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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Asia's sneeze - Wall Street's Pneumonia

This is a first.

It used to be a fall in Wall Street lead to a fall the next day in the Europe markets. Now it is the fall in Asia that caused today’s 500 point drop on Wall Street.

That alone should signal how the world has changed. The old saw was “If Wall Street sneezes, Europe catches cold.” The new version is if they sneeze in Shanghai, Wall Street catches pneumonia, from the looks of that negative 500 point plummet. And it may not be over.

Welcome to the 21st Century of Asia’s financial dominance. With China gathering billions in reserves (and IOU’s) from America’s heavy borrowing to cover our deficits, it was bound to happen. Borrow-and-spend policies have gotten us into this dangerous state where our finances are affected by far off events like a China economic hiccup. If China has a major banking crisis, Wall Street could totally melt down.

Now that we need MORE information on the events in other countries that can impact us and our fortunes are ever more tied to events in far off lands, our our news media continues to cut their foreign news bureaus.

This will cost us valuable perspective on trends we need to be aware of to avoid future financial 9 11’s which can be as deadly to retirement funds and economic vitality as human terrorism.

Anna Nicole and the International Conflict of Courts

One thing coming out of the odd case of Anna Nicole Smith is the conflict between courts – from different states, and now, from different countries. Courts in California, Florida and the Bahamas are now involved in this case. I've seen this before as an international attorney.

It points out that we need a better Interstate and International court system. As it stands, we have courts in three places delaying both the burial of Anna Nicole and the DNA testing of the contesting parties. The DNA testing should have been a “no-brainer” that took less than a day for a judge to order. It has yet to happen.

What if there are conflicting rulings between the Bahamas and Florida/California on these issues? Does Anna Nicole become the next Mao or Lenin, lying in state for decades under glass?

Conflicts between courts in different states can be resolved by the US Supreme Court, no problem. The problem is when there are conflicts between US courts and courts of other countries in cases like this where “time is of the essence.”

The issues of money and property can take years to be resolved. THAT is normal.

But when a person can’t get buried for weeks because of the courts, something needs to be changed. The delays could open the door to international court conflicts (in this case between the Bahamas and State Courts) –where there is no Supreme Court jurisdiction.

The alternative may be that Anna joins Elvis mixed with Mao under glass.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Protecting Dogs and Kids

I discovered a new use for XO Armor - the window film that protects property from hurricanes, burglars and bullets. It also keeps little dogs from breaking glass that would hurt them. Here is a video of Paloma, testing the new XO glass. Lexie (the red dog who appears in the video) once broke this window by pawing on it.

Now, that can't happen...For more info check out my website or the Google Video link.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Fat Tuesday" - Closing our courts to justice

I spent “Fat Tuesday” online and drinking lattes at a Border’s near where my car was being fixed – it needed a new A/C before our famous Houston heat returns. It’s supposed to be near 80 the next couple days. Quite a change after freezing the past month.

Today an American court ruled that prisoners at Guantanamo in Cuba had no right to access to U.S. courts if they weren’t American. Somehow this seems un-American and against our system of rule of law and justice. I hope Congress changes this ruling. We need to make the government prove at least some kind of case to keep people locked up. It's called American justice.

The day finished with news that “The British are Leaving” Iraq, leaving American troops on their own. Ironically, it was the British who designed Iraq to be unstable when they got it after WW I from the losing Ottoman’s. It was designed to take a strongman like Saddam to run it—combining Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who had been independent until then. We will be paying the price for that intentional policy, alone, for some time to come.

It seems odd that we are accepting only 7,000 Iraqis when it was our invasion that has turned over 1 million Iraqis into refugees.

The worst news was that wounded veterans returning from Iraq have had to stay in some of the worst conditions - the Walter Reed outpatient facility had rats and mold --and a bureaucratic paperwork nightmare. Outrageous.

We can do better than that --on all counts.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

State of the County - Serves Pork for lunch

I attended the “State of the County” event today in Houston, the one in which Judge Eckels announced his retirement. The room was packed. They introduced Mayors, Commissioners, city council members from countless small towns around Houston (and perhaps all the dogcatchers and a waiter or two).

Halfway through the meal, I finally asked my tablemates the burning question I had: “Why was the main course, PORK?” Ummmm.

It was good for a laugh. I’m sure it was an unintentional double entendre. The dessert was a winner - chocolate heaven.

On the international front, the deal cut with North Korea on its nuclear reactor shows that diplomacy can work, and at a fraction of the cost of war.

The invasion of Iraq proved one thing. It proved that the decade of the UN sanctions had worked very well – Saddam had closed his nuclear facilities and had no real weapons left. Sanctions (and the offer of oil) pushed Kim Jung Il into a deal. If diplomacy can work in a strange place like North Korea, it can work with Iran and elsewhere.

If anyone thinks provoking a war with Iran would be “a cakewalk” they are mistaken. It would make Iraq look like a picnic. Unlike Iraq, Iran has sophisticated weapons like the supersonic cruise missile that could take out a U.S. aircraft carrier, etc. An aircraft carrier has a crew of 5,000. The death toll would exceed Iraq's in no time...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Meet Paloma


A white blur faster than a speeding bullet. Meet Paloma...the wonder dog.

There is not a safe dandelion outside when she is around. She eats them. And fuzz balls. She'll come running up with one sticking out of her nose.

Saturday night we got a an emergency medical call for a family member. It turned out OK but only after we got back at 2 a.m. Apparently the odd hours wore out the pets - Paloma fell asleep with her head on my chest when we got back in.

The air quality in Houston is so bad that I am concerned about her health --and that of all the kids growing up who spend time outside. We have a higher cancer rate in this area than the rest of the state. Houston's Mayor White has taken a much needed leadership role to clean up our air. That is vital to our future.

Next time: Meet the vacuum cleaner my wife calls: "R2D2." It's German made -- and so good it should be a candidate for President. Why? Because it's absolutely great at cleaning up messes. Isn't that what we need?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith

The sad case of Anna Nicole Smith, another Texan with a flamboyant and troubled life, deserves mention.

I wonder why the judge had to force the parties to wait to rule on DNA on the child’s paternity. The issue of paternity of her 5 month old girl is a key question. DNA testing instantly resolves that issue, rather than subject people to years of debate in courts. This is just common sense.

I don’t see why a judge has to hold up a funeral once DNA evidence is collected from Anna. With the test we’ll know which of her lovers is the father. Case closed.

We should focus on solutions instead of how long we can litigate the paternity of a 5 month old innocent child. The biological father is the only thing she has left now that her mother is gone.

That is the part of the Lisa Nowak case that is also sad --that she left 3 children behind when she went on her trip. Who was taking care of them?

I think kids are the No. 1 priority - in all these cases...Courts should move faster to protect them.

On another note, Sen. Obama jumps in today. This is becoming a fascinating Presidential race developing...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Welcome to Texas – It’s a Whole Different Planet

You may be wondering what is in the water in Texas.

A NASA astronaut based in Houston drove 1,000 miles wearing a diaper to confront another woman, and love rival, in a parking lot -- and the conservative Texas Governor just executed the first-of-its-kind executive order that all 12 year old girls will received an HPV vaccination, alienating his own party. The Gov also wants to sell our lottery, which is putting $1 billion a year into our schools, to private business.

Welcome to Texas. It’s a whole different planet. If we have a 21st century close encounter with aliens, it will most likely occur in Texas. How could aliens resist landing among all our eccentrics and free thinkers? The Gov might offer to sell them the lottery, since he’s already offered all our future toll roads to foreign companies. Why discriminate?

As for me, I’m relieved I’m married and not dating anyone from NASA. I really don’t want to chance a love sick astronaut landing a Shuttle in my driveway to impress me.

Don’t be afraid to visit Texas folks. Our eccentrics are just bigger (headline grabbers) than anyone else’s! If you want dull and boring, then visit another place.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Next Time: Elect a Smart President (and Team) or die

With all the talk of who’s “running” for President, all I can say is that I want someone SMART next time. It has gotten so serious that it will take someone with a SMART team to save our hides -- and half the planet-- at this point.

I once had the dubious honor of negotiating with Iraq in the 70’s—when I was with a Fortune 500 company named Brown & Root (which was owed $2 million for a rig they built for Iraq). I was just a young lawyer and a fresh hire. I saw how it all worked. They had wanted to base me in Iran for a naval base being built for the Shah – that was just before the 1979 revolution. Luckily, I was recruited by another company and missed being one of the hostages held for 444 days.

Now Iraq could be the next version of Iran –where secular equality is replaced with a mindless extreme version of religion running the government.

With Iraq spinning into a black hole, it will challenge even a SMART President and his/her team to keep it from igniting a Middle East nightmare. With nukes at center stage.

My read is that the Iranian people are moderates like Americans – they don’t feel comfortable with radical extremism in religion. Their women like to wear lipstick and met men like they do in America. They don’t want to live like women in Saudi -- who can’t drive or be seen with a male who isn’t a relative or husband.

To help them, and the ordinary Iraqis suffering in the bombings and strive, and others, let’s get smart, quick! "More of the same" will not work any better than it already has(n't)...

Iraq has dramatically increased, in my opinion, the liklihood of another 9 11 or worse. That is why I am focused on working with high tech security products such as XO Armor. The one thing people can do in these increasingly dangerous times is to protect themselves where they spend the most time - at home and office. It's being used for blast protection in airports as well - which could save many lives if a truck bomb went off.