September 22, 2010 Nº 959 - Vol. 8


"Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least."

Lord Chesterfield


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

Associate salaries bouncing back. . . But is BigLaw?

In the early part of the decade, firms raised starting salaries from $125k to $160k because they were thriving. They had mountains of work and needed associates to handle it. The demand outstripped the supply, and accordingly, the cost of labor went up. Fast-forward to today. After declining in the throes of the recession, associate salaries have bounced back, many to the pre-recessionary levels, others to within a stone's throw. So BigLaw must once again be swimming in work, right? More electronic-documents to mouse-click through? More mergers to paper? More memos to draft? Well, no. Not exactly. Chris Mondics at the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at associate salaries — and what they signify these days. Associate salaries, writes Mondics, aren't necessarily a sign that all's well in BigLaw. Writes Mondics: "Associate salaries and other compensation metrics don't come close to telling the story of changes under way in big law, say many of the profession's sharpest observers." For starters, while BigLaw has bounced back considerably since the recession's nadir, it's still not where it was in '06-'07. It's pretty flat. We believe we are going to bounce along at this level for a year or so and then slowly improve.

US Senate blocks debate on gay military policy repeal

US senators have rejected attempts to open a debate on a bill which included a provision allowing the repeal of the ban on openly gay military personnel. Just 56 senators voted in favor of debating the defense authorization bill, four short of the 60 required. Gay people can serve in the military, but face expulsion if they reveal their sexuality. US President Barack Obama has promised to scrap the policy. Democrats could still try again later this year to pass the legislation. The vote is a setback for Obama, who had hoped to deliver on a campaign promise to repeal the law - known as "don't ask, don't tell".

Extremist websites skyrocketing, says Interpol

The sharp growth in extremist websites is making recruitment much easier for al-Qaeda, according to Interpol. "The threat is global, it is virtual and it is on our doorsteps," it said. There were 12 sites in 1998 and 4,500 by 2006. Tackling radicalization had been made far harder by the internet because many of the activities involved were not criminal. Increasingly, the individuals targeted are young and vulnerable and from middle-class backgrounds.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Oil company fined in royalty case (Click here)

2 - EU Court limits access to agencies' legal documents until after judgments (Click here)

3 - Google says Brazil, Libya make most demands to pull content from internet (Click here)

4 - Law officers split on California legal pot fight (Click here)

5 - Judge orders Lindsay Lohan arrest (Click here)

6 - Scandal puts bumps in path of Brazil leader's protégée (Click here)

7 - $350 million UnitedHealth class action settlement approved (Click here)

8 - International Criminal Court to start prosecutions in Kenya's postelection violence (Click here)

9 - Brazil offers Cuba help to develop small businesses (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

Arrests in China over milk tainted with melamine

Seven people have been arrested at a dairy in northern China for producing powdered milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. Prosecutors said the general manager at the Shanxi province firm was among those accused of adding melamine to milk powder that was out of date. Twenty-six tonnes of the contaminated product was distributed in the central provinces of Hunan and Henan. The use of melamine in milk in 2008 killed six babies and made 300,000 ill. Melamine is used to make plastics, fertilizers and concrete.

Japan warns China on nationalism

Japan warns China that both countries must avoid stirring up "extreme nationalism" in their row over the detention of a Chinese boat captain.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Minera

Panamá no renovó el contrato de concesión para exploración minera con la canadiense Cuprum Resources Corp. que investigaba yacimientos de oro y otros metales en la comarca Ngäbe Buglé, en el cerro Chorcha. El gobierno explicó que la  firma filial de Bellhaven Ventures,  no cumplió con los requisitos de la prórroga.

Gas

La peruana Gascop inició su proyecto de distribución de gas natural comprimido (GNC) y vehicular (GNV) en la región de Piura con una inversión de US$ 14 mlls. La firma suministrará el hidrocarburo extraído por la local Petrolera Monterrico en el Lote II, ubicado en Piura, a vehículos y a una fábrica de cerveza de la peruana Backus & Johnston.

Aló

Brasil tendrá al final de este año más líneas de telefonía móvil que número de habitantes, según apuntó un estudio de la consultora de telecomunicaciones Teleco. La firma especializada indicó que el número de 200 millones de líneas de telefonía móvil se alcanzará en noviembre, cuando supere la cifra de 194 millones de habitantes que se calcula existen en Brasil.

Empresas

Al menos unas 20 empresas chilenas que se encuentren en la etapa de comercialización de sus emprendimientos  podrán instalarse por tres meses en las oficinas de Plug & Play, una de las aceleradoras de negocios más emblemáticas en Silicon Valley, en San Francisco, California.

Negocios

La empresa colombiana de capitales franceses Schneider Electric compró la firma Dexson, firma especializada en la fabricación de canaletas y accesorios para instalaciones eléctricas. La empresa tiene negocios en Perú, Ecuador, Venezuela, México, Centro América y el Caribe.

  • Brief News

"To Kill a Mockingbird" 50th anniversary celebration

No work of literature before or since 'To Kill a Mockingbird' has had a comparable influence on the legal profession. Harper Lee is a pioneer; she helped to redefine the scope of the legal profession; she empowered lawyers. Harper Lee published the book in 1960, at the very moment when lawyers would begin to take their stand beside social activists in the fight for integration and equality. The themes of integration and equality weighed heavily in Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks at the University of Alabama. Holder emphasized throughout his speech the importance of searching for ideal justice at the current time. "As we have seen in recent decades, and unfortunately, in recent days, the world has not yet run its course of religious intolerance and bigotry. Injustice remains … divisions and disparities remain." "Individual actions count, individual actions matter," he said. "'To Kill a Mockingbird' contains a simple but important message—the pursuit of justice can take many forms, but no matter what form, it always begins the same way, with a simple action by a hopeful person."

Street View prompts privacy code in Germany

The German government has called for voluntary data protection code to be in place by 7 December 2010. The move follows a meeting with Google, Apple and other companies to discuss how personal data is accessible on line. It comes as the German publication Der Spiegel reports that "several hundred thousand" people have opted out of Google's Street View service. The German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said that the proposal to establish a code by 7 December "met with approval" and that it will enable users to obtain information on the gathering and intended user of data "in a user-friendly way". Google wants the mapping service of 20 German cities live by November 2010, but extended the deadline for users to opt out of its Street View mapping service until 15 October. While other countries allow users snapped by Street View cars to have their face blurred, Google Germany is allowing people to have their homes removed before the service launches. However, the US firm makes the assumption that people consent to the service and then opt out if they have concerns. This has not gone far enough for opponents, who want the service to be opt-in. Germany has some of the toughest privacy laws in Europe, a consequence of its citizens suffering under Nazi and East German rule in the past. In addition, unlike other countries that have a centralized agency responsible for overseeing privacy and data collection legislation, Germany has a data commissioner for each state.

Vatican Bank 'investigated over money-laundering'

The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police says. Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m) from the bank's accounts with another smaller institution. The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests.

Brazil offers Cuba business help

Brazil says it has offered to help Cuba develop small businesses, amid economic reforms and mass public-sector lay-offs there, as part of a drive for economic growth. Celso Amorim was quoted as describing Cuban plans to lay off half a million public-sector workers in the next six months as "very courageous". He said Cuba could learn from Brazil's successful experience in fostering entrepreneurship.

Growing like China, Brazil seeks opportunities abroad

"Brazil wants to be a world player," said Bernardo Kosacoff, a former U.N. economist. "And today, to be a world player you need a strategy of internationalization, in addition to having a potent domestic market." Although Brazil's foreign investments remain a fraction of what U.S. companies post abroad, Brazil is challenging the United States in some of the bigger Latin American economies, such as Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. And it is solidifying itself as a leader in other nations, such as Angola, which like Brazil had been a Portuguese colony. In 2008, U.S. companies had 25 times as much global investment as Brazil. But with nearly $130 billion invested abroad, Brazil was ahead of other countries with large, robust economies and international pretensions, among them India and South Korea.

Brazilian ethics tribunal rules against law firm associations

Any affiliations between international and Brazilian law firms have been judged outside the limits of local regulations by the São Paulo bar association, in a move widely interpreted locally as a sign of the bar's increasing rigidity in the face of an influx of international firms.

'Super Rich' law professor retires from blogging after 'electronic lynch mob' attacks his position on taxes

In the digital age, deletion is futile. Once you hit publish, there's no going back, thanks to Google cache and the copy-paste function. A law professor at the University of Chicago saw his post, "We Are The Super Rich," on the corporate law blog "Truth on the Market" go viral last week. In it, law professor Todd Henderson objected to proposed taxes on the "super rich," saying that "super rich" in Washington rhetoric is anyone who makes over $250,000. Henderson's now-infamous blog entry about the mindset of the rich has incited such an uproar that he felt he needed to delete it. Citing a "firestorm" of "lies and misinformation," Henderson vowed on his blog this morning to quit blogging. "I misunderstood the technology, and the consequences are devastating for me personally," he writes. "I am sad to leave, but my family has to come first, and my blogging has caused them incalculable damage." Henderson told Business Insider that his family is "on the verge of disintegrating."

World's airlines to make $8.9bn profit

The world's airlines are expected to post a profit of $8.9bn this year in a sharp upgrade of its previous forecast. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the industry recovery had been "stronger and faster than anyone predicted". IATA said increasing demand and stable costs were driving the recovery.

Google releases censorship tools

The US government asked Google for user information 4,287 times during the first six months of 2010. This is just a snippet from Google's new Transparency Report, a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the globe. Civil liberty groups welcomed the tool but called on Google to provide even more detail about the requests. Earlier this year, Google released details about how often countries around the world ask it to hand over user data or to censor information. The new map and tools follows on from that and allows users to click an individual country to see how many removal requests were fully or partially complied with, as well as which Google services were affected.

Cyberwar risk poses specter of cyberwar crimes

Various treaties — the United Nations Charter, and the Hague and Geneva conventions — distinguish between victims and aggressors, and put forward combat guidelines that, when honored, provide some protection to civilians. Professional militaries train with the rules of war in mind, recognizing that abiding by them works to their benefit as much as to the enemy's. Electronic "cyberwar" capabilities are the most important military development in decades. But it's unclear how the rules of war might apply in this new area of conflict. At issue: protecting citizens, and defining a cyberattack. Uncertainty about the legal and ethical limits of state behavior in cyberspace could have disastrous consequences.

French banks fined 385m euros for fixing cheque fees

France's competition authority has fined 11 French banks 384.9m euros ($504m; £323m) for colluding to fix the price they charge for handling cheques. They charged an unjustified fee of 4.3 cents on 80% of cheques exchanged in France from January 2002 to July 2007, the Autorite de la Concurrence said. It added that the banks were still charging two additional fees for "related services" that were not proportionate to the costs incurred.

Law firms decry impact of proposed accounting rule on corporate clients

A proposed accounting rule that would require companies to disclose financial loss contingencies, including those from lawsuits, is drawing criticism from the corporate defense bar. The Financial Accounting Standards Board in July proposed requiring companies to disclose to investors certain potential future losses, including those resulting from litigation. But major law firms are sounding alarms about the proposed rules, which they say could put their corporate clients at a disadvantage in lawsuits. "The effect could be pretty substantial if the proposal goes through as it presently stands." Among the most hotly contested of the proposed rules is one that would require disclosure of how much a company had accrued related to its potential litigation losses. Accrual is required when a loss is "probable" and the potential loss is "reasonably estimated." A related requirement that companies provide a table reconciling changes in the contingency amounts between reporting periods would, in the case of smaller companies or ones with fewer cases, reveal information about individual matters. The FASB also has proposed that companies provide information about possible insurance recoveries, if that data has been provided to the plaintiff or is discoverable. Even if the plaintiff had been provided information about insurance policies, it would normally be covered by a protective order. Insurance coverage is also often contested with the insurance company, and disclosing that it is contested may "impede resolution of their differences and provide fodder for discovery by the plaintiffs' bar," the firm's letter said.

Mexicana delay shows Mexico's bankruptcy laws "not up to speed"

As a Mexican judge grants airline company Grupo Mexicana bankruptcy protection, it appears that the six-week delay in making the ruling "underlines the fact that Mexico isn't up to speed with modern legislation on insolvency."

For Indian rape laws, change is slow to come

Should a woman's sexual experience and history be introduced as evidence in the trial of her accused rapist? Will the Indian legal system ever recognize forced sex between husband and wife as rape? What constitutes the "modesty" of a 10-year-old girl? A recent report by Human Rights Watch examining the common practice in India of subjecting unmarried women who say they have been raped to what the law calls a "finger test" has reopened a series of questions about the country's laws governing sexual violence. Although there has been no official response to the report, its findings have provoked widespread outrage in India and elsewhere, with many agreeing that the test is an archaic and scientifically unsupported practice that could exacerbate the trauma of the victim.

The backlash on bankruptcy fees

Amid some breathless reporting of the growing cost of the several pending "mega" Chapter 11 cases, I thought I might make my DealBook debut with a provocative question: Are we spending too much time worrying about Chapter 11 professional fees? First off, the frequent obsession with the raw number is misguided, if understandable. If a case costs $40 million, it obviously matters a great deal if the debtor is reorganizing a balance sheet with $400 million in assets, or $400 billion. That kind of context is rarely provided.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
It's Tea Party Time. A conservative revolt is shaking up the Republican Party nationwide. But are Democrats next?

Newsweek
The Last Straw. After Democrats on Tuesday failed to advance a bill that would have repealed "don't ask, don't tell," some gay-rights advocates are predicting grim fallout in the midterm elections.

Business Week
How to Fix the Economy: An Expert Panel. Tom Keene talks with Bob Shiller, Peter Orszag, and other leading economists on how to "get out of this mess".

The Economist
Are we there yet? America's recovery will be much slower than that from most recessions; but the government can help a bit.

Der Spiegel
Der teure Traum - von der sauberen Energie.

  • Daily Press Review

Qaeda Militants 'Using Human Shields in Yemen'
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Bilateral ties: Abdullah meets foreign ministers at UN summit
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Arab-backed anti-Israel resolution at IAEA could pass
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Egyptian police crack down on anti-Mubarak protest
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Branch campuses forced to move out of Dubai
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Karzai announces council to push Taliban talks
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Report: Workers need 9k rise in savings to protect pension
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Two strangers found dead in 'suicide pact' met for first time hours before they died
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

NIGER: Al Qaeda affiliate claims kidnapping of seven foreigners in Niger
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Provincial Government In Pakistan Wants Bigger Share Of U.S. Aid
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Briton killed in Philippines motorcycle shooting
The Independent, London, England

Armed gang attack Hamparan Perak police headquarters, kill three
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

China has not done enough on yuan: Obama
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Afghanistan helicopter crash kills 9 NATO troops
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Trial of teenagers who vandalised surau postponed to Oct 19
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

French workers kidnapped in Niger
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Election fraudulent in Kunar
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

Congress panel discusses Bihar polls, Sonia and PM attend
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Black women face double discrimination
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Police identifies suspects in spectacular RD$3.5M upscale club burglary
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Climate Justice Treks from Cochabamba to Cancún
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Canadian-Iranian blogger may face death sentence in Iran
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Somalia's prime minister resigns
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Parliament to Tackle Elections, 2011 Budget during September Session
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

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