August 3, 2011 nº 1,074 - Vol. 9


"You will find in politics that you are much exposed to the attribution of false motive. Never complain and never explain."

Stanley Baldwin

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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 signs US debt bill into law

Obama signs a hard-fought emergency bill to increase the nation's debt ceiling, averting a potentially disastrous federal default. But now, the issue of federal spending promises to become one of the leading topics of discussion as voters size up the Republican field. Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings affirmed their AAA credit ratings for the U.S. while warning that downgrades were possible if lawmakers fail to enact debt reduction measures and the economy weakens.

US shares fall as spending data ignites economic fears

US stocks have fallen sharply amid renewed fears for the pace of recovery in the world's biggest economy. Wall Street's three leading indexes each ended more than 2% down as another set of grim economic figures saw investors push gold to a fresh high. Official data showed that US consumers cut spending in June, while incomes grew at their smallest rate this year.

UK to legalise content ripping

Soon it will no longer be illegal to rip CDs or DVDs for personal use in the UK. The government is poised to announce the change as it accepts some of the recommendations of the wide-ranging Hargreaves Review of UK copyright law. The review was intended to identify legislation that has been outdated by technological change. As well as legalizing "format shifting", it also suggested relaxing rules on parody and creating an agency to license copyrighted content. The legal anomaly preventing personal "ripping" was one of many identified by Professor Ian Hargreaves in the review as stifling innovation.

Senate panel votes to extend surveillance law

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to extend a wide-ranging surveillance law targeting foreigners overseas, but Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden says he will block the measure unless the public is told more about the law's impact on people living in the United States. In a closed-door session, the committee turned aside an amendment that would have directed the Justice Department's inspector general to estimate how many people inside the U.S. have had their telephone calls and emails monitored by government agents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008. The law, due to expire at the end of next year, would be extended to June 2015 if the committee action becomes law. The 2008 amendments also shielded telecommunications companies from lawsuits that complained that the companies helped the government spy on Americans without court warrants during the Bush administration.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Google buys inventions from IBM, aims to build patent hoard - click here.

2 - Chinese carmaker JAC to build factory in Brazil - click here.

3 - Kirin buys control of Brazil's Schincariol for $2.6bn - click here.

4 - Obama administration sues to block Alabama immigration law - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China's 'welcomes' US debt deal

China's central bank governor has welcomed measures taken by the US to avoid a default on government debt obligations.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Telemex

La gigante mexicana de telecomunicaciones América Móvil, del magnate Carlos Slim, lanzará una oferta para hacerse del 40,04% restante de su subsidiaria de telefonía fija Telmex, con miras a sacarla de bolsa y consolidar sus operaciones de ese sector. América Móvil ya posee casi un 60% de Telmex tras su consolidación el año pasado, y ahora va por la parte restante. La operación rondaría los US$ 6,500 mlls.

Petrobras

La estatal brasileña Petrobras invertirá US$ 11 mil mlls hasta el 2015 en operaciones internacionales de exploración, producción y refinamiento de petróleo, dijo el presidente de la empresa, José Sergio Gabrielli. Al comentar el plan de inversiones de Petrobras para el quinquenio 2011-2015 con corresponsales extranjeros, Gabrielli indicó que ese monto representa 5% del total de inversiones previstas por la empresa en ese período, por un total de US$ 224.700 mlls.

BID

El BID aprobó un préstamo por US$ 200 mlls para dos empresas del Grupo Montes del Plata, que realizará una planta de celulosa y una zona franca en Uruguay. El préstamo estará destinado a financiar la construcción y la operación de la planta de pulpa de celulosa a partir de madera de eucalipto. Además, para el proyecto, el BID movilizará financiamiento adicional de bancos comerciales por un monto aproximado a los US$250 mlls.

  • Brief News

JPMorgan, UBS urge Madoff trustee claims be tossed

The requests came after a judge said trustee Irving Picard exceeded his power in suing third parties such as banks on behalf of former customers of Madoff.

US top military official says troops need immunity for continued presence in Iraq

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said Tuesday that US troops must be granted immunity in order to remain in Iraq beyond the end-of-the-year deadline. It is up to the Iraqi Parliament to decide whether they still need a US presence beyond the deadline, but Mullen stressed that the agreement must contain immunity from prosecution. US troops are scheduled for complete withdrawal by December 31. But granting the immunity is a controversial issue for Iraqi lawmakers, and a debate is scheduled for Tuesday. Tensions remain from a 2007 shooting incident where as many as 14 Iraqi civilians were allegedly killed by US government contractors working for Blackwater USA now known as Xe Services. The contractors were immune from prosecution in Iraq under the US agreement with the Iraq government.

Mubarak trial to begin in Cairo

Egypt's deposed President Hosni Mubarak is due in court on charges of ordering the killing of protesters - a charge that carries the death penalty. The trial will be televised live. The judge did not indicate, however, whether Mubarak would be present for the trial.

Lawsuit slams temp lawyers

An increasingly contentious lawsuit by a former client against law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP is putting a spotlight on the legal industry's widespread use of itinerant "contract" attorneys who review documents for lower hourly wages. J-M Manufacturing Co., the world's largest maker of plastic pipe, hired McDermott five years ago to help respond to prosecutors' request for documents after a former employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit. Late last week, Los Angeles-based J-M amended its pending lawsuit, abandoning some allegations against the law firm while adding others, including that the contract attorneys McDermott used "negligently performed their duties." The legal malpractice lawsuit is seen in the industry as an important case concerning the quality of work performed by a growing cadre of temp lawyers who are paid as little as $25 to $30 an hour to review documents related to litigation, internal company investigations or regulatory requests for documents. McDermott filed a response to the initial lawsuit last week denying J-M's claims, but hasn't yet filed an answer to its amended complaint. The case may well be a "signal." There could be more disputes between clients and law firms over work performed by contract attorneys and outside vendors as they are used more in the pre-trial discovery process, he said.

Court freezes Hicks book proceeds

An Australian court has frozen proceeds from a memoir written by former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. The case is being brought by the Australian government under a law banning profits from crime. Hicks's legal team says the law does not apply because his conviction by a US military commission at Guantanamo Bay was invalid. Hicks spent five years at the facility before pleading guilty to providing material support for terrorism. Hicks said he pleaded guilty only in order to escape Guantanamo Bay.

Japan's parliament approves Tepco compensation plan

Japan's parliament has approved a plan to help Tepco - Tokyo Electric Power compensate victims of its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant. According to the plan, a new fund will be set up to pay damages to victims affected by the nuclear crisis. Japan's other nuclear power operators will make annual contributions to the fund.

Greek debt writedown hits SocGen

Second-quarter profits at Societe Generale, France's second-biggest bank, have fallen as a result of its exposure to Greek sovereign debt. SocGen's net profit for the quarter fell to 747m euros ($1.06bn), down 31% from a year ago. It made a 395m euro writedown on its Greek debt holdings. The bank holds about 2.65bn euros of Greek sovereign bonds. SocGen also warned that its 2012 profit target would be "difficult to achieve".

Brazil moves to protect industries from foreign rivals

Dilma has unveiled plans to help her country be more competitive. The measures include tax breaks for Brazilian-made products and anti-dumping measures on cheaper imports mostly from China. Brazil's booming economy has pushed the value of its currency, the real, higher making its exports more expensive. The president said it was "imperative" to protect Brazilian industry and jobs from unfair competition. Brazil's manufacturing industry has been suffering because of a surge in foreign imports, mainly from China, and industrial production has been falling in recent months.

HSBC to axe 30,000 jobs despite pre-tax profits rise

Banking giant HSBC has said it will cut another 25,000 jobs by 2013 and exit operations in 20 countries as it looks to save billions of dollars. Together, the job cuts amount to about 10% of HSBC's total workforce. As well as the job cuts, bank said it is closing its retail banking operations in Russia and Poland and selling three insurance businesses as part of pre-announced plans to save $2.5bn-$3.5bn by 2013.

Moody's warns over Spanish rating

Moody's warns it may downgrade the credit rating of Spanish government bonds, saying concerns continue about eurozone debt.

New York State's fracking lawsuit barred by law

The U.S. government said it will ask a judge to dismiss a New York lawsuit that seeks to force a fuller environmental review of how natural-gas extraction could affect 9 million water drinkers in the state. The New York state complaint is "barred by well-settled principles of sovereign immunity." Sovereign immunity protects the U.S. from lawsuits unless it waives the right. The commission that oversees the Delaware River Basin has proposed regulations that will allow hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at 15,000 to 18,000 gas wells without a full environmental review. Fracking is the process in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart rock formations and release natural gas.

Italy lawmakers approve draft burqa ban law

The Constitutional Affairs Committee, an Italian parliamentary commission, on Tuesday approved a draft law that bans women from wearing full-face veils, including the Islamic burqa and niqab, in public. Women who violate the ban would face fines of 100 to 300 euros. The ban would also punish individuals who force women to conceal their faces in public, instituting a fine against violators of 30,000 euro and up to 12 months in prison. Supporters of the ban say the new law will help Islamic women assimilate to Italian society, while opponents contend that the ban will "isolate devout Muslim women" who will be obligated to stay at home. Parliament will vote on the law after summer recess.

BigLaw chafes at online auctions, increasingly used by corporations to cut legal bills

Large law firms are increasingly being asked to participate in online auctions where corporations award business to the lowest bidder. The process is spreading to more complex projects, raising concerns among some lawyers. Among the companies that pit law firms against each other in anonymous online bidding are eBay, Toyota, Sun Microsystems and GlaxoSmithKline, which plans to phase in the process for all its substantial legal needs. This is how the process works: Law firms "race against the clock to tender incremental discounts against competing bids. If someone introduces a new low price in the last minute or two of the session, it can be extended for several minutes—launching another round of calculations and lower offers."

Russia reopens posthumous case against dead lawyer

Russian investigators on Tuesday reopened a case against former lawyer and purported whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in November 2009. Magnitsky was arrested on allegations of tax fraud after implicating Russian police in a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scandal while working as outside counsel for the London-based investment fund Hermitage Capital Management. Prosecutors resurrected the case against Magnitsky following a June ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court that permits criminal cases to be filed against suspects who are already dead. The Russian Ministry of the Interior, however, has refused to open an investigation into the treatment of Magnitsky at the Russian prison.

CIA not in contempt for interrogation videotape destruction

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the US CIA - Central Intelligence Agency was not in contempt of court for destroying videotapes thought to have shown harsh interrogations of terror suspects, but ordered the CIA to pay attorneys fees to the ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU argued during a court hearing that the CIA "showed complete disdain for the court and the rule of law itself" when it destroyed the videotapes after being ordered to produce them.

Ex-directors of failed firms have little to fear

Do the former directors of the institutions that collapsed during the financial crisis have anything to worry about? If the experience of Enron is any example, the answer is a resounding no. A look back at the career paths of onetime Enron directors indicates that the former directors of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers will continue their prominent careers. The trend also underscores the decline in the importance of reputation on Wall Street — even since the time of Enron. Prior bad conduct simply is often not viewed as a problem.

Key U.S. congressman wants to revamp SEC structure

Spencer Bachus, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, plans to introduce the The "SEC Modernization Act", a bill that would consolidate offices and divisions, shore up ethics guidelines for SEC employees, and address conflicts of interest that could arise from the "revolving door" of people who go from the commission to often high-earning jobs on Wall Street. The bill would scrap the agency's Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations and merge its staff into the agency's trading and markets and investment management divisions.

Suit filed over 75 cent unwanted newspaper

A man who claims he was charged 75 cents on his hotel bill for a newspaper that was placed at his door is suing Hilton Hotels Corp. in federal court. Rodney Harmon maintains he saw a copy of USA Today near the door of his Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport room in late March, but he wasn't interested in receiving the paper and left it there. Later he discovered a note in his key card envelope indicating he would be charged for the paper if he didn't specifically un-request it. Harmon, who had assumed the paper was free, is seeking class-action status. "The alleged consumer injury is substantial, causing millions of guests at defendant's hotels to unwittingly part with money for a newspaper they did not request and reasonably believed was provided to them without charge."

  • Daily Press Review

US considered tunneling to bin Laden: report
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Egypt's El-Arabi calls for responding to Arab nations' demands
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Trial against Mubarak opens in Cairo for alleged crimes against protesters
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Ambulance carrying Mubarak arrives at trial site
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Cuts 'risk failing armed forces'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak arrives for trial
CNN International, London, England

Shot politician is back at work
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Benefits cheat John Livesey escaped jail thanks to 'fantasy' Falklands heroics
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Geri Halliwell displays sagging 'mummy tummy' skin as she jogs in a cropped top around London
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

'Indignants' try to reclaim Madrid square
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

EGYPT: Live: Ousted president Hosni Mubarak stands trial
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Top three advance in San Diego Open
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Hosni Mubarak leaves hospital for trial in Cairo
Independent The, London, England

Russian investors take a slice of Twitter
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Cuts have left our troops with mission impossible in Libya and Afghanistan
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Leonardo DiCaprio named Hollywood's highest earning actor
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Atchana: BoT on the right track
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Residents extend FPG protest plan
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

New type of flying vehicle in development
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

'HIV murderer' in Canada gets life in prison
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Over 1800 Delhi cops face action for dereliction of duty
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

2.5 billion buys Kirin bigger presence in Brazil
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Bin Ladens bid to build world's tallest tower
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Toyota plans record production of vehicles in 2012
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

UN Council struggles with Syria crisis response
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Scan cheats go bananas?
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Same-sex marriage is approved in US tribe
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Turmel defends links to parties with sovereignty ties
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Mubarak is flown to Cairo to face trial
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Australia's services sector posts modest gains
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

CUBA: Castro says migration policy to be eased
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Asia stocks slide as economy fears rattle markets
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Egypt's Mubarak to face trial set to rattle Arab rulers
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Ontario stands to save $2bn in drug reforms
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Mubarak trial to begin in Cairo
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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