Senior bankers arrested in India in corruption probe

MUMBAI: The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested eight finance executives, including the chief of LIC Housing Finance, accusing them of taking bribes to give big corporate loans and sending shockwaves through stock and property markets at a time when the government is buffeted by a series of high-profile scandals.

LIC Housing Finance chief executive Ramachandran Nair , Life Insurance Corporation secretary for investments Naresh K Chopta, Bank of India general manager RN Tayal, and Central Bank of India director Maninder Singh Johar were among those arrested in the nationwide swoop by investigators.

The agency also arrested Rajesh Sharma, chief executive of Money Matters Group, a specialist loan arranger that was the go-between for lenders and corporates and is at the centre of the scandal…

“Officers of top management and middle management of various public sector banks and financial institutions were receiving illegal gratifications from the private financial services company who were acting as mediators and facilitators for corporate loans and other facilities from financial institutions,” a CBI statement said. The arrests come at a time the government is on the defensive and is accused of condoning a culture of loot.

These are the biggest and most high-profile arrests since the Unit Trust of India corruption scandal a decade ago and the 1992 securities scam…

All the accused will be in CBI custody until Monday. They have been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act and, if convicted, could be jailed for up to seven years and lose retirement privileges.

At this stage of the judicial proceedings you can’t predict the effect of these arrests being positive or negative.

Certainly, prosecution of corrupt bureaucrats is always welcome. You never catch up – do you? And peering from a distance, I think it unlikely that negative spin by analyst bears will be lasting. Not in an economy as hot as India.

Texas jury finds Tom DeLay guilty of money laundering

A Travis County jury today found former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay guilty of political money laundering charges relating to a corporate money swap in the 2002 elections.

The verdict came down five years after DeLay was forced to step down as the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House. The charges also led DeLay to resign from his Sugar Land congressional seat in 2006.

DeLay was accused of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On the conspiracy charge, DeLay faces a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and five to 99 years or life in prison on the money laundering count…

At the center of the case against DeLay was an exchange of $190,000 in corporate donations to TRMPAC for an equal amount of money donated by individuals to the Republican National Committee. The RNC money was given to seven Texas candidates specified by TRMPAC.

Corporate money cannot be used in candidate campaigns in Texas.

Not that it’s a problem any longer in national elections – thanks to the Republican/Roberts Supreme Court.

Still, it’s nice to a little corruption recognized for the slime and crime that it is.

WMO measures greenhouse gases at record levels

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Concentrations of the main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached their highest level since pre-industrial times, the World Meteorological Organization has said…

The main long-lived greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have reached their highest recorded levels since the beginning of the industrial age, and this despite the recent economic slowdown,” WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa told a briefing.

The findings will be studied at a U.N. meeting in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10 to discuss climate change.

Total radiative forcing of all long-lived greenhouse gases — the balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out — increased by 1.0 percent in 2009 and rose by 27.5 percent from 1990 to 2009, the WMO said.

The growth rates for carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide were smaller than in 2008, but this had only a marginal impact on the long-lasting concentrations…

Carbon dioxide is the single most important greenhouse gas caused by human activity, contributing 63.5 percent of total radiative forcing. Its concentration has increased by 38 percent since 1750, mainly because of emissions from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and changes in land use, the WMO said.

Natural emissions of methane due for example to the melting of the Arctic icecap or increased rainfall on wetlands — themselves caused by global warming — are becoming more significant, it said.

This could create a “feedback loop” in which global warming releases large quantities of methane into the atmosphere which then contribute to further global warming.

Yes, I know it seems to be too difficult a task for many to comprehend time beyond the next 2 quarters much less a few centuries. Geologic time fits only into the rationalization scheme of some ideologies.

Treating the “Age” of industrialization as comparable to prehistoric epochs only works for those whose skull shape matches their perception of the Earth’s geometry.

Anti-privacy vandals target Street View opt-out homes

German home-owners who have chosen to opt out of Google’s Street View service appear to have become the unsuspecting victims of anti-privacy vandals.

Local media report that homes in Essen, west Germany have been pelted with eggs and had ‘Google’s cool’ notices pinned to their doors.

The properties involved have all chosen to be blurred on Google’s Street View service.

So far, this appears to be a one-time bit of anarchy – though most dipshit student anarchists defend their privacy with gusto – figuring it may protect their boring middle-class lives after school.

Street View is rolling out across Germany this month and is proving a hit with users, according to Google.

The German government took a hard line on the service, mandating that citizens be allowed to opt out, before pictures went live. Almost 250,000 Germans requested that Google blur pictures of their homes on the service.

Probable Darwin Award winner

The quiet neighborhood in Milton where the body was found

The teenager found dead on a Milton, Massachusetts, street last week is the 16-year-old who disappeared from his father’s house in North Carolina, authorities confirmed last night.

Police matched the fingerprint taken from the body, which was found Monday night, with samples taken from a personal item that belonged to Delvonte Tisdale, whose father reported him missing just hours before his body was found…No details were released about how Tisdale got to Boston or how he died…

The case has puzzled authorities since Monday night, when the body was found on Brierbrook Street, a secluded area of the town.

There was no identification on the body, except for what looked like a school lunch pass with what appeared to be Tisdale’s name on it.

Anthony Tisdale reported his son missing Monday at 5:48 p.m., according to a police report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The body in Milton was found at about 9:30 that night…The body had been found with broken bones and evidence of massive trauma, especially to the head. A preliminary autopsy did not specify a cause of death.

A 2nd opinion

Officials are looking into the possibility the teenager was hiding in the wheel well of an airplane bound for Boston when he fell to the ground…

Federal Aviation Administration officials said Tuesday jets headed for Boston’s Logan International Airport from the south drop their landing gear when they are over Milton.

And there was a flight from North Carolina the night the teen was reported missing, the Herald reported.

If this, in fact, was how this kid died, it’s a testament to the ignorance of urban legends. People believe this is a safe way to steal a free ride when 99% of the time it ends in death. Either you are crushed when the wheels come up after take-off or you freeze to death traveling at altitude in an unheated compartment – or you drop out of the sky when the wheels come down.

Landmark decision orders SAP to pay Oracle $1.3 billion

Larry Ellison
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

SAP AG must pay Oracle Corp $1.3 billion for software theft, a jury decided, awarding damages that could be the largest-ever for copyright infringement.

The decision, by a U.S. district court jury in Oakland California, drew a gasp from the courtroom and prompted hugs and handshakes among Oracle’s legal team, which has pursued their case for years…

While SAP could appeal, Oracle attorney David Boies said, that would raise the possibility of a retrial. “If I were SAP, and I’m not, but if I were SAP, I’m not sure I would want to have another trial,” Boies said.

At the outset of the trial, the German company acknowledged that its TomorrowNow subsidiary had wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle’s files.

With the admission of liability, the issue before the jury was how much Oracle was owed in damages. SAP said no more $40 million, while Oracle at least $1.65 billion…

The U.S. government is also conducting a criminal investigation into the events surrounding TomorrowNow but has not disclosed details. SAP said it has been cooperating with Department of Justice investigators.

You have to wonder what would be the realistic chance of reducing the penalty for a crime you already admitted to?

Bomb factory found in San Diego rental home

The man accused of turning his North County rental home into a makeshift “bomb factory” initially denied to authorities last week that he had anything explosive in his backyard, according to a search warrant affidavit returned Tuesday morning at Vista Superior Court.

Authorities who were called to the home on Via Scott on Thursday said George Djura Jakubec, 54, “appeared evasive and nervous during his conversation” with an Escondido fire captain, despite the fact that a gardener had just been injured in an explosion there, the warrant said…

After continued questioning, investigators got Jakubec to admit to possessing additional explosives and bomb-making materials that were in the backyard and inside the house, the court documents said.

The nine to 12 pounds of chemicals — hexamethelyne triperoxide diamine, pentaerythritol tetranitrate and erythritol tetranitrate — turned out to represent the largest such find in a single location in the United States, prosecutors later said. Thirteen grenades wrapped with shrapnel and nine detonators also were found.

Bomb technicians were still determining Tuesday how to clear the home of the highly dangerous and volatile cache of chemicals, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. The house remained sealed off, and the residents of two neighboring houses have not been allowed to return home.

Jakubec remains jailed in Vista on $5 million bail. He has been charged with 26 counts of manufacturing or possessing explosives. He also was charged with robbing two banks in San Diego this year…

The gardener who was injured, Mario Garcia, was recovering from his injuries at home and said Tuesday he gives thanks every day that he survived the blast. He and his wife are staying with their daughters in Fallbrook after losing their home to foreclosure a few months ago.

RTFA. One of those cautionary tales that suggests you treat your neighbors with due respect – but, keep an eye on what they bury in the backyard.