February 22, 2010  Nº 873 - Vol. 8

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."

Arthur Schopenhauer
 

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  • Top News

Mammoth backlog prompts European rights court reforms

The Council of Europe has announced plans to streamline procedures at the European Court of Human Rights to help deal with a backlog of 120,000 cases. Judgements at the court take an average of six years or more. Ministers from the Council's 47 member states agreed the measures at a meeting in the Swiss city of Interlaken. They provide for one judge to decide on a case's admissibility, and for cases similar to those previously brought to be heard by a panel of three judges. Russia, the origin of 27,000 pending cases, initially resisted the reforms. All members of the Council of Europe have had to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into their national laws, accepting that the court's rulings are final and must be obeyed. The European Court of Human Rights has in a way been a victim of its own success. It was created originally as a court of last resort for Europeans who felt their fundamental rights had been infringed at home. The Strasbourg-based court has ruled on a variety of cases, from the right of homosexuals to serve in the British army, to crucifixes in Italian classrooms. Under Protocol 14, one judge rather than three will decide on a case's admissibility, and cases which are similar to ones previously brought will be decided by a three-judge panel, rather than the original seven-member chamber. Judges will be able to strike off the record cases with similarities to those already decided, as well as cases where an applicant has suffered no "significant disadvantage". The Protocol will also allow the Committee of Ministers, which is charged with supervising the enforcement of judgments, to work more effectively with national governments to ensure compliance.

Banks nervously await new credit card law

Banks and other credit card issuers are nervously awaiting the new credit card law set to go into effect on Monday. Many are anxious to determine just how big of a profit hit they stand to suffer as a result of the CARD Act. Judging by early estimates, it could be quite costly. Late last year, JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest credit card issuer, warned it expected its credit card business to lose as much as $750 million this year as a result of the new legislation. Executives at rival Citigroup warned last month the revenue lost by its domestic business could tumble anywhere between $400 million and $600 million. All told, the new law is expected to cost the industry as much as $5.5 billion in lost revenue this year and more than $50 billion through 2015. Much of that decline, experts said, is due to the fact that issuers are severely restricted by how and when they can raise a cardholder's annual percentage rate.

Note: The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 is also known as the Credit CARD Act.

Millions of unemployed face years without jobs

Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits. Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed. Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

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MiMIC Journal

China's Pearl River manufacturing hub 'lacks workers'

China is facing a shortage of workers in the Pearl River Delta manufacturing hub in southern China. Some estimates suggest factories need two million more migrant workers from other parts of China.

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  • Brief News

Federal appeals court orders state to put both gay parents' names on birth certificate

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled Thursday that the state of Louisiana must issue a revised birth certificate for the adopted child of a same-sex couple showing both fathers' names. In 2006, Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith adopted their child in New York, where unmarried couples can legally adopt. The child was born in Louisiana, and the state refused to issue a birth certificate naming both fathers. The appeals court held that Louisiana is required to give full faith and credit to the New York adoption decree, upholding the judgment of the district court.

Cigarette manufacturer asks Supreme Court to overturn rackeetering ruling

Cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris USA on Friday asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a 2006 district court ruling that held the tobacco industry liable under civil racketeering laws for deceiving American consumers as to the health effects of their products. Philip Morris argued that the trial court's decision did not properly consider issues involving the First Amendment and that the government's application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was overbroad. The company gave its reasoning for the appeal: "The government's use of injunctive litigation to obtain regulatory authority that it had been unable to secure through the legislative and administrative processes upended the First Amendment, distorted RICO beyond recognition, and vastly exceeded the remedial authority of Article III courts. Absent further review, the government will henceforth be free to pervert RICO into a device for evading the legislative process, penalizing and chilling public debate on scientific matters, and constraining constitutionally protected speech through vague and sweeping injunctions. And, the government will be able to do so without significant procedural protections beyond the findings of a single judge."

French fast food chain Quick sparks halal burger appeal

A French council has lodged a complaint against a fast food chain that serves only meat that conforms with Islamic dietary laws at a local branch. The mayor of Roubaix, in northern France, said the halal menu constituted "discrimination" against non-Muslims. The Roubaix branch is one of several restaurants at which the chain, Quick, took non-halal products and pork off the menu in November. Quick said it was testing commercial interest in halal menus. The move has triggered the latest row over France's Muslim minority.

Brazil Workers' party endorses Rousseff

The governing Workers' Party in Brazil has endorsed the president's chief of staff as its candidate for presidential elections in October. Economist Dilma Rousseff was personally nominated by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is prevented by law from standing for a third consecutive term. She promised fiscal discipline and economic stability if elected. But correspondents say she faces tough competition from the conservative opposition. Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra, the principal opposition candidate in Brazil's Oct. 3 presidential election, holds a large but narrowing lead over the ruling party contender, an opinion poll showed on Thursday.

Dollar rises on surprise Federal Reserve move

The dollar has risen against a basket of currencies after the US Federal Reserve's surprise increase in interest rates for emergency bank loans. The US central bank said late on Thursday that it was lifting its discount rate to 0.75%, from 0.5%. US stocks fell in early trading as investors feared any further rate rises could slow the economic recovery. However, inflation figures also released on Friday showed only a small increase in consumer prices. This calmed fears that interest rates could soon rise, and stocks bounced.

Sex at work: weapon or repression?

People can use relationships at work to kick-start their career, but relationships can also turn out to be repressive and hinder careers from flourishing. Research shows that a large proportion of workers have had amorous relations with colleagues, but what if they are rivals or the boss is involved? There is always the danger of exploitation; the real problem is when one person has power over another. "There are two real issues: how can one be sure that the relationship is consensual, without any subtle or direct coercion, and is there a conflict of interest." Different companies have different rules about their staff entering into liaisons with co-workers. Some companies impose a complete ban, an approach that Mr Handel believes is counter-productive. However, relationships can cause problems that interfere with the smooth running of an organization. Advice: Don't do anything you don't want on the front of the Daily News the next day.

Immigrants in Greece demand legal status

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Greek capital, Athens, demanding that all immigrants be legalized. Hundreds of thousand have entered Greece illegally from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The country is struggling to cope with the recession and calls for legalization may meet with opposition.

Report: Terror memos didn't violate legal ethics

Bush administration lawyers did not violate legal ethics rules when they wrote memos authorizing harsh interrogations for terrorism detainees, the Justice Department said Friday, releasing the long-awaited results of its investigation into the memos.

Parks open to holders of concealed guns

National parks are places where many unwind. Now they won't have to leave their guns at home to do it. U.S. national parks will open Monday to holders of concealed firearms as a hard-fought law passed last year takes effect, but both sides expect more battles over exactly what the legislation means in practice. The law - probably the biggest legislative achievement for conservatives in what was otherwise a year dominated by President Obama's agenda - says national parks will be governed by the same rules as the states in which they are located. That means about 370 of the country's 392 National Park Service properties will permit visitors to carry firearms.

Saudi women to be allowed to argue cases in court

Saudi Arabia is planning to bring in a new law to allow women lawyers to argue cases in court for the first time. Justice Minister Mohammed al-Eissa said the law was part of King Abdullah's plan to develop the legal system. The law - to be issued "in the coming days" - would allow women to appear in court on family-related cases, including divorce and child custody. At the moment, they can only work behind the scenes in government and court offices.

Alvarez & Marsal gets $233 million for advising bankrupt Lehman Brothers

Alvarez & Marsal LLC, the liquidator of bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., has collected $233 million in fees for "interim management" over 16 months, according to a regulatory filing.

Data thefts cost firms millions each year

The theft of trade secrets and customer information cost companies millions each year. In a survey of 2,100 information-technology executives worldwide, 75 percent of respondents reported cyber attacks last year. Most intrusions were aimed at stealing a company’s intellectual property, such as product designs. For some, this is a matter of life or death. We can expect to see companies going out of business because their intellectual property is stolen. Protecting corporate data has become more difficult. Businesses coped with the recession by trimming staff to handle security, while hackers have become more skillful. Last month, at least 20 other companies had suffered a series of "highly sophisticated" online attacks originating in China. In many cases, hackers have switched their attentions to stealing trade secrets.

Argentine defaulted bond swap threatened as lawmakers may derail debt plan

Argentine opposition lawmakers are stepping up efforts to derail a government proposal to make debt payments with central bank reserves, jeopardizing the country's plan to restructure $20 billion of defaulted bonds.

Bolivia president appoints 18 interim judges prior to election

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday appointed 18 judges ahead of the country's judicial elections, calling the move "the beginning of the decolonization of the judiciary." The appointees will fill five vacancies on the country's Supreme Court, five on the Constitutional Court, and three on the Judiciary Council, while five others were named alternates. All will serve until judicial elections are held on December 5. Though roughly 20 of 26 high-level judicial posts were unoccupied prior to the announcement, the move has drawn criticism from Morales's opponents who fear it jeopardizes the judiciary's independence. The Bolivian National Congress passed legislation last week authorizing Morales to appoint judicial officials on an interim basis until the election.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time

Why Washington is frozen. Discontent with government is at its highest level in more than a decade--making it harder to solve the country's biggest problems. A breakdown of how Washington stopped working, and what to do about.

Newsweek

Charge. How the GOP Sees It. What Republicans would do if given carte blanche to run the country.

Business week

Germany's Merkel: She's Got the Whole Euro in Her Hands. Angela Merkel, the EU's most powerful leader, has to save Europe from itself.

The Economist

What's gone wrong in Washington? American politics seems unusually bogged down at present. Blame Barack Obama more than the system

Le Nouvel Observateur

La vraie histoire de la famille Sarkozy. Un père attaché à ses origines hongroises, un grand-père naturalisé et assimilé, une éducation catholique : l'identité nationale du président est le produit d'influences contradictoires.

Der Spiegel

Der unglaubliche Guido - 118 Tage Vizekanzler Westerwelle.

  • Daily Press Review

Nato raid 'kills Afghan civilians'
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Saudi Arabia: 17-Year Combined Sentence for Al Qaeda Financier and Instigator
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

UK to help nationals linked to Dubai slaying clear their names
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Iran earmarks sites for 10 nuclear enrichment plants
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

IRAQ: 'Disgraced Soldier' Fights Trauma With Documentary
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

ElBaradei returns to Egypt, urges change
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Stem Cell Surgery May Work Miracles for Some
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Qatar- Shopping space to be doubled
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Taliban Resistance in Afghanistan 'Disjointed,' US to Pursue Pressure Track on Iran: Petraeus
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

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

UAE summons EU envoys, Times sources say Netanyahu met Mabhouh assassins
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

UAE summons EU envoys, vows justice in Dubai killing
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Labour challenges bullying claims
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Cigarette smoke named 'Top of the Pongs'
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Four still missing in Madeira flood
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

No10 staff 'called bullying helpline': As book says PM was urged to curb temper, charity chief's astonishing claim
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

NZ regulator recommends no regulation for MTA rates
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

AFGHANISTAN: NATO air strike kills 21 civilians, Afghan govt says
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

‘Public Enemy’ exhibit seeks to banish moral symbols
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

The LOOK Show Is Here!
Look Magazine, London, England

Cold snap forecast to last another two weeks
Manchester Online, Independent daily, Manchester, England

Buttermere walker suffers head injuries in fall
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

Downing Street Staff 'Called Bully Helpline'
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Competition for Google: A German Library for the 21st Century
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Gordon Brown hit by fresh bullying allegations
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Civilians killed in Nato air strike
The Independent, London, England

Man shot dead in Limerick robbery
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Blind Eye Turned to Counterfeit Cell Phones
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Nato airstrike 'kills 27 civilians in Afghanistan'
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Government pays celebrities GBP 325,000 to front ad campaigns
The Telegraph, London, England

North Koreans' life expectancy falls as infant mortality rises
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Reshuffle may disadvantage Yudhoyono's government: observer
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

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

Early hearing seeked for Zardari's immunity petition
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

Import duties distribution between Customs Union countries will depend on political decision
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Govt promises to tackle problem of rising food prices
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

No Maoists in varsity: Osmania VC
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Japan, U.S. plan drone R&D study
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

PKR group wants to debate Malay chamber chief
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

'Road rage killing' shocks Sydney
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Sectional union railroad put into service in northern Myanmar
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Siesta makes you smarter
Sify News, Chennai, India

Sulky 'Mozart of chess'
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

China hikes price
Taiwan News, Taipei, Taiwan

Taimali coffee brewing up a name for itself
Taiwan Today, Taipai, Taiwan

Winds Of Change
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Opposition to focus on price rise, security
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Sankofa - to remember is to move forward
Antigua Sun Online, Independent daily, St. John's, Antigua

Team Canada falls to U.S.
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Drought causes disease worry in Jamaica
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Report: Missing boaters alive?
Cayman Net News, Online news portal, George Town, Cayman Islands

Haiti judge to visit Dominican Republic in US kidnappers case
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

CHILE: Will Presidential CEO Modify Regional Political Scenario?
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Banana rebound - Despite export fallout, local market shoots again
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru, Chile, Bolivia to develop mega tour circuit
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Lufthansa cancels hundreds of flights as pilots strike
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Carnival advisory misleading
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Figure skating: Canadians lead as Aboriginal-dancing Russians trail - AFP News : Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics
Vancouver 2010 Olympic News, Vancouver, British Columbia

Niger military promises elections
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Great Lakes countries to hold economic meeting
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

NALAG should fulfil development aspirations of the people- Mr Aidoo Mensah
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Obama unveils health bill
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Mugabe's nephew in Fifa deal
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Mekonnen of Ethiopia wins 1500m UK race
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

De Sa: No need to panic
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Protesting residents 'fed up'
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Bauchi lawmaker faults proposed constitution amendment
Vanguard, Independent daily, Lagos, Nigeria

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