May 21, 2007 no. 492 - Vol. 5

"Remember tonight... for it is the beginning of always."

Dante Alighieri

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

  • Top News

Civil and common law shake hands on the internet or the dissapearance of the comparative law discipline?

With the advent of the Internet, the endless discussion about the different origins, philosophies and structures between Civil and Common Law Systems (Codes vs. Precedents, etc) will no longer be of any relevance. Countries belonging to both systems are currently looking toward a major and common goal; this is to obtain the legal recognition and evidentiary weight of electronic record and signatures. Not that electronic records, documents and signatures were not allowed by the various legal systems worldwide, they were in fact allowed but were also being discriminated against, in favor of the handwritten documents and signatures, in detriment of the cyber users and online activities of any nature.

Centro Novo

As the Migalhas International editor is in Sao Paulo this week, he had a chance to visit the center of the city and give and interview for the Centro Novo project with Alexandre Thiollier. The place, which is already buzzing, is meant to bring business people, tourists and Paulistanos in a fascinating place that gives the idea of Sao Paulo’s former splendor and current vitality. The Paulistano center combines historical places, buildings, parks, concert halls, schools, markets and churches, that rivals with any great city in the world. It is also the seat of prized private and public institutions. The New Center now offers stylish venues, entertainment opportunities and fine bars and restaurants. Soon enough, you'll see residents coming back to the center of the city, which is accessible by an excellent transportation system. The Centro Novo's main objective is to stimulate the debate and to present proposals for the revitalization of the Center of São Paulo, particularly the creation of a regulatory agency for the promotion of the center. Also, it wants to promote events, seminars, artistic, musical and sportive manifestations to call the attention of the population for the necessity to revitalize the Center. Centro Novo is made up of architects, lawyers, journalists, advertising executives, engineers, entrepreneurs, students, and clearly, citizens interested in the support of the original core of the Paulistana metropolis. The project will put the largest Latin-American city on the world's top ten favorite cities. Centro Novo is São Paulo's new lease on life! Click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China buys $3bn Blackstone stake

The Chinese government has agreed to pay $3bn  for a 10% stake in US private equity company Blackstone. The move will give Blackstone a head start in Chinese takeover deals and allow China's government to tap into the global private equity boom. The news, which is likely to create some political opposition in the US, comes just days before Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi visits America. China is buying the stake through its newly formed state investment fund.

Microsoft reportedly to support Chinese document standard

Microsoft is expected to announce that it is sponsoring an open-source project to create a converter between Ecma Open XML - a set of file formats closely tied to Microsoft Office - and a Chinese national standard called Unified Office Format.


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  • Brief News

White House hits back at Carter

The White House has dismissed former US President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant", following his sharp criticism of Bush. Carter said the administration's impact on the world had made it "the worst in history"."The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including (those of) George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me," Carter said.

A White House spokesman responded by saying that Carter had engaged in "reckless personal criticism".

D-day for Eurotunnel debt plans

Eurotunnel investors are deciding on whether to back a debt restructuring plan that may save it from bankruptcy. The move would wipe out some of their generous perks, including unlimited free travel.Eurotunnel is currently operating under a "safeguard procedure" - the French version of bankruptcy protection - on the direction of the Commercial Court in Paris. The French procedure freezes debt payments and protects companies from bankruptcy, a process similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. Its current restructuring plan, which would reduce the troubled company's debt to £2.84bn ($5.6bn) from the current level of £6.2bn, has already secured the backing of other creditors.

Overhauling US Immigration Is Big Business, Too

Employers, who helped shape a major immigration bill over the last three months, said on Sunday that they were unhappy with the result because it would not cure the severe labor shortages they foresee in the coming decade. In addition, employers expressed alarm as they learned that the Senate bill would require them to check a government database to verify that all current and former employees — aliens and citizens alike — were eligible to work in the United States. Only 3 percent of the nation's illegal immigrants work on farms. Five times as many fill construction jobs and ten times as many are in the service sector. Those businesses stand to benefit from the immigration plan.

Italian deal creates bank giant

Italian bank Unicredit has bought its smaller rival Capitalia, creating Europe's second-largest bank by stock market value. The all-share deal is worth 22bn euro ($29.7bn), and keeps Capitalia in Italian hands. The combined bank will be worth more than 100bn euros. HSBC is currently Europe's largest bank by market share.

Belgian Enron On Trial at Last

More than six years after Belgium's Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products filed for bankruptcy in the wake of an alleged massive accounting scandal, its former founders and managers will finally appear in court Monday in the first phase of their trial on numerous criminal charges. The case enjoys similarities with the corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom that rocked the U.S., while also underlining some trans-Atlantic differences in dealing with them. Twelve company officials, one of the company's outside lawyers, a banker and an accountant have been indicted on counts ranging from falsifying company results to forging documents and manipulating the company's stock price. They face jail terms and fines, if convicted. Lernout's bankers, Dexia SA and KPMG International's Belgian accounting subsidiary, have been indicted as corporate entities for the same offenses. They face fines, and could have to pay the damages of the individual defendants. Some Belgian investors are frustrated by the long delay in getting the trial started, because any civil actions to recover damages must await the ending of the criminal trial. They are clamoring for the country to change its law to allow U.S.-style class-action suits. At present, each investor must file a separate lawsuit.

Art Fight

Steven Spielberg earned praise three months ago when he told authorities he'd uncovered a stolen Norman Rockwell painting in his own collection. But now, the case is evolving into a complicated legal battle. Art dealers with earlier ties to the work went to court to claim it back.

Branson's US airline to take off

Richard Branson's Virgin Group has won final approval to launch a US budget airline. Virgin America plans to take to the skies this summer after the company agreed to revise its links to its British parent firm.

This included the requirement that airline boss Fred Reid is replaced. The US Department of Transportation said the carrier was now in compliance with US rules restricting foreign control of airlines to 25% of shares.

Grisham Asks Law-School Grads: Are You Really Needed?

Author John Grisham delivered an addressat Washington & Lee Law School: "I'm honored to be here and also a little bit surprised to be invited. In the past 18 years, I've written a lot of stories about a lot of lawyers, very few of whom would be classified as models of ethical responsibility," he said. Grisham recalled how his commencement speaker at the University of Mississippi Law School (where's Grisham's son just finished his first year) queried whether he and his fellow graduates were necessary in an overcrowded profession. He said the question is still valid today: "Are you really needed?" Grisham's answer: "Yes, not only are you needed, but you're very, very necessary. You may not be needed in a big corporate law firm with a 1,000 others and an endless supply of labor; you may not be needed in a small town where the lawyers are stacked door-to-door; but there are a lot of people out there that need your help." Describing the inequity and suffering he has witnessed around the country while researching his novels, Grisham urged graduates to get involved with pro bono organizations such as the Innocence Project. Said Grisham: "Until you use your license and your brains and your enthusiasm and your youthfulness to reach out, to reach down and to help someone less fortunate, you won’t realize the power the law has to protect people."

New York Catholic diocese ordered to pay $11M damages in sex abuse suit

The New York Long Island Diocese of Rockville Centre  was found negligent by a jury Friday in the hiring and retention of a youth minister who repeatedly molested two victims between 1999 and 2002, and was ordered to provide $11.4 million in damages. Paul Mones, an attorney for the plaintiffs, characterized the decision as a powerful message to the Catholic diocese, telling AP that "over 99 percent of the cases that have been brought since 2002 have settled in the quiet of lawyers' offices, and none of these cases have seen the light of day."

Lula plans to limit civil servants right to strike

Brazil plans to limit the right of civil servants to strike demanding that in such cases 40% of public services must continue operational. The proposal according to the Brazilian press is currently being drafted by the Attorney General's Office and cabinet officials linked to industrial relations and the civil service. No decision has been taken yet as to a possible Congressional debate on the matter or its implementation as a special decree.

E-commerce and the Telecommunication Sector in Brazil

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Brazil boasts the most advanced Internet and e-commerce industry in Latin America and the fifth largest telecom infrastructure worldwide. This is due to privatization of Brazilian telecom services and associated advancements. between 1998 when the Brazilian telecom system was privatized, and the year 2000, telecom investments advanced an average of 1.36% GNP per year, a rate well above both Brazilian and Latin American historical levels. Thus, in record time the privatization of the Brazilian telecom system succeeded in revolutionizing the national communications industry, which in turn promoted national development of e-commerce.

Daily Press Review 


Mistrust in ODM and Narc-Kenya
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Israel threatens to kill Hamas leaders
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Veep blames opposition for Eastern Province lack of development
Times of Zambia, Government-owned daily of Lusaka, Zambia


Community group donates to fire victim
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

Blair: no Iraq regrets
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

London's historic Cutty Sark ship gutted by blaze
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

Cops crush 'Don' - Kingpin of notorious Montego Bay gang slain in gunfight
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Some say no to army's war on drugs
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Corpse checks failing to detect killings
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

Constitution revision: a loss outweighing the gain
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Petrol prices 'to hit $1.50'
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

Govt to Build 1,000 Housing Units in Maoist Camps
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

DOJ: Ong cannot join High Court
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

'Bocor' MPs apologise to all women if ...
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Suicide Attack Renews Concerns Over Afghanistan Mission
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Immigration maintains urban population growth in Finland
Helsingin Sanomat, Centrist daily of Helsinki, Finland

Putin suggests  investing  oil profits in Russian blue chip companies if market stalls
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Fianna Fáil eyes victory as poll rating hits 41%
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Europe Scolds a Bristling Putin
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

Madeleine's mother holds the fort as husband pays flying visit to UK
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Operations in Mersin port grind to a halt
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

SOS from Palestine
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Official Fined in Case of Harassment
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

22 troops, 19 Fatah al-Islam fighters dead
The Daily Star, Independent, English-language daily of Beirut, Lebanon

Heavy shelling pounds 'training' camp
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

IAF kills 4 in Gaza strike; Israel warns Hamas chiefs
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Ahmadinejad in Belarus for talks
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Dichter: Khaled Mashaal is not immune to targeted killing
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel


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Copyright 2007 - Migalhas International

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