December 19, 2011 nº 1,127 - Vol. 9

Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake"

Persian Proverb

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  • Top News

Last U.S. troops make quiet exit out of Iraq

There were a lot of lasts at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq: the last signing ceremony, formally handing the last base over to the Iraqi government, the last briefing, the last patrol, the last hot meal. Pulling tens of thousands of troops out in this kind of environment is a logistical marvel, he says. "You're reposturing while people are still trying to cause you harm," Gen. Lloyd Austin says. "That means that every element that moves has to be protected. It is the most difficult undertaking in our lifetime, in our military career." The American military contingent in Iraq is being replaced by a huge diplomatic contingent. All together, some 16,000 diplomats and private contractors will be working at the embassy in Baghdad and at consulates in Iraq, making it the largest such operation in any country.

Microsoft plans 'silent' updates

From January, IE - Internet Explorer users will be automatically updated to the latest version of the browser. Microsoft said it was starting the project to update millions of machines to improve security online. Future updates to the browser would be applied without a user's knowledge to help beat scammers catching people out with fake updates. Those who did not want their browser updated could opt out or uninstall the software, said Microsoft.

Fitch revises outlook on France to 'negative'

Ratings agency Fitch has affirmed France's top-notch AAA credit rating but has revised its outlook on the country to "negative" from "stable". A negative outlook usually means a downgrade is possible in 12-18 months. Fitch said the change in outlook was prompted by the heightened risk of government liabilities arising from the eurozone's debt crisis. The agency also said it was considering downgrading ratings for Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China sends rights lawyer back to prison

Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been sent back to jail for three years. A Beijing court on Friday cancelled the lawyer's probation saying that he had seriously violated probation rules. Gao went missing at the beginning of 2009 but resurfaced briefly in 2010 saying he had been tortured.

China home prices ease amid curbs

House prices in most Chinese cities are falling as government policies aimed at cooling the property market start to take effect.


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  • Brief News

U.S. judge mulls overturning federal marriage law

Judge Jeffrey White heard two hours of arguments in the first hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act since the Obama administration decided not to defend the statute.

For Zynga's I.P.O., pomp and a slump

Zynga, the online gaming company, kicked off its first day of trading with the usual fanfare. At the San Francisco headquarters, decorated with huge red banners, its founder, Mark Pincus, rang the opening bell, and before a packed room of employees and investors made a "raise the roof" gesture in celebration of the initial public offering. But the market debut lacked the same pomp. At the opening, Zynga's shares rose a modest 10 percent, to $11, and then quickly pulled back. The stock closed at $9.50, or 5 percent below its offering price of $10. Zynga's weak performance reflects the broader market for I.P.O.'s. Newly public technology stocks have been buffeted by macroeconomic turmoil and jittery investors, who are skeptical about the business models.

Facebook lawsuit against ads 'liked' by friends can proceed

Facebook Inc., the world's most used social-networking service, can be sued by people who claim showing advertisements that their friends apparently like violates a California law regarding commercial endorsements.

Italy's Monti wins confidence vote over austerity

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has easily won a parliamentary confidence vote on his government's package of crucial austerity measures. The Chamber of Deputies (lower house) backed the 33bn-euro $43bn) package of cuts and reforms by 495 votes to 88. The package still has to be approved by the Senate (upper house). Monti, appointed in November, heads a government of unelected technocrats grappling with huge public debts.

Brazil dam company wins Belo Monte appeal

A judge in Brazil has revoked a decision which had halted work on the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon region. Judge Carlos Castro Martins reversed the order he had issued in September, which had barred any work on the Belo Monte dam that interfered with the natural flow of the Xingu river. He said the company behind the project had subsequently shown its work would not harm local fishing. The project has been heavily criticized by environmentalists. Martins had originally ruled in favor of a fisheries group, which argued that the dam would affect local fish stocks and could harm indigenous families who make a living from fishing. Norte Energia appealed against the decision and Judge Martins ruled on Friday that construction work on the dam could go ahead as the company had shown that local fishing boats would not be blocked or hindered in their work.

Army 'failed to spot Wikileaks danger'

Lawyers defending a US soldier accused of leaking government secrets say his supervisors failed to recognize his troubled emotional state and revoke his access to classified information. Private Bradley Manning faces 22 charges of distributing state secrets to whistleblowing website Wikileaks. On the third day of the hearing, one supervisor refused to testify, invoking his right against self-incrimination. Defence lawyers say Pte Manning was bullied by fellow soldiers and had told his supervisors that he suffered from gender-identity disorder - the belief that he was born the wrong sex.

Indonesia parliament approves eminent domain bill

The Indonesian parliament approved a bill on Friday that gives the government eminent domain powers to seize land from individuals without their consent, as long as compensation is provided. Proponents of the bill argue that it will allow the government to increase infrastructure, leading to improvements in the economy. A day after the bill passed, Fitch Ratings upgraded Indonesia to an investment grade rating. Human rights groups argue that the land acquisition bill threatens notions of traditional lands rights and will lead to conflict between land owners and the government.

States seek to delay immigration cases pending Supreme Court ruling

Alabama and Georgia filed motions Thursday in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit seeking to stay proceedings on challenges to their immigration laws pending a ruling by the US Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States. The Supreme Court agreed Monday to rule on a challenge to Arizona's controversial immigration law, which criminalizes illegal immigration and requires police officers to question an individual's immigration status if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" to believe an individual is in the country illegally. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said, "the Arizona case will substantially affect many of the legal questions that are critical to Alabama's appeals pending in the 11th Circuit." Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said, "we strongly believe that, as the Supreme Court has said before, immigration is a partnership between the states and the federal government, and we hope that the Court will reaffirm that partnership."

S.E.C. accuses Fannie and Freddie ex-chiefs of deception

The S.E.C. contends the former chiefs, and four other Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives, did not adequately disclose the two companies' exposure to risky mortgages. Regulators have accused the former chief executives of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of misleading investors about their firms' exposure to risky mortgages, one of the most significant federal actions taken against those at the center of the housing bust.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Person Of The Year: The Protester

Maggie's moment. Why Tatcher is more important than ever?

Business Week
Lego's billion dollar girl. Lego Is for Girls Focusing on boys saved the toymaker in 2005. Now the company is launching Lego Friends for "the other 50 percent of the world's children." Will girls buy in?

The Economist
The European Union in disarray. A comedy of euros.

Der Spiegel
Der falsche Präsident

Sognando Australia. C'era una volta l'America. Adesso ci sono Sydney e Melbourne. Ogni anno oltre 50 mila italiani fuggono laggiù. Neolaureati. Professionisti. Giovani coppie. Con la speranza di non tornare più.

  • Daily Press Review

North Korea's Kim Jong-il dead at 69
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Yemen crisis to hit 4 mn people in 2012: UN
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Tunisians mark revolution anniversary?
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Tel Aviv group demands poetic justice
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Gulf leaders to meet for 1st time since Arab Spring
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

N Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

South Korea on high alert following death of Kim Jong Il
CNN International, London, England

Dozens feared dead as oil rig sinks
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Shoppers set to splurge GBP 1bn on busiest day of the year
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Strictly Come Dancing winner Harry Judd and girlfriend Izzy Johnston the morning after
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

World reacts to Kim Jong-il's death
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

NORTH KOREA: North Korea's 'dear leader' Kim Jong-il dies
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

At least seven killed after Russian oil rig capsizes
Independent The, London, England

Bonuses still to be had for Russia's workers
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Ed Miliband warned by senior Labour figures to stop making jokes and concentrate on policy
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

The Krankies: 'We used to be swingers'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Arisman again denied bail
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

S.Korea's Lee calls for calm after North leader's death
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Japan Must Finally Face Up to Its Past
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Key events in Kim Jong Il's life
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Mentally challenged raped in Goa
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Motivation for college study
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Stop refugees' dangerous journey: Aus politician
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Iran says arrest of CIA spy 'humiliation' of US: spokesman
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Former IMF boss Strauss-Kahn makes return to public life
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

After Kim: a new Kim
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is back from Dubai
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

N. Korean dictator Kim Jong-il dies
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

The anglosphere yet reigns supreme
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Canadian Eldorado Gold Offers $2.4bn to Buy European Goldfields
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

GUATEMALA: When Vigilante Protection Turns Ugly
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Ratings threats, North Korea pressure stocks
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead, son hailed as heir
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

North Korea's Kim Jong-il dead at 69
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Nigeria arrests 'Islamist leader'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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