August 19, 2009 Nº 806 - Vol. 7


"There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We're all crew."

Marshall McLuhan

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Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica

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  • Top News

Turnaround 'will not be simple'

The world has begun to recover from recession but the process will not be simple, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned. The recession had "left deep scars, which will affect both supply and demand for many years to come. In his report, IMF chief economist Blanchard predicts that global output may also remain lower than it had been before the crisis. Countries must rebalance their economies to make it sustainable. Economies dominated by consumption - such as the US - would have to focus more on exports, while Asia turned more to imports. The dysfunctional financial systems in many advanced countries would need "a long time to find their new shape. Meanwhile, emerging market nations may not see capital inflows return to pre-crisis levels for a some time.

UN marking first humanitarian day

The United Nations is holding its first ever World Humanitarian Day to honor international aid workers. The UN hopes the event will focus attention on aid workers and increase support for their role. Aid staff are working in increasingly dangerous environments and are frequently targets of attacks.

Obama care is all about rationing

Although administration officials are eager to deny it, rationing health care is central to President Barack Obama's health plan. The Obama strategy is to reduce health costs by rationing the services that current and future generations of patients will receive. The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in June explaining the Obama administration's goal of reducing projected health spending by 30% over the next two decades. That reduction would be achieved by eliminating "high cost, low-value treatments," by "implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt," and by "directly targeting individual providers . . . (and other) high-end outliers."

Obama says marriage law should be repealed

The Obama administration distanced itself Monday from legal arguments it had made earlier this summer, taking pains to remove and renounce language that had outraged advocates in the gay community in a case that centers on the constitutionality of a same-sex marriage law. In a filing by the Justice Department, administration lawyers made it clear for the first time in court that the president thinks the 13-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, which denies benefits to domestic partners of federal employees and allows states to reject same-sex marriages performed in other states, discriminates against gays and should be repealed.

Brazil oil law to be introduced

Brazil's government will send to Congress in the next two weeks its proposed changes to oil laws aimed at regulating the exploration of vast sub-salt oil reserves. The government proposal is expected to boost the role of state-run Petrobras in the development of the off-shore reserves, which have drawn the attention of the world's biggest energy companies. Part of the resources would go to projects aimed at eradicating poverty, promoting education and boosting science and technology. The government also wants to found a new state-run energy holding firm.

Fraud by trial lawyers taints wave of pesticide lawsuits

Citing "clear and convincing evidence" of fraud, California Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney in June dismissed two DBCP pesticides (used by Dole Food Co,) cases brought by Nicaraguan plaintiffs and raised questions about related cases. There are about 30 such cases in state and federal courts in the U.S. Dole has refused to pay the $2.1 billion awarded plaintiffs by courts in Nicaragua, where it no longer does business. Some lawyers have been trying to collect on those judgments through courts in the U.S. and elsewhere. A group of U.S. personal-injury and other lawyers descended on this small, impoverished city, seeking, through fraudulent tactics, to recruit thousands of clients and earn up to 40% of any awards. Emboldened by a developing-world legal system that heavily favored plaintiffs, they filed an avalanche of lawsuits here against California-based Dole and eventually won $2.1 billion in local judgments. "Because of the interrelationships of the law firms and plaintiff groups in all DBCP cases in and emanating from Nicaragua, the taint of the fraud proven in this case permeates and discredits all such cases," Judge Chaney wrote in her decision.

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  • Crumbs!

1- Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest -- and it's legal(click here)

2- Supreme Court orders lower court to review death row habeas case(click here)

3- DOJ to enforce same-sex marriage restrictions despite backing DOMA repeal (click here)

4- Ustream Sued By Boxing Promoter Over Pirated Broadcast(click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China reduces holdings in US debt

China reduced its holdings of US government debt by the largest margin in nearly nine years in June. China holds more US government debt than any other country and cut its holdings of US securities by more that 3% in June. Japan and the UK - second and third largest holders of US debt - increased their holdings over the same period. In recent months the US government's budget deficit has widened thanks in part to the Obama administration's costly stimulus plan. China believes the stimulus efforts will fuel inflation in the US, reducing the value of the dollar. This would then erode the value of the debt China holds in the US currency.

500 Chinese suspects 'on the run'

Nearly 500 criminal suspects are on the run following a crackdown on gangsters in China, according to media reports. Three billionaires, the head of the Chongqing’s judicial department are among hundreds of people who have already been arrested in the two-month campaign in. Police have seized guns and ammunition, and they have also frozen assets worth 1.5b yuan ($220m).

PetroChina in huge Australia deal

PetroChina, Asia's largest oil company, has signed a $41bn deal to develop gas field off Australia's northwestern coast.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Reelección

El trámite del referendo que permitiría la segunda reelección del presidente colombiano, Alvaro Uribe, dio un paso decisivo el martes luego de que congresistas aprobaron un texto clave para que el mandatario se presente a un tercer período sucesivo. Roy Barreras, del progubernamental Partido de la U, indicó que el acta de la conciliación del texto de la iniciativa, con la que Uribe podría presentarse a los comicios, espera su publicación en la Gaceta del Congreso para ser votado por los plenarios de ambas cámaras.

Itaipú

Paraguay envió a Brasil una misión técnica con el objetivo de apresurar la venta directa de energía eléctrica de la binacional Itaipú en ese mercado, dijo el canciller Héctor Lacognata. La medida viene tras que los presidentes de ambos países firmaran a finales de julio un acuerdo con el que Paraguay obtuvo mayores beneficios económicos de la central y la posibilidad de comercializar la energía en territorio vecino, sin intermediarios.

Reservas

Ecuador utilizará parte de los recursos de sus reservas internacionales para canalizar, a través de la banca pública, créditos al sector productivo, en un intento por dinamizar la economía del país golpeada por la crisis mundial, dijo el martes un funcionario. El Banco Central del Ecuador aprobó una resolución para utilizar unos 300 millones de dólares de la Reserva Internacional de Libre Disponibilidad (RILD) del país, cuyos recursos tradicionalmente se invierten en operaciones de bajo riesgo en bancos e instituciones en el exterior.

  • Brief News

US judge 'ignored death row plea'

A prominent judge in Texas has gone on trial accused of refusing to let lawyers for a convicted murderer on death row lodge a last-minute appeal. Sharon Keller is charged with professional misconduct. The prisoner, Michael Wayne Richard, was put to death just hours after she allegedly shut the court, despite being told an appeal was imminent. Half of all executions in the US last year were in Texas, where critics have dubbed Judge Keller "Sharon Killer".

Russia arrests 8 suspects in Arctic Sea hijacking

What motive the suspected hijackers — citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Russia — may have had for seizing the aging freighter and its official cargo of timber remains unclear. Experts say the freighter's mysterious journey points to something other than piracy, with some suggesting state involvement or a secret cargo, possibly of nuclear materials.

Scotland court allows withdrawal of Lockerbie bomber appeal

Judges have accepted an application by the Lockerbie bomber to drop his second appeal against conviction. The permission of the High Court in Edinburgh was required before the proceedings by Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi could be formally abandoned. Seven US senators have urged Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to make Megrahi serve his sentence in Scotlan and not consider his requests for either release or transfer to a Libyan jail.

Honduras expels Argentine envoys

The interim government of Honduras has ordered all Argentine diplomats to leave the country within three days. It said the move was in response to the expulsion of its ambassador last week by Buenos Aires, one of the strongest critics of June's military-backed coup. The Honduran ambassador was told to go because of her public support for the overthrow of Zelaya.

SA 'racist video' trial to start

Four white former university students in South Africa who allegedly forced black campus employees to eat food soaked in urine are going on trial. They face criminal charges after a video of the incident surfaced in 2008. The footage also showed the ex-students instructing five elderly workers to drink beer and perform athletic tasks. Reporters say a national outcry at the time put the University of Free State, which has predominantly white students, at the centre of a racial storm.

US man 'stole 130m card numbers'

US prosecutors have charged a man with stealing data relating to 130 million credit and debit cards. Officials say it is the biggest case of identity theft in American history. They say Albert Gonzalez, 28, and two un-named Russian co-conspirators hacked into the payment systems of retailers.

Protesters want UC Berkeley law professor fired

Anti-war activists protested Monday at the University of California, Berkeley to call for the firing of a law professor who co-wrote legal memos that critics say were used to justify the torture of suspected terrorists. The demonstrators said John Yoo should be dismissed, disbarred and prosecuted for war crimes for his work as a Bush administration attorney from 2001 to 2003, when he helped craft legal theories for waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.

ICE acknowledges previously unreported immigration detainee deaths

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acknowledged Monday that 11 deaths in immigration detention had gone unreported. ICE added 10 names to the official roster of immigration detainee fatalities and acknowledged an eleventh death that occurred last week. The revelation of the additional deaths came in response to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking documents pertaining to detainee deaths. ACLU staff attorney David Shapiro said: "Today's announcement confirms our very worst fears. For too long, the system of detaining immigration detainees has been devoid of transparency and accountability. This forces us to question even further whether there are still more deaths that somehow have gone unaccounted for."

International arbitration commission splits Ethiopia-Eritrea border war damages

The specially-established Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission on Monday awarded damages "resulting from violations of international law" that occurred during the nations' 1998-2000 border war. The five-person panel established under the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague awarded USD $174,036,520 to Ethiopia and $161,455,000 to Eritrea, not including an additional $2,065,865 granted to individual Eritrean claimants. The nations had agreed to enter into binding arbitration on damages.

Trade group releases new list of 'awful' internet laws

A Maine law that would require e-commerce vendors to get parental permission before collecting any personal information about teens and children is so broad that it could lead to lawsuits against vendors of many Internet services, according to the NetChoice trade group. The Maine law, which goes into effect Sept. 12, could prevent any e-commerce sites, including those selling class rings and college test prep services, from collecting any personal information from minors without "verifiable parental consent." The law would effectively stop e-commerce sites from selling to teens and minors, with Web sites generally having no way to get parental consent. The Internet is "increasingly under attack" by lawmakers and regulators, many of whom want to increase revenue by taxing Internet services.

W.T.O. rules against U.S. in dumping case

The World Trade Organization's top court rejected on Tuesday an American appeal in a long-running case on antidumping measures, clearing the way for Japan to threaten trade sanctions against Washington. The final ruling by the Appellate Body of the W.T.O. in the case, which Japan started in 2004, dealt another setback to a controversial American method of dealing with unfairly priced imports. But it also highlighted sensitivity about antidumping measures. The measures impose additional duties on imports that are sold for less abroad than they cost at home, but can be abused for protectionist purposes.

Microsoft files motion to stay injunction on Word

Microsoft filed a motion to stay an injunction, that, if upheld, could bar the company from selling its Word software.

What can law firms do to make everyone happy?

Law firms have taken to a handful of unfortunate measures in order to cut costs during the recession. We hardly need to go through the litany, but we will anyway: attorney layoffs, staff layoffs, reduced summer associateships, salary freezes, salary cuts, hiring cutbacks, on and on and on. Given that the two largest expenses at law firms are salaries and real estate, if a law firm's gonna cut, it's gonna cut bodies. It's not like it can put the squeeze on the suppliers of its production materials. But an idea for cutting costs that could ultimately make everyone at a law firm . . . happier. Two words: partner sabbaticals. That's right, just like in academia, partners could take a year off at reduced pay after a number of years of practice. We know some law firms already do this, but we suggest that all the big firms make such a policy mandatory. The firms would save money year after year, and avoid having to reduce the partnership ranks in difficult times. Plus, wouldn't it make BigLaw a bit more attractive to associates? What's the old saying? That making partner is like a pie-eating contest in which the reward is more pie? Now, you'd have more pie plus a guaranteed year of absolutely no pie at all.

  • Daily Press Review

SA 'racist video' trial to start
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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

Mid-air disaster averted in Virgin Nigeria flight from Accra
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sex change hurdle scrapped
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Man holds daughter, 14, hostage
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Kriegler: Don't sacrifice judicial independence
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Blow for affirmative action
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Over 50 killed in Mexico drug-related violence
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Gunfire, explosions in Kabul on eve of vote
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Catholic schools get top marks
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

RI minister permitted to go on board US aircraft carrier
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

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

Jaswant Singh expelled from BJP
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Mine fire haunts Ranchi-Patna highway
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Lower House races begin
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Anwar appoints new legal team in sodomy trial
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

First pictures of sunken Tongan ferry revealed
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

PM visits Arctic to back Canada's sovereignty claims
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

TV show contestant wanted over body in suitcase
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

BJP dissociates itself from Jaswant's book on Jinnah
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

New violence hits Afghan capital
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Sberbank Workers Embezzle $180M
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Daughters mourn as Afghanistan dead repatriated
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Afghan police kill three gunmen after attack on Kabul bank
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Gaddafi Critical US Objection to al-Megrahi's Release
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Scottish court allows Lockerbie bomber to drop appeal
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MIDEAST: Embattled Hamas Shows its Moderate Face
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Air Arabia's Centro Hotel to complete construction by April
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Bomb Attack Kills Seven in Kabul; U.N. Staff among Dead
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Shiite rebellion in Yemen raises concerns in Saudi Arabia
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

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

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