July 27, 2011 nº 1,071 - Vol. 9


"Most human beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted."

Aldous Huxley

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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

US debt 'clock ticking'

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Lagarde, says US politicians must agree a deal to raise the US debt ceiling as shares fall.

Low viciousness and high drama

The debate over how to tackle US debt has now turned into a rather nasty game of chicken. Democrats and Republicans unveil competing plans to avoid a default, as Obama addresses the nation on the debt deadlock. Curiously, Obama devoted the beginning of his speech to arguing that a plan that contained deep cuts without tax rises was unfair. It is odd because the Democrats' own plan has jettisoned tax cuts, in an effort to appeal to some Republicans. It suggests either the president does not really think much of the plan or he is keen on stirring a bit of ideological warfare of his own. He used the bully pulpit to some effect, and apparently Capitol Hill's website crashed when he urged people to contact their representative to call for compromise. But his position is not strong. The Republicans have won a lot of the arguments. There is a shared agreement this is a problem that has to be dealt with. Deep cuts are on everyone's agendas now. And tax cuts are off them. Really what remains is their determination not to give the president a blank check. The method is to raise the debt limit for just six months. This sounds reasonable. It sounds less virtuous if you see it as an attempt to make sure this argument runs into election year, and indeed the campaign is prosecuted with a rerun of this row in the background. Obama says if that happens, the economy will be in further danger and the American people will be collateral damage in partisan warfare. Despite all the usual guff about the USA being "a grand experiment in compromise", this is now a rather nasty game of chicken, and no-one wants to look yellow to their own political base. Those who missed some of their favorite shows might reflect it is better than any reality TV for low viciousness and high drama.

  • Crumbs

1 - Schwarzenegger changes divorce papers - click here.

2 - Obama urges compromise to avoid default - click here.

3 - Lawmakers will study Wyoming 'Caylee's Law' - click here.

4 - Norway terror suspect claims to have worked with 2 other cells - click here.

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  • Brief News

Brief calls BP compensation process an 'abject failure'

Lawyers suing BP over the Gulf oil spill would like a new person to oversee the $20 billion compensation fund: a court-appointed special master. A supplemental brief says the fund has paid only 16 percent of interim claims filed. The "abject failure" to make payments violates the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which requires an interim claims process after oil spills, the brief contends. According to the brief, BP employs "coercive tactics" to persuade potential plaintiffs to sign releases in exchange for compensation, and the documents should not be enforced.

Facebook tweaks face-recognition after complaints

The technology scans newly uploaded photos, compares faces in those snapshots with previous pictures, then tries to match faces and suggest name tags.

Soros to return 'outside' money

Hedge-fund titan George Soros's firm plans to stop managing money for outside investors and is returning less than $1 billion to clients. Chief Investment Officer Keith Anderson is leaving as the fund transitions to a family office.

European banks slash jobs

European banks are cutting jobs to save on costs, as weaker earnings in key business lines and coming regulations bite into their profits. Banks are experiencing volatile revenue streams, and they've got to try to match their cost base to those. On top of that, they've got regulatory pressure affecting what risks they can take for different types of products, so there's the capital angle at play as well in terms of trying to resize their businesses in the correct way. The recent and announced layoffs reflect a fundamental shift in the factors behind banking profits. Firms across the world are grappling with the problem of how to make sufficient returns for their shareholders while meeting a raft of new and costly regulatory requirements that have forced them to rethink some of their activities.

Spanish, Italian Borrowing Costs Soar

Spain and Italy once again paid sharply higher yields than a month ago to sell short-term debt, indicating that euro-zone bond markets remain fragile despite last week's deal on a second bailout for Greece.

Advocacy groups challenge New York same-sex marriage law

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) and Torah Jews for Decency (TJD) filed a complaint on Monday challenging the Marriage Equality Act, which allows same-sex couples to marry in the state. The plaintiffs argue, among other claims, that the law was enacted in violation of the New York State Open Meetings Laws, that the Senate failed to follow voting procedures and that the Senate conducted lock-outs that denied access to lobbyists and elected representatives. Executive Director at NYCF Rev. Jason McGuire contends that the courts must ensure the lawmakers were not acting unlawfully.

Hadzic refuses to plead at ICTY

Accused war criminal Goran Hadzic on Monday refused to enter a plea before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Hadzic was extradited to The Hague last Friday, where he now awaits trial for war crimes. Hadzic was the last fugitive of the original 161 sought by the ICTY and was arrested last week. Hadzic waived his right to appeal extradition and, after visiting with a few relatives in Serbia, was flown to The Hague. The court has not set any dates for further appearances.

Third Circuit rules police can collect DNA sample from arrestees

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Monday ruled 8-6 that law enforcement officers are permitted to obtain DNA samples from arrestees. Law enforcement officers sought a DNA sample from defendant Ruben Mitchell after he was indicted for attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine pursuant to 42 USC § 14135a(a)(1)(A), which permits the collection of DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges or convicted. Mitchell argued that the DNA collection violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The district court agreed, ruling that the DNA collection was unconstitutional. Though the government is permitted to appeal a criminal order in few circumstances, the court permitted the government to appeal the trial court's holding on the grounds that the district court conclusively decided a question of constitutional law and because the ruling resolved an important issue independent from the merits of the action. The appeals court overruled the lower court's decision, concluding that because arrestees have a diminished expectation of privacy, the government's interest in collecting and testing the DNA sample outweighed the intrusion on privacy.

Guatemala massacre trial begins

Four former Guatemalan soldiers are standing trial for the massacre of more than 220 people during the country's civil war.

Simon Bolivar tests inconclusive

Scientists examining the exhumed remains of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar say they are unable to determine the cause of his death.

Trial of former Egypt interior minister delayed

An Egyptian criminal court on Monday postponed the trial of former interior minister Habib el-Adly until August 3. El-Adly and Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak face charges of killing pro-democracy protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt earlier this year. Six of el-Adly's former assistants are also charged with murdering demonstrators. The trial date for Mubarak was set for August 3 at the Cairo Criminal Court. Pursuant to the postponement order, both men are slated to stand trial on the same day.

Strauss-Kahn accuser's media blitz carries risks

After more than two months in seclusion and anonymity, the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her is telling her story and hoping for success in the court of public opinion. But legal experts say talking to the media at this point is a risky tactic that could weaken the prosecution's case against Strauss-Kahn and reduce the woman's chances of winning a civil suit, which her lawyers said she intends to file shortly. The court date has been postponed to Aug. 23 ; it is the second such delay in the highly charged case. DSK’s lawyers said they hope charges will be dismissed by that date.

Clifford Chance to open 1st office in Africa

Clifford Chance has announced that it is opening its first office in Africa.The London-based megafirm plans to plant its flag in Morocco by the end of the year. "Although we have been active and investing in the continent for over 30 years, clients now, more than ever, want access to our deep understanding of the complexities and nuances of the African investment landscape, not just within the region but also through our knowledge of and contacts with major sponsors of inward investment, particularly in China, India and the Middle East."

Can writing style determine email authorship?

Lawyers for Mark Zuckerberg turned to a linguistics expert to answer an all-important question in a pending lawsuit: Did Zuckerberg really write emails discussing a contract giving plaintiff Paul Ceglia a 50 percent stake in Facebook? California State University professor emeritus Gerald McMenamin concluded Zuckerberg is probably not the author, raising some eyebrows in the forensic linguistics community. Critics say the evidence cited by McMenamin isn't solid enough to support his conclusion. McMenamin analyzed 11 "style markers" in the emails, including different use of punctuation, spelling and grammar. In one suspect email, for example, "Internet" was lowercase, at odds with known Zuckerberg emails. Because Ceglia purportedly saved the emails to Microsoft Word files, identifying information from message headers and server logs isn't available. Other linguistics and computer experts have developed their own systems to identify authorship. Two experts analyzing Enron emails developed bundles of linguistic features numbering in the hundreds they use to analyze a "write-print." The features include the positions of greetings and farewells in emails and a preference for symbols over words.

  • Daily Press Review

Norway killer 'insane' says his lawyer
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Qaeda militant killed by own bomb: Iraq police
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

23 Ben Ali associates on trial in Tunisia
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Israel's nutritionists ask doctor protest leader to end hunger strike
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Hamas official denies there's a money crisis
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Events mark one year to Olympics
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Vote on key Republican's U.S. debt-ceiling plan delayed
CNN International, London, England

Winehouse album back in US charts
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Norway shooting: Gunman Anders Behring Breivik asks what toll was
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Made In Chelsea's Caggie steals TOWIE Lydia's style
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Exclusive: Woman defies Belgian Burka ban
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

USA: Strauss-Kahn court hearing postponed again
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Michelangelo's basilica may finally be completed
Independent The, London, England

Transneft enjoys profit boost
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Norway massacre: Anders Breivik took drugs to make himself 'strong' before shooting
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Mitch Winehouse pays tribute to Amy: 'Goodnight my angel, sleep tight'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

SET up 0.37% at opening
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Norway mass killer likely insane: lawyer
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Korea Can't Afford Racism in a Global Age
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

N Korea demands peace treaty with US
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

TCS, Wipro in race for Tirupati temple project
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

MUFG brokerage to ax 300 via buyouts
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

South Korea landslide leaves 9 dead, 2 missing
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Egypt's ex-president Mubarak depressed ahead of trial
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

France, Britain, seek exit from Libya
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Airbrushed ads banned
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Reorganization plan could save River Plate
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

US debt crisis sends first waves through Wall Street
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Norway's PM says open society must be preserved
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Al-Qaeda on verge of being destroyed, paper says
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

RBA Predicts Return of Active Consumer Spending Soon
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Freedom of Expression Can Be Limited Only in Exceptional Circumstances
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Debt talks buffet stocks, but chipmakers shine
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Thai election body races to endorse new lawmakers
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

DiManno: Weep for the flower of Norway's youth
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Dozens die in Morocco plane crash
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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