February 9, 2011  nº 1.005 -  Vol. 9


"The most handicapped person in the world is a negative thinker."

Heather Whitestone
Miss America
(she is deaf)

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  • Top News

US urges faster change in Egypt

We are a long way from knowing how Egypt will turn out. The United States and the European Union badly miscalculated when they endorsed Egypt's vice president to lead the transition to democracy. Suleiman may talk sweetly to Washington and Brussels. But he appears far more interested in maintaining as much of the old repressive order as he can get away with. That is unacceptable to Egypt's people, and it should be unacceptable to Egypt's Western supporters. The government is using all of its power — including a promised 15 percent raise for federal workers — to try to hang on. Earlier, the White House described as "particularly unhelpful" comments by Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman that the country was not ready for democracy. The US has called on the Egyptian government to lift its 30-year-old state of emergency immediately. Suleiman has warned of a coup if constitutional reforms fail. Tuesday saw one of the biggest anti-government rallies in Cairo since the protests began on 25 January. It came despite the government's announcement of its plans for a peaceful transfer of power. The real test of the revolution's success or failure is whether it changes Egypt permanently. The Middle East peace process could become a "casualty" of the calls for change sweeping across the Arab world. It could "lose further momentum" if international focus shifts to countries like Tunisia and Egypt.

House rejects extension of 'Patriot Act' powers

The US House of Representatives has blocked a bill to extend some surveillance powers granted by the 2001 Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks. The bill was opposed by most Democrats and some Republicans, and failed to win the two-thirds vote needed for passage. It would have extended until December provisions on wiretaps, access to business records and surveillance of terror suspects granted by the law. The White House backed the bill but said it favored a longer extension. The provisions set to expire give the US government the authority for "roving surveillance" of suspects who might be able to thwart investigative methods that ordinarily require a judge's warrant. They also give federal investigators access to business records with a warrant from a secret national security court and grant federal law enforcement greater power to watch foreign so-called "lone wolf" terror suspects. Critics say the broad powers the act grants US law enforcement agencies violate Americans' privacy. "For the nearly 10 years it has been law, the over-reaching Patriot Act has been abused by law enforcement to violate innocent Americans' privacy."

'Twitter messages not private' rules PCC

Material that is published on Twitter should be considered public and can be published, the UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has ruled. The decision follows a complaint by a Department of Transport official that the use of her tweets by newspapers constituted an invasion of privacy. The PCC said the potential audience for tweets was much wider than the originator’s followers, because each message could be forwarded by others, known as retweeting. It also agreed that Twitter was publicly accessible and that the complainant had not taken steps to restrict access to her messages and was not publishing material anonymously. As a result, the commission ruled that the articles did not constitute a breach of privacy.

Ruling appears to end to Chapter 11 'gift' plans

The recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the DBSD North America case may be the end of "gift" plans in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. The crucial question is whether it will really matter. A gift plan involves a senior (typically secured) creditor that decides to allow the debtor to give some value to junior creditors, despite the senior creditor's entitlement to be paid in full before these other creditors receive anything. This action becomes controversial when the gift passes over some intermediate class and goes to some subordinate group, like pre-bankruptcy shareholders.

Before you open the door to the boardroom, peek through the keyhole!

Michael Page specializes in the placement of candidates in permanent, contract, temporary and interim positions within client companies around the world. Have a look at the new section of the Migalhas website and discover the professional development opportunities with large corporations, in legal and business fields, presented by Michael Page International. Click here to peep through the hole!

  • Crumbs

1 - Cuba and U.S. team up against Posada Carriles - Click here.

2 - Russian hacker admits guilt in $10 million cyber theft - Click here.

3 - Italy lawyers in Knox murder trial want film halted - Click here.

4 - Secretary-General welcomes announcement of final results in Southern Sudan referendum - Click here.

5 - Hungary agrees to amend controversial media law - Click here.

6 - Sex strike urged to end political deadlock in Belguim - Click here.

7 - Is the 'CSI Effect' influencing courtrooms?- Click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China raises interest rates again to tackle inflation

China's central bank has raised interest rates for the third time in four months as authorities ramp up efforts to tackle inflation. The People's Bank of China said it would raise its one-year lending rate to 6.06% from 5.81% and its one-year deposit rate to 3.0% from 2.75%.

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  • Historia Verdadera

McDonal's

McDonald's se prepara para introducir en la Bolsa de Nueva York a 'Arcos Dorados', su filial que reagrupa a gran cantidad de sus sucursales en América Latina, en una operación que podría dejarle hasta US$ 1.000 mlls. (Presione aquí)

Banca

El Banco do Brasil informó que el Banco Central de la República Argentina (BCRA) autorizó la compra del 51% del capital social total y votante del Banco Patagonia por US$ 480 mlls. La autoridad monetaria también aprobó las "eventuales adquisiciones de acciones resultantes de la oferta pública de adquisición obligatoria". En este sentido, la institución brasileña podrá ampliar su participación en el Patagonia hasta el 75% en la OPA.

Emigración

El gobierno español regularizará a extranjeros indocumentados cuyos hijos hayan nacido en el país ibérico y accedan a la nacionalidad española, según un proyecto de ley de extranjería presentado este martes. La nueva figura, denominada "arraigo familiar", contempla conceder papeles a los padres de los menores con nacionalidad española, "siempre que el niño esté a cargo de y conviva con el progenitor que solicite la autorización.

Arbitraje

La a canadiense Crystallex International Corporation informó que la estatal Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) rescindió "unilateralmente" su contrato de operación del proyecto aurífero Las Cristinas, en el estado de Bolívar. La empresa no descarta recurrir a una demanda de arbitraje para defender sus inversiones.

  • Brief News

Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app

The Catholic Church has approved an iPhone app that helps guide worshippers through confession. The Confession program has gone on sale through iTunes for $1.99. Described as "the perfect aid for every penitent", it offers users tips and guidelines to help them with the sacrament. Now senior church officials in both the UK and US have given it their seal of approval, in what is thought to be a first. The app takes users through the sacrament - in which Catholics admit their wrongdoings - and allows them to keep track of their sins.

In Europe, an effort to shed light on short-selling

In France, regulators started requiring money managers to disclose on a daily basis the stocks they bet against in the country. While hedge funds have long had to report their long positions on a quarterly basis, the decision by French authorities brings a new level of transparency to some of the most closely guarded investment moves in the hedge fund world. In February, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the French financial markets regulator, began requiring hedge funds and other investment managers to disclose their short positions when they reached 0.5 percent of a company's outstanding stock. The initiative mirrors a plan by European Union regulators who, in the wake of the financial crisis, want to monitor the potential risks of short-selling. The European Commission is considering a proposal that would require all member countries to publish details on investors' short holdings. Authorities are expected to vote on the measure this year.

Italian prosecutors to request immediate Berlusconi prostitution trial

Prosecutors in Italy say they will formally ask for PM Silvio Berlusconi to be tried for alleged sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power. The Milan chief prosecutor said a request for a fast-track trial would be submitted to a court on Wednesday. Berlusconi is alleged to have paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl and then intervened to get her released from custody in a separate case.

ACS:Law told file-sharing case must continue by court

A controversial law firm that sent letters to alleged illegal file sharers has been told it cannot drop its cases to "avoid public scrutiny". ACS:Law contacted thousands of people accusing them of illegally downloading movies and songs and demanding payments of £500 to avoid court action. Cases against 26 of them proceeded, before the company attempted to pull out of prosecution at the last minute. Now a judge had criticized the firm for its methods. "I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court," said Judge Colin Birss at the Patents County Court in London. The case stems from a letter-writing campaign by ACS:Law and its partner company MediaCAT, which sent an undisclosed number of notices to alleged file sharers demanding they pay a fine or face the prospect of costly legal action.

Newspaper publishers warn Apple over iTunes sales

Apple is being warned against trying to squeeze cash out of the newspaper industry by controlling subscriptions for iPads and iPhones. The European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA) says it is concerned by the company's plans to direct online sales through iTunes. If that happens, the ENPA warns, a large cut of their profits would go to Apple. However, the technology giant insists it wants to give customers choice. Several European Newspapers claim that Apple has banned them from offering free electronic editions to their print customers. The move sparked industry speculation that a further clampdown was imminent.

Brazil prison riot

A riot at an overcrowded prison in Maranhao state in northern Brazil leaves at least six inmates dead, some reportedly decapitated. Inmates went on the rampage to protest at overcrowding after a failed attempt to escape. "The prisoners say that six of the inmates have been killed, and some have been decapitated and the heads hung on the bars."

US sees Brazil as yuan fight ally

The value of China's currency is back in the spotlight as the US seeks to increase the number of countries asking for a stronger yuan.

US clears Toyota over electronics

A US investigation into Toyota safety problems finds no electronic flaws to explain complaints about unintended acceleration. The 10-month probe, ordered by the US Congress, followed recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles in 2009 and 2010. Part of the investigation, published in August, suggested driver error might have played a part in many incidents. Toyota, the world's biggest carmaker, reported a 39% drop in quarterly profits on Tuesday.

Syria lifts ban on social media sites Facebook, YouTube

Syrian Internet users reported on Tuesday that social media sites Facebook and YouTube are accessible without proxy servers or VPNs. Syria appears to be lifting the ban imposed in 2007 as a concession to avoid popular upheaval in Syria. Because both Facebook and YouTube are routinely accessed by Syrians through international proxy servers, the concession may have limited impact. The move follows a recent interview in which President Bashar Al-Assad indicated he would push for political reforms including municipal elections and a new media law. Other websites, such as Amazon and Wikipedia, remain blocked for the time being.

Plans near for Freddie and Fannie

The Obama administration and House Republicans are settling into a game of chicken (the one who swerved will be called a "chicken," meaning a coward)over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with each side daring the other to advance a plan for replacing the two housing finance companies.

Insider dealing charge laid on four US fund managers

Four hedge fund managers at SAC Capital Advisors have been charged by US prosecutors with insider dealing as part of a wider crackdown on illegal trading.  SAC has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Insider dealing means using confidential information for profit. According to the Manhattan US Attorney, the four defendants had taken the "concept of social networking and turned it into a criminal enterprise". The case against them alleges "hardcore insider trading in stock after stock."

Hungary agrees to change controversial media law

Hungary agreed Monday to change its controversial media law following negotiations between Hungarian and EU representatives. The new law, which controls private television and radio broadcasters, newspapers, and online news sites, has been criticized as being too restrictive of freedom of expression. Last month, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes challenged the legality of the act under EU law, specifically provisions that apply to media originating in countries other than Hungary, regulate media beyond simple broadcasting and require media outlets to register with a new authority. Hungary's Communication Minister Zoltan Kovacs said that officials will address the problems noted by the European Commission and change the text to make the media law more clear and precise. The Hungarian government plans to revise the text and submit changes to the law on Thursday.

Pakistan investigators accuse Musharraf in Bhutto assassination

The Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan on Monday named former president Pervez Musharraf as an accused in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf's name was included on an interim criminal charge-sheet after investigations revealed that he appointed and allegedly gave orders to the police officers accused of failing to protect Bhutto on the day she was assassinated.

GOP takes latest abortion fight to the tax code

One GOP-backed bill would make it more expensive for people to buy private health insurance that includes coverage for abortions. The abortion bills face strong opposition in the Senate.

Bank of America settles excessive overdraft fee lawsuit

Bank of America (BOA) has reached a $410 million settlement in a class action suit accusing the bank of excessive overdraft fees, according to documents submitted Friday in the US District Court Southern District of Florida. BOA is among more than two dozen US, Canadian and European lenders named as defendants in the class action lawsuit, which consolidated claims across the country in 2009. In their amended complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that BOA's practices were deceptive in that they did not reasonably notify customers that they had the option of opting out of the overdraft scheme and declining transactions. The complaint also alleged that BOA's excessive fees disproportionately effect low-income customers. A judge must now approve the settlement agreement.

Why all the noise about Muni bankruptcies?

Governors across the nation are girding for budget retrenchment and an overdue visit from fiscal reality. With the municipal bond market approaching $3 trillion, institutional investors, mom and pop investors and high-income professionals seeking tax-advantaged savings are asking with increasing alarm: Is it time to be concerned? Will a wave of defaults turn state and municipal bonds into a trap for unwary investors? This speculation, despite a market that has had historically low default rates, has resulted in significant capital outflows, falling bond prices and rising yields, already raising the cost of borrowing for issuers. In short, most of the dialogue about accelerating defaults and possible bankruptcies is Kabuki theater intended to signal participants all around the various municipal and state negotiating tables that the game is afoot. Each of the participants — the state executives, the federal government, the municipal unions, the bond investing, underwriting and rating communities and the taxpayers themselves — are communicating their initial negotiating postures using the tools of smoke signals and shadow puppets so that they can make their respective messages heard without exacerbating market dynamics and, importantly, without bearing direct political responsibility for an unpleasant message.

Rumsfeld warns on effort to prosecute Bush abroad

Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. defense secretary under George W. Bush, warned on Tuesday that attempts to prosecute the ex-president abroad for alleged torture of terrorism suspects was a misguided response to U.S. public policy. Rights groups have threatened legal action against Bush in Switzerland for alleged mistreatment of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Bush was due to visit Geneva to address a Jewish charity gala on Saturday, but organizers canceled the event due to what they described as security concerns. "People are trying to make legal issues out of public policy issues, which is unfortunate," Rumsfeld told Reuters. "I think it's a sign of the times." Rumsfeld, who personally authorized harsh interrogation techniques used on some terrorism suspects, said he had not considered whether he, too, might face prosecution if he traveled abroad.

  • Daily Press Review

Al Qouz bus station to open next month; 5 new routes
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Jordan- Bakhit to announce Cabinet today
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

South, North Korean Talks End Without Agreement
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Palestinian government sets date for polls, Hamas rejects move
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Mid-East peace process at risk - Hague
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Murderer of 11-year-old school girl becomes first executed in Missouri in 21 months
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

EGYPT: Rally draws record crowd as protesters reject reform pledges
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Metro Director Gayev Leaves
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Julian Assange lawyer fears 'hidden agenda' in case against WikiLeaks founder
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

U.S. plans to inject US$53 billion into passenger rail
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

China prepares for 'severe, long-lasting drought'
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

PRTs will have no place after transition: Karzai
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

Pakistan cabinet members resign (Lead)
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Liberian informant denied asylum
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

US urges faster change in Egypt
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Foreign 'gold smugglers' arrested in eastern Congo
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Italtile CEO killed in Plett plane crash
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

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