April 16, 2007 no. 478 - Vol. 5

"Everything would perhaps level out into perfection, if only we were given a second chance."

 Goethe

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

  • Top News

US generals urge climate action

Former US military leaders have called on the Bush administration to make major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. They say global warming poses a serious threat to national security, as the US could be drawn into wars over water and other conflicts. The report says the US "must become a more constructive partner" with other nations to fight global warming and deal with its consequences.

Brazil breaks up 'killing firm'

Brazil's police say they have broken up a gang suspected of carrying out about 1,000 contract killings in five years. At least 20 people, including police officers, businessmen and hired gunmen, were arrested in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Police described the gang as "Murder Incorporated" - a professional business operation hired to kill people over small debts, and out of revenge. The northeastern state of Pernambuco has the highest murder rate in Brazil. Death squads involving serving and retired police officers have long been a problem in Brazil where shopkeepers sometimes use them against street children. Police say the gang was a professional organization which carried out around four killings a week for between $500 and $2,500 each

Documents Show Justice Ranking U.S. Attorneys

The Justice Department sent Congress a new batch of documents about the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys. The documents show Justice Department and White House staffers planning the firings and trying to control the subsequent fallout, along with a chart that mixes political and legal criteria.

The legal auditor before young people

A new article on complacence, indifference and utilitarianism, which are the greatest evils that plague the youth of today, by frequent MI contributor Jayme Vita Roso, attorney at Jayme Vita Roso Advogados e Consultores Jurídicos, advances the following conclusion:  "It's up to you(th) – to take action for development". Click here to read it.

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  • Brief News

'War on terror' criticised

Bush's concept of a "war on terror" has given strength to terrorists by making them feel part of something bigger, Hilary Benn says. The international development secretary will tell a meeting in New York the phrase gives a shared identity to small groups with widely differing aims. The phrase 'war on terror' is not relevant  “because we can't win by military means alone. And because this isn't us against one organized enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives."

US urges N Korea to shut reactor

The US urges North Korea to seal its nuclear reactor, as Pyongyang misses a key deadline to close the plant.

Ecuador heads for socialist reform of constitution

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has been celebrating an apparent landslide victory in a referendum on overhauling the political system. An exit poll showed 78% of voters backed his call for a people's assembly that would by-pass Congress and rewrite the constitution. Correa said the country had "said yes to the future". He also threatened to kick out the World Bank's representative and said he would no longer deal with the IMF.

Key US terror trial set to begin

The trial of a man once suspected of planning to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States is due to begin in Florida on Monday. Jose Padilla, a US citizen, denies aiding terrorists and conspiracy to murder US nationals overseas. The US government has branded Mr Padilla an "enemy combatant" and says he travelled abroad to train as a terrorist and planned to murder US citizens overseas.

ABN bid battle 'could go hostile'

A trio of banks stalking Dutch takeover target ABN Amro could be prepared to launch a hostile bid if friendly merger talks fail, according to reports. The consortium of Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Spain's Santander and Belgium's Fortis unveiled their interest in acquiring ABN on Friday. The move comes as Britain's Barclays Bank tries to capitalize on exclusive negotiations to buy the Dutch bank.

Wolfowitz on Shaky Ground at the World Bank

Controversy swirled around World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz as the organization convened its spring meetings in Washington, D.C. this weekend. A romantic relationship with another employee, and actions to advance her career, has undermined his position as the development institution's leader. The bank's board of directors is considering what action to take.

Venezuela, Brazil at odds on ethanol before summit

A dispute, raised in part by a U.S.-Brazil ethanol agreement, threatens to overshadow a South American energy summit starting today in Venezuela, where Chavez will be seeking support for projects ranging from a regional bank to a natural gas group similar to OPEC aimed at reducing Washington's influence in Latin America. The United States and Brazil signed an "alliance" last month to promote ethanol production in the region and create international quality standards to allow it to be traded as a commodity like oil. ?Chavez said last week that Venezuela was working on an alternative proposal to "overthrow" the U.S.-Brazil agreement, which he characterizes as an ethanol "cartel" that will monopolize arable lands and starve the poor -- criticisms shared by his Cuban ally, Fidel Castro.

Brazil pays for inequality with violence

Brazil has not fought a war with any of its neighbors in over a century, but the silent war at home kills 45,000 people a year, making it the fourth most violent country in the world. In cities and towns, the poor want a taste of the elite's ostentatious lifestyle that they see on television. In the countryside, the poor compete with big farming and mining concerns for land. Disputes are often settled with guns. Police and crime are so entwined that authorities often couldn't tackle crime if they wanted to. While some state governments, which are responsible for public security, are beginning to tackle crime more seriously, violence is out of hand. The breeding ground for urban crime is often in favelas with inadequate housing, water and other basic services. Only more economic growth and basic public services can eradicate the origin of crime. "Most people here just want a job," but for many teenagers any help may be too little too late. In Coque, a favela near Recife. kids kill for control of strategic points to assault motorists.

SEC Explores Opening Door To Arbitration

The Securities and Exchange Commission is exploring a new policy that could permit companies to resolve complaints by aggrieved shareholders through arbitration, limiting shareholders' ability to sue in court. The initiative is at the discussion stage and may not lead to any changes in rules or practices. But any move toward arbitration could realign the balance of power between shareholders and corporate managements at a time when that balance has tipped increasingly toward shareholders. It could also limit shareholders' ability to recover money damages or other compensation from corporations.

A Few Good Lawyers

Lawyers who represent high-income taxpayers earn more than 10 times what senior government lawyers do — an obvious disadvantage for the I.R.S., the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and for Capitol Hill in attracting and retaining top talent. The lawyers who write our tax rules are overworked and sometimes inexperienced, so they leave loopholes that are exploited by more experienced private lawyers. When the government challenges these aggressive strategies, it loses some cases that it should win, setting precedents that taxpayers then invoke to justify other aggressive strategies. As this vicious cycle shows, skimping on tax administration is a false economy. We collect less tax revenue, while encouraging taxpayers to invest in socially unproductive tax planning. Instead, if we substantially increase government salaries and staffing levels (the I.R.S. needs more than the 1,500 lawyers it has now) we can raise more revenue, with lower tax rates and less waste.

Israel army suspends commander after new human shield video surfaces

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF)  commander was suspended Friday after video footage taken in the West Bank Wednesday showed IDF soldiers under his control ordering two Palestinian teens to stand in front of their vehicle to protect it  from stones being thrown by local bystanders during a military raid. Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti  told the AP that Friday's suspension incorrectly gave the impression that Wednesday's occurrence was an isolated event and failed to address a more systemic problem. He said that despite a 2005 Israel Supreme Court ruling  prohibiting the use of Palestinian human shields, the practice has continued. The IDF is already conducting a criminal probe  into an another human shield incident  similarly caught on tape in February. Using civilians to protect military personnel or shield military objectives from attacks is prohibited under the amended Geneva conventions , as well as the Hague Regulations.

Mexico decriminalizes libel in decree welcomed by media groups

Mexican President Felipe Calderon  Thursday signed a decree decriminalizing libel and defamation, offenses previously punishable by prison sentences. Henceforward they will be punishable by fine and subject to civil suits. The move has already garnered the approval of media groups  such as the Inter American Press Association (SIP), which praised the fact that critics of the government can no longer be imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment. In his signing remarks Calderon declared that "every threat to the free press is a threat to democracy," and pledged  to take greater measures to protect journalists from the intimidation and violence that they frequently face. Last month Calderon proposed a series of changes  to the Mexican criminal justice system in the wake of an Amnesty International  report that current law perpetuated human rights abuses  and afforded impunity to many criminals. Recently, Mexican lawmakers have reduced prison sentences for drug possession and proposed loosening the ban on abortion.

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  • Daily Press Review

Africa

Mabira: Murder charges
Daily Monitor, Independent daily of Kampala, Uganda

Gideon Moi on top of Arturs' hitlist
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Quenching the blazing fire in Gt. Accra
Ghanaian Chronicle, Independent, published  in Accra, Ghana

Ethnic cleansing spreads from Sudan
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Americas

Chávez: goodbye IMF, WB
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Scientists say China's Yangtze River pollution 'largely irreversible'
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

Cold winter for Jamaica's hotels
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Asia Pacific

Digital special districts planned in Okinawa, Hokkaido in FY08
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

China to build global satellite navigation system
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

El Masri to police: say sorry
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

MJF, JTMM (Goit) Seek Conducive Environment for Talks
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

MNLF camp captured
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

PM: Stop the bickering in the media
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Europe

Economic Boom, Not Pope, Helps Catholic Church in Germany
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Airliner makes safe emergency landing at Omsk airport
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

FG 'orchestrating smear campaign against Ahern'
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Riot Police Violently Break Up March
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

BBC Gaza reporter is feared executed
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Pro-secular Turks stage ‘Solidarity with Republic’ rally
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Full speed ahead
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

King to Launch SR118bn Development Projects in Riyadh
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

House 'will convene to pick new president in September'
The Daily Star, Independent, English-language daily of Beirut, Lebanon

Armed robbers raid Wafi jewellery store
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Israel backs U.S. plan to arm pro-Abbas forces
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

President, ministers arrive in Fars province
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Le Pen: Chirac shouldn't admit Holocaust responsibility
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel

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