08/27/2012 08:06 am ET

It's Expensive To Fool Mother Nature: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Nature Versus Us: Somebody must have given Mother Nature some Chiffon margarine, because She is pissed.

Tropical Storm Isaac is churning for the Gulf Coast, where it is expected to make landfall today or Tuesday, almost seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. As bad luck would have it, New Orleans is once again in the line of fire. By the time Isaac reaches land, it might be a dangerous Category Two hurricane. Before it gets there, it could wreak havoc on offshore oil and gas production, notes Reuters. That will push gasoline prices higher, terrible news -- although higher gasoline prices might make everybody drive their cars a little less, which might make Mother Nature a little less disgusted with us all, who knows. Oh, the storm might also imperil "Mitt Romney's moment," points out Bloomberg, and maybe make everybody think about the global warming that many people in his party pretend is not happening.

There were hurricanes long before global warming, but climate change is likely going to lead to more extreme weather, such as the record drought that hit the Midwest this summer. That could be affecting food prices for months to come, and it will lead to billions of dollars in losses for insurance companies, the Financial Times writes. It will also cost the U.S. government billions.

The Gregg Easterbrooks of the world might cheer the news that climate change has melted the Arctic ice to its smallest on record, which recently allowed a Chinese ice-breaker to make the first trip from Iceland to China across the Arctic. But such benefits are a joke compared to the costs.

Thing Two: It's Apple's World, We Just Live In It: The verdict in the Apple-Samsung patent dispute is in, as is the verdict on the verdict. Apple beat Samsung in court, winning a $1 billion judgment against it after convincing a jury that Samsung stole some of its iPhone design. The verdict "cements" Apple's position of dominance in the wireless market and will send Google scrambling for a solution, writes the Wall Street Journal. But the verdict could also lead to a lot of second-guessing for product designers around the world, The New York Times writes, possibly disrupting or delaying innovation.

Thing Three: Merkel Makes Nice: Well, look who's suddenly getting all conciliatory: Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel has mostly played hardball with Greece during the past few years of Europe's never-ending debt crisis. But recently she has come to Greece's defense after members of her political party expressed a heartfelt desire to kick Greece out of the euro zone. We are on the eve of the 125th Very Important Month for the beleaguered currency union, with the European Central Bank possibly about to launch a new round of bond purchases and decisions are due on whether to give Greece more money and whether previous bailouts were constitutional in Germany.

Thing Four: You Can't Spell 'Feckless' Without 'SEC': The Securities and Exchange Commission is studying whether to loosen rules that force companies to be quiet in the days before an initial public offering, the Wall Street Journal writes. SEC chief Mary Schapiro revealed this in response to a request from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Cali.) for information about what the SEC could do to fix the IPO market, in the wake of the Facebook IPO debacle. Loosening rules seems to be all the SEC is good for these days. It totally screwed the pooch on efforts to fix the money-market mutual fund industry, Sallie Krawcheck writes for Reuters. That's partly because former mutual-fund lawyer and current SEC member Luis Aguilar laid on his back and put his legs in the air, as the mutual-fund lobby demanded, The New York Times writes.

Thing Five: Sands In Hot Water Again: Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands casino empire is in trouble again. According to Reuters, Sands let a reputed mob boss transfer $100,000 in gambling credits from Vegas to Macau, possibly running afoul of Nevada gambling regulations. The news comes as Adelson, world-famous bankroller of Republican presidential campaigns, is already facing money-laundering and bribery inquiries.

Thing Six: More Efficient, More Expensive: Tie-ups between hospitals and doctors are supposed to make health care more efficient, but instead they have made doctors more expensive, the Wall Street Journal writes: "As physicians are subsumed into hospital systems, they can get paid for services at the systems' rates, which are typically more generous than what insurers pay independent doctors."

Thing Seven: Own To Rent: You'll soon have one less option on the rental-car lot: Hertz is buying Dollar Thrifty for about $2.3 billion. Reuters writes: "The takeover leaves just three players with more than 90 percent of the U.S. car rental market and cements Hertz's position as the number two, leaving Avis far behind in third."

Thing Seven And A Half: The Life Aquatic: From BuzzFeed, 42 stunning photographs (NOT a slideshow) demonstrating how real undersea life totally out-weirds even the fantastic creatures in Wes Anderson's movie.

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Before Market Open:


Heard On The Tweets:

@ModernWood: I'm waiting for the verdict on Samsung's "rectangular shape," to see if Apple has a monopoly on 4-sided things.

@asymco: At $1 billion, the penalty against Samsung seems modest. However it may have wiped out all Samsung profits from Android shipped in the US.

@zerohedge: So apparently Spain is terrified to ask for a Troika bailout, but will hand over its sovereignty to Germany promptly and willingly

@TheStalwart: And now presenting: the most obnoxious license plate in The Hamptons.

@daveweigel: Actual quote from Shaffer at Ron Paul rally: "Leprechauns valued their gold... but their liberty was far more important."

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja