May 28, 2007 no. 495 - Vol. 5
 

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."

 Ayn Rand

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  • Top News

EU Panel Queries Google on Privacy Concerns

The European Commission Friday said its advisory group on privacy protection has sent Google Inc. a letter demanding an explanation of the search engine's privacy policies. Google keeps personal data drawn from searches for up to two years. The length of time it retains this data is main source of the European Union's concern, an official said. A privacy watchdog group comprised of representatives from all 27 EU countries, known as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, drew up the letter. Its questions are "appropriate and legitimate," said commission spokesman Pietro Petrucci. Google "will publish a response to that letter before the next meeting," of the working party in June, a Google spokesman said. The EU's letter to Google was a response to that announcement, though Google said it consulted with privacy advocates and regulators in both the EU and the U.S. before changing its policies. Google said keeping data and search history on users improves the quality of the search engine by helping it recognize misspellings, offer users alternative search terms and fight unsolicited email, or spammer, abuse.

UN rights investigator says US committing violations

An investigator for the UN Human Rights Council said Friday that the US has committed human rights violations in its interrogations of terror suspects and by putting questionable restrictions on immigration. In preliminary report from what will be a larger document due to the Council later this year, UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin  said at the end of a US visit  that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the US to extract information from alleged terrorists amounted to torture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  treaty, to which the US is signatory. US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad  countered that the techniques used were not torture because they are done "under US laws and procedures and legitimate decision-making authorities." Scheinen said that these laws, mostly enacted since 9/11, have undermined civil liberties, but noted that the US should not be regarded as an enemy to human rights, especially in regard to press freedom. On Wednesday, Amnesty International  in its 2007 annual report on human rights  said that the 'war on terror' has eroded human rights  in the US and other western nations, with Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan characterizing it as an attempt "to roll back some fundamental principles of human rights." Reuters has more.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Chinese media condemn US report

China's state media have hit out at a report by the US Department of Defense on Beijing's military build-up. The People's Daily - the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper - said the document was misleading, one-sided and could harm bilateral ties. The Pentagon's report, issued on Friday, expressed concern over China's growing military might and called for greater transparency over its spending.

  • Brief News

Blair Backs Tougher Interrogation Laws

Tony Blair  said Sunday in an op-ed  published in the Sunday Times that the country has chosen to protect the civil liberties of foreign nationals over national security and therefore could not blame the government for last week's reported disappearance of three terror suspects . Pointing to a series of court rulings favoring foreign suspects, he wrote: Over the past five or six years, we have decided as a country that except in the most limited of ways, the threat to our public safety does not justify changing radically the legal basis on which we confront this extremism. Their right to traditional civil liberties comes first. I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment. This extremism, operating the world over, is not like anything we have faced before. It needs to be confronted with every means at our disposal. Tougher laws in themselves help, but just as crucial is the signal they send out: that Britain is an inhospitable place to practice this extremism.

Mexico attorney general joins legal challenge to Mexico City abortion law

The Mexican government joined in opposition to a Mexico City  abortion law legalizing abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy on Friday, appointing Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora to help argue before the Supreme Court of Mexico  that the law is unconstitutional. Mora joins Jose Luis Soberanes , Mexico's top human rights official, who has already brought suit to strike down the law. In order for the law to be overturned, eight of the eleven supreme court judges must declare unconstitutional.

Japanese minister 'kills himself'

Toshikatsu Matsuoka, 62, Japan's agriculture minister has died in hospital after apparently committing suiciden. He has been linked to a growing political funding scandal, was reportedly found hanged in a building near Japan's parliament.

Canada Catholics 'ordain' women

Five women and a married man, all Roman Catholics, have been ordained as priests and deacons by a female Catholic bishop. However, the Vatican says it will not recognize either the ordinations or the group carrying them out.

Canada constitution needs government documents access amendment: appeals judge

An Ontario Court of Appeal  judge said in a decision  issued Friday that the Canadian Constitution  must be amended to guarantee access to government documents. The ruling changes current law, which forbids officials from making determinations on the release of information based on a balancing of public interest and need for confidentiality. Justice Harry Laforme  wrote that it is incorrect to assume that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids disclosure outright "simply because the framers rejected a constitutionally entrenched right to information." The suit was filed by the Criminal Lawyers' Association [official website in response to a refusal to turn over government documents in a 1983 murder case by the Ontario Ministry of Public Safety and Security.

Venezuela Takes Over Private TV Station

Venezuela's oldest private broadcaster has gone off the air, complying with an order by Chavez that has drawn both condemnation and celebrations. Thousands marched to mark the demise of an opposition TV station in Venezuela, as the channel ends broadcasts.

US 'opposes' G8 climate proposals

The US appears to have rejected draft proposals by Germany for G8 members to agree tough measures in greenhouse gas emissions, leaked documents have shown. Wide-ranging US amendments to a draft communiqué prepared ahead of June's G8 in Germany summit cite a "fundamental opposition" to the proposals.

EU sets new digital media rules

European ministers have agreed on new rules for television and on-demand video on the internet, allowing more advertising and "product placement". Viewers will have to be informed when product placement - putting a sponsor's product in a TV show - takes place. The practice will remain banned from children's and news programs.

Arrests at Russian gay protests

Two West European MPs and a Russian gay rights leader have been arrested in Moscow, as violence broke out at a banned protest by gay rights activists. Anti-homosexual protesters threw kicks, punches and eggs at the gay rights group, chanting "Moscow is not Sodom".

Eurotunnel 'saved' by investors

Eurotunnel has won shareholder approval to slash the company's huge debts in a rescue plan that will secure the future of the troubled company. The French financial regulator said 87% of investors backed the proposals which will cut debts from £6bn (8.9bn euros) to £2.84bn and create a new firm.

Brazilian Prosecutor Wants Pilots Charged

It’s now up to a judge to decide whether American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino will face criminal charges in the collision of their Embraer Legacy 600 bizjet with a GOL Airlines Boeing 737 last September. A Brazilian prosecutor has recommended charges of placing a vessel or aircraft in jeopardy against the pair, who were held in Brazil for two months after the crash and released on the promise they would return to face any charges that were laid. The prosecutor’s recommendations will be sent to a judge who will decide if charges are warranted.

Sugar Price Drop May Discourage Brazil Investments

Brazilian sugar and ethanol makers will probably scale back investments in new mills in coming years as lower prices discourage spending, an industry leader said. Sugar, the worst-performing commodity in the past 12 months, will likely stay around 9 cents a pound this year, said Unica.

Tractebel to start road show for US$180mn debentures

Brazilian generator Tractebel Energia will start a road show the week of May 28 to promote its non-convertible debentures issue of 350mn reais (US$180mn). The debentures are the first of two financing instruments designed to raise 1.5bn reais. Proceeds will help recover Tractebel's cash reserves following its acquisition of the 243MW São Salvador hydro project from Suez Energy South America.

Suit Says Wal-Mart Brass Flout Ethics

Fired Wal-Mart executive Julie Roehm accused the retailer's CEO and other senior executives of misconduct, including accepting sweetheart deals and engaging in improper personal relationships.

Behind Two Firings

Dow Chemical and two former officials are engaged in dueling lawsuits over the pair's alleged effort to buy out the company. Meanwhile, the SEC has launched an informal inquiry, looking into trading in Dow stock as rumors about a possible buyout were intensifying this spring.

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  • Daily Press Review

Africa

Prisoners on deathrow demand conjugal rights
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Corruption still rife in Judiciary ñ 2007 TI report
Ghanaian Chronicle, Independent, published  in Accra, Ghana

Mugabe ready to seize foreign firms
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa

Mazabuka police impound 10 unregistered trucks
Times of Zambia, Government-owned daily of Lusaka, Zambia

Americas

NCSA concerned
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

Teachers OK wage hike in Santa Cruz
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Troops seize equipment of anti-government TV station
The Globe And Mail, Centrist daily of Toronto, Canada

The prodigal son returns
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Canada and Mexico move together on investigations
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

Fantastic filly / Vodka become 1st female horse to win Japan Derby in 64 years
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

Pentagon report clouds facts, says analyst
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Death boat captain broke
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

Eight-party Meet To Resume Today
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

More poll 'errors'
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

CF not required
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Europe

The Battle Between Patents and Patients to Ease AIDS Suffering
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

New legislation to improve position of asylum seekers
Helsingin Sanomat, Centrist daily of Helsinki, Finland

Lugovoi denies life is in danger in Russia
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Ahern's strength to neutralise Mahon effect on coalition talks
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Evraz to Take Over Mining Company
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

Fortress G8 as Left gathers forces
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Horses of Istanbul islands
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Lebanon's new war?
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Fair Probe Promised
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

Beirut wants Palestinians to settle Nahr al-Bared crisis
The Daily Star, Independent, English-language daily of Beirut, Lebanon

Lebanon gears up for long haul over militant standoff
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

7 Qassam rockets fired at Sderot Monday morning
Ha'aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Mottaki: History evidences that Afghan nation never hosted aliens
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Court indicts Sofir for racial murder of Arab taxi driver
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel

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