October 20, 2014 nº 1,557 - Vol. 12

"We only think when we are confronted with a problem."

John Dewey

Insider's view: see how local concerns shape up the global world. Read the daily press review in Migalhas International

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  • Top News

Partner exits magnify woes of destabilized firms

A freewheeling market for high-end legal talent is ratcheting up the pressure on law firms that stumble. Law firms are facing increased competition for work at a time of slack demand for legal services, making rainmaking partners at troubled firms especially tempting targets for rivals looking to gain an edge. But raids of key lawyers or practice groups can further destabilize firms, sowing doubt among those who remain about a partnership's future even as leaders work to turn things around. Plunges in revenue or profitability can leave firms especially vulnerable, and, increasingly, without the luxury of time to undertake big restructuring plans. "Once you publish those financial figures, the vultures circle."   To be sure, not all departures are equal. Firms that have had a bad year or two often ask unproductive partners to leave. The trick, legal experts say, is in coaxing stronger lawyers to hang in there while firm leaders try to clean up the balance sheet. That becomes more complicated once a firm's woes become public. Many partners don't want to be left holding the bag if a firm goes under. Switching firms no longer carries a stigma. Many lawyers now routinely evaluate offers that promise more money, prestige or just a better fit for their personalities or practices. "It's like a baseball team where everybody is on a one-year contract." But when prominent partners begin leaving a firm, industry watchers tend to sit up and take notice. Group exits can signal unhappiness with a firm's management or strategic direction. Problems can snowball, as recruiters and other firms seize openings to raid talent.

UK legal market back to 2008 levels

The UK legal services market bounced back this year, as revenue and profit per equity partner reached levels not seen since the global financial meltdown in 2008. About 80 percent of the 250 law firms polled reported increased revenue, compared with 63 percent last year. Average profit per equity partner surpassed 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) at the top 10 firms for the first time since 2008 and improved at all firms. The improvement was driven by increased merger activity and a general return to growth in the UK. Takeovers of UK companies have risen 47 percent so far this year to $142 billion.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China Communist Party plenum to begin in Beijing

A key meeting of Chinese Communist Party leaders focusing on the rule of law and fighting corruption is due to begin in Beijing. The plenum is the annual gathering of the 205 members of the party's Central Committee. The Chinese Communist Party has nearly 90 million members but power resides with the Central Committee. The role of the attendees is merely to nod through the policies set out by the Communist Party leader and national President Xi Jinping. Xi has made tackling corruption a hallmark of his presidency since assuming the position in 2013. However, critics say he does not intend to make the Communist Party itself subject to the law - by, for example, setting up an independent judiciary.

Scholars press China to embrace judicial independence

As China's Communist leaders meet to consider how to bring greater flexibility to the country's tightly-managed legal system, scholars are pressing them to include the words "judicial independence" in formal party documents for the first time. It's a hot-button issue in a country that enshrines the ultimate authority of the party and has told judges to prioritize it along with the law. Leaders have avoided the phrase -- which evokes Western ideology -- even as they say they want a fair and independent exercise of judicial power.

China official given death sentence

The former deputy chief engineer of the now disbanded railway ministry in China is given a suspended death sentence for corruption. Zhang Shuguang was found guilty by a court in Beijing of taking bribes of more than 47m yuan ($7.7m) over 11 years. The court heard he used his position to help companies secure rail contracts.

Hong Kong's leader blames foreigners for fanning protests

Pro-democracy activists have strongly denied Hong Kong leader CY Leung's claim that "external forces" are involved in protests in the territory. Student activist Alex Chow said the leader's comments were "irresponsible", and said Leung had not provided any evidence to support his claim. Pro-democracy demonstrations have paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for the past three weeks.

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  • Brief News

Uber Technologies fights French Court ruling

Uber Technologies Inc. is challenging a French court ruling that deems one of its fastest-growing services to be illegal in France, escalating a fight amid the car-hailing company's broader battles in Europe. A Paris criminal court ruled Thursday that the San Francisco company's new UberPop service, which connects passengers with drivers who don't have professional licenses, violates a prior decision that bans carpooling for profit. It ordered the company to pay a €100,000 ($128,000) fine for "deceptive practices." Uber "incites people…to participate in the UberPop transport service by giving the impression that it is legal, when in fact it is not because of its for-profit nature," the decision said. Uber said it would continue to operate as normal while it appeals the French decision. On Friday, there were still numerous UberPop vehicles available for hire via the company's mobile-phone app in Paris.

Prominent Iran human rights lawyer banned from practicing law

The semi-official news group Iranian Students' News Agency reported on Sunday that an Iranian court has banned a prominent human rights lawyer from practicing law for three years. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has won numerous awards for her work, stated that she will not appeal the decision. However, she plans to stage a protest outside the Iran Bar Association headquarters later this week. Sotoudeh claims that the bar association had been under pressure to ban her ever since she was released early from prison last year after being sentenced in 2011 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.

No US travel ban over Ebola

Obama rules out imposing a travel ban on Ebola-affected regions of West Africa, and urges Americans not to give in to "hysteria" over the disease. He stressed that the US was not in the middle of an outbreak or an epidemic and urged Americans to stay calm. However, the president was furious with his aides over an inadequate response to the disease.

Vatican Bishops scrap opening to gays, divorced members

An interim summary of the synod on family issues included conciliatory language on gays and on the taking of holy communion for divorced church members. Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope's backing. The call to "accept and value" homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the backing of two-thirds of the bishops at a synod in Rome. The final report says only that anti-gay discrimination is "to be avoided".

Australia lifts parliament veil ban

The Australian government has reversed a decision which would have restricted access to parliament in Canberra for women wearing full-face Islamic veils. Earlier this month, parliament said anyone visiting the building with their face covered would have to sit in a separate area of the public gallery. The move was widely seen as being aimed at Muslim women in burkas or niqabs, prompting discrimination accusations. (Click here)

Yellen warns on growing inequality in the US

US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said that she was "greatly concerned" about rising inequality in the US. "I think it is appropriate to ask whether is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history," she said.  Some worried the speech politicized the Fed in favor of Democrats. She has made efforts since taking over as head of the central bank in January to focus more on issues beyond the basic rate-setting role of the Fed. She cited the "Great Gatsby Curve", which has found that "among advanced economies, greater income inequality is associated with diminished intergenerational mobility". To combat this trend, she advised focusing on four issues: affordable higher education, inheritance policy, business ownership and help for children.

EU Commission sues Sweden for online betting and poker laws

The European Commission filed a lawsuit against Sweden on Thursday for failing to change its laws on online betting and poker games that breach EU law on the free movement of services. The EU referred Sweden to the Court of Justice (ECJ) in two separate cases related to its restriction of gambling license to domestic and state-owned operators only. "Changes to the Swedish gambling law in order to make it compliant with EU law have long been envisaged but never implemented," the Commission said in a statement. The cases concern licensing for online betting and poker games. Sweden only grants license to domestic operators and state-owned entities, which, according to the Commission, is in direct contradiction of EU rules on the free movement of services.

Supreme Court lets Texas enforce voter ID law for Nov. election

With three justices dissenting, the high court's ruling effectively blocks a lower federal court decision declaring the law restrictive and unconstitutional.

Rousseff says evidence shows Petrobras funds diverted

Dilma Rousseff for the first time said evidence exists that money was illegally diverted from state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Officials still don't know how much money was siphoned from Petrobras and who diverted the funds, Rousseff said yesterday in a televised debate, repeating what she told journalists Oct. 18 in Brasilia. She told reporters the state would seek reimbursement of any funds illegally diverted from the oil company.

Pistorius prosecutor urges 10-year jail term for Steenkamp death

Oscar Pistorius's lawyer asked the judge to hand down a sentence of house arrest with community service for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, while the prosecution called for a minimum 10-year jail term.

Facebook not a valid way for mom to tell dad she's pregnant

A pregnant unwed mother can't use Facebook alone to notify the father about the baby before putting the child up for adoption, Oklahoma's highest civil court has ruled. The case was the latest to test the legal weight of communication through Facebook and other social media. Previously, for instance, courts have debated whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit could use Facebook to serve legal papers — such as summonses or hearing notices — on a defendant. The case was the latest to test the legal weight of communication through Facebook and other social media. Previously, for instance, courts have debated whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit could use Facebook to serve legal papers — such as summonses or hearing notices — on a defendant.

More bad news for European initial public offerings.

Virgin Money, the British financial services company partly owned by the billionaire Richard Branson became the third European issuer to pull its I.P.O. in the last week. The poor performance of several listings in Europe this month – including the highly anticipated I.P.O.s of the German online seller Zalando and the German technology company Rocket Internet – has given several issuers cold feet recently. Aldermore, a British online bank, and Spie, the French engineering and construction company, both postponed their offerings in the last week.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time

The most interesting man in American politics. The Reinventions of Rand Paul

Newsweek

Tense Ceasefire in the Hopeless Towns of 'Happiness' and 'Victory' in Ukraine

Business Week

Basket Ballmer. Steve Ballmer power forward.

The Economist

The epidemic in West Africa. The war on Ebola

Der Spiegel

Das schöne Geld!. Wie der Kapitalismus unser Vermögen gefährdet

L'Espresso

Promesse da Matteo

  • Daily Press Review

US airdrops weapons for Kurds fighting ISIL
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Latest updates / Obama keeps flexible schedule as White House response to Ebola evolves
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Downing Street rejects Barroso claims
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

What N. Korea wants to keep secret
CNN International, London, England

Cheryl Fernandez-Versin loses Chloe-Jasmine Whichello AND Stephanie Nala in X Factor double elimination
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Lynda Bellingham dies 'in her husband's arms' from bowel cancer
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

US air drops arms to Kurdish forces defending Kobani
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

US airdrops supplies to Kurds battling IS militants in Kobane
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

The fountains of Ottoman Istanbul
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Swedish military 'sights Russian submarine' off coast of Stockholm
Independent The, London, England

The Sudanese 'spies' in London Starbucks
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Lynda Bellingham dies after cancer fight
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

HK leader: 'External forces' involved in protests
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Pantech Files for Bankruptcy Protection in U.S.
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Mountainsized comet Siding Spring whizzes past Mars
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Kochi Metro will be ready on time: Chandy
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Germany's tax take still rising as growth cools
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Man collapses in peak hour
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Germany's tax take still rising as growth cools
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Hindus to return to Pakistan after PTI comes to power: Imran Khan
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

U.S. conducts airdrops to Kurdish forces battling ISIS in Syria
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

China's ruling party opens annual meeting to discuss how to bolster the country's rule of law
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 Cocktail of Political and Narco-Violence and Poverty
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Pilots extend Lufthansa strikes to long-haul flights
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

U.S. military says air-drops weapons for Kurdish fighters near Kobani
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Rob Ford kicked out of three advance polling stations
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Nigeria to be declared Ebola-free
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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