April 23, 2012 nº 1,169 - Vol. 10


"All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own."

Edwin Markham

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

Council of Europe announces ECHR reforms agreement

The 47 member states composing the Council of Europe on Friday agreed to a declaration that will bring new changes to the ECHR - European Court of Human Rights in order to make it more efficient. The declaration, which comes as an attempt to better facilitate operations at the overloaded ECHR, includes a provision that makes is easier for the court to reject cases that should not be at the international court level. The declaration also provides for more funding to go to the ECHR in order to increase resources and staff. While provisions already exist that require a case to exhaust all appeals within the member state, the declaration gives these provisions a more narrow interpretation and requires member states to apply ECHR rulings to cases involving similar facts in order to avoid backlogs of cases. All member states still need to officially ratify the declaration, which is expected to be complete by 2013. The ECHR declaration is intended to allow the court to continue hearing cases concerning various international issues.

Dewey & LeBoeuf retains bankruptcy counsel, role unclear

Elite New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf has hired a prominent bankruptcy attorney as it struggles with high debt and partner defections. Albert Togut, who has represented several major companies in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is working with at least one member of the firm's new management team, The 950-lawyer firm, one of the biggest in the United States, has lost some 70 partners, or 23 percent of them, since the start of the year as it negotiates with creditors. The hiring of Togut does not necessarily mean Dewey is planning a bankruptcy filing. For example, the firm could be looking for legal help to renegotiate its debt. The firm could be preparing for a so-called prepackaged bankruptcy, possibly involving a merger with another law firm. Under this scenario, Dewey would negotiate with creditors and prepare for a merger prior to filing for bankruptcy, a process that would enable Dewey to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy quickly.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China needs 'consistent policy' on South China Sea

China needs a ''consistent policy'' on the South China Sea if it is to resolve disputes. The International Crisis Group said ''conflicting mandates'' and ''lack of co-ordination'' among Chinese agencies had stoked tension in the region.

Hong Kong fines brokerage firm for inadequate diligence

Hong Kong's securities regulator has fined a brokerage firm and revoked its corporate finance license as it seeks to implement tighter control over share sales. Mega Capital (Asia) has been fined HK$42m ($5.4m; £3.4m) for "inadequate and sub-standard" diligence work and "failure to act independently".

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  • Brief News

Court vacates death sentence due to racial bias

A North Carolina judge on Friday commuted a man's death sentence to a sentence of life in prison without parole after he determined that racial bias was a major influence behind the original sentence 18 years ago. Judge Gregory Weeks vacated Marcus Reymond Robinson's death sentence after he determined that race was a significant factor in choosing members of the jury for Robinson's trial. Under the state's Racial Justice Act, individuals who have received a death sentence now may present evidence showing that racial bias was a major factor in the death sentence being applied. In his order, Weeks found that "[t]he prosecutor intentionally used the race of venire members as a significant factor in his decisions to exercise peremptory strikes in Robinson's capital trial." The order marks first decision to change a sentence under the Act.

Besting Argentina in court doesn't seem to pay

If Repsol YPF contests Argentina's nationalization of its local energy assets before the World Bank's arbitration center, the Spanish company will have to take a place in what is already a long line of aggrieved corporate plaintiffs. Argentina has more cases pending before the Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, than any other country—25 of the total of 147. Many of those suits stem from disputes between utility operators and Argentina's government over changes imposed in tariffs and contracts following its currency devaluation a decade ago. But even in the cases that Argentina has lost, no company has yet been able to collect damages. In a controversial strategy, Argentina has invoked Article 54 of the ICSID convention, which it argues requires the companies to collect through an Argentine court. The corporate plaintiffs have so far declined to do so, asserting that the requirement defeats the purpose of international arbitration, and subjects them to potentially politicized justice in Argentina. The Obama administration agrees with the companies and last month took the unusual step of suspending trade benefits against Argentina for failing to pay up on arbitration awards.

Sarkozy faces tough poll battle

The first round of voting in the French presidential election is over, but the race is far from run. Sarkozy faces a hard fight in the run-off vote in the French presidential election, after losing the first round to Francois Hollande. The two men will face each other in a second round of voting on 6 May. The poll has been dominated by economic issues, with voters concerned with sluggish growth and rising unemployment.

Untouched, thousands of rape kits await justice

In 2009, prosecutors in Detroit discovered more than 11,000 boxes of potential evidence in rape cases left completely unprocessed. Row upon row of what are called "rape kits" remained untouched on shelves in a police evidence room for years. No DNA evidence was extracted; no DNA evidence was used to catch or prosecute the assailants. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy arranged for a federal grant of one million dollars, but says that didn't allow her team to do much more than sort the evidence, match them up with police reports, and begin a database. To process all of the kits, Worthy estimates, would cost about $15 million.

Egypt high court lacks authority to rule on presidential candidate ban

The Egyptian Constitutional Court announced Saturday that it can not rule on an act of parliament that banned certain candidates from the upcoming presidential elections. The court said that it is only able to rule on the constitutionality of a law after it has taken effect. The law in question was passed last week and prevents anyone who held a rank of party leader or higher during the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak from running for president for ten years. If the law is allowed to stand it could prevent Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq from running. This would leave Amr Mussa, Mubarak's foreign minister until 2001, and Mohammed Mursi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, as the top candidates in the race, which is scheduled to be held next month.

Australia High Court denies copyright infringement liability for ISPs

The High Court of Australia ruled Friday that ISPs - internet service providers cannot be held liable for the copyright infringement of their customers in the case of Roadshow Films v. iiNet Limited. The court ruled that the specific systems used to perpetrate the copyright infringement were not controlled by the ISP. They further held that the ISP did not host infringing material, nor did they assist their customers in its discovery. The court went on to note that the contractual obligations of the ISPs customers binds users to follow all laws, including those against copyright infringement.

ECJ finds no law preventing Sweden ISPs from turning over user data

The ECJ - European Court of Justice found Thursday that Sweden has no law preventing Swedish ISPs - internet service providers from disclosing user data of individuals suspected of pirating copyrighted material. Five book publishers brought suit against Swedish ISP ePhone for its refusal to to comply with a court order to hand over the user data of suspected pirates to the publishers under Sweden's 2009 IPRED - Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive. IPRED requires member states to "provide for the measures, procedures and remedies necessary to ensure the enforcement of the intellectual property rights covered by this Directive" as long as the remedies are "fair and equitable" or are "unnecessarily complicated or costly, or entail unreasonable time-limits or unwarranted delays." The Swedish Supreme Court referred the case to the ECJ, which stressed that user data could only be turned over for the purpose of enforcing copyrights.

Wal-Mart investigates Mexico bribery allegation

In a massive investigation, The New York Times reported Saturday that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. silenced a vast bribery effort carried out by top executives of its Mexican subsidiary in order to build stores across the country. Wal-Mart said it was deeply concerned about the allegations. Under US federal law, it is a crime for US corporations and their subsidiaries to bribe foreign officials. The company said it took compliance with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act "very seriously". The article, published in Saturday's New York Times, also says that top Wal-Mart executives were made aware of the alleged bribery campaign and failed to root out the problem.

Argentina aims to stop fund seeking info on assets

In the decade-long legal fight over Argentina's debt default, bondholder NML Capital Ltd faces significant obstacles in trying to convince an appeals court on Monday that it has the right to track the government's assets around the world. Argentina has the FSIA - Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals precedent in its armory to stop the fund in its bid to gather information about government assets, accounts, and financial transactions from two commercial banks. NML and other holdout creditors who rejected debt swaps in 2005 and 2010 are suing to recover the full value of their nonperforming bonds after Argentina defaulted on some $100 billion in sovereign debt in 2002. Argentina says bondholders who did not take part in the debt swaps do not deserve full recovery because it is unfair to bondholders who accepted less in the swaps.

Nestle to buy Pfizer's nutrition business for $11.9bn

The Swiss food giant agreed on Monday to buy Pfizer's infant nutrition business for $11.9 billion, as the European company expands its presence in the global baby food market.

YouTube loses court battle over music clips

YouTube could face a huge bill for royalties after it lost a court battle in Germany over music videos. A court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube is responsible for the content that users post to the video sharing site. It wants the video site to install filters that spot when users try to post music clips whose rights are held by royalty collection group, Gema. The German industry group said in court that YouTube had not done enough to stop copyrighted clips being posted.

Mexico legislature passes climate change bill

The Mexican legislature passed a sweeping climate change bill on Thursday 128-10 in the Chamber of Deputies and unanimously in the Senate. The bill requires the country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2020, requires 35% of its energy come form renewable sources by 2024, requires mandatory emissions reporting, establishes a carbon-trading market and creates a commission to oversee implementation of the bill. The bill now goes to Mexican President Felipe Calderon to sign into law.

IMF urges eurozone to make bold reforms

The IMF - International Monetary Fund has told the eurozone it must make bold reforms to reassure financial markets. A statement from its governing council, says the 17-strong eurozone needs to make major structural reforms to boost confidence and growth.

Former US military cadets sue service academies for failing to prevent rapes

Two former cadets from the US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy brought a suit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the service academies failed to prevent rapes. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the service academies promoted a culture of sexual assault, they failed to implement regulations regarding sexual assault, they failed to investigate claims of sexual assault and prosecute offenders and they retaliated against victims who reported being sexually assaulted.

US Airways strikes deal with AMR's unions

In an unusual move that could prefigure a serious bid for its bankrupt rival, US Airways said that it had reached an agreement with the three main labor unions at American Airlines to support a merger.

Georgetown Law to offer business courses

A new Georgetown Law program will offer management courses for business-minded lawyers seeking to help their firms and companies adapt to the changing demands of the legal market. Georgetown is the second law school after Harvard to offer an executive education program. The classes come as new fee schemes and other management structure threaten to upend the traditional law school business model.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The 2012 TIME 100. The 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Newsweek
The perfect 100 travel spots.

Business Week
Gotcha. The SEC on the loose.

The Economist
The third industrial revolution (manufacturing).

Der Spiegel
Avanti Dilettanti. Wie die Piraten Politik versuchen.

L'Espresso
La carica dei 101

  • Daily Press Review

Hollande wins first round in French election
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Al-Sadr Met with Bahraini Oppositionist in Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Violence persists in Syria as Annan urges truce compliance
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Israeli journalist says received threats after publishing recording of violent IDF officer
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Egypt MPs demand mufti resign over Jerusalem visit
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Sarkozy loses first poll battle
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Hollande victory in France sets stage for runoff vote
CNN International, London, England

Allies stay loyal to government
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

My friend David's NOT a Conservative: Helena Bonham Carter's frank assessment of the PM
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Imogen Thomas shows off her curves in a figure-hugging metallic dress
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Iran says it is building a copy of a US drone
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012: Sarkozy and Hollande tune up for presidential run-off
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

The Kurdish problem: developments to watch
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

George Zimmerman released from Florida jail on bail
Independent The, London, England

Russian Railways launches train tracking service
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Wealthy woman with connections with a foreign head of state wins ban on allegations of her sex life being made public
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Angelina Jolie visits Colombian refugees
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Suu Kyi boycotts parliament meeting
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Hollande, Sarkozy set to advance to French runoff
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Korea Asks S&P to Hike Credit Rating
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Murdoch to be quizzed on his UK political sway
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Man throws acid on wife, blames her beauty for it
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

JAL begins flights to Boston with 787s
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Stunning time-lapse images of Earth
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Hollande, Sarkozy to face off in French presidential run-off
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Government crisis puts Dutch AAA rating at risk: Analysts
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

A spectacularly ugly fallout
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Vedanta says full-year iron ore production drops
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Aung San Suu Kyi boycotts Burmese parliament
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Zimmerman released from jail after posting bail
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Wal-Mart Hit By $24-Million Bribery Scandal In Mexico, Top Executives Under Shadow
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

ARGENTINA-SPAIN: Business Must Go On
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Asian shares, euro ease; China factory output up
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Sudan bombs South Sudan border area, kills 3 witnesses
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Immigration applicants upset at Ottawa's plan to wipe out backlog
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Renewed fighting on Sudan border
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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