October 19th, 2008

Chris Keeley

Lefty

Lefty Rosenthal, Kingpin in Las Vegas, Dies at 79

On the evening of Oct. 4, 1982, Lefty Rosenthal, the talented professional gambler and gangster-when-necessary who had brought sports betting to casinos in Las Vegas and illicitly run an empire of four hotel casinos, walked out of Tony Roma’s on East Sahara Avenue with an order of takeout ribs. He had just finished dinner with some fellow handicappers, and he was bringing the food home for his two children. When he got into his car, it blew up.

Mr. Rosenthal survived the explosion — later he could not remember whether he had turned the ignition key — but the attempt on his life, for which no one was ever prosecuted, ended his career as one of the most powerful men in Las Vegas. He left the city early the next year and on Monday, at home in Miami Beach, he died. He was 79 and had lived in Florida since the late 1980s.

His death was confirmed by Eric Yuhr, assistant chief of the Miami Beach Fire Department, which removed the body. He did not give a cause.Collapse )

Chris Keeley

Pannonnica

The Baroness of Jazz
By BARRY SINGER

IF the mysterious Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter is at all remembered today, it is for her proximity to the deaths of two legendary jazz musicians. In 1955 Charlie Parker died on a sofa in her Fifth Avenue home; 27 years later Thelonious Monk died after secluding himself for years in her New Jersey house.



Both deaths made the baroness an immediate target of tabloid headlines and a long-term subject for scurrilous gossip. Almost no one, though, beyond the insular jazz world, could possibly know her whole story: how, until her death in 1988, she championed jazz as both a friend and a generous, if rather unlikely, benefactor.

A Rothschild heiress, she offered her home to countless jazzmen as a place to work and even live, while quietly paying their bills when they couldn’t find work. She chauffeured them to gigs around New York, toured with them as a kind of racial chaperon, and was even known to confront anyone she felt was taking advantage of her friends because they were black.

“I always likened her to the great royal patrons of Mozart or Wagner’s day,” the saxophonist Sonny Rollins said in a telephone interview. “Yet she never put the spotlight on herself. I try not to talk publicly about people I knew in jazz. But I have to say something about the baroness. She really loved our music.”
Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Dire

The situation is much more dire than anyone in authority has yet to admit. Just read the following quote slowly:
     "As large as A.I.G.'s swaps exposure was, it represented only 0.8 percent of the $55 trillion in credit-default swaps outstanding — this total market is more than the gross domestic product of all nations on earth combined."


October 19, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Swapping Secrecy for Transparency

By CHRISTOPHER COX

Washington

THE historic volatility in the financial markets has raised important questions about the lack of meaningful regulation of financial instruments known as credit-default swaps. The $85 billion government rescue last month of the insurance conglomerate American International Group, for example, was needed in large part to protect those who held A.I.G.'s credit-default swaps and risked crushing losses if those instruments weren't honored.

A.I.G. had issued $440 billion in credit-default swaps — which are like insurance contracts on bonds and other assets that are meant to pay off if those assets default. But as markdowns on A.I.G.'s investments in subprime mortgages led to downgrades in its credit ratings, the holders of the credit-default swaps demanded more collateral, which A.I.G. could not provide.

As large as A.I.G.'s swaps exposure was, it represented only 0.8 percent of the $55 trillion in credit-default swaps outstanding — this total market is more than the gross domestic product of all nations on earth combined.

Collapse )