December 1, 2010  No. 985 -  Vol. 8


"Difficulties mastered are opportunities won"

Winston Churchill

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

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  • Top News

Amid fears, WikiLeaks presents some upside

U.S. officials have denounced WikiLeaks' publication of diplomatic cables as an act of espionage. Some revelations in WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of diplomatic cables and documents could ultimately prove useful to U.S. foreign policy objectives, analysts say. U.S. government officials have denounced the release of classified material as reckless and dangerous. But foreign policy experts say in specific instances there may be an upside, such as improving America's image in the Arab world or prompting greater congressional oversight on China policy. The Justice Department is laying the groundwork for possible criminal prosecution of WikiLeaks. Rep. Peter King, who will chair the House Homeland Security Committee next year, says that WikiLeaks should be classified as a terrorist organization. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday sought to play down the potential impact of the leaks.

EU launches antitrust probe into alleged Google abuses

The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position. The EC will examine whether the world's largest search engine penalized competing services in its results. The probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr. Google denies the allegations but said it would work with the Commission to "address any concerns". Earlier this year the attorney general of Texas launched a similar investigation following complaints from firms including Foundem. The objections in both cases are from competitors which allege that Google manipulates its search results. "The European Commission has decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google has abused a dominant position in online search," the body said in a statement.

All airlines now providing passengers' personal data

All 197 airlines that fly to the U.S. are now collecting names, genders and birth dates of passengers so the government can check them against terror watch lists before they fly. Getting all air carriers that travel to or through the U.S. to provide this information marks a milestone in the government's counterterrorism efforts and completes one of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. The program, called Secure Flight, has been delayed for years because of privacy concerns and went through three versions before it was approved. It's designed to give U.S. authorities more time to identify and remove suspected terrorists from flights and reduce instances when passengers are mistaken for people on terrorist watch lists. Misidentification of passengers has been one of the biggest inconveniences in post-Sept. 11, 2001, air travel, and is widely known for putting thousands of innocent travelers and well-known figures like former Sen. Ted Kennedy through extensive searching and questioning before they were allowed to fly. Previously, airlines have been responsible for checking the passenger lists against terrorist watch lists. But the airlines did not have any information other than a name. Now the screening is done by the Transportation Security Administration.

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  • Crumbs

1 - EU opens probe into Google practices (Click here)

2 - Justices debate solutions to California state prison overcrowding  (Click here)

3 - Senate passes sweeping law on food safety (Click here)

4 - ABA Journal Blawg 100 (Click here)

5 - Drug dealers escape through Rio sewers (Click here)

6 - Pakistan mother denied presidential pardon for 'insulting Islam' (Click here)

7 - What happens if Thailand's Democrats are found guilty? (Click here)

8 - Swiss vote to expel convicted foreigners (Click here)

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  • Historia Verdadera

Banca

El banco venezolano Bandes anunció que dejará Uruguay si no logra reducir 160 cupos de su plantilla de trabajadores, indicó el presidente del Consejo de Sector Financiero Privado de la Asociación de Empleados Bancarios del Uruguay (Aebu), Elbio Monegal. 

Medio Ambiente 

La minera chilena Antofagasta Minerals presentó hoy a reguladores el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental (EIA) para la construcción y operación del proyecto de cobre Antucoya de 80.000 toneladas de cobre al año, algo que previamente había sido puesto en duda por la empresa.

Petróleo 

Las exportaciones marítimas de petróleo de la OPEP, excluyendo a Angola y Ecuador, bajarían en 410.000 barriles por día (bpd) en las cuatro semanas al 23 de enero, dijo el jueves un analista que sigue los embarques futuros.

  • Brief News

Proxy firms need more rules, companies say

A battle over whether to regulate proxy advisory services represents a political turn of the tables. Public companies and their advisers are pushing for new rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission to restrict proxy advisory firms. Yes, these are the same interests who usually argue against regulation. They are pitted against corporate governance groups that seek an easier and cheaper way to nominate directors. But on the issue of the advisory services, they have put up a big don't touch sign. Regulation, it would appear, is a good thing only when it serves your purposes. Yet the debate over proxy advisory services is an important one.

First UK hate crimes report reveals 50,000 incidents reported last year

More than 50,000 hate crimes were reported last year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to a report released Tuesday, the first time such a report has been made public. The Association of Chief Police Officers, a private company consisting of police officers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said that it has published the data with the hopes of encouraging other victims to come forward and report crimes. According to the report, police view an apparent increase in these figured from 2008 as a positive sign, indicating that more crimes are being reported and not necessarily that more crimes are being committed. In all, 52,028 crimes were reported in 2009 with the motivation for the offense being prejudice:

  • Race: 43,426
  • Religion/Faith: 2,083
  • Sexual Orientation: 4,805
  • Transgender: 312
  • Disability: 1,402
  • Total: 52,028

The report says that 703 of the faith-based crimes were of anti-Semitic nature.

Boom in debt buying fuels another boom—in lawsuits

Across the nation, there is a surge in lawsuits against people who aren't paying their bills, driven by the debt-buying industry that has boomed in the past three years as a sea of souring loans and credit-card obligations have become cheaper and cheaper to buy amid hard economic times. Handing debt over to collectors is an important step in cleaning up the financial system, but the explosion in lawsuits—many for small sums—creates problems for the legal system. "There exists a real danger that the courts will be perceived as mere extensions of collection agencies."

Home Office mulls data law change

The Home Office has agreed to meet civil liberties groups as part of a consultation it is conducting into UK interception laws. The Open Rights Group and other organizations are concerned that the consultation is being rushed through with minimum publicity. They want to see strong laws to protect citizens who have had their e-mail or web traffic collected without consent. The consultation has been forced on the UK by the European Commission. Initially the Home Office said a meeting with civil society groups was unnecessary but it has u-turned on that and will meet ORG and others early this week.

Indonesia's Islamic laws are 'abusive'

Two Islamic laws applied in the Indonesian province of Aceh violate peoples' rights and are implemented abusively, a new report has concluded. The New York-based Human Rights Watch group (HRW) says two of five local laws based on the Shariah legal code discriminate against women. The laws against "seclusion" and dress codes are also not applied against rich or well-connected people, it says. Islamic law applies only in Aceh in the secular state of Indonesia.

Idaho prison guards 'filmed watching inmate attack'

Prison surveillance cameras in Idaho have captured footage of one inmate beating another prisoner, while guards looked on. The man being attacked, Hanni Elabed, appears to bang on a guard station window for help, the video obtained by AP shows, but guards do not intervene. Questions are now being raised as to whether the Idaho Correctional Center regularly allows inmate violence. The American Civil Liberties Union said the video supported claims made in a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in March that the prison fostered a "culture of rampant violence". Prisoners have filed a number of lawsuits against the prison in the past, saying the facility covers up the attacks by denying the prisoners medical treatment.

BP sells Pan American Energy stake for $7bn

BP has said it will sell its interests in an Argentina-based company as part of its moves to pay for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. By offloading its 60% stake in Pan American Energy to Bridas Corporation, BP will raise $7bn. The oil giant has now sold $20bn of assets since announcing in July its plan to divest itself of up to $30bn by the end of 2011. It has already secured the sale of assets in Venezuela, Egypt and Vietnam.

Mexico City passes law to allow surrogate mothers

Mexico City lawmakers have approved legislation to allow women in the capital district to be surrogate mothers. The measure is the first of its type to be passed in Mexico. The bill approved Tuesday says surrogacy can be carried out only with the authorization of the city's Health Department. It also asks that parents first look for women related by blood to serve as surrogates, although other women can participate.

End 'Don't Ask' before Courts do

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday urged Congress to repeal the 17-year-old ban on openly gay Americans serving in the armed forces, citing a just-released Pentagon report that concluded such a change would carry little risk for military readiness, effectiveness or unit cohesion.

Europe threatens inquiry into phone and cable fees

The European Union's telecommunications commissioner on Tuesday threatened to crack down on member countries that allow powerful former telephone monopolies to charge steep fees that raise costs to consumers. Neelie Kroes, the commissioner who oversees telecommunications, said she was prepared to open an investigation should some of the 27 national regulators ignore guidelines, which were intended to lower the costs imposed by the monopolies on rivals who need access to national telecom lines.

Workers affected by loss of unemployment benefits

An estimated 2 million workers stand to lose unemployment insurance benefits in December unless Congress restores federal extended benefits programs. Without them, jobless workers in most states would receive 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, instead of up to 99 weeks now. Republicans emboldened by their sweeping victories in last month's elections are taking a tougher stance against expenditures that increase the deficit.

Unemployment rises in Europe

Unemployment in the euro zone rose in October to its highest level in more than 12 years, threatening to defeat efforts to turn around stagnant economies at a time of tight budgets.

ICJ orders DRC to compensate Guinea for false detention of businessman

On Tuesday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to pay an undetermined amount to Guinea for the 1988 arbitrary imprisonment of a Guinean businessman. The tribunal found that the DRC violated Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as well as Articles 9 and 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the arrest, two month imprisonment, and expulsion of Ahmadou Sadio Diallo. The ICJ did not find the DRC in violation of any international law when it seized the two companies, Africom-Zaire and Africontainers-Zaire, that Diallo founded in the DRC and prevented him from continuing business with them, however the court did find that his detention and expulsion were contrary to law.

Supreme Court upholds limits on municipal liability

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously in Los Angeles County v. Humphries that, when alleging a municipality violated their civil rights under 42 USC § 1983, plaintiffs "must show that their injury was caused by a municipal policy or custom," even if they are only seeking injunctive or declaratory relief. Tuesday's opinion, authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, drew heavily from Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, which held that, to prevail on a § 1983 claim for monetary damages, plaintiffs must show a municipal policy or custom that caused their injuries. The court rejected the petitioners' arguments that Monell should me be limited to monetary damages, pointing out that language in the statute does not differentiate between types of relief requested. The court reasoned that its ruling in Monell left no room for holding municipalities strictly liable for the actions of their employees or for actions that are not part of that municipality's policy or custom. The court remanded the case to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for proceedings consistent with Tuesday's ruling. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the decision.

Federal judge blocks Oklahoma Islamic law ban

A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Monday ordered a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of the controversial Oklahoma constitutional amendment banning the courts from considering international or Islamic law. Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Muneer Awad, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, who brought the suit claiming that State Question 755 (SQ 755) violates the First Amendment because it stigmatizes his Muslim religion. Miles-Legrange found that Awad was substantially likely to succeed on the merits

Google Seeks To Rewrite Books Model

Google is in the final stages of launching its long-awaited e-book retailing venture, Google Editions.

Goldman Code-Theft Trial Opens

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. computer programmer plotted for two months before leaving the investment bank for a rival about how to steal the confidential source code for Goldman's high-frequency trading platform, a federal prosecutor said. In his opening statement Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti said Sergey Aleynikov located a computer server in Germany that wasn't blocked by Goldman's firewalls and secretly uploaded portions of the code in the days before he left the investment bank. Aleynikov wanted to use the code to build a similar trading platform at Teza Technologies LLC, Facciponti said. However, Aleynikov's lawyer said Aleynikov was only trying to download "open source" code that was used on the trading platform and wasn't owned by Goldman or anyone else. "Aleynikov may have violated Goldman's confidentiality policy, but he didn't commit a crime."

  • Daily Press Review

US ponders legal action on Assange
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Egypt opposition rejects election results as ?invalid?
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Mumbai: Man kills daughter's teen lover
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Cambodia, Thai border gate opening delays for another month
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

The U.S. requests extradition of alleged Dominican drug lord
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Government of Jamaica eyes sin tax
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Fifa chief denies bribery claims
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

MultiChoice sees off TopTV threat for now
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

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