February 23, 2011 nº 1.010 - Vol. 9

"The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness."

Arthur Schopenhauer


Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica


  • Top News

Supreme Court upholds legal shield for vaccine makers

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law shields vaccine makers from product-liability lawsuits in state court seeking damages for a child's injuries or death from a vaccine's side effects. Pfizer and other vaccine makers argued that a Supreme Court ruling for the plaintiffs could open the door to a flood of lawsuits -- many by families who believe vaccines cause autism -- and threaten the supply of childhood vaccines. At issue was the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, a law adopted by Congress that created an administrative court to hear vaccine-related claims. The special court, which provides an alternate form of compensation to plaintiffs, was created to ensure a stable vaccine supply by shielding manufacturers from liability. The so-called vaccine court has awarded more than $1.8 billion for vaccine injury claims in nearly 2,500 cases since 1989. It is funded by a tax on vaccines.

Health-care law survives constitutional challenge in Washington case

The Obama administration's health- care reform law survived a constitutional challenge in federal court in Washington, marking the third U.S. victory against cases seeking to block the measure. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought in June by five individuals who claimed the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring people to procure minimum insurance coverage starting in 2014 is unconstitutional. In a 64-page opinion, Kessler said Congress was acting "within the bounds" of its constitutional Commerce Clause power when it imposed the insurance requirement. "The individual decision to forgo health insurance, when considered in the aggregate, leads to substantially higher insurance premiums for those other individuals who do obtain coverage," Kessler wrote. "Thus, the aggregate effect on interstate commerce of the decisions of individuals to forgo insurance is very substantial." Kessler concluded the mandate is constitutional.

Private-share trade is probed

The SEC is investigating potential conflicts of interest in the fast-growing market for buying and selling shares of private companies such as Facebook and Twitter.

Big law's $1,000-plus an hour club

Top attorneys in the U.S. are asking for as much as $1,250 an hour, significantly more than in previous years.

Brazil: human rights and international obligations

Migalhas International publishes today an interesting article by Professor Valerio de Oliveira Mazzuoli, that discusses the importance for Brazil of a bill compliance system, protecting human rights and fulfilling its international obligations. Click here to read.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Blockbuster agrees to be bought for $290 million by group of debt holders - click here.

2 - Nancy Kissel testifies at murder trial banker husband was sexually abusive - click here.

3 - Egypt refers former ministers to criminal court - click here.

4 - From a book review to a criminal trial in France - click here.

5 - Penn. judge convicted in 'for profit' scheme also faces lawsuit - click here.

6 - Defense minister renounces doctorate over plagiarism accusations - click here.

7 - Desperate Gaddafi clings to Power - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

China starts building a $2.6bn resort in the Bahamas

China has started work on a $2.6bn holiday resort in the Bahamas, as the country's state-owned companies look to expand their economic presence overseas. Billed as the largest project of its kind in the Caribbean, the Baha Mar resort is also being funded by Chinese firms. The resort will include four hotels, a golf course and the Caribbean's largest casino. It is set to open in December 2014. Export-Import Bank of China will fund the project, and China State Construction will help build it.


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  • Brief News

Iran's warships sail through Suez

Two Iranian warships have sailed through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea. Iranian officials have said the warships are heading to Syria for training, a mission Israel has described as a "provocation". Apparently, the significance of the deployment is entirely diplomatic, not military. Israel considers Iran a threat because of its controversial nuclear program, development of ballistic missiles, support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups, and Tehran's repeated anti-Israel rhetoric.

Google faces new complaint in anti-trust probe

A new complaint about Google's alleged anti-competitive behavior has been filed by specialist French search engine 1plusV. It follows similar complaints from price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr last year. Those triggered a European Commission probe into Google's business practices, which is ongoing. Google said it was working with the EC, adding that there "was always room for improvement". (Click here)

Libya crackdown condemned at UN

The UN Security Council condemns the Libyan authorities for using force against protesters, calling for those responsible to be held to account. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday that the Libyan government's response to recent protests may amount to crmies against humanity. Pillay cited the use of machine guns, snipers and military planes against protesters, calling for an independent investigation. She also urged an immediate end to the serious human rights violations, denouncing the "callousness" of the Gaddafi government.

Arab unrest stuns markets

Libya's descent into violence rattled global financial markets, sending oil prices surging to their biggest gain in more than two years and driving world stock markets sharply lower.

Hijacked Americans 'killed by captors' off Somalia

Four Americans hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Oman have been killed by their captors, Pirates currently hold about 30 boats captured off the coast of Somalia, with a total of more than 600 hostages.

Lula in misconduct probe

Lula is being investigated for allegedly misusing public funds in 2004 to promote low-interest loans.

For the S.E.C., problems of time and money

The commission may find some cases too stale to pursue because it lacks resources to complete investigations before statues of limitations run out.

Union protests growing around US

Union unrest is spreading through the mid-western US, as labor activists in at least three states protest against pending anti-union legislation. Thousands of protesters gathered in Ohio and Indiana and, for the second week in a row, Wisconsin. Republican-led governments there have argued the moves are needed to balance state budgets wracked by deficits. But Democratic-leaning unions say fiscal woes are being used as an excuse to erode collective bargaining rights.

Peru moves on illegal gold miners

Peru sends the military to destroy river dredgers used by illegal gold miners in the ecologically sensitive Madre de Dios Amazon region.

Advertisers want to dominate your phone

The marketing industry has decided that mobile is the platform of the future and is rushing to send messages to your phone. The biggest trend is probably local search adverts, where, for example, you look for somewhere to eat and the nearest restaurants pop up. And who is already dominating this area? Google of course, which is already taking its massive share of search on the web to this new mobile platform, with Google Maps. Another big growth area is video, with pre-roll adverts or interactive click-and-play campaigns. But mobile is really personal and intimate - people don't like being advertised to on something that they call their friends or relatives on.

Barclays doesn't have to return 'windfall' to Lehman

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. lost a bid to recover an alleged $11 billion "windfall" from Barclays Plc's purchase of its defunct brokerage unit when a judge ruled the transaction was fair.

Egypt chief prosecutor seeks to freeze ex-president's foreign assets

Egypt's chief prosecutor on Monday requested that Foreign Ministry officials take steps to freeze any foreign assets belonging to former president Hosni Mubarak and his family.Prosecutor Abdel Magid made the request even though Mubarak submitted a declaration of wealth indicating that he possessed no foreign assets. Mahmud stated that the freeze would apply to Mubarak, his wife, as well as his two sons and their wives. Switzerland froze assets held by Mubarak and "parties close to him", shortly after Mubarak announced his resignation on February 11. Swiss authorities reportedly froze "several dozens of millions" of francs kept by Mubarak and related parties in Swiss banks, although the legitimacy of these funds is still under investigation.

India president: government to address corruption

Indian President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil announced Monday that the government will work to eradicate corruption. In her address to both houses of Parliament to open the budget session, Patil stated that India will take measures to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption and that it will take other legislative and administrative measures necessary to improve transparency. The government has also set up a group of ministers charged with streamlining the judicial system. They will particularly work to expedite corruption cases brought against civil servants suspected of corruption and to amend current laws to facilitate bringing claims against public servants. Partial public funding of elections is also being considered as a method to improve transparency.

Stanford joins Madoff at North Carolina prison

A federal judge recommended that the jailed Texas financier be sent to the medical center at the Butner, N.C., prison for treatment of addiction.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Argentina appeal on assets

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Argentina's appeal in its long-running legal effort to unfreeze some assets held in trust since 2007, after its roughly $100 billion debt default five years earlier. Without comment, the high court refused to hear Argentina's appeal in a one-line order. The justices declined to review a ruling in August by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, upholding a federal judge's order allowing the assets to stay frozen.

Vivendi wins narrowing of $9 billion U.S. investor suit

Vivendi SA won a big court victory when a federal judge significantly narrowed a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit accusing the French media company of misleading shareholders about its finances prior to a $46 billion merger a decade ago. U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell threw out claims by purchasers of Vivendi's ordinary shares, citing the Supreme Court's June decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank that limited the ability of investors to use federal courts to raise fraud claims over the purchase of foreign securities. Holwell's ruling could reduce Vivendi's liability by billions of dollars.

Lawyers 'Facebook' the Jury

Facebook is increasingly being used in courts to decide who is suitable to serve on a jury, as attorneys look online for indications of sympathy -- or trouble.

  • Daily Press Review

Defiant Gaddafi vows to fight on
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

OIC SecGen: killings in Libya cannot be justified
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Now Gaddafi Makes the Same Mistake
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Gaddafi Defies Revolt With Tanks, Planes
Iran Daily, English-language, reformist, Tehran, Iran

Algeria to end 19-year state of emergency
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

World of retailing reflects positive trends
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Somali Pirates Kill 4 U.S. Hostages on Yacht
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Egypt asks for freeze on Mubarak assets
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Libya crackdown condemned at UN
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Kenny and Gilmore round on Martin during Election debate
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Scores arrested over protests class
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

UN Security Council Condemns Libya Violence
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Five reasons why Libya's revolt will shake the world
Spiked, (Alternative Internet Magazine), London, England

Gaddafi sets stage for violent showdown
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Arson verdict revives bitter conflict over train deaths that sparked riots
The Independent, London, England

Can the 'Jasmine Revolution' Spread to N.Korea?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Swamy names Karunanidhi in 2G telecom scam
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Japan, Pakistan vow to keep up Afghan effort
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor
Sify News, Chennai, India

WikiLeaks cables detail Qaddafi clan's extravagant exploits
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

31 convicted, 63 acquitted in Godhra train fire case
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Main suspect in Atlas Marine RD$1.5B tax fraud nabbed in Venezuela
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

VENEZUELA: Government Yields to Student Hunger Strikers
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Army colonel gets 20 years for ordering mass rape in eastern Congo
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Mercenaries from Ethiopia kill Libyan protesters
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia


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