Saturday, November 29, 2008

AIG Pulls Fast One -- "Cash Awards" Going To Managers

Jonathan Tasini

Jonathan Tasini

When you are a pro at a scam--the definition of "scam" also can be found under the term "insurance industry" -- you know how to try to pull a fast one. And AIG is trying to pull one -- under cover of the holidays. Check this out.

You may remember that AIG -- which is afloat only thanks to a bailout by you, the taxpayer, to the tune of $152 billion and counting--made a whole lot of public relations when its top seven executives agreed not to take bonuses this year.

Well, on the eve of Thanksgiving, obviously knowing the markets would be closed on the holiday and obviously knowing that just before the holiday few people would pay attention, AIG actually notified regulators that, well, yes, bonuses would be given out, as Bloomberg News and The Financial Times reports today:

American International Group Inc., the insurer that said yesterday it scrapped bonuses for top executives after a U.S. bailout, will still pay 130 managers "cash awards" to stay with the firm, including $3 million to retirement services chief Jay Wintrob.

Wintrob, 51, will get the "retention" payment in two installments, the first in April 2009 and the rest a year later, New York-based AIG said today in a regulatory filing. The firm previously disclosed the program in a Sept. 26 filing and said today that Wintrob and Chief Financial Officer David Herzog elected to get the payments four months later than planned.

"The expectation from the public and Congress was that they weren't getting bonuses, not that they'd be pushed off by several months," said David Schmidt, a consultant at executive pay firm James F. Reda & Associates. "That clearly violates the spirit of AIG saying they'll forgo their bonuses."[emphasis added]

From the FT:

However, the UBS news comes just a day after it emerged AIG, which has received more than $150bn in bail-out financing from the US government, would still pay 130 managers "cash awards" to stay with the firm. AIG disclosed the bonuses in a regulatory filing on the evening before Thanksgiving, a day when US markets are closed. The insurer had previously said its seven top executives would forgo their bonuses for 2008.

They just can't help themselves, can they? Call it "retention pay" or "cash bonuses" or some other euphemism -- but the fact is that your tax dollars are going to reward people who are lucky to even have jobs. There should have been a housecleaning that swept the entire top level of managers out on their asses for playing a role in the financial crisis that is hurting millions of people.

I have not seen this reported in other mainline traditional media. But, this is a scam.

Original here

Boy 'killed father after 1,000 smacks'

By Tom Leonard in New York

The unnamed boy allegedly shot dead his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, their lodger, at the family home in St Johns, Arizona, with a .22 rifle as they were coming home from work at a local power plant.

The double murder on Nov 5 shocked the US, with investigators initially struggling to find any motive.

However, according to police records reported by the Arizona Republic, the boy "is believed to have made ledgers and/or communicated in the form of writings about his intentions" if his father and stepmother continued to smack him.

According to the police records, the boy told a Child Protective Services official that "when he reached one thousand spankings . . . that would be his limit. [The boy] kept a tally of his spankings on a piece of paper."

Despite his age, relatives suspected the boy immediately in the shootings. His grandfather told investigators: "If any 8-year-old was capable of doing this, [the boy] was", and the child's grandmother added: "I knew this was going to happen, they were too hard on [him]."

The boy told police he was smacked the day before the shootings for failing to finish schoolwork.

Records indicate the boy had no history of psychiatric care and was not on any medication.

Police say he gave conflicting accounts about the shootings, initially saying he discovered the bodies when he returned home from school.

He later changed his story, admitting he shot each man twice to end their suffering after they had been shot by an unknown assailant.

In an interview whose contents was later released by police, the boy admitted he been angry with his father after the latter asked his stepmother to smack him for not bringing some schoolwork home.

At the end of the interview, he buried his head in his jacket. Asked by an officer what he was thinking, he replied: "I'm going to go to juvie."

Original here

Mumbai begins to heal after terrorist rampage

Mumbai terror rage ends after 60 hours Play Video AP – Mumbai terror rage ends after 60 hours

MUMBAI, India – This crowded, bustling financial capital, wracked by three days bloodshed, slowly began puling itself back together Sunday as a once-besieged restaurant reopened its doors and Indians mourned their dead.

A day after the siege ended, corpses were still being brought out of the ritzy Taj Mahal hotel where three suspected Muslim militants made a last stand before Indian commandos killed them in a blaze of gunfire and explosions.

India's home minister, meanwhile, has offered to resign in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks, a top aide said Sunday.

R.K. Kumar said the minister, Shivraj Patil, sent his resignation to the prime minister to take responsibility for the attacks. The prime minister has yet to respond.

Patil, who has long been unpopular in India, is in charge of much of India's internal security services.

Sunday morning found the landmark waterfront hotel, popular among foreign tourists and Indian society, surrounded by metal barricades, its shattered windows boarded over. At the famous Gateway of India basalt arch nearby, a shrine of candles, flowers and messages commemorated victims.

"We have been to two funerals already," said Mumbai resident Karin Dutta as she lay small bouquet of white flowers for several friends killed in the hotel. "We're going to another one now."

At least 174 people were massacred in the rampage carried out by gunmen at 10 sites across Mumbai starting Wednesday night. One site, the Cafe Leopold, a famous tourist restaurant and scene of one of the first attacks, opened for the first time since the attacks on Sunday afternoon.

The death toll was revised down Sunday from 195 after authorities said some bodies were counted twice, but they said it could rise again as areas of the Taj Mahal were still being searched. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans. Nine attackers were killed.

The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

"Suddenly no one feels safe or secure," said Joe Sequeira, the manager of a popular restaurant near the Oberoi hotel, another site targeted in the attacks. "It will take time. People are scared but they will realize it's no use being scared and sitting at home."

A previously unknown Muslim group called Deccan Mujahideen — a name suggesting origins inside India — has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed more than 170 people. But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman, now in custody, was from Pakistan and voiced suspicions of their neighbor.

Pakistan denied it was involved and demanded evidence.

The assaults have raised fears among U.S. officials about a possible surge in violence between Pakistan and India — the nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars against each other, two over the disputed region of Kashmir.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a rare meeting of leaders from the country's main political parties to discuss the situation Sunday.

Each new detail about the attackers raised more questions. Who trained the militants, who were so well prepared they carried bags of almonds to keep their energy up? What role, if any, did archrival Pakistan play in the attack? And how did so few assailants, who looked like college students, wreak so much damage?

As officials pointed the finger at neighboring Pakistan, some Indians looked inward and expressed anger at their own government.

"People are worried, but the key difference is anger," said Rajesh Jain, chief executive officer at a brokerage firm, Pranav Securities. "People are worked up about the ineffectiveness of the administration. Does the government have the will, the ability to tackle the dangers we face?"

The gunmen were as brazen as they were well trained, using sophisticated weapons as well as GPS technology and mobile and satellite phones to communicate, officials said. The group made repeated contact with an unidentified foreign country.

The investigation suggested the attackers planned to massacre 5,000 people, said R.R. Patil, deputy to the chief of Maharashtra state, without giving further details.

"Whenever they were under a little bit of pressure they would hurl a grenade. They freely used grenades," said J.K. Dutt, director general of India's elite commando unit.

Suspicions in Indian media quickly settled on the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said some "signatures of the attack" were consistent with Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another group that has operated in Kashmir. Both are reported to be linked to al-Qaida.

President George W. Bush pledged full U.S. support for the investigation, saying the killers "will not have the final word." FBI agents were sent to India to help with the probe.

"As the people of the world's largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the people of world's oldest democracy to stand by their side," Bush added in a brief address from the White House.

The Indian navy said it was investigating whether a trawler found drifting off the coast of Mumbai, with a bound corpse on board, was used in the attack.

It was the country's deadliest terrorist act since 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai killed 257 people.


Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman, Ramola Talwar Badam, Erika Kinetz and Anita Chang contributed to this report from Mumbai, and Foster Klug and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed from Washington.

Original here