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July 15, 2006

July 15 Review & Linkfest

Many thanks to those of you stopping by to check out the blog. I've been working out a few technical bugs and hope to start posting more frequently over the next few weeks.

This week is a little lighter than last week's review of terrorism, but we still have violence in the Mid East to deal with. But first, sex, drugs and CEO pay & how they profited from Sept 11.

Sex

-Regina Lynn writes the Sex Drive column for Wired.com (yes, work safe):  

It has long been illegal in California to knowingly pass a communicable disease, venereal or otherwise, to another person. But earlier this week, California's Supreme Court published a decision that makes us potentially liable for infecting our partners with HIV even if we did not know for certain that we were HIV-positive.

The decision was reached as part of a case, John B. v. Superior Court, (PDF) in which a woman named Bridget sued her husband John for allegedly infecting her with HIV... The Supreme Court's job was not to determine who got HIV first, but rather, the extent to which Bridget can investigate John's sexual history to find evidence for her allegations.

John apparently used the internet to meet men for sex even after he began dating Bridget, and continued to do so throughout the couple's engagement and marriage. Bridget wants details about his assignations to support her contention that he knew or should have known that he might be HIV-positive at the time he persuaded her to stop using condoms with him.

Full Column: What You Don't Know Can Kill ~ See California Health & Safety Code 120291 about transmission of HIV. Lynn's more recent column is a review of  Smart Girl's Guide to Porn ("yes, women are visual -- and discussing the many reasons that salacious and smart aren't mutually exclusive.")

-One of the most heavily trafficked pages of PaulsJusticePage is the debate over legalizing prostitution, and the links to voices of sex works seems pretty popular (some of them write to thank me for all the traffic!).  If that sounds like you, you're not minor or at a work computer, check out Melinda's Feenix Call Girl Blog: "This could be the blog of a Phoenix call girl. Then again, it could be the product of a 50-year-old man's imagination. There are no guarantees on how much of this is reality and how much is my own fantasizing. I'm a good storyteller."

From a recent post entitled Quickie:  "You don't have to satisfy me. Just respect me and don't hurt me. [But] I was satisfied all right. Satisfied with having made $250 by faking an orgasm." See also Post-degree Ennui. (Nice vocabulary, Melinda)

Drugs

Yes, Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids deal with alcohol, when their friend Buzzy starts drinking with is new "friends". This is an old issue in the "Comics With Problems" series that includes well know comic strip characters dealing with various issues; a recent one features Madonna (reduced or elevated to a comic book figure) talking about AIDS.

I probably shouldn't make fun of these as they certainly tried to use media to do the right thing. Call me old and jaded.

These are free of copyright restrictions becasue they are government publications, done of the Dept of Health and Human Services. Everything the govt does (taxpayers $) is in the public domain to use and reproduce.  (You might want to throw ep.tc a few $ for all the bandwidth if you make heavy use of them.)

7-15cosby-drinking19.jpg

While you're on the intro page of the comic site, scroll down about halfway and check out the picture of the 1924 KKK outing to the fair - all the folks on the Klan robes and hat on th Ferris Wheel. Surreal.

-Oh, and the White Collar Crime blog (done by law professors) asks whether proscetors are getting ready to indict Barry Bonds for lying about his steroid use. We can certainly hope.

CEO Pay & Post-Sept 11  Profiteering

As I put up the introductory narratives to Class, Race, Gender & Crime, I'll have much more to say about CEO pay and inequality. (I'm reading page proofs now, eh I should be reading them now rather than blogging, but that's another story.) But in addition to some strories and stock option scandals in a related one about Sept 11.

For a brief background, rember that CEO pay is salary, bonuses and stock options. With the latter, they get the option to buy company stocks at a certain price (say $50 a share). If the company's stock goes up (say to $75) because they're making good profits, then the stock option becomes worth $25 a share (buy at 50, sell at 75 and pocket the difference).

One criticism is that executives manage the company to increase the stock price in the short run, rather than managing responsbly in the long-term best interest of the company and shareholders. The other issue that's recently come to ligt has been backdating options - companies look back over the last months, find the lowest stock price and make the option as of that day (though they usually don't disclose they are doing it that way).

The latest wrinkle involves issuing stock options soon after Sept 11, when the stock market was way down. Yes, while people we digging out the WTC, fixing the Pentagon, tracking down anthrax, a bunch of executives were getting companies to issue them stock options so they could cash in when the stock market recovered.

I'll let Barry Ritholtz pick up the story; he's a hedge fund manager based in NY and a political independent. He starts by quoting a Wall St Journal Article on the topic:

The terrorist attack shut the U.S. stock market for days. When it reopened Sept. 17, stocks skidded more than 14% over five days, in the worst full week for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Germany invaded France in May 1940. But for recipients of options, the lower their company's stock price when options are awarded the better, since the options grant a right to buy shares at that price for years to come. The grants set recipients up for millions of dollars in profit if the shares recovered.

A Wall Street Journal analysis shows how some companies rushed, amid the post-9/11 stock-market decline, to give executives especially valuable options. A review of Standard & Poor's ExecuComp data for 1,800 leading companies indicates that from Sept. 17, 2001, through the end of the month, 511 top executives at 186 of these companies got stock-option grants. The number who received grants was 2.6 times as many as in the same stretch of September in 2000, and more than twice as many as in the like period in any other year between 1999 and 2003.

Ritholtz isn't impressed. I couldn't have said it better, so here are his thoughts:

What makes this so pathetic is that corporate executives could have stepped up AND BOUGHT STOCKS IN THE OPEN MARKET if they believed they were so cheap. It would have been reassuring to a nation to see the leaders of industry voting with their own dollars. It might have made the subsequent economic slow down and period of tense aftermath less painful.>

Instead, these weasels decided to loot the treasury at the first opportunity. America was smouldering, the WTC lay in ruins, and this group of classless pigs decided it was time to pocket some cash.

I'm going to take it a step further: These assclown executives are unAmerican. They are not Patriots, they are not model citizens -- they are merely a pathetic group of opportunistic whores who might as well hang outside the Holland Tunnel looking for a quick buck (although that would involve risk and work, something they have shown a distinct aversion to).

In 1929, when the stock market crashed, JP Morgan (and others) stepped in. They bought stock with their own dollars, they saved Wall Street. Oh, and they were rewarded for it -- both monetarily, and in the history books.

What the more recent group of execs did is probably legal. It certainly isn't ethical, and it reveals them to be "lacking in moral turpitude." ... What a pathetic group of weasels. Brain cancer is too good for these shitheads. They -- and their lapdog Boards of Directors -- should all be fired.

If you read the comments, you'll see him mention: "At the time, my office was headquartered in 2 World Trade." 

Full Post: Post 9-11 Option grants Under Scrutiny. Check out his Big Picture blog if you have any interest in economics and Wall Street. Great stuff.

Mid East Violence

When violence erupts like it did this week, I call up Juan Cole's Informed Comment site to see what he has to say:

Israeli spokesmen are saying that they want to finish off Hizbullah. But you can't finish off a mass movement among 1.35 million people. Besides, there wouldn't be any Hizbullah if Israel had not invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied the south for 18 years. Israel's grabby occupation radicalized and helped mobilize the Lebanese Shiites. They aren't going to become less radical and less mobilized as a result of the current hamfisted Israeli assault.

And:

Israel is given billions every year by the United States, including sophisticated weaponry that is now being trained on the slums of south Beirut. It should also be remembered that Bin Laden said, at least, that he started thinking about hitting New York when he saw that 1982 Israeli destruction of the skyscrapers or "towers" of Lebanon. How many future Bin Ladens are watching with horror and rage and feelings of revenge as Israel drops bombs on civilian tenement buildings? When will this blow back on Americans? (I mean blow back in other ways than an already painful further spike in petroleum prices).

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