March 16, 2011 nº 1.017 - Vol. 9


Keep smiling - it makes people wonder what you've been up to.


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

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  • Top News

Obama administration urges Supreme Court to reject expedited health care review

The US DOJ - Department of Justice filed a brief with the Supreme Court Monday urging the court not to take a case challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 health care reform law until a federal appeals court reviews the case. The DOJ argues that the case is ineligible for early review under Supreme Court Rule 11 which prevents the court from taking a case pending before a circuit court of appeals absent "a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court." The DOJ filed the brief in response to a February petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli seeking to send the case, which declared the PPACA - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, directly to the Supreme Court. Despite the case's public importance, those challenging the law seek only to have the individual mandate, which takes effect in 2014, declared unconstitutional, and, argues the DOJ, "[t]here will be ample time before 2014 for this Court to decide whether to grant review in the normal course and, if it does so, to issue a decision."

The illusion of knowledge

Long-form reading, listening and viewing habits are giving way to browse-and-choose consumption. With the increase in the number of media options — or distractions, depending on how you look at them — something has to give, and that something is our attention span. We just don't do whole things anymore. We don't read complete books — just excerpts. We don't listen to whole CDs — just samplings. We don't sit through whole baseball games — just a few innings. Don't even write whole sentences. Or read whole stories like this one. We care more about the parts and less about the entire. We are into snippets and smidgens and clips and tweets. We are not only a fragmented society, but a fragment society. And the result: What we gain is the knowledge — or the illusion of knowledge — of many new, different and variegated aspects of life. What we lose is still being understood.

Common Law in Spanish, anyone?

Georgetown Law CLE offers a program in conjunction with Lex Mercator International Education called Common Law: Una Ventana al Mundo (in Spanish) by John Rooney on Wednesday, March 16, at 5 p.m. To register, click here.

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 - New York mom sues elite preschool for being "one big playroom" - click here.

2 - Renault says sorry to execs over false spy claims - click here.

3 - Ex-Taylor Bean president admits his role in $1.9 billion financial fraud - click here.

4 - 9/11 plaintiffs firm is ordered to work with conflicts counsel - click here.

5 - Federal court sentences convicted Somali pirates to life - click here.

6 - Guatemalans file class action suit over US medical experiments - click here.

7 - FCAC marks World Consumer Rights Day - click here.

8 - Minister commemorates World Consumer Rights Day - click here.

9 - World Consumer Rights Day - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Nuclear plant funding undeterred amid Japan's quake crisis

China National Nuclear Corp., the nation's largest atomic plant operator, may issue a record amount of bonds to finance expansion even as Japan battles to prevent a reactor meltdown. "The nuclear accident won't have any serious impact on China's nuclear industry and we won't alter our long-term development plans."

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  • Brief News

Japan's government likely to bear much of the loss

Apart from an expected $35 billion in insurance claims from last week's earthquake, the financial losses in Japan will probably fall most heavily on the Japanese government once it tallies the damage from the tsunami and the nuclear disaster. The uninsured losses may turn out to be the greatest losses of all. Japanese insurance companies, global insurers and reinsurers, hedge funds and other investors in catastrophe bonds are all expected to bear a portion of the losses that seem likely to exceed $100 billion.

Foreign companies evacuate staff

Foreign firms are evacuating staff in Japan to safer distances, after fears of a radiation leak escalate.

Nuclear plants in EU to be tested

The public came to accept nuclear power stations because the risks were thought to be small. Voters accepted reassurances. Experts were believed. The fail-safe systems were thought to be in place. Now, nuclear projects in Europe are being reviewed in light of the emergency in Japan. Germany has temporarily shut down seven of its nuclear power plants while it reconsiders its nuclear strategy. The move comes after concerns about radiation leaks at a Japanese plant after last Friday's earthquake. The EU has also reached agreement on "stress tests" of all European nuclear facilities.

Libya: no-fly zone proposal to enter UN talks

Negotiations are expected to begin on a draft United Nations resolution from the UK, France and Lebanon, which would establish a ban on all flights in Libya, would authorize member states to enforce it and call on them to participate in it. Aside from the no-fly zone it also urges stronger enforcement of the arms embargo, adds names, companies and entities to the sanctions list, bans commercial flights from bringing arms and mercenaries into Libya and would set up an expert panel to monitor implementation. There is disagreement within the international community about a no-fly zone, to prevent air attacks on rebels. Some fear being "sucked in" to a war. There is much dissent at the UN, and in Europe, over a no-fly zone. And one question rings: "What does Obama think?"

Bahrain king declares 3-month state of emergency amid widespread protests

Riot police in Bahrain have launched an assault on anti-government demonstrators camping in a square in the capital, Manama. The government has declared martial law and called in Saudi troops to help keep order.

UN urges Turkish government to respect freedom of expression

A spokesperson for the UN OHCHR - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday urged Turkish officials to respect journalists' freedom of expression. The international concern increased after the Turkish government arrested nine journalists earlier this month based on accusations that the journalists were members of the political dissent group Ergenekon and had conspired to overthrow the government.

UBS investigated by US regulators over Libor

Swiss banking giant UBS has said it is being investigated by US regulators for allegedly manipulating Libor, the rate at which banks lend to each other. UBS said it had received subpoenas from the SEC - Securities Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Department of Justice.

Nasdaq 'to make rival bid' for NYSE Euronext

Nasdaq OMX Group is set to launch a $12bn bid for NYSE Euronext later this week, various reports in the US media claim, citing unnamed sources. The US technology exchange is said to be seeking $5bn debt to fund the bid. The deal would compete directly with the $10.2bn tie-up between NYSE and Deutsche Boerse already agreed between the two companies' boards in February. It would create a heavily US-oriented firm, and reportedly includes the sale of existing European assets of NYSE.

Convicted Somali pirates get life sentences in US court

Five Somali men convicted of attacking a US Navy ship they mistook for a merchant vessel have been sentenced to life in prison. The men were found guilty in November of trying to hijack the USS Nicholas, a vessel on an anti-piracy mission. Defense lawyers claimed the men had been abducted by pirates and forced to fire their weapons in the April attack. The men were the first convicted of piracy by a US jury since 1820, prosecutors said.

Egypt moves ahead with vote despite concerns

Egypt's military rulers are charging ahead with a referendum scheduled for Saturday that will determine who can run for president. The referendum is widely opposed by the leaders of the country's revolution. "Why rush at the expense of democracy?" asks Mohamed ElBaradei.

Guatemalans file class action suit over US medical experiments

Seven Guatemalans filed a class action lawsuit on Monday with the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that they had been the subject of non-consensual human medical experimentation by the US PHS - Public Health Service. The suit was brought on behalf of all individuals who were subjected to experimentation in Guatemala or were infected to be used as vehicles to infect test subjects for the venereal disease experiments. The complaint alleges that the PHS conducted the human medical experiments in Guatemala to test whether penicillin could also be used as a prophylaxis immediately following exposure to the syphilis bacteria. The plaintiffs seek to establish similarities between their case and the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male" in the complaint.

Obama calls for gun law reforms to minimize violence

Obama called Sunday for greater enforcement of gun laws in the wake of the January shootings in Arizona. In an opinion piece published by the Arizona Daily Star, Obama called for the implementation of "sound and effective steps" aimed at minimizing gun violence. He outlined three steps designed to enhance the effectiveness of the NICS - National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database that provides information to gun sellers about potential buyers' eligibility to purchase firearms. Obama called for proper implementation of NICS and an incentive system to reward the states that provide the best information to the database. He also called for the system to be made "faster and nimbler ... providing an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks." Addressing the often divisive nature of gun rights discussions in the US, Obama said that he has faith that Americans on both sides of the debate can recognize that "most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens and most gun owners know that the word 'commonsense' isn't a code word for 'confiscation.' And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television."

Threats to traveling data

With small and fast laptops, powerful smartphones, tablets and readily available Wi-Fi, working on the road — on planes, in airports and hotel rooms — has never been easier. But security experts say these conveniences also make the offices away from home more vulnerable to serious security threats. It's a huge, huge issue for companies and employees and growing more each day. It's a ripe environment for hackers and criminals. "As business travelers, we're on the road so much, we psychologically forget that we're in public." We all have overheard an executive speaking loudly on a cellphone booking a hotel, and revealing all of his credit card information, including the security code. Laptops and mobile devices have numerous vulnerabilities, starting with loss and theft. To limit exposure of particularly sensitive information, some companies switch mobile devices when employees travel. Older versions could be more vulnerable, as criminals have had time to learn how to hack them. And criminal access to mobile networks may be easier in certain foreign countries, because of lax security and corruption. "We're seeing the use of social networks to gather publicly available information on targets." Posting photographs and travel plans can jeopardize personal safety and sensitive business negotiations, experts said. Even printing boarding passes can be dangerous. "Don't leave them in public trash cans either. Anytime you leave data about yourself in a public place, it creates opportunities. Avoid free public Wi-Fi. Some look like legitimate hot spots, but they are set up by criminals," frequently at airport terminals. If using a wireless connection, entering it through a smartphone connection, which is much harder to hack. And at hotels, obtain an access key before using the wireless connection to ensure it is not "sponsored by the person in the room next door"

White House wants new copyright law crackdown

The White House today proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspected infringers.

UK acts to halt libel tourism, help free speech

Britain is to overhaul its archaic libel laws to stamp out 'libel tourism' by wealthy individuals and corporations who flock to British courts to sue for defamation.

New York mosque project site faces legal challenge

A New York building set to be demolished for an Islamic cultural center and mosque should be preserved as a monument of the Sept. 11 al Qaeda attacks, opponents of the mosque project said in court on Tuesday. A lawsuit by a New York firefighter who survived the attacks in 2001 seeks to overturn a decision by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission last August denying landmark status to the Lower Manhattan building, clearing the way for the 16-story, $150 million center. Opponents of the project argue it would be insensitive to put an Islamic cultural center and mosque so close to the site of the toppled World Trade Center twin towers, considering those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks were Muslim militants.

  • Daily Press Review

No UN move yet as Gaddafi vows to crush protesters
Al Arabiya, Online news, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Bahrain forces attack protesters
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Official: Saudi soldier shot dead in Bahrain
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Thousands protest against Saudi troops in Bahrain
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Japan turns to U.S. in face of worsening nuclear crisis
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

BAHRAIN: Saudi intervention likely to bring regional blowback
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Clinton visits Tahrir Square in Cairo
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Japan nuclear plant rocked by second blast, reactor undamaged
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

US drone kills five militants in Pakistan: official
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

VIDEO: White vapour billows from quake-hit reactor
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Two killed as Bahrain soldiers storm protester camp
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Workers return to damaged Japan plant
CNN International, London, England

Two men killed near caravan site
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Radiation hike forces temporary evacuation of Fukushima plant
Euronews, Ecully Cedex, France

LIVE BLOGGING: World offers helping hands to Japan as crisis deepens
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Workers temporarily retreat from Japan nuclear plant
Independent The, London, England

In U-Turn, Putin seeks nuclear checks
Moscow Times The, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Erdogan To Meet Putin
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Ex-nurse persuaded Briton to commit suicide
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Why a no-fly zone means no freedom for Libyans
Spiked, (Alternative Internet Magazine), London, England

Japan earthquake: survivors lift rescuers' spirit against all odds
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Oil prices fell sharply due to nuclear crisis in Japan
WNC News, London, England

Japan government losing public trust as nuclear crisis worsens
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Is Korea safe from Japan radiation?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Japan suspends work at quake-hit nuclear plant
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Sorting through information after the quake
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Workers return to stricken nuclear plant - reports
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

4 civilians dead in Kandahar bombing
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

Fatal NYC Chinatown tour bus crashes spotlight safety concerns
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

How people can help Japanese earthquake recovery
Sify News, Chennai, India

New reactor fire as Japan works to contain threat
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Workers evacuated from Japan's stricken nuke plant: Official
Times of India, Conservative, New Delhi, India

Japan suspends work at nuclear plant as radiation surges
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Dominican, Haitian union leaders meet to boost relations
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Saudi Arabia's inner beast awakens
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

DiManno: Nuclear fear grips Tokyo
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Aflac fires Gilbert Gottfried as company duck for Japan jokes
Vancouver Sun The, Conservative, Vancouver, Canada

UN to discuss Libya no-fly zone
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Police Inspector dumps 'paralyzed lady' after knocking her down
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Mom loses whole family in fire
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

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