November 22, 2017 nº 1,923 - Vol. 14

"Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess."

Oscar Wilde

Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at la.migalhas.com

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  • Top News

FCC unveils plan to repeal net neutrality rules

Federal regulators are on track to loosen regulations of cable and telecom companies. The Federal Communications Commission will vote Dec. 14 on a plan to undo the landmark 2015 rules that had placed Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon under the strictest-ever regulatory oversight. The vote is expected to repeal so-called net neutrality rules, which prevent broadband companies from slowing down or blocking any sites or apps, or otherwise deciding what content gets to users faster. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday said his repeal proposal would "stop micromanaging the Internet." Instead his plan would require Internet providers to disclose what exactly they're doing – for example, whether they allow some websites or apps to pay extra for faster streaming. This would essentially shift the enforcement of net neutrality to the Federal Trade Commission, which polices violators rather than pre-empts the violations in the first place. The five-member FCC has a Republican majority, including Pai, suggesting that his plan — called "The Restoring Internet Freedom Order" — will pass. As with various iterations of the rules over the past decade, the rules would likely face a lawsuit. The 2015 rules were the first version to be upheld in court in full. Telecom and cable companies have long argued that the FCC's attempts to regulate privacy and Internet behavior put them on an unequal footing with other Internet companies that collect data on users, like Google and Netflix, which are only overseen by the FTC. Pai's plan would put more power in the hands of Internet providers "to dictate people's online experiences".

Patent 'trolls' recede as threat to innovation. Will Justices change that?

Created to keep invalid claims from hurting companies, consumers and the economy, a government panel faces an existential threat in a case before the Supreme Court. The benefits of stopping bad patents from snaking their way through the economy have been even greater. Companies no longer have to pay ransom so the threat of lawsuits over dubious royalty payments — filed by aggressive litigants known as trolls — will go away. Consumers no longer have to pay for bogus intellectual property covering, say, a method to take their pills. The appeal board has rejected questionable patent claims over technology to clean up polluted groundwater and wastewater, over podcasting, and over a system that Los Angeles wanted to introduce that looks a lot like E-ZPass. "It probably hasn't made patent trolls go away, but it's changed their demands," noted Mark Lemley, a law professor at Stanford University. "Now they sue and ask for $50,000 rather than sue and ask for $1 million." After years of aggressive intellectual-property claims, experts argue that the new panel is helping to push patent law in a much-needed direction: to relax its stifling effects on the economy.

  • Crumb

1 - Paris wins battle to host European banking regulator. (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China jails prominent human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong

A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer has been jailed for two years, the latest conviction in Beijing's crackdown on rights activists.

Two Boeing 747 jumbo jets sold in China Taobao auction

Two Boeing 747 planes have been sold on the Chinese e-shopping website Taobao for more than 320m yuan ($ 48m). The jumbo jets are from a defunct cargo company and the court handling the bankruptcy had been trying to sell them for years. Taobao is an online auction website similar to eBay, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The planes have been in storage in the cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen since 2013, after their owner, Jade Cargo International, filed for bankruptcy in September that year. They were seized by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen which since then had been looking for a buyer.

Chinese carmaker Trumpchi mulls less political name

The name Trump is familiar to all Americans, but the name Trumpchi might not be. Although it sounds eerily similar to the name of a certain sitting US president, it's actually a Chinese car-maker that hopes to start selling to American drivers in 2019. The name, it insists, is merely a coincidence, and dates from 2010, well before Donald Trump embarked on his presidential campaign. However, it's reported to be considering a rebrand for the US market, to something that sounds less political to American ears.

U.S. bribery case sheds light on mysterious Chinese company

A Justice Department complaint alleges that a vast private Chinese conglomerate used commercial and diplomatic channels to bribe African officials and win contracts.

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  • Historias Verdaderas

Panamá Paper's

Un año después de la revelación de los Panama Papers, el MP de Perú decidió dar inició a una investigación contra la firma legal Mossack Fonseca de Panamá y su delegación en el Perú, al considerarla una organización criminal dedicada al lavado de dinero. La indagación incluye a 46 sociedades offshore en los paraísos fiscales del Caribe, África y EE.UU., y a 28 personas, entre ellas a compradores de oro sospechoso y a operadores de la pesca ilegal; empresarios madereros y pesqueros; responsables de estafas millonarias. (Presione aquí)

Sigilo

El BC de Brasil decidió mantener en sigilo por cinco años la mayor parte de las informaciones que reciba de instituciones financieras que reconozcan infracciones y acepten colaborar con investigaciones conducidas por esta entidad. La medida es parte de la ley que autoriza al banco central a negociar acuerdos de este tipo con infractores determina que ellos sean divulgados por la institución en internet en máximo cinco días después de la firma de un acuerdo. La ley de Acceso a la Información permite que datos clasificados como reservados se queden en secreto por cinco años sin posibilidad de prorrogación.

Energía

La compañía energética española Gas Natural Fenosa ha anunciado la venta al fondo canadiense Brookfield de su participación del 59,1% en la empresa colombiana Gas Natural SA ESP, que comercializa y distribuye gas al por menor. La operación asciende a 482 mlls. de euros. La firma estima que la "transacción tendrá un impacto contable positivo en el resultado después de impuestos de aproximadamente 350 mlls.de euros en el ejercicio 2017".

  • Brief News

Uber concealed huge data breach

Uber concealed a hack that affected 57 million customers and drivers, the company has confirmed. The 2016 breach was hidden by the ride-sharing firm which paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data. The company's former chief executive Travis Kalanick knew about the breach over a year ago, according to Bloomberg, which first broke the news. The hackers found 57 million names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers, Uber said. Within that number, 600,000 drivers had their names and license details exposed. A resource page for those affected has been set up. Drivers have been offered free credit monitoring protection, but per Uber's statement, affected customers will not be given the same. "While we have not seen evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident, we are monitoring the affected accounts and have flagged them for additional fraud protection," Uber's CEO said. (Click here)

US moves to block AT&T's takeover of Time Warner

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to block telecoms giant AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, the owner of CNN and HBO.The department said the merger would reduce competition and lead to higher consumer prices. AT&T vowed to fight the move, calling it a radical departure from US competition practice. Trump objected to the deal during his campaign last year, fueling the controversy. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said he thought the acquisition had been on a good path "until recently". (Click here)

ICC requests authorization to investigate US involvement in Afghanistan war crimes

International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made a formal request on Monday to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by U.S. military and the CIA. The proposed investigation focuses on alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan by the U.S. military in May 2003, in addition to crimes at secret CIA detention facilities in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania since July 2002. The allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity against both U.S. military and CIA personnel are brought under articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute and include murder, unlawful imprisonment, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and using, conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years.

US imposes fresh sanctions over North Korea

The US has unveiled fresh sanctions against North Korea which it says are designed to stop its funding of nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The measures target North Korean shipping operations and Chinese companies that trade with Pyongyang. It comes a day after Trump re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The North is already subject to a raft of sanctions from the US, the UN and the EU. The US has been imposing sanctions on Pyongyang since 2008, freezing the assets of individuals and companies linked to its nuclear program and banning the exports of goods and services to the country.

UK 'ready to pay more for Brexit'

Brexit supporters in the cabinet have agreed the UK should offer to pay more money to the EU as it leaves. But no formal offer will be made until the EU agrees to begin talking about a new trade deal with the UK. No new figure has been given - but it is thought it could be up to £40bn, which would be double what the UK's offers so far add up to. The UK and the EU have yet to agree on the so-called "divorce bill" with the UK due to leave the EU in March 2019.

Ikea US relaunches furniture recall after child dies

Ikea has re-launched a recall of millions of chests and dressers in the US and Canada following the death of an eighth child. It said items in its Malm range and other chests and dressers pose a "serious tip-over and entrapment hazard" if not secured to a wall, Widespread criticism spurred the company to add China to the recall last year. However, it has not made announcements in other countries. Ikea said it meets "mandatory stability standards" in all markets and that the products remain safe if secured to a wall, as recommended. A spokeswoman for Ikea said: "We don't believe a global recall from IKEA would be the solution. Instead, we are convinced that we can make a difference by raising awareness among consumers of the tip-over risks and how to prevent them through the global Secure it! campaign."

Germany's Merkel: new elections preferable to minority government

The chancellor says she's "very skeptical" of forming a minority government, something that hasn't happened in nearly 70 years. New elections are the better option, she says. (Click here)

Justice Department threatens to sue Harvard in admissions probe

The investigation is looking into claims that its admissions policies discriminate against white and Asian-American applicants by holding them to higher standards than black and Latino applicants. (Click here)

What the industry knew about sugar's health effects, but didn't tell us

The sugar industry pulled the plug on an animal study it funded in the 1960s. Initial results pointed to a link between sugar consumption and elevated triglycerides, which raises heart disease risk.

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to put injunction on hold in travel ban dispute

The Trump administration on Monday asked the US Supreme Court to stay a district court order preventing enforcement of Trump's revised travel ban pending the outcome of an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The travel ban was partially enjoined last week by the Ninth Circuit which allowed only a partial ban to take effect.

Sweden Supreme Court rules against growing marijuana to self-medicate

Supreme Court ruled it is illegal to grow cannabis to self-medicate. Anders Thörn broke his neck in a motorcycle accident in 1994 and was paralyzed from the waist down. Medical treatment did not help his injuries, so he started growing cannabis in his laundry room. In 2015, he was prosecuted and cleared by the district court in Västerås, which determined he was in an emergency situation and was allowed to grow cannabis to self-medicate. The case was appealed up to the Supreme Court. (Click here)

Rule of law in UK at risk after Brexit, says former supreme court president

The legal implications of leaving the EU have not been thought through, could overwhelm the supreme court and endanger the independence of the British judiciary, four senior retired judges have warned. Giving evidence to a parliamentary select committee, Lord Thomas, Lord Neuberger, Lord Hope and Sir Konrad Schiemann signaled reservations about the difficulties of preserving the rule of law after Brexit. All four stressed that while many arrangements had not yet been finalized it was difficult to be sure how the courts would cooperate with EU judges and legal systems in the future.

Law firm Sedgwick to close in January

Law firm Sedgwick LLP is closing its doors after nearly 85 years in business, the latest firm to succumb to increasing competition in the legal market.

Bitcoin is creeping into real estate deals

The real-estate industry is taking its first steps in adopting cryptocurrencies and the technology that backs them in what could eventually produce important changes in the way property is bought and sold.

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