August 1, 2011 nº 1,073 - Vol. 9


Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, your enemies shudder and say, "Oh no....she's awake!!"

Insider's view: see how local concerns shape up the global world. Read the daily press review in Migalhas International.

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  • Top News

Obama announces US deficit deal

After weeks of partisan wrangling, Obama and congressional leaders reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending by about $2.4 trillion, avoiding default but setting up debates over how Washington taxes and spends. The president said the agreement will cut about $1 trillion over 10 years. The House and Senate must still approve the agreement. The agreement would slice at least $2.4 trillion from federal spending over a decade; the Treasury's authority to borrow would be extended beyond the 2012 elections. The plan has two parts: In the first, about $1 trillion will be cut in spending over the next 10 years. In the second, a newly created joint committee of Congress would be charged with recommending further deficit reductions by the end of November. The committee's proposals could trigger a debt limit increase of as much as $1.5 trillion, if approved by Congress. But if they do not materialize, automatic spending cuts would be applied across government to trim spending by $1.2 trillion. The deal "makes a serious down payment on deficit reduction we need," Obama said, adding that it will "begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy." There were no revenue increases in the first part of the deal. Obama said he would spend the next few months persuading lawmakers of the need for a "balanced" approach, one that includes some revenue increases.

US economy: GDP growth much weaker than thought

US economic growth is much weaker than first thought, government figures show. The economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.3% in the second quarter. Economists had forecast growth of 1.8%. The main reason for the lower-than-expected second-quarter figure was that consumer spending virtually ground to a halt, Slow growth makes it more difficult for the US to tackle its deficit.

Federal appeals court allows patents of human genes

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday ruled 2-1 that patents held on two genes linked to hereditary ovarian and breast cancer are valid. The ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union and the PUBPAT - Public Patent Foundation originally filed the suit on behalf of patients and scientists challenging patents held by Myriad Genetics on the BCRA genes. Myriad Genetics appealed the lower court decision that found the patents to be invalid.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China rail crash families reject compensation offer

Relatives of some of those killed in a major train crash in China are refusing to accept an offer of compensation from the government. The 915,000 yuan ($142,000) total is double the initial offer made to the families of the 40 victims. There has been widespread anger at the official response to the disaster. Meanwhile local lawyers have been told to report to the authorities any relatives seeking legal advice. Law firms should not "unauthorizedly respond and handle the cases", because "the accident is a major sensitive issue concerning social stability", the lawyers are said to have been warned in a statement.

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  • Brief News

Face-ID tools pose new risk

As Internet giants Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. race to expand their facial-recognition abilities, new research shows how powerful, and potentially detrimental to privacy, these tools have become. Armed with nothing but a snapshot, researchers successfully identified about one-third of the people they tested, using a powerful facial-recognition technology recently acquired by Google. The research demonstrates the potentially intrusive power of a facial-recognition technology, when combined with publicly available personal data. It shows how easy it is becoming to "re-identify" people from bits of supposedly anonymous information. The study also shows how Facebook, with its 750 million users, whose names and profile photos are automatically public, is becoming a de facto identity-verification service.

Lehman Brothers lawsuit allowed to proceed

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that most claims in a lawsuit against former Lehman Brothers Holdings officials could proceed. The plaintiffs, a group of investors, contend that Lehman's former officers, directors, and auditors, as well as security underwriters acted in violation of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The former officers allegedly made oral statements and published materials and prospectuses containing misleading and false information about the transactions that took place at the company. The investors incurred losses when Lehman went bankrupt in 2008.

Air France Rio crash: Pilots 'lacked training'

The pilots of an Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 lacked adequate training, French investigators have found. France's BEA authority said pilots had failed to discuss repeated stall warnings and did not have the training to deal with the hazard. Air France rejected the accusation. BEA said that "the situation was salvageable" during the flight's final minutes. The report also said that the pilots failed to alert passengers to the crisis as they struggled to regain control.

Venezuela plans 'to release 40% of prisoners'

Venezuela says it could release up to 40% of inmates in an attempt to ease overcrowding in its prisons. Newly-appointed Minister for Prisons Iris Varela said 20,000 people who had only committed minor crimes could be conditionally freed. Varela said those who posed no danger to society could serve their sentences outside the prison walls. The announcement comes a month after more than 25 people were killed in deadly clashes at El Rodeo jail.

Yahoo and Alibaba reach on Alipay payment service

Yahoo and Chinese internet company Alibaba have reached an agreement over its online payment service Alipay. On Tuesday, Yahoo said Alibaba - in which Yahoo owns a stake - had spun off its online payment service Alipay without informing it. Yahoo and Alibaba have now agreed that Alibaba would benefit from any future financial gain, such as a public offering. Alibaba will also license some of its intellectual property to Alipay.

Nixon's secret Watergate testimony ordered released

The secret grand jury testimony given by former US President Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal is set to be released after more than 36 years, following an order by a federal judge. Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request by historian Stanley Kutler to release the transcript, citing of its historical significance. But it will not be unsealed until the government has had a chance to appeal. The political scandal prompted Nixon to resign in 1974. He was the only US president to resign.

Brazil: The world's next economic superpower?

For decades, the joke about Brazil has been that it's the country of the future -- and always will be. Despite enormous natural resources, it has long displayed an uncanny ability to squander its vast potential. Now it's beginning to look like Brazil might have the last laugh. While most of the world is consumed with debt and unemployment, Brazil is trying to figure out how to manage an economic boom. It was the last country to enter the Great Recession, the first to leave it, and is now poised to overtake France and Britain as the world's fifth largest economy. With most of the world's economies stagnant, Brazil's grew at 7 percent last year, three times faster than America. It is a huge country, slightly larger than the continental U.S., with vast expanses of arable farmland, an abundance of natural resources, and 14 percent of the world's fresh water. Eighty percent of its electricity comes from hydropower, it has the most sophisticated bio fuels industry in the world, and for its size, the world's greenest economy. Brazil is already the largest producer of iron ore in the world, and the world's leading exporter of beef, chicken, orange juice, sugar, coffee and tobacco - much of it bound for China, which has replaced the U.S. as Brazil's leading trade partner. Brazil has the size to match the China's appetite. The country has a substantial manufacturing base and a large auto industry. Aviation giant Embraer is the world's third-largest aircraft manufacturer, behind Boeing and Airbus and a main supplier of regional jets to the U.S. market.

Brazil has seen periods of prosperity before, only to have the bubbles burst. It spent billions in the '50s and '60s moving its capital to a barren savannah near the middle of the country where it built Brasilia, a futuristic city right out of "The Jetsons." Then it borrowed billions more to develop the country's interior. Corruption and ineptitude eventually led to a financial collapse, 2000 percent inflation and, at the time, the largest financial rescue package in the history of the International Monetary Fund.

Brazilians put up with incredibly high taxes on almost everything, have a high tolerance for corruption, bureaucratic red tape, and harbor a secret love affair with incompetence. Charles de Gaulle of France once said that Brazil is not a serious country. In several instances, they say they're going to do something, and then don't do anything. But how can you do business in a loose way? How can you run a country in a loose way?" Lula said, "Look, first we need to be careful about European perfectionism. Because everything that happens here, in the South, they think they know better than us. Well, the Europeans may put their minds at ease because we will organize the most extraordinary World Cup ever." What they didn't make in 500 years, they want to make in four because the World Cup's will be in Brazil. If they'll be ready? No, I don't think it's going to be ready, especially because Brazilians don't mind to be late, You know, they think, 'Oh, just get a little late, what's the problem,' you know? They will be planting the grass while the ball was already rolling, you know?

Bearing arms in public is next legal battlefield

Gun-ownership advocates are filing lawsuits in courts across the U.S., hoping to get rulings that people have a constitutional right not only to keep firearms in their homes, but to carry them in public. The suits could affect the direction of gun-control legislation for years to come. Two recently filed suits in Illinois are among a handful that could ultimately provide the U.S. Supreme Court its next opportunity to clarify the rather murky outlines of the Second Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms. If that right does exist, courts then have to wrestle with a whole host of other issues, like how far it extends and what kinds of permitting regimes are permissible.

Police broaden U.K. hacking probe

U.K. police said they are expanding the scope of criminal investigations sparked by allegations of illegal reporting tactics at News Corp.'s now-closed News of the World tabloid to incorporate possible computer hacking.

Federal judge declares Florida controlled substance law unconstitutional

A federal judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida has declared the state's controlled-substances laws, which criminalize the "unknowing" possession of a controlled substance, unconstitutional. The decision, issued on Wednesday, stems from a petition for federal habeas corpus relief filed by Mackle Shelton, which included a claim that Florida's Drug Abuse and Prevention statute is "facially unconstitutional because it entirely eliminates mens rea as an element of a drug offense and creates a strict liability offense under which was sentenced to eighteen years in prison." The law was amended to its current form in 2002, making Florida the only state to have eliminated mens rea as an element of a drug offense.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Chore Wars. Men are now pulling their weight — at work and at home. So why do women still think they're slacking off?

Newsweek
The Maid's Tale. She was paid to clean up after the rich and powerful. Then she walked into Dominique Strauss-Kahn's room—and a global scandal. Now she tells her story.

Business Week
Why the Debt Crisis Is Even Worse Than You Think. If Washington is deadlocked now, how will it deal with the much bigger debt problems that lurk in the decades to come?

The Economist
Turning Japanese. The absence of leadership in the West is frightening—and also rather familiar.

Der Spiegel
Die Spur des Bösen - Europas rechte Populisten und der Kreuzzug des Anders Breivik

  • Daily Press Review

Deadly Syrian crackdown continues
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Trial judge for Egypt's Mubarak to speed process
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

95 dead in Syrian army attack on Hama: activist
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

2 Palestinians killed, 5 IDF soldiers wounded in West Bank raid
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Germany requests urgent UNSC meeting on Syria
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Obama: We have reached a deal on U.S. debt ceiling
CNN International, London, England

'Drug baron' arrested by police
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Sparks fly 250 metres into the air as Mount Etna erupts for eight time this year
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

'Amy Winehouse bought GBP 1,200 of crack and heroin the night before she died', claims fixer
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Red roses in Rio mark anti-crime protest
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

USA: Obama announces bipartisan deal to end debt crisis
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Deal agreed to prevent US default
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Obama announces US debt limit deal
Independent The, London, England

Yandex profits leap
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Norway massacre: British traders helped supply Breivik's arsenal of weapons
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Partisan fight continues on US debt
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

N Korea wants early 6-party nuclear talks
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Looter gang kingpin held
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Texas lands Uehara in trade
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Deadly attack in China's Xinjiang region
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

79 people allegedly killed in Syria with draft law of decentralization approved
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Australian foreign minister grounded by surgery
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Barack Obama, the diminished president after debt ceiling agreement
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

U.S. debt deal struck
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Protest at the corner of Rothschild and Tahrir
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Debt deal could spur relief rally
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Syrians mark bleak Ramadan after 80 killed in Hama
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

U.S. debt deal still needs approval
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Nigeria seeking Boko Haram talks
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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