April 5, 2010 Nº 890 - Vol. 8

"In my case, I learned that although God loves us, he doesn't grant us immunity from the consequences of our choices."

Donna Rice

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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

Pope's immunity could be challenged in Britain

Protests are growing against Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to Britain, where some lawyers question whether the Vatican's implicit statehood status should shield the pope from prosecution over sex crimes by pedophile priests. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Downing Street's web site against the pope's 4-day visit to England and Scotland in September, which will cost U.K. taxpayers an estimated 15 million pounds ($22.5 million). The campaign has gained momentum as more Catholic sex abuse scandals have swept across Europe. Although Benedict has not been accused of any crime, senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pope should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests. Universal jurisdiction - a concept in international law - allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live. British judges have been more open to the concept than those in other countries. Lawyers are divided over the immunity issue. Some argue that the Vatican isn't a true state, while others note the Vatican has national relations with about 170 countries, including Britain. The Vatican is also the only non-member to have permanent observer status at the U.N. Then again, no other top religious leaders enjoy the same U.N. privileges or immunity, so why should the pope?

It's a tactic that the British government would likely abhor, but British judges have often gone against government wishes in lawsuits. Recent examples include British judges who issued an arrest warrant against Israel's former foreign minister for alleged war crimes, and a British court ruling this year that forced the government to release its intelligence exchanges with U.S. officials about the torture claims of a former Guantanamo detainee.

Prosecution in the deepening cleric sex abuse scandal, however, ultimately rests on the question of immunity. If British judges do challenge the pope's immunity, there are a handful of possible legal scenarios - all of them speculative. The pope could be served for a writ for civil damages, a complaint could be lodged with the International Criminal Court, or abuse victims could try to have Benedict arrested for crimes against humanity - perhaps the least likely scenario. Lawyers question whether an alleged systematic cover-up could be considered a crime against humanity - a charge usually reserved for the International Criminal Court - and whether it could be pursued under universal jurisdiction.

Head of state immunity provides no protection in the International Criminal Court. If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic events but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto-authority - i.e. the Catholic Church ... then the commander can be held criminally liable. Even though the Vatican - like the United States - did not sign the accord that established the international court, a crime would only have to occur in a country which did sign, like Britain. Still, lawyers would have to prove that the crimes or an alleged cover-up occurred or continued after the court was set up in July 2002.

It was around 1929 when Mussolini decided that the Vatican - a tiny enclave about 0.17 of a square mile with some 900 people - was a sovereign state. "The notion that statehood can be created by another country's unilateral declaration is risible," Robertson said. Others say the last 80 years of history have turned the Vatican into a state, and it would be almost impossible to strip the pope of his immunity now.

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U.S. delays report on China currency manipulation

The Obama administration is delaying the release of a report on whether China manipulates its currency for trade advantages, two weeks before China's president is scheduled to visit Washington. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the delay gives the White House time to try to convince China to voluntarily let its currency go up. The decision may improve US relations with China but could upset some American lawmakers. It is no secret that the US believes China keeps the yuan artificially low, harming the US economy.

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  • Brief News

Daimler agrees to pay $185m after admitting bribery

German carmaker Daimler has pleaded guilty to corruption in the US and will pay $185m to settle the case. The charges relate to US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into the company's global sales practices. Daimler is said to have given money and lavish gifts to help win contracts in countries including China, Russia, Thailand, Greece, and Iraq.

Putin signs energy deals with Chavez on Venezuela visit

Putin has signed a series of key energy deals with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a visit to the capital, Caracas. Chavez said Russia had agreed to help Venezuela with a nuclear power plant and on building a space industry. However, the Venezuelan leader, a long-time adversary of Washington, insisted that "we are not building an alliance against the United States". Bolivian President Evo Morales was also invited to meet Mr Putin in Caracas.

Outrage at anti-Semitism comparison by Pope preacher

Jewish groups and victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests have condemned the Pope's preacher for comparing criticism of the pontiff to anti-Semitism. US-based abuse victims' group Snap said the remarks were "morally wrong". The head of Germany's Central Council of Jews described the Easter sermon as unprecedented "insolence". The Catholic Church has been rocked by abuse scandals this year. The Vatican said Raniero Cantalamessa's remarks did not represent its official view. Drawing such parallels could "lead to misunderstandings." The Catholic Church has been engulfed this year by sex abuse scandals, many dating back decades, in Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, the Pope's native Germany and the US. The Vatican has been engaged for the past few months in a damage-control operation, defending itself vigorously over claims it covered up cases of sexual abuse in recent decades.

Brazil's top banker to stay on at Lula's request

Brazil's central bank chief is putting aside his political ambitions and staying on as head of the bank at the request Lula. Henrique Meirelles had considered running for a senate seat or for the vice presidency on the governing party ticket. Brazilian law requires that public officeholders step down by Friday if they want to compete in October's elections. Lula on Tuesday asked Meirelles to stay on as head of the central bank until Dec. 31, when Silva leaves office. Meirelles said at a news conference Thursday that he has agreed. Meirelles, a 64-year-old former executive at BankBoston, is considered a pillar of Brazil's economic stability.

Transgender inmates have right to therapy

A federal judge has struck down a unique Wisconsin law that prohibits transgender inmates from receiving taxpayer-funded hormone therapy, which alters their appearance to be more like that of the opposite sex. A group of male inmates who identify as female had challenged the 2006 law with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group. They say they need the hormones to treat their gender identity disorder, and not having them would lead to severe health problems. "It's a victory for these inmates who have a condition that is misunderstood and vilified for political purposes that can be very serious," Larry Dupuis, an ACLU lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, said Thursday. "To take away a whole class of treatment just because it's politically disfavored is not constitutional."

Tech coalition pushes rewrite of online privacy law

A broad coalition of companies including Google, Microsoft, and AT&T, joined by liberal and conservative advocacy groups, will announce a major push Tuesday to update federal privacy laws to protect mobile and cloud computing users. They hope to convince the U.S. Congress to update a 1986 law--written in the pre-Internet era of telephone modems and the black-and-white Macintosh Plus--to sweep in location privacy and documents stored on the Web through services like Google Docs, Flickr, and Picasa. That law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, is notoriously convoluted and difficult even for judges to follow. The coalition hopes to simplify the wording while requiring police to obtain a search warrant to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices--which is not always the case today. Under current law, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data locally, a legal hiccup that some companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless it's changed. "The main thing that's broken about ECPA is that it penalizes you for using cloud computing." What's unusual about the coalition to be announced Tuesday is that it includes occasional rivals including AOL, Loopt, and Salesforce. The nonprofit participants, too, have sharply different political views: the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Citizens Against Government Waste have signed on. This push for cell phone privacy is likely to put the coalition at odds with the Obama Justice Department. A few weeks ago, Justice Department prosecutors told a federal appeals court that Americans enjoy no reasonable expectation of privacy in their mobile device's location and that no search warrant should be required to access location logs.

Four privacy principles

The groups plan to announce four principles, buttressed by legal analyses. The principles apply only to government access to data stored by Internet and telecommunications companies and do not regulate the private sector or private litigants.

  • First, police may obtain "communications that are not readily accessible to the public only with a search warrant."
  • Second, police may access "location information regarding a mobile communications device only with a warrant."
  • Third, additional privacy protections would be extended to legal requests for outgoing and incoming call records, which are known as pen registers and trap and trace devices.
  • Fourth, police may use "subpoenas only for information related to a specified account or individual"--which would bar a subpoena to AT&T asking for information about anyone connecting to one cell site at a certain time, or prevent a subpoena to Google asking for anyone searching for "weaponized anthrax" on a specified date. (That information might still be available, however, to law enforcement officials armed with valid search warrants.) The last point is important because not all companies that store such data push back as much as they should. "You've got to have a set of standards that make users comfortable that the government is not willy-nilly accessing things without judicial oversight."

Staffer one day, opponent the next

Documents show that the revolving door spins fast for SEC staffers who go into private practice. Some of them represent the other side within days of leaving.

Federal appeals court rules Ebay has no duty to police trademarks

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that Internet auction house eBay is not required to actively monitor its website for the sale of counterfeit goods. The decision comes in a case brought by jeweler Tiffany & Company, alleging that eBay diluted its trademark by facilitating the sale of "copycat" Tiffany jewelry. EBay argued that it had no responsibility to take proactive steps against the sale of counterfeit items. Affirming a lower court decision, the appeals court stated: "[Ebay] may lawfully use a plaintiff's trademark where doing so is necessary to describe the plaintiff's product and does not imply a false affiliation or endorsement by the plaintiff of the defendant. While a trademark conveys an exclusive right to the use of a mark in commerce in the area reserved, that right generally does not prevent one who trades a branded product from accurately describing it by its brand name, so long as the trader does not create confusion by implying an affiliation with the owner of the product." While affirming that Ebay did not infringe Tiffany's trademark, the court remanded Tiffany's claim of false advertising.

ICTY denies Karadzic appeal to delay war crimes trial

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday denied an appeal by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to postpone his war crimes trial. Karadzic appealed the trial date last month, claiming a February court ruling that increased the remuneration for his defense lawyers also gave him extra time to prepare for his case. Karadzic had claimed that he needed more time to read through more than 400,000 pages of documents turned over by the prosecution. In rejecting his argument, the appeals chamber of the ICTY said: "[We] are satisfied that the trial chamber took into account all the relevant factors including the February 2010 decision on the staffing of Karadzic's defense team and possible remedies for the period when his team was understaffed. As a result, the Trial Chamber made no error in assessing that further postponement of the trial was not justified. Karadzic has failed to demonstrate that the Trial Chambers abused its discretion in reaching this conclusion." The Appeals Chamber ordered that the trial resume on April 13, while Karadzic had requested that proceedings be delayed until June 17.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time

Inside Steves' Pad. The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again? A confessed Apple fanboy gets finger time with the iPad - and face time with Steve Jobs

Newsweek

What would Mary do? A Woman's Place Is In The Church. The cause of the Catholic clergy's sex-abuse scandal is no mystery: insular groups of men often do bad things. So why not break up the all-male club?

Business Week

Goldman Sachs: Don't Blame Us. When it comes to its role in the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs has a message for the world: Not guilty. Not one bit.

The Economist

Hope at last. The world's biggest economy has begun a much-needed transition. Barack Obama could do more to help

Der Spiegel

Der (Un)Fehlbare - Die gescheiterte Mission des Joseph Ratzinger.

  • Daily Press Review

Scores rescued from Chinese mine
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Signs of Division in al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Lack of transit papers behind truck pile-up at Ghuwaifat border checkpoint: Customs sources
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Suicide bomb kills 2 policemen in Russia's Ingushetia
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

EGYPT: Battle For Women Judges Half Won
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Turkish ambassador to be replaced
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

'Kissing couple' lose appeal, jail term upheld
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Oman eyes more tourists from UAE
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Powerful Quake Kills 2 in Mexico, Rattles U.S. States
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

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

Obama urges Chinese president to help pressure Iran
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Israeli ambassador says US relations great
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Funding choices 'hard', says Balls
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

INTO teacher conference underway today
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Protesters expand Thailand demo
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Schoolgirl stabbed to death on her way to a party
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Orange, T-Mobile successfully complete UK merger
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

CHINA: Dozens of survivors found by divers in flooded coal mine
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Turkish inflation rate declines in March from 15-month high
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Fearne's Red Office Brogues
Look Magazine, London, England

GBP 450,000 grant will boost Eden Valley Hospice care
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

UN Ban To Meet Uzbek President Karimov
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Dozens Of Miners Saved In 'Miracle' Rescue
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Germany's Easter Enthusiasm: Painted Eggs, Decorated Trees and Fire Wheels
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Pope remains defiant over child sex abuse scandal
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Earthquake in Mexico shakes California
The Independent, London, England

Cork and Galway to contest NHL final
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

17-Year-Old Widow Identified as Park Kultury Bomber
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

BBC plunged into BNP election row
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Ursula Andress voted top siren by men but women favour Audrey Hepburn
The Telegraph, London, England

Somali pirates hijack South Korean oil tanker Samho Dream
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

President receives Chinese trade minister
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Millions in Calif., Ariz., Mexico feel 7.2 quake
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

Four killed, several injured in Dir blast
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

Head of state congratulated Kazakhstan citizens on Easter
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Death sentence to 17 Indians is subject to appeal: UAE
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

10 die, 9 injured in Pune accident
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

A world of experience helps set up a startup
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

JPJ amendment to tighten rules for incoming foreign cars
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Chinese miners rescued
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

U.S. choice of Prague for new pact signing rich in symbolism
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Attack kills 10 at Pakistan political gathering
Sify News, Chennai, India

Earthquake rocks Mexico
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Rescuers search for flooded China mine
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Beijing make headway on early harvest list
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

Haye hits jackpot as boxing promoters want him to fight for them
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Maoists kill 9 SOG jawans in Orissa landmine blast
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

No constitutional crisis: AG
Antigua Sun Online, Independent daily, St. John's, Antigua

Mexico quake strongest in 18 years
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

UK cops coming to help fight crime
Cayman Net News, Online news portal, George Town, Cayman Islands

Dominican authorities ban heavy vehicles on Easter Sunday
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Q&A: Eco-Friendly Farming Practices to Fight Hunger in Bolivia
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Dancehall hit! United States visa woes will cost Jamaican entertainers big
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru: Authorities fear that Huanuco avalanche death toll may reach 50
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Welcome to the world's most dangerous city
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Man beaten with bucket, robbed
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

SA warning against race violence
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Katanga Governor Says Not Running for 2011 Presidential Elections
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Mexico quake rattles US
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

'Perspective needed' on Terre'Blanche murder
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Ethiopian Christians observe Good Friday
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

Israeli MP plans 'popcorn law' for movie munchers
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

22 killed over Easter weekend
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Breaking News: Ex-Gov. Abubakar Rimi is dead
Vanguard, Independent daily, Lagos, Nigeria

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