November 24, 2014 nº 1,572 - Vol. 12

"Happiness is a virtue, not its reward"

 Baruch Spinoza

Insider's view: see how local concerns shape up the global world. Read the daily press review in Migalhas International

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  • Top News

When is free speech illegal?

A case before the Supreme Court over threats made on Facebook is highlighting long-standing tension between law enforcement and free-speech advocates over when threatening speech crosses a line and breaks the law. The appeal, up for arguments on Dec. 1, presents a vexing legal issue courts have long struggled to settle, and it does so when what people say can reach a bigger audience than ever before through social media. Although social-media companies have rules for managing individual speech online, the outcome could affect the leeway people have to express themselves, even darkly and violently, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites. Prosecutors have brought a string of cases alleging that serious threats posted on social media deserve jail time. Lower courts have split over whether the government must prove a person actually intended to threaten someone—or merely that a "reasonable person" would perceive that he or she did so in their online post. Free-speech advocates argue the Constitution gives people wide latitude for expression, and that a ruling allowing the "reasonable person" standard would chill legitimate speech on social media and elsewhere.

Google faces breakup call as EU political patience wanes

A European Parliament bid for legislation splitting up Google Inc. may send a message that's too loud to ignore as European Union antitrust regulators review a possible settlement with the owner of the world's largest search engine. Google, already grappling with privacy and competition issues, risks another EU headache as some lawmakers seek to follow a successful attack on bankers' bonuses with measures to break up the search giant. This represents a new escalation for Google. There's some question about whether breaking up Google would actually happen -- however it does indicate the depth and intensity of the critical antagonism and challenge that Google confronts. Read more here

EU budget judgments due as rifts widen among governments

Italy, France and Germany will face off over how to rebuild euro-area growth when the European Commission passes judgment this week on their draft budgets. Germany may come under renewed pressure to switch from savings to investment, while France and Italy will again be confronted with the gap between their economic strategies and the currency bloc's rules on fiscal discipline. On both ends of the debate, nations are likely to resist change to their own budget plans while calling on their neighbors to do more. Angela Merkel has said that consolidating government budgets is the only way to "master the crisis permanently," which limits the amount of available leeway. Italy counters that it needs room to limit the pain inflicted by the changes with the most long-term benefits. As a result, the budget rules put nations under pressure to either limp along under current policy or go to battle over how to ease the short-term impact on voters.  

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  • Crumbs

1 - Commerzbank to charge big clients for cash deposits - click here.

2 - US Senators question banks over commodities trading - click here.

3 - Alibaba, Tencent Push for More China Copyright Protection  - click here.

4 - China Starts $2 Trillion Leap Forward to Slash Pollution -click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China in call to resolve conflicts

China's defense minister says he wants to enhance dialogue to manage disputes with neighboring countries, striking a reconciliatory note.

Inheritance law needs to catch up with economic and social change

In recent weeks China's leaders have been talking up the need to enhance the rule of law. Their aim is to strengthen the Communist Party's grip on power while at the same time ensuring that justice is served more fairly. This may improve the lives of some. Many people complain bitterly that courts often pay more heed to the whims of officials than to the law. But in the realm of death, it is the law itself that is the problem. The country's statutes on inheritance remain little changed from the days when few had any property to bequeath. The rapid emergence in recent years of a large middle-class with complex property claims has been fuelling inheritance disputes. The crudity of the law is making matters worse.

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  • Brief News

Deadline day for Iran nuclear deal

Diplomats in Vienna are to make a final push for a deal on Iran's nuclear program ahead of a 23:00 GMT deadline, amid talk of an extension. World powers - the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany - want Iran to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of UN sanctions. Tehran says it is not seeking nuclear weapons, but wants atomic energy. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has arrived in Vienna, meaning the foreign ministers of all of the so-called P5+1 group are now in attendance.

US House sues Obama administration over unilateral actions on health care law

The US House of Representatives filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Treasury on Friday for the departments' alleged abuse of their executive powers through conduct promoting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House claims that certain executive branch departments have violated and continue to violate Article I of the US Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by using non-appropriated taxpayer funds to pay insurance companies to implement a program authorized by the ACA. The House estimates that these payments will cost taxpayers an estimated $3 billion at the end of the 2014 Fiscal Year, and $175 billion over the next 10 years. The House also claims that the Department of the Treasury has violated the constitution by imposing a regulation that amends ACA provisions in a way that creates mandates on employers with more than 50 employees to offer health care coverage. The House estimated that this mandate will cost taxpayers at $12 billion. House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement about the Executive Branch's unilateral actions: "If the president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution." This lawsuit has been long anticipated by the House, which passed a resolution in July authorizing Boehner to go ahead with the lawsuit.

New computer spying bug discovered

Computer security firm Symantec discovers what it says is one of the most sophisticated pieces of malicious software ever seen. The bug, named Regin, was probably created by a government and has been used for six years against a range of targets around the world. Once installed on a computer, it can do things like capture screenshots, steal passwords or recover deleted files. Experts say computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been hit most. It has been used to spy on government organizations, businesses and private individuals

Swedish appeals court reissues arrest warrant for Julian Assange

A Swedish appeals court on Thursday upheld an arrest warrant to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange about claims dealing with sexual assault. Assange has denied all the allegations behind the warrant and has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has lived since June of 2012. The Swedish appeals court issued a statement in regards to the enforcement of the warrant stating, "[i]n the view of the Court of Appeal there is no reason to set aside the detention solely because Julian Assange is in an embassy and the detention order cannot be enforced at present for that reason." A European arrest warrant has also been issued against Assange in an effort to help enforce the Swedish judiciary's efforts. Although the warrant has been issued, no charges for sexual assault have been formally filed by Sweden. Assange has expressed a fear of being extradited to the US where he faces a criminal trial for his WikiLeaks publications, and Sweden has offered no guarantee that it would not release Assange into US custody.

Pakistan court orders co-defendants be added to case against ex-president

Pakistan's Federal Shariat Court has ordered that Pakistan's government amend or re-file its complaint against former president Pervez Musharraf for treason to include the former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, law minister Zahid Hamid and judge Abdul Hameed Dogar as co-defendants. In 2007 during Musharraf's reign as president, he issued an emergency order suspending the constitution and parliament, and fired judges who ruled his actions to be unconstitutional. Musharraf was indicted on charges of high treason in March for his role in suspending the constitution. In its order the court expressed particular concern with the failure of the Federal Investigation Agency to investigate other possible defendants when evidence uncovered during the course of the investigation connected others to the emergency action. The prosecution has expressed an intention to appeal the order, citing the already lengthy delays in Musharraf's trial.

Brazil to announce budget cuts with new economic team

Dilma Rousseff's new, still unconfirmed economic team is preparing budget cuts for 2015 that will be announced this week. The amount for the proposed cuts is not yet known; the measures would be unveiled along with the names of Rousseff's new finance minister and other cabinet members. It is anticipated that Rousseff will appoint Joaquim Levy, head of the asset management arm of Brazil's second-largest private bank Bradesco SA, in a bid to regain investor confidence and revive economic growth. The confirmations, which were expected last week, were delayed in order to give Congress time to pass a law allowing the country to miss its 2014 primary surplus target and give the new economic team a fresh start. A sharp deterioration of Brazil's finances under Rousseff has put the once-booming economy in the sights of rating agencies and eroded investor confidence in the country.

Global business confidence at five-year low

Global business confidence slipped to five-year low in October, according to a survey of 6,100 companies. The number of firms that expect business activity to be higher in the year ahead exceeded those that expected a decline by about 28%. But, that net balance was lower than 39% in June and the lowest since the Markit Global Business Outlook Survey began in 2009. Hiring and investment plans also dipped to post financial crisis lows.

Google case over online abuse to begin in High Court

The case of a UK businessman who wants Google to stop malicious web postings about him appearing in its search results is set to begin. Daniel Hegglin says he has been wrongly called a murderer, a pedophile and a Ku Klux Klan sympathizer during a malicious online campaign against him. He wants Google to block the anonymous posts from its search engine results. Google asked him to provide a list of web links to be removed, but High Court judges will rule if it should do more.

Uber to be regulated by Singapore

Singapore plans to regulate third-party taxi booking apps such as Uber by capping fees and limiting them to use only licensed vehicles and drivers. Operators such as Uber and GrabTaxi will now have to register with the country's Land Transport Authority. Under the regulations, fees charged by the booking apps cannot exceed those of regular taxi companies. Wealthy city-state Singapore is among the most expensive places in the world to own a car, with many commuters relying on taxis to get around. The popularity of taxi booking services has surged in the city of nearly 5.4 million people, especially during peak business hours.

Japan prime minister dissolves parliament before election

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved the lower house of parliament, enabling an early election to see how the public views his struggling economic policies. Abe had called for the election to be held on December 14.

Investigation finds no fault by Obama administration in responding to Benghazi attacks

The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Friday released a report stating that the Obama administration properly responded to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The committee, which is led by Republicans, concluded that there was no failure of intelligence and no delay in sending a rescue team.

Alibaba's finance arm, Ant Financial, is a mystery to most investors

Alibaba's finance arm is one of the secrets of the Chinese e-commerce group's success. Yet investors in the listed Alibaba Group don't control a single share of the business, and can't reliably estimate its worth. That puts them at a disadvantage to a select group of insiders with a seat on both sides of the table. The business, which was recently renamed Ant Financial, houses the Alipay payment processing system and a controlling stake in the money market fund management firm Tianhong. It plans to take on Alibaba's portfolio of loans to small companies, and even start a bank. Alipay makes up much of the business. It gets a commission of around 0.18 percent on every dollar it processes on Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao marketplaces. That might sound small. But Alipay's significance for Alibaba is huge. Despite this interdependence, the listed group doesn't own Ant Financial. Instead, it gets 37.5 percent of the financial unit's pretax profit, plus 2.5 percent of the value of its outstanding loans each year. In the 12 months ended in June , Alipay contributed 9.4 percent of Alibaba's total operating profit. And if Ant Financial is sold or lists on the stock market, Alibaba gets a payout of up to 37.5 percent of its value. What would that stake be worth? At this point, the fog descends. 

Sports gambling law in New Jersey barred by US judge

A federal judge barred New Jersey from implementing a law backed by Governor Chris Christie that would allow betting on professional sports at casinos and racetracks, prompting the state to pursue an appeal. The law, signed Oct. 17, violates a 22-year-old federal statute that bans sports betting in all but Nevada and three other states, US District Judge Michael Shipp in Trenton ruled yesterday. The National Football League and four other sports organizations sued to block the new law.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The Price of Genius. The 25 Best Inventions of 2014

Newsweek
Global Conflicts Create Record Numbers Missing

Business Week
Cash is for losers

The Economist
Russia. A wounded economy

Der Spiegel
Kalte Krieger. Am Nullpunkt

L'Espresso
Guerre tra poveri

  • Daily Press Review

Morocco flash flood leaves dozens dead
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Amr Moussa Considers Election Boycott
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

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

Ransom ban among anti-terror measures
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Graham hits Benghazi report
CNN International, London, England

Stevi Ritchie bids X Factor audience farewell as judges vote him off the show
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Two men suffer serious injuries after gas explosion rips the side off two-storey building in Birmingham
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Cleveland police face inquiry after 12-year-old boy fatally shot
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Extension of Iran nuclear talks likely as deadline looms
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

'Atatürk's mansion had billiard table,' says Turkish minister in defense of new presidential palace
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Tamir Rice: Boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
Independent The, London, England

911 caller: 12-year-old boy shot by US police probably had a 'fake' gun
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Bill Cosby: 'fixer' claims he paid off women amid multiple allegations of sexual assault
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Ko, Lien battle it out over final weekend
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Women to Outnumber Men Next Year as Korea Ages
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Shit hits the roof Exploding excrement topples building in China
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Indore woman gets lifer for killing hubby over domestic issue
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Magnitude-6.7 quake injures at least 41 in Nagano
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Swiss museum deciding on Gurlitt art trove
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Effect of your 'ecstasy years'
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Syngenta, Swiss agribusiness, targets 1,800 jobs
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Fear for Afghan women's rights as troops withdraw
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Pope's choice to probe priestly child abuse failed to report allegations against priest
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Is this America's most fractious divide?
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

To Fight Inequality, Latin America Needs Transparency...and More
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

GSK shareholders to vote on Novartis deal on Dec. 18
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Bangladesh ex-ruling party leader gets death for war crimes
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Toronto Zoo revenues down $8.3 million despite pandas' arrival
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

'Boko Haram' kills Nigeria fishermen
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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