August 20, 2014 nº 1,533 - Vol. 12

"All business proceeds on beliefs, or judgments of probabilities, and not on certainties."

Charles W. Eliot

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

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  • Top News

Ebola crisis: Liberia orders curfew and quarantine

Liberia has imposed a night-time curfew and has quarantined an area of the capital Monrovia in a bid to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak. All movement would be blocked in and out of the West Point area. Meanwhile, three doctors with Ebola who started taking an experimental drug last week showed remarkable signs of improvement. The Liberian government went under attack for it's failure to bring Ebola under control on the public's disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for official warnings. Liberia already imposed a state of emergency earlier this month, but the number of deaths from the disease has continued to climb. Ebola has no known cure but the World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled that untested drugs can be used in light of the scale of outbreak in West Africa. Since the beginning of the year, 1,229 people have died of the virus. It is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person.

What Washington can, and can't, do in Ferguson

It's been nine days since an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder briefed Obama on the latest federal response to unrest in Ferguson and will be traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with the FBI agents and the DOJ personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation. FBI agents are set to finish canvassing for witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown, and more federal peacemakers will arrive to try to ease tensions. The Justice Department has a really limited role here. Murder is, generally, not prosecuted in the federal system, So the only jurisdictional hook the Justice Department has is whether the police officer violated Michael Brown's civil rights in this shooting. And in order to make that case, they have to prove the officer, Darren Wilson, intended to use more force than a reasonable person would. That's a really big challenge for federal prosecutors. They have to delve into details such as what the officer said and did at the time - what was in his brain. Crowd control has become such an issue here, given the criticisms of the way the local police have dealt with protesters, deploying tear gas and pointing weapons at unarmed people. What's the administration saying about that? Obama said there's no excuse for excessive force by police and that there's a big difference between civilian and military law enforcement. That difference, he says, helps preserve American civil liberties. The president does say it's important to protect the right to protest, but he said we shouldn't fall under the influence of a small group of people - many of them not from Ferguson - who are looting and raising tensions and undermining justice there. Obama also talked about a gulf of mistrust between police and African-Americans.

Ferguson awaits Holder visit as demand grows for charges

Peaceful protests have given way to violence and disorder in the streets of Fergusson, which has escalated into a crisis. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance today coincides with the beginning of a Missouri grand-jury's hearing evidence in the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The grand jury must decide whether Wilson violated the law and whether he should face charges ranging from manslaughter to murder. The incident and accompanying images of armored trucks shooting tear gas and flash grenades at protesters have drawn international attention to the St. Louis suburb of 21,000, turning it into a symbol of racial inequality and heavy-handed police tactics in the U.S. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon urged a "vigorous prosecution" in a videotaped statement released yesterday. He asked Holder and the county prosecutor to use Holder's trip to investigate Brown's death "thoroughly, promptly and correctly." "The only thing that's going to calm it down is if there are charges against this cop," said Milton Mathis, a 44-year-old truck driver. "The cop has to face charges." Less than five miles from Ferguson, police officers in St. Louis fatally shot a man yesterday as he brandished a knife and yelled "kill me now," according to Sam Dotson, the city's police chief. "Officers gave suspect verbal commands," Dotson said in a Twitter posting. "Officers feared for their safety and both officers fired their weapons."

'Made In Brazil' under pressure

Brazil is more than samba and soccer. But the airplanes it makes and the soybeans it grows are coming under increasing cost pressures, making a number of manufacturers there lose ground to competitors in the U.S. A new study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed that Brazil was one of a handful of 25 major exporters that was losing its competitive edge to other countries in the Americas. In this case, the U.S. and Mexico are often beating Brazil to the punch. "Improving the productivity of each worker is becoming an increasingly important factor in manufacturing competitiveness across the globe," BCG said. "This is especially true as the once-considerable wage gaps between developed and developing economies continue to shrink." BCG's study looked at manufacturing costs over a 10 year period to come up with its competitiveness index. Out of a list of five nations deemed "under pressure", Brazil is feeling the most pressure of all. It's even worse than China, primarily due to higher labor costs. According to BCG, Brazil's average manufacturing costs were around 3% lower than the U.S. in 2004 but are now estimated to be 23% higher on average. Higher labor costs, coupled with Brazil's historically poor logistical bottlenecks, continue to dull Brazil's competitive edge. Brazil is not a cheap country to conduct business. Tax burdens, infrastructure concerns, and a volatile currency have held back a number of Brazilian businesses, BCG researchers said. It takes more Brazilian workers to produce the same amount of goods as it does in the U.S., which relies more on automated assembly lines. Brazil's government, like China's, is more interested in job creation than production. And as a result, the situation for manufacturing has become worse, the study showed. Full employment in Brazil was never really an outspoken political policy of the ruling Workers' Party. Nor did the idea have many detractors. Low unemployment has come with a price, but it was a price that Brazil had to pay. Brazil is tied with Italy and Belgium as the fourth least-cost-competitive manufacturing economy, BCG said.

Arbitration

In a new article, Ricardo Dalmaso Marques, associate at Pinheiro Neto Advogados, writes on the persistent Latin American countries’ attitude towards investment arbitration and ICSID. (Click here)

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  • Crumbs!

1 - Goldman to face Libya's sovereign wealth fund in court over trades (Click here)

2 - Former Lehman Brothers bankers win pensions battle (Click here)

3 - Google working on child-friendly sites – report (Click here)

4 - Icahn says Family Dollar wasting over $300 million in breakup fees (Click here)

5 - Advocates urge U.S. top court not to block gay marriage in Virginia (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China fines Japanese car parts firms for price-fixing

China has levied a record fine totalling 1.24bn yuan ($202m) on twelve Japanese car parts companies for price-fixing. The country's anti-monopoly regulator said the companies were found to have colluded to reduce competition. Japan's Sumitomo Electric and Mitsubishi Electric were among the firms that received the heaviest fines. The ruling comes amid a crackdown on multinational firms found to have broken China's anti-monopoly laws. Mercedes-Benz had been found guilty of fixing the cost of spare parts; other high profile car companies that have been targeted include BMW, Audi and Chrysler. No penalties on them have yet been announced.

Vatican ties

The Vatican and Beijing have no formal ties, but the decision to let the Pope fly through Chinese airspace is being seen as a possible sign of warmth. In response, China said it was willing to hold talks with the Vatican and push for improving bilateral ties. The Pope has "hinted at room for negotiation over the Vatican's stance on the appointment of bishops in China and China might want to consider a meeting". China refuses to recognize the Vatican's authority over the Catholic community in China. The country exercises strict control on religious institutions, including selecting of bishops.

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  • Historia Verdadeira

Acuerdo

La Policía Nacional de Honduras y la Oficina de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de Estados Unidos -ICE por sus siglas en inglés-), suscribieron un Memorándum de Cooperación para mejorar la procesos de intercambio de información sobre los ciudadanos hondureños repatriados. En representación de Estados Unidos firmó el documento el subsecretario adjunto principal de la ICE, Thomas Winkowski, quien visitó Honduras.

Agro

La Cámara de Comercio de Lima informó que empresarios hongkoneses están interesados en la compra de productos como espárragos, café orgánico, uvas frescas y maca, además de pota, langostinos y pescado. Según el director ejecutivo del Consejo del Desarrollo del Comercio de Hong Kong (HKTDC en sus siglas en inglés), Raymond Yip, los empresarios tienen un gran 'apetito' por adquirir productos peruanos. Exhortó a los empresarios peruanos para que viajen a Hong Kong para conocer de cerca las necesidades de sus pares y establecer negocios exitosos.

Banco

El grupo mexicano de servicios de salud Los Ángeles presentó una OPA por la Espírito Santo Saúde, perteneciente al "holding" en concurso de acreedores Rioforte, por 4,30 euros cada acción, un 9,1% más de su valor actual en Bolsa.(Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

Swaps panel delays payout auction on Argentine bonds

Argentina plans to pay its foreign-currency bonds locally to sidestep a U.S. court ruling that blocked payments last month and caused the nation to default for a second time in 13 years. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the industry body that helps oversee the credit default swaps market, has postponed the auction that will set the exact amount at which swaps on defaulted Argentine bonds will pay out. The government will submit a bill to Congress that lets overseas debt holders swap into new bonds governed by domestic law with the same terms. Payments will be made into accounts at the central bank instead of through Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the current trustee. Holders of Argentina's $30 billion of overseas bonds have been in limbo since U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa blocked the nation's attempt to pay $539 million in interest due by July 30. His ruling was meant to compel Argentina to resolve unpaid debts from its 2001 default. While most creditors agreed to provide debt relief, hedge funds led by billionaire Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp. refused and successfully sued for full repayment in U.S. court.

Israel resumes Gaza strikes after rocket attacks

Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas ruled Gaza Strip. Israel said today that the continued aggression will be addressed accordingly by the IDF and it had resumed targeting "terror sites" across the Gaza StripThe resumption of violence casts doubts about the future of indirect talks in Cairo between Israel and the Palestinians to stop the fighting between the two sides. Israel's government officials as saying the truce had collapsed, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed the Israeli delegation in Cairo to return home. Similar flare-ups prior to the end of previous cease-fires have not prevented the two sides from reinstating another temporary truce.

Community Health Systems data hack hits 4.5 million

A major US hospital group said it was the victim of a cyber-attack resulting in the theft of 4.5 million people's personal data. The attack, which Community Health Systems believed originated in China, happened in April and June this year. The data included patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and social security numbers. The firm, which runs 206 hospitals in 29 states, is now in the process of notifying affected patients. One security expert warned that the data could be used to steal people's identity. The FBI confirmed that it was investigating the breach. Community Health Systems stressed that it believed no medical or credit card records were taken.

Caught backsliding, Standard Chartered is fined $300 million

Standard Chartered has agreed to pay $300m to New York's top banking regulator for failing to improve its money laundering controls. Standard Chartered will also be prevented from processing payments in dollars for "high-risk retail business clients" in Hong Kong, with the bank's monitor determining which clients are "high risk." The penalty comes after the bank failed to fix problems identified in 2012. "If a bank fails to live up to its commitments, there should be consequences," the New York State Department's Benjamin M Lawsky said. (Click here)

Turkish police arrested for spying

Twenty-five Turkish police officers have been arrested on suspicion of spying and wire-tapping. The allegations of illegal wire-tapping were brought against police taking part in an investigation into government corruption, which allegedly involved PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's inner circle. At least 67 police officers were detained in July as part of the crackdown.

Grappling with the cost of corporate gadflies

Corporate America is being held hostage by three people you have probably never heard of. The three people — John Chevedden, William Steiner, James McRitchie and their families — specialize in bringing shareholder proposals at annual meetings, urging companies to change their compensation practices or improve their corporate governance. These three are a force unto themselves. Together, they accounted for 70 percent of all proposals sponsored by individuals among Fortune 250 companies this year. Shouldn't everyone should be allowed to speak their minds? Well, that might be true in most situations. But these proposals are costing companies tens of millions of dollars and creating big fights in the courts and at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yet, these three seldom own more than a few hundred shares of the companies they challenge. The three may make "only pennies" but the companies are forced to spend so much more. The question is whether these proposals are doing more harm than good for all the shareholders. If so, perhaps it is time to put an end to the personal crusade of a few against corporate America. It is not new for individuals to seek fame, and perhaps fortune, through shareholder proposals. The doyenne of this business is Evelyn Y. Davis. Mrs. Davis first started at IBM's annual meeting in 1959. Since then, she has brought 20 to 25 proposals a year, a full 14 percent of proposals from 2006 to 2014 among Fortune 250 companies.

NY weighs charges in chokehold death

A New York grand jury is weighing criminal charges against a police officer in the death of a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold. Garner, the victim who had asthma, was heard on a witness video shouting "I can't breathe!" as police arrested him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. A medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide. The County District Attorney who has jurisdiction over the borough of Staten Island said he had decided to call a grand jury following his own investigation and a review of the medical examiner's findings. "With a full appreciation that no person is above the law, nor beneath its protection, I assure the public that I am committed to conducting a fair, thorough, and responsible investigation into Mr Garner's death, and that I will go wherever the evidence takes me, without fear or favour," D.A. Donovan said.

Met Opera tentatively settles with 2 major unions

The Metropolitan Opera has settled labor contracts with two of its largest unions.The Met's labor problems have played out, for the most part, in the press, with acrimonious statements from both management and unions substituting for actual bargaining sessions. After multiple deadlines came and went over the last several weeks, members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the orchestra, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, or AGMA, which represents the singers and dancers, bargained with the Met through the night and emerged this morning with tentative deals. Musicians union president Tino Gagliardi says while the new contract asks members to take salary cuts, they are far less than the original proposal of 16 or 17 percent. "It's still a concessionary agreement," Gagliardi says. "I think there was a recognition that there was a problem at the Met. So the reductions are significantly smaller than what was originally asked for." The Met's budget has ballooned in the last several years, while its income has declined.

Bulgaria suspends South Stream

Bulgaria suspends work on the Russia-led South Stream project, a pipeline stretching across the Black Sea to southern and central Europe.

Russian ban fuels food price rises

Russia sees some food price rises as a ban on imported Western products starts to take effect.

Federal judge approves final settlement in Wells Fargo investment case

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Minnesota [official website] on Monday approved a settlement for $62.5 million between Wells Fargo & Co [corporate website] and large institutional clients who lost money in an investment program known as securities lending. US District Judge Donovan Frank also awarded attorneys fees to the plaintiffs. The final settlement follows a preliminary settlement and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's [official website] rejection in June of Wells Fargo's contention that the bank's participation in the settlement [JURIST reports] should bar claims bring in a separate civil case.

The true trouble with tenure law

The two recently filed New York lawsuits claiming that teacher tenure laws violate children's constitutional right to a "sound basic education" are finally dragging the long-obscure section 3020-a of the state's education law into the spotlight. This attention is badly overdue because that section has played a crucial and underrecognized role in the quality of New York's teacher workforce for decades. Written into state law in 1970, entitled "Disciplinary procedures and penalties," 3020-a specifies that tenured teachers can be terminated only after just cause for dismissal has been established through particular state-run hearing procedures. Reformers argue that the law shields the jobs of chronically ineffective and even dangerous teachers. Opponents of the recent lawsuits, on the other hand, maintain that it simply provides teachers with due process prior to termination, protecting competent teachers from arbitrary firings, nepotism and vindictive principals. This time, anyway, it turns out that the reformers are correct. I recently completed an in-depth study of a decade of decisions filed at the completion of due process hearings for New York City teachers, and found that well over half the teachers who — after months or even years of hearings — were found guilty by state-appointed hearing officers of seriously inadequate teaching and gross misconduct were, in fact, returned to the classroom.

Judge dismisses racketeering claims against Venezuelan businessmen

A New York federal judge dismissed racketeering claims in a civil lawsuit brought by a former senior U.S. diplomat against three Venezuelan businessmen.

Think Tank apologizes for 'unconscionable' Tweet to Amnesty

Amnesty International and a Washington think tank have "kissed and made up" after a tweet posted Monday night from the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Amnesty to "suck it." CSIS called the tweet "unconscionable," saying an intern thought he was using his personal account when he sent the response. "The views expressed are abhorrent and appropriate action will be taken at CSIS to address the matter internally." It added that it was reviewing its "social media processes." After this statement and a tweeted apology by CSIS, "@CSIS and @amnesty have kissed and made up."

Security forces arrest Somali pirate commander

A Somali police official on Monday reported that security forces arrested Somali pirate Mohamed Garfanji. Garfanji, second-in-command of Somalia's pirate industry, was arrested on Sunday for possessing illegal arms and other charges related to piracy. The Somali government implemented an ongoing disarmament campaign in Mogadishu, where Garfanji was arrested. The UN Security Council has also imposed an arms embargo against the country.

  • Daily Press Review

Israel: Rockets making talks 'impossible'
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

St. Louis police: Officers killed suspect who was holding a knife
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Holocaust survivor arrested in Missouri protests
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Militants 'kill reporter on video'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Letterman's tribute to Robin Williams
CNN International, London, England

Jessica Alba dazzles in blue strapless dress at Sin City: A Dame To Kill For premiere
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

U.S. think tank CSIS apologises and blames intern for Tweet telling Amnesty International to ¿suck it¿†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Japan: landslides hit Hiroshima killing scores of people
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Be?ikta? takes on daunting task against Arsenal
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

'An extraordinary son, journalist and person': James Wright Foley's mother pays tribute
Independent The, London, England

Pictures of the day: 20 August 2014
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Could The Beach Boys give Cara Delevingne her first leading role?
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

At least 6 dead, 22 missing in Hiroshima landslide
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Army 'Downplayed Abuse' by Gyeonggi Governor's Son
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Death toll in Japan landslide rises to 27
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Neighbour takes away 12-year-old, sexually abuses him for 8 days
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Latest Missouri protests are smaller, more subdued
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Ukraine President cancels trip over protests in eastern Ukraine
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

'Haunted by James Packer'
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Latest Missouri protests are smaller, more subdued
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Nawaz Sharif to meet Imran Khan as protesters threaten to storm Prime Minister House
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Israel-Gaza conflict: War resumes with deadly strikes, rocket fire
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Kurdish ministers rejoin Iraqi government, foreign minister says
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Liberty Reserve Brought Down By 'Joe Bogus': How The Feds Arrested Arthur Budovsky
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Despite Current Debate, Police Militarisation Goes Beyond U.S. Borders
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

China fines Japanese auto parts makers record $201 mln for price-fixing
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Islamic State video purports to show beheading of U.S. journalist
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Nanny caught up in immigration backlog faces deportation
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Liberia imposes curfew over Ebola
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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