Will terrorists strike again? Why is the U.S. pouring 20,000 troops into cities? There must be some ‘chatter’

UPDATE:

The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon has issued the marching orders to mobilize 20,000 millitary troops to secure unspecified cities within the U.S.

Homeland Securtiy issued warnings of a terror attack on New York City’s mass transit system from Nov. 28 through the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah) the mainstream media doesn’t even have the intellectual honesty to report which holidays. Commuters and vacationing shoppers are supposed to be uneasy and many may even put off their trips to buy gifts. This, as we watch to bloodbath from Nov. 26-28, in Mumbi, India where the death toll has reached 200 from a group of 10 terrorists.

Who did it? We know the terrorists hate Jews. That narrows it down. 

What do the learders of Iran, Palistine and Syria have to say about the bombings? 

A Brooklyn rabbi and his wife were found among the dead in a series of terrorist attacks in India that have claimed more than 150 lives. In response to the attacks, the NYPD beefed up patrols around large hotels and Jewish centers, including the Lubavitcher headquarters, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

The department already was on alert because of a warning earlier this week of a possible al-Qaida plot to strike the city’s rail systems over the holidays.

“The threat is serious, the threat is significant, and it is plausible,” said Congressman Peter King, R-Long Island, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who ran the Chabad-Lubavitch local headquarters in Mumbai were killed during a hostage standoff at the center, said Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the movement. 

On Wednesday, federal authorities warned New York police of an unsubstantiated (but reliable) report that al-Qaida operatives discussed an attack on New York’s subway system or rail lines like Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he had no plans to comment. (Keep shopping sheelple). 

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said additional resources were being deployed in the mass transit system in an “abundance of caution,” a common response when police receive new information about a threat.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s 468 stations and 6,480 subway cars, released a statement saying there was “no reason to be alarmed.”

The terrorists have been weakend from eight years of George W. Bush as Commander and Chief. 

We can be thankful for that time.

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Stop the Press Club–Please!

Mick Gregory

Dallas Press Club slashes expenses, gives up rental space. This, in a one newspaper town.

This is the state of the press in 2007.

I was once a member of the Dallas Press Club, in my twenties. That’s when Dallas had a newspaper war going on between Times Mirror’s Dallas Times Herald and the Belo Dallas Morning News. Molly Ivans would make an appearance at meetings as well as U.S. Senators and celebrities.

Today, it’s on par with a Salvation Army drop off store front.

The active members of the Press Club of Dallas are trying to save their disgraced group after the former president apparently falsified the results of the club’s signature awards program and mismanaged her club-issued credit card on luxury items.

Four vacant board seats were filled — some by spirit-of-the-moment volunteers — with hopeful members stepping up to keep the club running.

Tom Stewart, now the club president, said the future of the annual Katie Awards and the club itself remains uncertain. The group was given three choices: Let the club slowly die, disband it immediately or drastically reduce expenses to buy time until the annual meeting in August.

Of the $5,500 a month it takes to operate the club, they voted to eliminate at least $4,000 in monthly operating expenses, including its rental space at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. The Press Club Foundation, which supports the club and benefits from the Katies program, terminated its $4,000-a-month stipend to the club in February.

In an April 14 interview with the Dallas Business Journal, former club president Lisa “Elizabeth” Albanese, 41, said she didn’t have records detailing the judges from past-years’ Katies because she failed to keep the records and switched computers. She then said she would be able to reconstruct a judges’ list.

She couldn’t be reached for comment by a Dallas Business Journal reporter.

Albanese won all four Katies for which she was nominated in 2006, including for best business news story, best business feature story, best specialty reporting and best investigative reporting for a major-market newspaper. She won 10 Katies over the last four years, and began coordinating the judging in 2003.

No former boss of Albanese’s has alleged that she plagiarized or fabricated sources for her stories.

The Katie Awards rank among the most coveted in Texas, drawing contestants from six states who hope to be honored as the best in journalism and mass communications.

Albanese spent seven years at The Bond Buyer, a New York-based municipal bond newspaper, and recently became a vice president at First Southwest Co., a financial advisory firm, which she often wrote about as a journalist. She was fired by Dallas-based First Southwest after criminal allegations from her past surfaced.

News bytes by Lauren D’Avolio

Now is time for all good stockholders to cut off the gravy train to the pockets of the New York Times playboys.

Shareholder Advisory Firm ISS Recommends Withholding Vote on New York Times Co. Board of Directors

Mick Gregory

A big time shareholder advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, (ISS) is campaigning to investors to withhold their votes for four directors at The New York Times Co. as a way to push for corporate governance changes. The New York Times Co. is one of a very few using an outdated “robber baron” stock scheme.

The ISS report published this week, joins forces with a longtime shareholder, a Morgan Stanley investment fund, to roll back the dual-class share structure which allows the Sulzberger family to maintain dictatorial control of the company with only a minor share of the stock.

ISS analysts recommend separating the chairman and publisher roles, which are both currently held by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., “Pinchy,” as well as establishing key committees on the board that would be made up solely of directors elected by holders of the company’s publicly traded Class A shares.

The Class B shares, which are controlled by the Sulzberger family, have the right to elect nine of the company’s 13 directors. This is an blatantly undemocratic set up.

“Shareholders are left with few avenues through which to voice their opinion other than by withholding from Class A directors,” ISS said in its report. “While we do not advocate removal of the Class A directors, we believe that a strong message to effect change is necessary.”

The Times said in a public relations statement it was “disappointed” that the ISS had recommended a withhold vote for the four directors elected by Class A shareholders.

The Times’ annual meeting is scheduled for April 24. So watch for more positioning in the next two weeks.

Last year the Morgan Stanley fund and two other large shareholders withheld their vote for Class A directors, resulting in a 30 percent withhold rate. The votes are largely symbolic and are intended to signal shareholder dissatisfaction.

ISS also said that neither Sulzberger nor other managers are accountable to the company’s public shareholders “in any meaningful way.”

This is a democratic crisis. How long can the wealthy Sulzberger famiy (pronounced Sal-bur-jay among the inner-circle) soak the majority of their stockholders?

Editors and wealthy favorite sons with little to no management skills are responsible for the end of their industry

By Mick Gregory

It finally happened, for the past several months the Tribune Co. has had to put their once mighty chain up for bid. Rather than try and develop their Web/print empire and manage the media company, they gave in to the Chandler family’s need to sell out. The Chandlers have been behind the wave of shuttered big city newspapers across the nation for the past 20 years, including: The Dallas Times Herald, Houston Post, and the terminal Denver Post and Baltimore Sun. Now, with real estate flipper, Sam Zell taking the Tribune Co. private, the future of the LA Times is ashen.

Instead of innovative media management, the editor-centric and rich, spoiled relatives of the former publishers sell the assets like the decedents of 19th century railroad barons.

Tribune was particularly egregious. This company never did anything Web-wise, with management endlessly thinking that its stock was undervalued. It was clearly overvalued, and now the upside is totally capped. The little amount that Sam Zell is putting up to take this company private shows how little these companies are really worth.

All of these companies seem to be run, frankly, by jokers or dreamers who had no idea how to deploy capital. The only explanation I can think of is that they were run by people who are up from the newspaper side or are heirs to the founders and had no idea what they were doing financially. Dow Jones (DJ – commentary – Cramer’s Take – Rating) was like that for years, and it is finally being run in an intelligent financial way. Probably too late, though.

These are diminishing assets. They don’t need to exist. Younger people rarely read them. And the companies acted like they would always be in demand and were simply misunderstood by Wall Street. Nope, Wall Street got it the whole time, except a couple of hedge and mutual funds that are trapped and trying to get managements to do something to bring out value.

The result? The Philadelphia Inquirer gets wrecked. The Times boosts the dividend well beyond its means. And now the Tribune sets the stage for a massive downsizing, massive firings and the inclusion of tons of Associated Press copy.
—Larry Cramer of TheStreet.

—————–
The Denver Post and JOA partner with the Rocky Mountain News, filed the joint agency’s financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

They show total revenue at the agency dropped 5.3 percent in 2006 to $409 million, compared with $431.7 million in 2005. Revenue was essentially flat from 2004 to 2005.

Advertising revenue dropped 7.1 percent from 2005 to 2006’s $339.5 million.

Net income fell from $71.1 million in 2004 to $47.2 million in 2005 and $18.5 million in 2006.
More layoffs are just around the corner.

Business writers should follow the Chandlers’ investments after they receive the windfall from the Zell buyout. That would be “impact journalism.”

Gannett Knows How to Cut Expenses

by Mick Gregory

Two Gannett papers — the Honolulu Advertiser and the Indianapolis Star — are combining their business staff with their metro staff and putting both under one editor.

“This is exactly the kind of action toward business desks that I feared when many papers like the Star announced at the beginning of last year that they were cutting stock listings from their business section,” writes Chris Roush. “If it’s easy to cut the business section once, then it’s easy to cut there again.”

That’s called managing a business. A publisher I worked with once said, “There are two ways to skin a cat.” Either profits rise, or expenses have to be cut. It’s Managerial Economics 101.

What other business has managers for every four or five people?

Well, maybe banks. But where else?

Meanwhile, blogs thrive with very few in head-count and surging readership.
Guess where investors are putting their money?

New York Times selling off TV stations en mass to keep afloat

The New York Times Co. stated after the stock market closed Thursday that it plans to sell its broadcast-media group, including nine television stations, to Robert M. Bass’s Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million.

Facing the prospect of further circulation and advertising declines and the growing threat of online competition, the newspaper giant said it needs to dispose of the properties to focus on core operations (the old gray lady).

“Over the years (the stations) have provided their communities with high-quality programming and have contributed significantly to our financial performance,” Janet L. Robinson, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We believe, however, that our focus now should be on the development of our newspapers and our rapidly growing digital businesses and the increasing synergies between them.”
The lead investor for Oak Hill, Bass is part of the Bass family of Texas oil billionaires. His brother, Sid, recently held a large stake in Walt Disney Co. Robert Bass’s net worth is placed at more than $5 billion. Oak Hill’s committed capital stands at $4.6 billion, the company said.

The nine stations were expected to account for $150 million in 2006 sales, or 4 percent of New York Times’ overall revenue when the plan to sell was announced in September, spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said. At that time, 2006 operating earnings from the group was estimated at $33 million.

The stations are affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as one member of the MyNetworkTV group, and are in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. Market sizes range from Memphis to Moline, Ill. They employ roughly 900 people, Mathis said.

While a number of media companies are disposing of assets in order to cut costs, don’t expect large newspaper companies to sell off their broadcast assets en masse like the Times has, said Steven Barlow, analyst for Prudential Securities in New York.

“I wouldn’t imagine you’ll see anything from (other media companies) on that front,” Barlow said.

Inside the mind of an LA Times columnist

You have to wonder why newspaper journalists seem to be so out of touch with the public. Maybe it comes down to elite, arrogant snobbishness.

Joel Stein of the LA Times writes:

I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you….Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power.

I get that you have opinions you want to share. That’s great. You’re the Person of the Year. I just don’t have any interest in them.

A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don’t. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I’m not an elected servant. I’m an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything. I don’t have time to listen to you.

Hello? We don’t care to digest your opinion anymore. This is the world of Web 2.0. Read up on it. You may need a new job in the next couple of years.