Snow day

March 2, 2009 1:53:53 PM PST
My first reaction, when the automated phone call came at 5:20 a.m., was that, sure it was snowing.

But not nearly bad enough to cancel school in Manhattan. And despite the official seven inches or so measured in Central Park, it never really got to the point where it LOOKED like a snow day in New York City.

And it wasn't the scene in New York City that cancelled classes today. Rather, staff, including teachers, who don't live in the City couldn't get in to work. Hence the cancellations.

It's a sign of the times, alas, that so many people who work in the City can't afford to live in the City. And the recession isn't making it any easier.

That said, the kids had a great time staying home from school and playing in the snow. Or studying for mid-terms.

Commuting in the snow wasn't that much fun, though. About a third of LIRR riders decided to stay home, which made for a less-crowded morning commute. But the railroad decided, wisely, to increase the number of trains for the commute back - despite the smaller number of passengers - anticipating a larger-than-normal rush to get home earlier than normal.

A smart move, we think. We'll see how it panned out, and how the commute home worked in this latest winter snowstorm -- the biggest of the season and indeed in the past three years -- tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we know it's tough on most Americans with this tanking economy. But oh-to-be a troubled financial corporation! That's where the money is, baby.

AIG getting yet another bailout - $30 billion, its fourth, bringing the total amount of our money to $180 billion or so. But not to worry, taxpayers -- hey, that's us! -- now have an 80% stake in the giant but clearly fairly toxic worldwide insurance company.

Congratulations.

The White House says the latest loan is critical, but we've heard that before.

We're also following the search for two National Football League players, missing from a weekend fishing trip off the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The boat belongs to Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper. He, along with free-agent defensive lineman Corey Smith and former University of South Florida player William Bleakley, remain missing.

The Coast Guard did save one man -- Nick Schuyler, also a former South Florida player. He was hanging onto the boat about 35 miles off the coast of Clearwater. He told rescuers that the boat had been anchored when it flipped Saturday night in rough seas. The others, he said, were tossed over.

And finally, an incredible day in Washington - and it has nothing to do with the bailout. A startling memo, released today, and written on the Bush Administration's last day in office by the Justice Dept.'s Office of Legal Council. The memo found that several legal interpretations involving limiting Constitutional rights of Americans, authored by the Bush Administration, was, to put it mildly, overreaching.

Here are some of the "items:"

"Congress had no role in regulation the detention, interrogation, prosecution and transfer of enemy combatants." The Dept. later opined that Congress did, in fact, have some role.

The Office of the Legal Counsel said that Congress "had never asserted specifically that the President's ability to conduct 'warrantless surveillance' should be restricted." The memo written on Jan. 19, 2009, suggests that was not true; Congress had sought to put limitations on the President's ability to conduct warrantless surveillance.

And finally, memos in 2001 and 2003 said that the President could unilaterally suspend treaties. The Dept. later determined that legal thinking was "unpersuasive."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, including what happens next to the stock market, which plummeted nearly 300 points today, to below 6,800 - a level not seen for nearly 12 years -- plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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