October 15, 2014 nº 1,555 - Vol. 12

"Trifles make perfection and perfection is not trifle."

Michelangelo

Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica

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  • Top News

As activist investors gain strength, boards surrender to demands

Corporate America may try to hide from its shareholders, but two recent shake-ups — involving the tech giant Hewlett-Packard and Darden Restaurants, the owner of Olive Garden and other chains — show that escape is no longer possible. Shareholder activism has rapidly changed how corporate America thinks. So what do these two events — one where a company appears to be catering to its shareholders and another where it had been rejecting them — have to do with each other? Looked at together, the events show that the activist shareholders have triumphed. The two cases symbolize an end to the war of aggression between corporate America and shareholders, with a surrender driven by crusty breadsticks and a huge decline in PC sales. Corporate America, previously ruled by chief executives and boards, is racing to do shareholders' bidding. Activists are gaining ground because institutional investors are increasingly willing to side with them, and even joining the fight (or ganging up, as some companies might say). These shareholder forces are often given an assist by two prominent shareholder proxy firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis. But this is not a surprise as activists tend to focus on struggling companies in need of change. It all adds up to pressure-cooking corporate boards. And as hedge funds have proved to be successful in their activism, earning extraordinary returns as a result, billions more in money is following. It is a virtuous circle, or a vicious one, depending on your perspective. At least until the returns go away.

Ebola winning the race

The UN's Ebola mission chief says the world is falling behind in the race to contain the deadly virus, with thousands of new cases predicted. The World Health Organization (WHO) says 4,447 people have died from the outbreak, mainly in West Africa. Obama said on Tuesday that "the world as a whole is not doing enough" to contain the Ebola threat. "If we do not get ahead of the crisis, if we do not reach our targets and the number of people with Ebola rises dramatically as some have predicted, the plan we have is not scalable to the size of such a new crisis," he said. He called for more money to build treatment centers and more medical personnel to staff them.

Antitrust

In this article, Eduardo M. Gaban, lawyer at Tauil & Chequer Advogados, talks about the upcoming changes involving Brazilian merger control measures announced at Fiesp. According to him, “such recently announced measures are welcome by the sector, and should serve to better define some key elements of antitrust assessments in Brazil”. (Click here)

A Shakespearean State

A King named Brazil, nicknamed the Scared Giant, whose kingdom extended beyond sight, had three sons : Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. So begins the clever article by Dalton Cesar Cordeiro de Miranda of Trench, Rossi e Watanabe Advogados. A subtle cocktail of drama and law, this article is an exclusive for Migalhas International readers. It is available here.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Swiss pledge to review business taxation - click here.

2 - Russia, China sign agreement on cooperation in Russian gas supplies via 'eastern route' - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Costco to enter China through Alibaba

US warehouse retailer Costco is opening an online store in China through e-commerce giant Alibaba's Tmall website. Costco will enter the world's second largest economy for the first time on the Tmall platform, which is one of China's largest online marketplaces. The store will sell a range of goods from food to healthcare products, along with Costco's Kirkland brand. The move by Costco is seen as a way to boost revenue amid slowing sales in its home US market.

Jailed for exposing corruption

For the past two years China has been running a very public anti-corruption drive - but it's not just crooked officials who have ended up behind bars. One whistleblower found himself in prison when he exposed his boss. Sheng reported his boss, who ended up paying a small fine. He was convicted of "disturbing the social order", and faced a much harsher punishment - two years in prison. He was released after his case was reviewed by an appeals court.

China court sentences 12 to death for Xinjiang attacks

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced 12 people to death and gave 15 others suspended death sentences for their involvement in attacks on a police station and government offices in south Xinjiang in July. Nine others were sentenced to life imprisonment, and another 20 people received shorter sentences.

  • Historia Verdadera

Ébola

Colombia prohibirá el ingreso de todas las personas que durante el último mes hayan estado en Sierra Leona, Liberia, Guinea y Nigeria, para prevenir la entrada y expansión del virus del ébola en su territorio. (Presione aquí)

Gas

Brasil mantendrá sus planes de subir los precios locales de los combustibles este año, a pesar de una fuerte caída del valor internacional del crudo, para ayudar a la endeudada petrolera estatal Petrobras. El precio de la gasolina en el mercado internacional cayó por debajo de la tarifa del combustible a nivel doméstico en Brasil, según revelós Credit Suisse en un informe.

Inversiones

La empresa estatal Catamarca Minera y Energética (Camyen) y la firma canadiense Yamana Gold acordaron avanzar en la explotación conjunta de los yacimientos de oro y cobre Agua Rica y Cerro Atajo, cuya producción podría duplicar los US$1.500 millones anuales que produce el mayor yacimiento de la provincia, Bajo La Alumbrera

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  • Brief News
Apple, Facebook to pay for women employees to freeze eggs

Apple Inc. is following Facebook Inc. by offering company insurance coverage to women who wish to freeze their eggs.

J.P. Morgan, Citigroup hit by legal expenses

J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup each said Tuesday that they socked away hundreds of millions of dollars in the third quarter to cover legal costs, a sobering reminder that they are still reckoning with crisis-era behavior that has triggered billions in penalties already.

British lawmakers vote to recognize Palestinian State

The symbolic, nonbinding vote urges the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to recognize Palestine alongside the state of Israel.

'Double Irish' tax scheme set to end

The Irish finance minister has said he is abolishing the controversial "Double Irish" tax structure. It has allowed large multinational firms like Facebook to legally shift huge profits from Ireland to countries that are considered tax havens. Michael Noonan told parliament the tax scheme will be closed to new entrants next year and phased out by 2020. In the future, all companies registered in Ireland must be tax resident in Ireland. However, another Irish business tax policy, which has also attracted criticism from some European leaders, will not change. The 12.5% corporation tax rate, which has been a cornerstone of the economy for many years, will remain in place.

Toyota recalls 1.75 million cars over brake issue

Japanese carmaker Toyota is recalling 1.75 million vehicles worldwide because of a faulty brake installation. The latest brake defect is found in some models of Toyota's Crown Majesta as well as the Noah and Voxy models produced between June 2007 and 2012. Toyota said in a statement to the BBC it was not aware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by this defect.

IS: Taking women as sex slaves 'firmly established' Islamic law

Islamic State terrorists explained in a new publication their justification for taking women and using them as sex slaves, saying simply that it's a practice that's as old as Sharia law — and allowed by Islamic beliefs. "One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group said. Others in the Muslim world have called that practice a perversion of Islam.

Catalonia presses ahead with vote

The president of Spain's Catalonia region on Tuesday called off an independence vote that was scheduled for November 9. The vote was suspended after the Spanish government challenged its legality last month.

French economist wins Nobel Prize

French economist Jean Tirole has won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on market power and regulation. "Many industries are dominated by a small number of large firms or a single monopoly," the jury said of Tirole's work. "Left unregulated, such markets often produce socially undesirable results - prices higher than those motivated by costs, or unproductive firms that survive by blocking the entry of new and more productive ones." Before Tirole's work, governments and regulators often used simple rules such as capping prices for companies with a monopoly and banning co-operation between competitors, said the Royal Swedish Academy. Tirole showed that under some conditions, doing so can do more harm than good.

Russian hackers targeted Nato PCs

Russian hackers exploited a bug in Microsoft's Windows to spy on computers used by Nato and western governments, a report indicates. The same bug was used to access computers in Ukraine and Poland, said cyber-intelligence firm iSight Partners. It did not know what data the hackers had accessed but speculated that it was looking for information about the crisis in Ukraine. Microsoft said it would fix the bug.

Latin America ranks last in respect for women

For the second consecutive year, a wide survey found people in Latin America are the least likely to say they live in countries where women are treated with respect and dignity, ranking below the Middle East and North Africa. The Gallup survey found a wide range of opinions within Latin America: while 63 percent of respondents in Ecuador said women get respect, 27 percent in Brazil, and only 20 percent said the same in Peru and Colombia. "A median of 35 percent of adults across 22 Latin American countries said their women are treated with respect — about half as high as percentages in any other region of the world," Gallup says. Asia ranked highest in the survey, with 76 percent saying women are respected. Europe wasn't far behind in second place, with 72 percent. The survey was conducted among thousands of people in some 150 countries in 2012 and 2013.

Boost for 'next generation' biofuels

Italy will become the first country in Europe to legally require "advanced biofuels" in cars and trucks. Made from waste, the new fuels are said to reduce the amount of land taken out of food production. The Crescentino, the world's first commercial scale plant making fuel from straw opened in Italy last year. The use of fuels made from crops has been a controversial issue across the EU in recent years. A Renewable Energy Directive, adopted in 2009, required that 10% of energy used within the transport sector came from renewable sources. Amid concerns that land was being converted from food production to grow crops for biofuels, the EU ultimately reduced this to 5.75%.

At 113, woman lies about her age so she can join Facebook

Born in 1900, Anna Stoehr has seen dramatic shifts in technology. But when the Minnesota woman tried to create a Facebook account, she hit a snag. The service couldn't handle her early birthdate.

Vatican report expresses more tolerance for gays, unmarried couples

The preliminary document isn't binding, but suggests the influence of Pope Francis' urging that Catholicism become more merciful.

Does mass phone data collection violate the 4th Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." Legal scholars and courts have been wrangling for more than a year over whether the National Security Agency's collection of millions of Americans' phone records — a program first disclosed to the public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 — violates those protections. Some legal experts disagree over whether the record collection even qualifies as a search or seizure, and, if it does, whether collecting those records is "unreasonable" or requires a warrant. In a recent Intelligence Squared US debate, two teams of constitutional law experts faced off on the motion "Mass Collection of US Phone Records Violates The Fourth Amendment." In these Oxford-style debates, the team that sways the most people to its side by the end is the winner.

Supreme Court declines to rule on DOJ phone records memo

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the US Department of Justice (DOJ) could refuse to release a 2010 memo regarding phone record collection under an exception to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court will not hear an appeal from civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which wants to make public an internal DOJ memo allowing the FBI to informally obtain phone records. The appeal argued that the public has a right to know how the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel authorized the FBI to access phone records from telephone companies for investigations on terrorism. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the memo is exempt from disclosure as part of the government's internal deliberations.

Iraq government-backed militias committing war crimes: Amnesty

Iraqi Shiite militia, armed and supported by the Iraqi government, have been committing war crimes and abducting and murdering "scores" of Sunni men in retaliation for attacks by the Sunni-led Islamic State (IS), Amnesty International (AI) said Tuesday. In a briefing AI reports that the militia face complete impunity for their actions over the last few months. "Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq," depicts accounts of civilians taken from their homes, workplaces and at checkpoints, later found to be bound and shot, mostly execution-style and often after the victim's family paid a hefty ransom.

US condemns Kyrgyzstan proposed 'gay propaganda' ban

The US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan issued a press release Friday condemning proposed legislation that would ban "gay propaganda." According to Reuters the proposed bill would allow for fines and imprisonment up to one year for individuals found "'forming a positive attitude to untraditional sexual relations' among minors or in mass media."

Hong Kong police battle protesters to regain control of key road

Hong Kong police said they would investigate a complaint alleging an excessive use of force against a pro-democracy protester, after they used pepper spray and batons to retake a key road in seeking to end an almost three-week occupation of parts of the city.

Nike's Converse sues 31 companies for Chuck Taylor trademark infringement

Nike Inc. 's Converse brand is suing 31 companies, saying they are selling knockoff versions of its Chuck Taylor shoes. Converse is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Ed Hardy and many others. It says the companies are infringing trademarks that cover the look of the shoe and the diamond pattern on the bottom of the sole. The company filed its lawsuits Tuesday in the Eastern District of New York and at the International Trade Commission. Converse says look-alike Chuck Taylor shoes have become more common in recent years, and says it has served about 180 cease-and-desist letters related to the issue since 2008. Nike acquired Converse in 2003. Sales of the brand rose 16% in the most recent quarter ended in August, to $575 million.

  • Daily Press Review

Ebola outbreak killing 70 percent of victims
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Israeli among four killed in Nepal mountain trek, local authorities say
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

'Ebola winning the race,' UN warns
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Megaquake could hit West Coast
CNN International, London, England

Pixie Lott tucks into a cheeky treat after showcasing her lithe legs in tartan-print dress at OBE party
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

American Airlines plane cabin walls crack loose on flight from San Francisco to Dallas
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

French budget to bring Brussels backlash
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Palestinian state hinges on US approval, Noam Chomsky tells UN
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Military chiefs of anti-ISIL coalition meet in US
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Hong Kong protest video shows apparent beating of detained activist Ken Tsang as police arrest 45 to break up demonstrations
Independent The, London, England

Major Ukrainian TV provider drops Russian channels
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Oscar Pistorius sentence live: day three
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Amal Clooney: talks over fate of Elgin marbles 'a positive sign'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

World losing ground against Ebola as infections expected to soar
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

U.S. in Massive Price Hike for Fighter Jet Upgrade
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Biker gangs brought in to combat Islamic State
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Online prostitution racket busted in Vadodara, one arrested
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Cabinet approves state secrecy law guidelines
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

In Texas, Bush father and son hit campaign trial
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Ukraine President cancels trip over protests in eastern Ukraine
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Pilots pull off incredible landing in Sydney storm
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

In Texas, Bush father and son hit campaign trial
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Can the world produce enough food for 2 billion more people?
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Nurses union says Dallas patient who died of Ebola not quarantined 'for hours'
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Rare negatives from JFK wedding being auctioned in Boston
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Liberty Reserve Brought Down By 'Joe Bogus': How The Feds Arrested Arthur Budovsky
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Biodiversity, Climate Change Solutions Inextricably Linked
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Bonds rise, oil falls as economic gloom persists
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

U.S.-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilises Turkey
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Provincial crackdown needed on truck driver training, critics say
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

'Ebola winning the race,' UN warns
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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