April 23, 2008  Nº. 620  -  Vol. 6


"All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own."

Edwin Markham 


In today’s Grammatigalhas: an interesting viewpoint: Oil has two potential futures

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  • Top News

UBS admits errors to shareholders

Swiss bank UBS has admitted that a lack of risk control and ambitious plans to grow revenue led to its huge losses when the global credit crunch struck. The admissions come in a 50-page report to shareholders before its annual general meeting later this week. UBS has so far made write-downs of $37bn, dwarfing those made by any other leading bank. The losses cost chief executive and chairman Marcel Ospel his job and the firm faces calls to be split up.

SEC Rebuffs Lawmakers Over Bear

The SEC refused a congressional request to disclose why an investigation into Bear Stearns's valuation of complex debt securities was dropped. The agency cited confidentiality in its decision involving the late-stage probe.

Bush: Nafta Shouldn't Be Reworked

Bush weighed in on the debate over Nafta, saying the pact shouldn't be abandoned or renegotiated. Flanked by Canada's Harper and Mexico's Calderon, Bush defended the 1994 pact as a "bold decision" to cut trade barriers.  The three leaders endorsed a pending U.S. free-trade deal with Colombia, countering objections from congressional Democrats who have blocked a vote on it.

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Michael Page specializes in the placement of candidates in permanent, contract, temporary and interim positions within client companies around the world. Have a look at the new section of the Migalhas website and discover the professional development opportunities with large corporations, in legal and business fields, presented by Michael Page International. Click here to peep through the hole!

  • Crumbs!

1 - Philadelphia gun regulations blocked pending constitutional review(Read more)

2 - Generic competition hits Pfizer(Read more)

3 - Citigroup sees second giant loss(Read more)

4 - Simpsons returns to Venezuelan TV (Read more)

5 - Regulator plans rules to curb credit card (Read more)

6 - US expanding DNA data collection to all federal arrestees(Read more)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China shares down 50% from peak

China's main share index, the Shanghai Composite Index, is trading 50% below the peak level reached in October 2007. It ended the morning session at 3,022.6, which is 3% down on the day and less than half of its record close of 6,092.1, set on 16 October. Concerns that government measures to control inflation could hit the profits of Chinese companies have been partly behind the drop.

  • Grammatigalhas

Everyday “Legal” Jargon 

Oil has two potential futures

As oil prices hit $120 a barrel this month, a forecast from Shell Oil outlines two very different possibilities for the future of the world's energy supply. Looking out to the year 2050, Shell strategist Jeremy Bentham says demand will go up, while oil supplies will be harder to find. But how nations and companies react is harder to predict.

"We anticipate that you'll begin to see a plateauing of easily accessible conventional oil and gas around about the 2015, 2020 type of period," Bentham tells Steve Inskeep.

Bentham outlines two outcomes — one a "scramble" and the other a "blueprint" scenario — for addressing energy needs.

In the scramble scenario, he says, "a focus on supply security drives a lot of decision-making." For example, China is worried about its future supply of oil, so it decides that it needs to be friendly with Iran. Or the U.S., worried about its supply of oil, holds intensive talks with Saudi Arabia.

"That can kick off a dynamic where the tensions are perceived to be a fight between nations and hence a scramble for supply. The demand side is postponed, in terms of being managed, in that scramble outlook," Bentham says.

So, a fear of shortage of supply builds up, and the steps to manage the whole energy system holistically aren't taken, Bentham says. Instead of considering conservation or alternatives, people just grab for oil and other forms of energy.

The "blueprint" scenario, on the other hand, recognizes that forces can combine to affect change. "You see emerging coalitions coming together at the state level but also cross-border" to find solutions, Bentham says.

He points to climate-related legislation in California as an example.
"A set of interests were recognized among technology entrepreneurs and farmers and shrewd politicians which led, in this country in 2006, to the climate-related legislation in California," he says.

That legislation influenced thinking in other states, which in turn influenced thinking at the federal level. "So you get this spreading awareness and spreading regulatory activity; you get a set of actors who influence the national agendas," Bentham says, and a patchwork of standards and regulations begins to emerge.

"You don't get global agreements," Bentham says, "but you get a critical mass of sectors and countries having, for instance, some kind of carbon dioxide pricing in the blueprint scenario." And that approach would grow over time as people recognize the benefits, because it promotes energy efficiency and new technology developments, he says.

Shell has a preference for blueprint-type outcomes that address demand, supply and environmental issues together, Bentham says, because "it's better for society at large, but also it's better for business and investment."

Source: Morning Edition April 22, 2008

As If Your Life Depended On It… or How to get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice, practice

Refrain from ‘nounizing’ verbs!

The verb can be the strongest word in a sentence. Used keenly, verbs invigorate writing; misused, they create fog. Overuse of passive voice, turning verbs into nouns are potential problems. Nouns ending in –ion, -tion, -ment, -ant, -ent, -ance, and –able are sure signs of ‘nounized’ verbs!  Instead of writing ‘We’ll substitute Nº. 4 for Nº. 5’, the fogged writer states ‘We’ll make a substitution of Nº. 4 for Nº. 5’.

Simple verb (DO)  / Swollen verb (DON’T):

Acquire / seek acquisition
Adjust / create an adjustment
Alter / make an alteration
Assist / render assistance
Conclude / come to a conclusion
Decide / arrive at a decision
Discuss / engage in a discussion
Estimate / offer an estimation
Evaluate / perform an evaluation
Indicate / give indication
Locate / ascertain the location
Study / do a study
Undertake / venture an undertaking

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  • Historia Verdadera

Ley

El Senado de México aprobó el dictamen de reformas a la Ley de Adquisiciones, Arrendamiento y Servicios del Sector Público, la norma permite al gobierno federal contratar bienes y servicios del extranjero cuando los contratos respectivos no puedan realizarse en el país.

Petroleras

Un nuevo choque enfrenta a Petróleos de Venezuela con sus socios extranjeras y pone en riesgo futuras inversiones de empresas holandesas por las críticas hechas por el ministro de Energía y Petróleo, Rafael Ramírez, contra el Acuerdo de Promoción y Protección de Inversiones entre el Reino de los Países Bajos y Venezuela, que está en vigencia desde agosto de 1993.

Fallo en contra

La píldora del día después tomó la calle ayer en Santiago y otras once ciudades del país. No fue una súbita explosión sexual de los chilenos, sino un masivo repudio al fallo del Tribunal Constitucional (TC) que prohibió la distribución gratuita del anticonceptivo de emergencia en los consultorios públicos a petición de 36 parlamentarios de derecha.

Rechazo

Las altas cortes de Colombia cerraron filas en torno a la posibilidad de que el gobierno cree un nuevo tribuan l con facultades para juzgar al presidente, congresistas y magistrados, tema que se habría tratado en una reunión del presidente Álvaro Uribe con congresistas de los partidos que lo apoyan, en la que acordaron impulsar una reforma que permita superar la grave crisis política que sacude al Parlamento por nexos de legisladores con paramilitares de ultraderecha.

Paraguay – China

El presidente electo de Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, dejó el martes abierta la posibilidad de iniciar relaciones diplomáticas con China, lo que marcaría un giro en la política exterior del único país en Sudamérica declarado aliado de Taiwán.

Reserva

Los diputados de Bolivia aprobaron el martes en  su estación en grande y en detalle, dos contratos suscritos entre Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos y Petroandina Sociedad Anónima Mixta para la exploración y explotación de gas y petróleo en nueve áreas reservadas como los parques ecológicos Sécure, Madidi, Chiapani, Lliquimuni y Chepite, en los departamentos de La Paz, Cochabamba y Beni. Petroandina S.A. esta conformada por PDVSA y la estatal boliviana, YPFB.

  • Brief News

Churches fear Zimbabwe 'genocide'

Church leaders in Zimbabwe have called for international action to prevent post-election violence developing into genocidal proportions. African countries and the UN should intervene to deal with a "deteriorating" situation, they said. The opposition says it won the 29 March presidential poll outright, but results are yet to be released.

French lawyer takes on Khmer case

A French lawyer whose previous clients have included a Nazi war criminal has agreed to represent former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan in Cambodia. Jacques Verges has defended World War II criminal Klaus Barbie, as well as Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal. He will join Khieu Samphan when he appeals on Wednesday against his pre-trial detention by the UN-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge exercised a reign of terror in Cambodia in 1975-79.

Clinton wins, but dynamics of the race stay same

Hillary Clinton has beaten rival Barack Obama in a critical vote in the state of Pennsylvania as the two battle to be the Democrats' presidential candidate. Speaking after her convincing 10-point win, she said Americans deserved "a president who doesn't quit". Clinton still trail Obama in terms of the delegates who will choose the Democratic nominee but this victory keeps her campaign alive, analysts say. The former first lady told cheering supporters at a victory rally in Philadelphia that she had beaten a "formidable opponent" who had outspent her three-to-one.

Euro scales $1.60 for first time

The euro has hit a record peak against the US dollar on expectations of higher interest rates in the euro zone. It rose as high as $1.6019 as weak US housing market data underscored fears over the health of the US economy. The euro has rallied in recent months and Tuesday's peak came as European central bankers raised the prospect of higher rates to control inflation. Higher interest rates make bank deposits and other euro-denominated investments more attractive. Oil prices have paused for breath after a series of steep daily rises which saw them approach $120 a barrel on Tuesday.

Darling backs £50bn bank bailout

Chancellor Alistair Darling has backed the Bank of England's £50bn plan to help prevent the credit crisis causing more damage to the UK banking system. Under the scheme, banks will be able to swap potentially risky mortgage debts for secure government bonds to help them operate during the credit squeeze.

Supreme Court considers the 'millionaire's amendment'

The Supreme Court hears arguments on the so-called "millionaire's amendment" — a provision in the McCain-Feingold federal campaign finance law that allows the opponent of a big-spending, self-financed candidate to raise more contributions, while still staying eligible for federal funding. The amendment is triggered when one candidate spends $350,000 of his or her own money.

Air France scraps Alitalia bid

Alitalia's future is under fresh threat after Air France KLM said it would walk away from its proposed takeover bid. Air France suspended talks with the troubled Italian carrier last month after it failed to get the necessary backing from unions for its proposals. It has now dropped out altogether, saying the contractual basis for its initial offer was "no longer valid". Rome is to give Alitalia an emergency loan of 300m euros in an desperate attempt to stave off its collapse.

Microsoft reveals a web-based software system

The software giant announced on Tuesday a data storage and Web software system, called Live Mesh, that is intended to blur the distinction between software running on the Windows operating system and an elaborate array of services that will be delivered to a growing collection of electronic gadgets. Live Mesh is Microsoft’s late entry into a rapidly growing market described as cloud computing. The term refers to the movement of software applications and services from PCs to centralized data centers, where they are made available via the Internet. Companies like Amazon.com, Google, Salesforce and dozens of others are building computing centers that will effectively outsource data processing and make it a commodity that companies purchase as they would electricity.

Italy confiscates fake olive oil

Italian police have arrested 25 people in the south of the country suspected of selling adulterated vegetable oil as extra virgin olive oil. Police say sunflower oil was mixed with chlorophyll and beta-carotene to give it olive oil's characteristic color. The head of a local consumers' association complained that olive oil was simply the latest food scare to hit Italy.

Court upholds school ban on cellphones

A ban on cellphones in the nation's largest school system was upheld Tuesday by a state appeals court. School officials have called the phones a distraction and say they could be used for nefarious purposes, including cheating. Parents say they need to stay in touch with their children in case of emergencies like the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They call the ban irrational and unsafe and say it intrudes on their right to determine what is best for their children. NY City lawyers argued that education officials had the right to make policy decisions - "the kind government officials make all the time" - about devices students are allowed to have at school. The state Supreme Court's Appellate Division agreed. It said that nothing about the ban interferes with any of the rights claimed by the parents, nor does it prevent students and their parents from communicating before and after school.

Bosnia war crimes trio convicted

Bosnia's war crimes court has convicted three Bosnian Serbs of killing unarmed Muslim civilians, including women and children, in September 1992. They were sentenced to prison terms over 20 years. Bosnia's war crimes court dates from 2005 and was set up to ease the pressure on the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, which aims to have completed its trials by 2010.

Russia swaps Libya debt for deals

Russia has agreed to cancel $4.5bn (£2.3bn) of Libyan debt in exchange for major contracts for Russian firms. The two countries signed deals on energy co-operation, military assistance and construction of a 500km (310-mile) railway line in Libya. Libya was a big importer of Soviet weaponry during the Cold War, when it accumulated large debts.

Murdoch taking on F.C.C. media rule

As he nears completion of a deal to acquire Newsday from the Tribune Company, Rupert Murdoch appears likely to pose the first significant challenge to the media ownership rule that the Federal Communications Commission recently adopted. Even without Newsday, Mr. Murdoch was in the process of seeking waivers to continue to control two newspapers (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post) and two television stations (WNYW and WWOR) in the New York area. With those waiver requests pending at the F.C.C., the Newsday deal means that Mr. Murdoch must now apply for a waiver to own the two television stations and three newspapers in the same market.

U.K. Judge reprimands Allen & Overy for litigation bill

One case. Two associates. 15 months. 4,540 billable hours. From what we know of associate life, those numbers are well within the realm of possibility. But a High Court judge in London, said that, in light of Allen & Overy’s total bill of £5.2 million ($10.32 million) for its successful defense of Research In Motion, you’d expect the firm’s associates to be able to recite “all the documents in the case by heart.” While RIM won its patent dispute with Visto, a U.S.-based wireless company, Floyd refused to grant RIM its attorneys fees. Allen & Overy said it was instructed to leave “no stone unturned” in defending its client, and its legal costs represented a tiny fraction of the financial risk to RIM’s business posed by the litigation.

Treasury Department issues new security review regulations for foreign investments 

The US Department of the Treasury issued proposed regulations  Monday designed to implement the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 . In January, US President George W. Bush issued an executive order  similarly designed to implement the Act, which expands the investigative scope of the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)  to include foreign infrastructure and energy investments and adds an additional 45-day review of proposed acquisitions from foreign state-owned entities. A 45-day public comment period on the proposed regulations will begin later this week after the regulations are officially published in the Federal Register. The law, passed by Congress  in July 2007, stems from congressional criticism  of a proposed acquisition by United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World  that would have allowed the company to manage six major US ports in early 2006. The deal eventually fell through , but prompted Congress to pass the legislation to increase scrutiny of foreign investment proposals.

Supreme Court rejects death penalty appeals after lethal injection ruling 

The US Supreme Court Monday denied without comment petitions for certiorari filed by 10 death row inmates seeking to have their executions blocked. Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection  does not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Three of the inmates whose petitions were denied Monday were previously granted last minute stays of execution.  The petitioners may soon be executed as their stays of execution terminated automatically when their appeals for certiorari were denied.

Colombia high court extends pension and health benefits to same-sex couples 

The Constitutional Court of Colombia has held that same-sex couples should be given the same pension and health benefits as those held by opposite-sex couples. The Constitutional Court reached its decision Thursday after considering arguments presented by domestic and foreign human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch. In its decision, the Court said that to exclude same-sex couples from receiving such benefits would undermine their fundamental right to human dignity and equal protection of the laws. The director of the Human Rights Watch Americas Division said that Colombia had "set an example" for countries in the region and that others should "follow suit."

FBI reports rise in public corruption cases 

The FBI is currently investigating 2,500 cases of public corruption, a 50 percent increase from five years ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller  said in a Thursday speech  to the American Bar Association. Mueller also said that corporate fraud cases had increased by more than 80 percent from five years ago, due in large part to recent mortgage fraud cases. The FBI currently has over 1,300 mortgage fraud cases under investigation, including 19 corporate fraud matters related to the sub prime-lending crisis. The number of criminal cases pursued by the FBI has drastically decreased since the 9/11 attacks, according to statistics released by the Department of Justice in 2006. Those statistics revealed that the FBI has shifted its traditional focus on drugs and white collar crimes to terrorism.

  • Daily Press Review

Darfur deaths 'could be 300,000'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Plan to Harness Congo River Could Double Electricity Production in Africa
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

African nations urged to deal with security threats collectively
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

DR Congo: End the Horrific Suffering in Eastern Congo
Human Rights Watch (Africa), International news press releases

Blackmailers targeted British royals
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

SAA hit by 10 000 bag claims every year
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Former DA member takes aim at Zille
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Attacker kills parrot too
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

In changing Cuba, the great longing to travel simmers
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Peru: Photo of the day - Potato crackers, noodles, soups, desserts...
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Musician reunited with $4-million violin
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Clinton wins Pennsylvania
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Yudhoyono, Sultan of Brunai go jogging together
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Georgia Accuses Russia of Violating Sovereignty
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Delhi bus corridor: Fiasco continues
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Mr. Lee puts his best foot forward
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Perak sets up committee to tackle dust
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Harry Potter 'joking' about Aussie infatuation
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Hillary on edge as key state votes in primary
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Saga of the swimming diva and the supersuit
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Record food output likely
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Clinton wins key Democratic vote
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

A warning signal for the lighthouses of France
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

Clinton keeps campaign alive with Pennsylvania win
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Hillary Clinton wins decisive victory over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

World in brief: Hopes fade for Father Adelir Antonio de Carli
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Report: Kadish Affair Less Serious than Pollard Affair
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Female suicide bomber kills six north of Baghdad
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Clinton stays alive with Pennsylvania win
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Israel pumps diesel to Gaza, staving off threatened power plant shutdown
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

MIDEAST:  Israel Sees Iran Threat Recede
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

London group to conduct financial crime conference in UAE next year
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Clinton Beats Obama in Pennsylvania
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Intruders strike home of judge tied to Hariri court - again
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Akhdam in Dar Salam: Fire burned our huts, but nobody cares
Yemen Times, Independent weekly, Sana'a, Yemen

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