December 5, 2011 nº 1,121 - Vol. 9


"Just whistle while you work."

Walt Disney

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

Wikileaks docs reveal that governments use malware for surveillance

The latest round of documents published by Wikileaks offers a rare glimpse into the world of surveillance products. The collection—which Wikileaks calls the Spy Files—includes confidential brochures and slide presentations that companies use to market intrusive surveillance tools to governments and law enforcement agencies. A report that Wikileaks published alongside the documents raises concern about the growing use of mass surveillance tools that indiscriminately monitor and analyze entire populations. The group also points out that some of the products described in the documents are sold to authoritarian regimes, which use them to hunt and track political dissidents. "The surveillance industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces, and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and (sic) secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers," wrote Wikileaks in its report. "In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm." Surveillance products cover a wide range of different communication technologies. Many are designed to circumvent standard privacy and security safeguards in mainstream consumer technology products so that they can collect as much data as possible. Some are even deliberately programmed to operate like malware.

EU eyes big fines for privacy breaches

Businesses breaching European Union privacy rules will face fines of up to 5 per cent of their global turnover under sweeping proposals to be unveiled next month. In the first significant update of data protection legislation since 1995, companies found to have mishandled any personal data they hold – be it of their customers, suppliers or their own employees – will face the highest levels of fines, which could extend to billions of euros for large multinationals. The measures are being finalised within the European Commission. They will have to be approved by national governments, some of which – especially Germany – will be reluctant to lose oversight on privacy matters to Brussels. The process is likely to take at least two years, with another two before the measures come into effect.

Brussels homes in on Google

The European Commission is homing in on a list of concerns about Google's business practices that could form the basis of an antitrust complaint against the US internet search group. The narrowing of the investigation to issues red flagged by Brussels marks a turning point in an inquiry that has been running for almost two years. However, the commission has yet to decide whether to bring a formal complaint against the company or lay out its concerns in detail, said people familiar with the situation. News that the European case has moved into a more advanced phase comes just days before Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, is due to meet Joaquín Almunia, the European competition commissioner.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China 'ill-prepared' for unrest

China's security chief has warned that the government needs better methods to deal with social unrest due to a slowing economy. China has seen an increase in labor unrest in recent weeks. "It is an urgent task for us to think how to establish a social management system with Chinese characteristics to suit our socialist market economy."

China's manufacturing activity falls to a 32-month low

China's manufacturing activity fell to a 32-month low in November, hurt by a slowdown in the global economy. The manufacturing sector has been one of the biggest drivers of China's economic growth.

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  • Brief News

Prosecutors corrupt effective anti-corruption law

Prosecutors are corrupting effective anti-corruption law. A U.S. judge just adamantly overturned the first court win against a company under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, ruling the government fudged evidence. It's an extreme case, but not the first time prosecutors have stretched to nail firms for bribing overseas officials. It further threatens a useful federal law already under attack. A criminal conviction under the FCPA could be crippling. It's why most companies usually cut pricey deals to avoid having to fight bribery accusations in court. In 2008, for example, Siemens settled a case for a record $1.6bn. U.S. companies have paid a total of about $4bn to resolve FCPA charges over the last five years.

Wall Street groups sue CFTC over trade regulation

Wall Street organizations ISDA - International Swaps and Derivatives Association and SIFMA - Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging a regulation implemented by the CFTC - Commodity Futures Trading Commission that limits speculative trading. The CFTC adopted a Position Limits Rule on October 18 on the grounds that the rule was authorized by the Commodities Exchange Act, and published the rule in the Federal Register. The regulation restricts the maximum number of derivatives contracts to purchase or sell a commodity a trader or group of traders may hold during a specified period of time. The trade groups argue that, in contravention of the APA - Administrative Procedure Act, the Commission acted "arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary to law" by failing to support the regulation with sufficient evidence and that the Commission was not obligated by statute to implement the position limits.

Putin's party losing support in Russia

With 95% of votes counted, the Central Election Commission said United Russia had just under 50% of the vote, down from 64% in 2007. The vote is being seen as a popularity test of Putin, who is running for the presidency in March. There are still many in Russia who do not blame him for the rampant corruption and the stagnant economy. But he is the leader of United Russia, and support for the party has fallen significantly in these Duma elections, which inevitably reflects badly on him. It looks like the official results will still show United Russia gaining support from around half of those who cast valid votes, which would be regarded as a significant victory in many democracies.

Peru state of emergency over mine

Peru's President Humala declares a state of emergency in a region affected by bitter protests against a huge US gold mine project. The emergency restricts civil liberties such as the right to assembly and allows arrests without warrants in four provinces of Cajamarca state that have been paralyzed for 11 days by increasingly violent protests against the $4.8-billion Conga gold and copper mining project. U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp. is the project's majority owner.

NGO Global Witness leaves diamond vetting scheme

The campaign group Global Witness says it is leaving the Kimberley Process, an international scheme designed to stop the trade in so-called blood diamonds. The Process was established in 2003, amid concerns that diamond sales were funding conflicts in African countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone. It required all rough diamonds sold internationally to be certified. But Global Witness says the Kimberley Process has failed to break the link between diamond sales and violence.

Brazil labor minister is latest to resign

Brazil's Labour Minister, Carlos Lupi, has handed in his resignation to Rousseff. He is the seventh minister to resign since Rousseff took office in January. Six of them have departed amid scandals over alleged corruption. Most of them had been members of the previous government of Lula. In a statement, Lupi said he had been subject to personal and political persecution by the media. He was being investigated after Veja reported in November that Lupi and some of his aides allegedly had demanded kickbacks from charities and non-governmental organizations in exchange for funding from the ministry. The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper also reported that he was being investigated for allegedly receiving a salary as a federal congressional employee, while at the same time serving, and receiving a salary from, the state legislature of Rio de Janeiro.

Indian retail shares fall heavily

Shares in Indian retailers have fallen after the government put on hold plans to open up the retail market to global supermarket chains.

Migrants say they're unwilling mules for cartels

Mexican drug cartels have found a new source of labor to backpack marijuana into the United States: illegal immigrants. Federal agents, prosecutors, defense attorneys and migrants themselves say that traffickers have begun recruiting undocumented immigrants at the border, both voluntarily and forcibly. Now, U.S. courts along the border have to decide what to do with terrified immigrants who come before them and say, "The cartel made me do it."

ICTY judges allow reduced indictment against Mladic

A three-judge panel for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accepted a request by prosecutors on Friday to reduce the number of crimes they intend to prove against former Serbian general and alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic from 196 to 106. The panel declared that the prosecution's request for a reduction in the indictment was permissible under applicable law.

Madoff trustee wins right to appeal after dismissal of JP Morgan suit

An order made public Thursday awarded Madoff trustee Irving Picard the right to appeal the dismissal of his $19bn suit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. Judge Colleen McMahon of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York indicated in her order that, in the interest of an expedited decision, both parties had agreed to move forward with the appeal. Last month, McMahon dismissed Picard's suit seeking damages from banks and third parties for the victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. In her decision, Mcmahon concluded that Picard did not have standing to sue on behalf of the victims. Picard was designated by the court in 2008 as trustee of the assets seized from the Ponzi scheme.

British regulators investigate Groupon

Britain's Office of Fair Trading is investigating Groupon's marketing policies, after the daily deals site racked up 48 advertising violations in 11 months. The regulatory agency, which oversees consumer protection and competition in Britain, began investigating Groupon in July.

Foreign plaintiffs' claims against Toyota dismissed

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed all claims for damages by a class of foreign plaintiffs against Toyota Motor Corp and two North American subsidiaries for alleged vehicle defects resulting in sudden unintended acceleration. The plaintiffs' claims for alleged design defect and unfair and deceptive marketing were brought under both federal and state law. The court had to rule on Toyota's motion to dismiss the re-pleaded complaint on three grounds: 1) failure to establish standing; 2) failure to join an indispensible party; and 3) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The law must take its course

African governments (read presidents) using the African Union have chosen to perpetuate evil within their borders and beyond in the name of solidarity that only serves those in power, while the citizens suffer. Kenyan High Court Judge Nicholas Ombija went against government thinking and ruled that Sudan's President's Omar al-Bashir should be arrested if he sets foot in Kenya. His ruling is in essence telling the Government of Kenya that there are citizens in this country who want the government to follow the law without fear or favor, not only the law in our country, but also international law. Finally, they have a chief justice who understands this.

The future of lie-detecting

Technology may make lying a thing of the past, or at least something more easy to catch. Researchers have been working on software algorithms that can detect emotional speech patterns and accurately detect a lie. The Air Force funded project can detect a lie 70% of the time.

We mostly waste time online

A survey by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of adults go online for no good reason whatsoever. 74% of online adults surveyed stated that they go online simply to pass the time. The rise in using the net for fun is parallel to the rise of broadband Internet connections.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Why don't they like me? Where is the Love? Mitt Romney is a better candidate than in 2008. So why can't he make Republican hearts flutter?

Newsweek
Angie. Angelina Jolie Directs a Film About the Bosnian War. A war she didn't fully understand has inspired Angelina Jolie to get behind the camera for a love story set in Bosnia.

Business Week
Poker face. Will Angela Merkel Act, or Won't She? Germany's Chancellor has her reasons for insisting on severe measures to resolve Europe's economic crisis, but while she stalls, further damage is being done.

The Economist
Africa rising. After decades of slow growth, Africa has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia.

Der Spiegel
Web-Kampf um die Zukunft. Wer beherrscht das Internet?

L'Espresso
Siamo tutti spiati. Ogni giorno vengono intercettati milioni di miliardi di dati. Telefonate, mail, sms finiscono nella rete creata da centinaia di aziende private. Anche in Italia. Ecco i nuovi sconvolgenti Spy Files del gruppo di Julian Assange.

  • Daily Press Review

Key absences hinder Afghan talks in Bonn
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Iran contributed to suppression of Syrian protests
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Syria faces new Arab deadline on observers
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Iran threatening to cut Hamas funds, arms supply if it flees Syria
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Syria misses Arab League deadline
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Sarkozy and Merkel meet on euro
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Assange seeks new UK extradition hearing
CNN International, London, England

10 luxury cars smashed in pile-up
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Four largest supermarkets could face prosecution for 'misleading shoppers with grocery price war lies'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Vanessa Hudgens and new boyfriend Austin Butler can't keep their hands off each other at LAX
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Putin's party dealt a blow in general election
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

DIPLOMACY: Afghan future at stake as Pakistan boycotts Bonn talks
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Merkel and Sarkozy to hold crunch eurozone talks
Independent The, London, England

Back to basics
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Leveson Inquiry: 'One or more NOTW journalists deleted voicemail from Milly Dowler's mobile'
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Titter ye not
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Mekong murders case to prosecutors
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Islamists look to extend gains in Egypt
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Korea Must Find Ways to Sustain Economic Growth
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pak to review all accords with US, NATO: Gilani
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Babri Masjid anniversary: Red alert in Hyderabad
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Rockies interested in Kuroda: report
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

US: Black Friday gun sales were highest on record
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

7 killed in road accident in southern India
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

State of emergency declared in Peru's mining conflict area
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Katich pleads guilty
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Alan Sues 'Laugh-In' comic actor dead of cardiac arrest at 85
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

US economy expands 2% in September quarter
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

NDP leadership rivals keep debate low key
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

This dissenter would make a fine Fed chairman
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Solar Will Supply One-Third of Global Energy by 2060: IEA
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

RIGHTS-COLOMBIA: Int'l Mission Says Dire Situation Getting Worse
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Sarkozy, Merkel kick off week of euro crisis talks
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Putin's party clings to reduced majority in Russia
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Child poverty easing in Ontario, report says
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Ivory Coast's Gbagbo due in court
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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