September 10, 2007  nº 538  -  Vol. 5  
 

Fear as a driver, which is going on today, is far more potent than euphoria.”

Alan Greenspan



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  • Top News

Multinational giants want to get in on Brazil's booming biofuels business

Thanks to high oil prices and worries over global warming, multinational companies are straining to find ways into Brazil's booming market for biofuels -- renewable fuels made from crops such as corn and sugar cane. The U.S. and other countries hope to substitute as much as 15% of domestic gasoline for ethanol over the next decade. With ample land, low production costs and ethanol-production experience, Brazil is viewed by many as the country best able to sate world demand. A clutch of potential investors have descended here, including commodities giants, hedge-funds and energy companies. Even the founders of Google Inc. came to have a look. But the global millions are colliding with an earthy reality: families that have controlled Brazil's sugar-cane wealth for decades, even centuries. Many don't want to sell; others are asking sky-high prices for operations riddled with problems. The standoff is preventing some big foreign players from getting into Brazil's promising ethanol market through acquisitions, forcing them to develop their own projects from scratch. Yet resistance to outsiders could affect how quickly larger amounts of cheap Brazilian ethanol can begin flowing into the world's auto fleet. Big companies, which have better access to credit and capital, could also help consolidate, modernize and expand Brazil's ethanol industry. Frustrated investors are easy to find. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the largest U.S. ethanol producer, has been shopping here for more than three years. Global sugar traders such as Australia's CSR Ltd. and Germany's Südzucker AG have met with high prices and lengthy negotiations. India's largest sugar and ethanol maker, Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd., announced plans a year ago to spend $500 million to acquire mills. After several months of courting mill owners at their expansive ranchlike fazendas, the company has struck out. Many family-owned mills appear to be troubled. The domestic sugar and ethanol industry is informally managed and highly fragmented, making it less than ideal for outside investment. Often, millers don't have reliable accounting books and are plagued by tax disputes and debt. Such issues can be difficult to resolve in Brazil's slow-moving legal system.

Skilling makes appeal

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling filed a lengthy brief with a federal appeals court, arguing that his conviction last year was flawed and should be overturned. Mr. Skilling also argues that the length of his sentence -- 24 years -- is unconstitutional.

Justice Department opposes 'Net Neutrality'

The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic. The agency told the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing high-speed Internet practices, that it is opposed to "Net neutrality," the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user. Several phone and cable companies, such as AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., have previously said they want the option to charge some users more money for loading certain content or Web sites faster than others. The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers," the agency said in its filing. Such a result could diminish or delay network expansion and improvement, it added.

Parts of Patriot Act ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge struck down parts of the revised Patriot Act as unconstitutional Thursday, saying courts must be allowed to supervise cases where the government orders Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers." The law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, which complained that the revised law allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigations to demand records without the kind of court order required for other government searches. The ACLU said it was improper to issue so-called national security letters, or NSLs -- investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information -- without a judge's order or grand jury subpoena. Examples of such businesses include Internet service providers, telephone companies and public libraries.

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  • MiMIC Journal

U.S. and Chinese officials to meet on safety issues

U.S. and Chinese officials meeting this week after months of recalls of lead-tainted Chinese toys, defective tires and other unsafe products are unlikely to make a breakthrough, according to experts. The consumer safety talks on Monday and Tuesday overlap with separate meetings on meat and poultry standards and food safety between officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and their counterparts at the Chinese health and farm ministries. As timely as the two countries' consumer agency meetings appear to be, experts are not expecting major changes.

  • Brief News

APEC meeting fizzles to inconclusive end

The meeting in Sydney limped to a close with a compromised agreement on climate change and few answers on how to push the global trade agenda forward. The 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) account for nearly half of the world's trade. China and the US - two of the world's biggest polluters - were among the nations that signed the statement of "aspirational" goal to restrain the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiators have been unable to reach agreement over two main stumbling blocks - the massive agricultural subsidies given to farmers in Europe, the US and Japan, and restrictive industrial tariffs in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

Guatemala awaits election results

Guatemalans have cast their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections, after one of the bloodiest campaigns in the country's history. More than 50 candidates, activists and their relatives were murdered in the run-up to the polls. The top presidential contenders Alvaro Colom, a centre-left businessman, and a former general, Otto Perez Molina, have vowed to tackle crime and poverty. Candidates need a 50% majority to avoid a second round run-off on 4 November. But none are expected to register enough support needed for an outright win.

Greenspan points to market 'fear'

Current financial turmoil is identical to that seen in earlier stock market crashes, Alan Greenspan has warned. Anxiety over a global credit squeeze triggered by the US housing slump was driven by "fear", he said in a speech. "The human race has never found a way to confront bubbles," he said, alluding to booms suddenly grinding to a halt.

Bernanke, the Fed and 2008

Bernanke has signaled that the Fed is inclined to trim borrowing costs at least once in hopes of preventing the sickness in the housing industry from infecting the rest of the economy. A new sign emerging: in times of economic loss, title claims go up . Title insurers issue policies that essentially guarantee a homebuyer is the rightful owner of a property. The industry's fortunes are closely tied to the health of the real-estate industry -- and some major firms are seeing claims rise sharply, particularly on policies issued during recent boom years. To many analysts, an economic slowdown, perhaps even a recession, seems all but inevitable later this year and into 2008.

Lawyer for the dog

In recent years, Dr. Amy Marder, a veterinarian practicing in Lexington, has found herself called upon to decide which human "parent" a pet prefers. Pet custody disputes have become an increasingly common fixture in divorce cases and Marder, an animal behavior specialist, has consulted in several. To do a proper evaluation, she likes to spend at least an hour and a half with the couple and the pet. She asks the owners a barrage of questions: which of the two spends more time with the animal, who plays with it more, who feeds it. She asks about the pet's upbringing, its temperament, how much it exercises. Marder frowns on so-called "calling contests," a method used by lawyers in some custody cases, in which the owners stand at opposite ends of a room and call the pet to see which way it will go. She prefers to observe the animal's body language as it interacts with its owners. She looks at whether it sits closer to one or the other, and how it reacts when each pets it.

Court finds US state's 'crack tax' unconstitutional since drugs are illegal

Tennessee's tax on illegal drugs is "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable," an appeals court declared, ruling the "crack tax" was unconstitutional because it derives revenue from illegal activities. The state law requires people to buy tax stamps for illegal drugs and liquor, just like the kind wholesalers are required to place on cigarettes to show they have paid the levy. The illegal drug tax stamps cost $50 (€36.5) per gram of cocaine or $3.50 (€2.56) per gram of marijuana. Last year the state collected $1.8 million (€1.3 million) of the $43 million (€31.4 million) it assessed.

DOJ official who led government case against Guantanamo habeas rights resigns 

Assistant US Attorney General Peter D. Keisler announced his resignation  as head of the US Department of Justice's Civil Division  Thursday, effective September 21. During his tenure at the Justice Department, Keisler was responsible for managing litigation over the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees. He also played a hand in the government's lawsuit against the tobacco industry in 2005. Last year, President Bush nominated Keisler to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but the Senate has yet to confirm the nomination. Keisler's resignation comes on the heels of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation last month, though there is no indication that Keisler's resignation is related. Several other top DOJ officials have also resigned recently, including the head of the DOJ's civil rights division.

White House facing lawsuit over millions of 'missing' e-mails 

The National Security Archive  filed a lawsuit  Wednesday against the Executive Office of the President  and other presidential affiliates to compel recovery of 5 million electronic messages that apparently went missing from White House computers between March 2003 and October 2005. The missing e-mails became the subject of controversy during the investigation of the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and became material again in the recent Congressional probe into the DOJ firings of eight US Attorneys .

Couple Plead Guilty To Insider Trading

A former analyst at Morgan Stanley and her husband, a former hedge-fund analyst at a unit of ING Groep NV, pleaded guilty to insider-trading charges. Xujia "Jennifer" Wang, a former vice president in Morgan Stanley's finance department's valuation review group, and her husband, Ruopian "Rubin" Chen, once a senior hedge-fund analyst in ING's New York office, both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud for their role in purchasing stocks in advance of three deals. The couple are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 7; federal sentencing guidelines call for prison terms of 30 months to 37 months. They were arrested in May as part of a broader crackdown on insider trading.

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  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time

How much longer? Moment of Truth. Bush's top two men in Iraq are finally about to deliver a verdict on progress there. Here are the questions to ask about it.

Newsweek

How she would govern. A year before the election, Hillary Clinton seems like the safest money in the 2008 race. So what kind of leader would she be?

Business Week

Private Equity's White-Knuckle Deal. With Wall Street closely watching, Clayton Dubilier salvaged the Home Depot buyout—and showed how other big deals in the works can go forward.

The Economist

Nuclear Power New Age: A nuclear revival is welcome so long as the industry does not repeat its old mistakes.

L'Express

Special immobilier: faut-il acheter maintenant?

Der Spiegel

Die Nacht von Stammheim
30 Jahre: Deutscher Herbst. Starke Indizien weisen darauf hin, dass die RAF-Häftlinge während der Schleyer-Entführung im Gefängnis von Stuttgart-Stammheim abgehört wurden.

  • Daily Press Review

Rebel leader due in Congo capital
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

DRC And Nkunda Have Agreed On a Fragile Cease-Fire
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Kufuor cannot control my presidency
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Israel: Halt Summary Expulsion of Sudanese Migrants
Human Rights Watch (Africa), International news press releases

Pakistan's Sharif arrested upon return
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Women claim indecent assault by officer
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Soweto wine festival draws record crowd
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Cops: Zille wouldn't listen
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

6.2-magnitude quake shakes Colombia
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Who Dem responds to Chuck Fender Bahamas kidnap attempt
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Brazil: Report on Past Atrocities a Key Step Forward
Human Rights Watch (Americas), International news press releases

Ethanol Divides Agribusiness
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Superman sizzles - Asafa smashes 100m mark in lightning run
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru is Ready for 2008 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Former Pakistani PM arrested on return
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Suspect parents back in U.K.
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Indonesian students abroad free to decide where to work, says Yudhoyono
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

U.S. Lawmakers Debate Iraq Situation Ahead of Key Report
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Sharif returns, arrested at airport
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Gitanjali not told of 'husband' mail
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

APEC summit takes up North Korea nuke issue, Abe seeks speedier efforts
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

NRD to tackle public's citizenship problems
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Strong 6.8. quake off Colombia - USGS
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

UAE cracks down on money laundering, sale of dual-use items
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Corbys sue Seven for damages
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Pakistan braces for Sharif's return
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Sharif 'taken to Pakistan jail'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Sharif arrested on arrival in Pakistan
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

'Parents should be charged with killing Madeleine' say police
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Inuk brings TV viewing experience to PC
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

We mustn't give up on search for Madeleine'
icLiverpool, Online news portal, Liverpool, England

Two Britons, who are called suspects in disappearance of daughter, leave Portugal
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

GBP 1m to tackle gun crime
Manchester Online, Independent daily, Manchester, England

Maddy's parents back in Britain
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

Council staff facing pay cut after wage review
North-West Evening Mail, Independent daily, Cumbria, England

Documenting the tragic human stories behind the Nazi confiscation of art in Bohemia and Moravia
Radio Prague, Online news portal, Prague, Czech Republic

'Madeleine Police In New Searches'
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Interview with Dutch Terror Expert:  'I'm Not All That Worried About Terrorism'
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Returning Sharif detained in Pakistan
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Man for court over fatal Dublin stabbing
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Japan PM Abe’s job at stake as parliament meets
The Scotsman, Moderate daily, Edinburgh, Scotland

'US delayed our Basra pull-out'
The Sun, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Modern life 'is destroying children's play'
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Gerry McCann: Why we are coming back home
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Turn Back the Clocks Saturday Night
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Iran Denies Plans to Build Atomic Bomb
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Petraeus to argue against Iraq troop cuts
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Analysis: Syria fumes as the rest of the Arab world stays silent
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Neocons Put on a Surge-Stravaganza
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Capital for limited liability company to be cut to JD3,000 - Jordan
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Bush to Address Americans on Iraq Next Week
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Saudi camel breeders blame government for dying herds
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Female activists threaten to boycott coming elections 
Yemen Times, Independent weekly, Sana'a, Yemen

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The messages that appear in this newsletter are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be and should not be considered legal advice nor substitute for obtaining legal advice from competent, independent, legal counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.

Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The information contained on this list may or may not reflect the most current legal development.