December 1, 2014 nº 1,575 - Vol. 12

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."

 Woody Allen 

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  • Top News

When is a threat to kill a joke? Or art? Supreme court weighs online abuse

Free speech makes strange bedfellows. On Monday, civil liberties groups, anti-abortion lobbyists, rap scholars and animal rights groups will get their chance to press their case in the supreme court, in a case brought by a convicted criminal who threatened to kill his wife. "Did you know that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?" he wrote in one of many posts. "It's illegal. It's indirect criminal contempt. It's one of the only sentences that I'm not allowed to say." His lawyers contend he never intended actual violence and was merely sounding off during a dark period of his life. After two lower courts upheld his conviction the supreme court is being asked to decide whether Elonis's state of mind matters, as long as a "reasonable person" would feel threatened. "A standard that requires proof of the speaker's subjective intent – what he 'really' intended in his heart of hearts – for conviction of threatening another person would fail to protect victims of intimate partner violence and stalking from the real and predictable harm caused by the threats of violence they face daily," the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) said. The Elonis case comes after the supreme court declined to hear a similar case last year. In that case Franklin Delano Jeffries II, a man convicted of threatening to kill the judge in his child custody case, also used Facebook to make threats. Jeffries recorded a song, called Daughter Love, and uploaded it to YouTube and Facebook. The song contained the lines: "'Cause if I have to kill a judge or a lawyer or a woman I don't care. 'Cause this is my daughter we're talking about" and "Take my child and I'll take your life." Depending on their decision, the justices could redefine the way threats of online violence are treated. The justices will decide to what extent, if any, they want to redefine "subjective" and "objective" intents to threaten violence in a digital age. The subjective intent argument takes into account what the person was thinking and the context of the threat – whether they actually meant to carry it out. Elonis was convicted on an "objective" definition of intent with the court ruling that "a reasonable speaker would foresee the statement would be interpreted as a threat". But the law remains a battleground and the supreme court has to date avoided adding clarity.

Justice is swift as petty crimes clog courts

For the millions of Americans charged each year with misdemeanor crimes, justice can be blindingly swift. Years of aggressive policing tactics and tough-on-crime legislation have flooded the American court system with misdemeanor cases—relatively small-time crimes such as public drunkenness, loitering or petty theft. The state courts that handle such charges often resemble assembly lines where time is in short supply, according to judges and lawyers who work in the courts. Many poor defendants, despite their right to court-appointed legal counsel, don't get lawyers, and those who do often receive scant help in the rush to resolve cases. Sometimes defendants seem too eager to admit wrongdoing without consulting a lawyer. Upon questioning, it's pretty clear that they don't believe they committed a crime, yet they don't think they have any chance of being found innocent. When pressed on why they are willing to plead they reply: "'That's how it works, isn't it?" The possible consequences of a guilty plea are overwhelming, including fines, jail time, loss of a driver's license and difficulty traveling outside the US For some young defendants, a guilty plea means they will have to check the "yes" box on job applications that ask—as many do—whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. Over the past 20 years, US authorities have made more than a quarter billion arrests, and they add 12 million more each year. Crime rates have fallen sharply over that period. The arrests have left nearly one of every three American adults on file in the FBI's master criminal database. Misdemeanor charges, which typically carry fines or jail terms of less than a year, account for about 70% to 80% of criminal cases annually. Felonies such as murder, rape and armed robbery, and miscellaneous criminal traffic and appellate cases, make up the rest.

Why Supreme Court cases are marathons

The average age for a high court case is nearly six years, but 37% of cases have taken longer since 2009. In most circumstances a case can spend at least three to four years in the courts before resulting in a high-court ruling. There is no singular reason why cases hit the slow lane. Civil cases can linger because criminal matters take priority. Some appeals can proceed piecemeal before a final judgment, such as in class-action cases. Sometimes appeals courts just take a long time to rule. And because the Supreme Court only sits nine months each year, litigants can face wait times of a year to 18 months if a case doesn't land on the court's calendar at the right time. The American court system moves relatively slowly. And of course cases can take unexpected turns. Staying with a case all the way to the high court provides a rare opportunity: The chance to leave a lasting, nationwide mark on the law.

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  • Crumbs

1 - WTO Members Approve Historic Trade Deal - click here.

2 - Hohn’s Ex-Wife Gets Record $530 Million in Divorce Case-click here.

3 - France, Italy to Avoid Immediate EU Action Over Budgets  - click here.

4 - Social media told to simplify terms and conditions -click here.

5 - Malaysia proposes new anti-terror law  - click here.

6 - China Drafts Domestic Violence Law That Doesn’t Protect the Unmarried - click here.


100% Migalhas:


  • MiMIC Journal

Clashes at Hong Kong government HQ

Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy activists trying to surround government offices, in some of the worst unrest in two months of protests. The protesters want the people of Hong Kong to be allowed to choose their leaders in the 2017 elections without interference from Beijing.

Japan paper retracts 'sex slaves' term

Japan's biggest paper retracts use of the term "sex slaves" for women who worked in World War Two army brothels in a move likely to anger China and South Korea.

China drafts bank deposit insurance in move to free rates

China will start an insurance system for bank deposits, a move toward scrapping remaining controls on interest rates and allowing lenders to fail in a more market- driven economy.


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  • Brief News

European Parliament to vote on Google break-up

The European Parliament is due to vote later on a proposal to break Google's search business away from its other services. It is the latest twist in a four year antitrust investigation which has so far failed to reach a conclusion. The body has no power to break up the net giant but the vote will send out a clear message about whether politicians want regulators to take a tough line. Senior US politicians have criticized the proposal. A joint letter from two US government committees said that the way the EU is targeting US technology companies raised questions about its commitment to open markets.

France plans to recognize Palestinian state if peace talks fail

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a speech before parliament Friday stated that France would recognize a Palestinian state if international efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fails. The French Parliament will hold a symbolic vote on December 2nd on whether the government should recognize Palestine as a state. In addition, Fabius acknowledged that the French government is drafting a United Nations Security Council resolution, which if adopted would launch and conclude statehood negotiations within two years. The foreign minster did not indicate the precise time frame for full French recognition of a Palestinian state.

The history of campus sexual assault

"Male sex aggression on a university campus" was the title of one of the first studies published about a topic now very much in the news. Way back in 1957, sociologist Eugene Kanin posited a model where men used secrecy and stigma to pressure and exploit women. Today student activists and the federal government are successfully raising awareness about a problem that's been around for a very long time. By most accounts, one in five female college students will be assaulted. Gender relations have changed since the 1950s and so has the law. What's still unclear is the best approach for preventing sexual misconduct on campus. Mary Koss, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, coined the term "date rape" back in the 1980s. 7.7 percent of male students volunteered anonymously that they had engaged in or attempted forced sex. Almost none considered it to be a crime. "They would say, 'Yes, I held a woman down to have sex with her against her consent but that was definitely not rape,'" Koss says. Part of the reason that few of her respondents considered themselves sexual offenders, she said, is that they faced no negative consequences. No accusation. No shame. No punishment. Compared with when she started doing this research in the 1980s, she says, even more men in current studies, around 11 percent, admit to being perpetrators. The three "primary drivers" that enable a small minority of men to offend without consequences, are a culture of high alcohol consumption, peer pressure from other men to prove sexual prowess and men's own attitudes favoring impersonal sex. Another key factor in understanding campus sexual assault is the response, or lack thereof, by universities. Plus, unfortunately, the criminal justice system has major shortcomings as a venue for bringing sex offenders to justice. That leaves many perpetrators facing few consequences.

Rio mass wedding draws thousands

Nearly 2,000 Brazilian couples have got married at an indoors sports venue in Rio de Janeiro, in the biggest mass wedding in the city's history. The annual event, promoted by the local authorities, is aimed helping low-income couples who cannot afford to pay for a wedding. Volunteer civil judges presided over the ceremony. Couples were also blessed by a Roman Catholic bishop and a Christian evangelical pastor.

Airport raids tackle cyberthieves over ticket fraud

Europol coordinated the cyber-thieves raids at airports, targeting people who were trying to travel using a fraudulently bought ticket. In total, 118 people were arrested at 80 airports in 45 countries during the raids. Airlines lose more than $1bn a year to the trade in fraudulent tickets. The stolen credit cards also helped organised crime groups keep operating and to facilitate the drug trade and human trafficking.

Swiss reject immigration curbs

Voters in Switzerland have decisively rejected a proposal to cut net immigration to no more than 0.2% of the population. The country's 26 cantons rejected the proposal, with about 74% of people voting no in Sunday's referendum. Supporters of the measure argued that it would have reduced pressure on the country's resources. Opponents said it would have been bad for the economy. Around a quarter of Switzerland's eight million people are foreigners.

Qatari appeals court clears US pair

A Qatar appeals court clears a US couple sentenced to three years for neglecting their adopted daughter, but they are stopped from leaving the country. They went to the airport after the decision but say they were barred from leaving and their passports were taken. A post on the Facebook page for the campaign to get them released said that a travel ban remained, and that the Qatari authorities had issued a warrant for their arrest earlier on Sunday.

UN committee urges US to investigate police brutality

The UN Committee Against Torture has urged the US to begin prompt, impartial investigations into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers, and to limit the use of electrical discharge weapons. The committee expressed concern over the use of force against people of "certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBT individuals, racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities," especially in Chicago, where according to the committee, there have been reports that the Chicago Police Department has harassed, racially profiled and used excessive force on African-American and Latino youths.

UK PM threatens to leave EU if no welfare payments changes allowed

UK Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech Friday raised the possibility of the UK leaving the EU if other member state leaders block plans to restrict access to welfare payments for migrants. Cameron outlined proposed welfare reform which would block European migrants to the UK from receiving welfare payments or state housing until they have been UK residents for four years. Cameron also advocated for restricting unemployment benefits for individuals who do not have job offer before they get to Britain, and deporting migrants if they are not employed within six months.

Black Friday sales down at stores, surge online

More shopping on Thanksgiving Day diluted the Black Friday numbers somewhat, according to a ShopperTrak survey. A separate survey by IBM showed a nearly 10 percent increase in online sales.

Egyptian court drops case against ousted former president

An Egyptian court has dismissed murder charges against ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The verdict concludes Hosni Mubarak's retrial. He'd been convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2012. The verdict was overturned on appeal. In the courtroom today, people burst into cheers, but those who protested in his rule say this is a sign Egypt's revolution has been defeated. He is serving a three-year sentence on a separate corruption charge. What's unclear is whether the time that he's been in jail is time served. But he will not be serving any jail time for the deaths of those hundreds of people that were killed.

Tanzania parliament votes on PM resignation amid corruption scandal

Tanzania's parliament voted on Saturday to dismiss senior officials, including the attorney general and the minister of energy, following a report released earlier this week implicating public officials in a scandal involving fraudulent payments of public funds. Officials have also called for the resignation of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

The Price of Genius

Polio's Last Stand. 99% of polio has been eliminated, but now war and Ebola are threatening to derail the ambitious programme at the crucial moment

Business Week
Video game avenger

The Economist
Trustbusting in the internet age. Should digital monopolies be broken up?

Der Spiegel
Die Volksverdämmung. Energiewende: Wie Mieter und Hausbesitzer um Milliarden betrogen werden

Sfacio Capitale

  • Daily Press Review

Hong Kong protesters clash with police
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

GBP 15bn 'roads revolution' outlined
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Lindsey Vonn opens up about Tiger
CNN International, London, England

Billie Piper with husband Laurence Fox at London Evening Standard awards †
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Balls' mansion tax would clobber ordinary voters says Osborne: Chancellor believes proposed levy would end up being applied to lower value properties†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Moldova pro-EU parties take narrow lead in elections
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Tolerably intolerant: French far-right's tightrope walk
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

The many legends of the Hagia Sophia
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Ferguson shooting: Police criticise 'hands up don't shoot' gesture displayed by NFL players
Independent The, London, England

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

Hong Kong protesters clash with police outside government HQ, in pictures
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

John Hurt's next role is coming to a shop window near you
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Atty: Wilson resigns due to threats to department
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Direct Won-Yuan Trade Starts
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Ageing Europe needs the migrants it doesnt want
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Delhi man throws kid bro-in-law into canal
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Under new law, about 460,000 documents likely to be called 'special secrets'
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Video published on attack of slain student
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

'It's easy to get busted, bro'
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Coach says Hanyu should be fine for GP Final
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Hong Kong protesters clash with police, government HQ closes
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Uruguay election result paves way for government-run sale of marijuana
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Iraq's sectarian rifts will delay counter-offensive on Islamic State
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

Only a Few Drops of Water at the Lima Climate Summit
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

U.S. holiday weekend store sales fall on early discounts, online growth
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Hong Kong warns protesters not to return after clashes close government HQ
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Mayor-elect John Tory unveils his new team
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Huge risk of Ebola spread, warns UN
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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