April 7, 2010 Nº 891 - Vol. 8

"The husbands of very beautiful women belong to the criminal classes."

Oscar Wilde


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


  • Top News

A vague new crime

It would be best not to make 'aggression' a crime the International Criminal Court can prosecute. Twice in recent months military and political leaders from Israel have reportedly cancelled trips to Britain out of concern that they might be arrested for alleged war crimes. Officials from other countries could soon face a similar greeting — not only in Britain but also in France, Germany, Japan and other nations that are members of the International Criminal Court.

In May, the international court’s member states will meet in Kampala, Uganda, to consider adding a new crime of aggression to the offenses the court can prosecute. If they include it, all member nations will be required to arrest officials accused of that crime — even if they come from countries that refuse to join. The Rome conference that created the international court in 1998 gave it power to prosecute four international crimes. One was aggression. Unable to reach consensus on what the term meant, the conference left it undefined. As a result, the crime of aggression has not been prosecutable.

But that would change if the newly-proposed definition were adopted. Under it, any political or military leader would be guilty of the crime of aggression if he exercises control or direction over any use of armed force that represents a manifest violation of the United Nations Charter. Sensible enough in concept, the definition is maddeningly vague in application, largely because it is based upon a 1974 General Assembly resolution that was aimed at guiding state conduct, not defining individual criminal liability.

What constitutes a "manifest" violation of the charter? The truth is it’s impossible to say. The charter prohibits any non-defensive use of force not authorized by the Security Council. Yet five years ago a U.N. high-level panel found that violations of the charter’s use-of-force rules have been too numerous to count. By one count, the panel noted, force had been used 200 times from 1945 to 1989; by another count, 680 times. In almost all those conflicts, every nation involved contended that it acted lawfully. No impartial tribunal existed to decide which side was right.

Which individuals within those "aggressor" states exercised control or direction over the military actions in question? Again, one can only guess. Preparation for armed conflict engages numerous high-level diplomats, lawyers, intelligence analysts and, sometimes, legislators.

Precisely who exercises control or direction is therefore unclear. What is clear is that, had the proposed crime existed over recent decades, every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy and hundreds of political and military leaders from other countries would have been subject to potential indictment, arrest and prosecution.

Concern about potentially politicized prosecution is one reason that China, Russia, India and the United States have not become members of the international court.

Yet it would not matter for officials from those states that their countries have declined to join. Military action by their states could still be characterized as "aggression" under the proposed definition. If that action were to occur within the territory of a member state — there are now 110 — an indictment could issue. Other member states would thereafter be required to arrest the accused, who would then be transferred to The Hague to stand trial.

Max Weber wrote of the imperative of "calculability" in a legal system, the need to ensure that risks can be identified and addressed with reasonable predictability. In the contemporary international legal order, the "principle of legality" assumes this function. The principle requires that a criminal defendant be given clear notice as to what conduct is illegal before it occurs. Its aim is to provide a modicum of systemic stability by discouraging arbitrary arrest and prosecution.

The proposed new crime will undermine that principle, which lies at the heart of the rule of law. It will force hundreds of political and military leaders who act in good faith to guess when and where they will be arrested in their international travels. It will strain relations among allies and exacerbate tensions among adversaries. It will bollix an international equilibrium that already is precarious enough.

The 1998 treaty that established the International Criminal Court provides that it will be applied "consistent with internationally recognized human rights." If the parties to the treaty honor that commitment in Kampala, they will reject this misbegotten new definition of aggression.

Michael Glennon, IHT, OpEd 4/6/10

Video shows U.S. attack that killed reuters employees

The Web site WikiLeaks.org released a graphic video on Monday showing an American helicopter shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad. A senior American military official confirmed that the video was authentic. At the time, United States military officials said "there is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force." But the video does not show hostile action. The pilots aimed and fireed at the group, then reveled in their kills. "It seems like they are playing video games with people's lives." "Look at those dead bastards," one pilot says. "Nice", the other responds. WikiLeaks said the video demonstrated that civilians had died in the incident, and that the US military's rules of engagement were flawed. The website's organizers complained recently of coming under surveillance by the US government, and of harassment by other governments, ostensibly for their role in posting leaked documents on sensitive subjects.

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1 - Attorney-General Baroness Scotland: I was duped by illegal cleaner (Click here)

2 - Desperate Housewives' Nicollette Sheridan sues the show’s creator (
Click here)

3 - Oklahoma governor signs 3 anti-abortion bills into law (Click here)

4 - SEC faces setbacks, skepticism in trying to reform its enforcement image (Click here)

5 - Toyota faces $16.4 million U.S. fine for waiting to warn of defect (Click here)


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MiMIC Journal

China soya ban angers Argentina

Argentina has complained to the Chinese government about a planned boycott of its soya oil exports amid a growing trade dispute. China's ambassador to Argentina was summoned on Monday after a Chinese trade body told traders not to buy Argentine soya oil. China says it will ban imports because the oil fails to meet quality standards. But it is also seen as the latest move in a long-running trade dispute.

Anger in China over web censorship

China has delayed a plan requiring all new computers sold in the country to be equipped with internet filtering software, The Green Dam. Internet censorship has been one of the most widely discussed subjects in blogs, message forums and social media networks in China over the past month. It is the general conviction that the purpose of the software is rather more sinister than it claims to be and that it will block legitimate websites.

Chinese companies believed to be interested in Brazil oil auctions

In their never-ending quest for international oil assets, Chinese oil companies are expected to be among the bidders for Brazilian pre-salt assets that will be auctioned off later this year. China, already Brazil's largest trading partner, is clearly willing to search far and wide for its next oil acquisitions. The auction dates have not been set because Brazil's congress is still working on rules for foreign investors. Brazil's pre-salt oil discoveries are estimated to hold billion of barrels of oil, but the cost of extracting that oil is expected to be extremely high.

Sinopec Group completes $1.3 billion Brazil gas pipeline before Hu visits

ChinaPetrochemical Corp., the nation's second-biggest energy producer, completed a $1.3 billion natural-gas pipeline in Brazil before a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao seeking to deepen bilateral ties.

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  • Historia Verdadeira


Costa Rica y Singapur suscribieron este martes un tratado de libre comercio, el primero que el país centroamericano firma con una nación asiática y que abre grandes oportunidades de comercio e inversión.


Ejecutivos de las compañías brasileñas Electrobras, Vale do Rio Doce, Braskem, Andrade Gutiérrez, OAS, Odebrecht y Embraer están en Bolivia en busca de hacer negocios en minería, electricidad, construcción de carreteras, industrialización de gas natural e inclusive en la venta de aviones. (Presione aquí)


Más denuncias y contradenuncias en el caso judicial entre la petrolera estadounidense Chevron corp y procuraduría de Ecuador. Ahora demandantes en el caso multimillonario por contaminación contra la petrolera dijeron que tienen evidencia grabada que pone en duda la credibilidad de un testigo clave en la defensa de la compañía. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

Big law firms lose business due to conflicts

Big blue-chip law firms are losing potentially lucrative assignments to smaller firms even as the industry sees a spike in lawsuits against banks stemming from the financial crisis. The reason for the change: ethics rules that govern conflicts of interest for lawyers and their firms. Law firms usually can't sue or investigate banks that they have represented, unless the clients take the unusual step of waiving the conflict. Thus, many small to midsize firms, which count fewer banks as defense clients, are filling a growing demand for conflict-free lawyers able to file lawsuits against banks. Litigation against banks includes claims that they misstated the value of mortgage-related securities or reneged on financing agreements. Ambac Assurance Corp. recently sued a unit of Credit Suisse Group, alleging the securities firm made misleading representations about attributes of home-equity lines of credit backing bonds the insurer guaranteed. A Credit Suisse spokesman says the suit lacks merit. Last year, MBIA Insurance Corp. sued Countrywide Financial Corp., now owned by Bank of America Corp, claiming it misrepresented the quality of mortgage-backed securities. Bank of America declined to comment. Consolidation in the banking business has made it only harder for law firms to handle lawsuits against banks. It is increasingly difficult, lawyers said, for firms to find a major bank they haven't represented at some point. As a result, they are bumping up against the conflict-of-interest rules formulated by the American Bar Association and state bar groups.

Total faces Iraq bribery investigation

French oil company Total is to be investigated over allegations of corruption relating to Iraq's oil-for-food program. A French judge has filed preliminary charges accusing Total of bribing Iraqi officials while Saddam Hussein was in power in order to secure oil supplies. Total insists it abided by the rules of the UN-sponsored program.

Cracking down on free interns

As companies look for ways to save money in a tough economy, U.S. labor officials are worried that employers are using more interns for free work. Several states have started investigations and even fined companies for exploiting eager students.

Daimler, Nissan and Renault announce three-way tie-up

Daimler is to give Renault and Nissan a 3.1% stake in its business as part of a global tie-up of the brands, it has been announced. In exchange, Daimler will take a 3.1% stake in Renault and Nissan, which have been in alliance since 1999. The deal will see the companies remain separate, but allow them to share technology and development costs. The carmakers will also co-operate to make electric cars and light commercial vehicles, Nissan said. Commenting on the deal, Daimler's chairman said it was "a promising foundation" that would allow the companies to share resources.

Brazil, U.S. agree to avoid tariffs in cotton dispute

The Obama administration offered $147.3 million in assistance to Brazilian cotton producers and suspended an export-credit program for American farmers, in a bid to end a trade dispute with the Latin American nation. The government will also seek to ease sanitary barriers to Brazilian imports of pork and beef. The U.S., which lost a World Trade Organization ruling in August that said its cotton subsidies violate global trade rules, will work with Brazil to reach a comprehensive agreement by June. The U.S. for now dodges as much as $830 million in trade sanctions on 102 goods including ketchup, cars and boats that Brazil targeted. In addition to financial assistance for Brazilian farmers, the U.S. halted the GSM-102 program that guarantees the credit foreign customers use to by American cotton, and said it will be restarted with higher fees.

Brasilia's anniversary marred by corruption scandal

Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Brazil's capital, Brasilia, have been marred by the scandal surrounding the city's governor. Jose Roberto Arruda has been accused of trying to obstruct a corruption inquiry, following the broadcast of a secretly taped film allegedly showing him and other political figures accepting bribes - which he denies.

Priest charged in U.S. is still serving in india

A priest charged with abusing a girl in Minnesota has been allowed to continue working at a diocese in India.

Venezuela accuses Colombians of spying and sabotage

Venezuela has confirmed that eight Colombian citizens have been arrested on suspicion of spying, accused of trying to destabilize its power grid. Venezuela is currently experiencing its worst electricity crisis for 50 years. Chavez says the problem is partly down to sabotage by government opponents.

US DOT to impose record civil fine on Toyota for safety defect reporting delay

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will seek a record civil penalty of $16.375 million against Toyota Motor Corporation for a four-month delay in notifying the agency about a problem with "sticky" gas pedals in various car models. The fine, which would become the largest ever assessed against a car maker, was announced based on a preliminary review of extensive corporate documents attained through an investigation launched by the NHTSA in February.

'Black Widow' Moscow suicide bomber was teenage bride of slain Islamist rebel

Baby-faced Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17, was identified as the young woman who blew herself up at the Lubyanka subway stop near the headquarters of Russia's security services. The teenage bride of a slain Islamist rebel was one of two "Black Widow" suicide bombers out for revenge who set off explosive vests in the Moscow subway this week, Russian officials said today.

US broadband plan in 'legal limbo' after court ruling

A federal appeals court has thrown out the FCC's rules aimed at pushing net neutrality and ensuring that Internet providers treat all users and programs equally. The decision is regarded as a major blow to government plans to insist all web traffic is treated equally. The decision could endanger the Obama administration's National Broadband Plan. America's broadband plan is in "legal limbo" and on "life support" claim advocacy groups after a court ruling affecting net neutrality enforcement.

South Africa face-off at Eugene Terreblanche hearing

Black and white South Africans have scuffled outside a court building as two farm workers were charged with the murder of a white supremacist leader. The killing has raised racial tensions in the country.

Late-running Bolivia considers punctuality 'bonuses'

In almost any city, anywhere in the world, you could find yourself stuck in a traffic jam from 0700 to 0900. But not in La Paz in Bolivia - 9am is when rush hour really starts. People begin heading to work then, even if they were supposed to be at their office or factory 30 minutes or even an hour earlier. This chronic lateness is the result of what is known as "Bolivian time" which the government is now aiming to tackle with bonuses for punctual workers.

Fujitsu's ex-president plans suits

Fujitsu's former president plans to file two lawsuits against the technology giant, claiming personal damages and losses to shareholders because of his forced departure, the ex-executive's lawyer said.

Judge halts Allen Stanford's revolving door of lawyers

Longtime Houston criminal defense lawyer Michael Essmeyer will take over representing Allen Stanford. from Houston lawyers Kent Schaffer and George "Mac" Secrest, who had been working with Stanford for less than a year.

Turkish ruling party submits new version of proposed constitutional amendments

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday submitted a new version of their proposed Constitutional amendments to the Grand National Assembly. The draft differs only slightly in substance from the previous version that the party submitted. One of the new additions is a proposal to alter Article 157 of the Constitution so that judges of the Military Supreme Administrative Court would have judicial immunity and be shielded from spurious claims. Perhaps the most significant difference between the old and new versions is the signatures.

Germany justice minister calls for greater journalist protections

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger on Sunday announced plans to enact a law to increase protections for journalists using information obtained from government sources. Under section 353b of the German Penal Code, public officials who release state information can be punished by up to five years in prison. While the current law does not specifically target members of the press, prosecutors have used the law to search and confiscate information from journalists even if they are not suspected of wrong-doing. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger indicated that the proposed law would allow journalists to act as an important check on the government without fear of interference. The law appears to have broad support within the government and negotiations on the law are expected to begin next month.

  • Daily Press Review

US unveils revised nuclear policy
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

No New Request from Interpol Regarding Saddam Hussein's Daughter- Jordan
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Harry Connick Jr to perform in Abu Dhabi
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Obama bans terms 'Islam' and 'jihad' from U.S. security strategy document
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

RIGHTS-US: Suit Challenges Ultra-Restrictive Prison Units
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

HRW to Hamas: Don't resume executions in Gaza
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Road toll for trucks in Sharjah May onwards
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Palestine: Fayyad's third way
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

'Red Shirt' Protesters Briefly Storm Thai Parliament, MPs Evacuated
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

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

Israeli Arab receives 6-year jail sentence for spying on army chief for Hizbullah
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

IAEA inspects Syria reactor in uranium traces probe
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Leaders face last Commons clash
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Renault and Nissan seal fuel deal with Daimler
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrats won't do deal with Gordon Brown
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

General Election 2010: Labour targets David Cameron's background as the class war begins
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

HTC posts Q1 results ahead of expectations
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

BRAZIL: At least 95 killed in Rio de Janeiro flooding
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Label You Need To Know About: Very by Vero Moda
Look Magazine, London, England

Gordon Brown confirms May 6 General Election
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

The Rundown - April 7
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Two Firefighters Killed In Flats Blaze
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Picture This: Neverland
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Tories have secret plan to raise VAT, says Nick Clegg
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

At least 95 dead in Rio de Janeiro floods
The Independent, London, England

AOL considers Bebo's future
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Angry Drivers Take Stand Against Flashing Blue Lights
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

General election 2010: a battle between hope and fear
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Dawn French and Lenny Henry: relationship profile
The Telegraph, London, England

Crewmen claim Cheonan naval ship was sunk by external blast
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Quake drives Teupah Selatan coastal people into mountains
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Helicopter evacuates trapped Thai lawmakers
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

Corps commanders' meeting underway
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

UN Secretary General expects that Kazakh President will support CTBT ratification
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Nath summoned by US court for alleged anti-Sikh riots role
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Kolkata imam's fatwa against Shoaib
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

The rising stars can walk proudly with giants
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Population census to begin in July
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Thai protesters break into Parliament
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Bolivian president condemns fraud at regional elections
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

McCain backs former adviser in Calif. Senate race
Sify News, Chennai, India

What's Katie up to now?
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

China executes drug smuggler
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Study finds fewer tuna caught in ROC waters
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

‘Saat Khoon Maaf' will be a unique film: Priyanka
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

CERTIFICATES SAFE...Election petition documents to be delivered today
Antigua Sun Online, Independent daily, St. John's, Antigua

Tories alerted to Afghan secret police legal 'risk'
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Minor quake shakes Grand Cayman
Cayman Net News, Online news portal, George Town, Cayman Islands

The U.S. to deport 153 ex cons tomorrow
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

POLITICS-CUBA: Castro Confronts US, EU
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Peace spurs Torrington rebirth
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru: Anglo American resumes Michiquillay copper project
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Is Tiger’s sex scandal driving women away from the sport?
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Businessman robbed of $27,000 on way to bank
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

SPLM boycotts poll in north Sudan
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

DR Congo army regains control of Mbandaka
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

IMANI Report: Government Fumbling With Our Oil Money Already?
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Official 'beds' 500 women
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

ANC won't confirm Malema muzzle
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Djibouti's president seeks a third term
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

Jub Jub murder case postponed
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

ANC won't confirm 'muzzling' Malema
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Cede P-Harcourt Refinery to N-Delta- Johnarry
Vanguard, Independent daily, Lagos, Nigeria


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