March 5, 2007 no. 461 - Vol. 5

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

Lewis Carroll

Insider's view: see how local concerns shape up the global world. Read the daily press review in MigalhasInternational

  • Top News

Americas leaders focus on poverty

Latin American and Caribbean leaders have called for more attention to be paid to poverty and social problems. The 20-member Rio Group, meeting in Guyana, expressed a commitment to helping the most vulnerable people but did not offer any specific remedies. An agenda devoted to combating poverty and social ills was considered more likely to establish common ground than more divisive issues such as trade.

Belgium: cluster bomb investments barred

Belgium became the first country to make it a crime to invest in companies that make cluster bombs, the law's author. Belgium's law, approved by the upper house, specified that a list of manufacturers would be published by Parliament. It would prohibit banks from offering credit to cluster bomb makers and from owning shares or bonds of those companies. This move followed a pledge in Oslo last week by 46 countries to work for a treaty next year to ban the bombs, which contain many "bomblets" that explode over a wide area and may strike unintended targets. Bomblets that do not immediately explode can remain lethal long after combat ends.

White House approved US Attorney firings

White House and US Justice Department officials have confirmed that seven US federal prosecutors were fired because they had not adequately carried out President George W. Bush's policies on immigration and firearms issues, according to a report in the Washington Post Saturday. The seven US Attorneys , who had been probing corruption among Republicans, subsequently received phone calls on December 7 saying that they were being fired, without explanation. Administration officials said Friday the seven were fired partly because members of Congress complained about their performances last fall. Sen. Pete V. Domenici specifically raised concerns about the performance of then-U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico. The firings have sparked arguments about the power of the US Attorney General to indefinitely appoint replacement prosecutors, and also allegations that the firings were politically charged.

IP rights as fundamental human rights

IP rights take new forms that can no longer be ignored. The lawyer Felipe Fontes addressed this very important subject in his recently published article: "Should intellectual property rights be considered as fundamental human rights?" Click here to read his article.

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Brief News

Colombia political scandal widens

Colombian prosecutors have ordered the arrest of the father of an ex-minister following an inquiry into links between politicians and right-wing militias. Alvaro Araujo Noguera, a prominent former politician, is charged with helping to kidnap a political rival. His daughter, Maria Consuelo Araujo, resigned as foreign minister when her brother was accused of the same crime. Several allies of President Alvaro Uribe have recently been arrested over alleged ties to paramilitary groups.

Asia sees market slide continue

Asian stocks fall heavily as investors prepare for another uncertain week on the global stock markets. The size of last week's sell-off may have caught investors by surprise, but observers had been warning that a market correction was on the cards. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan did little to calm markets when he said last week that there was a possibility that the US economy would go into recession by the end of the year.

BA and Virgin knock open sky deal

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have criticized a new "open skies" deal between the European Union and US that aims to open up their airline markets. The transatlantic airline market is worth some $18bn. According to the EU, a new deal would boost transatlantic passenger numbers by 26 million, create 80,000 jobs, and provide 12bn euros of economic benefits. The worry for many critics is that the deal favors US carriers, and that companies such as British Airways and Virgin would have to give up valuable prime-time landing and take-off slots at Heathrow airport.

Bush 'troubled' by army scandal

Bush has intervened in a scandal over the way wounded American soldiers were treated after they returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan. In his weekly radio address, Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the treatment of some military veterans in a Washington medical centre and the soldiers deserved the best care America could provide. The Washington Post said last week that some of the soldiers lived in buildings infested with rodents and cockroaches. The army secretary and the medical center's head quit over the reports.

Catholic Church confronts declining confessions

The Archdiocese of Washington is taking a great leap of faith they hope will bring Catholics back to confession: it's advertising on the radio. The marketing blitz is aimed at bringing area Catholics back to confession during the Lenten season.

Body parts sent to wrong address

Body parts from China intended for a US laboratory have been mistakenly sent to a Michigan home by a delivery firm. The recipient, in Cascade near Grand Rapids, said her husband opened two packages - one containing a liver, the other a partial human head. "He started the second one, but stopped as soon as we saw the ear," she told the Grand Rapids Press newspaper. The delivery company, DHL, said it was not immediately clear what happened but the labels were reportedly in Chinese.

New exotic focus for hedge funds: uranium market

In a new type of nuclear-arms race, hedge funds and other institutional investors in search of higher returns are competing with energy companies to amass scarce fuel-grade uranium, hoping to profit from revived interest in nuclear power. The intense quest for uranium by speculators has sparked a debate over private investors driving up the price and increasing the scarcity of the world's most sensitive natural resource. Uranium isn't traded on any exchanges. The somewhat infrequent sales of the commodity in the open market are private, so the price depends on the terms of any given transaction. Financial investors aren't licensed to possess the radioactive mineral, which is subject to tight government controls aimed at keeping it out of the hands of terrorists and rogue states. Instead, several of those investors have secured access to ownership rights of material stored at licensed repositories in North America and Europe, exploiting legal channels previously used only by utilities and suppliers.

Brewing conflict

Ethiopia, which Starbucks trumpets as the birthplace of coffee, is seeking to trademark the names of its most famous coffee regions -- Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe -- which appear on the packaging of Starbucks and other coffee roasters. Starbucks spent months discouraging Ethiopia from trying to trademark the names. While the company has recently retreated from that, it refuses to sign a royalty-free trademark licensing agreement offered by Ethiopia. Starbucks executives say the agreement is legally onerous and believe it would place too much responsibility on the company to defend Ethiopia's trademark. As the dispute has percolated, Ethiopian officials and the local media have accused Starbucks of "coffee colonialism." Farmers feel betrayed. Social advocacy groups that once heralded Starbucks's coffee-buying practices have turned against the coffee giant. Critics say the company refuses to support Ethiopia's trademark effort because that could open the door for other countries to do the same thing, adding a layer of cost that could raise the prices Starbucks pays. Starbucks buys virtually all its coffee from foreign countries, mostly from Latin America. It buys about 2% from Ethiopia.

Mayer Brown fires, demotes 45 partners

One of the nation's biggest law firms, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, on Friday said that 45 partners have been asked to leave or accept other positions there as part of a restructuring. The figure represents roughly 10% of the partners of the firm, which has about 1,500 lawyers and was founded in Chicago. James Holzhauer, who will assume chairmanship in June, said the cuts were made to increase the firm's "leverage" -- the ratio of partners to associates -- in an effort to boost profits per partner. Gross revenue for 2006 was about $1.1 billion and profits per partner topped $1 million for the first time in the firm's history, he said. But the numbers weren't good enough compared with profits per partner at other firms.

Egypt judge says women judges would contradict Sharia

Egyptian judge and president of the judges' syndicate Yahia Ragheb Daqruri said according to a report published Saturday that women cannot serve as judges because it would be against Sharia law . Daqruri's statements, appearing in the Saturday edition of independent daily Al-Masri Al-Yom , question the appropriateness of women judges deliberating "alone in a room with two or more male judges" and assert that women judges will inevitably "become pregnant at some point, and that will certainly have an impact on the prestige and on judges' public image." Daqruri, head of the Judges' Club, also implied that "giving birth can also have an impact on the cases a female judge is dealing with being dealt correctly." Article Two of Egyptian Constitution states that "the principal source of legislation is the Sharia." Article Two is the result of a 1980 constitutional amendment and has been interpreted to prohibit the enactment of legislation are in fundamental contradiction with traditional interpretations of the Sharia.

Judge dismisses lucent patent suit against Microsoft

A federal judge ruled that Microsoft Corp. did not violate an Alcatel-Lucent patent for speech recognition. This is the second of several patent disputes between the two companies. Last week, a jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion from Microsoft in regards to violating two patents involving MP3 technology. U.S. District Court Judge Rudi Brewster in San Diego dismissed all claims late Thursday regarding the speech-recognition dispute so that the jury trial set to start later this month will not happen. But Alcatel-Lucent intends to continue pursuing its options in the case.

UK minister blames 'constitution' term for slowing EU charter

British EU Minister Geoff Hoon said Sunday that the term "constitution" may be to blame for the slow progress of an official set of EU operating rules. Hoon said "It seems to me much better, instead of talking about details of alleged constitutions, that we actually concentrate on what the European Union does for its citizens and make sure that that is the debate we have." The minister cited the term's overuse as a large reason for the rejection of an European Constitution by France and the Netherlands in 2005. Britain favors the adoption of a more simple term and a simpler document, such as the treaty proposed by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Other European leaders have similarly blamed terminology for the troubles encountered by the proposed European charter.

  • Daily Press Review

Africa

The big fallout
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Sudan contamination 'highly unlikely'
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Accommodation crisis hits CBU
Times of Zambia, Government-owned daily of Lusaka, Zambia

Americas

Barbados must be a model of civilised development
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

BBC gagged over pol funding scandal
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

'Ready for the world' - Prime Minister of Jamaica hails preparations for cricket tournament
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

US firms in Mexico disapprove of border wall
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Govt to ask DPRK to look at abductions
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

China sets 8 percent growth target for 2007
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Carly: father and son extradited
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

Rayamajhi Commission Report in Parliament Soon: Govt
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

100 special courts to try activist slays
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

Deputy minister denies 'freedom for $ale' allegation
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Europe

Estonian Election Gives Prime Minister New Options
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Cause for wild ducks' dieoff in South Russia probed
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

MRSA crisis: 3,000 people infected every year
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

State Keeps Control in UES Sell-Off
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

Political elite steers well clear of masses
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Proposing a 'United States of Turkey?'
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Unveiling the draft
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Kingdom to Support Any Arab Decision on Peace Plan: Saud
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

Employment of domestic workers streamlined
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Poll: Barak, Ayalon lead Peretz in Labor primaries
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Majlis approves outlines of rls 2,313.5 billion budget bill
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

First polls show Peretz least favorite Labor candidate
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel

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