Friday, January 11, 2008

SAR #8012

Behind every great fortune there is a crime.
- Angelo Mozilo Honore de Balzac

Ecological Impact : Brazilian ethanol, we're told, is renewable and relatively clean. The lives of Brazilian sugar cane cutters are neither.

Clarification : The Supreme Court of the United States says Jerry Fitch owes Johnny Valentine $750,000 for having an affair with Johnny's wife. Mississippi has a law that says stealing a man's wife constitutes "alienation of affection" which entitles the spouse to collect damages for "loss of companionship, love, and sex." I want to make clear that I am James Fitch, not Jerry, and his name was Mike, not Johnny.

Walks Like A Duck : By 2014, anyone seeking to board an airplane or enter a federal building will have to present a REAL ID-compliant driver's license. "It is not a National Identity Card," claims Michael Chertoff, Head of Internal Security. He did not say how it differed from one.

Playing Pretend : Used to be banks didn't have to write off bad loans as long as they didn't call them bad loans. After the S&L debacle a rule, SEC Financial Accounting Standard 114, was adopted that said that restructured loans hit the bottom line. Now banks are saying that they are restructuring sooo many mortgages that this would involve too much work. It would also involve admitting too many losses.

Title : Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage company, is bankrupt. Bank of America is buying it - but only because the Fed is guaranteeing any losses. CEO Mozilo gets to keep "an executive title." 'Thieving Little Shit' comes to mind.

If "A" Then "B" ? In 2005 the world was at the same stage of depletion as the North Sea was in 1999. Using the best technology available, the decline of the North Sea was unstoppable. Why should we expect a different outcome from the ongoing decline in world crude oil production? "Because we need the oil", isn't going to cut it.

Fooled Again, not ! The Pentagon now says the threat "may not have come from Iran." Also today, NSA released electronic intercepts that show the Gulf of Tonkin Incident never happened.

Public Nuisance : Cleveland is suing 21 major banks for enabling the housing bubble and its attendant 7,000 foreclosures in the city. The empty buildings have become slum, crime, and arson magnets, and the devalued property has depleted the city's tax base. Another case of privatizing profits and passing the costs to the public. It's the American way.

Junior Crimestoppers : Internet Service Providers - those guys that connect you to the Web - have always let data flow uninterrupted. Now they want to become data cops, examining what you are sending, to whom. They claim it's to protect copyright material. Right - or did DHS whisper in their ear? It's like the electric company checking to see if you are doing anything illegal with all those electrons.

Containment : California is suffering lower tax income from declining housing values. Gov. Arnold is cutting $4 billion from schools, $1 billion from Medi-Cal, cutting aid to the blind, disabled, and elderly, closing 20% of state parks and releasing 22,000 felons from jail. Can't wait to see how he handles the 2009 state budget, after the recession really gets going.

Spy vs. Spy : Imagine a spy story where it is companies, not governments... Say one company from country one wants to know about the negotiations of a second company from country two that are going on in a city in country three about a project in country four... A little hard to follow. Let me try again. Pretend that the Chinese National Oil Company wanted to know the details of what various African countries were negotiating with Shell in it's Houston offices.... At least I spied for God and Country, not for oil. Oh, right, one's the other.

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