Daily Archives: May 3, 2010

Blumenthal a showboat? Say it ain’t so.

Our ridiculous senator-wannabe, Dick Blumenthal, has gone on TV to denounce Craig’s List. Nothing unusual about that from this man, but Craig’s List’s CEO’s response is priceless:

Deja Blumenthal

True to form, CT AG Blumenthal is once again indulging in self-serving publicity at the expense of the truth and his constituents — touting a subpoena on television and telling whoppers about craigslist “reneging” on promises — even before craigslist had been served with a subpoena.

As AG Blumenthal knows full well, craigslist has gone beyond fulfilling its legal obligations, far beyond classifieds industry norms, has more than lived up to any promises it made, and working together with its partners is in fact a leader in the fight against human trafficking and exploitation.

With his senatorial race in full swing however, AG Blumenthal won’t let the facts get in the way of a good photo op. Or as I heard while in his offices 2 years ago — “The most dangerous place on earth is getting caught between Dick Blumenthal and a television camera.”

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CIA “star” tasered twice while being arrested for rape

42-year-old converted muslim crack addict and rapist was “a rising star” in the CIA serving as station chief in Algeria and doing tours of duty in Afghanistan and Egypt.

Local ABC affiliate WVEC reported earlier this week that neighbors of Warren noticed odd behavior in the weeks prior to the hotel room arrest. The acquaintances said that Warren displayed his genitals outside his pants.

Warren is now in federal custody and was transferred to Washington on Thursday. The former CIA chief of station in Algeria faces one federal count of sexual abuse.

Hmm – I wonder how long it took the CIA to notice their station chief was hanging his genitals outside his pants?

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World’s largest sloop pulls up in Greenwich

247 '

Pretty cool boat, owned by former Greenwich resident Joe Vittoria (Avis CEO, once).

Although he does own a 31-foot power boat in Florida, something he calls a “runabout,” sailing is Vittoria’s passion.

“It’s cleaner, it’s quieter, you are basically moving on the wind.”

That’s sweet, and I don’t disagree with Mr. Vittoria’s sentiments, but when I checked the yacht’s website, I was reminded of the adage that the second happiest day of your life is when you buy a sailboat and the happiest is the day you sell it.  Turns out, the Mirabella is for sale. Oops.

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You mean it wasn’t the Tea Party?

The war continues. ABC:

Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there. There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.

Authorities said another clue in the investigation is a video posted online early Sunday morning by persons in Connecticut, who may have been involved in the bomb attempt and are being sought by law enforcement. The video, posted on a site registered one day before the attack, has the Taliban in Pakistan claiming responsibility for the attempted bombing.

UPDATE: a 19-year-old co-ed sold the SUV to the bomber. The feds say she isn’t a suspect and I imagine that’s true.

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Coming our way

Best of the Web reports:

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
“A doctor denied vital cancer treatment said yesterday that she had been betrayed by the NHS,” reports London’s Daily Mail. The NHS, of course, is the National Health Service, Britain’s socialized medical system:

Becky Smith, 30, has been refused a breakthrough treatment which could prolong her life by up to 20 years.

The drug refusal came after her breast cancer was missed four times.

Without the treatment she may only have 18 months to live, the NHS surgeon has been told.

She said: “I feel so let down. I’ve given my all to the NHS and I could give it another 20 years, doing the work I love. I just need this treatment to give me a fighting chance.”

Dr Smith’s NHS trust has refused to pay for the £23,000 [$35,000] treatment, although it is available from 40 others, including one only five miles from her family’s home.

She now faces the agonising decision of whether to cancel her wedding to her childhood sweetheart and allow her retired parents to remortgage their home to buy her the chance of extra years of life.

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I blame BP

Volcano’s ash shuts down Irish airspace. If they cared about our environment they’d have stopped it by now.

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A (somewhat) surprising contract

186 Shore Road

This a beautiful house and exceptionally well made but its location on Shore Road always turned me off as did the fact that its waterview was down a neighbor’s driveway. It started a year ago at $7.995, dropped to $6.995 and has just been reported under contract.

Not a crazy price, it just demonstrates that some people are less bothered by traffic than are others.

UPDATE: word is price is $6.665, plus a whole bunch of extras put in at builder’s expense.

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Market doings

471 Field Point Rd

New listing at 471 Field Point Rd. Sold for $7.2 million in 2003, listed today for $6.8

52 Doubling, on the market since April, 2008, beginning at $4.695, listed today for $2.999. Getting there.

1 Little Cove Place in Old Greenwich is under contract. Sold for $3.750 in 2004 and listed just a few weeks ago for $4.195, so that portion of Old Greenwich is holding up.

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White House: Times Square bomb was likely “internationally coordinated”

That’s bad news. The good news is that Al Qaeda seems to have run out of competent help. But send out enough morons and, sooner or later, one will succeed. This one almost did.

Full WaPo article here.

UPDATE: Just this in the lead paragraph:

The failed car bombing in Times Square increasingly appears to have been coordinated by several people in a plot with international links, Obama administration officials said Tuesday.

Today is Monday – are they just guessing what will be said? Or is that a typo for “today”?

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Here’s a gloomy Gus

Why real estate prices will keep falling in Connecticut’s Gold Coast: big houses aren’t selling

Take the town of Greenwich.  Situated on a beautiful shoreline of Long Island Sound, it is the residence of many movie stars, TV personalities, Wall Street executives and business moguls.  The town attracted hordes of buyers as median prices soared from $650,000 in early 2002 to a peak of $2.1 million in the spring of 2006.  Home sales consistently averaged 150 per month from 2000 to 2007.

Although the average price per square foot of homes sold did not peak until July 2008, this masked the gradual weakening of the low and mid-range part of the Greenwich market.  Sales finally collapsed after the spring of 2007, plunging to less than 40 a month one year later.  They recovered somewhat in 2009, but have plummeted again this year.  In January and February, a total of only 38 houses were sold.  The tentative March sales figures showed the town on track for perhaps 20 closings.

Where does the market stand now?  Since the 2008 peak, the average price per square foot has plunged from $924 to $580 – a drop of 37%.  There are 614 homes listed for sale on Trulia.com and 36 foreclosures.  That is a 30-month inventory at the current sales rate.  Reatytrac.com, the original source for all foreclosure data, actually shows 68 foreclosed properties including those recently placed into default by lenders.

With sales so weak, 34% of all sellers have reduced their asking price since posting their house on trulia.com.  But the average listing price on trulia.com is still $3.5 million.  Most sellers clearly have not come to grips with what has happened to the housing market.  Unless many of them drop their asking price considerably, their home will just sit.

UPDATE: Reader RealTorme points out the picture used to illustrate the article is the back of Tommy Hilfiger’s new house on 30 John Street that was priced at $33 million I think, and sold in 71 days. The author should have found another house.

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Low(er) end still moving

7 Nearwater Lane

This was a nice house on a half-acre that came on 45 days ago for $1.695 million. That was just out of reach for a couple of clients of mine but not for someone else’s, apparently because it’s reported as “pending” today.

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Marisa Noel Brown still partying on other people’s money

A reader sends news that our Marisa is in the NYT Society page having a grand time at a Boys Club fundraiser.Bernie Madoff was generous with his stolen funds, too.

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A pessimistic view of Greece’s chances

Between deflation and onerous tax hikes, it’s never going to happen.

The government is now committed to whack back the public sector, including pensions and popular social benefits; to raise consumption taxes to record highs; and to promote tax reform, in an effort to shrink the enormous black market, reduce tax evasion and increase government receipts.

Some influential economists, however, fear that such harsh measures risk killing the patient, even as they see the intensity of Greek pain as a serious warning to other countries that use the euro to get their own economies in order before the currency union itself is undermined by rampaging market speculation.

This new wave of austerity also risks pushing the entire European Union into a period of artificially low growth just as economies are trying to recover from the recession of last year, caused by the huge housing and banking crisis that started in the United States. Negative or low growth will increase already sizable unemployment and put new pressure on government spending, as well as on the banks themselves, and make it harder for everybody to reduce their debts.

“How can Greece grow out of its debt if there is deflation?” asked Jean-Paul Fitoussi, a professor of economics at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. “Deflation increases the debt burden, so we are following this virtuous circle that is bringing us toward hell. Economics has nothing to do with virtue, which can kill an economy.”

And, as always, there’s this:

Greece must either cut its spending sharply or default on its loans — which would badly damage German and French banks carrying a lot of Greek debt.

That is considered one reason President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has been so quiet on the Greek crisis, Mr. Fitoussi said. The Greek deal “is an indirect way of bailing out French and German banks,” he said. “The French understood this from the start, but Germany didn’t seem to.”

Katinka Barysch, an economist and deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London, said that that realization had hit home in Germany. “It might be unpopular for the Germans and Europeans to bail out Greece, but it will be even more unpopular for them to bail out the banks that owned Greek bonds,” she said.

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If it succeeds, kill it

Justice Department preparing anti-trust inquiry into Apple for its proprietary system. For three decades, Apple refused to join the Micro-Soft world and insisted on using its own, seamless system. Buy an accessory like a printer for a Mac and you knew you could just plug it in and use it unlike the Micro-Soft scheme where you’d spend tw hours trying to configure it.

And the government didn’t complain. Now that same policy, coupled with beautifully designed inventions like the iPhone, is finally paying off and giving Apple a significant market share as customers choose its product over competitors. And so, while we struggle with losing our competitive edge to the rest of the world, DOJ wants to attack one of our few bright spots. Great.

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Gee, fiscal conservatives have been warning about this for years, but nice someone else has finally noticed

USA Today: Unfunded state pension plans make us look like Greece. The only difference, perhaps, is that the Greeks could retire at 53 (the Germans who are bailing them out work until 67) and we, so far, have fewer state workers than the Greeks (who have a teacher/pupil ratio 4X higher than Finland, for example). But at the rate of growth of our municipal, state and federal workforce, I’m sure we can catch up to a backward country like Greece.

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Protestors at the Harry and Joe Show here in Greenwich

Screw 'em!

Nah, I wasn’t there but about 75 people showed up, according to Greenwich Time. Nice reporting by the Time, in that it quoted demonstrators at length and provided them a chance to make their point to readers. I liked this touch:

Most of the guests didn’t look at the protesters gathered across the street as they walked into the home.

Before he entered, [Selectman Drew] Marzullo did speak with some of the protesters. He said it was important to listen to conflicting views and praised them for the way they held the protest. He said it’s an example of the vigorous nature of U.S. democracy.

“It was done in a nonviolent way and that is what is great about this country,” Marzullo said.

Atta boy, Drew – I knew I liked you.

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