April 4, 2012 nº 1,162 - Vol. 10


"Advice is like snow--the softer it falls, the longer it dwells, and the deeper it sinks into the mind."

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  • Top News

Global firms 'may rethink India' over tax proposal

Seven international trade associations from the US, UK, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong have written to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticizing a new tax proposal under which even 50-year-old corporate deals could be scrutinized. The proposals were announced as part of India's federal budget last month. The associations warned that the firms they represent could reconsider their business ventures in India. "The sudden and unprecedented move in the Bill has undermined confidence in the policies of the government of India toward foreign investment and taxation and has called into question the very rule of law, due process, and fair treatment in India," the letter said. The government has been involved in a long-running fight over taxes with the London-listed Vodafone group. In January, the Supreme Court ruled that Vodafone was not liable for taxes and penalties of up to $4.4bn. The case centered on Vodafone's $11bn acquisition of the Indian assets of China's Hutchison Telecommunications in 2007. The company was presented with a tax demand of 112 billion rupees, currently worth $2.2bn. The Indian government subsequently sought penalties of up to 100% of the original bill. Vodafone said it did not owe tax on the deal, as the assets were held by a firm based in the Cayman Islands. The list of associations comprises Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Capital Markets Tax Committee of Asia, the Confederation of British Industry, the Japan Foreign Trade Council, the National Foreign Trade Council and the United States Council for International Business. Together they represent more than 250,000 companies, including several top global corporations. India will lose significant ground as a destination for international investment if it fails to align itself with policy and practice around the world." Analysts say sluggish investment is to blame for the slowing growth of India's economy - the country registered 6.1% growth in the December quarter, the lowest in nearly three years.

A prosecutor makes the case for military trials

Critics have said the military commissions lack openness and permit evidence that would not be allowed in civilian courts. But Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, says the military commissions will stand up to scrutiny in the upcoming trials of accused 9-11 plotters.

Who has the right to our Facebook accounts once we die?

Lawmakers in at least two states – Nebraska and Oregon — are considering legislation that would require social networks like Facebook to grant loved ones access to the accounts of family members who have died. Oklahoma already has such a law.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Reebok says it was cleared to sell Tebow Jets gear - click here.

2 - 'LA Law' actor subpoenas New York personal injury firm - click here.

3 - Spanish town of Rasquera leases land for marijuana plantation - click here.

4 - NZ: Dotcom allowed back on the net - click here.

5 - US: Nobody minds dyeing the egg, but the chicken is another story - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China eyes freer financial markets to boost yuan role

China, the world's second-largest economy, is looking to increase investment and competition in its financial and banking sectors. On Tuesday, it almost tripled the amount that international fund managers can invest in China to $80bn. At the same time, Premier Wen Jiabao told China National Radio that the monopoly of state-owned banks needed to be broken. The shift may boost growth and create a more international Chinese currency. Analysts have long said that opening up its financial markets was key to Beijing's efforts of pushing the yuan as an alternative to the US dollar as a global reserve currency. The QFII - Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme is one of the main channels used by foreign firms to invest in Chinese financial markets.

China surpasses US as world's biggest grocery market

China has become the world's largest market for food and grocery retail, surpassing the US. The grocery sector in China was worth $972bn by the end of the 2011. The US market was valued at $843bn for the same period, which means it ranks second. By 2015, the research forecasts that the Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, China and India) will be the top grocery markets. The Chinese grocery market is forecast to triple in value and to be worth nearly a trillion pounds.

Bank monopoly

Premier Wen Jiabao said the fundamental solution to private financing was to break up the monopoly of national banks. He said that it had been "too easy" for national banks to generate profits, while their monopoly made it too difficult for people to borrow money. The central government had "united their thoughts" on this matter, said Wen, and hence come up with the Wenzhou trial.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Repatriación

El presidente de Uruguay, José Mujica aprobó la repatriación del ex cónsul uruguayo Peter Stanham, encarcelado en Estados Unidos por un fraude bancario. En 2009, ex presidentes firmaron una solicitud para que se le conmutara la pena que fue bloqueada por EE.UU. (Presione aquí)

Tierras

La confiscación de propiedades a ciudadanos norteamericanos en Nicaragua, esta a poner en peligro la aprobación de los "waivers" que Estados Unidos concede a este país, que son indispensables para recibir la cooperación bilateral estadounidense, así como la que se otorga por medio de los organismos financieros internacionales. (Presione aquí)

Negocios

La australiana Origin será el nuevo socio del megaproyecto eléctrico Energía Austral, que la suiza Xstrata planea desarrollar en Chile. Las partes afinaban un pacto que permitirá a la firma oceánica incorporarse a la iniciativa que busca construir centrales hidroeléctricas en Aysén, Patagonia chilena. El complejo eléctrico involucra una inversión superior a los US$ 2.500 mlls.

  • Brief News

ICC lacks jurisdiction to investigate Palestine war crimes claims

The Office of Prosecutor of the ICC - International Criminal Court said Tuesday that the ICC lacks jurisdiction to investigate allegations of crimes committed in Palestine during the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict. After considering arguments from both sides as to whether the Office of the Prosecutor could proceed with the investigations, the Office determined that Palestine is not a state within the meaning of Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute: "In interpreting and applying article 12 of the Rome Statute, the Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court under article 12(1). The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term "State" under article 12(3) which would be at variance with that established for the purpose of article 12(1)". The Office stated that the current status granted to Palestine by the UN General Assembly is that of "observer," not as a "Non-member State." Therefore, the Office of Prosecutor concluded that the investigation into the alleged crimes is beyond its jurisdiction.

Al-Qaeda 'could target UK youths'

British youths from the Somali and other east and west African communities could become radicalized as al-Qaeda looks to Africa to build its strength. Such a development would pose new challenges for UK and other Western intelligence services. The government said it was tackling home-grown terrorist threats. Radicalization has already been seen during the past 15 years among some young members of the Pakistani, North African and Indian communities in Britain, the report published by the Royal United Services Institute suggests.

France arrests Islamist suspects in fresh raids

Police in France have conducted new raids on Islamist suspects in the wake of the multiple killings by gunman Mohamed Merah. At least 10 people were arrested as police conducted operations in Marseille, Roubaix, Carpentras and a number of other locations. Thirteen people arrested in raids last week face terrorism charges. Sarkozy vowed to crack down on suspected radical Islamists after the Merah killings.

Turkey's 1980 military coup leaders stand trial

The two surviving leaders of Turkey's 1980 military coup have gone on trial charged with overthrowing the civilian government. Gen Kenan Evren, 94, who was president from 1983-89, and Gen Tahsin Sahinkaya, 86, are the first Turkish officers to face trial for staging a coup. Neither appeared in the Ankara court on Wednesday owing to poor health. A constitutional clause granting them immunity from prosecution was overturned after a referendum in 2010. Prosecutors are seeking life terms for both men.

Supreme Court rules government grand jury witnesses have absolute immunity

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday in Rehberg v. Paulk that government officials have the same immunity for grand jury testimony under a 42 USC § 1983 action as they do for trial testimony. The court stated that immunity for trial witnesses was critical because witnesses would not testify for fear of retaliatory litigation and there were already other adequate checks and balances in place to prevent false testimony. The same rationales applied to grand jury testimony: "Without absolute immunity, the truth-seeking process would be impaired as witnesses might be reluctant to testify, and even a witness who took the stand "might be inclined to shade his testimony in favor of the potential plaintiff" for "fear of subsequent liability." These factors apply with equal force to grand jury witnesses. In both contexts, a witness' fear of retaliatory litigation may deprive the tribunal of critical evidence. And in neither context is the deterrent of potential civil liability needed to prevent false testimony because other sanctions, chiefly prosecution for perjury, provide a sufficient deterrent.

Austerity calls for more spending!

IMF's Christine Lagarde says cutting spending too quickly could make matters worse. Yet another warning about too much austerity.

Australia court rules Google violated consumer protection laws

The full Federal Court of Australia ruled Tuesday that Google Inc. engaged in advertising practices that were deceptive and misleading, resulting in a violation of the country's consumer protection laws. The ACCC - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought the case against Google challenging an advertising practice where advertisements were generated that indicated that by clicking on the link the user would be led to information about a competitor, but actually linked to the advertiser's website. The full court's ruling followed a lower court decision which found that Google did not violate the country's consumer protection laws in the 11 advertisements identified by the ACCC. It's chairman Rod Simms indicated that this was an important ruling for protecting consumers stating, "[t]his is an important outcome because it makes it clear that Google and other search engine providers which use similar technology to Google will be directly accountable for misleading or deceptive paid search results." Google representatives have indicated that they are disappointed by the court's ruling, and that they believe advertisers should be held responsible for the content of their advertising.

Roma face 'persecution' in Europe

Human rights group Amnesty International says Roma communities across Europe are facing widespread persecution.

US regulator sues Canada bank alleging illegal trading scheme

The US CFTC - Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday filed charges in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York against the RBC - Royal Bank of Canada alleging that the bank was involved in an illegal futures trading scheme known as "wash trading" from 2007-2010. Under the alleged scheme, RBC and its subsidiaries would hold equal and offsetting amounts of both "narrow-based stock index futures" and "single stock futures" of the targeted security, essentially ensuring that the transaction was a "wash," and that there was no risk in holding the securities. According to the CFTC, the RBC "willfully concealed and made false statements," and arranged and executed the non-competitive trade of futures among its subsidiaries. Hundreds' of millions of dollars worth of futures were allegedly traded in the scheme, in a manner that "disregarded the price discovery principles of the futures market," in order to take advantage of Canadian tax benefits. The CFTC also alleged that RBC gave the appearance that the trades were the result of independent decision making processes by the bank and its subsidiaries, but that in actuality, the trades were controlled by a small group of RBC senior personnel.

Bangladesh war crimes tribunal issues arrest warrant for Islamist leader

The ICTB - International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh on Tuesday granted prosecutors' warrant petition for the arrest of a former leader of the Islamist group JI - Jamaat e Islami for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Prosecutors have accused 64-year-old Abul Kalam Azad, also known as "Bachchu Razakar," of murder, rape, destruction of property and theft during the war, and said that that Azad has threatened witnesses of his alleged crimes to keep them from testifying against him.

Eurozone unemployment rate rises in February

Unemployment across countries that use the euro edged higher in February to 10.8%. That's up from 10.7% in January and the highest level since the introduction of the single currency in 1999. Spain has the highest rate of 23.6%. Meanwhile, a separate report confirmed that manufacturing activity in Europe shrank in February. It is the eighth month in a row that the Purchasing Manager's Index has been below 50, which indicates contraction. France was particularly weak, with manufacturing activity falling to the lowest level in almost three years.

Germany asked to forgo $1.3bn Deutsche Telekom payout

Deutsche Telekom AG worker representatives are asking Germany's government to forgo at least part of its almost 1 billion euros ($1.3bn) in annual dividends in exchange for a bigger stake in the former phone monopoly to help finance the cost of faster networks. "Leave the money in the company and take a higher share," Lothar Schroeder, Deutsche Telekom's vice chairman and a board member of the Ver.di union. "If you do that for five years, Deutsche Telekom would make some progress in broadband and the government would have something to show for."

Regulators expected to penalize JPMorgan over Lehman collapse

More than three years after Lehman Brothers' collapse, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is set to penalize JPMorgan for actions tied to the firm's demise, according to people briefed on the matter. It will be the first federal enforcement case to stem from Lehman's downfall. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is expected this week to file a civil case against JPMorgan. The bank is expected to settle the Lehman matter and pay a fine of approximately $20 million. While the penalty is significant for the agency, the sum is little more than a rounding error for a bank as large as JPMorgan.

Court says Madoff victim can't redo terms of his divorce

The unanimous decision from the New York Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that had allowed Steven Simkin, a real estate lawyer at a powerful Manhattan firm, to sue his ex-wife, Laura Blank, also a lawyer, to alter the terms of their divorce pact. After 33 years of marriage, Steven Simkin and Laura Blank divorced in 2006.They decided to split their assets evenly. Of their $13.5 million fortune, $5.4 million was invested with Mr. Madoff. "Given the extensive and carefully negotiated nature of the settlement agreement, we do not believe that this presents one of those exceptional situations warranting reformation or rescission of a divorce settlement after all marital assets have been distributed," wrote Judge Victoria A. Graffeo. The opinion puts an end to one of the most unusual lawsuits resulting from the Madoff fraud — and one that riveted the matrimonial bar.

The 'Goldman' of Brazil is aiming to raise $2.24bn in an I.P.O.

Shares of BTG Pactual's offering are to be priced at $15.71 to $18.44 a share, with trading scheduled to start in both São Paulo and Amsterdam on April 26.

Twenty law firms complete mergers in first quarter

Twenty mergers involving U.S. law firms were completed in the first quarter of 2012, a 43 percent increase over mergers in the first quarter of last year. The first quarter mergers covered a broad geographic swath, including three each in California, Ohio and Wisconsin, two in Colorado and one each in New York, Texas and Washington. Forty-five mergers were completed in 2011, an increase from 27 in 2010

Shippers make U.S. the port of call for bankruptcy

Shipping companies from around the world have filed for bankruptcy in the United States, thanks to legal provisions that help them avoid liquidation and continue to operate. When Marco Polo Seatrade BV, of the Netherlands, filed for bankruptcy in a U.S. court in July, lenders fought to get the case thrown out. While the company docks in ports around the globe, the lenders argued, its ties to the United States are limited to two small financial accounts. Other shipping companies, struggling with an oversupply of vessels and weak demand, also have filed for bankruptcy here, thanks to U.S. legal provisions that help companies avoid liquidation and continue to operate, lawyers and investors say. While struggling companies in other industries may also want to seek Chapter 11 refuge despite having few U.S. links, shipping companies are uniquely placed to do it. Their only material assets - ships - are constantly on the move, letting them conceivably seek insolvency protection anywhere they sail. Only in Chapter 11 can you get bankruptcy financing, can your management remain in place, and can you continue to operate the company. The trend of ship owners seeking a fresh corporate start in U.S. courts is not entirely new - another overseas ship owner went through Chapter 11 a decade ago despite questions over its U.S. ties - but it is expected to pick up as the industry remains in a slump.

Facebook launches patent counterattack against Yahoo

The counterclaim says Yahoo's photostream and Flickr photo-sharing service infringe a Facebook patent related to generating a personalized feed of stories on a social network.

  • Daily Press Review

Former Turkish president to go on trial
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

IRGC, Hezbollah helping regime forces - FSA commander
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Syrian cities bombarded as truce deadline nears
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Settler takeover of Hebron house prompts rift in Israeli government
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Liberal Austrian Muslims counter radical Islamists
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Clegg disquiet over secret courts
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

U.N. pushes for team to monitor Syria cease-fire
CNN International, London, England

China looking at reform of banks
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Families pay a high price to join the Easter getaway as garages 'cash in' on fuel panic fiasco
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

The Beatles Juniors! James McCartney, Sean Lennon and Dhani Harrison all 'up for' a next generation band
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

French police arrest more suspected Islamists
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

FRANCE: French police launch new raids on suspected Islamists
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Istanbul court accepts Kurdistan Communities Union indictment
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

MPs back Turkey's bid to join EU
Independent The, London, England

More money needed for fire-fighting choppers in Moscow-City district
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Council tenants to get up to GBP 75,000 to buy their own homes, David Cameron to say
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Dame Vera Lynn says national service will fix broken society
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Arrest warrants out for bomb suspects
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

China's premier calls for breaking bank monopolies
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Why Are Politicians Silent About Foreign Investment?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Living an open life, US can contact me whenever they want: Hafiz Saeed
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Baby born with rare birth defect undergoes surgery
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

UNESCO honors kids who created postquake newspaper
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Tornadoes hit Texas, at least 12 injured
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Top UN officials call on countries to boost cooperation against human trafficking
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

First batch of US Marines arrive in Australia
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

I quit! Going out in style
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Powerful storm lashes Japan, kills 4, grounds flights
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Local currency transactions needed among BRICS
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Mitt Romney sweeps 3 Republican primaries
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

The centre-left split is still a thorn for Netanyahu
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

BSE Sensex Falls Ahead of Long Weekend
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Messages of Peace in Colombia
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

S&P 500 falls from four year highs, thanks to Fed
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Rehn says Portugal may need 'bridge' - report
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

What does Mayor Rob Ford want to do until 2014?
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Mali mulls Toure treason charges
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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