December 17, 2007  nº 577  -  Vol. 5  

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

Benjamin Franklin


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  • Top News

UN climate conference pledges new global warming pact by 2009 

Participants in the United Nations Climate Change Conference agreed in Bali, Indonesia Saturday to a timetable for negotiating a new international treaty on global warming. Under the "Bali Roadmap" , the 187 participating nations pledged to a negotiate a new agreement to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol  by 2009: The decision includes a clear agenda for the key issues to be negotiated up to 2009. These are: action for adapting to the negative consequences of climate change, such as droughts and floods; ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; ways to widely deploy climate-friendly technologies and financing both adaptation and mitigation measures. Concluding negotiations in 2009 will ensure that the new deal can enter into force by 2013, following the expiry of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol. The United States, which has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, agreed to the Roadmap after initial disagreement with the document's wording.

US Senate passes Iraq funds bill

The US Senate has authorized more spending for the Iraq war, without tying the bill to a timetable for troop withdrawal - a key Democratic demand. In a 90-3 vote, it approved a further $189bn for the campaigns in Iraq and also in Afghanistan.

Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry

For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

Event: 9th Annual Latin American Tax Conference

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  • Brief News

Congress unbowed over CIA tapes

Members of the US Congress are to press ahead with their own inquiry into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes of al-Qaeda suspects. They confirmed the inquiry despite a warning from the Bush administration that the agency will not co-operate.

The tapes are thought to have shown harsh treatment of terrorist suspects. The lower house of Congress earlier approved a bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning. One senior Republican called the CIA arrogant and incompetent and said he was determined to hold it accountable for the destruction of the tapes.

Bolivia head praises reform plan

Bolivian President Evo Morales has formally received a new draft constitution, ahead of two referendums due on its reform measures. He made rewriting the constitution a key part of his reform agenda to give the indigenous majority greater political power, but the issue has deepened regional and ethnic divisions in the country. The country's three richest regions declared autonomy in protest at the plans for greater central control, with a fourth region expected to join them.

EU Launches Probe of Steel Sold by China

The European Union launched an investigation into whether China is illegally selling steel at prices so low they are hurting European steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp AG. Steel producers complained in October, asking for a 40% surcharge on soaring imports of two types of steel and claiming that China's output was "out of control."

Citigroup makes $49bn SIV rescue

US bank Citigroup has said it will take control of seven investment funds worth $49bn as it continues to ride out problems in the financial markets. By taking control of seven structured investment vehicles (SIVs), it hopes to help the funds pay off debts without having to sell off assets cheaply. SIVs sell short-term debt and use the money to buy higher yielding assets. Many of the assets included mortgage-backed securities that have seen their value tumble after higher interest rates in the US pushed up the number of defaults and repossessions. Banks previously listed SIVs off their balance sheets so it was unclear how much exposure they had. By bringing them onto their balance sheet, banks are beginning to reveal the true extent of the impact of the credit crisis, analysts argue.

Zimbabwe attorney general suspended during corruption probe 

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has suspended the country's attorney general on charges of corruption and established a three-person tribunal to investigate the charges. Officials charged  Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele in November with acting contrary to or inconsistent with his duty as a public officer in violation of section 174 (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act . Gula-Ndebele is said to have met with fugitive former banking executive James Mushore while Mushore was on the Zimbabwean police's wanted list, informing him that he would not be arrested if he returned to the country. The meeting was apparently held without the government's knowledge or permission. The investigatory tribunal, which includes two justices and a lawyer, will investigate the situation and will then recommend whether Gula-Ndebele should remain in office.

Boards Seek Directors Who Aren't CEOs

More executives below the level of chief executive are serving on other public-company boards, as many CEOs curb outside commitments and as investors demand more expertise in the boardroom.

Knol experiment to rival Wikipedia?

Google announced that it is testing a publishing platform called Knol. It's being compared to Wikipedia and Mahalo. While it's a somewhat different take on knowledge collection, these comparisons are apt. Knol is a wiki-like platform. Authors can create topics, and there are tools to interlink articles and content, but as Manber says, an article, or "knol," is "just a Web page." Where it differs from a wiki is its focus on the author. All knols will highlight who wrote them.

Unsafe guarantee

Delivery guarantee had contributed to numerous accidents. Domino's made its name in pizza delivery by running ads that offered a discounted or free pie if the driver didn't arrive within 30 minutes of an order. But in 1993, a St. Louis woman who was involved in an auto accident with a Domino's delivery person sued the company on the grounds that the 30-minute pledge led to accidents. Domino's later settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum that the company says was in the seven-figure range, and, fearing a wave of similar lawsuits, abandoned the promise. Now, Domino's plans to rebrand itself around a play on the old slogan.

Danone Gets a Cool Response In Peace Offering to Partner in China

Danone said it has suspended certain lawsuits against Zong Qinghou, its estranged business partner in China, and is willing to drop other legal action in an effort to encourage him to work toward reconciliation. The response to Danone's peace offering was cool. The Sino-French presidential summit last month prompted a call from the two governments for a speedy and amicable resolution to Danone's dispute with its partner in joint ventures that produce Wahaha-brand drinks. Danone, as a result of the signals from the two governments, has suspended six lawsuits it filed in Chinese courts that allege Mr. Zong was in breach of his fiduciary duties as a director of their joint-venture business. Under the right conditions, Mr. Faber said, Danone would suspend all of its pending legal action against Mr. Zong in order to begin talks. Danone is locked in a battle for one of its most important global businesses, Wahaha-branded water and drinks in China, with Mr. Zong, who founded the company. The French company charges that Mr. Zong built and owns a parallel network of manufacturers and distributors for Wahaha drinks in China outside the decade-old joint venture Danone controls with a 51% share. Mr. Zong doesn't deny he owns the businesses but says Danone has been an unfaithful partner, as well, for instance by investing in dairies that compete with Wahaha.

Search for India prison escapees

Police have launched a search for the nearly 300 people, including over 100 Maoist rebels, who escaped from a prison in central India on Sunday.

Brazil boosts Volkswagen sales

Volkswagen (VW) saw vehicle sales rise 10.3% in November year-on-year, boosted by surging demand in Brazil. For the first 11 months of 2007, the firm saw sales in Brazil increase 35% compared to the same period a year earlier while sales in China were nearly 30% higher. The company expects growing sales in South America and China to offset a slowdown in Germany, its home market, as well as in the US.

  • Weekly Magazine Review


Can Anyone Win This Thing?  The race for the Republican presidential nomination is turning into a rare and unpredictable free-for-all. That's what happens when a party lacks a front runner, is low on intellectual steam--and its best candidates all have notable defects.


The Sleeper. Why John Edwards is still a contender in the presidential race.

Business Week

GooGoogle and the Wisdom of Clouds. A lofty new strategy aims to put incredible computing power in the hands of many.

The Economist

Iraq and Afghanistan, must they be wars without end? Iraq and Afghanistan are not wars without end. But "winning" either struggle will take many years, and cannot be achieved by force alone.


La Chine va-t-elle craquer?

Der Spiegel

Die Gerechtigkeitslücke. Deutschland zwischen Mindestlohn und Spitzeneinkommen.


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  • Daily Press Review

S Africa rivals in key ANC vote
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

A final farewell: William Swing receives standing ovation from MONUC staff, Independent online news aggregator

Corruption attributed to moral decadence
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

DR Congo: Warring Sides Must Protect Civilians
Human Rights Watch (Africa), International news press releases

The annual hajj pilgrimage
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Rowdy crowd 'unseats' chairperson Lekota
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Votes for ANC top six to be counted by hand
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Zuma, Mbeki supporters square off, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Eight dead in Panama accident
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Ferguson and Galbaransingh lose extradition appeal
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Colombia: Death Threat Against OAS Representative
Human Rights Watch (Americas), International news press releases

Argentina: Human Rights Trials Dangerous for Witnesses and Accused Alike
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

'Ungrateful nation' - Jamaicans blasted at Kameka's funeral - Senior cop demands an eye for an eye
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica proudly presents '101 Reasons to be Proud of Peru'
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Saudi king pardons rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Travellers bear brunt of storm
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Three alternatives for RI Muslims to celebrate Idul Adha
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Lee Myung-bak Should Let the Public Decide
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

'New parliament can impeach Musharraf'
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Body of Patna abducted student found
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

'Green IT' trend set to heat up, but will it cool the world down?
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Hindraf 5's family allowed to visit
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Winter storm pounds northeastern U.S. 
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Philippine army enforcing truce despite rebel attack
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Monster rat found in 'lost world' jungle
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

64 per cent polling in final phase
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

England was 'ill-prepared' for floods
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

He's the Leon king!
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Christmas credit crunch: One million Britons struggle to meet mortgage payments
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Alca-Lu Austria, Kapsch Carriercom establish JV
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Russian democracy is work in progress
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

Happy Ending on Bali:  Climate Change Deal Reached after US U-Turn
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Murder and chaos left by British, says Basra chief
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

H&M sales boosted by Cavalli collection
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Britain 'fleeing' Iraq, says Zawahiri
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Hillary Clinton gets crucial boost
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Israeli Arabs Boycott 60th Anniversary of Jewish State
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Egyptian police arrest 7 after Christian shops burned
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Russia makes first shipment of nuclear fuel to Bushehr plant
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Iraq: Not Even the Hajj is Free of Corruption
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Free trade a boost to national economy
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Russia Starts Nuclear Fuel Deliveries to Iran
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

World powers meet in Paris to bankroll Palestinian state
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Al-Houthi warns of annihilative catastrophe amid indicators of fifth Sa'ada war 
Yemen Times, Independent weekly, Sana'a, Yemen


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Copyright 2007 - Migalhas International

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.