The Sideshow
  • Jerome Kerviel, the most indebted man in the world (Euronews)Former financial arbitrage trader Jerome Kerviel is the most indebted man on the planet, owing his former employer $6.3 billion.

    The amount Kerviel owes to French bank Societe Generale for fraudulent trades made in 2007 and 2008 would make Kerviel one of the 50 richest people in America if those debts were assets.

    But Kerviel cannot even begin paying off his debts until 2015, when he is scheduled to be released from prison. Kerviel recently lost an appeal case in which he argued the corruption at Societe Generale was widespread.

    The Atlantic's Matthew O'Brien writes that Kerviel managed  €50 billion ($73 billion in unadjusted dollars) worth of unauthorized trades during his tenure at Societe Generale, using a sophisticated scheme of computer hacking and deceptive trades to deceive the bank.

    O'Brien writes:

    "In plain English, arbitrage just means taking advantage of discrepancies when things should have the same price, but don't. The idea is to buy the cheaper one, sell the more expensive one, and then wait for them to converge. The beauty is it doesn't matter whether markets go up or down--you're both long and short--just that the prices actually converge."

    O'Brien spoke with former investment banker and current University of San Diego law professor Frank Partnoy about the logistics of trying to collect $6.3 billion from a single individual.

    "Well, he's obviously not going to be able to pay the fine," Partnoy told the Atlantic. "What happened to Kerviel is the financial equivalent of sentencing someone to life plus 100 years. They'll likely reach some kind of agreement where a significant percentage of any money he makes for the rest of his life will be paid into a fund to cover the fine. He'll be like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill every day for the rest of his life."

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  • A Texas man has been sent to jail after repeatedly skipping jury duty.

    There is a near universal dread of being called to jury duty. But the case of Jose Bocanegra Jr. is an unusual reminder of how shirking one's government-mandated responsibility to pass judgment on one's fellow citizens can result in getting yourself into trouble with the law.

    "He tried to get disqualified by stating he was a felon—that got denied," Jury Bailiff Paula Morales told a local Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate. "He tried to get excused by claiming he was the caretaker of an invalid. We couldn't substantiate that, so that was denied."

    Sometimes Bocanegra, 20, just simply didn't show up for his assigned jury duty.

    Interestingly, the authorities finally went after Bocanegra when he did show up for jury dutyonly to leave the scene minutes later. A bench warrant for his arrest was then promptly issued.

    Legally, a person cannot be asked to serve on a jury more than once every two years. Though most individuals are asked to serve at far more infrequent intervals.

    There are several ways an individual can legally attempt to avoid jury duty, citing various professional, personal and legal conflicts. And beyond that, you may not even be asked to formally serve on a specific jury when you show up for the selection process. But if someone blatantly skips jury duty, the repercussions vary across different jurisdictions. In some cases, an individual will simply be assigned to serve on another jury. Or the individual may be fined. Or, as in the case of Bocanegra, the person can actually be sent to prison.

    "I called him… his phone wasn't accepting phone messages. I sent him an email, told him it was imperative that he contact me immediately, and we never heard back from him," Morales told CBS. "So then I was forced to take it to the judge."

    The next day Bocanegra stood handcuffed in front of a judge who held him in contempt of court. In explaining his absence from jury duty, Bocanegra reportedly told the judge he didn't like waiting in line and that jury duty was too time-consuming.

    "I didn't want to because it's all the way in Fort Worth—way out of the way," Bocanegra said in the courtroom.

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  • In Mason County, Wash., the salmon aren't just swimming upstream—they're also swimming across the street. Due to heavy rains, local rivers are flooding and the confused fish are winding up in some strange places.

    And that's just fine with at least one local dog. The pooch, who must be thinking that Christmas came early, wanders into the road, snags a salmon like he's at a lunch buffet and trots off down the road. No work necessary.

    Of course, this sort of thing has happened before. Last year, KOMO, a Seattle news site, posted a clip of salmon struggling to cross a flooded road. Fortunately, those fish didn't have to deal with hungry dogs.

    Read More »from Salmon cross flooded road much to dog’s delight

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