November 8, 2010 Nº 977 - Vol. 8

Owning your burdens is half the battle.

Insider's view
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  • Top News

Bernanke defends new economic recovery plan

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has backed the central bank's new $600bn package to boost the economy. And he has rejected fears that it may spur inflation. Some Fed officials worry the money being pumped into the economy could create inflation or speculative bubbles in the prices of bonds or commodities. But Bernanke says the program, unveiled on Wednesday, will not push inflation to "super ordinary" levels. Germany, China, Brazil and South Africa have criticized the US plan, with the German saying it was "clueless" and would create "extra problems for the world". China's Central Bank head Zhou Xiaochuan has urged global currency reforms, while South Africa said developing countries would suffer most. "We've had a very significant disinflation since the beginning of the crisis. We should not be satisfied with a situation where we have both a large amount of slack on the employment side and inflation which is below our generally agreed upon level and seems to be declining over time. That was the motivation for taking the action which will see the Fed buy $600bn worth of government bonds in a bid to make loans cheaper and get Americans to spend more,” Bernanke said..

Paying the lowest yield on company debt

There's a new game in corporate America: the chief financial officer who pays the lowest yield on his firm's latest debt wins. Superlow interest rates have made it a CFO.'s world. Balance sheet repair is easier than ever, and debt investors are plenty and eager. Pity the poor chief executive: sluggish economic growth and unreliable equity markets have hamstrung merger activity. Despite this enforced boardroom conservatism, CFO.'s are still raising record amounts of debt capital. Uses of proceeds vary but a main driver is simply its low cost. Perhaps equally important are bragging rights among other financial officers.

Dividends from Fannie and Freddie surpass aid

The federal government made a profit of $1.1 billion in the third quarter on its huge bailout of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even as the two companies continued to lose money on bad loans. Fannie Mae reported Friday that it lost $3.5 billion in the third quarter and that it would require an additional $2.5 billion from the Treasury Department to balance its books. Freddie Mac, the smaller of the two, said earlier this week that it lost $4.07 billion in the third quarter and that it would need an additional $100 million in aid from taxpayers. But the government collected $3.7 billion in dividend payments from the two companies, more than the $2.6 billion in new aid. It is the first quarter in which the company's payments to the government exceeded their draws on Treasury.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Chinese boost for Scotch whisky industry

The Scotch whisky industry is set for a multi-million pound boost after securing greater legal protection for the brand in China. An agreement signed with UK and Chinese officials recognizes the brand as whisky produced in Scotland. Under the agreement, Scotch whisky will be granted geographical indication of origin status, which officials said would give consumers greater certainty that the product bought was genuine.


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  • Brief News

Kenya court acquits 17 on piracy charges

A magistrate in Mombasa, Kenya, found 17 accused Somali pirates not guilty Friday, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused denied involvement in the 2009 attack on the ship the MV Amira. Their lawyer, Jared Magolo, said that the magistrate ruled that the prosecution had insufficient evidence and that the magistrate believed that the US Navy had failed to turn over evidence that may have convicted his clients. According to Magolo, it is not clear what will happen to the men now, as repatriating them to Somalia, which is currently in a state of war, would violate international law.

Taking on a 2nd mortgage to pay foreclosure lawyers

For some Florida residents, the price of getting out of foreclosure will include taking on a second mortgage — payable this time to their lawyers. The new mortgage, which takes effect only if the foreclosure is dismissed and the homeowner's debt to the bank is reduced, is controversial among defense lawyers, some of whom call it "creepy" and "crass." Yet even they acknowledge it offers a solution to a vexing question: How do they get paid? After recent revelations that banks were sloppy in processing many foreclosures and in some cases lack standing to seize a house, potential clients seeking to challenge their lenders are flocking to lawyers. But while these distressed homeowners might have a case, they generally lack the resources to pay legal fees. Being in foreclosure usually means being broke.

West dismisses Burma's election

Western powers dismiss Burma's first general election for two decades as neither free nor fair, as ethnic clashes break out near the Thai border.

Australia to hold referendum recognizing Aborigines

Australia will hold a referendum on recognizing its indigenous people in the constitution to improve conditions for its most disadvantaged community. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said there was a "once-in-50-year opportunity" to harness public and parliamentary support for greater recognition. The 550,000 Indigenous Australians make up 2.7% of the population. They suffer disproportionately high rates of unemployment, imprisonment, drug abuse, alcoholism and disease.

US to expand Asia military role

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Washington wants a larger military role in Asia, but says such expansion is not to contain China. The US would focus on fighting piracy, improving counter-terrorism, disaster aid and cyber-security, he said.

EU warns troubled German bank WestLB over state aid

WestLB, a troubled state-controlled German bank, has been warned it may be wound down if it does not quickly comply with European competition rules. WestLB transferred about 77bn euro of its toxic and non-strategic assets to a so-called "bad bank" earlier this year. The Commission, which provisionally approved a restructuring in May 2009, is investigating whether WestLB breached competition rules after receiving an extra 3.4bn euro in state aid.

Dubai World debt deal is agreed

State-owned Dubai World signs up the last remaining investor to a $23bn debt restructuring, avoiding a lengthy tribunal.

Argentine profit-sharing law threatens jobs as investment lags

Argentina's government is pushing a bill that would require companies to distribute 10 percent of profits to employees, a move business leaders say violates property rights and may undermine investment in South America's second-biggest economy. The bill would allow employees to benefit from the surging profits at banks and other industries. Opponents say it would dissuade companies from expanding, buying new equipment and adding jobs. The Labor Committee in Argentina's lower house will take up the legislation this week.

Can an unconscious person consent to sex?

Men in Canada remain "relatively free" to sexually assault unconscious women because courts have an uneven record of condemning the conduct, a prominent legal scholar contends. Although the law requires them to take "reasonable steps" to ascertain whether a woman consents to intercourse, men have been acquitted of assault after arguing they didn't know the woman they were having sex with was asleep or passed out, University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy says in a forthcoming book. In some cases, men have successfully argued they thought a woman had consented to sex, even while unconscious, because she had rubbed her body against them or did not resist having her clothes removed. Sheehy's conclusions, based on a review of reported cases over two decades, are also cited in material filed with the Supreme Court of Canada for an Ontario case being heard Monday. The court is being asked to determine whether a person can provide "advance" consent to sexual activity that will take place while they are unconscious — or whether consent ends when a person no longer has active control over their own body.

Tunisian leader defends law accused of limiting free speech

Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali defended Sunday a controversial law that critics say limits press freedom as he announced increased subsidies to opposition parties and their newspapers. In a speech marking the anniversary of his 23 years in power, Ben Ali said the increased subsidies were aimed at increasing participation in political life and pledged to increase the opposition voice in the media. "Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution," he said. "Different opinions and criticism are respected," he added, dismissing objections to a recent change to the law that criminalizes acts judged damaging to the country's economic interests.

US law enforcement officials keep close eye on Oracle-SAP trial

An FBI agent has been in the courtroom each day this week watching the Oracle-SAP trial, suggesting U.S. law enforcement continues to take an interest in the case. SAP said in 2007, when Oracle filed its civil lawsuit against the company, that the Department of Justice had requested documents related to the matter from SAP and its TomorrowNow subsidiary. SAP said at the time that it would "fully cooperate." SAP said in 2007, when Oracle filed its civil lawsuit against the company, that the Department of Justice had requested documents related to the matter from SAP and its TomorrowNow subsidiary. SAP said at the time that it would "fully cooperate."

US defends rights record at first ever UN review

The US government's human rights record came under criticism Friday during the country's first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Among the criticisms leveled at the US were the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the practice of rendition, the embargo of Cuba and the continued use of the death penalty. Representatives from the US defended the country's record, including the Obama administration's plan to close Guantanamo Bay and its pledge against the use of torture. As part of the UPR, the nation under review submits a report, the UN compiles documentation and interested nations are permitted to submit a list of questions to be answered in the review. The current UPR will continue until November 12, and the next Session will begin in late January.

Taiwan prosecutors to appeal ex-president's acquittal in bank merger fraud case

Prosecutors from the Taiwanese Special Investigation Panel (SIP) announced Sunday that they will appeal the recent acquittal of former president Chen Shui-bian. Chen was acquitted on Friday of charges of money laundering, breach of trust and insider trading after the Taipei District Court ruled there was insufficient evidence against the former president. SIP spokesperson Chen Hung-ta stated that the prosecutors disagreed with the ruling and the court's findings. Chen Hung-ta indicated that the prosecution found the court's views on presidential authority as well as its interpretation of other related facts to be unacceptable. Current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou also questioned the court's reasoning and called on courts to be less isolated from society.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Mr. Speaker. Yes, John Boehner plays a lot of golf. Yes, he has a deep tan. And yes, he hangs out with corporate lobbyists. But there's more to him than that. Meet the Washington insider who's leading the opposition.

What, Me Worry? Put away the spitballs. Obama and the newly ascendant Republicans may actually get something done.

Business Week
Tom Donohue: Obama's Tormentor. If the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has his way, the President's change agenda is finished.

The Economist
The Republicans ride in. Now they must prove that there is more to their cause than blind fury.

Der Spiegel
Eine für alles - Warum Männer immer noch zu viel von Frauen erwarten.

  • Daily Press Review

Egypt Cracks Down as U.S. Stands By
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Erekat: PA will ask US to recognize state if talks fail
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

2 dead, 14 hurt as saboteurs detonate bomb in Dhale officer's car
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Stafford Hospital inquiry begins
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Asos opens market place in drive for more growth, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

'No more money' in BBC pensions row
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Jobseekers ordered to do unpaid work as Tories crack down on workshy
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

TDC upgrades network to LTE with Ericsson
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Necmi Calv? brings London beats back home to Bodrum
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

In Georgia, Two Armenians Plead Guilty To Nuclear Smuggling
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Tory Preps For Hung Parliament
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Benefit cuts will 'force poor out of south'
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

A380 oil leaks prompt Rolls-Royce shares slump
The Independent, London, England

Leinster duo forced to retire
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Students urge cancellation of comprehensive partnership agreement with US
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

KP universities shut to press govt over VC's release
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

India, Japan conclude negotiations on CEPA
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Penang backbencher proposes English as state's second official language
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Taiwan's CPI rises slightly in October
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

Friends fear for Wenger's despairing French rapper lover
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Stable Pakistan good for India: Obama
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Haiti cholera deaths over 500
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Dominicans mark 166 years of first Constitution
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

MEXICO: Tens of Thousands of Missing Central American Migrants
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Ethiopia's Govt also wants apology from BBC, HRW
Jimma Times, Online news portal, Jimma, Ethiopia

W. Sahara activists reject Moroccan king's intervention
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Schoolgirl's gang-rape 'tragic', Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa


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