November 17, 2014 nº 1,569 - Vol. 12

"Never forget that the root of comedy is tragedy e.g. me slipping on a banana peel is tragic, you slipping on a banana peel is hilarious."

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  • Top News

ACLU petitions Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition for certiorari on behalf of same-sex couples in Ohio with the US Supreme Court on Friday asking the court to resolve a circuit split on the issue of same-sex marriage. Earlier this month the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit became the first federal court of appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans, overturning lower court rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The petition concerns two issues, namely the constitutionality of laws barring Ohio from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, and the constitutionality of Ohio's refusal to recognize a judgment of adoption of an Ohio-born child issued to a same-sex couple by the court of another state.

UK tax probes put advisers in crossfire, law firm says

British tax authorities' pursuit of evidence in tax evasion and money laundering investigations are raising client-confidentiality issues for lawyers and accountants. In the last two years, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has filed about 3,000 notices to professional advisers such as accountants and lawyers seeking information about their clients, according to data compiled by London-based law firm RPC LLP. The requests were tied to investigations into suspected tax evasion and money laundering. HMRC is pressing "to increase the number of criminal prosecutions for tax evasion" to ensure "a level tax playing field," according to an e-mailed statement from the agency. Disclosure notices are just "one of a range of measures we use to ensure the right tax is being paid." Responding to these requests can be challenging as providing too much information can put the advisers at risk of breaching client confidentiality, while too little can lead to criminal liability for failing to comply with the notice, RPC said.

A Challenge to FTC Methods

Republican control of Congress in 2015 could boost GOP efforts to make the Federal Trade Commission operate more like the Justice Department when it comes to antitrust enforcement, amid complaints that the FTC's system is more cumbersome to business. The FTC and the Justice Department share powers to challenge problematic mergers and anticompetitive business conduct, but they don't always follow the same processes. This design has been in place for a century but has frustrated business groups and company lawyers who say their clients face a more challenging road if the FTC is the agency that lands an investigation. One area of Republican focus centers on a key difference between the agencies: how they interact with the court system when challenging mergers as anticompetitive. Lawyers say the FTC process is time consuming, produces a home-field advantage for the commission and can force companies to litigate the same case twice. The FTC has been adamant its procedures are both fair and time efficient.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Bill Cosby's attorney calls rape allegations 'decade-old' and 'discredited' - click here.

2 - Facebook Working On Professional Website 'Facebook At Work' To Compete With LinkedIn. - click here.

3 - Amazon and Hachette resolve bitter dispute over price - click here.

4 - Trial Of Three Suspected Cannibals Starts In Brazil  -click here.

5- Appellate court reduces sentences of former Berlusconi aides in sex-for-hire case - click here.

6 - A Secret U.S. Spy Program Is Using Planes to Target Cell Phones - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

HK protesters denied Beijing flight

Three Hong Kong pro-democracy protest leaders are stopped from boarding a plane to Beijing, as authorities say their travel permits are invalid. They had hoped to meet China's leaders as part of their push for greater democracy. Beijing has in the past blocked Hong Kong activists from travelling to mainland China.

Australia and China seal major free trade deal

China and Australia have sealed a major free trade agreement. The deal, the result of a decade of talks, will open up markets worth billions of dollars, Canberra says. It will give Australian dairy farmers, winemakers and other sectors tariff-free access to the huge Chinese market within a few years. Meanwhile, China is seeking greater access for its investment projects. 

China to double Iranian investment

China will double investment in Iranian infrastructure projects to more than $52bn. Water, electricity, oil and gas projects will all benefit from the extra financing.

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  • Brief News

Criminal law says minors can't consent — but some civil courts disagree

Protecting young people from sexual predators would seem to be a universally-held value in this country: No state has an age of consent lower than 16. But in some courtrooms, attorneys argue that children can make decisions about whom they have sex with — and in some cases, those attorneys are winning. One of those cases is currently under appeal in California. In 2010, a 28-year old middle-school math teacher began a six-month sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student at his school. The teacher was convicted in criminal court of lewd acts with a child, and he went to prison. The girl's family then sued the LA Unified School District in a civil case. The school district defended itself in court by saying "We're not negligent here, we didn't know about this." And they also said that the 14-year-old girl was at fault because she consented to the sex. "She lied to her mother so she could have an opportunity to have sex with her teacher ... she went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn't she be responsible for that?" Under criminal law in California, the age of consent is 18 years old. But in a civil case, there have been two rulings that say minors can consent to sex. The jury accepted the school district's argument that it had no knowledge of the situation. "You can be a victim in the criminal case, but you can actually be found at fault in the civil case."

Global economy warning lights are flashing

According to David Cameron, the eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too. The red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy - six years on from the crash that brought the world to its knees. Italy returned to recession after its economy contracted 0.1% in the third quarter - the 13th quarter in a row that it has failed to grow. And the German economy narrowly avoided falling into recession with growth of 0.1% in the third quarter.

G20 leaders threaten more sanctions on Russia

Obama said world leaders would rather not to have to isolate Moscow for backing separatists in eastern Ukraine. "We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy," he said, adding that it was against international norms to "invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections." David Cameron said he thinks "President Putin can see he is at a crossroads," and "If he continues to destabilize Ukraine there will be further sanctions, further measures. "There is a cost to sanctions, but there would be a far greater cost in allowing a frozen conflict on the continent of Europe to be created and maintained," Cameron said.

Japan's economy dips into recession

Japan's economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, marking a technical recession in the world's third largest economy. Abenomics, an ambitious growth strategy, did not work as expected. Its aim was to drag Japan's economy out of 20 years of deflation and put it back on the road to growth. Billions of dollars were pumped into the economy through stimulus spending. The Bank of Japan went on an even bigger spree, printing hundreds of billions of dollars of new money and using it to buy government bonds. This had two effects. First, it pushed down the value of the yen, which made Japanese exports cheaper. Second, it pushed investors out of bonds and in to stocks. The Tokyo stock market soared. By mid 2013 Japan's economy was back in what looked like solid growth. Then, in early 2014, Mr Abe's government took a calculated gamble. With the economy growing he could risk putting up taxes for the first time in nearly 20 years. Consumption (purchase) tax would rise from 5 to 8%. The tax rise was urgently needed to plug the giant hole in Japan's public finances. But the gamble has not paid off. Japanese consumers have stopped spending and the economy is back in recession.

Dutch battle 'contagious' bird flu

The European Commission is to discuss urgent protective measures after a highly contagious strain of bird flu was discovered in the Netherlands. This highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza is very dangerous for bird life, and can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Law-firm Darwinism in huge Morgan Lewis & Bockius deal

Call it a kind of law-firm Darwinism. A few years ago, it was possible to read any number of reports pronouncing the death of Big Law. Mammoth firms were too inefficient, too slow, and - most important for their clients - too expensive. And it is true, ever since the 2008 financial crisis caused corporate America to rein in its legal spend, some very big law firms have bit the dust. But the Morgan Lewis & Bockius L.L.P. announcement Friday that it plans to acquire much of Boston-based Bingham McCutchen also suggests some law-firm heavyweights will thrive in an era of tighter legal budgets and tougher competition.

Obama rocks the net neutrality debate

The president took a stand on net neutrality this week, saying the idea that traffic is treated equally should be protected like a public utility. Critics called it "Obamacare for the Internet." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has his own ideas, a more "hybrid" approach, for how to handle the issue. "The dissonance between Obama and Wheeler has the makings of a major policy fight affecting multibillion-dollar industries. The president wants clear rules to prevent Internet service providers from auctioning the fastest speeds to the highest bidders, a scenario that could favor rich Web firms over start-ups. "Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications industry, has floated proposals that aim to limit the ability of service providers to charge Web companies, such as Netflix or Google, to reach their customers. But critics have argued that his approach would give the providers too much leeway to favor some services over others."

Colombia suspends Farc peace talks

The Colombian President‎ Juan Manuel Santos suspends peace talks with the Farc rebel group after the apparent kidnapping of an army general.

Canada Supreme Court rules good faith now implied in all contracts

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that a term of good faith performance is now an implied requirement in all contractual agreements. The court found that Canadian courts' resistance to ruling on the issue of good faith performance in contracts has created an "unsettled and incoherent body of law ... which is difficult to analyze." The court laid out two steps to resolving the issue: “ The first step is to acknowledge that good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law of contract which underpins and informs the various rules in which the common law, in various situations and types of relationships, recognizes obligations of good faith contractual performance. The second is to recognize, as a further manifestation of this organizing principle of good faith, that there is a common law duty which applies to all contracts to act honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”

Petrobras scandal will 'change Brazil'

Dilma Rousseff said investigations into corruption at the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, could change the country forever. She was speaking for the first time since the arrest on Friday of 23 people suspected of corruption and money-laundering. They include top executives of companies, which had contracts with Petrobras. More than 300 police and 50 tax officials were involved in the operation across five states, as well as in the capital Brasilia. The company, which is majority-owned by the Brazilian government, is one of the largest oil businesses in the world. Its reach extends far beyond South America; Petrobras has interests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Petrobras is also being investigated by US authorities. All agreements between Petrobras and a handful of large construction companies which acted as contractors for Petrobras would be investigated. The investigation would target individuals rather than Petrobras as a company. Rousseff chaired the board of Petrobras from 2003 to 2010. (Click here)

Eike Batista's insider trading case in Brazil to test a much-criticized justice system

When it comes to insider trading in the United States, government officials have built careers on successful prosecutions. Hedge funds have been shut down, and regulators have ensnared even low-level employees who traded on confidential tips. But in Brazil, no one has ever gone to jail for insider trading. On Tuesday, however, Eike Batista, once one of the country's richest and most flamboyant men, is scheduled to defend himself in court against accusations of insider trading and stock market manipulation. Many Brazilians will be closely following the case, not only to watch Batista's fate, but also to see if the justice system can shake off its reputation for endless delays and for leniency toward those accused of white-collar crime.

Russia plans 'alternative Wikipedia'

Russia is planning an alternative version of the Wikipedia. A statement from the presidential library said the initiative aimed to provide better information about Russia than is available on Wikipedia. Analysis had shown that Wikipedia "does not have enough detailed and reliable information about Russian regions and the life of the country", it said. Some 50,000 books and documents had been collected, it said, to portray Russia "objectively and accurately". But the new site has some catching up to do - Wikipedia is the world's sixth most popular website. The Russian edition has more than one million entries. The move comes amid increasing Kremlin control of the web.

Qatar announces plans to address controversial migrant worker laws

The Qatar government on Sunday pledged to announce new labor legislation by 2015 in an effort to improve conditions for migrant workers. The Qatar labor ministry announced the initiative by stating, "we intend to effect meaningful and lasting change for the benefit of all those who live and work in Qatar." The kafala sponsorship system, which currently limits the rights of foreign workers, is to be replaced with legislation that promotes a new employment contract system. Currently, Qatar's labor force is composed of 1.2 million individuals who are mostly migrant workers. These workers under kafala law currently face issues leaving the country and changing jobs. Its reported that the new employment contract system will allow migrant workers to be able to change jobs once assignments are completed and will address issues on the ability of workers to leave the country. The announcement of the new labor laws come as Qatar begins construction for the 2022 World Cup.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The Power of Taylor Swift

Newsweek
Islamic State Claims It Has Beheaded U.S. Hostage Peter Kassig

Business Week
The music industry. Shake it up.

The Economist
The APEC summit and the Pacific rim. Bridge over troubled water

Der Spiegel
Der Dschihad-Kult. Warum deutsche Jugendliche in den "heiligen Krieg" ziehen

L'Espresso
Impresentabile Juncker. Spionaggio, conflitti d'interessi, gaffe. Ora lo scandalo delle tasse ridicole pagate dalle multinazionali nel suo Lussemburgo che potrebbe costargli la poltrona. Ecco chi è il presidente della Commissione Ue

  • Daily Press Review

Colombia talks on hold after general snatched
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Jesus: married with children? New book drops bombshell
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Warning lights for global economy - PM
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

'Battlestar Galactica' creator dies
CNN International, London, England

Jennifer Lawrence heads to a spinning class in New York
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Waitrose chief Mark Price says 'Supermarkets facing closure'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Colombia: government suspends FARC peace talks
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Burkina's former foreign minister Kafando named interim president
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

The Byzantium that is still with us
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Peter Kassig beheading video labelled an act of 'pure evil' by US President Obama
Independent The, London, England

Major Ukrainian TV provider drops Russian channels
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Winter in Iraq: Meet the Kurdish mothers struggling to keep their families alive
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, review: 'horribly contrived'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Burkina scrambles to pick interim head before sanctions deadline
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Koreans Swamped by Household Debt Learn Thrift
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Kassig beheading Obama calls ISIS act Pure evil
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Judgment highlights trauma of rape
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Okinawa elects anti-U.S. base governor, in rebuke to Abe
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from the Middle East
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

The tank that sealed the deal
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

2nd test: Pakistan vs New Zealand Scoreboard
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Shinzo Abe to make decision on econnomy steps on Tuesday: Yoshihide Suga
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

U.S. aid worker among dead in ISIS video of mass execution
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

172 people on California-bound cruise fell ill with norovirus, U.S. officials say
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

Latin America Moves Towards Decarbonising the Economy
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Japan slips into surprise recession, paves way for tax delay, snap poll
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Palestinian driver found hanged in Jerusalem bus
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Conrad Black selling part of Bridle Path property for $7.2 million
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Burkina Faso chooses interim leader
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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