How Mae and Mac jacked up the US debt by 50% overnight [updated]

Once upon a time, the US government set up three agencies to provide home loans to people. The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) was founded by FDR to improve the liquidity of the mortgage market. It sits in between the mortgage borrower and the lender. Its job is to assume the risk of mortgage default, in return for a fee. In the 1960s, part of it was removed from the federal balance sheet by spinning it off into a private corporation.

Adios Ashcroft

With Ashcroft’s departure, George W. Bush has a chance to make a symbolic gesture towards uniting the nation. Instead, he has chosen Alberto Gonzales as the new Attorney General. That’s the Alberto Gonzales who wrote the memo urging that the president declare the US exempt from the Geneva Convention, because otherwise US behavior could lead to war crimes prosecutions. If you had any doubt that a vote for the Bush administration would be rewarding those who supported torture, that doubt should now be dispelled.

Foxes guarding the henhouse?

The 9/11 Commission recommended setting up an organization to help safeguard civil liberties. Sure enough the Bush administration has gone ahead and created a President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties. Ignoring for the moment the issue that civil liberties should, constitutionally, be protected for everyone and not just US citizens, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the people who are being put in charge of safeguarding your freedoms.

Investment advice

Found on Slashdot: If you had bought $1000.00 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00. With Enron, you would have $16.50 of the original $1,000.00. With Worldcom, you would have less than $5.00 left. If you had bought $1,000.00 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the 10 cent deposit, you would have $214.

Corporate scandal checklist

Enron Global Crossing WorldCom Xerox Qwest Who’s next? Google predicts Winstar and Broadwing. Contributions to Republicans: Worldcom: $4 million Enron: $4 million Andersen: $2.6 million Qwest: $210,000 Let’s see who gets led away in handcuffs. Today’s conspiracy theory: There are dozens more, but the government is making sure they only emerge one every couple of weeks, so as not to cause a 1929-style market panic and crash.

In Case You Missed It

Time for another boring little news summary, culled from diverse mainstream media outlets, with links to sources… Dick Cheney is being sued for possible involvement in accounting fraud while running Halliburton. The company is also being investigated by the SEC. Meanwhile, Halliburton has just won the contract to provide the support services for the US military in Afghanistan. Halliburton took part in Energy Task Force discussions about building an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Dabhol in India, to allow the tapping of the Central Asian oil reserves.

Corporate scandal

Well, we didn’t have to wait long to find out who was going to be next after Enron and Worldcom. Congratulations to Disney and Xerox…

Enron was just the beginning

Worldcom have fired their CFO. Turns out they’ve been engaging in massive fraud. Hmm… Enron, Global Crossing, Worldcom… Who’s next?

ENRON engineered blackouts

Federal investigations have turned up “smoking gun” documents showing that George W Bush’s favorite company, Enron, deliberately engineered the California power blackouts to boost profits. It seems like only yesterday I was called a crackpot conspiracy theorist for suggesting this…

Kenneth Baxter of Enron

Remember that Enron exec who said he was going to cooperate with the authorities, who then suddenly committed suicide? Well, it seems that according to the autopsy, he shot himself in the temple—using shotgun ammo, with two feet between his head and the muzzle of the gun.