December 3, 2014 nº 1,576 - Vol. 12

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

 Oscar Wilde

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  • Top News

AstraZeneca fights billions in possible Nexium damages

AstraZeneca Plc , in a first trial since the US Supreme Court ruled drug makers can be sued over so-called pay-to-delay deals, is fighting to avoid what might be billions of dollars in damages over claims it illegally paid to block generic versions of the heartburn tablet Nexium. The case against AstraZeneca and Indian generic-drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. challenges a 2008 settlement of a patent lawsuit that stalled sales of a cheaper version of top-selling Nexium in the US until AstraZeneca's patents expired last May. Dozens of wholesalers, pharmacy companies and hundreds of thousands of possible individual consumers were overcharged billions of dollars for years as a result of the deal, according to the complaint. While the terms of the accord are private, plaintiffs argue Ranbaxy got more than $1 billion, a payment they claim violated antitrust law and is too high for a patent dispute. AstraZeneca and Ranbaxy started a six-week jury trial on Oct. 20 in Boston, setting up the first test of what limits may be placed on pay-for-delay deals deployed by drug makers to protect steady streams of revenue on popular drugs. US District Judge William Young scheduled closing arguments for today.

Big law firms bring back hefty bonuses for associates

Associates at large law firms in New York are taking home bonuses this year of $15,000 to $100,000, or more, depending on their tenure.

Encouraging public service, through Wall Street's 'revolving door'

The boards of Wall Street's biggest banks recently received a letter posing a provocative question. Why, the letter asked, do banks routinely pay out special compensation packages to executives who leave to take government jobs when those packages were intended to retain them? "Unless the position of these companies is that this is just a backdoor way to pay off a newly minted government official to act in Wall Street's private interests rather than the public interest, it is very difficult to see how these policies promote long-term shareholder value," the letter declared. The letter, sent by Heather Slavkin Corzo, director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s office of investment, has created a stir within the halls of banks and parts of corporate America. Ms. Slavkin Corzo appears to be preparing to go to war with the banks over the pay policy, already submitting proxy proposals to have shareholders vote against it at the annual meetings of Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, for starters.

Law school is buyers' market, with top students in demand

In the new topsy-turvy law school world, students are increasingly in control as nearly all of the 204 accredited law schools battle for the students with the best academic credentials. Gone are the days when legal educators bestowed admittance and college graduates gratefully accepted, certain that they were on the path to a highly paid, respectable career. Law schools, facing declining enrollment, are trying to attract students by cutting or freezing tuition and increasing financial aid. Now, financially wobbly law schools face plunging enrollment, strenuous resistance to five-figure student debt and the lack of job guarantees — in addition to the need to balance their battered budgets. With the declining interest, law schools have been working hard behind the scenes to trim their operations and to expand their offerings of joint degrees in, say, law and medicine. Still they are trying to avoid wholesale cuts in faculty or degrees, steps that would publicly eviscerate their business model and reputation.

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  • Crumbs

1 - US top court debates if online death threats are free speech - click here.

2 - Alibaba, Tencent chairmen invest in China's Ping An Insurance-click here.

3 - Apple heads to trial over digital music claims  - click here.

4 - U.K. Lawmakers Say China Has Banned Them From Hong Kong -click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China and Turkey among biggest losers in corruption ranking

China and Turkey are among countries that tumbled the most in a global corruption ranking as they displayed widespread or increased levels of bribery, graft and opacity, Transparency International said. China fell to 100th place on the list, down from 80th last year, the watchdog group said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Turkey slid to 64th place from 53rd in 2013. Egypt and Afghanistan gained in the ranking, which places the least corrupt countries at the top.

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  • Historia Verdadera 

Exxon-Venezuela

El tribunal arbitral del Banco Mundial no decidirá este año si procede la revisión de un fallo que ordena a Venezuela pagar US$1.600 mlls. a Exxon por la expropiación de activos. (Presione aquí)

Petrobras

Petrobras informó que encontró gas natural en un pozo de exploración en Colombia, el primer descubrimiento en aguas profundas en la costa Caribe del país. Petrobras es el operador del bloque Tayrona con un 40 por ciento de participación. La petrolera estatal colombiana Ecopetrol y la española Repsol tienen cada una un 30 por ciento en el área.

BID

El Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo firmó un préstamo de US$ 94,7 mlls. para apoyar la industrialización del complejo sojero de Paraguay mediante el financiamiento al Complejo Agroindustrial Angostura S.A. (Caiasa), una nueva planta de molienda de soja que será la mayor del país.

  • Brief News

French MPs back Palestinian state

French MPs vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state, in a highly symbolic gesture that will not be binding upon the government. The vote follows similar moves in the UK and Spain, whose parliaments have also approved non-binding resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state. Palestinian leaders welcomed the French decision; but Israel criticized it, warning it would dent hopes of peace. France has Europe's largest populations of Jews and Muslims.

UN report criticizes US compliance with anti-torture treaty

The UN Committee Against Torture released a report on Friday that found the US has fallen short of full compliance with the Convention Against Torture international treaty. Police brutality, detention facilities, military interrogations and the criminalization of torture itself were several of the top concerns. The committee raised particular concern regarding the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, urging the US to cease the indefinite holding of suspects of terrorism-related activities without official charge or trial, to "appropriately prosecute those responsible" for detainee mistreatment and to "ensure effective redress for victims." The panel called on the US to abolish unreasonable sleep deprivation during military interrogations as well as the practice of sensory deprivation, as scientific studies have shown that it induces psychosis. The committee also urged the US to federally criminalize torture

Iran 'conducts air strikes' in Iraq

Iran has made air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq in recent days, though not in co-ordination with the US, the Pentagon says. Shia-ruled Iran has close ties to Iraq's Shia-led government, which has struggled to counter IS militants as they seized swathes of territory in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. The US has said it would be inappropriate for Iran to join that coalition, even though the two long-time adversaries face a common enemy in IS. Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, the US and Iran have had a fraught relationship.

Petrobras' $100 million man tops graft haul in scandal

Brazil's biggest money laundering and corruption scandal just got bigger with a high-level executive's pledge to return $100 million and testify against colleagues including his former boss at state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Pedro Barusco, a third-tier executive who reported to the head of the engineering division until 2010, contacted prosecutors and confessed he took bribes from construction companies, according to the text of a Nov. 18 decision by a judge to put Barusco's former boss under preventative arrest. Barusco also took cash from SBM Offshore NV, the Dutch oil platform supplier. The testimony from Barusco threatens to implicate more people in the scandal as prosecutors probe the origins of his allegedly ill-gotten fortune.

Obama calls for $6bn US Ebola cash

Obama renews calls for Congress to approve $6bn in emergency aid to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak. The medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has again strongly criticized the international response. It described it as patchy and slow, with the job of tackling the crisis largely left to doctors, nurses and charity organizations. (Click here)

EU court blocks gay asylum tests

The EU's top court has ruled that refugees who claim asylum on the grounds that they are homosexual should not have to undergo tests to prove it. Three men, including a Ugandan and one from a Muslim country, failed in their bids for asylum when a Dutch court said they had not proved their sexuality. EU states including the UK have been criticised for their handling of gay asylum requests. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says they must respect human dignity. Its rulings apply to all EU member states. (Click here)

Russia warns of recession in 2015

The Russian government has warned the economy will fall into recession next year as Western sanctions, in response to its role in eastern Ukraine, and falling oil prices begin to bite. Russia's economic development ministry estimates the economy will contract by 0.8% next year.

House OKs measure stopping social security payments to former Nazis

A loophole in the law meant suspected Nazis who were forced out of the country continued to receive benefits. The House vote was unanimous. The Senate votes on a similar measure in the coming weeks.

Azul, Brazil airline started by JetBlue founder, files for I.P.O.

This year had been slow for Brazil's capital markets, but the fall in petroleum prices is helping airline stocks worldwide. (Click here)

UK counterterrorism bill infringes on rights

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday that the new UK Counterterrorism and Securities Bill infringes on human rights. The bill, presented by Prime Mininster David Cameron to Parliament last Wednesday, proposes temporary restrictions on travel, exclusion from the UK for suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity and instructions for granting those who were excluded from the UK permission to return. HRW argues that these provisions effectively infringe on rights of "free movement, family life, free expression, and risk[] alienating specific communities." The group criticized the UK for what they see as a haphazard attempt to rush to adopt counterterrorism laws. However, Home Secretary Theresa May stated that under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998, in her "view the provisions of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill are compatible with the Convention rights." The second reading and debate of the bill is scheduled for tomorrow.

Poland warning over EU migrant benefits plan

Poland will not accept David Cameron's proposal to stop EU migrants claiming benefits for four years. It said any plans to discriminate on grounds of nationality would be a "red line" issue. Poland was ready to discuss introducing a system under which all citizens, including from the UK, had to pay in before receiving benefits. The UK PM has admitted his plans would need EU support to succeed. The Polish government is quite ready to talk about abuses of existing systems, sham marriages, extraditing criminals and so forth. But to be truthful this is not the problem - it is marginal. When it comes to changing the rules in the EU, when it comes to social support and so forth, when it comes to undermining the existing laws, obviously we are going to react quite strongly and we are going to be against. But the most important thing is that David Cameron wants to talk about it and doesn't want to change policies unilaterally.

'Counterfeit' domains seized by Europol

Police forces across Europe have seized 292 web domains that were being used to sell counterfeit goods, according to Europol. The sites were selling luxury goods as well as "sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated goods like movies and music". Visitors trying to reach the sites will now be shown a page "educating" them on copyright crime. No arrests were made during the operation. However, analysts said it was possible that arrests would be made soon - using the site closures as a means to track down those responsible for the physical counterfeiting of goods. Europol wanted to act quickly, the source said, to minimize the sites' custom in the run-up to Christmas. The infringements of international property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers.

Supreme Court ponders trademark odyssey of Sealtight vs. Sealtite

Cases headed to the Supreme Court can be a long time in the making, and that's especially true for a 16-year-old trademark law battle the justices took up Tuesday over phonetically identical names for brands of screws. After an hour-long oral argument, it appeared possible the high court could issue an eventual ruling that would lead to even more litigation between two companies that are bitterly at odds in the case. The case has its roots in a dispute born in the late 1990s. The plaintiff is B&B Hardware Inc., a Southern California business that sells self-sealing, leak-proof screws and bolts under the brand name Sealtight. Its products have been used in high-tech environments, including in the aerospace and medical industries. It alleged consumers were confused, and its business damaged, by a Texas company that sold construction screws under the name Sealtite Building Fasteners.

Brown relative probed for 'incitement'

The stepfather of Michael Brown is investigated over allegations of inciting illegal activity during protests last week about the US teenager's death in Ferguson.

US seeks more evidence from China to pursue fugitive officials

China must provide more evidence about fugitive graft suspects it wants returned from American soil, a US official said as the two countries began annual talks on law-enforcement cooperation in Beijing today.

  • Daily Press Review

Blast reported in Yemeni capital
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Amr Moussa Considers Election Boycott
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Jesus: married with children? New book drops bombshell
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Osborne urged to repair UK deficit
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

OK to leave teens home alone all night?
CNN International, London, England

Nadia Forde sunbathes in lace lingerie set on last day in I'm A Celeb camp
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Phillip Hughes' funeral sees thousands lead procession through Macksville
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Ukraine parliament approves foreigners as government ministers
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Iran has launched airstrikes in Iraq, Pentagon says
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Inspiring expat blogs on Turkey
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Obama administration seeks to overturn decision to release controversial Guantanamo Bay force-feeding footage
Independent The, London, England

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

Herman van Rompuy has won the Euro jackpot, but we're paying
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys dies, aged 70
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

US says Iranian fighter jets bomb IS jihadists in Iraq
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Hacking Attack Leaks Sony Blockbusters Online
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Hong Kong protest founders prepare to surrender
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Residents' body wants DND toll-free
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Campaigning for election kicks off as Abe's approval rating dips
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Republican leaders clash on foreign policy
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

A loving embrace for Sean
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

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

Trapped for $500 debts: The misery of Pakistan's 'slaves'
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Sony Pictures attack described as 'horrible compromise' of cybersecurity
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Despite high-profile crackdown, China falls in global corruption ranks
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

Will Rollout of Green Technologies Get a Boost at Lima Climate Summit?
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Asian shares edge down, oil rises as crude inventories decline
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Blast in the vicinity of airport in Somali capital - witnesses
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau dead at 83
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Explosion near Mogadishu airport
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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