January 9, 2017 nº 1,824 - Vol. 14

"Si me muero, le perdono; si me alivio, ya veremos.
If I die, I forgive you; if I recover, we shall see."

Spanish proverb

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  • Top News

Obama pens law review article on criminal justice challenges

Obama returned to his roots at the Harvard Law Review on Thursday, penning an article about progress his administration made in reforming the criminal justice system — and the challenges that remain for the next administration. His commentary, "The President's Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform," addresses how presidents can exert influence over the criminal justice system, and how those who serve the president have a responsibility to translate that vision into practical results. "How we treat citizens who make mistakes (even serious mistakes), pay their debt to society, and deserve a second chance reflects who we are as a people and reveals a lot about our character and commitment to our founding principles," Obama writes. "And how we police our communities and the kinds of problems we ask our criminal justice system to solve can have a profound impact on the extent of trust in law enforcement and significant implications for public safety." In 1990, Obama was named the Harvard Law Review's first black president. The review was founded in 1887.

Labor Department sues Google over fair compensation audit

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is under the US Department of Labor, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Google over the company's refusal to provide requested items related to their compensation policies. Google is under an Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions contract with the federal government. Part of that contract includes an equal employment opportunity clause. On September 30, 2015, Google was selected through a neutral selection process to undergo a compliance evaluation. On June 1, 2016, the OFCCP requested a compensation snapshot of September 2014 names, contact information, and job and salary history for employees in the September 2014 snapshot and the September 2015 snapshot. The September 2015 snapshot was previously given by Google. On June 17, 2016, Google notified OFCCP that they would not provide these requested items. OFCCP is requesting that the court require Google to supply the requested items and allow them to complete their compliance review. In the event that Google does not provide the requested items, OFCCP is requesting the cancellation of all federal government contracts with Google and disallowing Google from being awarded any future government contracts until it shows OFCCP that Google complies with the equal opportunity provisions. OFCCP also is requesting "any other relief as justice may require." Google has stated that the requested data includes thousands of employees' private contact information that Google safeguards. (Click here)

Law enforcement, privacy advocates grapple with brave new world of AI assistants

Alexa, the voice assistant built into the Amazon Echo, is one of many artificially intelligent personal assistants being deployed by technology companies to help consumers manage their homes and schedules. Amazon's gadget, which is quickly emerging as a strong rival to Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant, was a big hit at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Yet as a recent murder case illustrates, AI assistants are creating thorny legal and privacy questions that legal and cybersecurity experts are scrambling to understand. Because virtual assistants rely on microphones that, in some cases, may be continuously recording and sending information, that trove of information creates a delicate balance between law enforcement requests, corporate strategy and individual privacy rights. In 2015, an Arkansas man was found dead in a hot tub, and investigators issued a warrant to Amazon, requesting the company turn over audio recordings and information captured by an Echo smart speaker owned by the suspect. Although the internet retailer declined to give authorities the requested information, at least a few experts say the case may be a foreshadowing of things to come. That is because the convenience of voice-activated devices, which passively listen for a "hot word" or a "wake word" in order to activate, may come at a cost of individual privacy. In order to function, the device must constantly record and process all sound all the time, hoping to pick up on the wake word. A big part of the onus lies on the companies manufacturing the technology, explained Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney with the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview. "We can still insist that these companies protect our privacy when the government comes for that data," he said.

  • Crumbs

1 - FBI arrests Volkswagen executive on fraud charges - click here.

2 - BMW 'absolutely committed' to a new Mexican plant - click here.

3 - Trump Organization cancels business talks in 3 countries - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

China president plans to strengthen anti-corruption campaign

China's President Xi Jinping declared on Friday that the nation's battle against corruption "must go deeper," stressing the need for the Communist Party to be governed "systematically, creatively and efficiently."

McDonald's agrees China franchise sale

McDonald's has agreed to sell 80% of its business in China and Hong Kong, as part of plans to franchise more of its restaurants worldwide. China's state-owned investment group Citic, and US private equity firm Carlyle Group, will take control of the operations in a deal valued at $2.1bn. McDonald's owns and operates about 65% of its 2,000 China outlets. Franchising allows it to take a slice of sales while cutting operating costs. McDonald's is trying to streamline its global operations, and changing its ownership structure to revolve more around franchises is a major part of that revamp. (Click here)

China warns US on Taiwan leader's stopover

Chinese state media has warned the US against deviating from the one-China policy, hours after the Taiwanese leader stopped briefly in Houston. Tsai Ing-wen met Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott during her stopover en route to Central America. But a spokeswoman for Trump said on Saturday neither he nor his team would meet Tsai.


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  • Brief News

US presidency is not a family business, says Obama

Obama says he has advised his successor Donald Trump not to attempt to run the White House "the way you would manage a family business". He said that Trump must "respect" US institutions. "After you have been sworn in," he said, "you are now in charge of the largest organization on Earth". He warned that there was a difference between governing and campaigning. "There are world capitals and financial markets and people all around the world who take really seriously what he says," Obama said.

The end of the world? In Brazil, it's already here

An unelected president is pushing through a sweeping austerity program that will harm Brazil’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens for decades to come. The consequences of the budget amendment look disastrous; it will impose a 20-year cap on all federal spending, including education, health care, and social security, thus putting an entire generation at risk of social protection standards well below those currently in place. The government justified the measure on the grounds that Brazil faces severe budget shortfalls. Nevertheless, the new government has already received full support from the following organizations: Brazilian Federation of Banks, the Agricultural Parliamentary Front, National Confederation of Industry, the World Trade Organization, the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo, Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry, National Federation of Motor Vehicle Distributors and several top executives. For some Brazilians, at least, the end of the world is the beginning of a golden opportunity.

Putin ordered 'influence campaign' to help Trump, US intelligence report says

The public version of the intelligence report on the investigation into Russia's interference in the US elections concludes that Russia "aspired to help" Trump's election chances when possible.

Slow progress for women and minorities at law firms

Women and minorities made small and slow gains in numbers at major American law firms last year, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Larger firms achieved more diversity than smaller firms. However, the "incredibly slow pace of change continues to be discouraging." The increase in minority lawyers was linked to a greater number of Asian lawyers in associate ranks. The proportion of Hispanic lawyers also edged up. These levels of representation did, however, evaporated when it came to permanent jobs, indicating that law firms still struggled to retain and promote them.

Leading the S.E.C.

The deal-making president-elect has nominated another deal maker to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. The nomination of Walter J. Clayton, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, indicates that Donald J. Trump's administration is likely to emphasize helping companies raise capital rather than tighten regulations. Clayton, who is known as Jay, had a front-row seat to the financial crisis, advising Barclays Capital in buying the assets of the bankrupt lender Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns in its fire sale to JPMorgan Chase. His colleague, H. Rodgin Cohen, withdrew his name from consideration for a senior Treasury role in 2009 amid an outcry over his involvement in nearly all the bank deals struck during the financial crisis. Clayton is expected to face similar scrutiny on his confirmation. Sullivan & Cromwell has also been the go-to law firm for Goldman Sachs, which Clayton advised on a $5 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway. This is likely to fuel criticism that Goldman Sachs wields too much influence in the administration.

UK cannot keep 'bits' of EU membership

The UK cannot expect to hold on to "bits" of its membership after leaving the EU, Theresa May has said. The prime minister's comment came after she was asked whether she would "prioritize" controlling immigration over staying in the single market. She said her approach was not "muddled". May, whose critics have demanded more detail of her aims, promised to provide this in "the coming weeks".

Coca-Cola sued for tobacco-like ads

A lawsuit has been sued by activists who are comparing the beverage giant's advertising tactics to the tobacco industry's past efforts in minimizing the health effects of its products and targeting children to replenish the ranks of its customers.

France thwarts 24,000 cyber-attacks against defense targets

France says it was the subject of 24,000 cyber-attacks against defense targets last year. Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said such attacks were doubling every year and this year's presidential elections could be targeted. He said it would be "naive" to think France was immune to the type of cyber-campaign that targeted the US election, which has been blamed on Russia.

UN: interruption of water supply in Syria a war crime

General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland on Thursday stated that the interruption of water that has left millions of Syrians without clean access to water constitutes a war crime.

Venezuela minimum wage to rise by 50% 'to combat inflation'

Venezuela's government has announced a 50% increase in the minimum wage and pensions amid runaway inflation. President Nicolas Maduro says the move will protect jobs and incomes. Critics say it may worsen the crisis. The opposition accuses Maduro of mismanaging oil-rich Venezuela's crumbling economy. But he says he faces an economic war by political foes and hostile businessmen.

US tanks arrive in Germany to help Nato defences

The largest shipment of US brigades since the fall of the Soviet Union is arriving in northern Germany. The first of the 87 tanks and 144 military vehicles were being unloaded in the port of Bremerhaven on Friday. The equipment and 3,500 US troops are to be deployed along Nato's eastern frontier. The deployment aims to allay worries of potential Russian aggression in eastern Europe. However, some fear the large number will exacerbate tensions with Moscow.

UN announces plan to create high-level task force on sexual exploitation and abuse

The UN announced plans on Friday to create a high-level task force to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. The task force is to develop a "clear, game-changing strategy to achieve visible and measurable further improvement." It will include members who currently hold various positions throughout the UN.

Frontier Airlines is said to hire banks to plan stock debut

The airline, which offers low prices with legroom to match, is preparing an initial public offering, and aims to raise $500 million at a valuation of about $2 billion.

Bitcoin soars

If a country's currency loses its value or the government has removed the largest cash notes from circulation, where does one turn? With countries veering closer to isolationism and raising the likelihood of new barriers, where can one go to move money between borders with little oversight? Some appear to have taken refuge in Bitcoin. That has helped push the digital currency's price to a peak last seen in 2013. One Bitcoin was going for about $1,025 on Tuesday — about 140 percent more than it cost at the beginning of 2016. Most of the people buying and selling Bitcoin are still from China — wealthy citizens have used it to evade government controls on moving money in and out of the country, Bitcoin specialists say. And the heavy trading on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges suggests that there are plenty of bets from speculators, likely forecasting how the virtual currency might one day be used.

Missouri law makes school harassment a felony

Students in Missouri who bully others at school could face criminal charges under a new state law that considers the infliction of "emotional distress" a felony. Educators worry that the new definition of harassment as a crime — part of a broader overhaul of Missouri's criminal code — could draw police and the courts into situations that are commonly considered school disciplinary matters. That, in turn, could lead to more students facing serious legal repercussions, and even jail time, for school misconduct.

Law firms' accounts pose money-laundering risk

Citing attorney-client privilege, US law firms keep secret the owners of money that moves into and out of their pooled accounts, a money-laundering vulnerability that US prosecutors say was exploited in a multibillion-dollar fraud at Malaysian state fund 1MDB.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Botox: The Drug That's Treating Everythin

Ex-President Rafsanjani's Death A Blow To Moderates In Iran

Business Week
Is Emirates Airline Running Out of Sky?

The Economist
The future of liberalism. How to make sense of 2016. Liberals lost most of the arguments this year. They should not feel defeated so much as invigorated

Der Spiegel
Bedingt Wehrhaft: wie die Demokratie ihre Burger schutzen kann

Bomba Italia


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