December 8, 2010  No. 988 -  Vol. 8

" Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Mark Twain

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  • Top News

Russia's WTO membership bid backed by European Union

The European Union (EU) has thrown its weight behind Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU gave its formal support after Russia agreed to cut timber export tariffs and rail freight fees. Russia is the only major economy that is still not a member of the global free trade club. Brussels' decision to lift its veto on Moscow's membership is expected to open the way for Russia to join next year. It ends a 17-year wait for Russia, who first applied to join the organisation's predecessor - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) - under President Boris Yeltsin.

France court convicts US airline in Concorde jet crash

A French court on Monday found US-based Continental Airlines and one of its employees guilty of manslaughter for their roles in the Air France Concorde jet crash outside Paris in 2000. The court found that a piece of metal fell off a Continental plane and onto the runway, later causing damage to the Concorde that led to the crash. The court also convicted Continental mechanic John Taylor for improperly maintaining the plane that used the runway prior to the Concorde, sentencing him to a 15-month suspended sentence and a USD $2,670 fine. Continental was ordered to pay Air France USD $1.44 million for damage to its reputation and fines of roughly USD $267,000. Additionally, the court awarded several civil parties USD $362,000 in damages to be paid by Continental and Taylor. The other defendants, including two former high-ranking Concorde employees and the retired head of the French aviation authority, were acquitted. Continental stated that it intends to appeal the ruling.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Airspace reopens as minister says strikers must "face justice" (Click here)

2 - Class action lawsuit filed over YouPorn history sniffing (Click here)

3 - Allowing TV cameras in court would greatly help to restore public faith in criminal proceedings (Click here)

4 - High court judge to rule if coalition's budget is biased against women (Click here)

5 - NH council to take up Supreme Court nominations (Click here)

6 - The First Amendment vs. an Arizona law (Click here)

7 - Court of Appeal £10,800 shock for desperate homeowners struggling to sell (Click here)

8 - Lawyer says L'Oreal family dispute resolved (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China Catholic bishops to elect new leaders

Chinese bishops are to elect leaders of the government-backed Catholic church, amid tensions with the Vatican. The authorities are forcing a number of bishops to attend the Beijing meeting, while others have gone into hiding.  The Vatican threatened to excommunicate a bishop after he was ordained without papal approval last month.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Inversiones

La chilena Parque Arauco reanudó un proyecto de US$ 150 mlls., en Perú que había congelado en 2009 debido a la crisis económica mundial. La firma iniciará las obras en 2011, que demandarán un plazo de 18 meses.

Repsol

La española Repsol confirmó que su unidad argentina YPF descubrió gas natural no convencional -"shale gas"-  en la cuenca de Neuquen, al sur del país sudamericano, con un volumen de 127 bcm "equivalente a cuatro años de consumo" del hidrocarburo en España y a aproximadamente un 25% de las reservas totales argentinas.

Santander

Una inversión inicial de US$ 2 millones está realizando el Banco Santander en Chile para renovar la imagen corporativa de su división de consumo Banefe, donde prevén crecer en préstamos un 18% en 2011.

Mercosur

La Agencia Española de Cooperación (Aecid) comunicó que una subvención destinada a un proyecto regional del Mercosur "caducó" debido a que la Intendencia de Canelones no concretó el proyecto para el cual se habían comprometido los fondos del gobierno español.

  • Brief News

'Capture or kill' lawsuit dismissed 

A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to halt Washington's alleged program to capture or kill Americans who join militant groups abroad. The judge threw out the lawsuit by civil liberties organizations on jurisdictional grounds. The organizations say they want to halt the alleged program and reveal the criteria the US government sets for targeting someone. Washington has not confirmed officially that such a program exists. The ACLU and CCR argue that the American constitution and international law prohibit targeted killings by the US government without charge or conviction.

FBI memo raises Barbie child pornography fears

The FBI has raised concerns that a Barbie doll featuring a video camera could be used by pedophiles. A memo to investigators warned that the Barbie Video Girl could be used for the "production and possession of child pornography". An FBI spokeswoman said there had been no reported evidence that the doll, made by Mattell, had been used in any way other than intended. The agency stressed the alert had been intended only for internal circulation. It was issued by the Sacramento field office of the FBI, to raise awareness among investigators of "unconventional avenues" by which child pornography can be obtained, the spokeswoman added. The Barbie Video Girl doll, which went on sale earlier in the year, can record up to 30 minutes of footage through a digital camera on its front. The images can be viewed on the doll itself, or can be uploaded to a computer via USB cable. Mattel said its products were "designed with children and their best interests in mind".

US drops settlement freeze demand

The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks. Washington had been negotiating with Israel to try to meet Palestinian conditions for restarting direct talks. The Palestinians suspended talks in September after a 10-month freeze on Israeli building in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired. The US says it will continue to explore ways to bring the two sides together.

Israel anger at S. America moves

Israel reacts angrily as Argentina joins Brazil in recognizing a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused bail

The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been refused bail by a court in London but vowed to fight extradition to Sweden. Assange denies sexually assaulting two women in Sweden. He was remanded in custody pending a hearing next week. A judge at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court refused bail because of the risk of the 39-year-old fleeing. A Wikileaks spokesman said the arrest was an attack on media freedom and pledged to continue publishing.

Wikileaks' Visa payments suspended

Visa Europe has begun suspending payments to whistle-blowing website Wikileaks ahead of carrying out an investigation into the organization. It follows a similar move by rival payments processor Mastercard on Tuesday. Visa's announcement comes after Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange was arrested by police in London. Wikileaks relies on online donations to fund its operations, which will now not be possible using both Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards. Online payment firm PayPal and internet giant Amazon have also cut their links with Wikileaks in recent days.

India's ex minister Raja's homes raided

India's top investigation agency has raided houses owned by a former telecoms minister allegedly involved in a corruption scandal, reports say. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted searches on A Raja's houses in Delhi and Chennai. Raja quit last month, denying allegations that he had undersold mobile phone licenses.

US treasury stockpiles billions in flawed $100 bills

A printing error has forced the US to stockpile $110bn (£69.78bn) in new $100 notes until officials can sort and destroy the flawed bills. A snag in the printing process left up to 30% of the notes with a blank patch on the face. The bills, which represent an estimated one-tenth of the value of all US currency in circulation, are being held in US government facilities in Washington DC and Fort Worth in the state of Texas.

US housing doldrums 'until 2013'

Most Americans expect the US housing market to remain depressed for at least another two years, a survey finds.

EU ministers reject 20-week maternity leave plan

EU ministers have overwhelmingly rejected a move by Euro MPs to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay in the 27-nation bloc. The social affairs ministers voiced concern about the cost of the 20-week minimum that the European Parliament voted for in October. Minimum maternity leave in the EU is currently 14 weeks. The European Commission has proposed extending it to 18 weeks, to improve work-life balance. No deal is expected before next year.

Helmut Schmidt bemoans German and EU leadership

Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has accused his country's current leaders of failing to grasp modern international finance. Criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, he also said the EU lacked leaders capable of crisis management. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker was an exception, he suggested, but his country was "too small". Schmidt further accused Germany's central bank of being "reactionary".

Obama reaches deal with Republicans over tax cuts

A bipartisan agreement has been reached to extend soon-to-expire Bush era tax cuts to all Americans. Referring to the bitter wrangling over the issue,  Obama said he would not "let working families become collateral damage for political warfare". Some Democrats have said the deal, which must be voted on by Congress, is too generous to the wealthy. Unemployment benefits will also be renewed under the agreement.

Starbucks and Kraft in row over cancelled contract

Kraft Foods has asked a US judge to stop Starbucks from cancelling its contract to distribute and sell Starbucks' packaged coffee. Kraft has sold Starbucks' packaged coffees to supermarkets and other retailers since 1998, but Starbucks said it would end the deal in March. Starbucks called the food giant's move a "delaying tactic". Kraft had already filed last week for a legal review of Starbucks' decision, which it said would go on separately. In its latest filing to the US District Court in New York, Kraft said it was seeking a preliminary injunction "to stop Starbucks from proceeding as if the agreement has been terminated, when, in fact, the contract is still in force." Kraft added that Starbucks was "proceeding with flagrant indifference to the terms of the contract and customary business practices".

Europe rights court finds Scotland in violation of media rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that Scotland has violated the media's right to report on trials and challenge court orders. The ECHR found the UK and Scotland in violations of articles 10 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provide for the right to free expression and the right to an effective remedy, respectively. Alan Mackay, a now-retired reporter for BBC Scotland, sought to report on police and prosecutorial misconduct during a 2004 drug case. The judge barred Mackay and BBC Scotland from reporting on the incident during the trial, citing section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, and refused to allow appeal on the issue.

Toronto G-20 security measures 'illegal'

A local regulation that broadened the scope of police search and seizure powers in certain areas of Toronto during June's Group of 20 (G-20) summit "was of dubious legality and no utility" and resulted in a mass violation of civil rights, according to a report released Tuesday by the Ombudsman of Ontario, Andre Marin. The regulation was quietly enacted under the 1939 Public Works Protection Act (PWPA) and allowed police to require anyone present in certain areas of Toronto to identify themselves or be subjected to a search.

Philippines high court rules 'truth commission' unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of the Philippines on Tuesday ruled that a proposed "truth commission" created to investigate former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is unconstitutional. President Benigno Aquino set up the "truth commission" in July to investigate allegations that the outgoing administration engaged in corruption and rights violations, like rigging the 2004 presidential election, misusing government funds and profiting from government contracts. The court held that the "truth commission" violates equal protection by attacking only certain political individuals suspected of corruption. Critics of the court's decision argue that most of the justices were appointed by Arroyo and may still be loyal to the previous regime. The government has 15 days to appeal the decision.

ICC examines possible war crimes charges against North Korea

The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed on Monday that the prosecutor's office has opened preliminary examinations to evaluate possible war crimes committed by North Korea. ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo verified that evaluations will determine if some of the incidents by North Korean forces in South Korea constitute war crimes, giving the ICC jurisdiction over the matter.

  • Daily Press Review

US fails in settlements freeze bid
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

UAE residency visa, labour card validity cut to two years
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Al Murjan reef rehabilitation project launched
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Assange Says WikiLeaks 'Fearlessly' Defending the Public
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Argentina and Uruguay recognize state of Palestine
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Yemen to be a full member of ISO
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Facebook: Winklevoss twins launch another suit against Mark Zuckerberg
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

ETNO seeks EC incentives to boost private network investment
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

U.S. Says WikiLeaks Release Harms Diplomacy
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

'Walking Through The Fire'
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Megrahi freed after Gaddafi threats
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Murdered bride's husband arrested
The Independent, London, England

U.S. Ambassador Assails WikiLeaks
The Moscow Times, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Obama yields to Republicans in tax cut deal
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

China to award prize to rival Nobel
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Assange to get Australian diplomatic help
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

WikiLeaks: Zardari, Kayani worked for Musharraf's 'honourable exit'
Sify News, Chennai, India

Public Health reports Cholera cases now 22, but under control
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Cuba Commutes Sentences; Only One Person Still on Death Row
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

UK 'feared Megrahi prison death'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

List of facilities 'vital to US security' leaked
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

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