A Spanish court had asked the European court to give guidance on the case after Promusicae complained of Telefonica's refusal to hand over details identifying the people who used the computer addresses linked to the illegal downloads. Telefonica claimed Spanish law only allows it to share personal data for criminal prosecutions or matters of public security and national defense. The EU ruling is important because courts across Europe have been moving in different directions.

IBM constantly updated its machinery and applications for the Nazis. For example, one series of punch cards was designed to record religion, national origin, and mother tongue, but by creating special columns and rows for Jew, Polish language, Polish nationality, the fur trade as an occupation, and then Berlin, Nazis could quickly cross-tabulate, at the rate of 25,000 cards per hour, exactly how many Berlin furriers were Jews of Polish extraction. Railroad cars, which could take two weeks to locate and route, could be swiftly dispatched in just 48 hours by means of a vast network of punch-card machines. Indeed, IBM services coursed through the entire German infrastructure in Europe.

Considering Skype's rapid growth since the acquisition, it can't be an encouraging sign that its founders and early investors are cashing out well before the clock has run out on the original performance goals. When eBay bought Skype, it agreed to pay Skype shareholders as much as $1.7 billion extra if Skype met certain user growth and financial targets in 2008 and 2009. In accepting $530 million, those investors agreed to forgo any future payments, suggesting that none were likely. eBay plans to record that payment, plus $900 million more, as an impairment charge recorded in the third quarter.

Yesterday the International Trade Centre (ITC), an agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, emphasised its opposition to a ban as it published the initial findings of research into the potential financial impact on farmers and exporters in developing countries and importers in the European Union. Organic certification has been hugely successful in reducing poverty for thousands of African farming families. A ban on air-freighted products could be catastrophic for them, while making no contribution to mitigating climate change.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the continent's most developed nation, has called for the fast-tracking of biofuel research and production. South Africa began last July to construct Africa's first production plant for ethanol, which is made from the sugars found in grains. The first barrels of the biofuel should start flowing by the end of this year, and seven similar factories are expected to be up and running by 2010. Nigeria, Africa's oil producing giant, cannot afford to be left behind. It hopes to rake in 150 million dollars annually from biofuels once it reaches full production. Nigeria plans to build 15 ethanol plants with technical assistance from Brazil. It envisions ethanol powered cars in Africa's most populous country by 2010.

A vulture is a creature that lurks around waiting for another animal to be near death before it swoops in. The vulture is a cagey bird that hovers over the weak waiting for an opportunity to finish it off. Vulture funds are a group of financial institutions that buy African and Latin American debt from the lending country for a reduced amount and then press the struggling nations into courts as they demand payment of the full loan and interest several times the original value of the debt. This practice is crippling countries that welcomed international debt relief but are now facing the possibility of debt relief from the G-8 being meaningless. They will now have to pay the new owners of their loan.

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