March 28, 2011 nº 1.022 - Vol. 9

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?"

Benjamin Franklin

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  • Top News

Patent overhaul gets close, draws opposition

Corporate America has been calling for an overhaul of U.S. patent laws for years, but now, as Congress inches closer to delivering a bill backed by the Obama administration, some companies are crying foul. This week, lawmakers in the House are scheduled to start considering a patent-overhaul bill that passed the Senate earlier this month on a 95-5 vote. The Senate proposal would bring the U.S. into line with other countries by instituting a system that grants patents to the inventor who is "first to file" with the U.S. Patent Office. The U.S. currently has a "first to invent" system, and some businesses complain that it results in too much litigation from individuals who claim they were first to an idea even though they don't have a formal patent. The House Judiciary Committee's chairman, republican Lamar Smith of Texas, has circulated a bill that makes some changes to the Senate's bill. The House debate on the measure is still in its early stages. Backing the Senate bill are drug, technology and other industries that have been divided on patent issues in the past but are now aligned, in part because thorny issues like what constitutes excessive damage awards have been settled by U.S. courts. But despite the lopsided Senate vote, the legislation faces determined opposition from diverse interest groups, including small businesses, some big Silicon Valley players and conservative groups, such as the American Conservative Union and the Gun Owners of America, which say the legislation will hurt individual inventors. Many small inventors are livid about the "first to file" system. Some technology and pharmaceutical companies want more limits on challenges to patents after they are granted. But other businesses don't. "The pro and con forces on patent reform don't clearly break down in industry lines," said James J. Mullen, an intellectual-property partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster who specializes in biotech companies. The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, which includes such companies as General Electric Co., Motorola Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline, supports the Senate legislation. "We thought the Senate bill was in the small red dot in the middle of the target," said Bill Mashek, a coalition spokesman. Two coalitions of Silicon Valley companies, which include Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Oracle Corp., disagree, saying they can't support the bill without changes. "We're certainly disappointed that isn't a consensus bill that we can support, but we're working to achieve that," said Mark Chandler, Cisco Systems Inc.'s general counsel and senior vice president. "We're very concerned that the system and reform be aimed at improving patent quality and giving the resources to do its job." Tech companies have persuaded Congress to drop provisions on how damages are awarded after persuading lawmakers that the courts have reined in oversized damage awards to licensing and holding companies—known as "patent trolls"—that prompted the calls for new legislation years ago.

Arbitration Express

American Apparel CEO seeks end to sex slave case

A woman who brought a $250 million sexual harassment lawsuit against American Apparel Inc chief executive Dov Charney could be forced to take the case to arbitration, rather than pursue it in court.

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  • Brief News

Suits against BofA can proceed

Deutsche Bank and a unit of BNP Paribas can proceed with lawsuits against Bank of America for losses suffered when a subsidiary of Taylor Bean & Whittaker collapsed, a federal judge said.

The pitfalls of wiretaps in white-collar crime cases

The wiretaps of conversations between Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedge fund manager, and his sources of information appear to provide powerful evidence that he traded on illegal insider tips. Using wiretaps and cooperating witnesses to record conversations is a new way for the Justice Department to investigate this type of white-collar crime, and the government is no doubt eager to pursue other cases using the same methods. But missteps in how prosecutors obtained and monitored the wiretaps and tried to entice people into making incriminating statements have come to light, raising questions about how carefully the Justice Department has been in applying these tactics in white-collar crime case. These should serve as a warning that this investigative tool must be used very carefully in future cases.

Global death penalty trend falls

The use of the death penalty globally is continuing to fall, an annual report by Amnesty International has said. Although 23 countries carried out executions in 2010, four more than in 2009, the number of people executed dropped from at least 714 to at least 527, the rights group said. But that figure does not include China, whose executions are thought to be more than all other countries put together. The report expresses alarm that a significant number of executions or death sentences handed down in 2010 were for drug offences - including more than half of the death sentences in Malaysia. Methods of execution employed worldwide were beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting.

Lehman Minibond investors offered higher payout after Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong holders of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. -linked structured notes may get as much as 96.5 percent of their money back as banks make a second attempt to settle a dispute that forced them to change the way they sell investment products.

Israel fury over Argentina report

Israel has demanded an explanation from Argentina over reports it proposed to Iran it would stop investigating two bombings if trade ties improved. Argentina, Israel and the US have blamed Iran for the bombings of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. Iran has denied involvement in the bombings, which killed 114 people. The report about a putative deal appeared on Saturday in Argentine media. The newspaper Perfil quoted a leaked Iranian diplomatic cable that detailed the offer. The cable reportedly said: "Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but in exchange prefers improving its economic relations with Iran". According to Perfil, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman made the offer through Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a meeting in Syria in January. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel wanted "official clarifications by the Argentinian Foreign Ministry concerning the article".

Libyan rebels 'sign oil export deal with Qatar'

Libyan rebels say they have signed an oil contract with Qatar to export oil from rebel-held territory. "We are producing about 100,000 to 130,000 barrels a day, we can easily up that to about 300,000 a day." Shipments of crude would start in "less than a week". The rebels say their main concern is obtaining insurance for any tankers taking oil from Libya.

US Jesuits agree to school sex abuse pay-out

An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools. The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s. Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologize to the victims. The order had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.

Muslim-americans try to 'write' Hollywood's wrongs

Muslim-americans have been disappointed about how they are portrayed in film and television. Now, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is putting on workshops with veteran Hollywood writers to teach Muslims how to write their own scripts.

EU blow to Spain's small retailers

A bid by Spain's Catalonia region to protect small retailers against competition from larger rivals has been blocked by the EU's Court of Justice. The European Commission brought an action against Spain after it allowed the region to restrict areas where large retailers can set up.

Eurozone sets bail-out terms

European leaders have agreed a restructuring of a financial bail-out fund that they hope will resolve the bloc's debt crisis. Eurozone ministers bowed to German demands to renegotiate the time-frame for contributions to the massive fund. But the deal was overshadowed by concerns about Portugal and a growing row that the UK may be forced to contribute to a financial bail-out. Portugal says it does not need aid, but many analysts say Lisbon is in denial. The eurozone debt deal follows months of negotiations.

Hackers target business secrets

Intellectual property and business secrets are fast becoming a target for cyber thieves. A research found that some hackers are starting to specialize in data stolen from corporate networks. Deals were being done for trade secrets, marketing plans, R&D reports and source code. It urged companies to know who looks after their data as it moves into the cloud or third-party hosting centers. Business data had always been scooped up but the difference now is that there exists a ready market for the data hackers are finding. In some cases thieves were running campaigns to get at particular companies or certain types of information. Defending against these threats was getting harder, he said, because key workers with access to the most valuable information were out and about using mobile devices far from the defenses surrounding a corporate HQ.

Wisconsin union bargaining bill may become law despite judicial order

A Wisconsin legislative measure designed to curb the collective bargaining power of unions could become law as early as Saturday, despite an order enjoining Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette from publishing the legislation. The Budget Repair Bill was published on the Wisconsin Legislative Bureau online on Friday sparking debate among government officials as to whether the law was now in effect. Reference Bureau Director Steve Miller called the publishing a procedural step and insisted the law would not take effect until La Follette takes implementation action by publishing the law in a newspaper; however, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) insisted the online publication meant the law would take immediate effect. La Follette said he was unclear as to the significance of the publication, but that he would not be taking any action due to the court order. In response to the online publication, two unions representing Wisconsin public works employees and firefighters, filed a lawsuit against Governor Scott Walker alleging not enough Senate members were present when the vote on the bill was taken. Firefighters Local 311 and AFL-CIO Laborers Local 236 are seeking a judicial order declaring the bill null and void. This is the third lawsuit that has been brought challenging the controversial bill.

Spain judge Garzon petitions Europe rights court over Franco probe

Spanish National Court judge Baltasar Garzon on Thursday filed a petition with the ECHR - European Court of Human Rights, challenging a case brought against him in Spain that alleges abuse of power in investigating crimes committed under the Franco dictatorship. Garzon faces charges of politically motivated corruption and violation of the 1977 Amnesty Law, which affords amnesty for Franco-era crimes. The charges are based on Garzon's 2008 order for certain government agencies, the Episcopal Conference, the University of Granada and the mayors of four cities to produce the names of people buried in mass graves, as well as the circumstances and dates of their burial.

ICC prosecutor certain of Gaddafi war crimes charges

ICC - International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the press during a visit to Cairo Thursday that he is 100% certain his office will bring charges against Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi. Moreno-Ocampo said that his office is coordinating with a number of law enforcement organizations, including Interpol, in an investigation into six separate incidents in which Gaddafi is alleged to have ordered massive shooting attacks on peaceful protests, a process he said is certain to result in charges. Moreno-Ocampo warned Libyan officials last week that any violence against civilians in the rebel-held capital Benghazi would result in prosecution for war crimes.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

What if he doesn't go (Gaddafi)? Why are we in Libya? Barack Obama is trying something rarely attempted before. But he can't be sure it will lead to Gaddafi's early exit.

Business Week
The prospect for safe nuclear power. Fukushima has cast a pall over the industry, just as new designs are showing promise of making reactors far safer. Will fear bring progress to a halt—or stimulate demand for smarter solutions?

The Economist
Where does this end? The Americans, the Europeans and the Arabs must all hold their nerve.

Der Spiegel
Die Heilkraft des Fastens - Gesunder Körper, klarer Kopf

  • Daily Press Review

Gaddafi hometown seized by Libya opposition: spokesman
Al Arabiya, Online news, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Libyan rebels claim seizing Sirte
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Qatar 'seizes two Iranian boats with arms'
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Rebel spokesman says Gaddafi town seized
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Syria activists call for protests ahead of Assad's expected national address
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Berlusconi attends fraud case hearing
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Syrian community in Armenia gathers to support president al-Assad's policy
Sana, Syrian Arab News Agency, Damascus, Syria

Gunmen in Iraq kill 6 women and a man
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Al Jazeera shows Iraqi videos to fabricate news about Yemen
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

French socialists beat Sarkozy's UMP in council poll
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

LIBYA : Rebels' progress blocked
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Radiation in seawater may be spreading in Japan
Irish Times The, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Germany's payments for military base in Uzbekistan unveiled
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Cops saw Sian suspect's bonfire
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Jackie Chan invites asian stars to do charity concert for Japan
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Suicide bomb in eastern Afghanistan kills 15
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Prosecutors may expand procurement investigation
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

World looks beyond Libyan oil
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

Two more schools blown up in Darra Adam Khel, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Model banking village Doba facing acute water crisis
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Vietnam zoo owner jailed for selling dead tigers
News The, Left-wing, Karachi, Pakistan

Australia's Queensland voters don't want early state election: poll
Sify News, Chennai, India

Syria strives to restore order in unrest-hit Latakia
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Pak Interior Minister is an India, US agent: Jamaat chief
Times of India, Conservative, New Delhi, India

China executed more people than rest of world combined: AI
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Canadian soldier killed in Afghan blast
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Dominican health authorities report seven cholera deaths
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

ECUADOR: Catholics demand removal of far-right Bishop
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

America's nuclear renaissance stalls
Newser, News web site, Chicago, U.S

Merkel's party loses big in Stronghold
Reuters, New York, U.S

Emergency crews battle suspected explosion in Woodstock, Ont.
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Libya raids hit Gaddafi hometown, Independent online news aggregator

Gov't: We'll certainly implement one-time NHIS payment
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa


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