September 29, 2014 nº 1,549 - Vol. 12

"Recollect that you must be a seaman to be an officer and also that you cannot be a good officer without being a gentleman."

Horatio Nelson

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  • Top News

Obama: US Underestimated ISIS, Overestimated Iraqi Army

Obama acknowledging that the United States underestimated the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, while overestimating the Iraqi army's capacity to fight against the terrorist organization. The US intelligence community underestimated the impact of Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Syria. Organizations like ISIS thrive amid civil wars, and take advantage of the power-vacuum like the one in Syria. "That is why it's so important for us to recognize part of our solution here is going to be military," the president says. "We just have to push them back and shrink their space and go after their command-and-control and their capacity and their weapons and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters."

India PM facing human rights suit in US

The American Justice Center on Thursday filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of anonymous survivors against India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for human rights abuses stemming from the religious riots in Gujarat in 2002. Modi was chief minister of Gujarat when Hindu mobs rioted through Muslim neighborhoods, killing more than 1,000 Muslims. The lawsuit seeks damages against Modi under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act.

"Yes means yes" becomes law in California

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he has signed a bill that makes California the first in the nation to define when "yes means yes" and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports. State lawmakers last month approved SB967 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, as states and universities across the US are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. Campus sexual assault victims and women's advocacy groups delivered petitions to Brown's office on Sept. 16 urging him to sign the bill. De Leon has said the legislation will begin a paradigm shift in how college campuses in California prevent and investigate sexual assaults. Rather than using the refrain "no means no," the definition of consent under the bill requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity." "With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing," de Leon said in lobbying Brown for his signature. The legislation says silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. Under the bill, someone who is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep cannot grant consent.

Holder to ban use of 'bad lawyer' waivers in plea agreements

A criminal defendant who seeks to challenge a conviction because of bad legal counsel has to show that the lawyer's performance was so miserable that the outcome of the case likely would have been different had it been better. The bar is almost laughably high. Lawyers have failed to pursue leads, neglected evidence and taken bathroom breaks in the middle of a trial and still not met it. Even though defendants rarely succeed in showing "ineffective assistance of counsel," roughly a third of the 94 US attorneys' offices have decided to take no chances. In these districts, the standard plea agreement includes a waiver that prohibits defendants from making "ineffective assistance" claims in the first place.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Hong Kong: Protesters defiant amid stand-off

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters are blocking Hong Kong's streets, shutting down the territory's business hub and ignoring appeals to leave. Protesters are angry at Beijing's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. The protest movement is waiting for the government to respond to demands such as fully-free elections and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Hong Kong's chief executive has reassured the public that rumors the Chinese army might intervene were untrue.

Confined in China, Ai Weiwei directs Alcatraz exhibit from afar

The dissident Chinese artist uses San Francisco's former island prison to contrast themes of freedom and restriction.

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  • Brief News
EU to publish details of probes of tax deals benefiting Apple, Fiat

European Union regulators will explain as soon as Monday why they believe that tax deals granted to Apple Inc. and Fiat SpA violated EU law, people familiar with the matter said, marking the next formal step in the bloc's drive against alleged tax avoidance by multinationals. The European Commission, the EU's central antitrust authority, opened formal investigations in June into whether tax deals granted to Apple in Ireland, Fiat's finance arm in Luxembourg and Starbucks Corp. in the Netherlands amounted to illegal state support for the companies. The commission will publish its so-called opening decision in the Apple case as soon as Monday, explaining why it believes that two tax deals agreed between the US company and the Irish government—in 1991 and 2007—amounted to illegal state aid.

Hedge funds condemned over Argentina

The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution in Geneva condemning a group of American hedge funds that took Argentina to court. The investors are demanding payments worth more than $1.3bn dollars on government bonds they hold. Argentina defaulted on its debts in July after refusing to comply with a US court ruling in favor of the funds. It is searching for ways of meeting its obligations to its other creditors without paying the hedge funds in full. The Argentine government has accused the hedge funds, which it refers to as vulture funds, of being greedy and damaging its economy. The resolution was tabled by Argentina along with Russia, Brazil, Venezuela and Algeria. It was approved by 33 votes to five, with nine countries abstaining. The United States, Britain, Germany, Japan and the Czech Republic voted against.

EU and Canada set out trade agreement

The European Commission and Canada have unveiled the details of a new trade liberalization agreement. Under the deal almost all customs tariffs will be eliminated and markets for services will be opened up. But the agreement still needs approval from the EU parliament and faces particular opposition from Germany. Critics say the deal restricts the power of democratic governments in relation to big business. It's not just maple syrup. Traded products, in both directions, range from machinery, chemicals and transport equipment to services such as insurance and communications.

For Eric Holder, race was the defining issue

The attorney general was the subject of a torrent of allegations, including obstruction of justice in investigations over the ill-conceived "Fast and Furious" gun-running operation, supporting a trial for al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York and a perceived failure to enforce immigration, welfare and healthcare laws. While these issues garnered a great deal of attention in the conservative press, it was perhaps inevitable that the real debate over Holder would center around one issue - race. "Someday, another black president may name another black attorney to run the Department of Justice, and their shared identity may not matter so much," writes NPR's Ron Elving. "But for Holder and Obama, breaking the racial barrier as the nation's top two law enforcement officers meant living with the consequences." While Obama has conscientiously tried to avoid the race issue in public whenever possible, Holder has often confronted it head on.

French far-right National Front wins first Senate seats

France's far-right National Front (FN) party has won its first two seats in the upper house of parliament, in what party leader Marine Le Pen has described as a "historic victory". The right-wing parties are gaining control of the Senate; the socialist party still controls the National Assembly, or lower house. This result could add further delays and obstacles to Hollande’s economic plans for the nation.

Ashraf Ghani sworn in as new Afghan president

Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in as Afghanistan's president in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul. It comes after six months of deadlock amid a bitter dispute over electoral fraud and a recount of votes. Under a US-brokered unity deal Ghani takes over the presidency and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah can nominate a figure with prime-ministerial powers. The Taliban have described the deal as a "US-orchestrated sham" but Mr Ghani hailed it as a "big victory". Ghani took an oath to abide by the constitution and other laws at the swearing-in ceremony.

Airlines cleared for mobile phone use during flights

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says electronic devices such as mobile phones can be left switched on during flights. EASA says that electronic devices do not pose a safety risk. The announcement clears the way for airlines to permit the use of mobile phones, once they have conducted their own safety reviews. This move strips away the last regulatory hurdle stopping airline passengers in Europe from making phone calls or using wi-fi on any flight, even while taxiing. But that doesn't mean you'll have to endure the bloke next to you babbling on about his work for an hour during your next flight. First of all, you can't get a signal at 33,000 feet. Not yet anyway. Secondly, the airlines will need to pay to kit out their planes so that phones and wi-fi work. And thirdly, there's the passengers. British Airways, for example, already has a business-class-only flight from London to New York that lets passengers use wi-fi and send texts. But they block voice-calls, because whenever they survey passengers, most baulk at the idea of everyone around them talking on the phone during a flight. Airliners remain one of the last places work can't get hold of you on the phone.

Law school dean to the Supreme Court: This love affair is over

After nearly four decades as a lawyer and 30 years teaching would-be lawyers, and after writing a leading textbook on constitutional law and helping establish a law school, and after standing before the justices five times on behalf of his clients, Erwin Chemerinsky has fallen out of love with the Supreme Court. His break-up note runs for 342 pages and is called "The Case Against the Supreme Court." The book makes its regretful message clear at the very beginning: "We should realize that this is an emperor that truly has no clothes. For too long, we have treated the Court is if they are the high priests of the law, or at least as if they are the smartest and best lawyers in society." His conclusion? "The court has frequently failed, throughout American history, at its most important tasks, at its most important moments. This is not easy for me to conclude or to say."

To counter gun violence, researchers seek deeper data

For the first time in nearly two decades, federal money is beginning to flow into gun violence research. And there's growing momentum behind creating a reliable national reporting database for firearm injuries and deaths. Top trauma hospitals will help to get a better picture of the scope of the problem, so states can better target their prevention programs. They are trying to better understand who's getting hurt and who's dying from gun violence, where and when — and even why. By analogy, there are such data systems, and have been for decades, for motor vehicle injuries, and that sort of continuing flow of data has done a great deal to shape our efforts to prevent motor vehicle injuries. There have been some early successes: a suicide prevention program in Oregon and a homicide crackdown in Oklahoma, for starters.

What drives abortion: the law or income?

About 50,000 women worldwide die because of unsafe abortions. Five million more are admitted to hospitals with complications after the procedure. Activists and researchers on both sides of the abortion debate agree that these "back-alley" operations are dangerous for women. It's figuring out the best way to stop them that has been contentious. One approach has been to make abortion illegal. But evidence is accumulating that this strategy doesn't work. And it may even backfire. Many studies have shown that making abortions illegal doesn't decline the number of abortions. Women just resort to unsafe providers more often. Rates of maternal deaths declined when countries soften restrictive abortion laws — presumably because of a decline in unsafe abortions. Simply changing the law is not enough to reduce dangerous operations. Women need to know that abortions are legal, and providers need to be trained to do safe abortions, to deal with complications. And supplies need to be in place.

Russia moves to protect its 'information sovereignty'

Russia's parliament, the Duma, approved a bill on Friday that would limit foreign ownership of Russian media to less than 20 percent. Critics say the measure means big changes for Russia's media landscape and much tighter controls of information by the Kremlin. Putin is expected to sign the measure into law next week. And if he does, these publications will have to sell most of their shares to Russian buyers or else out shut down. Lawmakers who sponsored the measure say it's necessary to curb foreign influence on Russia's information space. When national lawmakers protect their own markets, the goal is clear - to protect national sovereignty. The bill targets nearly half the publications on display at this news kiosk in Central Moscow. The foreign-owned publications that are seen as most subversive include Forbes and the Business Daily newspaper Vedomosti, which is co-owned by the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Russian publishing house Sonoma. Both often run articles and columns that are seen as critical of the government and its connections with Russian business.

After bar exam scoring snafu, would-be lawyers get crushing news

What's worse than failing the bar exam? Getting told you passed and then finding out hours before your attorney swearing-in ceremony that you actually didn't make the cut.

Catalonia defies Spain as leader signs decree for breakaway vote

Catalonia's leader has set a November date for a vote on whether the northeast region of Spain should become independent. Spain's central government has said it will block the vote.

California Governor signs law reforming school discipline

California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed into law on a bill which will prohibit schools from suspending students without proving the pupil willfully defied teachers and administrators. The bill specifically eliminates schools' authority to suspend pupils from kindergarten through third grade and the authority to expel a student from kindergarten through twelfth grade. California State Assemblyman and author of the bill Roger Dickinson stated in regards to the purpose of the new law, "k]ds who have been suspended or expelled are two times more likely to drop out and five times more likely to commit a crime."

India court convicts top official for corruption

An Indian court on Saturday sentenced Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram to four years in prison for corruption in a case that was filed 18 years ago. Special Judge John Michael D'Cunha held Jayaram "guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of her income" under Sections 109 and 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988. The sentence will strip Jayalalithaa of her position as chief minister, as Indian law prohibits any politician from holding public office after being sentenced to more than two years in jail.

Commerzbank said to face US laundering controls probe

Commerzbank AG, the German lender seeking to resolve a probe into Iran sanctions violations, also faces a US inquiry into whether it broke anti-money-laundering laws, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Tactics of subprime auto lenders

A piece of technology called the starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the engines of borrowers who don't pay on time as well as to track those cars' movements with GPS, is raising questions about the price of privacy. At what cost — to individual borrowers and to the broader financial system — should lenders be making subprime loans again? Subprime lenders are finding a market in a growing population who live in a parallel world where their wants and needs are met by pawnshops, payday lenders and other economic opportunists. Many are people who have had the economic ground cut from under them. The steep price of credit for the poor is literally signing over access to your every movement. The starter interrupt device serves as a kind of "scarlet letter" for borrowers whose lenders install it in their cars. The problem is not that the technology exists, but that you are not given the option to opt out. And that your movements and actions can be monitored without a warrant or your explicit consent, for legal or commercial purposes. There is a clear advantage of being able to account for a significant asset that is the security for a debt in the same way that mortgage companies need a legal process to collect on bad loans. But none of that excuses the abusive behavior.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The Mechanic. Mary Barra's Bumpy Ride at the Wheel of GM

Business Week
Ebola is coming

The Economist
America and Islamic State. Mission relaunched

Der Spiegel
Der Seher. Vor 100 Jahren: Franz Kafka beschreibt die Ängste des modernen Menschen

L'Espresso
Chi ha rubato i diretti civili?

  • Daily Press Review

Ashraf Ghani sworn in as Afghan president
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Search for missing hikers on Japanese volcano called off
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Protesters defiant amid HK stand-off
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Ex-congressman dies of injuries
CNN International, London, England

Nicola McLean shows off legs in pink shorts suit at screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Retired nurse, 90, left waiting in agony for ambulance for SIX hours after shattering her pelvis
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Hong Kong leaders ask pro-democracy demonstrators to leave peacefully
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Video: European Kurds swap violins for Kalashnikovs
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Simit sellers to be back in central Istanbul, municipality says
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Hong Kong protests: Instagram 'blocked' in China as candid images expose reality of rallies
Independent The, London, England

Two dead in monster truck accident at Dutch stunt show
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

George Clooney in pictures
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Hong Kong protesters defiant after tear gas chaos
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

'Secret' Behind Success of N.Korean Weightlifters
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Historic anxious handover as Afghanistan swears in new leader
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Man arrested for murdering live-in partner in South Delhi
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Hong Kong protesters defy tear gas volleys
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

When interviews go wrong
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

GSMA Announces Senior Executives from Avea, Du, Mobily and Zain Group to Speak at Mobile 360 Series-Middle East
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Alibaba gets permission to set up private bank in China
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters resist calls to disperse
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Chinese court sentences two men to death for killing pro-government imam
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

Cuba's Sugar Industry to Use Bagasse for Bioenergy
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Dollar broadly stronger as Hong Kong unrest caps stocks
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Historic, anxious handover as Afghanistan swears in new leader
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Toronto city councillor serves libel notice to election rival
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Sudan apostasy woman 'to campaign'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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