July 21, 2017 nº 1.887 - Vol. 14

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”

Orson Scott Card

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  • Top News

Trump is mobilizing for war against the rule of law

The legal conflict between Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is escalating rapidly. New reports in the Washington Post and New York Times are clear signals that Trump is contemplating steps – firing Mueller or issuing mass pardons – that would seem to go beyond the pale. Except Trump’s entire career is beyond the pale, and in his time on the political stage, the unthinkable has become thinkable with regularity. Trump’s actions are best understood in the context of the overwhelming likelihood he, his family members, and at least some of his associates are guilty of serious crimes. The investigation might not produce proof of criminal collusion with Russia’s illegal hacking of Democratic emails. (Though reasonable grounds for suspicion already exists in abundance.)

Puerto Rico’s bondholders file first suit against Uncle Sam

Hedge funds holding Puerto Rico bonds sued the US government, the first time creditors have tried to put federal taxpayers on the hook for losses suffered in the island’s debt crisis.

UK and EU engage on citizens’ rights

After the second round of Brexit talks between UK and EU representatives, officials said differences are narrowing on future rights of EU citizens in Britain, but the big question of whose courts enforce any deal looms unsolved.

  • Crumbs

1- Uber Discriminates Against Riders With Disabilities, Suit Says. (Click here)

2- Madonna successfully halts auction of breakup letter from Tupac. (Click here)

3- Do-over: 1 in 8 people who voted for Trump want to change their vote. (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

Dalian Wanda $9.3bn deal in 'crazy' restructuring

One of China's biggest ever property deals is being restructured, less than a week after it was announced. Dalian Wanda had said it was selling 13 tourism projects - including three theme parks - and 77 hotels to developer Sunac for $9.3bn. But now the deal is being split, with another firm, Guangzhou R&F Properties, taking on the hotels. One analyst described the restructuring of the deal as "very unusual" and "kind of crazy".

New agreement will allow US rice exports to China

China has agreed to allow imports of rice from the US for the first time. The agreement gives US farmers access to the world's biggest rice consumer, with China importing about 5 million tonnes last year. It follows trade talks between the two countries that resulted in little progress on other issues. While China opened its rice market in 2001, a lack of protocols on pests and plant diseases effectively stopped imports taking place.

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  • Brief News

Poland Parliament votes for judicial reforms

Poland's lower house of parliament has voted through controversial new reforms which will see all Supreme Court judges removed and replaced. The Law and Justice Party say it will make the judicial system more effective and able to fight against corruption. But critics say it is a threat to the rule of law, placing control of the judiciary in the hands of politicians. Donald Tusk, European Council President and former Polish prime minister, said the changes are "backward".

DOJ revives provision of civil asset forfeiture program

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday that it is reviving a provision of the federal civil asset forfeiture program, which was suspended in September 2015. The DOJ is reviving a portion of this program in response to President Donald Trump's order to reduce crime because asset forfeiture diminishes organized crime. Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the changes to the program that will help better protect law-abiding citizens. Any state or local law enforcement agency must provide sufficient evidence of criminal activity before asset seizure is permitted. One safeguard to ensure the evidence standard is met is the "Request for Adoption of State and Local Seizure" form, which requires the law enforcement agency to provide additional evidence supporting probable cause before seizure is permitted. The policy directive notes that additional safeguards may also be placed on the adoption of cash amounts equal to or less than $10,000.

What the decline of the dollar means

The exchange rate is a price — the price of money. When the price of milk goes down, that is good for families and bad for dairy farmers. When gas prices fall, commuters are happy and Exxon Mobil is sad. When the dollar drops, there are also winners and losers. The winners are American companies that sell goods and services to foreigners — manufacturers like Caterpillar; tourist attractions like Disney World; technology companies like Facebook — because those customers can exchange their currencies for more dollars. The losers are American consumers who now must pay more dollars to obtain foreign goods and services. Of course, many Americans are in both categories. They may benefit at work and suffer at the supermarket. Why is the dollar losing value? The dollar strengthened after the presidential election because investors expected Trump and congressional Republicans to increase domestic growth by fulfilling campaign promises to cut taxes and reduce regulations, among other measures. The reversal of those gains reflects diminished confidence that Trump will be able to deliver.

Two leading online black markets are shut down by authorities

The authorities took control of one large site, Hansa Market, and covertly operated it to catch refugees fleeing the closing of the largest market, AlphaBay.

Lula has assets frozen

A Brazilian judge has ordered assets belonging to the country's former President Lula, to be frozen following his conviction for corruption. Judge Sergio Moro said nearly $200,000 found in Lula's bank accounts would be blocked. Appartments, land and cars owned by Lula are also covered by the order. Lula denies the charges, saying they are politically motivated. He intends to stand for election next year. He is currently the leading candidate for the presidential elections.

ExxonMobil fined by US for Ukraine sanctions violations

US authorities have fined Exxon Mobil $2m for violating sanctions against Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was its chief executive. Exxon dealt with Igor Sechin, the president of Russian oil giant Rosneft, who was blacklisted, the US Treasury Department said. Exxon has challenged the finding, calling it "fundamentally unfair". The US imposed sanctions against Russia in March 2014 as Russia annexed Crimea and tension rose in Ukraine. In April 2014, the US added Sechin to the list of people blocked under the rules.

Deadly clashes as millions join strike in Venezuela

Millions of Venezuelans have joined a general strike called by the opposition as pressure mounts on President Nicolás Maduro to cancel elections for a new constituent assembly. Clashes between police and protesters killed at least three people. More than 300 others were reportedly arrested. Maduro said the strike was minimal and that its leaders would be arrested. Since April, when opposition protests intensified, almost 100 people have died across the country. The opposition said that 85% of the country joined the strike.

Trump legal team spokesman Mark Corallo resigns

The spokesman for US President Donald Trump's personal legal team has resigned. Mark Corallo was a spokesman for Marc Kasowitz, who is defending Trump in an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in last year's election. Reports said that Corallo disagreed with the alleged strategy of Trump's lawyers to discredit or limit the team directing the investigation. There has been no comment from him or the Trump team.

Germany warns citizens of Turkey risks amid arrests

The German government has warned its citizens and firms they face the risk of "arbitrary" arrest in Turkey. "People who are travelling to Turkey for private or business reasons are urged to exercise increased caution," the German foreign ministry said. Firms face investment risks in Turkey because of Turkish legal deficiencies, the ministry said. Turkey reacted angrily, saying Germany had a "one-sided, distorted approach" that was "unacceptable".

Goldman urges government to make Brexit transition deal

A "significant" Brexit transitional period needs to be agreed as soon as possible, to stop jobs being moved from the UK to Europe, according to the boss of Goldman Sachs International. CEO Richard Gnodde said he was spending money "every single day" on contingency plans for Brexit. The plans involve taking on more staff in Goldman's European offices to serve EU customers post-Brexit. If a transitional deal was in place he could save that money, Mr Gnodde said. Goldman Sachs employs 6,500 people in the UK.

ICC orders Gbagbo's continued detention pending trial chamber's review

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday reversed the Trial Chamber's "Decision on Laurent Gbagbo Detention," thereby ordering continued detention until the Trial Chamber carries out a new review of his release. As the former Ivory Coast president, Gbagbo has been detained since 2011 and currently faces charges for crimes against humanity. Gbagbo appealed the Trial Chamber's decision to deny his request for release. The Appeals Chamber said the lower court failed to consider several factors before refusing to release Gbagbo.

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