Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan

06
Aug
10

Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty

NEWS
Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty
New Charges Leveled Against NYC Man With Ties To Zazi, Others in Alleged Terror Plot.

Friday, August 6, 2010

••• One of the men accused in an alleged al-Qaeda bomb plot against New York’s subway system has pleaded not guilty.

Adis Medunjanin, 26, entered the plea on Friday at an arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The main suspect in the alleged 2009 conspiracy, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Last month U.S. prosecutors said al-Qaeda leaders helped set up the plot as part of a Pakistan-based campaign against U.S. and British cities.

According to new charges, Zazi, Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, who has also pleaded guilty, were recruited by al-Qaeda member Adnan El Shukrijumah.

He was described as being one of three leaders of al-Qaeda’s external operations program.
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01
Aug
10

It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!

NEWS
It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!
Chelsea Clinton marries banker Marc Mezvinsky in star-studded ceremony in New York

Sunday, August 1, 2010

••• Chelsea Clinton has married her longtime boyfriend at an exclusive estate along New York’s Hudson River.

Bill and Hillary Clinton announced in a statement that their daughter wed investment banker Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday night after weeks of secrecy and buildup that had celebrity watchers flocking to the small village of Rhinebeck for the evening nuptials.

‘Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends,’ the Clintons said.
‘We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day.’

More than 400 guests were expected at the historic estate.
Details of the wedding were kept fanatically close to the vest, with shopkeepers, innkeepers, vendors and restaurateurs sworn to secrecy.

Officials restricted airspace over the estate, and the area will remain a no-fly zone until 03:30 am local time on Sunday.
Roads were also blocked off, and inconvenienced neighbors were soothed with a complimentary bottle of wine.

Some of the celebrities spotted in Rhinebeck for the event included actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, fashion designer Vera Wang and Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s second term as president.

The wedding took place at Astor Courts, a secluded estate along the Hudson River built as a Beaux Arts style playground for John Jacob Astor IV more than a century ago.
The estate features the sort of commanding view that once inspired Hudson River School painters, as well as 20 hectares of buffer space to shield the party from prying eyes.

Chelsea Clinton and Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University.

They now live in New York, where Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital, a Manhattan hedge fund. Mezvinsky worked previously at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

Clinton completed her master’s degree in public health earlier this year at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Mezvinsky is a son of former U.S. Reps Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania and Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa, longtime friends of the Clintons.

His parents are divorced.
» Related: Clinton wedding extravaganza special!
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29
Jul
10

Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

NEWS
Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

••• Wedding bells aren’t ringing yet, but the cash tills are, as the countdown begins in tiny Rhinebeck to Chelsea Clinton’s celebrity wedding on Saturday.

‘It’s like having the Olympics in your town,’ exclaimed Alex Batkin, manager of the up-market Wing and Clover arts-and-craft boutique.

Like the rest of the world, locals can only guess at details of the secrecy-shrouded marriage between Chelsea, daughter of former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her investment banker beau Marc Mezvinsky.

The guest list remains under wraps, with names as varied as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey thrown around on gossip websites, but President Barack Obama apparently is not showing.

The location is assumed to be the posh Astor Courts estate just outside Rhinebeck, almost a three hours drive from New York City, though even this has never been confirmed.

In any case, Rhinebeck, population less than 8000, is laying out the welcome mat.

‘Congratulations to Marc and Chelsea!’ a poster in the window of Pete’s Famous Restaurant, an old style diner, says.

‘Mazel tov,’ reads a sign in Samuel’s sweets shop, using the Hebrew for ‘good luck’ in a nod to the Jewish Mezvinsky.
Mixed with goodwill is hunger for good business in a sleepy town shifting from rural roots to the glitzier role of retreat for New York’s wealthy.

Echoing the Clinton family news blackout, no one here will openly discuss their share in the bonanza brought by the expected 400 guests at a no-expenses-spared party. But, clearly, no one wants to be left out.

One of the big winners is believed to be the picturesque Beekman Arms inn, which claims to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States.

Workers were adding a lick of white paint under the roof on Tuesday as staff lugged in suitcases to fully booked rooms.

Asked who was staying, the normally polite front desk clerks became stony faced.

‘No comment,’ one told a reporter. Another conveyed the same message by raising her hands to make an X with two fingers.

Batkin’s store revealed at least one success: a painting bought as a gift for the betrothed.

The picture is emblazoned ‘Chelsea and Marc’ over a naive-style depiction of a wedding cake surrounded by trees, squirrels and a fish-filled river.
Of course, Batkin wouldn’t say how much the painting went for – or to whom.

‘I just can’t,’ he said apologetically.

Across the road at Liquors and Wines, Mike Haley said the supplier for white wine at the party would be Clinton Vineyards from the happily named nearby town of Clinton.

‘It’s light and dry. It goes good with fish or chicken,’ he said.

Haley looked wistfully at his huge selection of bottles. ‘I’d love to supply. I haven’t had a call from them yet, though,’ he said.

Hoping to get at least a few financial crumbs from the wedding table, he did put some bottles of Clinton Vineyards Tribute 2009 in his storefront window.’

Another entrepreneur seeking wedding joy is Rhinebeck Deli, where the menu features the Hillary Clinton-themed ‘Secretary of Steak’.’

Even the Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league baseball team, wants to get in on the act.’
Their mascot, a man dressed as a raccoon, stood at Rhinebeck’s main crossroads on Tuesday with a sign reading: ‘Chelsea Will U Marry Me?’ Locals and bemused tourists grinned at the sight.’

‘We’re trying to get a little buzz going for the team, so people come down to the park and check us out,’ explained teammate A.J. Tomeny.’

All the excitement would implode spectacularly if it turned out Rhinebeck was not the real wedding location, but an elaborate diversion in the Clinton information war – as a few conspiracy minded locals suspect.’

The Hudson Valley News, a local weekly that has become a must-read for the growing international press corps in the town, says not to worry.’

Without citing sources, the latest edition reports that the wedding will indeed take place at Astor Courts, starting at 6 pm on Saturday and that police will shut down roads in the vicinity.’

‘Congratulations Chelsea and Marc’ the slightly premature front page banner headline reads.’

Drinking coffee in Pete’s Famous Restaurant, 79-year-old Ed Hammond called the hoopla ‘insane’.’

‘I think they’ve lost track of the two people at the centre, the ones actually getting married,’ he said.’

‘Myself, I’ll get the hell out. I’m not much of one for crowds.’
» Related: It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!
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05
Jul
10

2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

NEWS
2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks in New York City

Monday, July 5, 2010

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks 2010 turned out to be a spectacular and star studded event. On Sunday night as the whole of the United States joined hands to celebrate the Independence Day,Macy’s Fireworks only made the occasion all the more special. The community took care to bring some of the most well known singers on board as the fireworks lit up the sky above the Hudson River. Live on the deck of the Norwegian Epic cruise liner were teen singing sensation Justin Bieber who headlined this year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks spectacle. Along with him were other singing sensations like Enrique Iglesias and LeAnn Rimes. Some of the star-casts of the “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” also made it to the deck.
If people jived to the singing of Justin Bieber and Enrique Iglesias along the Manhattan West Side then, there were millions more who enjoyed the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 on television as it was aired live by the NBC Networks on Sunday night. Although there were many who celebrated the occasion at home with family members and friends many came out witness the spectacle with their own eyes with hope that it would be “even better” to see it live.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 lived up to the expectation of the thousands who came up all the way to the bank of the Hudson river to mark the occasion. The red, blue yellow and white fireworks with each different from the other and gigantic in size made it a thing of beauty.
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02
Jul
10

Judge Grants Bail to One of Alleged Russia Spies

NEWS
Judge Grants Bail to One of Alleged Russia Spies

Friday, July 2, 201

••• A prosecutor has warned that a powerful and sophisticated network of U.S.-based Russian agents was eager to help defendants in an alleged spy ring flee the country on bail.

U.S. authorities also said one defendant confessed that he worked for Russia’s intelligence service and others had large amounts of cash.

‘There are a lot of Russian government officials in the United States who are actively assisting this conspiracy,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz told U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis on Thursday as he argued that those arrested last weekend should remain held without bail.

Ellis ruled that two defendants, Cynthia and Richard Murphy, should remain in custody because there was no other way to guarantee they would not flee since it was unclear who they were.

But he set bail of $250,000 for prominent Spanish-language journalist Vicky Pelaez, a U.S. citizen born in Peru, saying she did not appear to be trained as a spy.

The judge required electronic monitoring and home detention and said she would not be freed before Tuesday, giving prosecutors time to appeal.

Ellis ruled after Farbiarz said the evidence against the defendants continued to mount and the case was solid.

‘Judge, this is a case where the evidence is extraordinarily strong. Prosecutors don’t get cases like this very often,’ he said.

The decision to set bail for one defendant came as police in Cyprus searched airports, ports and yacht marinas to find a man who had been going by the name Christopher Metsos, who disappeared after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail.

‘This is a case that in the course of less than a week has gotten much, much better,’ Farbiarz said, citing $80,000 in new, hundred dollar bills found in the safe-deposit box of two defendants who had been living in Montclair, NJ.
Farbiarz said a criminal complaint filed against the defendants was ‘relatively long but the complaint is the tip of an iceberg’.

The prosecutor said new evidence included the discovery of multiple mobile phones and multiple currencies in a safe deposit box and other ‘tools of the trade when they’re in this business’.

He said the spy ring consisted of people who for decades had worked to Americanise themselves while engaging in secret global travel with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink, encrypted radio and techniques so sophisticated that prosecutors chose not to describe them in court papers.

If freed, Farbiarz warned, the defendants would certainly flee, using co-conspirators in the United States to disappear and the tentacles of ‘one of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world’.

Farbiarz said the defendants have a ‘powerful sophisticated network they can call upon in the United States’.

The prosecutor’s claims were countered by lawyers for several defendants who said that their clients, accused of going undercover in U.S. cities and suburbs, were harmless and should be released on bail.

‘It’s all hyperbole, your honour,’ lawyer Donna Newman said on behalf of Richard Murphy.

She said Murphy was a stay-at-home-dad who did the chores while his wife Cynthia earned a good living.

Farbiarz said the couple was proof that the defendants carried out ‘deception and lies at a systematic level’.

He said U.S. agents had been surveilling them for years and yet ‘after all those years of listening, there is no inkling at all that their children who they live with have any idea their parents are Russian agents’.

Ellis said the disappearance of Metsos after he was granted bail on the Mediterranean island did not affect his ruling.

‘I don’t know what they do in Cyprus,’ the judge said.

Lawyers for Juan Lazaro asked to postpone his bail hearing just hours after prosecutors revealed in a letter to Ellis that Lazaro had made incriminating statements.

U.S. authorities said in their court filing that Lazaro made a lengthy statement after his June 27 arrest in which he discussed some details of the operation, which prosecutors said involved Russian moles on a long-term mission to infiltrate American society.

Among other things, prosecutors said, he admitted that Juan Lazaro was not his real name, that he wasn’t born in Uruguay and wasn’t a citizen of Peru, as he had long claimed, that his home in Yonkers, NY, had been paid for by Russian intelligence and that his wife, Pelaez, had passed letters to the ‘Service’ on his behalf.

He also told investigators that even though he loved his son, ‘he would not violate his loyalty to the ‘Service’ even for his son,’ three assistant U.S. lawyers wrote in a court memo.

They added that Lazaro, who investigators claim spent at least part of his childhood in Siberia, also wouldn’t reveal his true name.

Federal prosecutors said they had searched a safe-deposit box belonging to the Murphys this week and found eight unmarked envelopes each stuffed with $10,000.
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27
Jun
10

Prince Harry visits New York

NEWS
Prince Harry visits New York

Sunday, June 27, 2010

••• Prince Harry has abdicated the saddle.

The third in line for the British crown tumbled from his horse during a charity polo match at Governors Island today.

The thrown prince landed on his knees after falling from the left side of the horse, but quickly remounted and dusted himself off. Play resumed within 10 seconds.

The momentary clumsiness did nothing to diminish his royal dreaminess, spectators said.
Prince Harry says whatever the score in the World Cup clash with Germany, the country will be ‘hugely proud’ of the England team.

‘I just hope we beat Germany because there has been a bit of a past history between England and Germany,’ he told ABC television’s Good Morning America.

‘As long as our guys do their best the country will be hugely proud of them. I think we’ve already done fantastically well so let’s see how we go.’

Before sitting down for the interview the prince had thrown the ceremonial pitch at Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets baseball team.

Football, rugby and polo are more in Prince Harry’s comfort zone, so he approached the pitching mound with some trepidation.
Thousands of New York Mets fans watched as the 25-year-old started, then abandoned, one attempt before finally giving it his best shot.

As he pretended to wipe sweat from his brow, the crowd roared its approval. Later it emerged he’d received some last-minute coaching from the Mets’ so-called ‘knuckleballer’ R.A. Dickey.

He said the prince was throwing with a more straight-armed cricket throw so he told him to bend his elbow.

‘We didn’t talk about Parliament or anything,’ Dickey said. ‘We’re just two guys having a catch.’
Later on Saturday night, Harry drummed up support for his own charity Sentebale which helps disadvantaged children in Lesotho.
‘Over 100 children are orphaned every day and within a population of 1.8 million there are 400, 000 orphans and vulnerable children – in a country the same size as this state of Connecticut,’ he told the guests at an exclusive country club.
‘Everyone here tonight can help, don’t think that you can’t – believe you can, because I have seen it in the children’s eyes.’

On Sunday he’ll join a race with servicemen recently injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then, like many of his grandmother’s subjects. he’ll find a television to watch the match.
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22
Jun
10

Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

NEWS
Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Admitted terrorist Faisal Shahzad was so eager to tell how he plotted to kill Americans in Times Square, he went to court with a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum refused to hear him read it on Monday, instead challenging the Pakistan-born American citizen to just say “what happened.”

In an unapologetic, matter-of-fact courtroom colloquy that followed, Shahzad offered chilling details about how he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the US to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.

“One has to understand where I’m coming from,’ he said in an unusual departure from tightly scripted guilty pleas, with his defence lawyer and prosecutors sitting in silence in federal court in Manhattan. ‘I consider myself … a Muslim soldier.”

Shahzad, 30, admitted leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged with a homemade bomb in bustling Times Squares on a warm night on May 1.

The bomb failed to go off, and the Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident was arrested trying to leave the country on a Dubai-bound flight two days later.

Authorities say following his capture, Shahzad voluntarily started talking about the botched bombing right away – a pattern that continued in open court, where he agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he’d face life in prison.

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said.

Until U.S. forces leave Muslim territory, he added, “we will be attacking U.S.”

Sentencing was set for October 5, and prosecutors say that at least one of the counts to which Shahzad pleaded guilty carries a mandatory life term. With no parole in the federal system, that means he would die behind bars.
Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad – a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two – show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses driving a car, or standing next to his American wife. When led into court on Monday, he had on a white skull cap and prisoner’s uniform, his beard shaggy and his demeanor full of pride and absent of remorse.

Shahzad traced his plot to a 2009 trip to Pakistan that began only three months after he received his U.S. citizenship.

While staying with his parents, he ventured into the lawless Waziristan region in December with “a couple of friends … to join the (Pakistani) Taliban.” He didn’t describe the friends any further.

But an intelligence official in Pakistan told The Associated Press that CIA investigators have been given access to two Pakistani men who helped Shahzad reach Mir Ali town in North Waziristan, as well as to three other suspects being held by Pakistani authorities.

The official insisted on anonymity because Pakistan’s intelligence agency does not allow its operatives to be identified.

Shahzad said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York with funding from the militant group.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on February 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction.

Authorities say the bomb malfunctioned, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of several city blocks.

The judge kept up a steady back-and-forth with Shahzad, questioning how it was possible he pulled off the near-bombing solo.

“You built the bomb all by yourself?” she asked.

“Yes. … Nobody helped me,” he replied.

She also pressed him on how he could target U.S. civilians if his goal was to retaliate against U.S. forces, asking of the potential in Times Square that night, “Did you look around to see who they were?”

“Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit …”

Cedarbaum interrupted again: “Including the children?”

Shahzad answered: “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people.

They’re killing all Muslims.”

Later, he added: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack.

Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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