Financial News, Politics, and other Skullduggery

Financial News, Politics, And Other Skulduggery

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Freeze, this is a bail-out!

Too Big To Jail

‎"Over the last year, federal investigators found that one of the world's largest banks, HSBC, spent years committing serious crimes, involving money laundering for terrorists; 'facilitat[ing] money laundering by Mexican drug cartels"; and "mov[ing] tainted money for Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups". Those investigations uncovered substantial evidence "that senior bank officials were complicit in the illegal activity." As but one example, "an HSBC executive at one point argued that the bank should continue working with the Saudi Al Rajhi bank, which has supported Al Qaeda.'

Needless to say, these are the kinds of crimes for which ordinary and powerless people are prosecuted and imprisoned with the greatest aggression possible. If you're Muslim and your conduct gets anywhere near helping a terrorist group, even by accident, you're going to prison for a long, long time. In fact, powerless, obscure, low-level employees are routinely sentenced to long prison terms for engaging in relatively petty money laundering schemes, unrelated to terrorism, and on a scale that is a tiny fraction of what HSBC and its senior officials are alleged to have done.

But not HSBC. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions. In other words, shielding them from the system of criminal sanction to which the rest of us are subject is not for their good, but for our common good. We should not be angry, but grateful, for the extraordinary gift bestowed on the global banking giant. 

That's not merely a dark day for the rule of law. It's a wholesale repudiation of it. The US government is expressly saying that banking giants reside outside of - above - the rule of law, that they will not be punished when they get caught red-handed committing criminal offenses for which ordinary people are imprisoned for decades.

As the Guardian's Nils Pratley noted, "the sum represents about four weeks' earnings given the bank's pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year." Unsurprisingly, "the steady upward progress of HSBC's share price since the scandal exploded in July was unaffected on Tuesday morning."

By coincidence, on the very same day that the DOJ announced that HSBC would not be indicted for its multiple money-laundering felonies, the New York Times published a story featuring the harrowing story of an African-American single mother of three who was sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 27 for a minor drug offense.

As the NYT notes - and read her whole story to get the full flavor of it - this is commonplace for the poor and for minorities in the US justice system. Contrast that deeply oppressive, merciless punishment system with the full-scale immunity bestowed on HSBC - along with virtually every powerful and rich lawbreaking faction in America over the last decade - and that is the living, breathing two-tiered US justice system. How this glaringly disparate, and explicitly status-based, treatment under the criminal law does not produce serious social unrest is mystifying."

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Capitalism on the brink: Moody's downgrades 16 Spanish banks

NEW YORK | Fri May 18, 2012 4:40am EDT

(Reuters) - Moody's Investor Service carried out a sweeping downgrade of 16 Spanish banks on Thursday, including Banco Santander, the euro zone's largest bank, citing a weak economy and the government's reduced ability to support troubled lenders.

Friday, April 20, 2012

James Cameron: Man, Machine and Beyond

by Salamander Fantômas and Eerie Crevice

It was a hundred years ago today that Muslim extremists steered the Titanic into an iceberg, thus ending the Belle Époque and setting into motion the gears that would drive gear-maker Gavrilo Princip mad and cause him to start shooting at Archdukes, which set into motion the bullet which set into motion The Great War, which set into motion Dada and Surrealism. So it is that André Breton owes a debt to James Cameron, without whose films there would be no war. It's simple Terminator logic.

Today, the world is rapidly approaching an important crossroads. On the one hand, Hollywood prostitution is at an all time high. On the other, politicians are running out of high quality cheese imported from Tobago.

What the world needs now more than ever is James Cameron in space. In recent news, Cameron, after several successful missions to Planet X, hinted at fronting a space mining company to outer space. Imagine Hollywood's mogul importing rocks and other valuables from his home planet, Neptune.. It could very well lead to many new advances in space and medicine, but of course the most important thing to remember is that Hollywood is quickly running out of interesting story lines. In an age of scarcity and over-population, it seems that movie-making is always the first to go and we urgently need to fill that void today.

So in that vein we offer these creative possibilities that might inspire some hope.

  • James Cameron starring James Cameron, written and directed by James Cameron
  • "James Cameron, You better not leave the door open to that spacecraft dear, says his wife"
  • Earth Self-destructs, Mars Explodes, Have a Coke and a Smile (15 minute infomercial)
  • James Cameron as Shrek in the new action thriller, Shrek Gets an Electric Poodle (Cameron frees the children but ultimately must kill them in order to save them from themselves.)
  • James Cameron and Beyonce - All Up In These Stars, the floppy hip hop musical

Avatar II: First Blood

Avatar: Wallstreet III

James Cameron as Shrek
James Cameron-Lady Gaga clone

(Artist Renderings - click for larger images)

10 Signs The Economy Is Improving

The outlook is somewhat grim for these 10 companies

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anti-BP Protesters Make Cameo Appearance in Pro-BP Ad

Anti-BP Protesters Make Cameo Appearance in Pro-BP Ad

It might be lesson one of putting together any ad spot: scrub away anything that might make your company look bad. Especially if your company already looks bad.

But in its latest ad, which promotes the company’s continuing cleanup efforts after the Gulf Coast oil spill, BP apparently missed the shot that shows a group of anti-BP protesters picketing against the oil company.

(PHOTOS: The Oil Spill Zone, One Year Later)

The BP ad marks the company’s first presence on the airwaves since late 2010. The 60-second spot, airing nationally since December 26th, touts the company’s “ongoing commitment” to cleaning up the spill. But amid the gorgeous sunsets and wildlife images, the ad accidentally draws attention to a group of people expressing a complete opposite opinion. As BP’s External Relations Manager Iris Cross enthusiastically explains that many Gulf towns are having their “best tourism season in years,” the camera pans over the packed 40th Annual National Shrimp Festival, held each year in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Protesters picket on the beach near the Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala. held from Oct. 13-16, 2011.
And in the back of the shot, barely visible on the beach, is a throng of protesters. They make a two-second cameo, hardly visible in the wide-angle shot, but close-up pictures posted after the ad aired prove that the ant-sized figures (seen in the above video from 0:47-0:49) were indeed the Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition, who set up a tent and brought their banners to the Shrimp Festival to protest that not enough had been done to clean up the spill.

Naturally, when they saw cameras filming, they tried to insert themselves into the shot. “I, like the rest of the protestors, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” protest organizer Michele Harmon told the Houston Chronicle‘s FuelFix blog. BP has not yet commented nor has it changed or pulled the ad. Considering the hundreds of millions spent by BP on post-spill PR, this tiny slip-up is one rather large oversight.

WATCH: Lingering Worries About Health and Seafood in Louisiana

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