April 9, 2007 no. 475 - Vol. 5

"Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art."

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

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

  • Top News

U.S. troops train in Germany with Iraqi extras

Arabic speakers hired to work at a United States base in Germany were supposed to make the training environment there more realistic. But many of the troops being trained in mock villages populated by Arabic speakers are headed for Afghanistan, not Iraq.

Billions face climate change risk

Billions of people face shortages of food and water and increased risk of flooding, experts at a major climate change conference have warned. "For the first time, we are no longer arm-waving with models; this is empirical data, we can actually measure it", Martin Parry, co-chairman of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told, outlining the report's findings. "Evidence showed climate change was having a direct effect on animals, plants and water". The report states that the observed increase in the global average temperature was "very likely" due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of climate change has been a major source of dispute.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China Turns to Brazil to Satisfy a surmounting hunger for soybeans

China's global scramble for natural resources is leading to a transformation of agricultural trading around the world. Vanishing cropland and diminishing water supplies are hampering China's ability to feed itself, and the increasing use of farmland in the United States to produce biofuels like ethanol is pushing China to seek more of its agricultural staples from South America, where land is still cheap and plentiful. Expectations ran high three years ago when Hu Jintao, the president of China, visited South America and toasted a "strategic partnership" with his Brazilian counterpart, Lula, predicting trade between the two countries would double to $20 billion. China pledged $10 billion in investments, mostly in infrastructure. China has continued its buying spree in Brazil. The soybean trade between the countries has exploded. Last year Brazil sent nearly 11 million tons of beans to China, a 50 percent increase from the previous year and nearly double the amount shipped in 2004. Early indications are that Brazil has produced yet another record crop and analysts expect that China will devour most of the increase.

China extends criminal penalties for music and movie piracy

China has extended criminal penalties for music and movie piracy to people caught with smaller amounts of DVDs or CDs, a state news agency said Friday, after foreign complaints that enforcement was too lenient. The decision by the Supreme People's Court comes amid pressure by foreign governments and the film and music industries to stamp out China's rampant product piracy industry.


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  • Brief News

US attorney general's aide quits

A top US justice department official who refused to testify before Congress about her role in the sacking of eight federal prosecutors has resigned. Monica Goodling, who was senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, gave no reason for her abrupt decision. Last month she rejected an interview request from a congressional committee investigating the sackings, invoking her right not to incriminate herself. Gonzales denies the sackings last year were politically motivated.

Web transforms White House race

The decision by several leading candidates to announce their US presidential intentions via the internet has already marked this out as the first real web-based race for the White House. However, it was a viral advert that quickly made the rounds on video-sharing website YouTube which showed the possibilities and the pitfalls this poses for the campaigns. The infamous "Hillary 1984" advert - a parody of an old Apple computer commercial, made in support of a rival, Barack Obama - portrayed Senator Clinton as an Orwellian, Big Sister figure. Its anonymous creator used technology to give her words sinister, controlling tones. The advert was clever, slick, watchable and tapped into a visceral concern about the former First Lady's character.

Ecuador seeking a return to Opec

Ecuador, South America's fifth-largest oil producer, has confirmed that it wants to rejoin the Opec oil producers' cartel. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said membership would open many new opportunities, including easier access to loans from banks in the Middle East.

Opec has already indicated that Ecuador could rejoin at any time, and its bid has been backed by Venezuela. Ecuador left Opec in 1992 owing a debt of more than $5bn.Some members have called for Ecuador to repay the money before it is allowed to rejoin Opec.

Pope sees pain abroad, fears Islam in Europe

Pope Benedict XVI led a regal Easter Mass from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica and then decried the suffering of a war-torn world, singling out Iraq for special lamentation. His Easter message focuses on the world's trouble spots, but he fears rise of Islam in Europe.

Arcelor ups offer to hike stake in Brazil unit

Arcelor Mittal has hiked its offer for the shares it does not own in Brazilian subsidiary Arcelor Brasil. Arcelor Mittal owns about 66 per cent stake in the unit would now offer 11.70 Brazilian reais ($5.75) in cash and 0.3568 class A common share of Arcelor Mittal for each share in Arcelor Brasil. The company said the maximum amount it would pay in cash would be 10.9 billion reais ($5.35 billion) and the maximum number of shares it would issue would be some 76 million, representing 5 per cent of the share capital of Arcelor Mittal.

Brazilians' support for death penalty at 14-year high

Support for the death penalty has reached its highest rate in 14 years after waves of violence and brutal crimes across Latin America's largest nation. Fifty-five percent of Brazilians support instituting the death penalty, which does not exist in Brazil. Recent surveys have shown Brazilians' biggest concerns have switched from jobless rates to security. Killings by police and vigilante-style groups called militias also may be heightening attention to security. In Rio, the militias have been expelling heavily armed drug gangs who control many slums, eliminating the drug business but charging residents for protection.

Brazil revives bullet train

Brazil's government, confronting chaos in domestic air travel, is dusting off plans to have a high-speed train line built between the country's two biggest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The project, which should cost over $6 billion and take at least five years to complete, has already attracted the interest of local and foreign firms. The train line should allow travel from one megalopolis to another in less than an hour and a half, compared with about an hour by plane and six hours by bus. The two cities are about 256 miles (430 km) apart.

Space tax takes off after US vote

Residents in the US state of New Mexico have approved a new tax to build the nation's first commercial spaceport. Supporters including New Mexico's governor and billionaire, Richard Branson, had called the tax vote a make-or-break election for the port. But others say the money should go towards improving local problems and resent having to subsidize the activities of wealthy space tourists. Taxes will contribute about $50m in to the nearly $200m project.

Probe could jeopardize ABN-Barclays deal

A U.S. investigation into past money transfers at ABN may be an obstacle to an $80 billion deal to sell the Dutch bank to Barclays. ABN is working toward trying to reach a settlement with the Justice Department but is facing time pressure: Barclays wants greater reassurance that the matter can be resolved before signing a deal to buy ABN for an estimated $80 billion within the next two weeks. Barclays doesn't want to inherit the risk of a criminal probe. The exact operations under investigation by the Justice Department aren't clear. In 2005, U.S., New York and Illinois financial regulators fined ABN $80 million for violating U.S. money-laundering laws and sanctions against Iran and Libya. The bank said it would improve its internal controls.

Crop prices push up cost of food globally

Prices of farm goods are climbing -- in part because of demand for crop-based fuels -- pushing up food prices around the world and creating a new source of inflationary pressure.

How sweet it isn't

Johnson&Johnson is going to trial to fight allegations that a unit deliberately confused consumers over whether its artificial sweetener Splenda is a natural product. In one corner is the artificial sweetener in the blue packet, Equal; in the other is its best-selling rival in the yellow packet, Splenda. The maker of Equal contends that Splenda has been misleading millions of consumers by fostering the notion, through television and print advertising, that Splenda is made from sugar and is natural. Splenda's maker counters that the process to make the sweetener does indeed start with sugar. Jurors will have to endure a heavy-duty chemistry lesson. One of Splenda's main ingredients is sucralose, a chemical entity manufactured in a lab that McNeil makes from sucrose, or table sugar.

California seeks to ban investment in Iran

The measure would force two of the nation's largest pension funds -- devoted to the state's public employees and its teachers, with combined holdings of nearly $400 billion -- to remove their money from any foreign company doing business in Iran. American companies are already barred from such dealings.

Google settles AFP news aggregation lawsuit with licensing agreement

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Google  Friday settled a landmark copyright infringement lawsuit  which the French news agency filed two years ago against the internet giant for automatically pulling and displaying photos, headlines and leads of news stories from the websites of AFP subscribers. The agreement will allow Google to post AFP content on its popular news service. Further details are not available to the public. Yahoo! also uses AFP material in its Yahoo News!  news aggregator service, but pays AFP a fee. Last year, Google signed a licensing agreement with American news agency Associated Press  in which Google agreed to pay for AP content.

Appeals court stays Vonage injunction blocking new customers

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit  issued an emergency stay of an federal injunction Friday, hours after US District Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virgina issued the partial order prohibiting leading Internet phone service Vonage  from subscribing new customers. On March 8 a federal jury found Vonage guilty of infringing three voice-over-IP  patents held by Verizon Communications, Inc. , awarding Verizon $58 million dollars in compensation plus future royalties amounting to 5.5% of Vonage's revenues if Vonage continues to use the patented technology. Hilton issued the partial injunction early Friday, saying it was appropriate to prevent Vonage from using the patented technology to attract more customers away from Verizon. Hilton, stating that he did not wish to irreparably harm Vonage's business, issued the partial injunction as a less severe punishment than one he initially proposed, which would would have disrupted phone service for Vonage's 2.2 million existing customers. Vonage lawyers argued in response that the ruling would "slowly strangle" Vonage because it would be unable to compensate for customers that routinely switch services in the highly competitive industry. Vonage lawyers projected that the phone service would lose approximately 650,000 subscribers over the course of next year.

  • Daily Press Review


Ndingi calls for sacking of Security minister
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Zim Catholic bishops warn of uprising
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

PAC takes Luapula Permsec to task
Times of Zambia, Government-owned daily of Lusaka, Zambia


Easter highlighted at St. Bartholomews
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

No intention of taking over Neuquén
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Death of six Canadians shatters Afghan calm
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

Labour rip-off -  Haitians paid $350 a day on Jamaican building sites
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

President eases visa process
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Ishihara reelected in Tokyo / Wins 3rd term, 8 other incumbents win gubernatorial races
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

China's top 10 archeological findings for 2006 unveiled
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Head-on crash kills two more
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

PM Koirala to Address Mass Meet in Pokhara Today
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

NPA raids Davao prison
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

Keng Yaik says he won't interfere
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Europe's Radical Left Confronts Global Issues and Enemy Within
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Russia has no plans to sign gas cartel documents in Qatar - Duma figure
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Nurses 'getting stronger' as protest steps up
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Markets Unable To Find Vendors
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

How many wounds ... how much suffering
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Gl urges Rice over Barzani's threats against Turkey
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Olmert's theatrics
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Segregation of Sexes Is Not Right ó Naif
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

Hariri welcomes Berri's call for dialogue in Saudi Arabia
The Daily Star, Independent, English-language daily of Beirut, Lebanon

Big anti-US protest in Iraq
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Iran to announce progress in nuclear program
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Bells ring in Iranian schools to mark National Nuclear Feast
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Report: BBC Reporter may have staged own kidnapping
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel


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Copyright 2007 - Migalhas International

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