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Strange Business: Does Your Pet Need 'Food Stamps'?


Plus, older geologists still use low-tech methods to search out deposits of precious metals and commodities.

Does Your Pet Need "Food Stamps"?

Having trouble feeding your pets? Pet Food Stamps, a New York-based nonprofit group, provides aid to pet owners struggling financially. The group has no link to the government and receives funding from "the generosity of contributors and patrons." Families in need may receive up to six months of necessary pet food supplies delivered to their homes for free. So far, 45,000 pets have been signed up for these "food stamps."

Listen to Your Elders

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Mining companies in South Africa still rely on senior geologists and their old-school methods to search out deposits of coal, copper, gold, and other commodities. For example, Norman Slater, a 65-year-old Zimbabwean geologist, relies on ant and termite mounds, vegetation, fossilized burrows from prehistoric slugs, and other natural indicators to determine if minable deposits exist. Another geologist, the 83-year-old Hugh Jenner-Clarke, discovered 950,000 tons of rare earths for Toronto-listed company Frontier Rare Earths (TSE:FRO). Most of these older gentlemen shun using technology. Some may use a divining rod and wear a suit and tie in the heat.

Mining executives hire these seemingly eccentric men because of their knowledge from previous exploration, their understanding of complex rock formations, and their ability to chart new territories in great detail. Other companies employing these elder geologists include Paladin Energy (TSE:PDN) and Anglo American (LON:AAL).

I Will Take the Leg of Horse, Please

The revelation that many people were unwittingly eating horse meat caused shock around the world, but some Parisian chefs have put the equestrian meat back on the menu. Horse meat comprises 0.4% of all meat consumed in France, and 750 horse butchers operate in the country. Of the total population, 17% have eaten horse at some point, and chefs anticipate more customers will pony up money for the controversial meat.

Wasted Whisky

Employees at Chivas Brothers' (EPA:RI) plant in Dumbarton, Scotland somehow confused whisky for wastewater and poured thousands of gallons of the company's whisky down a wastewater drain. A spokesperson denied initial reports of 5,000 gallons with the real amount remaining unknown. The type of whisky also remains undisclosed, but no Chivas Regal, Ballantine's, or The Glenlivet leaked from the wastewater plant.

Do People Ever Learn?

Despite the growing problem of student loan debt, securities backed by student loans remain popular. Last week Sallie Mae (NASDAQ:SLM) sold a total of $1.1 billion of securities backed by student loans, and demand for securities backed by the riskiest student loans exceeded supply by a factor of 15. SecondMarket Holdings will also capitalize on this trend; today the company launched a platform allowing lenders to issue student loan securities directly to investors.

How are the sources of money for these investments holding up? The Federal Reserve reported last Thursdays that 31% of debtors in the fourth quarter haven't made a payment in 90 days, up from 24% in the fourth quarter of 2008. At least investors can see their risk more clearly than the they could in 2007 and 2008.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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