November 21, 2011 nº 1,115 - Vol. 9


"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"

Robert Francis Kennedy

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  • Top News

Supreme Court names lawyers to argue healthcare case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday named an attorney to argue that challenges to Obama's healthcare insurance requirements must wait until after that part of the law has taken effect in 2014. The high court also appointed a second attorney to argue that all other parts of the law can stand if the centerpiece provision - the requirement that all Americans buy insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty - is struck down. The Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in March over Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul law, with a ruling likely by July in the election year on the fate of his signature domestic achievement. The court agreed to hear an Obama administration appeal defending the law and urging it be upheld and two separate appeals by 26 states and an independent business group challenging the law and urging it be struck down.

Bulging jails are other American exception

There are 2.3 million people behind bars, almost one in every 100 Americans. The federal prison population has more than doubled over the past 15 years, and one in nine black children has a parent in jail. Proportionally, the U.S. has four times as many prisoners as Israel, six times more than Canada or China, eight times more than Germany and 13 times more than Japan. With just a little more than 4% of the world's population, the U.S. accounts for a quarter of the planet's prisoners, and has more inmates than the leading 35 European countries combined. Almost all the other nations with high per capita prison rates are in the developing world. There's also a national election in America soon. This issue isn't on the agenda. It's almost never come up with Republican presidential candidates; one of the few exceptions was a debate in September when the audience cheered the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, because his state has carried out a record number of executions. Obama, the first black president, rarely mentions this question or how it disproportionately affects minorities. More than 60% of America's prisoners are black or Hispanic, though these groups comprise less than 30% of the population.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China 'constructive' on South China Sea rows

US officials have praised China's attitude on South China Sea territorial disputes after talks between Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Obama. The meeting came after spats between Beijing and Washington over trade, currency and territorial rights in the South China Sea.

China real estate at 'tipping point'

China's property market has reached a "tipping point" and the slowdown in the housing industry will have a spillover effect on demand for steel and other construction materials. The data is getting worse at a very fast pace. China's home prices fell in 33 of 70 cities monitored by the government in October, the worst performance since it expanded property curbs and scrapped the reporting of national average housing data this year.

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  • Brief News

Prospects for debt deal look dim

Members of the "super committee" charged with coming up with $1.2trn in budget cuts are focused on how to announce failure to reach a deal. While aides said no final decision had been made, they acknowledged that barring an unforeseen development, an announcement of no deal is likely. Failure to pass any agreement could result in $1.2trn in automatic spending cuts across much of the federal budget starting in 2013, evenly divided between defense and nondefense spending. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Congress this week that such cuts could cripple the American military establishment. Since Congress made the law governing the sequester, it can also amend or repeal it, as some lawmakers are suggesting.

Brazil president creates truth commission to probe human rights abuses

Dilma Rousseff on Friday signed a law establishing a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses perpetrated by the military from 1946 to 1988. The bill does not, however, overturn the 1979 Amnesty Law which shields military officials from prosecution for crimes committed during the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship. Nearly 500 people were killed or abducted by the military-controlled government, and others, including political leaders, were tortured. Brazil's Chamber of Deputies approved the bill in October. The seven commission members, appointed by Rousseff, must complete the report within two years. Rousseff also signed a law that limits the amount of time certain documents can be kept from the public to 50 years, allowing Brazilians the right to obtain undisclosed government information.

Fresh clashes grip Egypt capital

Cairo's Tahrir Square is rocked by fresh violence, as troops drive out protesters calling for Egypt's military rulers to cede power, but thousands return by nightfall.

Arab League rejects Syria demand

The Arab League rejects a demand by Syria to alter its plan for ending the country's conflict, as President Assad vows not to bow to foreign pressure.

Law firms dominating campaign contributions to Obama

Big law is heavily favoring President Obama in campaign contributions, pouring twice as much money into the president's re-election campaign than into the four leading Republican candidates combined.

Turkey 'still wants' to join EU

The Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, says his country still wants to join the European Union despite the euro zone crisis. Turkey is seen as an important bridge between the West and Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, and also has a burgeoning economy, which currently has a 6.6% growth rate. However, there remains strong resistance within Europe to the idea of Turkey joining the EU.

Suzuki seeks mediation in VW row

Suzuki Motor announces that it will seek arbitration if German carmaker Volkswagen does not sell back its stake in the Japanese company.

UN rights expert urges WTO to make right to food a priority

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter said Friday that the WTO - World Trade Organization must make food security a top priority at its global trade talks next month. De Schutter stressed that WTO policies do not adequately ensure the right to food in developing countries, especially as international food prices are on the rise. He expressed concern that existing WTO trade regulations leave developing countries vulnerable drastic price increases which can lead to food shortages. The rapporteur recommended that the WTO review and make appropriate changes to its polices to allow developing countries greater food security.

Russia lawmakers approve bill banning 'promotion' of homosexuality

Russian lawmakers in the city of St. Petersburg on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved an initial reading of a bill that would impose fines against people convicted of promoting homosexuality, including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality. The legislation, which was supported by the ruling United Russia party, would ban gay pride parades, and any activity in public which could influence children and that could be viewed as promoting a gay, lesbian, transgender or LGBT lifestyle. Individuals convicted under the law would be subject to fines between 3,000 and 5,000 rubles ($100-$160 USD), while organizations could be fined up to 50,000 rubles for "promoting" homosexuality. Sponsors of the bill claim it is necessary because homosexual propaganda "threatens" Russia and that "sexual deviation" negatively impacts Russian children. Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the upper house of the Russian Parliament and former governor of St. Petersburg, noted his support for the measure and indicated that a similar national ban should be considered.

Bangladesh war crimes trial opens

A Bangladeshi party leader goes on trial accused of crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 independence struggle against Pakistan.

Retrenchment concerns grip Brazil's banks

After an aggressive start to the year, revenues in Brazil's fast-growing investment banking business have slowed down amid uncertainty over the eurozone – even as the industry has ramped up staff numbers and increased salaries. In spite of the market's solid longer term fundamentals, there is concern that if the period of scarcity persists into next year, some banks will have to start retrenching. Mergers and acquisitions in Brazil totalled $63.95bn in 2011 as of early November, compared with $138.34bn during the same period in 2010.. Allowing for the fact that last year's figures were inflated by the $42.6bn acquisition by oil major Petrobras of government deepwater crude reserves, this year looked to be on track until external factors interrupted business in the third quarter. The same is true of equity fundraising, with volumes at $10.94bn so far this year – about half of last year's, after stripping out a giant share issue by Petrobras in 2010 to pay for the government oil assets. Debt issuance was the strongest business this year, with volumes at $45.3bn, slightly higher than last year but still recording a drop in the third quarter. Investment banks in general continue to be interested in investing in the region and increasing their footprint in Brazil, given its size and growth prospects. Indeed, the market is expected to offer rewards for those with the staying power. With middle-class wages still rising, Petrobras moving ahead with plans to develop its vast deepwater oil discoveries, and Brazil trying to boost infrastructure ahead of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, growth will not disappear even with the gloom emanating from Europe.

Prosecutors seek to speed up trial of Ratko Mladic

Prosecutors at the UN war crimes tribunal at the Hague want to reduce the amount of evidence to be presented against the former Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic. They propose a drastic reduction in the scope of the indictment in an attempt to speed up his trial. They are asking the judges if they can cut back by 45% the number of crimes they will seek to prove. Mladic would still be tried on all 11 charges, including two of genocide. His defense team will study the amended charge sheet before the court decides whether to approve the prosecution's request.

JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs sued for alleged MF Global misstatements

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. units were sued by two pension funds over claims they made misleading statements about the exposure of MF Global Holdings Ltd. securities to European sovereign debt.

Judge held court in chambers for seven years

Judge John Riordan continued to hold court in his upstate New York chambers "for his personal convenience" even after repeated warnings from his court clerks.

Pfizer to settle bribery probes

Pfizer is expected to pay more than $60m to resolve U.S. government probes into whether the drug maker paid bribes to win business overseas.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The invention issue.

Newsweek
My Life as a White Supremacist. An FBI mole speaks for the first time about life in the seedy world of right-wing terror.

Business Week
Sony needs a hit. What Is Sony Now? At 69, Sir Howard Stringer's time as CEO of the unwieldy electronics giant is running out. Can he and heir apparent Kazuo Hirai turn it around?

The Economist
The magic of diasporas.

Der Spiegel
Wo die klugen Deutschen leben - Die Bildungsstudie 2011

L'Espresso
Mario taglia qua.

  • Daily Press Review

Tense standoff in Cairo's Tahrir Square
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Gaddafi spy chief Senussi captured -Libya govt
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

AL rejects Syria request over monitors
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

N.Y. man arrested on three counts of terror charges
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

3 killed, 200 hurt in Cairo as troops impose crackdown
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Death toll rises in Cairo clashes
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Months on, Cairo again a flashpoint for violence
CNN International, London, England

Khmer Rouge leaders to face court
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Rhys Jones gangster fathered child while in prison after seeing his girlfriend on day release
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Daybreak dumped 'lightweight' Bleakley because 'she lacked gravitas to cover major news'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Spain's conservatives win an absolute majority
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

SPAIN: Spain's conservative party sweeps to victory
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

No place for 'authoritarian regimes,' Turkey tells Syria
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

King's 12th wife thrown out of royal household
Independent The, London, England

Deripaska: euro to equalize with dollar
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Syrian Baath Party building 'hit by rockets'
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Strictly Come Dancing, Wembley special, BBC One, results
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

SET down 7.34 point at opening
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Crop losses need 'systematic' relief: Ma
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Food Costs for Low-Income Earners at 7-Year High
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Egyptians protest at army, clashes kill at least 12
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Sabharwal murder accused found dead
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Myanmar president eyes better ties
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

'Killing fields' Khmer Rouge leaders go on trial
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party wins general elections in Spain
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

US man charged in foiled New York bomb plot: Officials
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Manhattan's 'lone wolf' plot
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Witnesses:Ethiopian troops enter Somalia, opening a new front of against the Shabab militant group
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

Syria strife keeps Canadian navy in Mediterranean
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Tahrir Square crackdown emboldens Egyptian protesters
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Australian Stock Market Report - Midday 11/21/2011
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

EL SALVADOR: Giving Young Slum Dwellers a Chance
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Europe, thin volume to spark stocks
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Spain's Rajoy triumphs with big election majority
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Decision day for Occupy Toronto
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Death toll rises in Cairo clashes
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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