November 23, 2009 Nº 843 - Vol. 7

"The mind is everything. What you think you become."


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  • Top News

Russia Constitutional Court extends moratorium on death penalty

The Constitutional Court of Russia on Thursday extended the moratorium on the death penalty until the Russian parliament ratifies an international treaty abolishing capital punishment. In 1997, Russia signed, but did not ratify, Protocol 6 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which was put forward by the Council of Europe (COE) in 1983 to limit the exercise of the death penalty to cases involving "acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war." The court noted that Russia was invited to join the COE in part because of its expressed intention to place a moratorium on the penalty and take steps towards its abolition. The court also stated that allowing capital punishment may violate Russia's obligations under Protocol 6, citing Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), which requires signatories to "refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty."

Obama signs executive order establishing new unit to combat financial fraud

Obama signed an executive order Tuesday creating a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to be headed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as lead agency. The task force, which continues the work of and replaces the federal government's Corporate Fraud Task Force (CFTC), is charged with building on "efforts already underway to combat mortgage, securities and corporate fraud by increasing coordination and fully utilizing the resources and expertise of the government's law enforcement and regulatory apparatus." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder say the group will act aggressively to combat fraud and and prevent another economic meltdown. Holder will convene the first meeting of the task force within 30 days.

EU won't rule by Charter

The EU's Lisbon Treaty comes into force on 1 December - and with it the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The UK, Czech Republic and Poland have negotiated opt-outs from the Charter.

But here Damian Chalmers, Professor of EU Law at the London School of Economics (LSE), argues that the Charter repackages EU law that is already applied by the 27-nation bloc. When it was proclaimed and signed in 2000, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was praised by the UK government. The UK Minister for Europe, Keith Vaz, said: "It will be one of the most important things that we have seen come out of the European Union in the last decade." Fast forward to today, however, and it is not just the UK government but also the Poles and Czechs who are rushing to save themselves from it. Each has secured a full opt-out from the Charter. So what does the Charter mean for people in the UK? Former Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament that he had obtained an opt-out from the Charter. If so why worry, as it will not affect us? Well, the Conservative Party is anxious and wants a new opt-out because it believes the Charter will affect us. This confusion is caused by two things. First, there is a world of difference between what the Charter says and what it does, and it is this gap that provokes a lot of anxiety. Secondly, neither of the main parties has explained to the British public that the Charter is only a bit-player in the application of EU fundamental rights law to the UK.

Rights galore

The Charter is possibly the most wide-ranging human rights treaty in the world today. There are civil rights, political rights, social rights, ecological entitlements, rights for the arts, consumer rights. The list is really extensive. Whilst the Charter might set out many desirable things, the concern has always been that every one of these grounds gives the EU new reasons to intervene, be it to protect the environment, workers, or the right to asylum. That scares those worried about national sovereignty and raises fears that the rights might be developed in a clumsy way. Yet what the Charter actually does is far more limited. It does not give us the general right to challenge our police force, lawmakers or employers whenever they appear to breach these rights: the important catch is that it only binds EU institutions and member states when they are implementing EU law. The European Commission, Parliament and Council can be reviewed for compliance with the Charter, but the UK government can only be reviewed when it applies EU law or transposes them. This is quite a limited array of circumstances. These circumstances are further restricted by widespread acceptance that many of the Charter's provisions, notably its social ones, cannot be directly invoked before the courts.

Old wine in new bottles

It is not only the Charter's remit that is limited, but also its legal force, as the Charter repackages old wine in new bottles. When applying EU law, our government has been bound by EU fundamental rights norms for 18 years now. All the Charter did was to create a single document assembling all these obligations in one place. But the law that underpins the Charter continues to bind us, whether we opt out of the Charter or not. The fact this has gone unnoticed shows how little impact this law has had. It is here that the British political parties have not been frank. The Labour government tried to deal with this problem by adopting a protocol that requires courts not to "extend" EU fundamental rights law using the Charter, but allows them to "interpret" it. It then presented it as an opt-out, when it clearly is not. The Charter will be applied by British courts.

Does it matter?

The Conservatives, by contrast, have stated that they want a full opt-out from the Charter. It will not be applied by British courts or by the European Court of Justice in cases involving the UK. They have been coy in saying whether this opt-out applies to other EU fundamental rights law that binds us just as tightly. Confusing, certainly, but does any of this matter? Well, the European Court of Justice did not wait for the Lisbon Treaty and has actually been applying the Charter since 2006. Mischievous, certainly, but also unnoticed, as it was simply a continuation of existing case law, which shows great deference to national governments in fundamental rights cases. Whilst EU fundamental rights law says a lot of things, it rarely tells us to change our lives. That is why it might be a while before we hear about the Charter again.


? Adopted by EU in 2000

? Becomes legally binding under Lisbon Treaty

? Gathers together whole range of civil, political, economic and social rights of EU citizens in one text

Story from BBC NEWS:

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  • MiMIC Journal

New law bans genetic discrimination

The most sweeping federal anti-discrimination law in nearly 20 years takes effect today, prohibiting employers from hiring, firing or determining promotions based on genetic makeup. Additionally, health insurers will not be allowed to consider a person's genetics -- such as predisposition for Parkinson's disease -- to set insurance rates or deny coverage. Not since the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 has the federal government implemented such far-reaching workplace protections. The law reaffirms the idea that people have a right to be judged solely on merit. "No one should be denied a job or the right to be treated fairly in the workplace based on fears that he or she may develop some condition in the future." The National Federation of Independent Business, a nonprofit lobbying group for small businesses, filed a number of concerns in April. The concerns included whether employers who "innocently discover" genetic information about their workers may be held liable for having that information in their files, the "confusing" interplay of other federal statutes, and the lack of an exception for publicly available genetic information on the Internet.


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  • Brief News

Iraqi lawmakers fail to resolve election law deadlock

Iraq's parliament has again failed to resolve a deadlock on a key law that is required before general elections can be held in January. Lawmakers continued negotiations Sunday but failed to make breakthroughs; they will revisit the issue on Monday. The vice president wants more representation for Iraqis living abroad, many of whom are Sunni Arabs. After the veto, Iraq's electoral commission halted preparations for the vote. Iraqis will be casting ballots to fill 323 parliamentary seats. That number is up from 275 in the current parliament, based on a formula that calls for one representative for every 100,000 Iraqis. A January election date remains possible. A main constitutional requirement is that an election law be in place 60 days before a ballot.

US healthcare bill clears Senate test

The US Senate narrowly votes to hold a full debate on a landmark bill designed to overhaul America's healthcare system.

Markets attempt to manage investors

As the global economy lurches from plunge to rebound, key emerging markets are erecting defenses against future financial upheavals. Brazil and Taiwan have imposed new controls on cross-border fund flows, while other Asian and Latin American countries are considering similar moves. Countries are worried about the capital that's coming in. Especially in Asia, emerging markets have rebounded from the global downturn more quickly than the United States, Europe or Japan. Investors who sought safety in dollar-denominated assets one year ago now are rushing into countries such as South Korea or Brazil. For those smaller economies, however, the huge investment flows can:

•Drive currency values to export-crushing heights.

•Inflate domestic stock and property market bubbles.

•Destabilize economies by leaving as quickly as they arrive.

"It's almost like too much of a good thing."

Brazil tax closes loophole, tightens Forex control

Brazil's government Wednesday night closed a tax loophole for foreign investors in Brazilian stocks, signaling a further tightening of control over the country's often turbulent foreign-exchange market. Wednesday night, Finance Minister Guido Mantega announced a 1.5% tax on issuance of American depositary receipts, and similar receipts in other overseas markets, by Brazilian companies. The measure came a month after the government imposed a 2% tax on foreign investments in stocks and other securities made directly in the Brazilian market. "The measure adopted by the government Wednesday night is a step in the right direction," said Pedro Paulo Silveira, an economist at local brokerage Gradual. "It creates a level playing field for Brazilian assets traded in Brazil and in the U.S."

Hershey considering $17bn bid for Cadbury

Cadbury has spent months stonewalling Kraft Foods' hostile offer. But the entrance of another bidder could help its negotiating position against Kraft. US chocolate maker Hershey is considering launching a solo bid of at least $17bn (£10bn) for British firm Cadbury. But the US company is still also considering a joint bid with Italy's Ferrero, the paper said. Cadbury has already rejected a £9.8bn offer from food firm Kraft. Cadbury refused to be drawn on whether it would consider Hershey's offer as it had not yet officially been made.

Algeria acquits two former Guantanamo Bay detainees

Two Algerian men held at Guantanamo Bay for seven years on terror charges have been acquitted at a trial on being returned home, state media report. Faghoul Abdelli and Mohamed Terari were arrested in Afghanistan by Pakistani police after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. They both denied having any connection to militant groups and said they were "brutally tortured" in US custody. Algeria's state prosecutor had called for a 20-year jail term for the men.

'Fat for cosmetics' murder suspects arrested in Peru

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe. The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat. The liquidized product fetched $15,000 a litre and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

Honduras interim leader 'to step aside' ahead of polls

Honduras' interim leader, Roberto Micheletti, has said that he will step aside briefly ahead of elections scheduled for the end of the month. He has said he will be absent from public functions between 25 November and 2 December. Micheletti also ordered citizens to hand in their weapons in an attempt to avoid pre-poll violence. The US state department welcomed the news, saying it would would allow the country to focus on the vote.

Tobacco firm Philip Morris to pay out $300m in damages

A Florida court has ordered tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay out $300m (£180m) in damages to a former smoker. The 62-year-old, Cindy Naugle, is wheelchair bound because of the lung disease emphysema. Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said it the will challenge the verdict because of "numerous erroneous rulings by the trial judge".

Oracle $7.4 billion Sun takeover may be blocked by EU on competition issue

Oracle Corp.'s planned $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc. may be blocked by European Union regulators because of concerns Oracle might be able to eliminate Sun's MySQL database product as a competitor, according to an EU document.

PayPal agrees to work with Australia regulator to meet reporting standards

PayPal Inc., the online payment processor owned by EBay Inc., agreed to work with Australia's financial crimes regulator after the agency found it wasn't compliant with reporting standards to prevent money laundering.

Executives will testify in Airbus inquiry

A week-long trial starting Monday in the alleged insider-trading case involving EADS could have deep repercussions at the parent company of plane maker Airbus as well as on the authority of France's stock-market watchdog. More than a dozen current and former executives of the aerospace group EADS and its Airbus subsidiary will testify in a high-profile insider-trading inquiry.

Calming sign of troubled past appears in modern offices

To propel themselves through this economic downturn, media and advertising executives are turning to a phrase meant to soothe another troubled populace: the British during World War II. "Keep calm and carry on," a British government propaganda poster created in 1939, is now decorating offices. The slogan's provenance is not quite so calming, though. The British propaganda office created a series of three posters. The others were "Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might" and "Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory." The government plastered Britain with those two posters. But it held back "Keep calm" for even more upsetting circumstances.

Ohio sues rating firms for losses in funds

Already facing a spate of private lawsuits, the legal troubles of the country's largest credit rating agencies deepened on Friday when the attorney general of Ohio sued Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's and Fitch, claiming that they had cost state retirement and pension funds some $457 million by approving high-risk Wall Street securities that went bust in the financial collapse. The case could test whether the agencies' ratings are constitutionally protected as a form of free speech. The lawsuit asserts that Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch were in league with the banks and other issuers, helping to create an assortment of exotic financial instruments that led to a disastrous bubble in the housing market.

ICTY appoints UK lawyer to represent Karadzic

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Friday appointed British lawyer Richard Harvey to represent Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic if he continues to boycott his trial when proceedings resume in March. Harvey is currently joint head of the British defense firm Garden Court Chambers and has extensive experience in high profile criminal defense cases in both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He served as lead defense counsel for Lahi Brahimaj, who was accused of ordering the torture and murder of detainees at Jablanica detention center as local commander of the Kosovo Liberation Amy and co-counsel in the ICTY Haradin Bala and ICTR Juvenal Kajelijeli prosecutions. It is unlikely that Karadzic, whose trial was adjourned just days after it began because of his refusal to participate, will cooperate with Harvey. Karadzic claims that he is boycotting his trial because of inadequate time to prepare a defense.

Argentina Senate approves law to compel DNA from suspected 'Dirty War' children

The Argentine Senate on Thursday voted 57-1 to approve a law that authorizes the government to obtain DNA samples from individuals suspected to have been born to forced disappearance victims of the 1976-1983 "Dirty War". The law will amend Article 218 of the Criminal Penal Code to allow minimal biological samples to be taken from a person to determine biologic identity, authorizing judges to issue warrants to obtain alternate biological samples from personal effects using the least coercive methods necessary. Controversy around the law stemmed from issues of consent and right to privacy, as well as an individual's right to refuse knowledge of their biological parents. Among the supporters of the law is the association Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, a group dedicated to obtaining restitution for the relatives of persons disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship. Among the vocal opponents to the law is Ernestina Herrera de Noble, owner of the influential media group El Clarin, who has two adopted children born during the years of the Dirty War. Also on Thursday, the Argentine Senate approved voted 38-20 to approve a law that establishes the National Genetic Information Bank as an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Science and Technology. The same Senate session also approved a law that will allow non governmental human rights organizations to bring suit in cases involving human rights violations or crimes against humanity, including crimes forced disappearances.

Europe court rules delayed airline passengers entitled to compensation

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Thursday that airline passengers confronted with flight delays of two hours or more may receive compensation equal to that of passengers whose flights are cancelled. The flat-rate compensation ranges between 250 and 600 euros. The case arose under European Parliament and European Council Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, which sets forth rules for compensation and assistance of airline passengers. The court found: “Given that the damage sustained by air passengers in cases of cancellation or long delay is comparable, passengers whose flights are delayed and passengers whose flights are cancelled cannot be treated differently without the principle of equal treatment being infringed. That is a fortiori the case in view of the aim sought by Regulation No 261/2004, which is to increase protection for all air passengers. In those circumstances, the Court finds that passengers whose flights are delayed may rely on the right to compensation laid down in Article 7 of Regulation No 261/2004 where they suffer, on account of such flights, a loss of time equal to or in excess of three hours, that is to say when they reach their final destination three hours or more after the arrival time originally scheduled by the air carrier.” The judgment clarifies circumstances under which a "delay" or a "cancellation" occurs and the corresponding duties of airlines to affected passengers. A right to compensation does not arise if the airline can show "extraordinary" circumstances caused the delay. The task falls to national courts to determine the meaning of the ECJ ruling.

  • Weekly Magazine Review


The case against over parenting. Can These Parents Be Saved?

Overparenting got way out of control in the past generation. But now a band of rebels is trying to restore some balance and sanity to family life and help bring all those anxious helicopter parents down for a soft landing.


118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes in Hell. Maziar Bahari's ordeal in Evin Prison

Business Week

The new threat from Wall Street. Wall Street Plays Hardball. Taxpayers are taking another hit as strapped local governments fork over billions in fees on investments gone bad

The Economist

How to feed the World. Dealing with America's fiscal hole. Don't cut the deficit now—but explain how, eventually, you will.

Le Nouvel Observateur

L'EXPLOSION DES TRAFICS SEXUELS. Tourisme au Sud, prostitution au Nord... Le marché de la chair s'est mondialisé. Les clients rêvent de jouissance sans entraves. Les prostitué(e)s, de richesse. Mais des bordels de Bangkok aux trottoirs de Paris, les mafias qui contrôlent la traite...

Der Spiegel

Die Billionenbombe. Warum nach der Jahrhundertkrise schon die nächste droht.

  • Daily Press Review

Saudi Navy Foils Huthi Attempt to Capture Yemen's Midi Port
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Hamas leaders head to Cairo to hammer out Shalit deal
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

LEBANON: Migrant Women Dying on the Job
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Iraqi child abduction called 'new form of terror'
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Special roaming tariffs for Haj Pilgrims
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Northern Ireland positive about trade with Oman
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Dissidents Suspected in N.Ireland Car Bombing Attempt
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Panel formed on Lebanon poll law
Saudi Gazette, English-language daily, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

35 Egypt police hurt as soccer violence simmers
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Iran says nuclear rights non-negotiable
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Flood-hit areas face travel chaos
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

UK book chain 'in fight for survival', Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Katie Price quits I'm A Celebrity
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

The final insult: How family of Brazilian shot dead on Tube will get just fraction of £400k pay-off for blundering Met boss
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Zain abandons merger with Paltel
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Graham Sankey held over attack on Joe Anderson
icLiverpool, Online news portal, Liverpool, England

Hit-and-run yob aged just 15 freed to kill
Manchester Online, Independent daily, Manchester, England

1989 from abroad
Radio Prague, Online news portal, Prague, Czech Republic

Storm Warning: Town May Be Cut Off For Months
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Europe's Safe Choice: The Technocrats at the Top of the EU
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

'Wasteful, flawed' Ofsted fails barrage of inspections
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Taoiseach to visit flood areas as further rain predicted
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

MPs' expenses: 'ethics' MP faces call to step down over use of £65000 allowances
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Survivor describes chaos as Indonesian ferry sinks
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Owner of MV "Dumai Express 10" killed in mishap
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

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

Ten militants killed in Hangu clashes
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

N-deal, Pak, terror on agenda during PM-Obama meet
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Delhi: High security after JNU violence
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Company finishes career in style
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Cholera: 185 cases confirmed in Terengganu, 18 in Sabah
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Top Aussie Govt official blasts 'malicious' barmaid sex claims
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Turkey encourages use of electric cars
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Narrow escape for CBD workers as tree falls
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Italian police explain how VOIP was used on 26/11
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

'No risk' of China property bubble
The Standard, Business daily, Hong Kong

US senator against IMF assistance to Antigua
Antigua Sun Online, Independent daily, St. John's, Antigua

Obama and Hu may attend CHOGM in Trinidad and Tobago
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Dominicans to vote in Yuletide elections
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

OT head: New revenue needed
Cayman Net News, Online news portal, George Town, Cayman Islands

III Dominican Global Film Festival closes today
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

PERU: Fighting Hunger with Native Crops
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

'We will pay' - Debt before dishonour, Golding promises
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru: Arrivals in Machu Picchu increase in 6 percent
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Bickell leads Hawks past Canucks
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Signs of hope for First Nations children
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Supporting essential services
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Algeria clears ex-Guantanamo men
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Amnesty International: more prosecutions should follow for war crimes in the Kivus, Independent online news aggregator

Italian firm buys Uganda's oil fields
Daily Monitor, Independent daily, Kampala, Uganda

Training on safe childbirth planned
Daily Nation, Independent daily, Nairobi, Kenya

NDC Chairman speaks out
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Child sex tourist held
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Attack on Zulu culture 'malicious'
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Jelila and Regassa win in 2009 Great Ethiopian Run
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

Pikoli's lawyer to withdraw case
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Pikoli to withdraw application, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Borno PDP: Let's suppress our individual ego, says Ciroma
Vanguard, Independent daily, Lagos, Nigeria


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