August 30, 2010  Nº 951 -  Vol. 8


"The making of a picture ought surely to be a rather fascinating adventure. It is not; it is an endless contention of tawdry egos, some of them powerful, almost all of them vociferous, and almost none of them capable of anything much more creative than credit-stealing and self-promotion."

Raymond Chandler

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

Corporate clients eager to do pro bono with outside counsel

Corporate law departments' interest in pro bono has surged as they grow eager to establish their own legal volunteer legacies, and they're looking to their outside counsel to become active partners in the effort. It's definitely a national trend. In-house lawyers are catching up in the world of pro bono and looking to law firms as the experts. And it's not surprising that partners and associates—eager to boost client relations as competition among law firms intensifies—are more than happy to help. In fact, Josef said, the firm's pro bono client-firm partnership opportunities have increased as work picks up. "Lawyers want to show clients their strengths and how they operate." "It's a great way to get the firm's name out there." However, with so much riding on the relationships, collaborations such as a volunteer day at a legal aid clinic where outside counsel and corporate law departments work side by side to achieve common goals but don't necessarily co-counsel on a single client.

Legal tactics emerging at oil hearings

For five days last week, federal investigators grilled witnesses to answer key questions about the disastrous explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig: Why did it happen? How can we make sure it never happens again? But in their questions to witnesses, lawyers for the companies under scrutiny—BP Plc, Transocean Ltd., and Halliburton Co., focused on testimony that might answer another question: Who will pay? The April 20 blast, which killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, has prompted hundreds of lawsuits against more than a dozen companies and individuals. The hearings, which began last spring outside New Orleans and continued last week in a nondescript hotel conference room here, have previewed the years of legal drama to come. Nominally a fact-finding investigation led by the Coast Guard and Interior Department, the process has allowed lawyers from all parties to dig for evidence, test out theories and read into the record snippets of information carefully chosen for their headline-grabbing potential. "The facts are out now," said David Pursell, managing director at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., an energy-focused investment bank in Houston. "People are positioning for the pending deluge of lawsuits." The investigative board will produce a report—expected next year—and could recommend that charges be filed by the Justice Department. Its hearings are to resume in October. The board's earlier hearings were relatively staid and filled with technical discussions. But the hearing last week prompted company lawyers to make speeches (to make a broader point) and to loudly object whenever their opponents did the same. Many witnesses have remained on the stand for hours, and the board recently recruited a retired federal judge to help maintain order. That judge, Wayne Andersen, pleaded with lawyers on Friday morning to stay focused on the government board's fact-finding mission following a day of especially sharp exchanges. The hearing, Anderson said, had come to resemble a "trial hearing, as if this were an adversarial proceeding."

Chrysler dealers to hear Fiat pitch

About 400 Chrysler Group LLC dealers will gather in downtown Detroit on Monday to hear how they could help bring the Fiat brand back to the U.S. after a nearly 30-year absence. This is a critical gathering for Chrysler's executive team as they attempt to win over skeptical dealers who are being asked to front the approximate $1 million to build a separate showroom for Fiat while also devoting staff and time to sell the vehicles. Dealers have until Sept. 22 to submit a formal proposal to become a Fiat franchisee. About 200 will be chosen with the winners announced in October. Mr. Marchionne said he will take the franchise to other dealers if he can't find 200 within the Chrysler network.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China passes mediation law to aid strained judiciary

A rising number of social conflicts, particularly involving land rights issues, and an increasing public awareness of legal rights have, in recent years, strained China's judicial system. At the same time, shortage of judges, a growing backlog of cases and the government's continuing influence over the courts have, lawyers and scholars say, eroded public confidence in the judiciary. To stem the rising tide of discontent, China's lawmakers on Saturday passed a first-of-its-kind law to set up "mediation committees" to handle social conflicts and administer speedy justice at the grassroots before cases go to trial — and, more often than not, get mired in delays — in local courts.

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  • Brief News

Paul Allen sues tech giants over 'patent violations'

The co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, is suing several high-tech giants for infringing patents held by a firm he founded in the 1990s. The legal action against Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Google and eBay, as well as six other firms, asserts that web technologies first developed by Interval Licensing have been infringed. The patents are key to how e-commerce and search websites worked, it says. Google, Facebook and eBay immediately said they would fight the accusations. "This lawsuit against some of America's most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "Innovation - not litigation - is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world."

ICC reports Kenya to UN over al-Bashir visit

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday reported Kenya to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute over Friday's visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir was in Kenya, an ICC member state, to celebrate the signing of the country's new constitution. ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I informed the Security Council and Assembly of States Parties of al-Bashir's visit, "in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate." Last month, al-Bashir visited Chad, another member state. The ICC also reported Chad Friday to the Security Council and Assembly of States Parties.

Jordan amends cyber crimes law after media outcry

Jordan on Sunday approved a temporary law on cyber crimes after amending it to appease the fury of journalists who said the legislation was a means to control local news websites. The law had initially allowed the authorities to raid and search offices from which websites are published and to access computers without prior approval from public prosecutors. But under the new amendments approved by the government, searching such offices requires court permission and enough evidence that these places are used to commit cyber crimes. Journalists have complained that one of the articles of the law banned sending or posting data on the Internet or any information system that involves defamation or contempt or slander, without defining such crimes.

France chided for Roma expulsions

A UN committee urges France to avoid collective deportations of Roma (Gypsies), as the French government defends the expulsions. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also said it was concerned about "discriminatory" political speeches in France. The French government said it was "scrupulously respecting European law" and helping deported Roma reintegrate. France has recently sent hundreds of Roma back to Romania and Bulgaria and dismantled more than 100 illegal camps.

US Justice Department backs United-Continental merger

A merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines has been cleared by the US Justice Department. An anti-competition probe ended after the firms agreed to give up some slots at Newark airport hub to low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines. The move paves the way for the deal, which will create the world's biggest carrier, to go ahead. The combined group will use the current Continental colours with the United Airlines name.

It's not over until it's in the rules

Having passed the Dodd-Frank Act earlier this summer, the bill that aspires to reorder our financial universe in the wake of the most serious economic crisis in generations, Congress has moved on to other matters. Regulators are left to write the rules that will make financial reform a reality — or not — and are beginning that laborious process. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is one regulator with a lot on its plate. Last month, the commission published a list of 30 areas related to over-the-counter derivatives that require new rules. Derivatives, you might remember, are the exotic securities that Wall Street engineered to hedge risk, only to discover during the mortgage meltdown that the contracts — which linked together a dizzying number of financial players — actually amplified the severity of the crisis. On Aug. 20, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission sponsored an open forum on derivatives regulation. Industry representatives, trade groups, investor advocates and regulators discussed how to put into practice Congress's desire for a more closely supervised market in derivatives. Because the most potentially nuclear forms of derivatives are privately arranged and loosely monitored, two clear goals of the legislation are greater price transparency and the opening of transactions to more market participants.

German court turns down injunction against YouTube

A German court on Friday declined to issue a preliminary injunction against YouTube which would have forced the site to remove 75 music videos in a drawn-out conflict with eight royalty collecting bodies over licensing fees.

Somalia piracy suspect pleads guilty in US court

Somali citizen Jama Idle Ibrahim pleaded guilty Friday to several charges in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for his role in the April attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. Ibrahim, originally charged with piracy, reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges of attacking to plunder a vessel, committing an act of violence against persons on a vessel and the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. The charges carry a maximum of life imprisonment, though the terms of the plea arrangement call for a 30-year sentence. The sentencing hearing will be conducted November 29. Also Friday, the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed additional charges against Ibrahim for conspiracy to commit piracy and use of a firearm during a violent crime for his alleged involvement in an attack on the M/V CEC Future.

Federal judge allows Ohio death penalty challenge to proceed

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Friday denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to the constitutionality of a second execution attempt filed by death row inmate Romell Broom. The challenge was filed in September following a failed execution attempt, in which officials failed to find a vein to administer the injection over the course of two hours. The challenge, filed as a 42 USC § 1983 action, alleges that the failed attempt and any future attempts would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the Fourteenth Amendment requirements of due process and equal protection. In addressing the state's motion to dismiss, Judge Gregory Frost found that the claims regarding cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection and right to counsel should be allowed to proceed.

Lawyer victimized in $300k check fraud is charged with money-laundering

A lawyer is facing federal money-laundering charges after allegedly being victimized in a fraudulent cashier's check scheme and then panicking and withdrawing some of the money once he found out the check was a fake. Attorney Danilo Aguilar of Guam is apparently one of a number of lawyers who have been targeted in an international series of scams. Limtiaco is the U.S. Attorney for Guam, where Aguilar is being prosecuted on two counts of laundering monetary instruments.

  • Weekly Magazine review

Time

Rethinking Homeownership.The Case Against Homeownership. Buying a house is supposed to make us better citizens, better investors and better off. But that American Dream may well be a fantasy.

Newsweek

Obama's Old Deal. Why the 44th president is no FDR—and the economy is still in the doldrums.

Businessweek

The Gold Digger. Gold's Evangelist. With gold a fashionable hedge against turbulent times, one billionaire is doing everything he can to get his hands on the actual stuff.

The Economist

After Iraq. America has had a bruising decade. But do not underestimate either the superpower or its president

L'Express

Spécial Immobilier 2010

Der Spiegel

Die Dagegen-Republik - Bürgeraufstand gegen die Politik.

  • Daily Press Review

N.Y. imam: Ground Zero mosque debate spurred by nearing U.S. vote
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel
MIDEAST: Bureaucracy limits rights of palestinian women
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy
Reach out, Mohammed tells charity groups
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Saudi Arabia- Jobless Arabic language teachers stage protest
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan
Panel formed on Lebanon poll law
Saudi Gazette, English-language daily, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Arab League chief doubts  US-led talks will succeed
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon
South Arabia preparing charges against activist
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman
Cricket 'betting scam' man bailed
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England
Lord's Test match hit by Pakistan betting scandal
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Microsoft co-founder files patent suit against tech firms
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

New probe launched into minister's role in L'Oreal heiress tax affair, land deal
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Abbas: No peace talks with settlement building
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Pakistan betting scandal throws cricket into crisis
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

The workers united: The strike that shook the Kremlin
The Independent, London, England

Spanish consumer prices rise
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Worries over smog's effects decline
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Sun's ray of hope for 'tomb' miners
The Sun, London, England

Cricket match-fixing: suspicion falls on 80 games as 'fixer' bailed
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

President advised to lead Indonesian delegation in talks with M'sia
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Pakistan cricketers rocked by alleged betting scam
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

SC orders additional high court judges to continue work
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

Kazakhstan pushes Islamic finance after banking crisis
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Match fixing: Police find wads of notes in Pak players' rooms
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

PM: M'sia to have world's first mega low cost carrier terminal
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Two Russian pilots kidnapped in Darfur
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

North Korean leader Kim may be headed home
Sify News, Chennai, India

Students invent 'oil-eating jellyfish'
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

Swiss Foreign Minister meets Ramesh in New Delhi
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand
Hurricane Earl nears Antigua and Barbuda
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Taiwan's First Lady visits Dominican Republic and Haiti
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

More patrols needed at sea
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Rwanda threatens UN over report
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Bolga Naba proposes water transport system for the North
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Family of slain cop want answers
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Ginbot 7 forms alliance with unknown parties
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

AB top of the one-day world
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Cosatu apologises to Zuma
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

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