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Monkey Loose at La Guardia!

Breaking! There's a monkey on the loose in La Guardia Airport! We repeat, monkey on the loose! The Times' City Room blog reports that the primate disembarked from Spirit Airlines flight 180 from "the Miami–Ft. Lauderdale area." It's running amok in the main terminal, but we suspect they'll catch it quickly: Based on its point of origin, we have to assume it's traveling down the moving walkway about ten miles per hour under the limit, and with its left blinker on. UPDATE: The Times was a bit monkey-happy on this one. There was a contraband primate on a flight, apparently, but it was never on the loose. Nonetheless, please continue to enjoy the above picture. A Monkey on the Loose at Laguardia [City Room/NYT]

Amateur Submarining in East River? NYPD, Coast Guard Say No

It is, as we've already made clear, a day to be by the water — or, even better, in it. But might we suggest you not attempt to go in the water by building a homemade submarine and launching you Cousteauian adventure in the East River near the Queen Mary 2, which is docked off Red Hook? "Several men are being questioned by police after being stopped apparently attempting to set sail off Brooklyn in a makeshift submarine-type vessel," reports WABC-TV. WCBS-TV says three people were escorted from the area by police, the captain was issued a Coast Guard violation, and — here's the best part — "the vessel bears a striking resemblance to the 'Bushnell Turtle,' the first American submarine, invented around 1775 in Connecticut by David Bushnell." So remember, kids: No revolutionary-era subs near the big cruise ships. Okay? Makeshift Submarine Found in East River [WABC] Odd Replica Sub Intercepted Near Queen Mary II [WCBS] Adventures With an Egg [Flickr via Gothamist]

Dow Jones Deal: All Over But the Shoutin'...

… and the payoffs to the Bancrofts' lawyers and bankers, and the inevitable fury of Christopher Bancroft, and the mass defection of Journal staffers to the FT and the Times and, as at least the folks at Columbia Journalism Review would have you think, the topless chicks on the front of "Money & Investing":

But, yeah, it's basically over. Bancroft Family Accepts Deal, Executive Says [Reuters via NYT]

Congestion Pricing: It's a Deal!

As Geoffrey Gray warned us earlier, there's now a deal for congestion pricing. From City Room, the Times's metro blog:
“We have a deal,” Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, just told reporters in Albany. “Like any deal, like any arrangement, its [sic] subject to the definitive word ending up on paper. As we speak, we are drafting paper, press release, with the governor’s office, with the Assembly.” Asked if the deal would still qualify for a grant of $500 million in federal financing, Mr. Bruno said: “We are told if we get this there today, we will be one of the nine considered.”
Just think: Some time in the not-too-distant future, you'll have the privilege of paying to drive on exploding streets. Fun! Deal Is at Hand in Congestion Pricing [City Room/NYT] Earlier: Congestion-Pricing Lives! Is City Hall Close to Announcing a Deal?

Explosion Near Grand Central Really Screws Up Commutes

Yes, there was indeed an explosion near Grand Central Terminal. No, it was not at Grand Central. Yes, there's a lot of smoke. A transformer exploded on East 41st Street between Third and Lexington Avenues; it caused a four-alarm fire and injured one person. Police have closed that block and evacuated some buildings. The subways are running, including the Lex lines, though they're currently skipping Grand Central, which must be a real pain for those who were trying to catch the 6:45 to Larchmont. We're about to call it a day, but we have no doubt Sewell Chan will keep you abreast of the latest news all night long. Buildings Evacuated After Midtown Explosion [City Room/NYT] Update: The source of the explosion was a steam pipe, and as of 8:15 p.m. there is no service on the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines between 125th Street and Bowling Green, service on the 42nd Street shuttle has been suspended, and 7 trains bypass Grand Central. MTA Service Alert [MTA.info]

A Sad Day for Overhyped Pastries: Magnolia Shuttered

But what will become of the fanny-packed tourists?! The city Department of Health's recent cleanliness crusade has claimed another victim: the Magnolia Bakery. Originally known for its admittedly fairly good cupcakes, Magnolia has since become the epicenter of all that is unholy about the aughts-era West Village: tour buses, a willingness to wait on line for confections, overpriced cutesiness run rampant. The (painfully slow-loading) blog Eater, which broke the news, reports that it's simply an issue of too few sinks and that the destination snack bar will soon reopen. Alas. Breaking: Magnolia Bakery Closed by Department of Health [Eater]

Reuters: Bomb Scare Closes Times Square

Only because it would be selfish not to share our brief moments of paranoia, we'll point out that Reuters is reporting there's currently a bomb scare in Times Square. A "suspicious item" — perhaps a red bag — was found, and the southwest part of the square, in front the Reuters HQ, is apparently closed. Interestingly, no other news org seems to be reporting this, which makes us doubt the significance of this bulletin a bit. But, hey, you know the mantra of post-9/11 news editing: We saw something, so we're saying something. Update: Reuters is now reporting that the "suspicious item" was just "forgotten luggage." So whoever left a red bag full of clothes on Seventh Avenue, please visit the lost and found at the Midtown South Precinct house. Part of NYC's Times Square Shut Down in Bomb Scare [Reuters] NYC's Times Square Reopens After Security Scare [Reuters]

Breaking: There May or May Not Be a Deal for Dow Jones!

A British mag called The Business is confidently reporting today that "Rupert Murdoch has succeeded with his $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, owners of the Wall Street Journal, according to sources acting for the Dow Jones board." The Business says the price is $60 per share, that the deal includes the legally enforceable editorial-integrity agreement reached last week, that the Bancrofts are all onboard, and that the deal will be announced next week. Just one little problem. Dow Jones says none of it is true:
A spokeswoman for Dow Jones said the report from The Business was "false." She said there has been "no change" in ongoing negotiations on the takeover offer from News Corp. (NWS). "The only agreement is on editorial independence," said the spokeswoman, Andrea Grinbaum.
Sigh. We really have to deal with this on a summer Friday? EXCLUSIVE: Rupert Murdoch buys Dow Jones, owners of the Wall Street Journal [The Business] Dow Jones: Report On Completed News Corp Deal 'False' [DJ Newswires via CNNMoney]

London Bomb Plot Foiled, Mildly Terrifying

We've been avoiding reading the article about the foiled bomb plot in London, because we suspected we'd find it troubling. We finally read it, and we did. A car packed with gasoline and nails was left parked in the West End, London's theater district. (It was even, you'll note from one of the pictures on the Times site, parked in front of a restaurant called Angus. No offense, Mr. McIndoe, but we're now thinking tonight's a Joe Allen night.) It was found not by cops who suspected something was afoot; rather, ambulance workers, en route to aid a sick nightclub patron, happened to notice smoke inside the car and alerted police. "There could have been significant injury or loss of life," Britain's top counterterrorism official said, because the bomb was in a busy entertainment district. Oh, and there was no prior intelligence about this; no "chatter" or whatever. See? It's scary — and also sort of a Giuliani campaign ad. Explosive Device Found in London, Police Say [NYT]

First Blackout of '07!

Okay, a week or so without electricity in Queens is one thing. But now we're hearing that there's an outage on — gulp! — the Upper East Side this afternoon. The Con Ed Website says nothing, but we've received two three unconfirmed reports. Plus the lights in the office dimmed for a second like twenty minutes ago, and we think we just heard a fire truck going up Madison. That's good enough for us. UPDATE: Yup, various local news sources say there's an outage across a swath of the Upper East Side (though different sources say different swaths), that parts of the Bronx have lost power, too, and that subway service is affected on some if not all of the Lexington Avenue lines, and maybe on the E and/or V as well. UPDATE 2: Sewell Chan, naturally, has the most comprehensive info. "An explosion this afternoon at an electrical substation in the Bronx has knocked out power to 136,700 customers in the Bronx and Manhattan and disrupted subway service on several of the city’s busiest subway lines — the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 and E and V lines on the East Side and the D line in the Bronx — according to officials with the city government and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority," he writes. There's also apparently some trouble with the D and with Metro-North trains into Grand Central.

Blair Departs, and Bush Throws Him a Bone

So Tony Blair is now, officially, no longer Britain's prime minister, having tendered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II earlier today. He's off, presumably, to become the Quartet's Mideast peace negotiator, while Gordon Brown has been approved by the Queen as his replacement. For President Bush's take on his great ally's departure, we refer you to low in the AP news item:
"Tony's had a great run and history will judge him kindly," Bush told Britain's The Sun tabloid in remarks published Wednesday. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that."
See, that's real friendship. Bush thinks of Blair — excuse us: Tony — as something much bigger than a poodle. A golden retriever, perhaps. Maybe even his St. Bernard. Gordon Brown to Take Over From Blair in Britain [AP via NYT]

Dow Jones, Murdoch Reach Deal (Sort of, Probably)

Dow Jones and News Corporation have reached a deal on editorial independence! Huzzah! Now the deal can go forward, and the Bancrofts can get their money, and Murdoch can get his newspaper, and the august traditions of the Wall Street Journal can be protected! So how did it all happen? Um, dunno. It's the top story on the Journal's site and one of the top stories on Times' site, but, actually, no one knows what the deal was — Murdoch dismissed the last Bancroft proposal — whether it's got more teeth than Murdoch's London Times deal, whether the Bancrofts will actually accept it, whether Murdoch will sweeten his bid, or, well, just about anything else. But, hey, let's not get caught up in such trivialities. Congrats, Rupert. Dow Jones, News Corp. Agree on Set of Editorial Protections [WSJ] Tentative Accord Reached on Dow Jones Control [NYT]

Mike Bloomberg's Declaration of Independence

This press release just in, and we no longer have any doubt that the dude is running for president:

June 19, 2007
No. 205
www.nyc.gov STATEMENT BY MAYOR BLOOMBERG ON PARTY AFFILIATION “I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City.

Bruce Ratner Wins a Round in Atlantic Yards Legal Battle

A federal judge this afternoon dismissed Goldstein v. Pataki, the key eminent-domain case seeking to block Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards megadevelopment. It's a major setback for the Develop Don't Destroy crowd, right? Wrong, says Matthew Brinckerhoff, DDDB's lead lawyer. Indeed, he calls it good news. "There was an initial ruling by the federal magistrate saying we didn't belong in federal court, and now a district court has said we belong in federal court but dismissed the claim," Brinckerhoff told us. Now, he says, his clients can focus their appeal on the merits of the case — that public officials delivered the massive project to Forest City Ratner when it should have gone to multiple bidders in a public process — rather than on jurisdictional technicalities. "Given where we were, we are not worse off," Brinckerhoff said. Of course — and we're not lawyers — one would imagine it would be even better not to have to appeal at all. But Brinckerhoff is standing firm and tossing off sound bites. "This is far from over," he said. —Alec Appelbaum

Braunstein Convicted

Our faith in the jury system is bolstered more each day. This just in from the AP:
A jury needed less than four hours to convict Peter Braunstein in a case that provided a daily window in the bizarre world of a man whose life seemed to grow ever more unstable after he lost his girlfriend and his job in the magazine business.
NYC Fake Firefighter Convicted [AP via NYT] Related: Sex and the City: The Horror Movie [NYM]

Greening the Yellow Cab: Thumbs-Up

Who says the press doesn't like good news? Mayor Bloomberg's announcement today that he'll force the city's 13,000 yellow cabs to go hybrid by 2012 is, we'd say, splendid, sterling, superb. Some will argue he should have acted sooner; those people are small-minded. Some will say that this is all part of the grand scheme to raise Bloomberg's national profile in service of his 2008 presidential run; those people are thinking too hard. This is simply a rare case of a good idea whose time has come. Not that there aren't some politics at work: City councilman David Yassky, who was frustrated when the administration diluted his green cab proposal back in 2002, kept the issue alive. And by doing ecofriendly things that are under the city's control, Bloomberg adds some momentum to the push for his 2030 sustainability package, whose biggest transformations require the action of state and federal officials. Next up: Look for a Bloomberg biofuel initiative. The mayor inherited a city where public schools still burned coal. He may leave one that smells like soy. —Chris Smith Bloomberg Proposes Energy Efficient Taxi Fleet [NYT] Related: Uncool New York [NYM]

Dolans Finally Take Their Cable Company (and Their Garden, and Their Knicks, and So Forth) and Go Home

If taking public companies private is the hot new thing in megabusiness, the Dolans just became the most fashionable billionaires out there: After three years and three failed attempts to privatize Cablevision, Chuck and Jim have just worked out a deal with their company's board that will restore the family's total control over their lumbering brainchild. Cablevision, which comes complete with holdings like the Knicks and the Rangers, Radio City Music Hall, and over $12 billion in debt, will change hands for $10.5 billion in cash. With the liabilities worked in, that adds up to almost $23 billion. The Dolans pledge to cash out the current shareholders at $36.26 a share, which is their highest offer yet — a hearty 11 percent over the stock's actual value as of yesterday. We learn all this from the Times, of course, where the Sulzbergers are no doubt paying attention. One hopes. Cablevision Agrees to Sell Itself to the Dolans [NYT]