July 12, 2010  Nº 930 -  Vol. 8

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right."

Henry Ford

Insider's view: see how local concerns shape up the global world. Read the daily press review in Migalhas International


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  • Top News

Crisis awaits world's banks as trillions come due

The sovereign debt crisis would seem to create worry enough for European banks, but there is another gathering threat that has not garnered as much notice: the trillions of dollars in short-term borrowing that institutions around the world must repay or roll over in the next two years. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund have all recently warned of a looming crunch, especially in Europe, where banks have enough trouble raising money as it  is. Their concern is that banks hungry for refinancing will compete with governments — which also must roll over huge sums — for the bond market's favor. As a result, credit for business and consumers could become more costly and scarce, with unpleasant consequences for economic growth. "There is a cliff we are racing toward — it's huge. No one seems to be talking about it that much. It's of first-order importance for lending and output." Banks worldwide owe nearly $5 trillion to bondholders and other creditors that will come due through 2012, according to estimates by the Bank for International Settlements. About $2.6 trillion of the liabilities are in Europe. U.S. banks must refinance about $1.3 trillion through 2012. While that sum is nothing to scoff at, analysts seem most concerned about Europe because the banking system there is already weighed down by the sovereign debt crisis.

How banks will come up with the money is an open question. With investors worried about government over-indebtedness in Greece, Spain, Ireland and other parts of Europe, many banks have been reluctant or unable to sell bonds, which they typically use to raise money that they lend on to businesses and households. The financing crunch has its origins in a worldwide trend for banks to borrow money for shorter periods. The practice of short-term borrowing and long-term lending contributed to the near-collapse of the world financial system in late 2008 when short-term financing dried up. Banks suddenly found themselves starved for cash, and some would have collapsed without central bank support. Government bank guarantees extended in response to the crisis also inadvertently encouraged short-term lending. The guarantees were typically only for several years, and banks issued bonds to match. Other banks took advantage of the gap between short-term and long-term rates, borrowing cheaply from money markets or central banks and lending to their customers at higher, long-term rates.

Bank stress tests being conducted by European regulators could help if they succeed in convincing markets that most banks are healthy. Bank regulators plan to release results of the tests, covering 91 large banks, on July 23.

Brazil's next

In four years, it will be Brazil's turn to play host of the World Cup. Just as there were doubts about South Africa's capabilities before the World Cup kicked off on 11 June, there are genuine concerns that Brazil will not be up to the task in 2014. It has unsafe roads, congested airports, overpopulated cities, old and outdated stadiums, high crime rates and a questionable record in government transparency. But if there is one lesson Brazilians have learned from South Africa, it is that all of these problems can be managed or overcome. Not since Mexico 1986 has a developing country hosted an event of such magnitude but South Africa seems to have passed the test in 2010. Its airports are now world class, most of the stadiums are comparable to the best in Europe, there were enough hotels for everyone and there were few accidents caused by poor roads. Above all, security, such a hot topic of debate, has not been an issue, apart from a few minor incidents. If there was one question mark over the 2010 World Cup, it was its ability to deal with huge amounts of traffic. On match days, public transport did not cope with demand.

So how is Brazil, who staged the tournament back in 1950 and will also host the Olympics in 2016, shaping up in comparison? Well, much work needs still to be done for 2014 and some of it is behind schedule.The time for dallying is over. Some deadlines are approaching and Brazilians need to be fast in their decisions. Bureaucracy has to be facilitated and it cannot be an obstacle. The most pressing issue facing Brazil is the need to build and refurbish stadiums, not to mention airports, in the 12 hosting cities.

Eight venues need renovating while four new ones must be built. At present, the 2014 organising committee is still analysing the financial plans of each project before giving the final go-ahead. Add to the fact that Fifa has not approved the financial guarantees for the refurbishing of iconic Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo and the problems begin to mount up. As it stands, Brazil's largest and best prepared city does not have a stadium to host games.

This is an example of how bureaucracy threatens to stall progress. Fifa and the organizing committee are unsatisfied with the proposal put forward by Sao Paulo FC, owners of Morumbi Stadium, for refurbishing the ground. But neither the federal nor the Sao Paulo state governments are willing to put up any money for the work. The stand-off is due to be discussed later this month and there is no Plan B so far.

Another great concern is air travel. As it stands, Brazil does not have enough flights to meet demand, even in normal periods. Back in 2006, Brazil faced a similar crisis to the one experienced by Europe this year, when the Icelandic volcano ash cloud had a major impact on air traffic. Only in Brazil, there were no natural causes to blame - just a lack of infrastructure. To combat potential travel issues, the 2014 organising committee has begun drawing up plans to split Brazil into four major regions, concentrating teams from each group within those areas. This will prevent fans from having to journey long distances, such as from Manaus to Porto Alegre, and would also simplify air traffic control.

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MiMIC Journal

China sees surge in trade surplus

China has recorded a fresh surge in its trade surplus and exports, beating market expectations. Exports for June were up 43.9% on the same month last year, while the $20bn trade surplus was the largest this year. Analysts said the negative effect of the European debt crisis had not been as bad as feared.


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  • Brief News

Brazil gears up for close presidential contest

In the past, Brazil has seen some thrilling presidential elections with candidates promising radical changes, financial markets in turmoil, and uncertainty about the future causing in turn political and economical instability. But not this time. As the official campaign begins for the 3 October election, nobody expects big changes whatever the outcome. With Brazil enjoying its longest period of prosperity in decades, the strategy of the two main candidates is to promise continuity with the policies of the current president, Lula. The contest between Serra and Rousseff is expected to be hard fought and bitter, even if most analysts say the candidates' policies are not too far apart. Lula, who after two terms in the post boasts approval ratings of some 80%, is throwing all his weight and charisma behind his Workers Party's (PT) candidate, Dilma Rousseff. whose campaign based largely on the stability and prosperity enjoyed under Lula. Serra and the PSDB are quick to point out it was President Cardoso's government from 1995 to 2002 laid the groundwork. Serra's campaign slogan - "Brazil can do more" - indicates that what he seeks to offer is not radical change but better management of the country. He argues he can deliver good management of Brazil. The Workers Party is trying to cast the election as a referendum on President Lula's administration as a way of ensuring victory for Rousseff. Opinion polls suggest that Rousseff faces a tight race against Serra.

BP is said to explore asset sale

BP is in talks to sell assets, including stakes in its Alaska oil fields, to Apache for $10 billion to $12 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Sunday. Should a deal be reached — one is not expected immediately — it would help provide BP with additional money to pay for cleaning up the immense oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Talks are continuing and may not result in a transaction, this person cautioned. As it struggles to finally plug the gushing well in the gulf, including by installing a new containment cap, BP has been taking steps to pay for the cleanup costs. Last month, the company pledged to President Obama that it would set aside $20 billion in an escrow fund to handle claims, although some analysts have estimated that BP's total liability may rise to $70 billion. Among the assets that may be sold is BP's 26 percent stake in the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska's North Slope, the largest oil field in North America. Chief among BP's goals right now is to assure investors that it remains financially sound. The company's chief executive, Tony Hayward, has been traveling around the world to bolster support from major stakeholders.

Obama demands justice 15 years after Srebrenica

Obama described the Srebrenica massacre as "a stain on our collective conscience" as hundreds of victims of the 1995 atrocity were buried. In a statement read for him in the Bosnian town, the US president admitted the failure of the international community to protect the enclave, and said those responsible must be pursued. More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops. The massacre was the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War.

Facebook to launch child safety 'panic button'

Facebook has announced it is to launch a "panic button" application on its social networking site. The button, aimed at children and teenagers, will report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) and Facebook. The application will also appear on their homepage to say that "they are in control online". The launch follows months of negotiation between Ceop and Facebook, which initially resisted the idea. Ceop, the UK government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders, called for a panic button to be installed on social networking sites last November. Facebook resisted the change, saying its own reporting systems were sufficient.

Vatican sees third straight loss

The Vatican has seen its third consecutive financial loss, with a 4.1m euros ($5.2m) deficit in 2009. It saw revenues of 250.2m euros against expenses of 254.3m euros. But annual donations from churches worldwide - known as Peter's Pence - were up by about 9% in 2009 at $82.52m. Most of the Vatican's outlay was to cover the activities of Pope Benedict XVI, and services such as Vatican Radio, which is broadcast on five continents in 40 different languages. It said it also faced costly improvements to its telecommunication system while restoring cultural treasures and ensuring security added to the bill. The Vatican began publishing annual financial reports in 1981 when Pope John Paul II set out to challenge perceptions that the Vatican was rich. In 2008, the Vatican lost 900,000 euros but in 2007 saw a 9.1m euro deficit.

Betancourt seeks Colombia kidnapping damages

The former Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six years as a hostage of leftist rebels, is asking Colombia's government for compensation. Betancourt and her family are seeking $6.8m in damages for emotional distress and loss of earnings during her time as a Farc hostage. Colombian officials have expressed surprise, noting that troops risked their lives to rescue her in 2008. They say she ignored advice not to go to the area where she was kidnapped.

European Parliament bans illegal timber

The European Parliament has voted to ban imports of illegal timber. From 2012, companies importing timber will need to prove where it came from, and will face legal sanctions if they do not comply with the new law. The vote follows several years of wrangling over how stringent the legislation should be. Campaigners say they are pleased that the issue is to be addressed at last. About 20% of timber coming into the EU is thought to be illegal. The illegal timber trade plays a significant part in the deforestation of some tropical countries. It helped sustain the recent Liberian civil conflict as armed factions used the revenue for arms.

Congress stalled as 2 million lose jobless benefits

When members of Congress return from their Fourth of July break Monday, they'll find a big challenge waiting for them right where they left it. The issue is unemployment — specifically an extension of benefits for people who've lost their jobs. The debate has turned into a high-stakes, election-year stand-off over deficits. More than 2 million people have had their benefits cut off in the six-plus weeks since lawmakers began debating the bill. Ever since the Eisenhower administration, Congress has approved jobless benefits that go beyond the usual half-year for up to two years of benefits during times of high unemployment. The debate comes down to deficits for the country vs. survival for the unemployed.

Seventh lawsuit filed over Arizona Immigration Law

 A seventh challenge to Arizona's tough new immigration crackdown says training materials designed to teach police officers how to enforce the law give "vague and ill-defined factors" as reasons to question someone's legal status.

Legal minds of Pakistan

Any legal scholar picking up jurisprudence in Pakistan would be under the impression that Pakistan and India never separated. The reliance Pakistani jurists, judges and lawyers place on Indian judgments and case law is phenomenal. Indian precedents are not just persuasive – as in the case of English judgments and some American ones – but are given the status of near-law. This is hardly surprising, of course, given that most of the laws in Pakistan and India predate independence and very few, if any, have been updated in Pakistan. What is definite, however, is that Indian jurists and lawyers are certainly far superior as a whole when it comes to expounding law. There is no question that Pakistan has produced some extraordinary lawyers, jurists, judges and legal scholars, but at the same time it may be recognized that even as a proportion, these stand out few and far between given their opposites who outnumber them. Perhaps this has something to do with the natural stage of evolution that the Pakistani society in particular and Muslim societies in general are undergoing. This society seems incapable of comprehending the true end of a legal system: the safeguard of personal, I daresay private, property. 

However, there might be another angle to it. For a religious system that was once preoccupied with essentially personal law – specifically inheritance and property law –modern Islamic jurisprudence seems entirely summary today. While Arab scholars from a millennium ago played their part in enriching the legal and philosophical thought of the West, today the emphasis seems to be more pronounced on hadd punishments and blasphemy. Is it any wonder, then, that it is the only compendium of laws we have genuinely added to our statute books? Laws that seek to criminalise sin! Consequently, in any Pakistani legal manual, case law relating to zina and other hadd laws far outnumbers the pages dedicated to contract law, property law and other commercial laws.

Hindu society, by and large, has never had the sort of taboos about commerce that Muslims have had and therefore amongst Indians in general and Hindus in particular you find the field of commercial and business law developed. There is, for example, not a single decent book on securitisation written by a Pakistani lawyer, but look through any proper legal library in Lahore and you will find several by Indian authors. The finest books on such basic commercial building blocks as sale of goods, transfer of property, contract law, company law, etc, are all by Indian authors. It shows, first and foremost, the different stages of evolution of the two societies. One theory, my preferred one, is that the gap between Pakistan and India in terms of intellectual, economic and social development is roughly equal to the gap between Ram Mohan Roy and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in terms of time.

It is quite likely that Pakistan's existence as a separate state from India has set in motion an irreversible process of the slow but steady creation of an indigenous bourgeoisie. If this is an accurate analysis of the Pakistani condition, then perhaps much of what we complain about in this country is going to change but it is a matter of time and patience.

Despite privacy inquiries, Germans flock to Google, Facebook and Apple

Germany’s strict data protection laws have spurred inquiries into the practices of Facebook, Apple and Google — the companies responsible for the products and services many enjoy. "I think many people in Germany, especially those in my age group, do not have as many problems with data protection as the regulators are making out," said Mr. Liu, who studies chemistry at Technical University in Munich. "What it all comes down to is personal responsibility. No one is forcing anyone to use any of these services." American technology companies are under close scrutiny in Germany. Google is being investigated for having errantly collected personal Internet information like e-mail passwords while doing research for its Street View mapping service. Facebook is being investigated for collecting data on non-Facebook users from the mailing lists of active users. And Apple has been asked to explain what kind of information its latest iPhone 4 is storing on users and for how long. Official agencies are trying to protect consumers from themselves. The problem is that many people are unaware what is being done with their data. Strict privacy laws are a product of the post-World War II reconstruction, when German lawmakers restricted the use of personal information to prevent the government from singling out citizens and persecuting them. It is illegal, for example, to publish the image or name of any private person without permission. This includes felons, who are usually identified in the media by the initial of their last name only, like Klaus P. That has not stopped Germans from flocking to a social networking site or downloading the latest smartphone applications. As of May, Googe controlled 92 percent of the online search market in Germany, compared with 65 percent in the United States. Facebook has about 7.7 million users in Germany (which has a population of about 82 million). "What I think we have in Germany is a big disconnect between data privacy laws and consumer sentiment toward privacy." 

Apple, AT&T class action advances

A federal judge says a monopoly-abuse lawsuit against Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc.'s mobile-phone unit can move forward as a class action. The lawsuit consolidates several suits filed by iPhone buyers starting in late 2007, a few months after the first generation of Apple's smartphone went on sale. An amended complaint filed in June 2008 takes issue with Apple's practice of "locking" iPhones so that they can only be used on AT&T's network, and Apple's absolute control over what applications iPhone owners can and can't install on the gadgets. The lawsuit also says Apple secretly made AT&T its exclusive iPhone partner in the U.S. for five years. Consumers agreed to two-year contracts with the Dallas-based wireless carrier when they purchased their phones, but were in effect locked into a five-year relationship with AT&T, the lawsuit alleges. The actions hurt competition and drove up prices for consumers, the lawsuit claims.

  • Weekly Magazine Review


The only child myth. One and Done. The economy is sluggish. Expenses are up. And raising kids costs a bundle. What better time to abandon the stereotypes and embrace the possibilities of the only child?

Business Week

BP's Big Spill: The Lost Summer. In the beach towns and bayous along the coast from Texas to Florida, the hard times wash up before the oil. " The idea that BP is making people whole is a lie"

The Economist

Can anything perk up Europe? Yes: the European Union will thrive if its leaders seize the moment in the same way they did 20 years ago

Le Nouvel Observateur

Comment l'Elysée veut étouffer l'affaire? (Betancourt/Sarkozy)

Der Spiegel

Homöopathie - Die große Illusion

  • Daily Press Review

Scores dead in Uganda bomb blasts
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Saudi Arabia: Human Remains Found in Landing Gear of Beirut – Riyadh Flight
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed attends Water Leaders Forum
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Hezbollah chief's speeches sway Israeli opinion more than any Arab leader
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

MIDEAST: Out of Step With the Peace Beat
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Bishara reportedly meets Gaddafi in Libya
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Big DSS deals lure shoppers
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

UAE- Emal secures $737m financing
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

64 People Watching World Cup Final Killed in Uganda
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

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

Iniesta scores in extra time to give Spain World Cup
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Netanyahu says will meet Egypt s Mubarak on Tuesday
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

The Jordanian Nuclear Bomb
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

The OPEC Fund for International Development Scholarship
Yemen Times, (Independent weekly), Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Uganda explosions leave 64 dead
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

BP oil spill costs top $3.5bn
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Gibson planning to reveal all about ex's alleged extortion plans
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

The 'perfect life': A GBP 100,000 salary, a house worth GBP 1.6m and an Aston Martin
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Telkom appoints Hedberg as new CEO
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2010 WORLD CUP: Iniesta fires Spain to historic World Cup win
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

First solo exhibition of Ruff in Istanbul
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Emma Bunton Shields From the Sun With Paloma Faith!
Look Magazine, London, England

Thousands of women Race for Life in Carlisle
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

Karzai To Ask UN To Trim Taliban Blacklist
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Bombs Kill World Cup Fans In Ugandan Capital
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Picture This: Fire Containment
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Mandelson: Clegg told Brown he would have to go
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

BP oil spill costs reach GBP 2.3 billion
The Independent, London, England

Eight men killed in two-car crash in County Donegal
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Moscow Relieved That Spy Scandal Is Over
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Moat's girl doesn't know he's dead
The Sun, London, England

David Lynch fans to fund latest film
The Telegraph, London, England

Probation watchdog: serious crimes may be price to pay for cutting cost of justice
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Bull 1, Mexican matador: never again
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

President: Idham Chalid great national figure
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Iniesta scores in extra time to give Spain WCup
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

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

Troops arrest 280 suspected militants in Khyber
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

Merkel praises economic ties to Russia, China, Kazakhstan before trip
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Guantanamo's spin on justice proceeds at snail's pace
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Spain on top of the world
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Mumbai: Another model commits suicide
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Where will limits of G20 policy leave debt-strewn Japan?
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Sri Lankan refugee, who reached Australia via M'sia, seeks senate seat
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Sixty-four killed in Uganda attacks, official says
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Commander surrenders
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

S. Korean president defends decision to delay retaking wartime command
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

US should better define, counter Islamic extremism
Sify News, Chennai, India

I'm pregnant: Jackie O
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

China bank lending
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Photographers help stray animals find homes
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

Kasabian to celebrate Spain's soccer WC win with Madrid victory party
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Bombs kill 64 in Uganda
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Sick Jamaican released from US detention
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Ink in his veins: the irrepressible Desmond Seales
Cayman Net News, Online news portal, George Town, Cayman Islands

In wake of killings, calls to reform Dominican Republic's Police grow
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

COLOMBIA: Paramilitaries Don't Want to Take the Blame Alone
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Mary weeps again - Nearly 100 children die in state care over 3-year period
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peruvian cacao praised by international cooks and experts
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Police seek clues in Chinatown killing
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Spain beats Netherlands 1-0 in World Cup final
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Real Trini flavour
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Uganda explosions leave 64 dead
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Floribert Chebeya's autopsy 'inconclusive'
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Ndebugri: God set Rawlings' House on Fire
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Zimbabwe failing HIV+
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

64 World Cup watchers killed in Uganda
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Ethiopia's Burka wins 1500m at IAAF Diamond League
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

Angry Webber finds justice in British GP win
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Ugandan blasts: US promises help
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Cleric asks Jonathan to supervise amnesty programme...calls for review of 7-point agenda
Vanguard, Independent daily, Lagos, Nigeria


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