April 2, 2007 no. 473 - Vol. 5

"Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool that follows it?"

Alec Guinness

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

  • Top News

Judge advances lawsuit against US government over global warming

A federal judge has advanced a lawsuit against the government over its funding of overseas projects that environmental groups claim contribute to climate change. The lawsuit, filed by environmental groups and four U.S. cities, claims that the overseas projects will harm the U.S. environment because the effects of global warming will be felt at home, and seeks to require the same environmental reviews that are required for domestic projects. The Bush administration had argued last year that the "alleged impacts of global climate change are too remote and speculative" to require the reviews. But in allowing the lawsuit to proceed, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on Friday cast doubt on the administration's assertion that disagreements remain about the connection between human activity and climate change. He also cited increased attention on the issue in the news and entertainment media, including the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

Brazil air chaos follows strike

There have been chaotic scenes at most of Brazil's airports as airlines tried to find flights for thousands of passengers caught up in a strike. Airports resumed flights after air traffic controllers suspended a strike to protest about working conditions.

The strike briefly halted all flights out of the country's airports. The action spread across Brazil after air traffic controllers went on hunger strike in the capital, Brasilia, leaving thousands stranded. For several hours, Brazil's huge air traffic network was at a total standstill as controllers refused to authorize any take-offs or landings. Long queues snaked outside airport halls, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, after nearly 100 domestic and international flights were cancelled and many more were delayed. "The situation will not return to normal before three days," the head of the state airport authority Infraero, Jose Carlos Pereira, said. Air traffic control in Brazil is under the control of the air force, and most controllers are military and non-unionised. Air Force commanders called the protest a mutiny and threatened to jail the strikers. But President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva intervened before the controllers could be arrested, ordering his budget minister to negotiate a deal. Controllers returned to work at dawn on Saturday after the government agreed to a series of demands, including a generous one-off pay bonus. Brazil’s military agreed to relinquish control of the country’s air traffic control system to a new civilian agency that will answer to the Defense Ministry.

Brazil rainforest internet plan

A move to provide free internet access to native Indian tribes to help protect the Amazon rainforest from illegal logging has been announced in Brazil. Environment Minister Marina Silva said land protection was the key aim of the plan, which will provide satellite access to 150 isolated regions. Indigenous communities were the true protectors of their areas, she said. Brazil has struggled to protect the Amazon forest from illegal activities, including mining and ranching.

'Evidence mail' puts us all on the record

"Never write anything in an e-mail you wouldn't want to read in the newspaper." It's a lesson people keep failing to learn. The paper trail surrounding the firings of U.S. attorneys is only the most recent example of unwise e-mailing habits. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others have been tripped up by the e-mail they left behind. Communicating electronically is a convenience, but it can also be a menace to anyone.

All eyes on London for Apple/EMI announcement

Apple and EMI will reveal a ground-breaking deal on Monday for Apple to sell the music label's songs free from copy protection limits. Music giant EMI plans to sell "significant amounts" of its catalogue without anti-piracy software, citing people familiar with the matter, and that the music label is considering not only Apple's iTunes stores but other outlets. DRM is applied to many downloads to prevent illegal copying or sharing of the content but it also prevents legal copying and can tie users into a certain product or technology. "This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," Steve Jobs wrote. Apple is facing pressure from European regulators, who have questioned the legality of usage restrictions on iTunes downloads because they can't be directly transferred to portable devices that compete with the company's market-leading iPod music player. Reaction from the big four music labels was mixed with perhaps the strongest response coming from Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman, who said the idea of DRM-free music or movies was "without logic or merit." EMI, on the other hand, appeared the most receptive to Jobs' call. EMI, the most deeply troubled of the major labels, is in bad need of a new game plan. It has scaled back its sales forecasts twice so far this year.

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  • Brief News

Clinton breaks fundraising record in bid for White House

US Senator Hillary Clinton raises a record $26m for her presidential bid in the first quarter of 2007, aides say.

Peru 'must protect Amazon tribes'

Peru must act swiftly to protect isolated Amazonian tribes from illegal loggers, Latin America's top human rights body has ruled. Indigenous leaders say the tribes have already suffered untold deaths from diseases contracted from outsiders. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights judged the risk to these isolated communities so great that it bypassed all the usual procedures. Peru has been given two weeks to take steps to protect the isolated tribes.

Japan set for divorce rate boom

New pension laws coming into effect in Japan could lead to an explosion in divorces, some experts are warning. The rules will make it easier for wives to claim up to half their husband's pension once the marriage is over. The number of divorces in Japan has been rising for several decades, but the trend reversed four years ago when the new laws were first discussed.

Trading ban targets non-Russians

Russia has banned all foreigners from working as retailers in its shops and markets under a new law which came into force on Sunday. Up to 20,000 non-Russians currently work in Moscow markets alone in a tradition going back to Soviet times. Putin said earlier that the interests of Russian citizens were at stake. Migrant groups have condemned the law, passed after ethnic violence last year, as unfair and unworkable.

Lawsuit filed over Brazil's air disaster

Two pilots and jet's owner, ExcelAire, based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.have been named in lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages in Brazil's worst air disaster. The lawsuits claim the pilots didn't maintain proper altitude or proper communication with Brazilian air traffic controllers. The suit also contends that the pilots didn't operate the aircraft properly. ExcelAire declined to comment on the lawsuit.

US and S Korea agree trade deal

The US and South Korea have reached a free trade agreement, after 10 months of intensive talks. The deal, which has not yet been formally announced, still requires legislative approval. The deal, which will open up the highly protected Korean market, is the largest the US has signed since the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Big oil presents an obstacle to ethanol

Although some oil executives voice enthusiasm for alternative fuels, oil-company policies make it harder for many service stations to stock a fuel called E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. These policies are hardly the only barrier to wider use of the ethanol fuel. Demand is limited by the small number of vehicles that can burn it -- only about 5% of those on the road in America. It can be slightly costlier to burn E85, even though it costs less per gallon, because a car doesn't go as far on a gallon of the ethanol fuel as on gasoline. These demand restraints would limit service-station owners' enthusiasm for spending on the equipment needed to offer E85 even if the policies of the oil companies were not a factor. But those policies add a significant extra obstacle. Oil companies lose sales every time a driver chooses E85, and they employ a variety of tactics that help keep the fuel out of stations that bear the company name. For instance, franchises sometimes are required to purchase all the fuel they sell from the oil company. Since oil companies generally don't sell E85, the stations can't either, unless the company grants an exception and lets them buy from another supplier. Contracts sometimes limit advertising of E85 and restrict the use of credit cards to pay for it. Some require that any E85 pump be on a separate island, not under the main canopy. Oil companies say they will allow stations to sell E85, but they must have certain rules for the protection of customers and protection of their brand. They call the restrictions reasonable and in some cases necessary to make sure drivers don't fill up with E85 if their vehicle can't burn it. Most of the U.S.'s 170,000 fuel stations aren't owned by oil companies but are either franchised from them or independent. Less than 1% stock E85. Some experts say that to really take hold and be seen as a viable alternative to gasoline, the fuel would have to be available at, roughly, 10% of stations.

Court throws out SEC rule protecting certain accounts

A federal appeals court dealt the Securities and Exchange Commission another blow by tossing out a 2005 rule that protected fee-based brokerage accounts from certain regulations. In Friday's ruling, the court said the SEC "exceeded its authority" when it exempted fee-based brokerage accounts from the Investment Advisers Act, which requires detailed disclosures of conflicts of interest, disciplinary history, and requires advisers to act in the best interest of their clients. Commission-based brokerage accounts were already exempt from the rule, and the SEC said it was exempting the fee-based accounts to adjust to the evolving marketplace and noted those accounts were already subject to other regulations.

  • Daily Press Review

Africa

Global Fund gives Uganda new chance
Daily Monitor, Independent daily of Kampala, Uganda

Accept Kibaki lead, Ndingi tells politicians
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Areeba heads for Supreme Court
Ghanaian Chronicle, Independent, published in Accra, Ghana

Tehran screens 'confessions'
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Americas

Parents, give more support
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

Floods claim 11th fatality
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

A new champion for Arab moderates?
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

'Cop killer slain' - Denham Town Station shot up in revenge attack
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Abortion bill divides Mexico
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Ex-leaders end meet with tea
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

Premier Wen appoints Donald Tsang HK chief executive
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Killer tsunami 'sucked sea dry'
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

MJF Bandh Affects Life in Terai Districts
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

CA justices toe line
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

Penang CM: Low-cost housing must be affordable
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Europe

After Talks With Merkel, Olmert Ready to Meet Arab Leaders
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Regional naval force starts exercises in Black Sea
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Fears for patients as nurses begin work action
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Foreign Traders Barred From Markets
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

New Iranian TV footage of captured servicemen 'unacceptable'
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Eastern and Western youths engage in fruitful dialogue
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Purple fingers, black bands
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Families to Be Fined for Overstaying Relatives
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

March 14 threatens to convene House elsewhere without Berri
The Daily Star, Independent, English-language daily of Beirut, Lebanon

New footage of British sailors
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Abbas to PM: W. Bank must be included in truce
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Iran-US-Reaction Iran's foreign ministry spokesman retorts US president remarks
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Hamas: We're ready to defend Gaza from IDF invasion
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel

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