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Opening Bell: 7.24.08

Daimler Cuts Forecast as Second-Quarter Profit Drops (Bloomberg)
More weak auto figures, this time from Daimler, formerly part of Daimler-Chrysler. Daimler got to keep the luxury cars. Chrysler got to keep the Chryslers. Anyway, even luxury cars weren't gooid enough to stem a 25 percent fall in profits. And the company lowered their outlook beyond that. C'mon Dr. Z. Work your magic.
China's banks told to tighten mortgages (FT)
It's nice that the US can serve as an example to the rest of the world. A cautionary tale. Following that little popped bubble called the US housing market, Chinese regulators are telling banks to, you know, really screen the folks they approve for mortgages. Of course, it's hard to stop sippin' the spiked Kool-Aid when it's mainly filled with sugar and it gives you the confidence to flirt at the party. And as it is with most of these things, these warnings come as the downside of the slope is already coming. This kind of realization might have served a greater purpose, say, a year ago.
Why Facebook Connect Matters & Why it Will Win (GigaOM)
Given all the money going into companies just focusing on Facebook, the company's big developer day is becoming a big deal. Anyway, one of the new things that they're pushing forward with is Facebook Connect, which will let users sign onto third party sites with their Facebook account, and then import certain aspects of their social network (or social graph, as the geeks like to call it). Think your friends' reviews on CitySearch? Big deal for the web? Some thing it's huge, though we'll reserve judgment.
Microsoft's Latest Web Stumble: Kevin Johnson Out (AllThingsD)
At Microsoft last night... a major shakeup on the internet side of things. Kevin Johnson, who was considered to be a key "point man" on the Yahoo deal is out, and will go head up Juniper Networks. Also, his Platforms and Services business is being split up. And it sounds logical. Rather than treating all internet assets the same, there will be a delineation between the pure web stuff (search, advertising), and the stuff that's about internet-extensions to Windows. Sounds smart. Will it make much of a difference? Unlikely.

Gassing Up With Garbage (NYT)
It'd be really nice if we could turn our garbage into usable fuel rather than filling up landfills with it. And garbage-based fuel sounds better than ethanol, since we usually don't eat garbage. Well we do eat a lot of garbage, but not that kind of garbage. Still, we just don't buy it. This idea that it makes sense to burn everything in sight for the purpose of running a car -- even with gas at $4.50 a barrel doesn't quite sit right. We hope to be proven badly wrong.
50 Cent Looking for Big Change Outta Taco Bell (WSJ Law Blog)
This might be more Above The Law territory, but it's still worth mentioning. There's a fascinating spat between the rapper 50 Cent and Taco Bell. We'd heard about this before without much detail. Basically, Taco Bell concocted some uber-lame scheme about getting 50 to change his name to 59 or 79 Cent in order to plug their value menu, or whatever they call it. But rather than approach him seriously about the dumb idea, they just made a public letter to 50 Cent, essentially an ad. So the question is: by doing this, did they find a way of glomming onto the 50 Cent brand without paying him? There's probably something to that. There's also something to freedom of speech. 50 is suing. Should be interesting.
Nokia and Qualcomm Enter Into a New Agreement
This has been one of the longer running, messier IP battles in a long time, and now it's done. Nokia and Qualcomm have settled a patent dispute, largely revolving on how much Nokia has to pay Qualcomm for the use of its IP. It's a big deal, since that's basically all Qualcomm does: license its IP. Anyway, just as a trial in Delaware was set to begin, the two sides decided to make nice, entering into a 15-year deal that should end hostilities. QCOM investors loved the news, sending its shares up 18 percent after hours.