Steve Schwarzman Takes the Fun Out of Buybacks

FINANCE
• Steve Schwarzman found yet another way to stiff his investors, using the GSO deal as an elaborate cover to buyback shares of Blackstone without the typical benefit a buyback program gives to other shareholders. No wonder the Chinese, who have lost $1 billion on Blackstone, hate him. [DealBook/NYT]
• Bank of America bought Countrywide Financial, the huge mortgage company teetering at the edge of bankruptcy, for $4 billion in stock. Some observers worry the deal will take the bank down, but considering Countrywide was worth $30 billion before the mortgage meltdown, it may yet make B of A CEO Ken Lewis a king. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Merrill Lynch will likely take a $15 billion write-down next week, far in excess of the $12 billion some already bearish analysts had predicted. John Thain is looking to rescue the bank with still more foreign investment capital, but with the Senate getting anxious, that stream dry up. [NYT, NYP]

MEDIA
• Lou Dobbs announced his support for increasing interracial marriage "at a huge velocity" so we can keep Americans from "focusing too much on our differences." We're sure Sasha Frere-Jones will sign on for that. [Media Mob/NYO]
• Former Fox Newser Dan Cooper's most salacious claim: Fox has a "brain room" with the capability of tapping phones — including Cooper's. He claims that's how he got fired. [Portfolio]
• Was Maureen Dowd really in Jerusalem when she filed her Hillary Clinton hit piece from "Derry, N.H"? [Talking Points Memo]

LAW
• Patricia Hynes, the next head of the NYC Bar, has a long list of awards and accolades — as long as you ignore her 24 years at now-indicted Milberg Weiss. [Legal Pad/Fortune]
• The downturn in the credit market is what forced Cadwalader to fire 5 percent of its lawyers. Which big firm will be next? [Law Blog/WSJ]
• Would a few extra thousand dollars in annual pay raises really stop judges from leaving the bench for a multi-million-dollar job in private practice? [National Law Journal]

FASHION
• As expected, Valentino’s going out in style. His finale ad campaign will feature top models from the nineties like Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow. [WWD]
• Attention editors and big spenders: “Fashion Island” is becoming a reality. The United Arab Emirates is building Isla Moda, an island with fashion-themed residential villas, haute couture boutiques, and beauty experts. [Javno]
• Donna Karan relaunched her handbag line after a three-year break. [Style.com]