August 4, 2014 nº 1,526 - Vol. 12

"Les vertus se perdent dans l'intérêt, comme les fleuves se perdent dans la mer."
"Virtues are lost in self-interest as rivers are lost in the sea."

La Rochefoucauld (*)

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  • Top News

NEW 

'A Bela Viagem' by Synésio Sampio Goes Filho, published by Editora Migalhas, invites us to wonder about love, work, friendship, beliefs and disbeliefs man ever; and many other topics that get forgotten in the whirlwind of life. Drawing on his tremendous cultural baggage, packed around the world, Goes Filho presents a collection of indispensable quotes by Shakespeare, Millôr Fernandes, Drummond, Montaigne, Pascal, Nietzsche, Fernando Pessoa ... , and also de Gaulle, Churchill and Pope Benedict XVI, along with his unique insight, humor and gentleness of spirit. This diary of sentences, phrases and aphorisms is surely to make you think and feel, maybe even cry and laugh! Migalhas, the editor, is launching the book on August 11 at 11AM at the Circolo Italiano, Sao Paolo in Brazil. (Click here)

* quoted in 'A Bela Viagem' by Synésio Sampio Goes Filho, Editora Migalhas, 2014 p. 233

Events to commemorate start of WW1

The world will begin a mammoth series of commemoration ceremonies on Monday to mark the centenary of the start of WWI. World leaders are gathering in Belgium for one of a number of commemorations marking 100 years since Britain joined World War One. "It is right to remember the extraordinary sacrifice of a generation and we are all indebted to them because their most enduring legacy is our liberty." It was the most destructive war that had ever been fought. One hundred years on, a consensus among historians and politicians as to why it broke out remains elusive. But there is consensus about the human cost and the human sacrifice which will be commemorated across Europe. Ten million soldiers were killed or died of their injuries on countless battlefields. We owe them gratitude.

House Republicans pass $694m border bill

A bill to strengthen the US border with Mexico amid a surge in arrivals from Central America has been passed by the House of Representatives. The $694m bill would deploy National Guard troops at the southern border and speed up deportations. Obama, who asked for $3.7bn, described the Republican package as "extreme" and "unworkable". The bill will not go before the Senate, which was unable to agree a bill itself and is in recess until September. That leaves what many have described as a national crisis unaddressed over the summer months. About 57,000 Central American children mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have crossed the border since October, many unaccompanied, fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty in their home countries. (Click here)

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  • Crumbs

1 - Facebook's Internet.org app gives Zambia mobile users free, basic Internet access - click here.

2 - Ugandan Court Invalidates Anti-Gay Law - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

McDonald's to resume full menu in China cities this week

McDonald's Corp is starting to resume its full menu in some Chinese cities, almost two weeks after the fast-food chain pulled items including beef and chicken burgers as its supplier was probed for using expired meat.

Metal dust 'behind deadly China blast'

A metal dust explosion was probably to blame for the blast that tore through a plant in eastern China on Saturday, killing dozens, officials say. The death toll from Saturday's explosion has risen to 75. The metallic dust stuck to workers' skin, causing extensive burns. The blast is China's worst industrial accident since a fire at a poultry factory in June 2013 that killed 119 people. The plant, operated by Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Company, polishes wheel hubs for car makers including General Motors. The company had been warned that high levels of dust in the air could cause an explosion. Dust explosions occur when metallic particles contained in an enclosed space are ignited by a spark. "Very serious dereliction of duty" was behind the accident, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a senior official in charge of the country's work safety, without expanding.

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  • Brief News
Obama: 'Full confidence' in CIA director

Obama has defended CIA Director John Brennan and acknowledged the US tortured prisoners after 9/11. His comments come as the Senate prepares to release a report on the CIA's interrogation program. "We tortured some folks," Obama said. "We did some things that were contrary to our values." He said Brennan had his "full confidence" despite admitting the agency had searched Senate computers during the investigation. Obama has previously said the methods used by the CIA on al-Qaeda prisoners at secret "black sites" outside the US amounted to torture. In April 2009, he said that he "believed that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake". On Friday the US president said officials at the time had used harsh methods because of the "enormous pressure" to prevent another attack on the US in the wake of 9/11. "It's important for us not to feel sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had." There was some criticism of Obama's choice of words. "Obama referred to the people we tortured - and the people who tortured them - as 'folks'. Neither is really appropriate." Obama did not mention another expected key finding of the forthcoming report, which says the now-discontinued CIA interrogation practices produced little intelligence of value, according to leaked reports.

Gaza: how international law could work to punish war crimes
 
There is the need for new precedents in the law of war to limit the behavior of modern army behemoths. For three weeks, the world has watched war crimes apparently committed by both sides in Gaza: lethal attacks on schools and hospitals, rockets aimed at civilians, tunnels chillingly lined with syringes and ropes; and the dead and dying children. Now the call goes out from politicians and the UN secretary general for "accountability" and "justice". That should mean a proper forensic investigation with criminal charges against commanders if the evidence warrants, heard in an international criminal court. It is important to understand why this could happen and why it probably will not – and why diplomats have connived in making Gaza a legal black hole. There is, after all, an international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, with a prosecutor equipped to investigate and charge the crimes that seem to be occurring in the conflict. But her power to act arises only in two relevant circumstances: first by a reference from the UN security council, which is sure to be blocked by at least one of the five permanent members – by the US (always protective of Israel), by Russia (afraid of where a criminal investigation of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 might lead), by China (obsessed with state sovereignty), and even by Britain and France. Then there is the alternative basis for empowering the ICC prosecutor: a state that has signed up to the ICC treaty may require the prosecutor to investigate international crimes committed on its territory or by its people. Israel has refused to ratify the treaty, thereby depriving itself of a means to hold Hamas to account for its rocket attacks. But can the state of Palestine ratify the treaty? In 2009, it attempted to invoke an ICC investigation over Operation Cast Lead, but the prosecutor refused to accept it was a "state". However, in November 2012, the UN general assembly accorded Palestine the status of statehood – as a non-member observer state, but a state nonetheless. It has since been permitted to become a state party to 13 international treaties. Will it now accede to the ICC treaty and invite the prosecutor to investigate war crimes in Gaza since 2012? International law is clear on the question of Israel and Palestine: "Israel is entitled to exist, to be recognized and to security, and the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination and to their own state." But international diplomacy has failed to bring this about and the current crisis makes the poet Auden's weary point: "I and the public know / What all schoolchildren learn / Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return."

Judge urges Argentina default talks

Negotiations between Argentina and a group of hedge funds that hold Argentina's bonds should be resumed urgently, US judge Thomas Griesa has said. Otherwise, the judge said: "What is to happen? Another 10 years of irresolution?" Investors holding Argentine bonds and lawyers for the government attended a hearing in New York for the first time since Argentina defied an order to pay. "Nothing that has happened this week has removed the necessity of working out a settlement," the judge said.

Argentina default is ruled a credit event for swaps

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association says Argentina's failure to make a payment on its bonds earlier this week will activate credit default swaps on the country's debt.

The security of USB sticks is 'fundamentally broken'

Computer users pass around USB sticks like silicon business cards. Although we know they often carry malware infections, we depend on antivirus scans and the occasional reformatting to keep our thumb drives from becoming the carrier for the next digital epidemic. But the security problems with USB devices run deeper than you think: Their risk isn’t just in what they carry, it’s built into the core of how they work. That’s the takeaway from findings by security researchers, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken. The malware they created, called BadUSB, can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic.

French telecom Iliad's flaky offer for T-Mobile US

Iliad has delivered what could be a Trojan horse for Sprint's plans to buy T-Mobile US. In a rival approach, the $16 billion French telcom company has offered $33 a share, or $15 billion, for 57 percent of the No. 4 US mobile operator. It's a flaky offer on several levels. But the intervention may intensify antitrust objections to Sprint's wish to merge. The efforts of Deutsche Telekom to offload T-Mobile US can already be called an odyssey. AT&T, then the clear No. 1 American carrier, tried to buy it for $39 billion but antitrust regulators rebuffed the attempt in 2011. Then the siren song of huge synergies tempted Sprint owner SoftBank to roll the antitrust dice. Sprint would pay $32 billion, or $40 a share, for T-Mobile US in a deal that has been agreed in principle, if not formally. Regulators seem firmly against it, though, if public statements about keeping four national competitors are taken at face value. That's one reason Iliad's bid could gain momentum, even though it looks shaky. The French company would be buying a company much larger than itself, adding lashings of debt given it only expects to raise $2 billion of new equity for the deal. That's bold, considering T-Mobile US burnt through $2.5 billion in the first half of the year thanks to hefty capital expenditures. Promises of hefty synergies from Iliad's purchase of T-Mobile US are also puzzling. Why a French industry owner should offer noticeably greater purchasing advantages, for example, than a huge German one is unclear, and Iliad doesn't have significant operations in the United States. And even assuming Iliad's touted "$10 billion of synergies" is shorthand for the present value of, say, $1 billion of annual cost savings or revenue gains, it's hard to see where they would come from.

How to become a lawyer without a law degree

A small minority of the thousands of people who take state bar exams each year to practice law don't have a law degree and haven't even stepped foot in a law school These lucky few complete legal apprenticeships rather than obtain costly J.D.s. The apprenticeships, available as an option in only several states, are referred to as law office study and the participants called law readers. Those who choose law office study avoid the debt burdening their counterparts who pay law school tuition to receive law degrees. They also gain valuable experience as members of law offices, where they get to work in courtrooms and with clients rather than studying in classrooms. But the few who take that alternative route also face their own difficulties, like searching on their own for a supervisor willing to mentor them and competing for top jobs with those who have graduated from law schools where students are ranked. Law office study remains very rare. Law office readers comprised only 60 of the 83,986 people who took state and multi-state bar exams last year. They are also less likely to pass those exams. Only 28 percent of the tiny minority of law office readers passed their bar exams last year, compared to 78 percent of students who attended American Bar Association-approved law schools.

Ukraine crisis: Army 'heading for victory' 

Ukraine Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey said Kiev's forces are gaining ground significantly and will emerge victorious against pro-Russian rebels. “There would be victory very soon". He blamed the rebels for the difficulties faced by international experts in getting access to the MH17 crash site. His remarks came as civilians in the east prepare for a siege as government forces close in on the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Mexican journalists denounce Sinaloa state 'gag law'

Journalists in Mexico have criticized a new law that restricts crime reporting in north-western Sinaloa state. The legislation bans journalists from taking pictures and recording video or audio at a crime scene. Journalists will have to rely on official information approved by the Prosecutor's Office to report on crime. "The media will have access to information on the crime investigations through the press releases prepared by the official public information department," establishes the law. Media organizations, journalist unions and campaign groups have denounced the law as a serious threat to press freedom in Mexico. Sinaloa state authorities say it is aimed at preserving crime scenes for police investigation. "There will be many changes in the roles of each one of us," said Sinaloa state Prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez. "But there will be no restriction to the work of the media." The bill was proposed by Governor Mario Lopez Valdez and unanimously approved by state legislators. The legislation is due to come into effect on 15 October, but journalists - who refer to it as a "gag law" - say they will try to stop it being enforced.

Portugal unveils bank rescue plan

Portugal's central bank has announced a plan to rescue the troubled lender Banco Espirito Santo (BES). The group will be split into two - a "good bank" with the healthy assets and a "bad bank" with the riskier ones. The "good bank", which will be called Novo Banco, will be loaned 4.9bn euros ($6.6bn) from what is left of Portugal's bailout fund. The move had been expected after BES on Friday reported a record loss of 3.6bn euros for the first half of the year.

Debt collectors under fire by regulator

A US financial regulator could upend the business model of law firms that file waves of cookie-cutter lawsuits to collect money from people who haven't paid their bills. The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month filed its first lawsuit against a debt-collection firm, Marietta, Ga.-based Frederick J. Hanna & Associates, accusing it of violating federal consumer-protection laws. Legal specialists said the suit could signal the regulator's intent to target similar high-volume law firms—and potentially banks and debt buyers—over allegations that debt collection claims can be out of date, incorrect in their amounts, lacking in documentary support or overlapping with claims filed against the same debtors. People targeted by such suits, typically lacking the law firms' expertise with the judicial system, often don't show up to contest the cases in court, resulting in judgments that can be difficult to correct. Critics say such collection practices are widespread. "What they've singled out isn't an anomaly." Lawyers at Hanna & Associates insist they have done no wrong, saying the firm ensures the debts being collected are valid and for the proper amount.

European firms count Russia sanctions costs

Around Europe, companies of all shapes and sizes are assessing the impact of the sanctions imposed by the EU this week following America's lead. Obvious candidates such as the targeted oil and banking sectors came under immediate pressure. Shares around the world had one of their worst weeks of the year as the potential impact of sanctions added to heightened geopolitical tensions. But the strain also began to show in areas not specifically targeted. Sportswear manufacturer Adidas saw its shares tumble as it said it would scale back its presence in Russia, while Volkswagen reported an 8% decline in Russian sales. And it was not just companies that were warning of trouble. Countries close to Russia are revising the outlook for their economies. But the pain is being felt most acutely so far by Russia. Vladimir Putin introduced a new sales tax this week to help compensate for the likely reduction of the contributions that state-owned banks and arms sales make to state revenues as a result of the sanctions. It will heap more pressure on consumers, already struggling with inflation at 8% and a recent rise in interest rates. Higher taxes are unlikely to help an economy teetering on the brink of recession. Opinion on the efficacy of sanctions is divided. It is inevitable that EU interests would suffer more than those of the US, due to closer trade links. The beneficiary of this stand off may be Asia. After decades of ever-closer integration with the West, Russia may increasingly look east for friends.

Groups urge Thailand to establish Surrogacy laws

Surrogacy campaigners on Saturday urged for the Thailand government to provide clearer regulations to address domestic and international surrogacy issues. Currently, Thailand does not have any established laws which speak to issues regarding surrogacy. The movement for surrogacy laws in Thailand has became an international issue due to a recent incident where an Australian couple paid a Thai women to carry their child. When the surrogate mother bore twins, the male child was rejected by the adoptive parents due to complications such as a congenital heart disease, a lung infection, and down syndrome. The surrogate mother is currently taking care of the refused twin and is currently raising funds to support the child.

Tunisia reopens its main border crossing with Libya

Tunisia reopened its main border crossing with Libya on Saturday after suspending it on Friday after thousands of Egyptian and other foreign nationals broke through part of a fence at the Ras Ajdir crossing. Fleeing the violence in Libya, thousands of people have been migrating into Tunisia. Tunisian news agency TAP reported that authorities closed the border after a Tunisian police officer was wounded by gunfire from the Libyan side of the border. According to a security official at the Ras Jedir checkpoint, Tunisia will alternate between opening and closing the crossing.

UN rights chief calls for end to 'impunity' after Israel attack on UN school

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday urged the international community to end what she called a "climate of impunity" around the Israel-Palestine conflict. In light of the bombardment of a UN school in Gaza on Wednesday, Pillay called for "real accountability considering the increasing evidence of war crimes and an ever-growing number of civilian casualties, including some 250 children."

Federal court rules Microsoft must disclose overseas customer data

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday upheld a magistrate judge's ruling requiring Microsoft to turn over customers' emails and other account information. Microsoft had objected to the application of US search warrants to information stored in its overseas data centers on the grounds that US law does not apply in Ireland, where the data center in question is located. Judge Loretta A. Preska rejected that argument, finding that the issue is "a question of control, not a question of the location of that information." Microsoft, along with other technology companies, have sought to prevent federal prosecutors from accessing overseas customer data. This ruling could affect those efforts as well as plans to offer cloud computing services overseas. The court's ruling was stayed pending an appeal by Microsoft.

Botox maker Allergan sues Valeant and Ackman, claiming insider trading

The suit calls into focus one of the central issues at play: whether Mr. Ackman improperly built up his nearly 10 percent stake in Allergan as he prepared to make a bid with Valeant for Allergan.

Law allowing timely insulin injection approved

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a measure into law that allows diabetics to inject insulin where and when they need to. People with diabetes could risk being charged with indecent exposure because they needed to quickly inject insulin into certain parts of their bodies. When someone needs an insulin shot, they do not have time to find the nearest restroom sometimes. The law will end embarrassment, make it easier for people dealing with a difficult disease and save lives.

Microsoft claims Samsung violated patent agreement

Microsoft said it has sued Samsung Electronics, claiming its rival violated a patent-licensing contract. The dispute involves technology included in Android, Google's operating system for mobile phones and tablets.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry

Newsweek
Exodus: Europe's Jews Are Fleeing Once Again. A spike in anti-Semitic attacks has sent shockwaves through the Jewish community in Europe

Business Week
Coke’s big fat problem

The Economist
Israel. Winning the battle, losing the war

Der Spiegel
Der Staat Erdoğan. Bleibt die Türkei ein freies Land? Türkiye özgür kalacak mı?

L'Espresso
Homo Renzianus. Come in un grande reality, parole, tic e manie del premier invadono la vita degli italiani. E tutti lo imitano, dai politici alla tv. Mappa del nuovo conformismo

  • Daily Press Review

Israel declares limited Gaza truce
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

A France without Jews would be nothing less than a disaster
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

How the IDF chief rabbinate determines death of a soldier whose remains are not found
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Events to commemorate start of WW1
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Hitchhiker robot halfway across Canada
CNN International, London, England

Socialite Tamara Beckwith, 44, shows off her baby bump
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

The most haunting account of the trenches you'll ever read - from a brilliant anthology by Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Two more die in Bulgaria floods
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Israel holds 7-hour ceasefire in Gaza amid fury over school strike
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Zeyve Bazaar, a haven in Taurus
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Israel-Gaza conflict: Airstrike kills militant Islamic Jihad leader
Independent The, London, England

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

Red Baron's cemetery will see few visitors saluting First World War dead
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Kate Moss styles Lara Stone in biggest ever fashion issue of Vogue
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Iraq jihadists seize another town from Kurdish forces
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Koreans Flock to Period Flick About War Hero
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

149 people missing in Nepal landslide feared dead
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Three Bangaloreans die as car falls into riverbed
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Interfax: Russia starts air force drills
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

The day I confronted my rapist
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Lebanese army battles Syrian militants near border
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing targets aviation and Irish firm AWAS
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

ISIS fighters seize Iraq's biggest dam, oilfield and 3 towns
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Thai surrogate forgives Australian parents of deserted baby
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

Indigenous Leaders in Costa Rica Tell Ban Ki-moon Their Problems
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

China regulator says Microsoft should not obstruct anti-trust probe: TV
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Russia staging military exercises near Ukraine - Interfax
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Centenary of First World War marked in France
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

US to send 50 experts to fight Ebola
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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