September 10, 2014 nº 1,541 - Vol. 12

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

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  • Top News

Australia court upholds patent on human genetic material

The Federal court of Australia has upheld a ruling allowing US-based genetic testing company Myriad Genetics to retain its patent for genetic material (DNA and RNA) it has isolated from human cells. Patient advocacy group Cancer Voices Australia (CVA) appealed a February 2013 court ruling that approved the patentability of nucleic acids that the company has been able to extract from mutated versions of the BRCA1 gene, a gene that has been linked with certain cancers, including ovarian and breast cancer. By studying the naturally occurring mutations within the BRCA1 gene, scientists can better predict whether a woman is at risk for certain breast and ovarian cancers. CVA argues that the patenting of naturally occurring genetic material "places limits on genetic testing, genetic research and the development of treatments and cures for genetically associated disease." The court emphasized that, because the genetic material at issue has been isolated, "it distinguishes the product as artificial and economically useful" and therefore properly patentable. (Click here)

Lew says administration is near a decision on curbing corporate expatriates

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said he would soon decide what regulatory action the Obama administration could take to close tax loopholes and reduce incentives for multinational corporations to avoid United States taxes by incorporating overseas, but he did not give any further hints as to timing or specific options under review.

Google seeks views in Europe on right to be forgotten

Google Inc. executives embarked Tuesday on a seven-city tour of European capitals to discuss Europe's "right to be forgotten," one of several fronts in which the US search firm faces a mounting political firestorm in Europe. The series of meetings that began in Madrid on Tuesday stem from a surprise decision in Europe's top court that requires search engines, notably Google, to allow individuals to remove some results from Web searches for their names. Since then, Google has been trying to thread a needle by applying the new rule, while expressing disagreement with it—in part, by assembling an expert panel to debate it across Europe. "We need to balance the right of information against the individual's right to privacy," said Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in opening remarks Tuesday. "So we convened a panel of genuine experts whose criteria and qualifications are amazing to talk to us about this."

Discovery

In a new article, Caroline Cavassin Klamas, Master of Laws in International Arbitration from the University of Miami, writes on the use of the discovery procedure by Brazilian parties in accordance with Section1782. (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China world's third-largest investor in 2013

China was the world's third largest investor for the second year in 2013. Outbound direct investment (ODI) from China reached a record high of $108bn last year, a 22.8% rise on ODI made in 2012. Meanwhile, on Sunday the government said it would relax rules for Chinese companies making overseas investments. The new rules will take effect on October 6. The new procedures for domestic companies "aim at allowing more freedom for outbound investment".

EU Chamber wants China to remove auto industry investment limits

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China urged the nation's government to remove limitations on foreign investment in the auto industry and allow more competition for vehicle after-market service. Foreign automakers should be allowed to hold more than the current 50 percent of auto making joint ventures in China, the EU Chamber's working group on the auto industry said in the body's annual publication released yesterday.

China's use of antimonopoly law may violate WTO pact, US group says

China's use of its antimonopoly law may violate its World Trade Organization commitments, a major US business group said, as foreign companies increasingly push back against rising scrutiny from Beijing. The US Chamber of Commerce said that China's use of its six-year old antimonopoly law has been subjective and that enforcement agencies have skewed its implementation to favor China's own industrial policy and local companies. Discriminatory use of the law "arguably violates commitments that China undertook when it acceded to the World Trade Organization." China agreed to fair competition when it joined the trade organization. China has used the antimonopoly law "to pursue objectives that have no place in a free, open and fair market-based economy."

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  • Historia Verdadera

PDVSA

La petrolera venezolana PDVSA está buscando ofertas preliminares hasta fines de septiembre para la venta de su filial Citgo Petroleum en Estados Unidos, un negocio que podría alcanzar hasta los US$ 10.000 mlls. (Presione aquí)

Guantánamo

El gobierno de Chile evalúa la posibilidad de acoger a presos recluidos en la cárcel de la base militar estadounidense de Guantánamo, Cuba. (Presione aquí)

Banca

Banco Santander informó que recibió la autorización del regulador brasileño CVM a la oferta de canje que lanzó sobre el 25% de su filial brasileña que todavía no controla. La oferta requiere también el envío de una nota a la Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) en Estados Unidos.

  • Brief News
Home Depot: US states begin probe over huge data breach

Pressure is mounting on US retail giant Home Depot after what could be one of the biggest data breaches ever. At least five US states have begun looking into the case, and there are calls in Washington for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Credit and debit card data was taken, and although Home Depot has not said how many people were affected there are reports it runs into several million. Home Depot confirmed the breach on Monday and apologized to customers. "If Home Depot failed to adequately protect customer information, it denied customers the protection that they rightly expect when a business collects such information," senators said. "Such conduct is potentially unfair and deceptive, and therefore could violate the FTC Act." Home Depot said customers who shopped at its stores as far back as April were exposed to the breach.

Take-private deals are nearly extinct on Wall Street

Take-private deals have totaled just $3 billion this year, compared with $80 billion for all of last year. The drop-off in activity has occurred even as the broader market for mergers and acquisitions has boomed. Not a single take-private deal worth more than $5 billion has been struck this year. That compares to four deals above $5 billion in 2013 and 17 such deals in 2007, the year before the financial crisis struck. A chief cause of the extended hiatus may be the soaring stock market, which makes companies more expensive to buy.

Brazil sells off as Moody’s downgrades debt

Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday lowered the outlook for Brazil’s sovereign debt to negative, sending markets lower and posing a new obstacle for Pres. Dilma Rousseff’s reelection campaign. Brazil’s Ibovespa Index, which has rallied nearly 14% so far this year, closed down 0.87% on Tuesday. According to Moody’s press release, its change in outlook results from:

  • A sustained reduction in Brazil’s economic growth, which shows little sign of a return to potential in the near term.
  • A marked deterioration in investor sentiment which has negatively impacted fixed capital formation in Brazil.
  • The fiscal challenges these economic headwinds pose, impeding the reversal of the upward trend in government debt indicators.

While Moody’s cut its rating on Baa 2 debt to negative from stable, Brazil still has an investment grade rating that is two levels above junk. Brazil’s “continued resilience to external financial shocks given its international reserve buffers has a clear moderating effect.

Obama 'has authority' to fight IS

Obama has briefed Congressional leaders on his plans for an expanded military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He discussed his strategy with leaders from both parties at the White House. The talks came ahead of a speech on Wednesday night in which he will make a case directly to the American people. The White House described the meetings as "productive" and said Obama had the authority to act against IS.

Arab League approves resolution to combat Islamic State group

The League of Arab States approved a resolution on Monday to combat extremist groups like the Islamic State (IS). The resolution was issued separately from a more comprehensive statement on Arab affairs and assumes a sense of urgency to challenge the militant group. IS has seized large territories in Iraq and Syria, and on Monday a suicide bomber killed at least 16 people during a meeting of security officials and Sunni militiamen in Iraq. The resolution calls for immediate action to combat the group on political, security and legal levels. It does not directly endorse either the Iraqi or US campaigns against IS, but clearly offered Arab cooperation to the efforts. It backs a UN resolution issued last month that called for adopting measures to combat terrorism and imposed sanctions on many of the group's fighters.

MH17 crash: Dutch experts say numerous high-energy objects hit plane

Dutch experts say Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by "objects" that "pierced the plane at high velocity" in July. The new report also said there was "no evidence of technical or human error". Correspondents say this matches claims that MH17 was hit by missile shrapnel. The report made no comment on who might have fired the missile, but both sides in this conflict use the same weapon.

Twitter, Netflix and Reddit hold net neutrality protest

Twitter, Netflix and Reddit will take part in an "internet slowdown" protest in favour of net neutrality on Wednesday. They are among dozens of firms worried that proposed new regulations will mean extra charges for fast internet access. The move follows the proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which would require telecom providers to ensure that "all users have access to an internet experience that is sufficiently robust, fast and effectively usable". The proposal came after a US Court of Appeals ruling in January that found that broadband providers were not under an obligation to ensure all internet traffic was treated equally. The FCC's proposals defined users as both consumers and "content providers who do not enter into specific arrangements with broadband providers". The FCC said its proposals were designed to protect net neutrality. Many groups taking part will display the spinning wheel, an icon for slow loading speed, but will run normally.

Google faces new stand-off in Europe

The European Commission is seeking fresh concessions from Google on how it displays search results on web pages. The long-running investigation aims to settle concerns that the search giant has abused its dominant position in the European search market. Competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia revealed that he could also open a probe into Google's mobile operating system Android. In a deal hammered out in February, Google agreed to reserve space near the top of its European search pages for competitors, which would be open to rivals to bid for via an auction. This auction could generate an extra income of up more than 300 million euros for Google, said rivals. "Under the auction system Google would get another massive revenue stream. It's a bit like telling a robber than he can't rob any more but instead can set a toll on the High Street," said David Wood, a lawyer that represents iComp (Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace) of which Foundem and Microsoft are members. "The real remedy is for Google to use the same algorithm for third-party sites that it applies to its own," he added.Google said it continued to work with the commission to resolve the matter.

Gambia lawmakers pass bill punishing homosexual acts with life imprisonment

Gambia's National Assembly passed a bill on Monday that imposes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts. The bill amends the criminal code to bring life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality," which encompasses repeat offenders, those living with HIV/AIDS, and where a minor is involved. The bill will become law pending the signature of President Yahya Jammeh, who is one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders.

Norway to 'export' inmates to Dutch jails to cut queues

Norway plans to export its prisoners to jails in the Netherlands to ease overcrowding and carry out urgent maintenance work, the government says. It will rent up to 300 prison places from the Dutch, who already lease some of their extra capacity to Belgium. Under the agreement, prisoners will be guarded by Dutch wardens, but the director will be Norwegian. Norway has a current jail capacity shortage despite relatively low incarceration rates.

Ex-nurse convicted in web suicides

A former US nurse who admitted to going online to encourage people to kill themselves has been convicted again following a three-year legal battle. A prior 2011 conviction was overturned this year after a court ruled his advice was protected free speech. In March, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the part of the law under which he was convicted, which made it illegal to "advise or "encourage" suicides, amounted to an unconstitutional restriction on speech. The court did uphold a separate part of the law making it crime to "assist" in a suicide if the speech is targeted at one person and provides someone with advice needed to kill him or herself.

UN rights experts urge Tasmania not to adopt anti-protest bill

Three UN human rights experts urged the Australian state of Tasmania on Tuesday not to adopt legislation against protests that disrupt businesses. The experts expressed concern that the new law would silence legitimate and lawful protests. The government argues the proposed bill is necessary to protect businesses from disruption by protesters.

Greece's Parliament approves hate-crime law

Greece's parliament approved Tuesday a controversial and much-delayed hate crimes bill that stiffens penalties for racially motivated crime and criminalizes the denial of genocide and war crimes. The law was approved in principle last week, but the final vote was delayed until Tuesday due to last-minute amendments that toughen punishment for racially and sexually motivated crimes.

Thailand rights activists call for end to martial law

A group of Thailand human rights activists denounced the country's state of martial law on Monday, accusing the ruling military junta of imposing a judicial "twilight zone." The rights group has called for an end to martial law which was instituted on May 20, two days before the coup that ousted the former Thai government and installed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the country's new prime minister.

UN: Responsibility to protect becoming increasingly urgent

The UN General Assembly on Monday met to discuss "the responsibility to protect" adopted by world leaders in 2005, with UN officials stressing the urgency of this responsibility as crises rage around the world. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the assembly, saying that the world now faces a number of conflicts that involve acts that "shock the global conscience" and illustrate the human costs of turning a blind eye.

  • Daily Press Review

Syria rebel leader killed in bomb attack
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

U.K. to supply arms to Kurds to fight Islamic State
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

UK leaders campaigning to save Union
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Ice bucket pranksters ID'd
CNN International, London, England

Gemma Arterton flashes legs at Samsung Galaxy event in leather skirt
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Apple iPhone 6, iWatch and iPhone 6 Plus unveiled in Cupertino
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Ukraine ceasefire 'stable' despite isolated violence
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Hollande to visit Iraq ahead of security summit in Paris
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Turkey, US discuss joint action against ISIL
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Isis response: UK military planning to set up new bases in Middle East
Independent The, London, England

Watch: inside a sunken 19th century ship
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Fifty Shades of Grey actor 'had nervous breakdown'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Feed maker's assets frozen in oil scandal
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Obama Plans Prime Time Speech on Islamic State Threat
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

65 magnitude earthquake hits off eastern Indonesia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Extortion stain on two Delhi cops
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Vietnam accuses China of beating fishermen
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

'Scarf guy' steals the show
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Mayweather says NFL should have kept Rice penalty
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

US government funding measure extends war funds, Export-Import Bank
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Donors wary of rebuilding in Hamas-run Gaza, Palestinian official says
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Obama to make case for strike against Islamic State heartland
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

Mexico's Cocopah People Refuse to Disappear
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Alibaba's record IPO covered after first few roadshow meetings: sources
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Fiji says 45 peacekeepers held by Syrian rebels to be released soon
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

David Soknacki withdraws from mayoral race
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Ebola 'threat to Liberia existence'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England
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