December 12, 2011 nº 1,124 - Vol. 9

"It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones."

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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  • Top News

Eurozone plan 'not full solution'

'Europe's agreement on more economic integration is not the whole solution to the eurozone crisis, says the International Monetary Fund. European leaders agreed on Friday to draft a new treaty on deeper eurozone economic integration. The UK vetoed the plan after an opt-out on financial regulations was denied.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China marks decade in WTO amid eu, u.s. criticism

China's decade in the World Trade Organization thrust the nation into the top spot in industries ranging from textiles to cars. The world's No. 2 economy now faces calls to open its market further and play by WTO rules. China is having to increasingly recognize and respect not only the legal responsibilities it now faces as a member of a global rules-based body, but also the WTO 'spirit' of promoting open markets and non-discriminatory principles in its domestic legislation, and the enforcement of it. When China joined the WTO, it promised to make sweeping changes such as overhauling state-owned enterprises by ending monopolies and special treatment, slashing tariffs and prying open its markets and industries to foreign competition. While much work has been done, more remains, Europe is second only to the U.S. in the number of trade disputes with China at the WTO. The 27-nation EU has filed five complaints against China over raw materials, auto parts and duties on steel fasteners while the U.S. has lodged 12, and the bloc imposes anti-dumping duties on almost 60 products from China, more than any other nation. The U.S. has been the most vocal critic of Chinese policies including what the Obama administration views as its too-slow appreciation of the yuan.

China promises to increase trade imports

Speaking on the tenth anniversary of China's entry into the World Trade Organization, Mr Hu said annual imports would exceed $8tn in the next five years. Last year, China bought only $1.39tn worth of products from overseas. Global trade has slowed this year as business with Europe, China's largest business partner, moderated.


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  • Brief News

Insurers face ratings downgrade threat from S&P

Some of Europe's top insurance companies have been warned their credit rating could be downgraded as a result of the European financial crisis. The warning comes from the rating agency Standard and Poor's, which earlier this week warned most eurozone countries they could be downgraded Allianz, Aviva, Axa, Generali and Mapfre were among 15 firms warned. Credit ratings are used by lenders to gauge the likelihood of their borrowings being paid back. That in turn affects the price borrowers pay for credit.

Corporate bankruptcy raises a question of ethics

The ethics of corporate bankruptcy are a tricky thing and rarely thought about in much detail. Certainly entering Chapter 11 is not a decision to be taken lightly, and too often bankruptcy professionals have themselves become cold to the real costs that a business bankruptcy case has on those who depend on a company. But is a decision to delay bankruptcy really praiseworthy or a case of avoiding the inevitable? Indeed, in many jurisdictions – like Australia, for example – continuing to run an insolvent company, rather than putting it into bankruptcy, is itself considered blameworthy by the law and can result in criminal or civil penalties. And there is a real argument that American Airlines might have been better off entering Chapter 11 long ago. The argument is even clearer for a company like General Motors, for which Chapter 11 would have been far less traumatic – and involved far less governmental involvement – if done decades earlier. There is a broader question here that really needs more consideration. In a free market fantasy, it is up to creditors – all creditors, including employees and small vendors – to look out for their own interests. All creditors should price in the risk of not getting paid up front – charging a higher price for riskier debtors. This approach works best when espoused by people with tenure. Real employers and employees don't spend every day re-evaluating their relationship and companies in financial distress would fail much faster if their employees spent their time coming into the bosses office to demand raises to compensate for the increased risk of their employer that day. And the entire idea of pricing solving all the ethical issues quickly falls apart when you start to thing about tort claimants and anyone else who might not have enough information to correctly price in the risk of default.

Unemployment is world's fastest-rising fear

A survey covering 11,000 people in 23 countries found unemployment was the world's fastest-rising worry. Corruption and poverty emerge as hardy perennials of global debate. In Latin America, however, crime and violence emerged as commonly discussed themes. Indeed in Brazil, famous for social tensions in its urban slums, along with Ecuador and Mexico, noted for drugs-related killings, crime and violence were the most talked-about subjects. Almost everywhere global warming had slipped down the ranking of issues discussed in the last month.

Legal outsourcing: is the bloom already off the rose?

Things are tough all over in the legal world these days, with even those pesky offshore outsourcing outfits likely to see a profitability squeeze. Wages are rising in developing countries such as India but remain relatively soft here in the U.S. and the U.K. That could hamper profitability for the legal process outsource (LPO) industry as a whole—something unlikely to bring tears to the eyes of job-hunting young lawyers stateside. So what's the problem? The price gap has narrowed between offshore legal processing groups—which charge between $25-$35 an hour for basic legal services such as document review—and domestic services offered by contract review attorneys in places such as the Midwest, which might charge $25 to $30 per hour. The glut of new law school graduates in 2012 will likely put offshore legal services outfits at a further disadvantage. Most legal professionals, all things being equal, prefer to keep legal work domestically. In response, some offshore vendors are opening up in places such as Chicago and Washington. Law firms get more comfortable with the use of legal outsourcing, vendors will go beyond litigation support to offer other services, such as contract management or due diligence on mergers and acquisition transactions.

Croatia signs treaty to join EU in middle of 2013

Croatia has signed a treaty to make it the 28th member of the European Union from mid-2013, becoming the EU's second ex-Yugoslav member after Slovenia. EU Council President welcomed the "historic" treaty signed at the EU summit in Brussels after seven years of tortuous negotiations. Territorial disputes with Slovenia and demands for the arrest of war crimes suspects had dogged the bid.

Ex-Panama dictator flies home to more jail time

Manuel Noriega has left France on Sunday to be punished once again for crimes he committed during a career that saw him transformed from a close Cold War ally of Washington to the vilified target of a U.S. invasion. His return comes after more than 20 years in U.S. and French prisons for drug trafficking and money laundering.

US lawmaker proposes amendment limiting corporate campaign spending

Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced a constitutional amendment that would exclude a corporation's First Amendment rights to spend money on political campaigns. Named the Saving American Democracy Amendment the proposal would make clear that corporations are not afforded the same constitutional rights as people and that the political activities of corporations can be regulated by the government. Sanders added that the law would also ban unlimited corporate campaign contributions to candidates.

Indefinite detention of Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko draws criticism

A Ukrainian court on Thursday ordered the indefinite arrest of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko despite the chance that her current seven-year sentence may still be overturned, drawing international criticism. Because Tymoshenko had already begun serving time on her original abuse-of-office charges when the court issued the order, the former prime minister was re-arrested in her cell at a Kiev detention center. This time, prosecutors are alleging that Tymoshenko was involved in tax evasion and theft of government funds between 1996 and 2000, a time when she led the intermediary gas company United Energy Systems. The European Commission on Friday expressed its concern regarding a lack of transparency of Ukrainian hearings in prison, and declared that such a process does not correspond to the jurisprudence of the ECHR - European Court of Human Rights.

Americans want to see High Court's healthcare hearings on TV

Large bipartisan majority favors cameras. It may not change the Justices' minds, but a vast majority of Americans think oral arguments of the Supreme Court's review of last year's healthcare law should be open to television cameras.

Voters reject proposal to divide Brazilian State

Voters in Pará, the country's second-biggest state, rejected a referendum Sunday proposing a division of the state into three. The results of Sunday's referendum end the current drive to split up Pará, a state in the Amazon region bigger than Texas and California combined. But pressure for greater political power continues to build in remote corners of the state and across many other once-neglected regions of Brazil as they gain economic might amid the boom in demand for commodity exports – from iron ore to soybeans to beef.

Navigating the holiday office bash

Workers hear the word "party" and think it's an opportunity to let go. But work parties are, in fact, work, so it's important to maintain professional conduct.

  • Daily Press Review

Syrians hold strikes amid battles in south
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

NATO to halt Iraq mission at year-end: official
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Arabs won't allow Syrian "massacre"-Saudi prince
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Iran may now rank 1st in world in natural gas reserves
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

'No substitute for US leadership on Syria'
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Cameron to face MPs over EU veto
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Panama's ex-ruler Noriega returns home
CNN International, London, England

'Out of touch' Romney in TV bet row
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Google executives offer to pay $33M to save decrepit Hangar One
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Katie Price hits the street in hot pants
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Thousands march for women's rights in Italy
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

IVORY COAST: Low voter turnout in first post-Gbagbo elections
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Tamil rebels recruited children for last stand against Sri Lankan army
Independent The, London, England

Duty-free stores warn of alcohol-free holidays
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

EU treaty: David Cameron has done 'bad deal' on Europe, Nick Clegg says
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Amy Winehouse's posthumous album 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' tops album chart
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Bangkok schools to open tomorrow
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Climate deal reached at Durban conference
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

GNP Lawmakers Bow Out for the Sake of Better Politics
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

EU ushers in Croatia as 28th state, holds back Serbia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Registration must for visitors of Jaipur Lit Fest
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Japan misses out on gold at Grand Prix Final
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Russian president demands election fraud probe
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Merrymakers in Santa costumes gather at Trafalgar Square in London
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Australian executive arrested over $16m fraud
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says toll nearly 80 in sectarian attacks on Shiite Muslims
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

Attawapiskat chief blasts minister in open letter
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Climate deal marks lowest common denominator
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Stocks Gain on EU Progress; Euro Falls on Caution
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

"Opposition to Restitution of Land Not Surprising";
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

EU summit may not calm investors for long
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Pakistani government denies talks with Taliban
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Councillors blast zoo over elephant move
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Low turnout for Ivory Coast poll
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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