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What Recession? Tourists Swarm Big Apple

In Economy, Uncategorized on November 25, 2008 at 12:15 am

Is it possible that the much ballyhooed recession has yet to arrive?

Travel industry insiders report “unprecedented” numbers of Americans flocking to New York City for the long  holiday weekend.  Bookings for large groups [of 20 or more] are reported to have reached numbers tripling the previous high set during the Shriners’ 75th Anniversary celebration in 1997.  Hotels from Harlem to the Financial District are sold out, and tent cities have reportedly sprung up in city parks and even vacant lots.

Crowd gathers before tour of financial district.

Crowd gathers before tour of financial district.

Many are apparently bargain hunters taking advantage not only of New York’s diverse marketplace but also the multitude of retailers discounting everything from sporting goods to plumbing supplies in order to get an early jump on their holiday shopping.  “We were expecting a slowdown,” said Liam Toomey, manager of The Home Depot on West 23rd Street. “Not only did we not get one, but I’m predicting record numbers for this location.”  A variety of items from many areas of the store are flying off the shelves faster than workers can re-stock them — items as diverse as crowbars, chain saws, plumbing pipe, shovels, hatchets, butcher’s utensils, rags, glass bottles and jars, flashlights and “every flammable liquid we carry,” according to Mr. Toomey, “and Sterno — lots and lots of Sterno.”

His sentiments were echoed by Richard Polyn of The Sports Authority.  “We’ve had to send to other areas for many popular items,” he said. “Most of our city locations are totally out of things like baseball bats, hockey sticks, helmets of every kind, and various camping supplies — especially lanterns, fire wood, and tent spikes and mallets.  I don’t recall ever seeing so many people buying tent spikes without buying tents.  I guess it’s something a lot of campers forget to pack.  There’s also not a slingshot, golf club, or bow and arrow to be had.”

And many tourists plan to do some sightseeing as well.  Mary Travers, head of the City Tourism Board, reported that the Board’s offices have literally been flooded with calls in recent days by tourists seeking travel directions to places like the stock exchanges and even various corporate headquarters.

City Hall spokesperson Eileen O’Sullivan said the Mayor and other city officials “couldn’t be happier to see such renewed interest by so many of our friends from around the country in coming back to New York.  This will be our biggest weekend since before the September 11 attacks, and with all the jobs being lost here, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.”  Ms. O’Sullivan added that she is “extremely disappointed” that she won’t be around to “share the love that always seems to shine through at times like this,” but added that many friends and family from other parts of the country “literally were pleading with me to get out of town for the weekend.”

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NO REPRIEVE FOR WHITE HOUSE TURKEY

In Politics on November 21, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Tom the Turkey is dead.

His execution took place in the back yard of Number One Observatory Circle shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday following a brief but tense White House ceremony where President Bush refused to bow to pressure that he maintain the long-standing tradition of pardoning Washington poultry in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“You have to draw the line somewhere,” the President told a distraught group of third-graders who had expected to accompany the turkey to a petting zoo after the ceremony. “Too many have gotten fat at taxpayer expense and then turned to this administration to save them when the stuffing hit the fan. I’m here to say ‘No more!’ If this head has to roll to send a message to the banks, the brokerage houses, the auto industry and all my other fair-weather friends and supporters, then so be it. I hereby deny Tom the Turkey’s request for a pardon and order that he be remanded to the custody of the Vice President to be shot forthwith.”

When an angry protester heckled the President after his announcement, Mr. Bush responded, “You can take it up with Dick if you want, but if I were you, I wouldn’t get between him and the bird.”

When quizzed later by a member of the White House press corps as to whether he thought his actions may have traumatized some of the gathered elementary-school children, the President said, “I believe that in the long run I did them a favor. I get briefings every morning on the state of the country and the world, and believe me, these kids are going to have to get used to the idea of finding and killing their own food.”

Later in the day, the President said he expects to announce “in the very near future” a $150 billion bailout plan for the Republican Party.

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Obama Taps Ayers for Homeland Security

In Politics on November 10, 2008 at 11:49 am

‘Practical Experience’ Key Factor in Decision

What is expected to be a flurry of major appointments began with somewhat of a surprise yesterday as President-Elect Obama tabbed controversial education professor William Ayers to be his Secretary of Homeland Security. While reporters and pundits were caught off-guard by the announcement, transition team insiders indicated that Dr. Ayers appointment came as no surprise to “anybody who pals around with Barack Obama”.

In a brief prepared statement, President-Elect Obama praised Professor Ayers, who was named Chicago’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ in 1997 for his work in reforming the city’s education system, not only for his years of public service, but also his “practical experience as it relates to homeland security”.

“Bill Ayers knows how terrorists think,” Mr. Obama said of his longtime colleague and cribbage partner, “He knows what they eat for breakfast. Bill, or ‘Uncle Billy’ as my two girls call him, was part of a group that not only identified, but was also able to penetrate key terrorist targets a full thirty years before the attacks of September 11. That’s the kind of know-how, the kind of expertise we need in Washington. That’s the kind of guy we need on our side. In addition, Bill and I have a long history of working well together, and I know I can trust him at least 90% of the time. It’s not every day you get odds like that in Washington. So I say to you now, let the word go forth from this time and place, to those who would attack this generation of Americans within our own borders, ‘You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on William Ayers’.”

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When reached by phone, Dr. Ayers told reporters, “I look forward to working with my ‘bff’ Barack Obama to keep our people safe and our nation secure.  And it’s going to be really cool to prowl the corridors of power without fear of being recognized.”

Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emmanuel, when asked what role, if any, he played in Dr. Ayer’s appointment, told reporters, “The President-Elect had his mind pretty much made up before I came on board, but I couldn’t agree more with his decision and am delighted that William Ayers will be playing for our team. He’s the third guy who was in Grant Park last week who will be attending Cabinet meetings — five more and we’ll break the record set back in 1968.”

When a puzzled reporter asked if his statement indicated that Americans could expect the Obama Cabinet to resemble the ‘Chicago 7′ made famous by their trial on charges of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Mr. Emmanuel, in the style for which he has become known on Capitol Hill, responded, “Why, would that be a [expletive] problem for you?”

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