Friday, March 18, 2011

Morning Brief: Libya says it will release NYT journalists as foreign pressure builds; Lincoln sponsors free access to NYT website; National Lampoon CEO arrested

Running behind this morning, maybe the time change has hit me. Oh well, at least it is spring here and the sun is shining -- 'bout time.

Things are heating up in Libya. Yesterday Qaddafi bragged that he would be in the city of Benghazi by that evening and that the people there should prepare (you can use your imagination in regards to what they should be prepared for).

But following a vote in the United Nations the dictator's tone has suddenly changed. This morning Qaddafi declared a ceasefire. And no wonder, the BBC quotes French officials as saying that air-strikes against the Qaddafi regime could begin "within hours".

Also, Seif Islam el-Qaddafi, son of Col. Qaddafi, told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC News interview that the four New York Times journalists that have gone missing were captured by forces loyal to the Qaffadi regime and that they will be released today. The fear has been that the four journalists, Anthony Shadid, the Times’s Beirut bureau chief, photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, were being held by mercenaries more or less outside the firm control of the regime.

The Guardian: Libya declares ceasefire after UN resolution
BBC: Libya 'to halt military action'
NYT: Libya Says It Will Release Times Journalists

Last night, while trying to keep up with events in Libya I clicked on over to the NYT website using my iPad for the latest news. Up popped an ad for Lincoln (which, by the way, yesterday took the top spot in the JD Power dependability rankings -- congrats to them).
The ad, which you can see at right, said "Beginning March 28. The New York Times will charge for unlimited access to its Web site. Experience all that has to offer you for the rest of 2011 at no charge, courtesy of Lincoln. This extraordinary invitation is being extended to an exclusive group of visitor to"

Shock, surprise. Then click, then quickly a confirmation email arrives in my in-box stating that "You have successfully redeemed your free subscription to You now have access to the online benefits below" -- which basically are the website and smartphone level.

My question: just how exclusive is this offer? A quick search of the web has not revealed any articles on this ad campaign. In any case, thanks to whoever thought this one up -- it is definitely appreciated.

Timothy Durham, chief executive officer of National Lampoon Inc., has found an inventive solution to making money with print: a life of crime. The FBI arrested Durham on Wednesday, accusing the executive of running a $200 million Ponzi scheme.

Durham and co-defendant James Cochran were accused of using investor money to "maintain their lifestyles and to pay for personal expenses," according the indictment Reuters reports.

The Ponzi scheme actually has nothing to do with the National Lampoon, but centers a bankrupt company, Fair Financial Services of Akron, Ohio. According to the charges, the company provided companies with investor case to cover their business loans. But rather than employing the investor money in the way promised, the defendant are accused of using the money on themselves.

Reuters: "In 2008, Durham had $150,000 wired over so he could spend it at a casino, and Cochran took $50,000 to pay country club fees, according to the indictment."