October 06, 2014 nº 1,552 - Vol. 12

"Our own epoch is determining, day by day, its own style. Our eyes, unhappily, are unable yet to discern it."

Le Corbusier

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  • Top News

Hackers' attack cracked 10 financial firms in major assault

The huge cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase that touched more than 83 million households and businesses was one of the most serious computer intrusions into an American corporation (click here). But it could have been much worse. Questions over who the hackers are and the approach of their attack concern government and industry officials. Also troubling is that about nine other financial institutions — a number that has not been previously reported — were also infiltrated by the same group of overseas hackers, according to people briefed on the matter. The hackers are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government. It is unclear whether the other intrusions, at banks and brokerage firms, were as deep as the one that JPMorgan disclosed on Thursday. The identities of the other institutions could not be immediately learned. The breadth of the attacks — and the lack of clarity about whether it was an effort to steal from accounts or to demonstrate that the hackers could penetrate even the best-protected American financial institutions — has left Washington intelligence officials and policy makers far more concerned than they have let on publicly. Some American officials speculate that the breach was intended to send a message to Wall Street and the United States about the vulnerability of the digital network of one of the world's most important banking institutions.

Hong Kong crisis turns on whether police learned lesson of Tahrir, Ukraine

Police around the world, who once routinely handled demonstrations such as Hong Kong's pro-democracy dissent with batons and tear gas, face new dilemmas in an age when dissident crowds are armed with smartphones, Facebook and Twitter. Tough tactics, flashed around the world by social media, can incite demonstrators and undermine a government's legitimacy, as happened in Cairo's Tahrir Square and Kiev's Maidan. Tactics for defusing conflict include avoiding riot gear, deciding early which actions merit arrest and soothing protesters by opening lines of communication. In Hong Kong, authorities eased an early crackdown, and protesters yesterday began allowing access to government buildings. "The days of a strong show of force no longer apply. Today, police have to be much more strategic and think about ways to de-escalate situations."

Law firm mergers continue their record pace

The number of law firm mergers and acquisitions in the US this year slightly outpaces last year's record for the first three quarters of 2013. The 22 US law firm mergers announced during the third quarter boosts the total number of combinations in 2014 to 62, compared with 58 in the same period of 2013. The 88 total tie-ups announced last year far surpassed the previous high of 70 reached in 2008. Altman Weil began tracking mergers in the first quarter of 2007.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Hong Kong Protests Dwindle as Negotiations Ease Tensions

Pro-democracy demonstrations in central Hong Kong dwindled after the start of talks with the government, with some roads and schools reopening as tensions eased that police were poised to clear protesters.

World Bank cuts China growth forecast for next three years

The World Bank has cut China's growth forecast for the next three years as the country tackles structural reforms. Growth in the world's second-largest economy will fall to 7.4% from a previous estimate of 7.6%, it said. The World Bank has become the latest in a series of major banks to downgrade their outlook for China on growth concerns.

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  • Brief News
Brazil's presidential vote is headed for a runoff

Incumbent Dilma Rousseff has won most votes in the country's presidential election, but has fallen short of outright victory. She received about 42% of the vote and faces a run-off against center-right rival Aecio Neves, who got 34%. Analysts now predict a potentially tight second round on 26 October. Rousseff said people had expressed their rejection of "the ghosts of the past, recession and unemployment", and vowed to continue to work for change. Neves, 54, a former governor of Minas Gerais state, called on Silva's supporters to back him, saying he represented "hope for change". (Click here)

Corruption has emerged in Brazil as a central theme of the presidential campaign

Brazilians' intolerance to corruption continues to grow. The process of fighting against it is slow and complex, but significant progress have been made to break the links between the state, political groups and contractors, which support each other. Corruption consumes 0.5% of GDP. But the impact of corruption goes far beyond this figure. In addition to cost to the society, there is the social harm. Corruption concentrates income, increases inequality, mainly affects the poorest and "privatize" the money of citizens for the benefit of the privileged few. Above all, it is an obstacle to the country's development. Corruption is certainly one of the causes of the inefficiency of the Brazilian state, social marginalization and defects of our political system.

Spanish PM urges talks over Catalonia referendum

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy has called for talks with the Catalan regional authorities about their planned independence referendum. On Friday, Catalan leader Artur Mas said he would press ahead with the vote despite a Constitutional Court ruling on Monday that it would be illegal. But Rajoy said no-one was above the law and Spain should stay united. Many of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants have long complained they get a raw deal from Spain's government.

US and EU 'make progress' in free trade area talks

Officials from the United States and the European Union say they have made progress as they seek to sweep away trade barriers. If successful an agreement would create the world's biggest free trade zone. They are trying to do that by eliminating tariffs (taxes on imported goods) and removing so-called "non-tariff obstacles". But while trade officials get on with detail, some of the general principles continue to generate vocal opposition. Perhaps the most controversial area is the provision for foreign investors to go to an international tribunal for compensation if a government breaks the rules in a way that harms the company's interests. Other critics are concerned that an agreement will drive down standards of consumer protection and food safety and will cost jobs. They also complain that the texts that negotiators are working on are not made public.

Japan wrongly blames US for repressive Japanese secrecy law

In Japan, a draconian secrecy law that will severely limit public debate on national security issues is about to go into effect. Not only is Japan blatantly disregarding internationally accepted standards for state secrecy laws, but it is wrongly blaming the United States for requiring the law as a condition of sharing sensitive information and intelligence. The US government must make it clear to Japan that its relationship with the United States will not be adversely affected if the law is changed.

Former Haiti president Duvalier dies

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator nicknamed "Baby Doc" after he succeeded his father in ruling the country, has died. After a brutal regime, Duvalier was sent into exile in 1986. Human rights groups say thousands of political prisoners were tortured or killed under his rule, and he was accused of massive corruption.

US unemployment rate hit a six-year low

The US unemployment rate dipped to 5.9% in September, a six-year low. The rate fell from 6.1% in August and is the lowest recorded since July 2008. US Labor Department also said that employers added 248,000 jobs last month, and the job growth figures for August and July were revised upwards. The jobs figures are seen as a significant gauge of the health of the economy and there has been much debate over when US interest rates will rise.

Sweden to recognize Palestinian state

The move, which was announced by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, would make Sweden the first major European nation to take that step. "A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine," Lofven said during his inaugural address in Parliament. He did not say when such a move would occur, however. The move would place Sweden among more than 100 other countries that recognize a Palestinian state, but most Western nations still don't recognize Palestine. EU member states — such as Hungary and Poland — that do recognize a Palestinian state did so before they joined the bloc.

How tough is the mortgage market? Even Bernanke can't get refinanced

The former Fed chair told an audience in Chicago that he was unable to refinance his home loan, adding that lenders "may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions." He just changed jobs a few months ago. And in the thoroughly automated world of mortgage finance, having recently changed jobs makes you a steeper credit risk.

Egyptian judge involved in mass sentences of Muslim Brotherhood removed from post

Egyptian judge Said Youssef was removed from his position on the Minya Criminal Court of Egypt on Tuesday to a seat on the civilian judicial court in Egypt. The Minya court, known as one of the nation's terrorism courts, was the forum for two mass sentences of hundreds of Islamic supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year. The Minya court is the most high profile of the terrorism courts in Egypt and it is the only court of its kind which will be dismantled. Youssef will be transferred to a civilian court in Egypt. According to Egyptian news sources, a removal of this kind is regarded as a demotion and only occurs in a limited number of circumstances: either the judge has been tied to an act which has damaged their reputation or a special committee determination has found the judge is no longer capable of hearing criminal court cases. The ousting of Youssef may signal a change in the policy of the Egyptian judiciary, which has been criticized for a lack of judicial due process and sentencing of civilians based on their political affiliation.

Airbus insider trading trial begins in France

The trial involving allegations of insider trading in shares of Airbus Group began on Friday after an eight-year investigation. Seven current and former managers at Airbus Group and two former industrial shareholders in Airbus' parent European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. (EADS) are accused of trying to profit from inside knowledge of financial problems with two jet development projects when they sold shares in 2006. All accused deny the charges and argue that the trial should be halted because they have already been cleared by the French stock market regulator. The three-week Paris trial will take place in front of a panel of judges. If convicted, the defendants will face a fine up to 10 times the amount gained from the share deals and up to two years in prison.

BP seeking payment reversals may reignite damages fight

BP Plc is seeking to undo payments to some victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill in a move opposing lawyers warn could open the floodgates to challenging hundreds of thousands of individual damage-claim awards.

Hewlett-Packard is said to be planning a split of businesses

The company would be split into two entities — one focused on HP's traditional business in personal computers and printers, and the other consisting of computer servers, data storage devices, networking, software and services aimed at businesses. In a little over a year, stalwarts like Microsoft, IBM and Dell have changed chief executives, sold big parts of their businesses or gone private. All of them, along with a host of other companies that became behemoths during a 20-year boom in personal computing and the Internet, are rushing to cope with the rise in mobile devices connected to cloud systems. A sell-off of the PC business, possibly with printing, had previously been considered and rejected by Meg Whitman, HP's chief executive. She argued that owning that much computer manufacturing, which made HP the world's largest buyer of computer semiconductors, gave HP valuable pricing power in all its markets. Rather than pricing power, Whitman appears to have decided, HP needs greater speed and agility that might come with two smaller and more focused companies.

A bigger world of international law

The field of international public law is gradually spreading globally, a handful of universities in the United States and in Europe hold disproportionate sway when it comes to training the international-law elite. But as courts and nongovernmental organizations look for wider geographical representation among their lawyers, smaller and newer law schools in Asia and Australia and law schools that offer specialized postgraduate degrees are moving to catch up. However, those universities and a few others like them, primarily in England and on the East Coast of the United States, still lead the relatively young market — not only because of their wealthy endowments, renowned faculties, ready access to fellowships, internships and development opportunities and stellar brands — but also simply because employers can more easily asses the graduates of the universities they know.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The umbrella revolution. Hong Kong Stands Up. Why the territory's fight for democracy is a challenge for China

Newsweek
South Sudan, Humanitarian Failure & Celebrity. How George Clooney and his celebrity friends helped to engineer the birth of a new African country, and then saw it implode

Business Week
Faster company

The Economist
Hong Kong protests. The Party v the people

Der Spiegel
Die Abrechnung. Helmut Kohl - Die geheimen Gesprächsprotokolle

L'Espresso
Vivere in 3D. Ogni oggetto può essere stampato. Incluse le repliche di se stessi. Ecco l'Internet delle cose made in Italy

  • Daily Press Review

Brazil's president forced into run-off race
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Brazilians voting in nail-biter presidential election
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Cable plans pay rise for apprentices
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Phelps 'to attend a program'
CNN International, London, England

'Oh my gosh... why?' Posh Chloe Jasmine can't believe Cheryl Versini-Fernandez has put her through†to The X Factor live shows
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

BREAKING NEWS: Shrien Dewani arrives in the dock to finally face trial over the honeymoon murder of his new bride Anni
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Motorway pile up leaves several dead in northern Greece
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Brazil's Rousseff to face pro-business Neves in 'surprise' runoff
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Turkey ranks 3rd most generous donor country
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Brazil presidential elections: Dilma†Rousseff faces run-off against rival Aecio Neves
Independent The, London, England

If Tommy the chimp is a 'person', why is he in a cage?
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Paul Merton: 'I couldn't have written about my father while he was alive'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Comey: Chinese hackers like a 'drunk burglar'
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Sports Stars that Shone in Incheon Asiad
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Hong Kong protests thin civil servants back at work
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

RPF cops beat railway passenger to death
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

German factory orders down sharply in August
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

When PM went to the footy
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Your Top Plays for Today
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Struggling Euro Disney announces 1 bn-euro recapitalisation scheme
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Hong Kong protests: Government workers return as protests thin out
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Are we still that compassionate Canada?
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

Panama, a Country and a Canal with Development at Two Speeds
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Euro Disney agrees to funding deal backed by Walt Disney
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Hong Kong protests face test of stamina as city returns to work
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Sick Kids' researcher awaiting word on Nobel Prize
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Dewani trial begins in Cape Town
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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