January 25, 2012 nº 1,136 - Vol. 10


"Suspicion is a heavy armor and with its weight it impedes more than it protects.
"

Robert Burns

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  • Top News

Obama urges economic fairness

The economy was the main focus of the president's State of the Union address. Obama offered specific proposals for boosting manufacturing and creating more jobs. He also laid out an optimistic vision of the nation's role in the world. America must restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What's at stake, he said, are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. "We have to reclaim them." The US economy is on the mend, but unemployment remains high at 8.5%. Obama attacked income inequality as he set the tone for his re-election bid in his third State of the Union speech. He emphasized the importance of an economy that works for everyone in a country where a shrinking number of people do really well - while a growing number of Americans barely get by. The speech saw a renewed call for higher taxes on the wealthy, something Republicans strongly oppose. Obama's landmark 2010 health overhaul — whose fate is currently before the Supreme Court and whose repeal is the top priority for every GOP presidential candidate — got barely a passing mention. The annual State of the Union address - one of the most keenly watched events in US politics - traditionally includes policy prescriptions from the White House for the upcoming year.

Justices flunk attendance at the State of the Union

Adam Liptak has a fun piece on the attendance of the Supremes at the State of the Union address — sitting in their robes, trying to look normal, or at least not miserable, as political statements are hurled every which way. Their job, basically, is to walk through a car wash without getting wet. It begins with the memorable scene in the 2010 address where Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words "not true," after President Obama ripped the court for its decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Obama said the decision trashed "a century of law" and would "open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections." In fact, Obama's comments weren't accurate. But Alito's saying so was scandalous. He registered an emotion, and it was played in slow motion on every news station for days afterward. The justice didn't show up for the 2011 address. Since 1965, when presidents began holding the address in evening (thus avoiding conflicts with the court's schedule), attendance has been falling. From 1965 to 1980, on average 84% of the justices attended the State of the Union Address. In 11 of the 15 years, eight or more of the nine justice were present. The average dropped to 56% in the period from 1982 to 1999, and no more than no more than six justices ever attended, save for two of the addresses. In the period from 2000 forward, on average only 32% the justices attended the address, including a three-year period when Justice Stephen Breyer was the only court representative present. There has been an uptick in attendance recently, with six justices attending the two most recent addresses. There were at least two years — 1975 and 2000 — where all the justices stayed home. Their absences were "not amenable to easy explanation." To the extent that justices attending the address can be called a "tradition," it's a fairly recent one!" Throughout the 1960s, justices continued to applaud for various pronouncements, but the practice seemed to end with the Warren court.

Let's get real

"Piracy" is everyone's opportunity. Before refuting the key argument – that piracy is only bad – it is helpful to point out some facts. The repeated use of the term "content thieves", to describe everyone involved in piracy, is highly inflammatory. It assumes that everyone who has ever pirated content has also never purchased that same content. It implies that those watching pirated content were also involved in the actual, originating theft. If movies and shows are "stolen by content thieves, often within hours of release" then those thefts are being conducted by insiders, not those watching. It is also worth noting the recent research confirming that the studios themselves have been caught pirating. Counterfeiting, copyright infringement and actual theft, acts which are already illegal, are not the same as piracy. Why don't studios and networks make content easily available in digital formats? Because they have not yet learned how to monetize these distribution outlets. They are not innovative enough to make the transition from analog business models. They are using their monopoly power to reduce innovation. They even have made it difficult and costly for digital viewers instead of embracing demand. No one steals content for the "stealing" part, the do it for the "content" part! If studios and networks were more agile with digital distribution then non- licensed streaming would be greatly reduced. Viewers are just removing friction from the system! It is "difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts" of content pirac. At the same time, total gross revenues have doubled in the last 15 years and executive pay at studios and networks has also increased greatly. Many expert studies shows that pirates are the biggest content buyers and that piracy can boost sales. Research has also debunked classic arguments, such as the myth that piracy causes job losses, the myth that each download would have been a purchase and even the actual scale of piracy claims. There are even academic studies showing a positive net impact from piracy for the film industry as well as reports showing the misuse of data. So let's stop using baseless figures and instead focus on the opportunity. So what's a producer to do in this new digital world? First, I'd recommend familiarizing yourself with academic and industry research showing the positive effects of piracy. Consider the fact that piracy can expand your market and provide another (very powerful) marketing tool. Admit that piracy cannot be stopped anyway. The most important thing producers can do to fight content theft is to embrace the reality of a changing landscape and to educate themselves on the opportunities of digital distribution. Source: Blaine Graboyes, executive producer.

German tax law for practice

Prof. Dr. Vera de Hesselle, a visiting lawyer at the German Desk of Araújo e Policastro Advogados, just released the second edition of the book "Das deutsche Steuerrecht – Kompaktwissen für die Praxis" ("German Tax Law – Compact Knowledge for practice"), published by VPRM – Verlag Personal, Recht, Management, Ltd. Troisdorf, Germany. In a compact, understandable and clear format, she explains the multiple facets of the extensive area of ??German law and presents the structures of the Tax Law, which are most important for business activity. Click here to read more.

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  • Crumbs

1 - ACTA Protests In Poland: Groups Fear Copyright Treaty Will Lead To Censorship - click here.

2 - Petrobras's new CEO: secrets of her success - click here.

3 - Juror jailed over online research - click here.

4 - French Senate passes Armenian genocide law - click here.

5 - Ex-C.I.A. officer charged in information leak - click here.

6 - Sony, Fujifilm top rivals for Olympus tie: sources - click here.

7 - MPs investigate how to stop Big Ben's clock tower leaning - click here.

8 - Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto face Hague trial over Kenya violence - click here.

9 - An awful lot of file sharing in Brazil - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Conoco Phillips agrees $160m payout for China oil spill

Conoco Phillips and China National Offshore Oil Corporation have agreed to pay $1bn yuan ($158m) for the oil spill at their Penglai offshore field in China. The spill, which happened last year, saw almost 3,200 barrels of oil and fluids being leaked into the Bohai Bay. Groups of fishermen from the area had filed lawsuits demanding compensation for alleged loss of livelihood.

China confirms second Sichuan clash

China has confirmed that a Tibetan was shot dead in Sichuan province, the second violent clash with security forces this week. Tibetan activist groups said security forces fired on people protesting against religious repression.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Expropiación

El gobierno de Bolivia determinó el martes expropiar el 25% de la participación que tiene la petrolera PAE en el Bloque Caipipendi por haber incumplido el plan de inversiones para el desarrollo del campo Margarita, de donde saldrán los volúmenes adicionales de gas para el mercado argentino. Pan American Energy (PAE) es una sociedad formada por la británica BP, la china Cnooc y la familia argentina Bulgheroni. La PAE acudió en 2010 al arbitraje internacional por la nacionalización de su paquete accionario en la empresa Chaco boliviano. (Presione aquí)

Demanda

Una nueva batalla enfrentará a Codelco y Anglo American, esta vez en los tribunales de la justicia penal. Esto luego que la Fiscalía Oriente abriera una investigación tras la denuncia presentada por la Federación de Trabajadores del Cobre por el presunto delito de contrato simulado en que habría incurrido la minera inglesa. (Presione aquí)

Construcción

La constructora chilena Echeverría Izquierdo concretó su ingreso a Colombia junto a la española Terratest, con la cual se asoció hace 15 años en la firma Pilotes Terratest. Esta última es especialista en fundaciones profundas. El socio y presidente de Echeverría Izquierdo, Fernando Echeverría, explicó que las tres compañías involucradas en esta asociación formaron la empresa Equipos y Terratest, donde la parte colombiana tiene el 34% y el resto se divide en porciones iguales entre la española y la constructora chilena. La firma prevén facturar US$ 20 millones este año.

  • Brief News

New US unit to probe 'unfair trade practices' in China

Obama has announced a new body to investigate unfair trade practices in countries such as China. He said more needed to be done to ensure that foreign companies did not get an unfair advantage over US manufacturers, and to stop piracy of US content and products. There would be more inspections to stop ''counterfeit or unsafe goods'' from entering the US, he added. Washington has been putting pressure on China over the value of its currency and observers expect Obama to reiterate the call for Beijing to allow the yuan to appreciate. China, on the other hand, has voiced concern over the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and displeasure over arms sales to Taiwan, which it still claims as a province.

Cameron to urge European court reform

David Cameron will say it is the "right moment" to reform the European Court of Human Rights in a speech in Strasbourg. The prime minister will say the court should not "undermine its own reputation by going over national decisions where it does not need to". “"The court should ensure that the right to individual petition counts. It should not act as a small claims court,' he said. But the court's top judge, Sir Nicolas Bratza QC, said "the criticism relating to interference" in UK affairs was "simply not borne out by the facts". The court's case backlog is coming down, but still stands at more than 150,000 - many of which are inadmissible. Some cases take 25 months before they are even considered.

Iraq should stop all executions

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday condemned Iraq's execution of 34 individuals, including two women, last week. All 34 executions occurred on a single day for crimes described as terrorism-related offenses. Iraq maintains the death penalty for even non-fatal crimes, but there has been no report of a single case in which the death penalty was pardoned.

With defaults low, bankruptcy experts keep eyes on Europe

It has been more than two years since the busiest time in recent memory for bankruptcy professionals, and the restructuring industry is still waiting for its business to pick up again. That is not likely to happen this year, according to Edward I. Altman, a finance professor and bankruptcy specialist at NYU. He predicts that this year would yield a default rate for junk bonds of about 4.3 percent. That is a bit higher than the consensus estimate of credit ratings agencies and debt analysts, he concedes, but still well below 2009's default rate of 10.7 percent. This is in large part because banks and other lenders are still ready to shower borrowers with money. And with interest rates so low, troubled companies will still be able to push out their day of reckoning for a few more years." Yet, such prediction could be thrown off by outside events, notably Europe's continuing efforts to deal with its member countries' outsize debts. They emphasized the tough task facing the European Union, although they added that any decision by countries to default would be a political choice, rather than a financial one.

Egypt marks protest anniversary

Thousands of Egyptians are expected to join protests marking the first anniversary of the uprising against ex-President Hosni Mubarak.

Google in privacy policy changes

Google is consolidating its privacy policy to share your data across all of its products, including search, email, video and social networking sites. The new terms will combine over 60 current privacy policies, letting Google offer more personalized content. The new policy takes effect on March 1st and is another step towards Google unifying its experience. Google said the new policy will give people more relevant search results and help advertisers find customers. Google has previously faced criticism over the sharing of users data.

Facebook's Timeline becoming mandatory

If you hate it or haven't heard of it yet, Facebook's Timeline layout for profile pages will soon become mandatory. Over the next few weeks users will see a message at the top of their profile requiring them to switch. Once the switch is made, you will have 7 days to preview it and remove any unwanted posts.

Supreme Court rules on sex offender registration act

The US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday in Reynolds v. United States that the SORNA - Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act does not require pre-act offenders to register before the attorney general validly specifies that the act's registration provisions apply to them. The attorney general determined in 2007 that all states would have to follow the federal rule to keep registration current. Billy Joe Reynolds pleaded guilty for failure to register his new address but attempted to challenge the application of SORNA against him because his sex offender conviction in 2001 predated the attorney general's rule change. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that this did not give him standing to challenge the rule's application.

France senate passes genocide denial ban

The French Senate on Monday passed a bill that outlaws denial of genocide crimes, including the World War I-era killings of more than one million Armenians by Turkish soldiers. The Senate voted 126-86 in favor of the bill, despite a Senate committee rejecting the bill last week and raising constitutionality concerns. The French National Assembly last month approved the bill, which imposes a one-year prison term, a 45,000-euro fine, or both, on individuals who publicly trivialize or deny genocide crimes. The measure has sparked animosity in Turkey, which does not classify the killings as a genocide. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday criticized the French parliament and the proposed law, calling it "discriminatory and racist." The bill now moves to French President Nicolas Sarkozy for final approval before becoming law.

Proposed EU data rules a 'tax' on business say critics

Businesses have expressed concern about proposed EU data protection rules, which include a "right to be forgotten". The European Commission has said it would set out details of the planned changes later today. It has already said that individuals would be able to ask for data about themselves to be deleted unless it was being kept for a "legitimate" purpose. The boss of one tech-focused organization described the proposals as a "tax" on firms holding customer data.

Rule-smashing lawyer sees Volcker cracks

The controversial ban on banks' proprietary trading known as the Volcker rule has big vulnerabilities and should be reproposed, or face possible legal challenges, a prominent Washington attorney said. Eugene Scalia, the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said that regulators have an obligation to carefully assess the Volcker rule's economic effects. "When you read the Volcker proposal document put forth, there are gigantic holes in (the regulators') understanding of the effect this is going to have," he said. "There are literally more questions than answers." The Volcker rule was mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law to prevent banks that receive government backstops like deposit insurance from making risky trades with their own funds. Supporters say the rule - named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker - will make the financial system safer and more stable. Banks and the Chamber of Commerce have strenuously argued that the trading restrictions will have unintended consequences, because it will be hard to distinguish proprietary trading from trades that banks make for their customers' benefit. If the Volcker rule accidentally cracks down on bank's "market making" trades, it could severely hurt liquidity and the economy, critics argue.

Global economy 'in danger zone' over euro crisis

IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned the global economy could fall into an economic spiral reminiscent of the 1930s unless action was taken on the eurozone crisis. The IMF has reduced growth estimates for the main eurozone countries, including Germany, which is widely seen as the powerhouse of the region. The eurozone is set for a "mild recession" in 2012, with GDP expected to shrink by 0.5%, compared with a previous forecast of 1.1% growth. However, the IMF stands by its 1.8% growth prediction for the US, based on recent strong domestic data on jobs and manufacturing. Emerging markets, such as central and eastern Europe and Asia, could also be hit by the eurozone crisis.

Supreme Court rules GPS tracking of vehicle constitutes search

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday in United States v. Jones that the government's attachment of a GPS - global positioning system device to a vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The federal government sought Supreme Court review after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in 2010 that prolonged use of GPS to monitor suspects' vehicles violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

What can you do with a law degree?

Practice law, for one thing. Failing that, U.S. News & World Report has cranked out a new list of suggested jobs in which law school grads can leverage their degree: (1) Journalism, (2) Real estate, (3) Nonprofit management, (4) Entrepreneurship, (5) The Arts.

Garzon on trial

A high-profile Spanish judge has gone on trial accused of violating a 1977 amnesty law by investigating civil war and Franco-era crimes. Baltasar Garzon is accused by two right-wing groups of overstepping his powers by trying to prosecute crimes committed between 1936 and 1975. The case has reignited the debate about the way Spain has dealt with its past. Garzon's defence has called for the case to be dropped - a move backed by public prosecutors. Under Spanish law, private citizens can try to bring criminal charges against a person even if prosecutors disagree.

Dutch court rejects Samsung ban

A Dutch appeals court has rejected Apple's claim that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes its design rights. It follows a ruling last year in which a judge threw out Apple's call for an injunction against its rival's tablet in the Netherlands. This latest decision comes a week before a German appeals court is set to rule on a design right-related injunction granted in the country. EU courts may reach different conclusions, but must explain why. The ruling explains that the Hague-based judges noted that the backs and sides of Samsung's tablet differed from the iPad's, and that the two firm's models differed in thickness - allowing informed users to distinguish between the companies' devices.

  • Daily Press Review

Egyptians gather in Tahrir to honour uprising
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Israel trying to sabotage Hezbollah; Syrian ties- Lebanese General
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators clash in Jordan meeting
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Egypt frees pro-Israel blogger after 10 months
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

UK economic activity shrinks 0.2%
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Obama challenges Congress in State of the Union speech
CNN International, London, England

Marine avoids jail in Iraq trial
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

UK national debt hits staggering new record of over GBP 1TRILLION
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Demi Moore rushed to hospital for exhaustion
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

No jail for marine in Haditha massacre case
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

EGYPT: Liveblog: One year on from Egypt's unfinished revolution
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

US next in line
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Bus driver rampage kills nine in India
Independent The, London, England

Euro falls to less than 40 rubles
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Vince Cable: footballers deserve lavish pay, bankers don't
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Excalibur star Nicol Williamson dies in penury
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

SET down 0.67%
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Obama draws battle line in key speech
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Addiction to Luxury Goods is a Disease
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Italian cruise ship mishap toll rises up to 16
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Thousands in Bangalore lose their right to vote
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Homebuilder sees the profit in low-cost housing
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Obama launches campaign with State of Union
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Obama proposes to beef up efforts on financial market regulation
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Earthquake hits northern Italy, no damage reported
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Rush takes top honour
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

US: Hollywood lobbying group seeks dialogue after Google and Wikipedia's influential protests against SOPA
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

EU urges Greek debt deal to be reached without delay
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square 1 year later
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Daring nighttime helicopter raid by U.S. military frees hostages in Somalia
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Obama's State of the Union Speech: President Fires Salvo at Romney and Co.
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

ARGENTINA: In Famatina, Water Is Worth Far More Than Gold
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Stock index futures signal mixed Wall Street open
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Saudi artists test limits of expression in rare show
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Tentative deal reached in York transit strike
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

'US raid' frees Somalia hostages
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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