Yep, it's official. Hillary Clinton is running to be Crybaby-in-Chief. According to the Tribune Co.'s politics blog, the Swamp, Clinton teared up after a heartfelt introduction by a former colleague at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, where she worked in college. The emotional speech led "Clinton's eyes to fill with tears, which she wiped out of her left eye," reads the report (so clinical). "Well, I said I would not tear up; already we're not exactly on the path," Clinton said immediately after. AHEM. Now, to be fair to Clinton, who after all is human no matter what people say, hearing a tearful tribute to you from a former mentor is exactly the kind of thing that would choke up nearly anybody. But it won't be lost on the press that she happened to cry just on the eve of an important primary vote, and that she happened to do so in a state where she has been losing her edge. After all, she is four points behind Obama in Connecticut in some polls after this weekend. We don't think Hillary was dumb enough to think that crying again would be to her political advantage — the last thing she wants to be seen as is weak. But there's no question that people will say it was a ploy. Come on, lady. You've been through a hell of a lot that was worse than this. At least wait until after tomorrow. If you lose Super Tuesday, then nobody will blame you for crying.
Hillary Clinton cries in Connecticut [The Swamp]
Earlier:Hillary Clinton: Minority Candidate
Harry Macklowe got a little carried away last year: He bought seven midtown office buildings, including the General Motors Building, in ten days. He spent over $7 billion on the deal — but only $50 million of that was his own money. So lately, Harry has been in a pickle: Next week, his loans are coming due, and seeing as we're smack in the middle of a worldwide credit crunch, there's no way for him to refinance. Which is why this week, The Wall Street Journal has just reported, Harry has made a tentative agreement with his lender, Deutsche Bank, to turn the buildings over to them. No more buildings for Harry. Well, not exactly. Even though Deutsche Bank would control the properties, "Macklowe would still retain the titles, to avoid triggering costly New York City transfer taxes, and Macklowe Properties would still manage the buildings." So basically, dude just went from being a mogul to being a super.Macklowe in Deal to Cede Control Of Seven Manhattan Properties [WSJ]
Well! Well! After their agressive three-quarter-point rate cut last week, the largest cut in 20 years, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and his merry Board of Governors decided to cut the interest rate again today, by half a point, to 3 percent. "It is clear that the Fed has moved into a crisis-fighting posture," David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors, told the AP. Great! Meanwhile, Bush was just on TV, and he was extremely put out that the Senate was cockblocking the $146 billion stimulus package, which sailed through the House yesterday. Seriously, he was PO'd at the Senate. ""Ah I understand that people have got different opinions, and we welcome different opinions in Washington," he said. "But they have a lot of 'em." Also, he really wants us to get that $300. "The sooner you get a check, the more likely it is that the stimulus package will break through and make a difference," he said. Right? Give us our cash, dudes. We've got some credit-card bills that have minimum payments coming due.
Fed StatementFed Cuts Interest Rates by 1/2 Point [AP]
$146 Billion Stimulus Plan Passes House [WP]
Today's a big day for third-place candidates, it seems. After news spread last night that Giuliani will drop out of the Republican primary race as early as today, news hit this morning that John Edwards is planning the same thing. According to the Associated Press, the former Democratic senator will make the announcement today at 1 p.m. in New Orleans. No endorsement is yet planned.
Edwards to Quit Presidential Race [AP]
Since his acquisition of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch has been flirting with the idea of freeing the paper's subscription-only content from behind its, er, wall. "That looks like the way we're going," he told Reuters back in September. But today in Davos, he announced that he'd changed his mind. While the Journal plans to expand their free online content, he said, "the really special things will still be a subscription service and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive." And, just like that, he totally kicked off what will surely become a massive internal competition over whose story is "special" enough to be paid for. He's so smart and evil we can hardly stand it.
Wall Street Journal Web Site To Remain Subscription-Based [WSJ]
Oh, yeah. House leaders and the White House this morning reached a tentative agreement on the economic-stimulus package that Bloomberg was so crotchety about yesterday. They're pledging $150 billion of government funds, to be doled out to the American public in the form of tax incentives for businesses and rebates of $300–$1,200 per family, provided you make less than $150,000. Don't go buying that boat — or, er, inflatable raft? — just yet, though. The plan may not fly with the Democrats in the Senate, who would like a package that includes plans for infrastructure projects and unemployment benefits. It also may not work, since (a) $300 is actually not a lot of money and (b) everyone in America will probably do what we're planning on doing with our influx of cash, which is turn it into gold and squirrel it away in our mattresses in preparation for the end times.
Tentative Deal on Economic Stimulus Plan [NYT]
Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant have resigned from Interview, Women's Wear Daily is reporting. Sischy, the onetime editor of Artforum and a Vanity Fair contributing editor, has been editor-in-chief of the title for eighteen years. CEO Brant, who bought the parent company Brant Publications with her ex-husband, Peter, from the Warhol estate after the artist's death, has decided to sell her ex her stake in the company, WWD says. The reasons are thus far unclear. Last year, when it was rumored Brant intended to sell the title, a spokeswoman told the Post, "Sandra Brant, president & CEO, and Ingrid Sischy, editor-in-chief, are as devoted as ever to Interview and excited about its future." Earlier this month, when Gawker printed a rumor suggesting Sischy had left her job, it was brushed off by a publicist. "The Gawker item is absolutely not true," spokeswoman Rachna Shah told the Observer. "She is on her annual holiday in South Africa with Elton John. She has been working on the magazine while on holiday and is due back on Monday." That was January 10 of this year. More to come, we're sure
Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant Resign from Interview [WWD]
UPDATE: Brant and Sischy have released a statement: "When I was first drafted as editor after Andy Warhol's death I thought I'd stay a few years, devote myself to helping the magazine find its post-Warhol life, and then get back to my writing. Although leaving the magazine and wonderful staff behind is difficult, it is the right decision and one that will allow the new owners to establish their own editorial stamp on the magazine," said Sischy. Ingrid took "the magazine to a level of success and recognition that is beyond anything we thought possible. Her leadership, thoughtfulness, journalistic expertise and editorial vision have been critical," Sandra Brant commented.
UPDATE II: WWD has details on The New Guard—Glenn O'Brien and Fabien Baron will oversee Interview, Art in America and Antiques. "To say that Interview is a product of Ingrid's friends< " Peter Brant told WWD, "that's like saying what's Vogue going to be like without Grace Mirabella? Anna Wintour does a really great job."
Heath Ledger, 28, was found dead today in his Manhattan apartment, according to TV reports. PageSix.com says it was a drug overdose, but there is no confirmation on that yet. Stay tuned: We will update this post as we hear more news.
Update: From the New York Sun: "Police said a housekeeper found Ledger's body lying on his bed in an apartment at 421 Broome St. in SoHo at 3:35 p.m. surrounded by pills. According to police, Ledger had scheduled a massage for that time, and the housekeeper had gone to wake him up for his appointment." CNN is reporting that Heath was actually still alive but unconscious when he was found.
Update 2:Here's a listing for an apartment in that building. It's a "cast iron loft" with sixteen-foot pressed-tin ceilings and a fireplace.
Update 3: According to the Times, the Soho apartment where Ledger was found is owned by actress Mary-Kate Olsen. Olsen is currently in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival to celebrate the premiere of her film The Wackness. The paper also reports that Ledger was found in the nude.
Update 4: The Timesreports that police are saying the death looked like a suicide. The pills found near his body, according to Gawker, were over-the-counter sleeping pills. Even though paramedics arrived less than twenty minutes after the body was found, the site adds, Ledger's heart had already stopped. Us Weekly, meanwhile, has already found a friend of his who says "we saw it coming."
Update 5: Apparently, it's not actually Mary-Kate's apartment.
Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. "Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States," the former Tennessee senator said in a statement that was just released. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort." There was no announcement of whether he would be endorsing one of his former Republican rivals for the nomination. Thompson had said that he needed to win this weekend's South Carolina primary, in which he placed third, in order to continue the campaign. To which we say, good call. The odds of winning are much better on Law & Order, anyway.
Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race [AP]
After a fraught holiday weekend in which the European and Asian stock markets dropped in response to Wall Street's weakened state, and the nation grew near-hysterical with recession fears, the Fed finally stepped in this morning with an unprecedented eleventh-hour rate cut, to 3.5 percent. But was it too little too late? At first it appeared to be so: In the first half-hour of trading this morning, the Dow was down by 450 points. Now it's hovering around 300, and analysts on CNN are encouraging a glass-half-full attitude. "This is not the biggest market drop ever, this is a steep drop and it's coming after a couple weeks of steep drops," one just said. "For the market to even close, to halt trading, we would have to see a drop of 1,350 points in the Dow Industrials." Still, Asian and European markets remain volatile — and skeptical. "The dramatic reduction in the cost of money sends another worrying message to the markets," London's Daily Telegraph wrote this morning. "It says things are really looking very ropey indeed for the U.S. and by extension the global economy."
This morning, Intel obsession Julian Schnabel was nominated for Best Director for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The film, which New York's David Edelstein called a "masterpiece," was also nominated for achievements in editing and cinematography, but we know that Schnabel will not be entirely placated by this honor — if you're near the in the West Village right now, you can probably hear him stalking around the Palazzo Chupi in his purple pajamas, spittle and crumbs flying into his beard as he rages about how he was supposed to get a Best Picture nod but it's all political and polemical and the Academy is just pissed off because he's having so much fun — but we're proud of him, anyway.
Oscar Nominations Announced [CNN]
Related: Can Julian Get a Schnomination? [Vulture]
We're hearing that layoffs at Citigroup began yesterday and are continuing today. No word yet on how many heads have rolled, but earlier reports suggested the numbers could reach 20,000, and our tipster says it’s a "bloodbath." After the losses they reported earlier this week, this can't have been a surprise to anyone at the bank. But here's something that must have come as a shock: Citigroup was due to give out bonuses next week, and now we're hearing those who were canned won't get to partake. Representatives for Citibank said they'd call us back, but they haven't yet, so … developing!
UPDATE: Ok, so it's true: The first round of layoffs has begun. A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment specifically on the number of people laid off in New York or in any area, but during its earnings call this week the company indicated that in the fourth quarter, the bank would shed around 4200 employees worldwide. So far, those who've been sacked have been primarily in markets and banking. Regarding bonuses, Citi says that they're scheduled to be doled out in the next week or so, but again wouldn't comment specifically on if and how the newly unemployed would be affected. Some reports have said that company-wide, employees will receive stock instead of cash. Which, as someone but we can't remember who pointed out, is kind of like Arby's giving you a bunch of hamburgers instead of a paycheck.
Earlier: Vikram Pandit Gets a Write-down, Foreign Capital for His Birthday
Last week, soon after Britney Spears was released from the hospital, where she had been admitted after her umpteenth incident of craziness, the Associated Press assistant bureau chief in Los Angeles sent out a memo to staff: “Now and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal,” it said. And you know what would be the biggest deal of all for the AP? If she died. Just now, Us Weekly reported that the news service has written a premature obituary for Britney, in the same way that they do for 70-year-old politicians and public figures who have announced they have cancer. “I think one would agree that Britney seems at risk right now,” AP entertainment editor Jesse Washington told the magazine. “Of course, we would never wish any type of misfortune on anybody and hope that we would never have to use it until 50 years from now but if something were to happen, we would have to be prepared.” For us, this raises a lot of questions. Not only of propriety — Britney is 26! — but about what this obituary says. Do they mention "Hit Me Baby One More Time"? Is Crossroads name-checked? Who else has one? (Lindsay? Nicole?) And how about how Us Weekly is reporting news, and the Associated Press is acting like a tabloid? We have not yet been able to get in touch with Washington, but we eagerly await his answers to our questions.
Associated Press Has Written Britney Spears Obituary [Us Weekly]
Related: A.P. Says It Wants To Know Everything About Britney Spears [NYT]
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer just released a statement on this afternoon's accident at 246 Spring Street, the site of the Trump Tower hotel, where a bucket of wet cement crashed into the building's scaffolding on the 40th floor, killing a worker, a married father from the Ukraine named Yuri, according to the New York Post and injuring several others. Some have noted that the tower had been going up a little too quickly, and from the statement it seems as though that had something to do with today's events.
The accident at the new hotel at 246 Spring Street is another example of the dangerous conditions created by rushed construction in Manhattan. My office did an initial investigation of violations at the site and discovered that there were two Class A violations issued on October 26, 2007. These violations are considered high risk. However, the construction was allowed to continue unchecked and the Environmental Control Board hearing to review the violations was not scheduled until January 24, 2008. This is unacceptable. The death and injury of construction workers and the compromised safety of emergency responders and surrounding community should not be considered the cost of doing business in Manhattan.
According to Curbed and the view from our office window, a major chunk of concrete has fallen from the top of the Trump Soho. One unconfirmed fatality; more as we know it.
UPDATE 2:45: Our photographer on the scene says one fatality is now confirmed; they're still trying to remove people from the building, which is happening very slowly. Photos of that after the jump. From our view here at the office, we can see the crane moving (scary); Varick has been shut down.
Marion Jones, the five-time Olympic-medal-winning track-and-field star, was sentenced this morning to six months in prison, followed by two years of probation for perjury. Back in October, Jones pleaded guilty to lying to a federal investigator in 2003 about using performance-enhancing drugs to help her win three gold and two bronze medals in the Sydney Olympics, and to lying about knowledge of her ex-boyfriend's scheme check-forging scheme. She returned her Olympic medals and made a tearful plea to the press: "I have been dishonest, and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let [my family] down. I have let my country down, and I have let myself down." Her lawyers had tried to keep her out of prison, arguing that she had been punished enough, but instead, White Plains judge Kenneth Karas gave her the maximum sentence recommended by prosecutors. We bet she'll take the sentence better than Paris did.
Jones’s Soaring Career Now a Cautionary Tale [NYT]
Right about now, John Kerry is stepping up on a stage in Charleston, South Carolina, to announce that he's endorsing Barack Obama for president. This sort of makes sense, as Kerry was the guy who picked Obama to deliver the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which rocketed the young politician onto the national stage. Except, wait, it doesn't make sense, because Kerry was also the person who chose John Edwards as a running mate that same year. Man, Edwards just can't win these days, huh? Oh, wait...
2004 Dem Nominee Kerry Endorsing Obama [AP]
Breaking: It looks like former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will indeed get his day in court. On Wednesday evening Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan made a preliminary ruling denying the TV network's motion to dismiss Rather's $70 million lawsuit. "I think discovery should go forward," said Gammerman. Rather's suit, you'll recall, claims CBS unfairly shuffled him off the air after that infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday story about Bush's performance (or lack thereof) in the Texas National Guard. Rather alleges that being shown the door was just the network's misguided attempt to placate the White House and shield CBS's then-parent company Viacom from political fallout. You know, the usual reasons for dismissal from a high-profile media job.
While Barack Obama is waltzing around New Hampshire cracking dirty jokes, Hillary Clinton is up there crying. It happened during a chat with a gathering of women at a coffee shop in Portsmouth. Sixty-four-year old Maryann Pernold told Hillary that as a woman, she knew "it's hard to get up every day and get ready and get out of the house in the morning." She asked Clinton how she did it every day on the campaign trail. The Wall Street Journal was there and caught the moment:
"It's not easy, it's not easy," Clinton said shaking her head. Her eyes began to get watery as she finished answering the question, "I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. This is very personal for me. I have so many ideas for this country and I just don't want to see us fall backwards. It's about our country, it's about our kids' future," she said softly crying, her voice breaking. The group of 15 women sitting around a table at the Cafe Espresso nodded understandingly. Clinton continued, her voice still cracking: "We do it each one of us because we care about our country, but some of us are right and some of us are wrong, some of us are ready and some of us are not, some of us know what we'll do on day one and some of us don't," she said.
The Journal wonders whether this may be Clinton's Edmund Muskie moment (Muskie appeared to tear up in 1972 after a New Hampshire newspaper attacked his wife, and the image managed to derail the popular Maine senator's candidacy). But we have to wonder, like Bob Shrum before us, if this isn't exactly what her campaign needs. Finally, proof that Hillary is human. Even though the campaign is ravaging her physically and emotionally, she's still fighting because she cares. What better testament to someone's character as a candidate?
Either that or she faked it, which would also be totally stellar.
Emotional Moment for Clinton in N.H. [WSJ]
Video: Teary Hillary [ABC News]
Roger Clemens is following up on his defensive moves last night on 60 Minutes by filing a lawsuit against the former trainer who said he injected the pitching legend with performance-enhancing drugs, it was reported this morning. The trainer, Brian McNamee, was previously said by lawyers to be considering a suit against Clemens because the former Yankee had defamed him by aggressively claiming that McNamee was a liar. McNamee was an informant for the Mitchell Report which uncovered widespread juicing throughout Major League Baseball. The suit claims to know that McNamee buckled to pressure from the feds. "According to McNamee," reads one portion of the suit, "he originally made his allegations to federal authorities after being threatened with criminal prosecution if he did not implicate Clemens." "After this exchange, and for the first time in his life, McNamee stated that he had injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001," said the suit, which was filed late last night. "Following his recantation, McNamee has relayed that he magically went from a 'target' in a federal criminal drug investigation to a mere 'witness,' so long as he continued to 'toe the line."' (BTW, excellent use of the word "magically" in an official court document, Rog.) "Clemens' good reputation has been severely injured," the suit also said. "McNamee's false allegations have also caused Clemens to suffer mental anguish, shame, public humiliation and embarrassment."