August 17, 2009 Nº 805 - Vol. 7

"Think what you have always thought and you will get what you have always gotten."

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


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  • Top News

UBS tax crackdown widens to Hong Kong

The U.S. crackdown on clients of UBS AG is widening into a global hunt, with the government detailing in court documents how the Swiss bank and outside advisers helped Americans hide money using enterprises set up in Hong Kong. For the first time in the government's long-running bid to ferret out the names of U.S. tax-evaders from the Swiss bank's client list, plea agreements entered in the case are providing a clearer picture of UBS's sophisticated efforts to help Americans hide income or the existence of foreign bank accounts. The Hong Kong link is important because the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service are apparently using that as a clue of wrongdoing as they plow through some 250 names that UBS turned over to the U.S. government. The bank handed over the names as part of a criminal settlement it agreed to in February. Separately, the U.S. has been pursuing a civil case against UBS. Last week, the two sides reached a settlement that is expected to lead to the Swiss bank handing over the names of thousands of U.S. account holders. Lawyers representing UBS clients believe the bank will turn over names associated with 5,000 to 10,000 accounts. Details on the settlement are expected this week.

Turks and Caicos constitution suspended as UK resumes direct rule

Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Gordon Wetherell issued an order Friday suspending the British Overseas Territory's constitution and submitting to direct rule by the UK after being directed to do so by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO move follows a May 31 report compiled by the TCI Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robin Auld to Wetherell documenting widespread corruption among government officials, including former TCI Chief Minister Michael Misick, and recommending direct rule and the appointment of an independent prosecutor. Until Friday, the UK had not imposed direct rule on a territory since 1986, when it previously imposed direct rule on TCI over government misconduct. Ousted Premier Galmo Williams decried the UK takeover as a "coup" and claimed the "country is being invaded and re-colonized by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance." Martin Stanley has been appointed as TCI's new chief executive. Wetherell refused to call the imposition of direct rule a "takeover," and said he expects elections in the island nation by 2011, an expectation echoed by FCO Minister Chris Bryant.

Let The Bad Times Roll; Weil to Get Nearly $50 Million In Lehman

On Thursday, the judge presiding over the Lehman bankruptcy, James Peck, largely approved Weil Gotshal's request for over $55 million for a four-and-a-half-month period of work starting in September of last year. In total, Judge Peck approved more than than $96 million in fees for Wall Street law firms and restructuring shops working on the case. Behind Weil, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, which represents Lehman's official unsecured creditors' committee, received $10.92 million in fees. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle got $4.2 million. Curtis handles matters for Lehman when Weil has a conflict of interest. Jones Day received only $1.13 million in fees. Jones Day is representing Lehman in a probe of Barclays over whether the U.K. bank underpaid for Lehman's assets in September's hasty deal.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China to improve access for media

China says it will become more open to foreign journalists by dealing with requests within 24 hours, reports say. A senior government official said ministries must designate people to deal with overseas reporters as part of this "zero refusal" policy. China says it has already become far more open towards the foreign media since last year's Beijing Olympics.


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  • Brief News

Colombia-US base accord reached

Colombia says it has completed talks with Washington on allowing US troops to use seven of its military bases. Under the deal, the US military will be able to operate on Colombian soil to tackle drug-trafficking and terrorism. A number of South American countries have condemned the plan and Argentina has said the bases are "not helpful". Lula called for a meeting between Obama and the region's leaders, saying the "climate of unease disturbs me". Washington wants to use Colombia as a regional hub for operations to counter drug-trafficking and terrorism.

Mexico favors Brazil trade pact

Calderon has said he will propose a free trade agreement with Brazil. "Trade enriches economies," he said during a meeting of business leaders in Sao Paulo. Brazil and Mexico are Latin America's largest economies. Mexico already has trade deals with the US and Canada. The two nations are responsible for around 70% of all economic activity in the region. Mexico's economy has been hard hit by the recession and more recently by swine flu. The US slowdown has meant less money is being sent home by migrant workers, and Mexican exports have fallen. Mexico sends 80% of its exports to the US, so has been particularly exposed to the US fall in consumer spending.

Mexico in major customs shake-up

Mexico replaces more than 1,000 customs agents at all border points with newly trained staff in a corruption crackdown.

Foreclosures loom large for middle class

New data out this week show that foreclosures keep rising despite government efforts to prevent them. Foreclosure filings in July were up 32 percent from a year ago. As the crisis expands, it's dragging down more middle-class Americans.

EU imposes sanctions on Myanmar judges involved in Suu Kyi verdict

The Council of the European Union on Thursday announced sanctions against members of the Myanmar judiciary responsible for the verdict against opposition pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi. The latest sanctions are in addition to a number of sanctions already in place against Myanmar.

Ransom demand surfaces for mystery ship

Finnish police say a ransom demand has been made for a missing Russian-manned cargo vessel, the Arctic Sea. The demand - which has not been confirmed as genuine - was put to the ship's Finnish owners. There has been huge speculation over the reason for the ship's disappearance, ranging from pirates to a mafia dispute to a commercial quarrel.

French minister urges burka ban

A ban on the wearing of the burka in France would help stem the spread of the "cancer" of radical Islam, one of its female Muslim ministers has said. Urban Regeneration Minister Fadela Amara told the Financial Times that a veil covering everything but the eyes represented "the oppression of women".

Honduras government lays sedition charges against Zelaya supporters

The Honduran Office of the Prosecutor of Common Crimes indicted 24 supporters of ousted president Manuel Zelaya on charges of sedition and damages Friday. All 24 were accused of robbery, sedition, damages to private property, and illegal demonstrations stemming from protests on Wednesday. Eleven of the protestors are still detained at the National Penitentiary and 13 have been released conditionally. The National Organization Against the Coup d'Etat (FNCGE) said Tuesday that if Zelaya is not reinstated over the next few day the organization will escalate government resistance actions and peaceful demonstrations that it has been carrying out since Zelaya was ousted on June 28 following a judicial order asserting he had broken Honduran law by attempting to conduct a controversial referendum on constitutional reform contrary to a Honduran Supreme Court ruling. Earlier in the week, three protesters were also indicted on charges of aggravated arson and crimes of terrorism for allegedly burning a bus and a restaurant in Tuesday's political demonstrations. Honduran NGOs including the Committee of Families of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH) and the Center for Research and Advocacy of Human Rights (CIPRODEH) have denounced human rights violations and political repression from police actions.

Cybercrime: Russian hackers stole U.S. IDs for attacks

Russian hackers hijacked American identities and U.S. software tools and used them in an attack on Georgian government Web sites during the war between Russia and Georgia last year, according to new research to be released Monday by a nonprofit U.S. group. In addition to refashioning common Microsoft Corp. software into a cyber-weapon, hackers collaborated on popular U.S.-based social-networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook Inc., to coordinate attacks on Georgian sites, the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit found. While the cyberattacks on Georgia were examined shortly after the events last year, these U.S. connections weren't previously known. The research shows how cyber-warfare has outpaced military and international agreements, which don't take into account the possibility of American resources and civilian technology being turned into weapons. Identity theft, social networking, and modifying commercial software are all common means of attack, but combining them elevates the attack method to a new level.

Public health care U-turn

Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

A first for human trafficking case

In a 45-count indictment handed down in May, the U.S. attorney's office accuses eight Uzbekistan nationals and four others in the largest human trafficking case ever prosecuted in the city. Authorities say it is the first time a human trafficking ring has been charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the federal statute most often associated with mafia cases. It's also the first time the charge of fraud in foreign labor contracting has been used since it was added last year to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which in 2000 became the first comprehensive federal law for prosecution of traffickers. Giant Labor Solutions lured hundreds of foreigners to the city with promises of good jobs and a chance to live the American dream. Giant Labor and two other metro-area companies turned the workers into slaves, fanning them out to housekeeping jobs in hotels and other businesses in 14 states while forcing them to live, sometimes eight at a time, in small apartments for which they were charged exorbitant rent, federal authorities allege. Most of the workers were in the country illegally and were threatened with deportation. RICO allows prosecutors to try criminal operations as a whole, rather than individually.

In Indiana, new law protects teachers from lawsuits

Indiana teachers will be shielded from frivolous lawsuits filed over student-discipline disputes. The teacher-protection legislation was introduced in the 2009 session in response to incidents around the state where schoolteachers said they were reluctant to discipline students who were disruptive in class, out of fear of being sued. "A teacher who disciplines an unruly student needs the full support of the state against the child's disgruntled parent who hires a lawyer and files a lawsuit. If the teacher acted reasonably and in good faith under the school's policy, then the attorney general's office will step in and defend that teacher. We believe this new law will deter lawsuits from being filed in the first place, since plaintiff's lawyers will know they will be up against the resources and authority of the State of Indiana through its attorney general."

Cocaine on money: drug found on 90% of U.S. bills

Nearly nine out of ten bills circulating in the U.S. and its northern neighbor are tainted with cocaine, according to what's being called the most definitive research to date on the subject. What's more, researchers were surprised to find hints that more Americans are using the illegal drug. The drug gets on paper money during drug transactions and when people roll bills to snort cocaine powder. There's little chance of getting buzzed off your bills, the concentrations are simply too small.

  • Weekly Magazine Review


Less Vegas: The Casino Town Bets on a Comeback. The casino town bet big on the real estate boom--and lost. But the rapid reset of home, hotel-room and casino prices has encouraged some in America's most optimistic city to go right back to the table. The European edition: H1N1 How bad will it get? Inside the Fight Against a Flu Pandemic. More than 2 billion people worldwide could get it. Thousands of schools may shut down. And millions will need to be vaccinated — twice.


Alien. What You Need to Know Now. Bipartisanship is bad. Hedge funds are good. And the environment has never been better, thank you very much. For these and 22 other unexpected truths, read on . . .

Business Week

The Case for Optimism. It's smart to recognize opportunity, even in bad times.

The Economist

Asia's astonishing rebound. Asia's emerging economies are leading the way out of recession; now they must make their recovery last.


Mafia. Quand les femmes prennent le pouvoir.

Der Spiegel

Schrott sei Dank. Die Abwrackprämie - Bilanz einer deutschen Subventions-Orgie.

  • Daily Press Review

Nigeria police raid Muslim sect
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

International Criminal Court gives Jean-Pierre Bemba conditional release, Independent online news aggregator

Gov't imposes curfew on Akwatia
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

N Korea to lift border ban
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Protesters beat officer
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

New Zealand's dumbest criminal
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Three tropical storms moving across Caribbean
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Best from the past 24 hours
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Bin Laden's driver talks
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Ambon to host next sail Indonesia
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

10th Seoul International Financial Forum Kicks Off
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pak terror outfits planning fresh attacks in India: PM
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Swine flu: Madras Christian College shut
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Ex-gov. Tanaka challenges a New Komeito stronghold
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Raja Nazrin outlines four key education areas
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Skydiver survives 1000ft fall
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Survey reveals difference of fortune concepts between Chinese, Japanese youth
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Brave 7-year-old's quick reflexes saved father's life
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Reduce pendency of cases: Manmohan
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Japan's economy leaves recession
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Planes Collide in Air Show Rehearsal
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Britain knew about extermination of Jews Vatican claims
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Ex-wife 'admits starting' Kuwait wedding party blaze that killed 43
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Who was Abu Noor al-Maqdisi?
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

North Korea to lift border restrictions for South
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MIDEAST: Children Have a Way With Miracles
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

UAE's Dolphin to finish gas pipeline in Q3 of 2010
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Tens of Thousands Seek Thai Royal Pardon for Thaksin
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Fatah elects Jew-turned-Muslim to governing body
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Yemen government censorship challenged
Yemen Times, Independent weekly, Sana'a, Yemen


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