October 13, 2014 nº 1,554 - Vol. 12

"If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn't swim."

Margaret Thatcher

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  • Top News

Are internal bribery probes private?

Attorney-client privilege protections over corporate investigations led by outside law firms are eroding. To tackle corporate bribery, the US Department of Justice is increasingly relying on companies to turn over their own bad apples. But one former chief executive is trying to turn the tables, arguing that he should be able to use the results of the corporate investigation that uncovered corruption allegations against him. Companies often hire outside law firms to conduct internal investigations after they uncover evidence of bribery. Such probes serve an increasing role in enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law prohibiting foreign bribery. In exchange for a shot at leniency for the company, the outside counsel often turns over its evidence to the Justice Department, which can then use the findings to pursue individual executives. Given the central role these probes can play in prosecutions, some now question whether the information gathered by these firms should be protected with the same shield of confidentiality granted other attorney work. While the Justice Department has to turn over documents to defense that are part of its own investigation, a spokesman said it doesn't involve itself in the discovery of outside counsel. Attorneys who represent companies in these probes say that allowing subpoenas of an outside law firm would have a chilling effect on companies seeking to discover internal wrongdoing. Experts say that courts have begun to erode the protections over internal probes.

HRW urges UN and donor countries to press Israel on Gaza blockade lift

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Sunday urged the UN and donating countries to press Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip. HRW claims that the restrictions are "disproportionate to security considerations" and "unnecessarily harm people's access to food, water, education, and other fundamental rights in Gaza." The restrictions date back as far as 2000 when Israel blocked Palestinians in Gaza from traveling to the West Bank. When Hamas took over in 2007, many more restrictions were implemented, including items deemed "dual-use goods" which could potentially be used to aid the military. HRW executive director Sarah Leah Whitson stated, "Donors who keep footing the bill to rebuild Gaza should insist that Israel lift unjustified restrictions that are worsening a grim humanitarian situation and needlessly punishing civilians."

Federal appeals court revives whistleblower lawsuit against JPMorgan

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Thursday revived a whistleblower's lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co.. In a unanimous decision, the court vacated and remanded a lower court's grant of summary judgment to JPMorgan, which had effectively tossed a suit filed by former vice president Jennifer Sharkey. Sharkey filed a complaint in October 2009 with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claiming that JPMorgan ignored major signs of fraudulent consumer practices in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. OSHA dismissed her complaint, and the trial court agreed, concluding that Sharkey, as a whistleblower, did not engage in protected activity because she failed to show that "her complaints 'definitively and specifically' related to one of the six enumerated categories of misconduct identified in Section 806." The appeals court, however, revived the suit, citing its recent ruling in Nielsen v. AECOM Tech. Corp., which held the requirement "definitively and specifically" was too strict and found that those bringing suit simply had to show that they "reasonably believed" that their complaints constituted a violation of the enumerated federal provisions.

UN rights official calls for international abolition of death penalty

Speaking at the Geneva presentation of a report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Moving Away from the Death Penalty, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic urged the international abolition of the death penalty. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon released a statement in support of the sentiment, saying "The taking of life is too irreversible for one person to inflict on another. We must continue arguing strongly that the death penalty is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights." Simonovic expressed particular concern with the increase in the number of executions in recent years, despite a growing trend internationally toward the abolition of the death penalty. Currently 160 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Scuffles break out at Admiralty camp

Scuffles have broken out in Hong Kong as opponents of the pro-democracy movement moved in on the main protest site in the financial district. Hundreds of men, some wearing surgical masks, rushed the barricades set up by protesters in recent weeks.

China's September trade data beats expectations

China's exports and imports in September were far higher than expected. Exports were 15.3% higher than last year, while imports rose 7%, giving a trade surplus of $31bn for the month. The data beat analysts' expectations, who had expected a 12% rise in exports and a fall of up to 3% in imports. China's economy has struggled this year to maintain growth rates, with weak factory activity and slowing domestic demand from a cooling housing market.


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  • Brief News
Corporations drive drop in law firms' use of starting lawyers

Corporations, looking to slash their legal costs, have homed in on a soft spot for many law firms — their first-year associates — and cut their billable hours steeply from the amounts five years ago, according to a new study that looked at $16.2 billion in firm invoices. Since law firm revenues are largely based on self-reporting, what drives the billable hour has often seemed a bit murky, but entry-level lawyers long pumped up profits for law firms, which routinely charged high rates for the services of the associates, however inexperienced they were. But as corporations keep a tight rein on outside legal costs, they are paring back the use of the lowest-rung lawyers at firms, according to the 2014 Real Rate Report. That has resulted in a 60 percent drop in billings for first-year lawyers, to 1.2 percent of all firm hours billed, down from 3.4 percent five years ago, the report found. Companies are instead using the services of the more senior partners — but for lesser amounts of time — a switch that helped contribute to nearly flat revenues for law firms.

Liberia strike threat over Ebola

Liberian health officials are appealing to nurses and medical assistants not to go ahead with a national strike, as the Ebola epidemic continues. The National Health Workers Association wants an increase in the monthly risk fee paid to those treating Ebola cases. In the US, Obama has directed more steps to be taken to ensure high safety procedures when dealing with suspected Ebola patients. The risk fee is currently less than $500 a month, on top of basic salaries of between $200-$300. Staff are now seeking a risk fee of $700 a month. The risk fee is currently less than $500 a month, on top of basic salaries of between $200-$300. Staff are now seeking a risk fee of $700 a month.

Donors pledge $5.4bn for Palestinians

International donors have pledged $5.4bn for the Palestinians at a conference in Cairo. The total, announced by the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Boerge Brende, exceeded the $4bn the Palestinian Authority had asked for. Half the sum would be "dedicated" to work in Gaza, he said, without specifying a use for the other half. At least 100,000 Gazans lost their homes in the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas earlier this year. Much of the territory's infrastructure was damaged. Earlier the Palestinian and Egyptian presidents called on Israel to commit to a long-term peace initiative. Mahmoud Abbas and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged Israel to give up land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and accept a fair solution for Palestinian refugees in exchange for full recognition.

Concerns rise over US-EU trade talks

There are rising concerns in Europe over negotiations to liberalize trade with the United States. The project, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, aims to remove a wide range of barriers to bilateral commerce, but it has proved to be extremely controversial. Demonstrations were taking place across Europe on Saturday, with large numbers of events in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The European Commission decided to hold a public consultation. There were 150,000 responses which the Commission is still analyzing. The conduct of the negotiations is also contentious. Campaigners say they are secretive and undemocratic. They dispute TTIP advocates' claims about the economic benefits.

Turkey 'agrees to US use of bases

Turkey has agreed to let the US and its allies use its military bases for operations in Iraq and Syria. The US welcomed the new agreement, which included the training of moderate Syrian rebels.

Twitter is suing the US over free speech (its own)

Twitter sued the federal government because it stopped the tech company from disclosing government requests for user information. Twitter says the current disclosure rules aren't transparent enough. Tech companies can report the number of requests they receive in broad terms. Twitter hopes to put users at ease by giving them more detail about the requests, but the government is keeping them quiet.

Supreme Court of Canada rules torture victims cannot sue foreign countries

Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that citizens cannot sue foreign governments for torture. Under the State Immunity Act, a foreign state is immune from the jurisdiction of any court in Canada, unless that state has waived such immunity.

Exxon owed $1.6bn by Venezuela for 2007 nationalization

Venezuela must pay oil giant Exxon Mobil $1.6bn in compensation for expropriated assets, an international arbitration tribunal has decided. Exxon had claimed up to $16.6bn over the nationalization of its Cerro Negro Project and other losses in 2007. Venezuela has not said whether it will appeal. But the foreign minister said the decision was "reasonable". The ruling was made by the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). It is a blow to Venezuela, which is struggling with a shortage of foreign currency, inflation and a stagnating economy.

Morales claims Bolivia election win

Bolivia's President Evo Morales claims election victory and a third term in office, as votes are counted and exit polls show him winning. "This win is a triumph for anti-imperialists and anti-colonialists," he told cheering supporters at the presidential palace in La Paz. He has presided over a a period of economic growth and reduced poverty, using Bolivia's commodity wealth to reduce poverty levels. But he has been criticized for failing to halt corruption.

Election setback for Brazil's Dilma

Influential Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva backs opposition candidate Aecio Neves against Dilma Rousseff in the presidential poll run-off. She cited Neves's "commitments" as the reason for supporting him. Brazil's opinion polls will probably reflect this news with an even bigger lead for the PSDB candidate over President Rousseff, but the polls are notoriously volatile and should not be taken as any indicator how the voting will go on 26 October.

Pakistan asks UN for border protection

The Pakistan Government on Sunday wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleading for assistance in border protection after at least 14 people were shot and killed near Kashmir. Pakistan has accused India of deliberately violating the established ceasefire by allowing cross border shootings. Pakistan prime minister on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz stated within the letter to the UN, "I write to bring to your urgent attention the deteriorating security situation along the line of control in Jammu & Kashmir, as well as along the International Border between Pakistan and India." Pakistan believes that the UN must take action to address this issue to promote a just resolution.

Putin 'orders Russian troop pullback'

Putin has ordered thousands of troops stationed near the Ukrainian border to return to their bases. About 17,600 soldiers on training exercises in the Rostov region would be pulled back. However, Nato and US officials said they saw no evidence of soldiers being moved. Russia has previously announced troop withdrawals that Nato and the US say were not actually carried out. Russia has been accused of supplying troops and weapons to separatist rebels in east Ukraine - claims it denies.

Putin deals China winning hand as sanctions power rival

Defying his former enemies in the US and Europe may force Vladimir Putin to aid the ascent of his biggest rival in the east. Isolated over Ukraine, Russia is relying on China for the investment it needs to avert a recession. This means caving in to pressure to grant China privileged access to the two things it wants most: raw materials and advanced weapons.

Microsoft's boss sorry for women's pay comments

The boss of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, has apologized for remarks he made advising women not to ask for a pay rise but to have "faith in the system". At a conference to celebrate women in technology, he suggested that women not asking for a rise was "good karma". The resulting commentary is the stuff of Microsoft public relations nightmares. "Nadella achieved this emotional engagement by offering up the most deplorable and incorrect advice to women in the workplace.” The comments sparked outrage and Nadella has now apologized.

Egypt jails Muslim Brotherhood leaders for 15 years over lawyer's torture

An Egyptian court on Saturday jailed eight men, including two Muslim Brotherhood leaders, for 15 years over the torture of a lawyer during 2011 uprisings against former president Hosni Mubarak. The defendants were convicted of torturing, electrocuting and sexually assaulting a lawyer after locking him up for three days near Cairo's Tahrir Square when it was filled with protesters against Mubarak.

Courts reject Texas and Wisconsin voter ID laws

Two US courts have struck down largely Republican-backed voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin just weeks before November's midterm elections. Critics have argued the laws are illegal poll taxes on the poor, often racial minorities who lean Democratic. The ruling could spare millions of registered voters in both states from being forced to acquire photo ID in order to cast their ballots. The Texas Republican attorney general has vowed to appeal against the ruling.

Oil price down again on growth fears

Global oil prices fall again with Brent crude at a near four-year low amid renewed worries about sluggish global growth.

The Holidays bring a new season for credit card breaches

Shoppers are heading into the heavy-spending season with no new credit safeguards in place. Experts say it'll be at least another year before the US system moves beyond technology from the 1970s.

Uber insists 'ceci n'est pas un taxi' in city of Magritte

In the city of Rene Magritte, Uber Technologies Inc. finds itself in a surreal situation. While the authorities of Brussels have claimed that the company's Uber Pop product is illegal under city regulations, the service remains fully up and running. "Brussels is one of our fastest growing European cities," Filip Nuytemans, Uber's operations manager in the Belgian capital, said. "We are within our rights in Belgium so there is absolutely no reason for us to back off, and we have not. Growth is increasing week after week." A kaleidoscopic blur of events has taken place in Belgium's capital since Uber started operations there in February, including a court ruling against the service, guerrilla tactics by licensed taxi drivers, and a clash between the city authorities and a senior official with the European Union, which has its headquarters there. Brussels authorities last week announced a fresh wave of controls, including potential car seizures against Uber.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

The Truth About Home Cooking. Eating at home is good for your health, good for your family—and, with the right approach, far easier than you think

Months After Robin Williams, Hotlines Still See a Spike. A full two months after Robin Williams' August 11 death from suicide, a scattered handful of mental health professionals and volunteers are still feeling the aftereffects.

Business Week
It's Raining Cat Videos on TWC

The Economist
Human rights. The gay divide

Der Spiegel
Allahs gottlose Armee. Hilferuf aus Kobane: "Sie kommen zu Tausenden, es werden immer mehr!"

Un muro non basta. tTtti i muri del mondo. Il 9 novembre di 25 anni fa cadeva quello di Berlino. Da allora sono stati costruiti 8 mila chilometri di barriere. In Medioriente, Europa, Asia, America. Ecco la mappa

  • Daily Press Review

Hong Kong protesters charged by masked men
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Latest updates / WHO calls Ebola most severe health crisis in modern times
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Four-hour NHS strike comes to end
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Cities reinvent Columbus Day
CNN International, London, England

Frankie Bridge enjoys date night with husband Wayne
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Storm as Sadie launches lacy lingerie with daughter, 13
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

South Africa waits to see what punishment is given Pistorius
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Scuffles in Hong Kong as hundreds charge protest barricades
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Loukanikos, Greece's 'protest dog,' dies of heart attack
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

MH370: Airline boss claims missing flight did not crash into Indian Ocean
Independent The, London, England

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

Clashes at Jerusalem holy site as Palestinians locked in mosque after police intervene
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Sam Taylor-Johnson: 'I am completely, utterly obsessed with clothes'
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Fifth suspect held in latest oil scandal
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Anti-N.Korea Activists Must Show Some Common Sense
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pakistan PM unlikely to attend Malalas Nobel ceremony
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Woman attempts self-immolation at Madurai collectorate
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Bishops acknowledging reality of Catholic families
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Sydney school bus crashes
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

BC-TEN--Kremlin Cup Results
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Aegis to set up APAC hub in Melbourne, create 550 jobs
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Assisted suicide: Where do Canada and other countries stand?
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

The transformative power of giving
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

Acid Oceans Could Deal Heavy Blow to Fishing-Dependant Nations
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Exclusive - Privately, Saudis tell oil market: get used to lower prices
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Typhoon Vongfong hits south Japan, moves to main island
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Council candidates grilled over who they support for mayor
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Liberia strike threat over Ebola
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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