Brazilian Government Largest Illegal Logger in the Amazon

BRASILIA, Brazil, September 30, 2008 (ENS) – A Brazilian government agency that provides land to settlers is the largest illegal logger in the Amazon rainforest and could face criminal prosecution, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said Monday. Minc blamed Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, or Incra, for occupying the top six places on a new government list of the 100 largest illegal loggers.

Today, he backed off a little, giving another government agency 20 days to analyze information presented by Incra contesting the legality of the deforestation.

Illegally cut logs await transport from a clearing in the Brazilian rainforest. (Photo by Andy Revkin)

“As some questions had been raised about what is legitimate, Ibama will go to evaluate point the point,” Minc said, handing responsibility for the inquiry to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama.

Minc clarified that Incra is the formal owner of the six parcels of land at issue, which in fact were deforested by the settlers. But legally, he said, the problem falls again on Incra because the Institute cannot pass ownership of land to the agriculturists until it has been settled for 10 years.

“They are small deforestations, of 20 or 30 hectares, per person. On the other hand, a small one deforests little but thousands deforest a great deal,” said Minc. “Therefore, we have that to improve, and as well we have to improve the incidents of deforestation on conservation units and on aboriginal lands.”

In total, 223,000 hectares of the rainforest were logged on those six properties

The Amazon rainforest is being chopped down more than three times as fast as last year, Brazilian officials said Monday, after three years of declines in the deforestation rate.

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EU to introduce ‘virtual strip searches’ at airports by 2010

Digital body scanners which leave little to the imagination will be used by airport security on passengers travelling across the European Union within two years.


The new imaging technology creates an image of an unclothed body which privacy critics argue ‘amounts to a virtual strip search’ Photo: PA

According to a draft European Commission regulation, seen by The Daily Telegraph, the new millimetre wave imaging scanners are to be used “individually or in combination, as a primary or secondary means and under defined conditions” to provide a “virtual strip search” of travellers.

The new EU regulation, which will be binding on Britain, is intended to enter into force across the continent by the end of April 2010.

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Ford’s September sales drop 34 percent


Tight credit, economic worries and high gasoline prices auto purchases

DETROIT – Tight credit, economic worries and high gasoline prices combined to cut Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales once again in September, with the beleaguered automaker reporting a 34 percent decline from the same month last year.

It was Ford’s worst sales month this year, and the results are a strong indication that analysts’ forecasts of another dismal month will come true.

Hyundai Motor Co., whose single-digit sales decline this year has looked like a success against the Detroit automakers’ slide, reported its U.S. sales fell 25 percent. Other automakers are set to release their results later Wednesday.

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Wealthy investors hoard bullion

Investors in gold are demanding “unprecedented” amounts of bullion bars and coins and moving them into their own vaults as fears about the health of the global financial system deepen.

Industry executives and bankers at the London Bullion Market Association annual meeting said the extent of the move into physical gold was unseen and driven by the very rich.

“There is an enormous pick-up in investment demand. I have never seen a market like this in my 33-year career,” said Jeremy Charles, chairman of the LBMA. “The gold refineries cannot produce enough bars.”

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Satellite-Surveillance Program to Begin Despite Privacy Concerns

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn’t yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws.

Congress provided partial funding for the program in a little-debated $634 billion spending measure that will fund the government until early March. For the past year, the Bush administration had been fighting Democratic lawmakers over the spy program, known as the National Applications Office.

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Begin Despite Privacy Concerns

U.S. Factories Contracted at Faster Pace in September

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — Manufacturing in the U.S. contracted in September at the fastest pace since the last recession as sales slowed, signaling the credit crisis is spreading beyond Wall Street.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index dropped to 43.5, the lowest level since October 2001 and less than economists anticipated, the Tempe, Arizona-based group reported today. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The housing slump has already spread to autos, and other industries may soon follow, as mounting foreclosures, tougher lending rules and rising unemployment choke off consumer spending. While exports have so far kept manufacturing from slipping much more, weakening economies around the globe are also causing overseas sales to slow.

“Manufacturing could be on the brink of a collapse,” said Lindsey Piegza, a market analyst at FTN Financial in New York. `There are no orders, no jobs and there is really no incentive for businesses to invest. The credit crisis is compounding the problem.”

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Lehman Hedge-Fund Clients Left Cold as Assets Frozen


Barclays Capital logos are displayed on the facade of the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. headquarters building in New York, Sept. 24, 2008. Photographer: Gino Domenico/Bloomberg News

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy probably means the end of hedge-fund manager Oak Group Inc. after 22 years in business.

John James, who runs the Chicago-based firm with $25 million of assets, didn’t buy Lehman stock or debt. Instead, his potentially fatal mistake was to rely on the bank’s prime brokerage in London, a unit that provides loans, clears trades and handles administrative chores for hedge funds. He’s one of dozens of investment managers whose Lehman prime-brokerage accounts were frozen when the company filed for protection from creditors on Sept. 15.

“We’re probably going out of business and liquidate, game over,” James, 59, said. “We’ve lost 70 percent of our assets.”

The list of funds trapped in the Lehman morass keeps growing. London-based MKM Longboat Capital Advisors LLP said last week it will close its $1.5 billion Multi-Strategy fund in part because of assets stuck at Lehman, according to an investor letter.

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