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Appeals court blocks parts of Alabama immigration law


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, halted the controversial provision that permits Alabama to require public schools to determine the legal residency of children upon enrollment.The court also blocked a provision that made failing to carry documents proving legal residency status a misdemeanor crime.But the court ruled the state could continue to authorize police to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally if they cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.The Obama administration and a coalition of civil rights groups had sought to stop the law while it was under court review, arguing it has led some illegal immigrants in Alabama to pull their children out of school and even flee the state.The Justice Department also contends the measure, passed by large margins in both chambers of the Republican-led legislature earlier this year, interferes with the federal government’s exclusive authority over immigration.State lawmakers argue they were forced to act, saying the Obama administration had not done enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.There are an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States, including between 75,000 and 160,000 in Alabama, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.Under the ruling issued on Friday, Alabama can bar illegal immigrants from entering into commercial contracts with the state or local governments and applying for or renewing drivers’ licenses, identification cards or license plates.”Once again, we’re pleased that the majority and most effectual parts of this law will remain in place,” said Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a Republican.”While the federal government sues to prolong and exacerbate the illegal immigration problem, Alabama is taking action to ensure the laws of our land are upheld.”LAWYERS MONITORING ALABAMAThe Justice Department said it looked forward to the appeals court giving further consideration to its arguments for blocking other key provisions of the law.”We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit has blocked Alabama’s registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education,” the department said in a statement.Federal judges have previously blocked key parts of other immigration laws passed in Georgia, Arizona, Utah and Indiana.The Justice Department has stationed four lawyers in Alabama to watch for civil rights violations and hate crimes, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez told reporters in Birmingham on Friday.Perez, who leads the department’s Civil Rights Division, said they are monitoring “troubling data” stemming from anecdotal reports of children getting bullied and crime victims being unwilling to come forward.”We are trying to track down information to separate fact from fiction,” said Perez.Malissa Valdes, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Education, said 1,250 Hispanic students were reported absent on Thursday, down from a spike of 5,143 out on Wednesday as part of a statewide boycott of services and commerce by the Hispanic community.The day before the law took effect last month, 1,064 Hispanic students were reported absent, Valdes said.Carla Gonzales said she and her children have been under a self-imposed house arrest in Mobile since a federal judge had upheld the bulk of the state’s strict anti-illegal immigration law on September 28.She and others in the immigrant community said they felt some relief following Friday’s ruling.”We can go to church again and not look over our shoulder when we go buy groceries. I’m thrilled,” she said.Stockton resident Garrett Harrison, who owns a handyman business, said he hopes the law ultimately remains intact but sees no problem with the court holding off on enforcing the portions that affect children until a final review is completed.”I think a lot of what we’re hearing is panic, and if (immigrants are) here illegally they should be scared, but I don’t see any reason to drag children into something that’s not even sorted out yet,” Harrison said.

Liberia president extends lead, short of poll majority


With 585,179 valid votes counted from a total of 1.8 million registered voters, former rebel leader Prince Johnson remains in third place with 11.4 percent. A run-off will take place in early November if no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote.

STXNEWS LATAM-Chile stocks up on US retail data


Santiago’s blue-chip IPSA stock index .IPSA is 0.92 percent stronger, pulled up by shares in steel and iron ore producer CAP CAP.SN, up 2.50 percent, and shares in forestry and paper company CMPC CAR.SN, up 1.39 percent.

ATM group sues Visa, MasterCard over price fixing


The suit, charging restraint of trade, alleges that Visa and MasterCard network rules prohibit ATM operators from offering lower prices for transactions over PIN-debit networks that are not affiliated with Visa or MasterCard.The suit alleges that the price fixing artificially raises the price consumers pay for ATM services, limits ATM operator revenue, and violates antitrust laws.It claims that rules by the card issuers prevent an operator from offering consumers a discount for ATM transactions not completed over Visa or MasterCard networks.”Visa and MasterCard are the ringleaders, organizers, and enforcers of a conspiracy among U.S. banks to fix the price of ATM access fees in order to keep the competition at bay,” Jonathan Rubin, of the Rubin PLLC law firm which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement.The proposed class, should the case be granted class action status, would be comprised of independent operators of some 200,000 ATMs in the United States, Rubin said.Visa declined to comment. MasterCard did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.The case is The National ATM Council, Inc et al v. Visa, Inc et al and MasterCard Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 11-cv-01803.

ECB’s Nowotny worried by economy, relaxed on inflation


Nowotny’s comments suggest the state of the economy remains the larger concern.”One need not have any fear of inflation… We expect a clear decline of inflation, under the 2 percent mark in the second half of 2012,” news agency Market News International quoted Nowotny as saying late on Tuesday.Euro zone inflation jumped to 3.0 percent last month but Nowotny, Austria’s central bank chief, said it should drop clearly below the ECB’s preferred level of 2 percent in the second half of next year.A greater concern was the economic outlook.”What one must fear is the real economy,” he said.”There is the risk that we will enter a relatively long phase of weaker growth. Because the dynamic of exports is dwindling and at the same time we see weak domestic demand because of the consolidation of public finances.”Governments are tightening their budgets in response to the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, a factor a leading Austrian corporate executive said was impacting business prospects.”Consumers’ uncertainty about the debt crisis is beginning to hit the real economy,” Voestalpine Chief Executive Wolfgang Eder told the Financial Times Deutschland paper.Speaking in Riga, outgoing ECB policymaker Juergen Stark said the euro zone was not a transfer union in which member states are liable for each others’ debts. He pressed governments in the bloc to tackle their own debt problems.The troubles facing some euro zone countries highlight the need for sustainable fiscal policies, said Stark, who is resigning early from the ECB this year in protest at its policy of buying bonds to help troubled euro zone debtor states.The ECB has faced sharp criticism in Stark’s native Germany for buying bonds — a move many in the euro zone’s leading economy see as taking the bank into the fiscal arena and threatening its core role of fighting inflation.”Stability begins at home,” Stark, a member of the ECBs Executive Board, said in a speech at a Bank of Latvia.”The euro area is not a transfer union,” he added. “And I have been and remain to be a strict opponent to this issue of transfer union.”ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said Greece, the country at the origin of the euro zone debt crisis, could avoid bankruptcy if it and European governments stick to their agreements to cut its debt levels.”The commitments made by Greece and those made by all the European countries on 21 July should enable the scenario you mention to be avoided, and we have always warned the governments against it,” he told French weekly L’Express.