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Morning Musings

  • Brazilian prosecutors are going after a Brazilian company that is very cozy with the Cuban regime, Odebrecht. But the charges, that we know of, have nothing to do with Cuba this time. Prosecutors allege that the company engaged in human trafficking of Brazilian workers in a biofuels project in, of all places, Nigeria. Nigeria is a well-known country of concern for modern-day slavery and human trafficking. If the allegations are true, Odebrecht management will have a great deal of explaining to do. Brazilian prosecutors should dig deeper, beyond Nigeria. If there are issues in Africa, one can only imagine what  is taking place in Communist Cuba where labor rights exist in name only.
  • According to several news wires, a settlement between the U.S. and BNP Paribas over alleged violations of U.S. economic sanctions may be in the offing this week. We have a few posts on this matter here and here.
  • Late last week the House of Representatives buckled under pressure from groups on the extreme Left, as well as certain Republicans and groups on the right, and passed a so-called National Security Agency (NSA) reform bill. While I’m a fan of certain Left-Right coalitions, this one is bunk and so-called pro-national security Republicans were politically blackmailed by a group of misinformed new members of the Conference to vote for it. An all-seeing NSA that operates outside the law is one big myth. The NSA is part of a national security apparatus that will be needed in a post-09.11.01 world, and beyond. Had the nation had today’s NSA before 09.11.01, those attacks could have been prevented. The Senate may put the brakes on the House measure. Let’s see if the Senate has the political fortitude to put the brakes on it.
  • Turns out that chemical preservative used to keep your non-organic bacon wholesome and fresh is also good to poison feral pigs. The USDA has approved a $20 million program to study using sodium-nitrite to control the feral pig population.  We’ll take our bacon organic.
  • Too bad the CIA’s “Devil Eyes” Osama bin Laden toy doll never took off.  It would’ve made a great holiday toy. When I first saw it, the evil Osama reminded me of Star War’s Sith assassin, Darth Maul. Maul’s somewhat of a Star Wars icon. His likeness has been used in video games, toys, and even in cartoons such as Simpsons. According to the Washington Post, only three prototypes of the doll were made. I can think of a few people in town who would relish owning one of them.
  • OFAC updated the SDN list last week by removing close to 500 entries from the narcotics trafficking list. The listings were mainly members of the now defunct Cali drug cartel of Colombia. A favorite of many an episode of the Miami Vice television series, the Cali drug cartel was taken down after decades of jungle warfare and tough economic sanctions. It is one of the success stories of how economic sanctions can work to squeeze, and help destroy, criminal enterprises.


  • John Flores

    Very interesting musings this morning, Jason. I agree with digging deeper into African nations regarding the human trafficking problem. It could yield some interesting results…and possibly save lives and misery. Of course, I’d also like one of those “Devil Eyes” dolls!

    • John, the human trafficking issue, modern day slavery, is one of the more underreported issues of our day. There are a lot of good people and groups trying to raise awareness, help the victim, etc. These days the bad actors need to work doubly hard to avoid detection. As for those “dolls,” they may fetch a good penny on eBay …

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