The Jodi Arias case just keeps getting stranger: After her unusual plea to jurors last week to spare her productive life (which followed an equally unusual statement that she would "prefer to die sooner than later") the convicted murderer did get a break, of sorts, when the jury deadlocked on whether or not to sentence Arias to death. That doesn't mean she's been spared completely. Judge Sherry Stephens declared a mistrial in the penalty phase on Thursday. But unlike in most states, where that would take the death penalty off the table, Arizona allows for a second penalty trial, with a new jury, which prosecutors have said they will pursue. A prosecutor's spokesman called it "a shorter version of the original trial." It's Nancy Grace's dream come true.
Bronx teacher Petrona Smith was fired from PS 211 in March 2012 after allegedly calling a seventh-grader "negro," but in a new lawsuit she claims she was merely teaching a lesson on how to say colors in Spanish. Smith's lawyer points out that she is also black, and “They haven’t even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who’s black to be using a racial slur to a student." But that isn't the only communication problem she had with her class. Students accused her of calling them "failures," but she said she just asked those who failed a test to move to the back of the room. And if you don't buy that explanation, she has another one: The students started it. Smith claims in the lawsuit that the middle schoolers had verbally abused her, calling her a "f--king monkey," a "cockroach," and a "n----r," but she never stooped to that level.
Hedge-fund managers are not, by and large, known for their progressive gender politics. Paul Tudor Jones, a Connecticut billionaire who starred in one of the all-time classic Wall Street documentaries and is known for his annual Christmas light display, should be more sensitive than most, given that he has three daughters.
And yet, Jones stepped in it the other day when he suggested during a closed-door panel at the University of Virginia that women with children don't often become successful hedge-fund macro traders because the pressures of child-rearing tend to "kill" their focus. Or, as Jones awkwardly put it, "As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it."
Medea Benjamin, a Code Pink protester who does this all the time, walked right into President Obama's big national security speech today and made her presence known as he attempted to discuss closing Guantanamo. "Ma'am, let me finish. Let me finish, ma'am. This is part of free speech, you being able to speak, but also you listening, and me being able to speak," the president said, a little flustered. "I'm about to address it, ma'am, but you've got to let me speak!"
By the third time she started yelling, though, Obama was super cool and grinning. "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to," he said. "Obviously I do not agree with much of what she said. And obviously she wasn't listening to me and much of what I said, but these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong." We'll call it a draw.
"Twenty-nine New Jersey bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, were accused of substituting cheap booze — or worse — for the good stuff while charging premium prices," the AP reports. The yearlong investigation — called Operation Swill, of course — found uses of dirty water instead of liquor and, in one case, rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring substituted for Scotch. Some belligerent Garden State drunks now have a new excuse; some were faking it.
President Obama’s speech today defending his conduct in the war on terror was notable for what he was defending it against — not against the soft-on-terror (and maybe sorta-kinda-Muslim) attack that Republicans have lobbed against him since he first ran for president, but against critics on the left.
It is a sudden and welcome turnabout. When Obama first appeared on the national scene, he was a political novice, a liberal Democrat who had made his name opposing the Iraq War, a constitutional law professor, and his middle name was Hussein. The need to defend his hawkish credentials was an, and perhaps the, essential task of his 2008 election. And the dynamic persisted throughout his first term, as Republicans used events like Obama’s attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and the Christmas bomber to revive their weak-on-terror caricature.
There are many, many reasons why the Rangers are facing elimination in Game 4 of the conference semifinals tonight: Their power play has been comically inept, Brad Richards has played his way out of the lineup (and quite possibly out of New York), and they've had to go the entire series thus far without their best defenseman, the injured Marc Staal. They're losing battles along the boards, making poor decisions when they do have the puck, and learning that they can't always rely on their goaltender to steal them games. It's really been quite the mess. But for now, let's just talk about Rick Nash.
Life is tough for hedge-fund managers who go to prison for insider trading. There are no Bloomberg terminals, the food is terrible, and you have to associate with petty car thieves and drug dealers in the yard. But there are some things you can do to make your prison stay a little more pleasant.
Absolute Return has an interview with Jeff Grant, a former corporate criminal and head of the Progressive Prison Project, who now advises convicted hedge-fund managers and other white-collar criminals on how to get themselves ready for prison after a lifetime of upper-class privilege.
You sort of have to admire Goldman Sachs's stamina. It's been what, like, three years since the Abacus lawsuit? TARP has been paid back, Fabulous Fab has already started his second career as a soccer-playing economist, everyone loves Lloyd Blankfein and his furry little beard, and Main Street has moved on to hating JPMorgan Chase.
It would be pretty easy, at this point, for Goldman to be all, "What financial crisis?" and go on with business as usual. And yet, the bank is still flagellating itself for its crisis-era sins and releasing long reports about all the ways it's going to stop doing Bad Things to its clients. One of those reports, called "The Business Standards Committee Impact Report" [PDF], was released at Goldman's annual meeting today. It's a fun read!
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