bloggingIR


Four US Oil Workers Kidnapped in Nigeria

Posted in Uncategorized by eliana987 on May 9, 2007

This article is about mounting violence and tension between foreign oil companies in Nigeria and rebels wanting to regain control over the region’s oil. 100 foriegners have been kidnapped this year but they are usually returned after ransom is paid. This is yet another example of how multinationals tend to get involved in regional politics and conflicts whether they want to or not. As described in the article, the rebel group MEND has recently carried out more and more attacks while convincing other groups to stand up to these corporations as well.

If I remember correctly, when we were asked our opinion about whether or not Chiquita should continue to operate in unsafe conditions where the government couldn’t control rebel groups, a few of us thought that Chiquita should just leave and not get involved. However, I think most of us can agree that asking oil companies to leave Nigeria and give up their lucrative profits would not be successful. Will these companies resort to Chiquita’s tactics of bribing these groups and hoping they won’t get caught? Or do you think multinationals are under higher scrutiny after the Chiquita incident? How could the various actors in the conflict begin to cooperate? Would more CSR help ease tensions at all?

Four US Oil Workers Kidnapped in Nigeria

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The Power of Markets

Posted in Uncategorized by eliana987 on May 8, 2007

This article is about the rapid transformation that Shanghai experienced after it opened up its markets. According to the article, more foreign investment flows into Shanghai alone than to any other developing country and it attracts 25% of all foreign investment into China. More than 500 multinational companies, ranging from General Motors to Volkswagen, have their regional corporate headquarters in Shanghai.This has caused an increase in wealth in Shanghai and has stimulated consumption as well as migration to the region. The government plans to create new towns, increase public transport, raise education levels and encourage internet usage. The Chinese Communist Party, however, is attempting to slow things down. The party secretary in Shanghai was fired in order to curb Shanghai’s power and shift development to inland regions.

Many countries have opened their markets in the past and have not improved as significantly (or at all) as Shanghai. What makes Shanghai so special?

Shanghai: Creating a Global City

Getting Stricter About Patents?

Posted in Uncategorized by eliana987 on May 7, 2007

This article is about a US Supreme Court decision which ruled that simply combining two existing technologies is not deserving of a patent. The article states that to receive a patent, a product must be novel, useful, and non-obvious. Although the US has traditionally been pretty lenient with the last requirement, it is slowly becoming more strict. The pharmaceutical companies may be in danger, since they often make minor tweaks to drugs and then apply for patents.

We often talk about how corporations are hard to keep accountable, but this is a good example of how governments can have an effect on a corporation’s profits. This ruling gives more power to patent examiners and courts to decide what exactly is a “non-obvious” invention. What implications do you think this will have on corporations now that their patents will be more easily undermined? Will this help or hurt the consumer? Will there be less incentive to be innovative? or do you think most MNC’s will still be able to receive patents and go on with business as usual?

Patently Obvious

You Tube and IPs–a different look at copyrights

Posted in Uncategorized by nbouri1 on May 7, 2007

Premier League soccer sues YouTube over copyright
By Michael Kahn and Eric Auchard
Reuters
Friday, May 4, 2007; 10:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Plaintiffs including English soccer’s Premier League sued Google Inc.‘s (GOOG.O) YouTube on Friday for copyright infringement, the second such legal challenge to the popular video site in two months.

According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Football Association Premier League Ltd., better known as the English Premier League, and music publisher Bourne Co. sued YouTube.

The lawsuit charges that YouTube deliberately encourages massive copyright infringement on its Web site to generate public attention and boost traffic. This has resulted in the loss of valuable content, the complaint said.

“Defendants, which own and operate the Web site YouTube.com, have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or license to the owners of the intellectual property,” the lawsuit said.

Google general counsel Kent Walker replied in a statement:

“These suits simply misunderstand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which balances the rights of copyright holders against the need to protect Internet communications and content, Walker said, referring to the 1998 U.S. law governing the rights of content owners and Internet service providers.

“They threaten the way people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression over the Internet,” he said.

The complaint echoes accusations made in March by media conglomerate Viacom Inc. (VIAb.N), which filed a similar suit against YouTube and Google for over $1 billion in damages.

Google has denied those claims using similar arguments.

Lawyers for the Premier League said YouTube provided access to a tool against copyright infringement, but charged that it was “fraught” with problems and that YouTube should do more.

“Its account has on some occasions been blocked or closed,” the lawsuit said. “In the meantime, the Premier League has been forced to send time-consuming and ineffectual notices of infringement to YouTube.”

NO WIDER MOVE VS YOUTUBE

James McQuivey, a media analyst at Forrester, said the latest complaint was interesting because the plaintiffs had tried to use the tool provided to prevent copyright infringement.

But the lawsuit does not likely signal a wider move in the media industry against YouTube, McQuivey said.

More worrying for Google and YouTube would have been a lawsuit from a second major entertainment company or a big cable television network, he added.

The latest lawsuit seeks a court-ordered injunction to prohibit the defendants from continuing to violate various copyright protection laws and unspecified monetary damages.

It accuses YouTube of deliberately facilitating copyright infringement to build traffic to its site and lists a number of matches between some of English soccer’s most popular teams, including Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.

The complaint, which seeks class-action status, also says that Google was aware of this pattern of infringement when it paid $1.65 billion to buy YouTube and subsequently saw an increase of around $4 billion in Google’s market value.

The suit argues that these billions of dollars still “vastly understates” the value of the plaintiff’s intellectual property and the harm to plaintiffs represented in the suit.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed at http://www.youtubeclassaction.com.

The Premier League and Bourne have retained U.S. law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP, known for representing media companies, music stars and sports teams, and class-action firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP.

Google shares closed down $2.11 at $471.12 on Nasdaq.

Diamonds and Liberia

Posted in Uncategorized by nbouri1 on May 7, 2007

Liberia relaunches diamond trade after embargo ends

By Alphonso Toweh

Reuters
Tuesday, May 1, 2007; 10:51 AM

TUBMANBURG, Liberia (Reuters) – Liberia relaunched its diamond trade on Tuesday after the United Nations lifted an embargo, hoping the revival of the industry will fund reconstruction rather than lead to more bloodshed.

Trade in rough diamonds from river beds and mud pits in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone was a major factor in intertwined civil wars that killed a quarter of a million people in this corner of West Africa during the 1990s.

 

A network of 10 government offices is being set up to ensure diamonds are certified under the “Kimberley Process,” an industry-led monitoring scheme designed to prevent the illicit sale of gems from conflict areas, known as “blood diamonds.”

“It is our responsibility to ensure that we do not return to violence, and let us all work towards this process,” said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, elected in 2005 more than two years after President Charles Taylor went into exile.

Taylor is now in a cell in The Hague awaiting trial for war crimes over his alleged role in fomenting war in Sierra Leone.

The U.N. Security Council lifted a 6-year ban on Liberian diamond exports on Friday, saying the government had acted to meet the Kimberley requirements. It said it would review the decision in 90 days in the light of Liberia’s compliance.

“We have to ensure that we comply with all the conditions set by the U.N.,” Johnson-Sirleaf said at a ceremony to open the first of 10 government diamond offices — a white-painted shipping container in the former diamond trading centre of Tubmanburg, 75 km (50 miles) north of the capital Monrovia.

“Government officials too many times have used their authority improperly. We are going to ensure that these things do not happen,” she said.

REBUILDING LIBERIA

Conflict diamonds are blamed for fuelling and financing wars in countries across Africa, including Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo, and inspired the 2006 film set in Sierra Leone and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond.

Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained former World Bank economist and Africa’s first elected female head of state, acted out selling a diamond with representatives of the United Nations and longstanding ally Washington, a U.N. spokesman said.

There was no room in the cramped container for journalists to watch.

Johnson-Sirleaf left to open the main office in Monrovia.

The end of the U.N. diamond embargo marks another step towards rebuilding Liberia, founded in 1847 by freed slaves from America, after years of fighting and looting.

The rubber industry has begun to recover and the Senate approved a $1 billion iron ore mining contract on Monday with leading steel producer Arcelor Mittal that should revive what was once the world’s fifth-biggest iron ore export industry.

Posted in Uncategorized by sarahkg on May 6, 2007

An article in the washington post today was titled Will Microsoft and yahoo Join to Challenge Google?

“A Microsoft purchase of Yahoo would combine two of the largest online audiences and build a colossus unequaled in the business of display advertising on the Web. But a merger could also prove unwieldy, involving a marriage of companies with divergent cultures and leadership structures, and invite intense government scrutiny over possible antitrust violations, according to analysts.”

The article concludes with an analyst from Forrester Research saying that “in the end, it’s going to be so hard that I don’t think it will happen”.

Would Microsoft and Yahoo merge? Can they compete with Google? What would this mean for the future of the internet?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/04/AR2007050402091.html

Brazil to break AIDS drug patent

Posted in Uncategorized by jmontene on May 5, 2007

BBC

This is an interesting article about how Brazil’s president chose to break the patent of a US pharmacuetical, Merck, and instead import a generic version of the drug from India. It’s my understanding that the US doesn’t have an FTA with Brazil, which is the reason why compulsory licensing was used in this case.

Was this a justified step for the Brazilian government to take? Lula da Silva is saying that thousands of Brazilians will now be able to afford much-needed medicines. Merck says that this move will adversely affect the incentive for pharmacuetical developments (of developing world diseases)

In Canada, the New Rush is Diamonds

Posted in corporations,MNC,social responsibility by dmcardle on May 4, 2007

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/04/

AR2007030401481.html

I thought this story was interesting after our discussion on conflict diamonds. It discusses turning the stigma of “blood diamonds” to images of snow and polar bears … picturesque of northern Canada. In fact, due to the new authenticity regulations, they are marked with lasers before leaving Canada, with “microscopic polar bears or maple leaves.” The article also touches on issues of environmental degredation from mining and native property rights of the Indians and Inuit living there, who demand jobs and training in return for using the land to mine diamonds

Murdoch looks to expand Media Empire

Posted in Uncategorized by awelcher on May 1, 2007

“Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire has made an unsolicited takeover bid for Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal.”

This short lede sums up the article at the link below: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/01/AR2007050100709.html?hpid=topnews

and also closely relates to the recent discussion we had about media and globalization.

“In addition to the Journal, Dow Jones owns Barron’s financial weekly, the MarketWatch Inc. financial Web site, Factiva news archive, Dow Jones newswires and the Dow Jones financial information services that provide minute-by-minute data to business professionals.”

What repercussions do you foresee if this deal goes through? Will the Wall Street Journal now have its own ‘page 6’? Will it lose/gain leadership? Is it dangerous to let one media empire control so many outlets? Why do you think Murdoch wants to make this move?

Immigrants slow rate of money transfers

Posted in Uncategorized by efetter on May 1, 2007

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/30/AR2007043001698.html

This article is about the money that Latin American immigrants in the US send home to their families, which is known as remittances.  These remittances–totally $62.3 billion last year–are crucial to the economies of many Latin American countries, sometimes making over 20% of the countries’ national income. Most of the remittances go to poor, rural families, often bringing them above the poverty line and allowing them to buy basic necessities.

The amount of remittances has been steadily increasing over the last decade.  However, there has been a recent slowdown, which experts are unsure is a small correction or the beginning of a trend.  If remittances continue to decline, many Latin American economies, as well as the poor, will suffer. This could result in more immigrants coming to the US.

I thought remittances were an interesting manifestation of globalization. Not only do you have foreign immigrants coming into the US labor market, but then these people send much of their earnings back to their home country. The amount of remittances depends not only on the individuals that send them but also on the US economy, and they in turn affect the Latin American economies. And the results can then effect the US in other ways (such as more or less immigration). Just another example of interdependence.

Also, remittances are a way to alleviate poverty that doesn’t depend on the government or corporations to find a solution.

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