November 9, 2011 nº 1,111 - Vol. 9


"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

Dr. Carl Sagan

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  • Top News

IMF chief warns of 'lost decade'

The head of the International Monetary Fund warns that the global economy risks being plunged into a "lost decade" as a result of Europe's debt crisis. The ongoing debt crisis in Europe has resulted in an uncertain outlook for the global economy. Whilst efforts to solve the crisis were heading in the right direction, more needed to be done to restore confidence. "Our sense is that if we do not act boldly and if we do not act together, the economy around the world runs the risk of downward spiral of uncertainty, financial instability and potential collapse of global demand," Lagarde said. While the US and eurozone economies have been struggling with their individual issues, Asian countries led by China have been growing robustly in recent years. However, there is a realization that in a globalized economy, Asia is not immune from troubles in the rest of the world. The US and the eurozone are the world's two largest economic regions and are the biggest markets for Asian goods. Lagarde called upon China to alter its export-led growth policies and boost domestic demand to rebalance its economy and sustain long term growth. She said that Beijing needed to allow its currency to appreciate further in order to boost demand at home.

Madoff victims file class action suit against JP Morgan

Two former Bernard Madoff investors filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against JPMC - JP Morgan Chase & Co Monday seeking recovery of $19bn for allegedly aiding Madoff in orchestrating his Ponzi scheme. The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, claimed JPMC willfully ignored signs of fraud and was complicit in concealing Madoff's activities. The lawsuit further alleges that even a cursory examination of Madoff's funds would have revealed that there was no investment strategy and the money was simply flowing between Madoff and customers.

Top 5 targets of Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street has taken on epic proportions – and even more epic targets. In the crosshairs of this band of tent-dwelling rabblerousers are nothing less than the pillars of society.

1. Wall Street (obviously)

Wall Street is the target of Occupy Wall Street protesters for the role it played in the economic meltdown of 2008, say the activists, by engaging in risky lending practices of mortgage-backed securities. When several brokerage firms and financial institutions were bailed out by the government – and in some cases later handed out bonuses – a sense of propriety was breached. Moody Investors Service and Standard and Poor's gave AAA ratings to hundreds of thousands of subprime mortgage securities that ultimately proved to be worthless. Many of the protesters say that Wall Street blatantly and recklessly abused the credit default swap market. The protesters say that the unstable nature of the credit default swap market must have been known to those involved and that the guilty parties should be prosecuted.

2. Washington

In the economic meltdown of 2008, Washington moved to forestall the collapse of the financial system by providing loans to brokerage firms, banks, and corporations, while seemingly giving short shrift to the average person's losses. A recent Gallup poll found that 64% of Americans blamed the federal government for the poor economy, while only 30% faulted big banks and other financial institutions.

3. Banks

Despite $6.2bn in profits last quarter, Bank of America worries publicly about how new regulations will affect its bottom line. The bank borrowed $45bn from the government under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (which it subsequently paid back). But as the second largest bank in the US, Bank of America is a target of many protesters. Other banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and SunTrust also were bailed out and paid the money back. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in July 2010, has come under fire from conservatives as being bad for the economy in general and bad for the banking industry in particular.

4. CEOs

Seen by some protesters as the robber barons of today, chief executive officers – part of the wealthy "1%" – are perceived to prosper while the "99%" toil thanklessly for ever-diminishing returns. According to the AFL-CIO, in 2010, chief executives at some of the nation's largest companies earned an average of $11.4 million in total pay – 343 times more than a typical American worker. Occupy Wall Street protesters – many come from the union ranks – contrast those statistics the tens of thousands of layoffs, an unemployment rate hovering around 9%, and one in every 605 housing units nationally filing for foreclosure this September.

5. The Fed

The central banking system of the United States, known as the Federal Reserve or the Fed, invokes the ire of Occupy Wall Street because of its role in the 2008 financial crisis, providing liquidity and loans to banks, insurance companies, and corporations. Created in 1913 as a response to financial panics, the Fed's overarching mission is to maintain the stability of the nation's financial system. The Glass-Steagal Act of 1933, which introduced banking reforms to control speculation, began to be dismantled in 1980 and further in 1999 – deregulation, which Fed critics argue helped set the stage for the economic meltdown of 2008.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Russian tycoons face off in court - click here.

2 - Julie Taymor sues 'Spider-Man' team over royalties - click here.

3 - Woman accuses Cain of groping; he denies charge - click here.

4 - Rush on Sao Paulo office space pushes rents to record high - click here.

5 - Soccer-FIFA urges Brazil to pass World Cup legislation - click here.

6 - Dr. Conrad Murray found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson - click here.

7 - Is the law still a good female career choice with only 8% of all lawyers in the 1%? - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China is ripe for its own Occupy protests

Occupy Wall Street protests have not spread to China, but Beijing's crackdown on media coverage and Internet activity related to OWS isn't surprising. What's less predictable are ways that Occupy protests could shake up China's internal politics

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  • Brief News

Obama's healthcare law gets boost from appeals court

The D.C. circuit upheld a lower court ruling that found it constitutional to require Americans to buy healthcare insurance by early 2014 or face a penalty.

Berlusconi won't stand for re-election

Saying his resignation was for the good of the country, the Italian leader confirmed he will step aside after Parliament passes a budget that includes tough new austerity measures. Italy's borrowing costs are ballooning as the bond market worries that it hasn't put its financial house in order.

Haiti cholera demand against UN

Lawyers for several thousand Haitian cholera victims demand compensation from the UN, whose peacekeepers were accused of triggering the outbreak. Several studies have found that cholera was probably brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Nepal and the UN mission in Haiti failed to screen peacekeepers for cholera and allowed untreated waste from a UN base to be dumped into the main river.

Mosley wins privacy case in France

The News of the World violated the privacy of ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley by publishing photos of him with prostitutes in 2008, a court in Paris has ruled. The now-defunct tabloid's owner News Corp was fined 10,000 euros ($13,500). Mosley was granted damages of 7,000 euros, with an additional 15,000 euros for court fees. Mosley has already won damages in the British courts, but sued in France where the paper was also distributed. The Paris court said there was no defamation. It also did not penalize the reporter who wrote the story. Mosley had sought 100,000 euros each in damages from both the paper and the reporter.

Prosecutor served search warrant on defense lawyer during trial to get his documents

In a San Antonio courtroom packed with lawyers attending as spectators, a Texas prosecutor testified today that she had a search warrant served on opposing counsel and his client during a trial in an embezzlement case early this year. The reason why was because she feared he was withholding stolen documents from the government. The search warrant called both Reyes and his client suspects in an alleged felony scheme involving misapplication of fiduciary property.

Ohio vote repeals union limit law

A law limiting the collective bargaining powers of Ohio unions is repealed by a state-wide referendum, in a vote with a high turnout.

Rajaratnam to pay record $92.8m

Rogue trader Raj Rajaratnam has been fined a record $92.8m in civil case on top of $63.8m in criminal case and jail sentence. Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam was convicted of 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy charges in May after a two-month trial. The Securities and Exchange Commission requested that the fine be equal to three times the alleged profits made by Rajaratnam through his illegal trades, or the maximum fine permitted under law.

Credit Suisse to hand over US account tax details

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has sent letters to some US clients, saying their account details may be given to the Internal Revenue Service. Clients are told they can either agree to the handover of data to Swiss tax authorities who can send it to their US counterparts, or contest the process. This concerns a request for administrative assistance from the IRS to the SFTA under the 1996 double tax treaty between the two nations. The US Department of Justice's initial target was Switzerland's other major bank, UBS. It threatened UBS with legal action if the Swiss bank failed to hand over the details of 4,450 US customers suspected of tax dodging.

Mississippi voters reject anti-abortion initiative

Mississippi voters rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have defined life as starting at conception, and outlawed abortion and many forms of birth control if passed.

Australia Senate backs carbon tax

Australia's Senate has approved a controversial law on pollution, after years of bitter political wrangling. The Clean Energy Act will force the country's 500 worst-polluting companies to pay a tax on their carbon emissions from 1 July next year. Opposition parties have argued that the tax would cause job losses and raise the cost of living, and they have promised to repeal the legislation if they win the next election, due in 2013.

Have daily deal sites had their day?

Massive, almost unbelievable discounts - and keen shoppers have signed up in their millions. Such outlandish discounts can only be offered by daily deal websites, companies which operate on a simple principle of offering massive discounts to a set number of customers every day. For the businesses involved, it means instant access to a huge email database - leading to a sudden rush of new customers and the hope of retained custom. And for the daily deal site itself? A massive cut of the revenue, often in the range of 50%. The industry is attractive, as seen by the number of competitors lining up: LivingSocial, KGB Deals, and Google Offers waiting like a coiled spring. There are many offering real concerns that the daily deal model is already heading for serious trouble - and that businesses are deserting it rapidly. Massive, loss-making deals have been part of marketing strategies for many a year - but always with the underlying hope that once a customer is "in", they may stick around and buy something else or, at the very least, come back again another time. "How do you sustain a model where on average the customer, not the person who buys the coupon but the business itself, loses money?” "You get companies that don't know any better, they lose 10 grand, and they don't come back." Groupon said it is "difficult to give an accurate figure" for how many businesses are repeat users of the site. Among business owners, this is a common concern. Supporters of daily deals sites would argue that these promotions are all about getting as many people through the door as possible - and it works.

Guantanamo trial opens with a series of firsts

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is the first Guantanamo detainee to have his case tried under the Obama administration's revamped rules for military commissions; he could be put to death if found guilty. The trial is a test of whether a separate military justice system can provide the same impartial justice as a U.S. criminal court.

UK court rules Catholic church could be liable for clergy abuse

A UK court ruled Tuesday that Catholic priests qualify as employees, meaning that the Catholic church could be held liable for sexual abuse by clergy members. A 47-year-old woman filed suit against the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust claiming that she was sexually abused by the Reverend Wilfred Baldwin during her childhood in a Catholic children's home. The diocese argued that they could not be held liable because Baldwin was not an employee, but Judge Alistair MacDuff rejected that argument.

Supreme Court rules on 'clearly established' law for habeas petitions

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday in Greene v. Fisher that, for purposes of the AEDPA - Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, "clearly established federal law" is limited to Supreme Court decisions "as of the time of the relevant state-court adjudication on the merits." Petitioner Eric Greene was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for involvement in a robbery of a convenience store in which the store's owner was shot and killed. At the trial, Greene objected to the admission of confessions of his conspirators and co-defendants on Confrontation Clause grounds. The court allowed the confessions with Greene's name redacted. He renewed this objection on appeal, arguing on the grounds of the Supreme Court's decision in Gray v. Maryland, where a similarly redacted confession was deemed inadmissible. Gray was decided before Greene's conviction became final but after the state court's last decision on the merits. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that an opinion issued after a decision on the merits in state court is not "clearly established federal Law." Affirming the decision below, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “We must observe that Greene's predicament is an unusual one of his own creation. Before applying for federal habeas, he missed two opportunities to obtain relief under Gray. ... Having forgone two obvious means of asserting his claim, Greene asks us to provide him relief by interpreting AEDPA in a manner contrary to both its text and our precedents. We decline to do so, and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.” The court rejected Greene's arguments that it is a bedrock rule that prisoners should benefit from any ruling made before "finality."

  • Daily Press Review

Nuclear agency says Iran worked on weapons
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

USS Cole bomb suspect finally gets his day in court
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Israel silent on Sarkozy 'outburst' over Netanyahu
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

France calls for UN Security Council meeting on Iran nuclear program
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

'Quiet' Arab coalition supports attack on Iran
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Border pressure mounting on May
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Garbage piles add to Bangkok flood woes
CNN International, London, England

Bering Sea storm threatens Alaska
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Afghanistan war: Soldier Andrew Ferrara follows in the footsteps of his dead brother
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Dawn French weight loss: Jennifer Saunders says 'I'm now the fatter one'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Cain rejects fresh sexual harrasment claims
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

NUCLEAR IRAN: IAEA: 'serious concerns' over Iran's nuclear programme
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Berlusconi says will resign after economic reforms
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

'Credible evidence' for Iran's hostile nuclear intent
Independent The, London, England

RIA Novosti launches Google+ account
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Chris Bryant: immigration pilot scheme was 'a bit of a con'
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Versace for H&M launches in New York with a little help from Prince
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Diesel price up B.60/litre tomorrow
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Greek govt to be announced Wednesday
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Consumer Goods in Korea Most Expensive in the World
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

New Greek govt to be announced Wednesday : PM office
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Row ahead of Kolkata Film Festival inauguration
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Furukawa to return from ISS Nov. 22
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Family plan 'dignified funeral' for Ned Kelly
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Brazil launches nationwide home healthcare program
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Murdoch takes over chairmanship of Australian arm
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

The Bulls' bed rules
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Penn State: Trustees launch investigation
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

China Vice-Premier Li: Global risks rising
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Police move in on Occupy London, Ont., protest
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Russian probe launched to Mars' moon Phobos fails
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

World Demand for Oil Seen to Peak Before 2020: Report
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Brazil Takes the Fight Against Hunger Abroad
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Shares up on Italy reform hopes, cooling China inflation
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Iran worked on nuclear bomb design - U.N. watchdog
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Will it be business as usual during a lockout?
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Liberians vote despite protests
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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