About 10 days ago I sat at breakfast in Lomé, the capital of Togo, a sliver of a country in West Africa, watching French TV news of the capture, and what turned out to be false reports of the liberation, of seven French tourists in northern Cameroon by the Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram. It was hard not to feel concerned about the future of this part of the world. Lomé is a good 800 miles as the crow flies from where this most recent drama occurred – and a similar distance from northern Mali, where fierce fighting continues for control of the city of Gao – and I was in far more danger there from motorcycles going the wrong way down one-way streets than from terrorist kidnappers. But the fairly recent emergence of economic dynamism in much of Africa after decades of stagnation due to poor governance and political and ethnic strife remains fragile, and these developments highlight the risk. [click to continue…]
Less than a week after a federal court in Manhattan sentenced hedge fund boss Raj Rajaratnam to a record 11 years in prison for insider trading, and ordered him to pay forfeiture and fines of more than $60 million, comes the news that Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle a to settle a civil complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had defrauded investors. According to last Thursday’s New York Times, “the transaction involved a $1 billion portfolio of mortgage-related investments, many of which were handpicked for the portfolio by Citigroup without telling investors of its role or that it had made bets that the investments would fall in value.” This is the third such complaint brought by the SEC. In July 2010 Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to make the SEC’s charges go away, and this past July JP Morgan Chase settled its case with a payment of $154 million. None of the three firms has admitted any wrongdoing, and neither the firms nor any of their employees have been charged with any crime. [click to continue…]
I am glad Osama Bin Laden is dead. Not dancing in the streets delirious – we don’t do that sort of thing in the Boston suburbs where I live – but satisfied. A man directly responsible for the gruesome deaths of thousands of people has now gone to his just rewards, and the world is better off for that.
Even before confusion began to emerge about what exactly happened in that house in Abbottabad last Sunday, voices had been raised, mainly in Europe and at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, that the American operation was not “just.” The clamor has intensified now that it appears Osama was unarmed at the time of his death. The claim, however, is absurd. Those who make it seem to think that the Navy Seals who stormed Osama’s compound should have slapped handcuffs on him, read him his Miranda rights, and carted him off to Riker’s Island to await trial. Using that logic, no criminal proceeding that occurred before the introduction of trial by jury, right to counsel, rights against self-incrimination and the like could be considered just. Neither Hammurabi’s Code nor Solomon’s wisdom nor the trial of Socrates could pass that test, leading us to conclude that justice itself did not exist before 1966 or thereabouts. [click to continue…]