them that Desai, a freshman, was expelled after being accused of using someone else's credit card. Surveillance cameras caught an unidentified man and woman using Desai's debit card at a Bank of America ATM at 44th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan on Jan. 21. Desai had also posted online messages saying she wanted to run away. Desai left the 107th precinct with her family on Monday night. She is not expected to face any charges.
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    Citigroup Backing Out of Mets Deal?

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that troubled financial giant Citigroup is considering pulling out of their $400 million marketing deal with the Mets. The deal includes the naming rights to the stadium opening this April, which was to be called Citi Field. The news comes on the heels of last Wednesday's letter from Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ted Poe to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The letter asked Geithner to dissolve the deal as part of the government's agreement to provide Citigroup with more than $350 billion as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. On Monday, Citigroup said none of the TARP money would be used for the stadium, but that's splitting hairs to the extreme. The public's been told time and again that the banks are evil and that spending money on a stadium marketing deal is bad. Citigroup could (and should) argue that having the rights to process every credit card transaction at Mets games for the next 20 years, and whatever other banking operations go on, can be profitable. Really, what's more damaging, the Citigroup/Mets deal or the government's continual demonizing of banks whose future is intertwined with the economic health of our country? That's the thing about easy targets, they tend not to bring much return on the back end. As for the Mets, the last thing they need is the loss of $20 million a year in revenue. Someone else will step up and play sponsor, but not for the same amount of money. The Wilpons have been adamant that their losses in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme won't affect the Mets, but at some point things will catch up with them. Teams rely on these sponsorship deals for direct revenue and, as Yankee blog River Ave. Blues pointed out on Monday, broadcasters pay their rights fees with their help. With belts being tightened everywhere, the loss of these funds could have a profound impact on the sports world. The Citigroup deal is the highest profile one, but it probably won't be the last one that goes sour in the coming months and years. [UPDATE]: CNBC Channel is reporting that Citigroup denies any talk of a pullout. Citigroup told the cable channel that they "signed a legally binding agreement with the New York Mets in 2006. No TARP capital will be used for Citi Field or for marketing purposes." Additionally, the Mets told CNBC on Tuesday that "Citi reinforced that they will honor our legally binding agreement."
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger
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    02 February 2009

    Woman Still Battling Landlord After Mistaken Eviction

    A local New York City woman who was mistakenly evicted from her apartment has been back in her home with her two children, but the drama continues.

    Joann Ritter is convinced that the leaky ceiling and lack of heat are why she ended up in a hospital recently with pneumonia.

    Prior to that, in November, she was served eviction papers and her furniture was left out on the sidewalk. It was later stolen, and then discovered that she wasn't supposed to have been evicted from the Bushwick apartment.

    Then, thanks to the generosity of strangers, Ritter and her two school-age children got some donated furniture and other necessities. Just in time for the holidays.

    But now, it's February, and Ritter is still battling the landlord over the fixes that she fears will sicken her children as they did her. Even worse, after she spent all day in court Monday, she learned the case is being postponed, and the building management behind the wrongful eviction claims it no longer manages the property.

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    Hero Pilot Sully Breaks Silence

    The hero pilot who safely landed a plane of U.S. Airways in the Hudson has finally broken his silence and said he felt "calm on the outside, in turmoil" when he realized that it would have to splash land in the river. 

    Sullenberger Chesley, known as Sully, described the moment when he lost both engines when the aircraft struck a flock of birds after taking off from LaGuardia Airport on 15 January as "surreal" and "shocking," said ESPN's Rick Reilly. 
    "It was very quiet as we worked, my co-pilot and me," said Sully, in his first interview since the accident. "We were a team. But to have zero thrust from the engines is shocking - the silence. " 
    The 57-year, pilot rescued 154 passengers and crew of flight when he set in 1549 in the Hudson River, after the aircraft lost power. He said he felt "calm on the outside, in turmoil," as he was at the helm as the aircraft descended towards the river. 
    Lori Sullenberger wife said the couple spent evenings opening fan mail. 
    "It allows us both to express the emotion," she told ESPN. "We both sat down and cried."
    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

    01 February 2009

    Need a Rent-Controlled Apartment?

    The New York Assembly's Democratic majority is rolling out a package of bills to try to make housing more affordable by bolstering rent-control laws.
    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has long pushed the issue of affordable housing, but with Democrats now controlling the Senate for the first time in 43 years, and a Democratic governor, Silver could gain support that has eluded him since 1997.
    “The longer we don't do this, the more apartments we lose from that affordable category,'' Silver said in an interview with The Associated Press Friday. “You have a foreclosure crisis going on, which is even more housing. That's a problem, so now obviously, we have a governor that has supported modifying rent regulation in the past, and we have a Senate Democratic majority that I believe are supporters.''
    Silver has been working on this since 1997 when he was forced to make concessions in rent-control laws that he described as landlord friendly. That year he delayed the adoption of a state budget for months because he was holding out to fight changes supported by former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, and the then-Republican led Senate.
    He had some success, but the changes still caused New York City to lose roughly 300,000 units that were previously rent-controlled, Silver said.

    Under the system established in 1997, landlords are allowed to raise rents and remove controls when the rent has risen to $2,000 a month or more, and the apartment becomes vacant or the tenant's income tops $175,000 a year. Those thresholds haven't changed since.
    One of the many Assembly bills would increase the threshold of tenant income to $240,000, and the monthly rent would have to be more than $2,700. The bill would require both thresholds to be met.
    “This has to be a priority especially during the economic downturn,'' Silver said. “It's clear that we have an affordable-housing crisis.''
    But landlord organizations argue that the reforms to rental laws in the late 1990s led to economic growth for the state. They also warn that making it easier for people with higher incomes and rents to retain rent-controlled units will depress the value of those buildings and affect the city's tax roles.
    “If you look back in the '60s, '70s and '80s you had essentially disinvestment in housing,'' said Marolyn Davenport, senior vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “We weren't building any new housing. Certainly the amendments to the rent regulations are one of the things that turned that situation around. We've had housing construction on a large scale for the first time in decades.''
    One bill would prevent landlords from increasing the cost of a rent-controlled apartment when the tenant renews the lease. Another would reclaim previously rent-controlled apartments in New York City that cost less than $5,000 a month for cost containment.
    “Re-institute failed housing policies of the last 50 years that caused all kinds of abandonment issues? We finally got a change in that, and now we're facing an economic crisis,'' Davenport, said. “Tenants aren't the only ones facing the economic crisis. Some of these rent-regulated buildings, some of the bills would roll rent regulations back for units renting up to $5,000 -- some of them are just protecting high-income tenants.''
    Silver said many of the city's middle-income workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, are most affected by high rents. He said they're the New Yorkers who are more likely to take their expertise and careers with them to suburbs when they're forced to relocate to more affordable areas. Another bill Silver sponsored would increase the penalties that landlords would face if they harass tenants or violate orders on rent regulation.

    It's unclear whether he will get the support of the newly Democratic Senate, but Silver isn't letting the housing issue go.
    “It is working men and women in New York who we are trying to protect,'' he said. “We don't want New York City to become the city of the very rich and the very poor.''

    Copyright © 2009 Asnycnow15 News/Blogger

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