April 23, 2007 no. 481 - Vol. 5


"Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart."

Dorothy Parker

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

  • Top News

House votes to give shareholders advisory role in setting executive compensation

The US House of Representatives voted Friday to provide shareholders with an advisory vote on executive compensation, noting that in the last 15 years, compensation of Fortune 500 CEOs has moved from 140 times that of the average employee to over 500 times. The bill only had minimal Republican support, passing 269-134 after the defeat of numerous Republican proposed amendments, including one that would have eliminated the advisory vote when an executive compensation package was within 10% of the average for comparable companies. The White House joined the majority of House Republicans in opposing the bill, saying that Congress should not "mandate the process by which executive compensation is approved" . Bush and other Republicans have agreed that executive compensation is excessive, but believe that it is not for government to regulate. In December the Securities and Exchange Commission amended disclosure rules to require public information on executive compensation for publicly traded companies.

Virginia Tech victims' families would face hurdles suing school

The families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting rampage this week could face obstacles if they try to recover compensation through the courts. Questions have been raised about authorities' response after the first gunfire -- a second set of shootings occurred about two hours later -- and about the university's response to the gunman's prior behavior. But as a state-supported university, Virginia Tech is covered by a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity, which protects state institutions in most states, including Virginia, from legal liability. The doctrine is intended in part to protect taxpayers from runaway legal costs. Family members might be able to recover damages by showing that school employees were "grossly negligent." That could mean, for example, that a plaintiff would need to establish that it was likely, not simply possible, that the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, would commit an act of violence. Mr. Cho killed 32 people and himself. A Virginia Tech spokeswoman said she did not believe any suits had been filed as result of the massacre. She declined to comment about the school's potential legal exposure.

Blair says UK referendum not needed to ratify new EU treaty

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday that the United Kingdom does not need to hold a referendum to approve a new treaty to replace the failed European Constitution . Earlier this week, Blair joined Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende in advocating amendments to current EU treaties rather than reviving the constitution , as Germany and other EU states have vowed to do. According to Blair and Balkenende, the amendments would clarify the division of powers between the European Commission (EC) and member states and expand the role of national parliaments. Blair said such amendments, since they would not alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, would not require a referendum.

Legal auditing and natural or provoked catastrophes

Jayme Vita Roso, attorney at Jayme Vita Roso Advogados e Consultores Jurídicos released an article on "the legal auditor and natural or provoked catastrophes" to conclude that Federal Law nº 10.744/2003 can currently be considered to be one of the best laws on the subject among many countries. Bonus: there is a very interesting exhibit on climate change. Click here to read it.

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  • Brief News

House clears an executive-pay measure

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would give shareholders a greater voice in setting executive compensation, but a law is far from certain due to opposition by the White House. The bill would give shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive pay packages and a separate vote on any compensation negotiated as part of a purchase or sale of a company, a so-called golden parachute. Shareholders wouldn't set pay. An executive-compensation bill would allow shareholders to hold executives to similar performance standards that workers are held to.

French vote sets stage for a new political era

The top two candidates in the first round of the French presidential election are beginning intense campaigning for the run-off on 6 May. Centre-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal defeated 10 others in Sunday's ballot, with a record voter turnout of nearly 85%. The candidates will try to convince voters that they can kick-start the sluggish economy and solve pressing social problems.

Nigerian candidates reject poll

The main opposition candidates in Nigeria's presidential election have said they will not accept the results of Saturday's poll. The Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, and General Muhammadu Buhari, said the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) had rigged the elections. The presidential poll was marred by violence in several states. Foreign observers said there were serious shortcomings in the election.

Barclays agrees £45bn Dutch deal

Britain's Barclays bank has agreed to merge with Dutch bank ABN Amro. The £45bn ($90bn) deal will create one of the world's largest banks, with combined sales of £94bn and its headquarters in the Netherlands. The companies said about 12,800 jobs would be cut as a result of the merger, while a further 10,800 jobs would be moved to low-cost locations. ABN has also agreed to talk to another consortium headed by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) about a rival offer. Some analysts believe that RBS will offer a higher price for the Dutch bank, paving the way for a bidding war.

Uribe defends human rights record

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe has defended his human rights record during a visit to the US city of Miami. His comments came after Al Gore withdrew from a conference on climate change in Latin America, to avoid a joint appearance with Uribe. Gore said he would not attend because of recent allegations linking Uribe, and government members, to right-wing paramilitary groups.

Venezuelans in TV network protest

Thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets of Caracas in protest at the president's decision to close the country's oldest private TV network. Chavez's supporters say Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) backed a 2002 coup which briefly ousted him. But the country's opposition say the decision to close the network is an attempt to silence Chavez's critics.

Carrefour acquires Atacadao for 825 mln eur

Carrefour said it signed an agreement to acquire Atacadao, Brazil's leading operator of discount hypermarkets, for 825 mln Euro. In a statement, Carrefour said the transaction will make Carrefour Brazil the largest food retailer in the country in terms of sales.

Policing web video with 'Fingerprints'

Can "fingerprinting" bring a truce to the Web's video-copyright wars? The technology is based on the premise that any video content has unique attributes that allow it to be identified even from a short clip -- just as a human fingerprint identifies a person. Proponents of fingerprinting technology say it can help spot TV shows and films that are posted on video-sharing sites such as Google Inc.'s YouTube without their owners' permission, so the sites can remove them or share advertising revenue. But a series of legal, technical and financial issues remain to be solved even as video sites including Google, News Corp.'s MySpace Video and Microsoft Corp.'s Soapbox, amid pressure from media companies, are testing fingerprinting or putting it in place. Lawyers for the media companies say that Google finds itself in a conundrum: It wants to appease the content owners it views as important partners for YouTube but is concerned that filtering might increase its liability for copyright infringement claims. The YouTube spokeswoman said, "The law is clear, copyright owners have the responsibility to identify infringing material they want removed," adding that YouTube will continue to exceed its own responsibilities under the law while letting people upload video easily and quickly to the site. Video-sharing sites such as YouTube say they are protected from liability for copyright claims under "safe harbor" provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. But, under the DMCA, sites that have "actual knowledge" or control of infringing content can lose such protections.

EU ministers to weigh Iran moves

Possible further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment program are on the agenda as EU foreign ministers meet in Luxembourg. During the two-day meeting, the ministers will also hold talks with their Russian counterpart to review the increasingly troubled Moscow-EU ties.

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  • Daily Press Review

Africa

Poll: ODM to reap from Narc-K split
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

NPP woos Nkrumahist MPs
Ghanaian Chronicle, Independent, published in Accra, Ghana

Calls for rerun of 'sham' poll in Nigeria
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Americas

No more warnings
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

Change on France's menu
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Probe shows Katrina contracts given to shaky companies
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

King quits - West Indies coach jumps ship
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Euthanasia bill seeks death with dignity
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Ruling bloc, opposition split by-elections
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

Election of delegates to 17th CPC national congress goes smoothly
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

'It feels like it always rains'
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

Gang Murders Former Maoist Cadre in Bara
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

Ex-judge charges CA 'Dirty Dozen'
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

Electoral roll on display from tomorrow
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Europe

Sarkozy and Royal in Runoff Election for French Presidency
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

All miners killed in March 19 accident in Kemerovo region identified
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Ahern's father quizzed over garda death
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Ivanov Inspects a Secret Factory
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

Le crunch - it's Royal v Sarkozy
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

An Anzac Day Commemoration
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

War by other means
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

A New List of Terrorists on Way ó Naif
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

Adieu to traffic woes?
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

PM seeks MK media blitz to counter war probe
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Iran-Austria 30-bn-dlr agreement, 1st step to export gas to Europe
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Egypt's security cracks down on visiting Hamas officials
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel

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