December 15, 2010 No. 991 - Vol. 8


"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."

Mark Twain

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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

US healthcare law: Judge rules against key provision

A federal judge in the US state of Virginia has ruled against a key part of the Obama administration's law on healthcare reform passed in March. Just about everyone agrees that U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson's decision to strike down the central tenet of the new health law won't be the end of the saga. But Hudson did something no one expected. When he declared unconstitutional the requirement that most people get health insurance, he allowed the rest of the law to remain intact. He backed the state of Virginia's argument that the law's requirement that Americans purchase healthcare or face a fine was unconstitutional. Other lawsuits are pending, but the US Supreme Court will have the final word. The judge wrote in a 42-page decision that the disputed provision was "neither within the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution". But he declined to invalidate the entire law, in what correspondents say was a small victory for Barack Obama. Arguably those most directly affected by the judge's ruling may be the insurance industry itself. If the ruling stands, insurers could still have to accept all sick individuals, but may no longer have the promise of millions of new healthy enrollees to help offset the cost of the sick people it's spent years turning away. Two judges have rejected other challenges to the law, including one in Virginia last month.

Portugal asks China to buy its government bonds

Portugal's finance minister is in Beijing to try to persuade Chinese authorities to buy Portuguese government bonds. The visit by Fernando Teixeira dos Santos comes as Portugal continues to try to sort out its finances without needing a European Union-led bail-out. Teixeira dos Santos made a similar trip to Brazil in recent days. China is already a major buyer of European government bonds and has vowed to continue to do so.

The difficulty of proving financial crimes

Why federal prosecutors have not brought any significant cases against senior corporate executives related to the financial meltdown? A partial answer to the question can be found in a decision issued on Friday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that reversed the conviction of a financial executive accused of accounting fraud for lack of evidence of any intent to defraud or mislead. It is easy to assert that there ought to be prosecutions of corporate chieftains — "show trials" like the Soviet Union used to stage — because of the enormous losses sustained from the meltdown. Actually proving criminal charges is much more difficult, however, if the government has only sketchy evidence of an executive's involvement in questionable decisions and the applicable legal standards are vague, at best. The line between aggressive accounting and fraud is a thin one, involving the application of unclear rules that require judgment calls that may turn out to be incorrect in hindsight. The intent element of the crime is usually a matter of piecing together different tidbits of evidence, such as e-mails, internal memorandums, public statements and the recollection of participants who attended meetings. Connecting all those dots is not an easy task, as prosecutors learned in the case against two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers when e-mails proved to be at best equivocal evidence of their intent to mislead investors, resulting in an acquittal on all counts.

Before you open the door to the boardroom, peek through the keyhole!

Michael Page specializes in the placement of candidates in permanent, contract, temporary and interim positions within client companies around the world. Have a look at the new section of the Migalhas website and discover the professional development opportunities with large corporations, in legal and business fields, presented by Michael Page International. Click here to peep through the hole!

  • Crumbs

1 - Rabobank wins Singapore appeal in Motorola contract payment dispute (Click here)

2 - What can lawyers claim in their ads? Supreme Court inaction sets no limit (Click here)

3 - Julian Assange to appear in court to appeal for release (Click here)

4 - Philadelphia tops latest list of 'judicial hellhole' (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China probe over 'slave' factory

Chinese police investigate reports that a group of people with mental disabilities have been working in slave-like conditions in a Xinjiang factory.

China plans WTO appeal against US tires ruling

China says it plans to appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the US was entitled to impose extra duties on Chinese tire imports. Beijing said it "regretted the ruling" and was "deeply concerned" about the potential impact of the decision. Last year, Obama imposed punitive duties of up to 35% on imports of Chinese-made tires. China called the move "protectionist" and had argued that the measures were not justified.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Acuerdo

Los Gobiernos de Cuba y Grecia firmaron el martes en La Habana una declaración conjunta que permitirá reanudar la cooperación bilateral en la esfera política y económica. El viceministro cubano de Relaciones Exteriores, Dagoberto Rodríguez, y el vicecanciller griego, Spyros Kouvelis, suscribieron el documento en la capital cubana.

Minería

La canadiense Goldcorp recibió la aprobación del estudio de impacto ambiental del proyecto de oro Cerro Negro ubicado en la provincia sureña argentina de Santa Cruz. La compañía iniciará la construcción de la mina inmediatamente después de la transferencia de la propiedad por parte de la canadiense Andean Resources, este 30 de diciembre.Cerro Negro es un proyecto de exploración avanzado que albergaría 3,1 millones de onzas de oro y 25 millones de onzas de plata.

Más poderes !

La Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela aprobó el martes en primer debate el pedido del presidente Hugo Chávez de viabilizar la "ley habilitante" que le otorgaría por un año poderes especiales para aprobar leyes por decreto, decisión vista por la oposición como un golpe a la democracia. Se espera que la segunda y definitiva votación se realice el jueves. Chávez justificó su pedido en la necesidad de atender la emergencia suscitada por fuertes lluvias que dejaron pérdidas millonarias, 40 muertos y unos 130.000 damnificados.

  • Brief News

ICC prosecutor to name suspects in Kenya poll violence

The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to announce the names of several Kenyans he accuses of being behind the violence that followed the disputed 2007 elections. More than 1,200 people were killed and over half a million displaced. In the peace deal that followed it was agreed that the perpetrators of the violence would face justice either in Kenya or at the ICC in the Hague.

Kosovo PM 'linked to organ trafficking'

Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders are accused of serious human rights abuses, including organ and drug trafficking in a report from the human rights body, the Council of Europe. The document names Hashim Thaci, Kosovo's current prime minister and wartime political leader of the KLA, 27 times in as many pages. The Kosovo government has dismissed the draft as "baseless and defamatory".

Burlusconi wins confidence vote, protests erupt

Berlusconi has narrowly won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament by 314 to 311, prompting street protests. In Rome, violent clashes have erupted. Berlusconi's critics say he is too deeply mired in scandal and corruption allegations to remain in office.

US court indicts Dutch Farc rebel

A US court has indicted a Dutch member of the Colombian Farc rebel group on kidnapping charges. Tanja Nijmeijer joined the left-wing guerrilla group shortly after her arrival in Colombia, and is believed to be still at large. The court accuses her of hostage-taking and "conspiracy to provide support to terrorists".

Google online search adverts 'dominant', says France

Internet giant Google holds a dominant position in the online advertising market linked to search engines, a French competition watchdog has said. But the Autorite de la Concurrence regulator said Google would only face sanctions if it abused this power. "Only the abusive exercise of such market power could be sanctioned," the anti-trust regulator said. Google said search advertisements were just "one of many options for advertisers".

Moroccan staff take SNCF to tribunal over work rights

About 360 Moroccans hired by the French rail firm SNCF in the 1970s have taken their employer to a tribunal to demand the same rights as French colleagues. They were recruited as contract workers and not given the status of official SNCF railway workers - something long reserved for French nationals. The status, now open to all EU citizens, entails better pay and other benefits, as well as rail travel perks. The SNCF says the status is a regulation decided by the French state. French railway trade union Sud Rail, which is backing the Moroccans at the Paris industrial tribunal, said the status issue was a "form of direct discrimination".

Microsoft's Paul Allen sees lawsuit thrown out

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has had his lawsuit against a number of tech and online retail firms thrown out. In August, Allen claimed the firms - including Google, eBay, Apple and Facebook - had infringed patents held by his firm Interval Licensing. But a federal judge said Allen had failed to "indicate with any specificity" which products violated his intellectual property rights.

Iata raises airline profit forecast by 70% for 2010

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has said airlines will make a record $15.1bn this year - 70% more than its last forecast made just three months ago. In September it said the total airline profit for 2010 would be $8.9bn. The body says the change in forecast is down to higher-than-expected passenger numbers.

Sidestepping the U.S. Dollar, a Russian exchange will swap Rubles and Renminbi

On Wednesday, a securities exchange in Moscow is scheduled to open direct trading between the currencies of China and Russia for an hour a day.

The great bankruptcy boom fades

The Chapter 11 filing of A.&P. may be among this year's largest, but it pales in size to those during the financial crisis.

FedEx wins ruling that contract drivers seeking benefits aren't employees

FedEx Corp. drivers were found by a judge to be independent contractors in a nationwide series of lawsuits claiming the company treats them as employees and owes them full benefits.

EU to sanction Ivory Coast over non-compliance with election results

The Council of the EU adopted a decision Monday to institute sanctions against the Ivory Coast. It has decided to adopt without delay targeted restrictive measures against those who are obstructing the process of peace and national reconciliation, and in particular who are jeopardising the proper outcome of the electoral process. Those measures will include a visa ban and an assets freeze. They will particularly target those leading figures who have refused to place themselves under the authority of the democratically elected President, of whom an initial list should be adopted rapidly. There has been unrest in the country since elections were held at the beginning of this month. Alassane Ouattara defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, but Gbagbo has refused to concede victory to Ouattrara.

Supreme Court splits on copyright protections for imported goods

The US Supreme Court on Monday divided 4-4 in Costco Wholesale Corp v. Omega, SA on the issue of copyright protections for imported goods. The case presented the question of whether the first-sale doctrine, which provides that the owner of any particular copy "lawfully made under this title" may resell that good without the authority of the copyright holder, applies to imported goods manufactured abroad. Swiss watchmaker Omega manufactures watches in Switzerland and then sells them to authorized distributors overseas. Watches were purchased by third parties and eventually sold to Costco, which sold them to US consumers without authorization from Omega. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to imported goods. The 4-4 split, with Justice Elena Kagan recused, means that the Ninth Circuit's decision is affirmed, but that the ruling does not set precedent.

  • Daily Press Review

UAE 1st in human development in Arab world
Khaleej Times, English-language daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Saudi Aramco awards $500m deals to GE
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted bail but sent back to prison
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Former Kyrgyz President's Nephew Appeals Verdict
Radio Free Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Developer becomes ill in court
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Kazakh Ambassador met with Canadian Senate Speaker
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Fuel, gold extraction agreements signed
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

High court yet to decide on two detainees wanted in the U.S.
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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