February 27, 2012 nº 1,147 - Vol. 10

"It's not the having, it's the getting."

Elizabeth Taylor

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  • Top News

High court to hear corporate human rights case

The Supreme Court will weigh next week whether corporations can be sued in the United States for suspected complicity in human rights abuses abroad, in a case being closely watched by businesses concerned about long and costly litigation. The high court on Tuesday will consider the reach of a 1789 US law that had been largely dormant until 1980, when human rights lawyers started using it, at first to sue foreign government officials. Then, over the next 20 years, the lawyers used the law to target multinational corporations. The case before the court pits the Obama administration and human rights advocates against large companies and foreign governments over allegations that Royal Dutch Shell Plc helped Nigeria crush oil exploration protests in the 1990s. Administration attorneys and lawyers for the plaintiffs contend corporations can be held accountable in US courts for committing or assisting foreign governments in torture, executions or other human rights abuses. Attorneys for corporations argue that only individuals, such as company employees or managers involved in the abuse, can be sued, a position adopted by a US appeals court in New York. Other courts ruled corporations can be held liable.

Syria holds constitutional referendum

Syria held a referendum Sunday to vote on a new constitution. The gesture towards the opposition by President Bashar al-Assad has widely been seen as an empty one, with much of the international community calling it a "sham". The vote comes just one day after reportedly 89 people were killed in Homs, the center of the opposition. The proposed constitution will impose term limits on the president as well as provide for a multi-party system. However, the term limits will theoretically begin once the constitution passes, meaning Assad's previous time in office will not be counted against the term limits. The preamble describes the proposed constitution as: "A system of fundamental principles that enshrines independence, sovereignty and the rule of the people based on election, political and party pluralism and the protection of national unity, cultural diversity, public freedoms, human rights, social justice, equality, equal opportunities, citizenship and the rule of law, where the society and the citizen are the objective and purpose for which every national effort is dedicated." The new constitution also provides for freedom of speech, press, assembly and association in Articles 42 through 45, which some see as a step in the right direction.

US lawmakers to appeal Defense of Marriage Act ruling

Lawyers for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group notified the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday that they plan to appeal the ruling earlier this week in the US District Court for the Northern District of California that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of the advisory group are pursuing the appeal. The advisory group's two Democratic members, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are not joining the GOP members in the appeal. The district court's ruling is the most recent development in the debate regarding the constitutionality of DOMA and its repeal. The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted to repeal DOMA in November, marking the first time a Congressional group has voted to repeal the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China calls US critique on Syria "super arrogant"

The official newspaper of China's Communist Party has described US criticism of Beijing's stance on Syria as "super arrogant". It lso questioned US motives on Syria. Hilary Clinton on Friday called the veto by China and Russia of a UN resolution on Syria "despicable". She said it was "quite distressing" to see two Security Council members using their vetoes "while people are being murdered". The Chinese criticism came a day after Syria held a national referendum on a new constitution, amid violent unrest. "The United States' motive in parading as a 'protector' of the Arab peoples is not difficult to imagine," the People's Daily said in a commentary. "The problem is, what moral basis does it have for this patronizing and egotistical super-arrogance and self-confidence?" "Even now, violence continues unabated in Iraq and ordinary people enjoy no security. This alone is enough for us to draw a huge question mark over the sincerity and efficacy of US policy," it added.


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  • Brief News

BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill trial delayed for a week

The civil trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, which was due to start in New Orleans on Monday, has been delayed for a week, to allow for further talks on a settlement. In a joint statement, BP and the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee - a group of lawyers representing victims of the spill, confirmed that the trial would now start on 5 March. "This adjournment is intended to allow BP and the PSC more time to continue settlement discussions and attempt to reach an agreement," the statement said. "BP and the PSC are working to reach agreement to fairly compensate people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. There can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to a settlement agreement," the statement added. One lawyer close to the case said that the different parties were still far apart in negotiations over settlements.

Brazil wants more say for EU aid

Brazil has said that developing nations would be happy to provide more money to ease the eurozone's debt crisis, in return for more power within the IMF - International Monetary Fund. The comments were made by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said: "Emerging countries will only help under two conditions; first that they strengthen their firewall and second for the IMF reform be implemented.

Apple investors win greater say over board of directors

Apple shareholders are to be given a greater say in selecting the firm's board of directors. It comes after the company agreed to change its governance rules. In future directors will have to win the backing of the majority of shareholders to win a seat on the board. Previously investors could only object by withholding their vote. The change of policy came after a campaign by Calpers, the largest US public-sector pension fund. Almost 80% of firms in the S&P 500 stock index now operate a similar policy.

Federal judge dismisses challenge to Google privacy changes

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a suit on Friday from the EPIC - Electronic Privacy Information Center, a consumer privacy group, asking the FTC - Federal Trade Commission to block Google's proposed privacy policy changes. EPIC brought suit against the FTC earlier this month. The new policy allows a user's information to be shared among different Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps. EPIC alleged that the changes to the privacy policy were in violation of a consent order between the FTC and Google in October over a breach of consumer privacy rights and misleading consumers during the launch of Google Buzz, a social networking service. US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that the decision to not block the privacy policy changes was within the FTC's discretion and thus not judicially reviewable.

Italy court dismisses Berlusconi corruption case

Judges have thrown out a bribery case against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, because it expired under the statute of limitations. Berlusconi was accused of paying his former British tax lawyer, David Mills, to lie in court to protect his interests. The case dates back to the 1990s.

Treasure haul arrives in Spain

A haul of gold and silver coins salvaged from a sunken Spanish galleon has arrived in Spain after five years of legal ownership wrangles. US firm Odyssey Marine Exploration found the 17 tons of coins in a wreck off Portugal's Atlantic coast in 2007. At the time, the treasure was estimated to be worth $500m. But a US federal judge recently ordered Odyssey to give Spain access to the treasure, the last in a series of legal defeats for the salvage firm. Odyssey had argued in US federal court that the wreck was never positively identified as the Mercedes, and even so, as it was operating as a commercial ship, Spain had no claim to the cargo. International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers, unless they are formally abandoned. Spain countered that it had never relinquished ownership of the ship's cargo, and the coins were part of the country's national heritage.

Former Yugoslavia municipal officer sentenced to 2 years for refusing to testify

The ICTY - International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Friday sentenced former president of the municipality of Sokolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milan Tupajic, to two years in prison on two counts of contempt for refusing to testify against Radovan Karadzic, founding member of the SDS - Serbian Democratic Party who is being tried for several war crimes including genocide. Tupajic claimed that he was unable to testify because of his health, among other reasons, but the court rejected that idea, saying: "The Chamber reviewed the documents the Accused submitted in support of his health concerns but considers that his health concerns do not constitute a just excuse for his failure to comply with the orders as contained in the subpoenas."

Apple forced to suspend push email service in Germany

Apple has been forced to stop push email for iCloud and MobileMe users on iOS devices while they are in Germany. Push email allows users to see their messages on their devices automatically as soon as they are delivered. However, the ability to receive emails by other means, such as by opening the Mail app, is unaffected. Earlier this month a German court ruled that Apple's push technology infringed a Motorola Mobility patent. Apple says it believes Motorola Mobility's patent is invalid and is appealing against the decision. This latest patent litigation only affects iOS devices. Apple's push service to desktop and laptop computers, and other services such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync are not affected.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Yo decido. Why Latino Voters Will Swing the 2012 Election.

Navy SEALs: Obama’s Secret Army. At a time when many Americans think their government is inept, the ‘Special Operators’ get the job done. Just ask the President, who is doubling down on the Navy SEALs.

Business Week
Scorned in the USA. Mitt Romney's Box of Kryptonite.

The Economist
Bombing Iran.

Der Spiegel
Deutschland, Deine Reichen. Wer sind sie-und warum so viele?

Comunione & speculazione. Cl fa i conti con la crisi di Formigoni. E per restare al centro dei grandi affari stringe nuovi rapporti: da Alfano a Renzi. Con un asso nella manica: il ministro Passera.

  • Daily Press Review

Saleh hands over Yemen reins to successor
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Santorum: no apology needed for Quran burning
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Yemen's Hadi takes oath, replaces Saleh
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Israel, Kurdish fighters destroyed Iranian nuclear facility, info released by WikiLeaks claims
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Analysis: Assad's 'coup-proof' rule lacks successor
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

'Rewrite NHS bill' - Lib Dem peers
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Car bomb attack in Afghanistan kills nine
CNN International, London, England

Bin Laden hideout reduced to rubble
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Queen's Diamond Jubilee: Pubs will stay open until 1am
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Jennifer Lopez nearly falls out of her revealing dress at The Oscars
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

French film 'The Artist' sweeps the Oscars
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

FRANCE: 'The Artist' sweeps Oscars with Best Picture, Actor, Director wins
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Mediation for peace: A means toward a better world
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Plot to assassinate Putin foiled claims Russian television
Independent The, London, England

January GDP up year-on-year by 3.9 percent
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Head of state 'funded al-Qaeda and knew of 7/7 terror attacks'
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Oscars 2012: Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor for The Artist
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Wichean head of joint intelligence
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Silent film 'The Artist' crowned with Oscar gold
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

The Artist' a Big Winner at Oscars
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Plot to assassinate Putin foiled: Russian TV
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Classmate held for college student's suicide
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Valentine bans alcohol in Red Sox clubhouse
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Santorum, Romney gear up for next primary test
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Afghan ministers cancel US visit: Pentagon
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Robert F. Kennedy's son arrested in baby fracas
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

And the winners are...
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Times: Vijay Mallya nears Kingfisher Air, Whyte stake sales
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

World Bank sees high food prices easing
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

3 Via employees die in Ontario derailment
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Australian PM Gillard survives leadership ballot
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

China's Economy Needs Major Overhaul: World Bank
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

BP oil spill trial delayed for settlement talks
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Homs under fire, Syria awaits referendum result
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Via Rail Derailment: Chaos, terror in deadly Burlington train crash
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

'Tight race' in Senegal election
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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