March 12, 2012 nº 1,152 - Vol. 10


"
Logic - The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the
limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding."

Ambrose Bierce

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

Greek credit-default swaps are activated

Greece's debt restructuring will prompt payouts on credit-default swaps tied to the country's government bonds. The decision by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association ends months of speculation that a Greek default might not set off the swaps, a result that could have undermined their role as insurance against debt defaults. Still, doubts about the instruments' effectiveness may linger. European officials initially shaped the Greek debt restructuring to avoid activating them. The concern is that future restructurings could be arranged to stop swaps from paying out. The Greek government chose to apply so-called collective action clauses, which it had earlier inserted into its bonds registered under Greek law. The deal maximized total debt relief for the country, but it also forced losses on bondholders — a credit event, and therefore a trigger, for the swaps.

Law firms get into the social media game

After years of avoiding the Twittersphere, Big Law is warming up to the advertising power of social networking. Leaders at several top 100 firms are for the first time hiring full-time social media specialists to manage firms' LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter accounts, and many more are making a concerted effort to prioritize social media outreach in marketing campaigns. It is a marked shift for the risk-adverse legal industry, which — as retailers and restaurants jumped on Twitter and Facebook to hawk discounts and promote products — largely stayed away from social media as a way to pursue new business. But now, 20 percent of law firms have a full-time social media specialist on staff, and about 40 percent said blogging and social networking initiatives have helped the firm land new work. Law firms face a unique challenge in that they often can't publicize or even talk about client matters, nor can they promise the type of discount that would sing on Groupon. Their audience is not the mass-market consumer, but the in-house lawyer of a company.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China reports large trade deficit as imports surge

China posted its largest trade deficit in at least a decade in February after imports of commodities jumped as companies built up supplies. The deficit was $31.5bn after imports rose 39.6% from a year earlier and exports rose 18.4%, the customs bureau said. Analysts said the widening trade gap may signal deeper economic issues that China will need to address. Meanwhile prices for many of the raw materials that China needs to fuel its growth are climbing.

China chief judge urges courts to continue legal reforms

The President and Chief Justice of China's SPC - Supreme People's Court on Sunday told the National People's Congress (NPC) that the country must continue to implement legal reform to combat corruption and foster social and economic growth. In his address to the annual meeting of the NPC, Chief Justice Wang Shegjun recommended that courts work to speed up civil cases and increase the transparency of trials. Shengjun discussed the achievements of the Chinese courts in the last year, including an increase in resolution of intellectual property cases, and a decrease in prosecutions of judges and court staff for corruption. He stressed that the courts must continue to resolve cases and eliminate corruption in order to create a "favorable legal environment."

China's death row TV hit

Each week in Henan Province in central China, millions of people tune in to watch an extraordinary talk show called Interviews Before Execution, in which reporter Ding Yu interviews murderers condemned to death. To Western eyes the show may seem exploitative, but Ding disagrees. "Some viewers may consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed. "On the contrary, they want to be heard," she says. "Some criminals I interviewed told me: 'I'm really very glad. I said so many things in my heart to you at this time. In prison, there was never a person I was willing to talk to about past events.'" The aim, the producers say, is to find cases that will serve as a warning to others. The slogan at the top of every program calls for human nature to awaken and "perceive the value of life".

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  • Brief News

Boardrooms fret over corporate espionage and federal guidance regimes

Dodd-Frank related governance issues such as say-on-pay and proxy access have been well known focal points for boardrooms during the 2012 proxy and annual meeting season, but another issue has topped headlines and is of increasing concern to boardrooms: business intelligence gathering activities. Faced with shareholder oversight, the risks posed by private intelligence gathering firms and governmental regulation in this area, companies must ensure that they abide by accepted best practices, the highest ethical standards and standards for compliance with laws. Shareholders and governing bodies have enhanced scrutiny of corporate governance, with scandals such as MF Global highlighting abuses of corporate power and potential criminal activities by company officers. Effective corporate governance principles dictate that those who conduct unethical or, worse, illegal activities on behalf of a company must be brought to heel. The phrase “traditional intelligence gathering” has its roots corporate espionage. Popular targets include technology related industries such as software, hardware, aerospace, biotechnology, telecommunications and energy, among others. It is no surprise that Silicon Valley is the world’s most frequently targeted area for industrial espionage as any advantage gained in a rapidly evolving industry is multiplied in value. It is clear, however, that no specific industry or sector is immune to these issues.

Divorce law's new cut

When New York adopted no-fault divorce in 2010 after decades of failed attempts, lawyers and families praised legislators for eliminating the need for one of the bitterest elements of a divorce: assigning blame. More than a year later, critics say more troubling aspects of the reform package have emerged. A New York divorce law passed in 2010 set a strict formula for judges awarding temporary alimony. Sondra Miller, a retired judge, and WSJ reporter Sophia Hollander discuss how a formula designed to protect low-income spouses has had unintended consequences for some affluent New Yorkers. One of the changes included a little-noticed law that set a strict formula for judges awarding temporary alimony during the divorce. The statute was meant to provide more consistency and ensure that low-income New Yorkers who couldn't afford attorneys were treated fairly. In dozens of interviews, lawyers, academics and divorcing spouses said that despite the law's honorable intent, it is exacting a steep toll. For some more affluent couples, the law is creating shifts in income that don't level the playing field so much as turn it upside-down, transforming the richer spouse into the poorer one, sometimes dramatically so.

Sarkozy threat over open borders

Sarkozy threatens to suspend participation in Schengen zone unless illegal immigration is checked. Unless there is progress in the next 12 months, France would suspend participation in the current agreement. The accord allows passport-free travel among 25 European nations. The European Commission is due to submit a report on the operation of the Schengen system in May. He said that reform was the only way to avoid the "implosion" of Europe. Illegal immigration has been a key issue ahead of the presidential election.

Wal-Mart's Bid for Massmart wins court approval

Wal-Mart's takeover of Massmart cleared a major hurdle on Friday, when an antitrust court in South Africa rejected the government's bid to scuttle the $2.4 billion deal. The ruling by the Competition Appeal Court, which also ordered that 500 fired workers be reinstated, was a crucial step in Wal-Mart's plan to tap growth in Africa.

Why Monsanto thought weeds would never defeat roundup

In 1993, Monsanto told government officials it didn't think its genetically engineered seeds would ever lead to resistant weeds. Now, it's clear the company was very wrong. The company also wrote that several university scientists agreed "that it is highly unlikely that weed resistance to glyphosate will become a problem as a result of the commercialization of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans." Oops. Since then, resistance to glyphosate has emerged in 20 different weed species.

Aviation plea over EU emissions tax

Seven leading European aviation companies have written to political leaders complaining about a recently introduced EU carbon tax. The signatories argue that the pollution levy threatens jobs and trade at a time when the European economy is under severe pressure. They are concerned about trade-related retaliation by countries not complying with the ETS - Emissions Trading Scheme. The amount of resistance to the EU's plans shows that the European Commission needs a Plan B in case there is retaliatory action China and the US both oppose the tax.

Egypt military doctor acquitted on charge related to alleged forced virginity tests

An Egyptian army doctor was acquitted of obscenity by a military tribunal Sunday in relation to alleged forced virginity tests performed on detained protestors during the revolution last spring. The court refused to find that the forced virginity tests occurred despite a prior court ruling and allegations from AI - Amnesty International quoting military generals. Military prosecutors brought the charges against Dr. Ahmed Adel after an administrative court issued a ruling last December banning the tests, which it found were performed on detained protestors. The allegations sparked uproar from many of the protestors who claim the tests show that the military regime still follows the oppressive practices of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Escape from Syria. A photographer emerges from the rebel district of Homs to bear witness to the carnage.

Newsweek
I'm Dave. David cameron comes to America.

Business Week
Travel issue.

The Economist
Nuclear energy. The dream that failed.

Der Spiegel
Neue Therapien gegen den Infarkt.

L'Espresso
Lega di lotta e di mazzetta Dopo le accuse a Boni e le rivelazioni del lumbard pentito, per il Carroccio anche un'inchiesta segreta sulla sanità.

  • Daily Press Review

Scores reported killed in two Syrian cities
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Police, mayors: NY risks access with Muslim spying
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Annan is 'optimistic' but no Syria deal yet
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Israeli air strike kills two Gaza militants after four rockets fired toward Be'er Sheva
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel calls on UN to condemn rockets from Gaza
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

US on alert for Afghan reprisals
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Massacre in Homs leaves 45 women, children dead
CNN International, London, England

Nasa man 'sacked for his beliefs'
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

US soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians in deadly shooting rampage
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Shona McGarty: EastEnders star thrown out of Asda after 'yoghurt incident'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Catholic Church in UK attacks gay marriage
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

SYRIA: UN envoy Annan ends Syria visit without a ceasefire
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Let's decide who is and who is not a journalist
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Swiss vote 'no' to extra holidays
Independent The, London, England

Bankers positive on Putin's return
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

PC David Rathband: timeline on his fight for life since Raoul Moat shooting
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Bruce Springsteen smashes way to UK number one
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Death compo payout April 12
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Japan falls silent to mark 311 tragedy
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Can Seoul Blame China for Repatriating N.Koreans?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Iran stands by Syria, blames US for unrest
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Pub employee gang raped in Gurgaon
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Emperor, Noda attend Tokyo memorial service
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Shooting suspect's base 'most troubled'
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Thai worker injured in Israeli attack remains unconscious
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Obama's approval rate plunges due to petrol prices
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Live: Eels v Warriors
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

French President Nicolas Sarkozy struggles to advance Hollande as French vote approaches
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Sri Lanka C. bank: Will act to curb rupee volatility
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Skier Zoricic's teammates saw no danger on course
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Switzerland against the world
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Australian Stock Market Report - Afternoon 3/9/2012
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Women Have New Weapon against Domestic Violence in Argentina
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Shares dented by growth, rates outlook; euro steady
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Analysis - Big win for Suu Kyi's party in Myanmar election? Maybe not
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

VIDEO: Protestors demand inquiry into robocalls scandal
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Church targeted in Nigeria attack
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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