December 15, 2014 nº 1,581 - Vol. 12

"If you owe the bank $100 that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem."

Jean Paul Getty

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  • Top News

Wall St. wins a round in a Dodd-Frank fight

When Wall Street traders sense opportunity in the markets they pursue it with a sharklike intensity. After scoring a victory in Washington that repeals a rule that the industry has long assailed, the large banks are most likely weighing where to strike next. Wall Street won when the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a broad spending bill that contained a provision that rolls back a rule affecting derivatives, the financial product that helped cause the financial crisis of 2008. The Senate is expected to pass the budget legislation containing the repeal. A repeal would show that, six years after the financial crisis, large banks have found a way to kill off regulations that were part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the sweeping legislation that Congress passed in 2010 to overhaul the financial system. Wall Street's recent campaign also suggests that large banks now see fewer risks in openly fighting to overturn regulation. Citigroup, which received over $50 billion of bailout money after it nearly collapsed in 2008, helped write legislation that was behind the proposed repeal of the rule. And The Washington Post reported that Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, called lawmakers to express his support for the repeal. Only last year, Dimon was fighting to save his professional reputation after his bank racked up huge losses trading the type of instruments that the derivatives rule focused on.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Supreme court to rule whether ban on abuse memoir threatens free speech- click here.

2 - Jack Ma Becomes Asia’s Richest Person on Alibaba Surge - click here.

3 - Commerzbank Likely to Pay More than $1 Billion to Settle Probes - click here.

4 - Police can search cellphones without warrant during arrest: court - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

260 China rights lawyers protest detention of fellow lawyer

Two hundred sixty Chinese lawyers signed an open letter condemning police action in the northeastern province of Jilin where a lawyer was detained after invoking the constitutional rights of free speech and religion in court. The lawyer, Zhang Keke, was taken from court and detained for six hours over his statements in court defending a member of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong. The lawyer had been warned by the judge not to invoke the law when defending his client. The protesting lawyers argue it violated the basic rights of lawyers.

China bans anthem from weddings

China is banning the national anthem from being performed at weddings, funerals, commercial and other non-political events, state media reports. Under new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools. The rules aim to "standardize proper etiquette" for the anthem.

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  • Brief News

US Senate passes $1.1 trillion spending bill

Senators meeting in a rare Saturday session had earlier voted to extend their deadline until midnight Wednesday, but they managed to pass the spending measure Saturday night by a 56-40 vote. Partisan maneuvering on Friday disrupted what both Democratic and Republican leaders had expected to be a relatively smooth path toward final passage, a late-night twist that is emblematic of the dysfunction plaguing the 113th Congress.

Civil rights protest in Washington

Thousands of people march through the US capital to protest against recent killings of unarmed black people by police. Speakers at the Capitol called for changes to US legislation. The Rev Al Sharpton, a leading civil rights advocate, called for "legislative action that will shift things both on the books and in the streets". People say they will continue to protest until they get justice. They key question is what does that justice look like? For some that means changing legislation and the grand jury system, or giving police body cameras. But the bigger challenge is changing mindsets.

Brazil police demand tougher protection laws

Hundreds of Brazilian police officers and their relatives have taken part in a protest in Rio de Janeiro to demand tougher legislation for crimes against the police. They are demanding changes in the penal code so that the killing of police officers be treated as heinous crimes. Many argue that while police brutality gets the headlines in Brazil and abroad, violence against police officer does not get the same media attention or the required legal protection.

Turkey criticized over media arrests

Top European Union officials have sharply criticised a mass arrest of media representatives in Turkey. Foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and the commissioner heading EU enlargement talks said the arrests went "against European values". At least 24 people were arrested in police raids on a leading newspaper and TV station said to have close links with opposition parties. Those detained are accused of trying to seize control of the state.

Facebook thinking about 'dislike' function

Facebook is thinking about adding a way to "dislike" posts on its site, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said. It is one of the most requested features the social network receives from its users. "Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, 'That thing isn't good.' That's not something that we think is good for the world.” According to Facebook's own figures, 4.5 billion "likes" are generated every day. An investigation by the BBC in July 2012 showed that a fake company, set up by the BBC, could gain thousands of "likes" - despite the fact that the company, which promised bagels via the internet, was quite clearly bogus. On closer inspection, many of the "likes" appeared to come from accounts that were not real people. Hardly any of the "likes" originated from places like the UK or US - instead the majority originated in places such as the Philippines. Facebook has initiated legal action against firms offering "fake likes" or other bogus business practices on the social network. Facrbook would need to find a way to make sure it did not become a way to demean people's posts.

Clean air and recycling laws at risk in EU

The EU may scrap plans for legislation on air pollution and waste in a drive to boost the economy. In its draft work plan, the European Commission says the priorities are creating jobs, reducing public debt and increasing industrial competitiveness. It says citizens do not want Europe interfering in issues that can be solved nationally. Environmentalists are appalled, saying green issues require EU-level action.

Netherlands asks bankers to swear to God

The sinners of the banking industry seem so uncowed by regulators and prosecutors that one country is trying a higher deterrent: the fear of God. In the financial industry equivalent of the Ice Bucket Challenge, executives in the Netherlands have been taking the bankers' oath. The oath is aimed at restoring confidence in the global financial system after the recent crisis.

Are men idiots who do stupid things? Study says yes

A new study shows what at least some of us might have suspected for a long time: Men are idiots and do stupid things. That's the premise of the authors' Male Idiot Theory. The study, published in BMJ, the former British Medical Journal, looked at past winners of the Darwin Awards. The awards are given to those people who die in such an idiotic manner that "their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive." The study looked at 318 cases, of which 282, or 88.7 percent, were men. Limitations of the study, the authors noted, include its retrospective nature, selection bias— women may be more likely to nominate men — and reporting bias — male candidates for the award may be more newsworthy than female candidates. But the authors wrote: "Despite these limitations there can be little doubt that Darwin Award winners seem to make little or no real assessment of the risk or attempt at risk management. They just do it anyway.” It is puzzling that males are willing to take such unnecessary risks — simply as a rite of passage, in pursuit of male social esteem, or solely in exchange for 'bragging rights.’

Tenant blacklist can haunt New York renters for years

Disputes between tenants and landlords often end up in the courts. And in New York City, win or lose, tenants may end up with a bad rap that can make it hard to rent again. The blacklist is actually a database of suits filed by landlords and compiled by tenant screening companies. According to one report, around 650 of these companies are in business all across the country. These companies are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and some argue their services help weed out deadbeat renters. Consumers can dispute reports they believe are inaccurate or incomplete.

Uber said to be near investment deal with Baidu

Uber has already raised billions of dollars from investors in the Western world. Now, it is close to receiving even more from one of the most powerful Internet companies in China. The start-up is close to securing an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Baidu, China's top search engine. The pending deal would come on top of a mammoth $1.2 billion financing round that Uber closed last week. Even with that huge sum of cash, the company left open the possibility of raising as much as $600 million, which could come from a Chinese technology concern. Forging a partnership with Baidu could help Uber with its most ambitious goal to date: becoming the world's private car service. No longer content with dominating the burgeoning "ride-share" business in the United States — an industry the company helped pioneer — it has set its sights on expanding its operations around the globe, including in China.

Unpaid internships rig the system. Curb them, now

Labour could end the spectacle of young people half-killing themselves to get a foot in the door. In Britain, in 2014, we are compelled to debate whether people should work for free. Unpaid internships have become a pillar of the modern British class system, discriminating on the basis of wealth rather than talent. The system acts as a filter for entire professions, helping to transform them into closed shops for the uber-privileged. Not only are they exploitative, they effectively allow the children of the well-to-do to buy up positions in the upper echelons of British society. But, finally, it is possible – just possible – that this key means of rigging Britain in favor of a small elite faces its reckoning. On Tuesday, Labour shadow minister Liam Byrne will return to his old school to set out the case for dealing with this national scandal. Despite some internal resistance, Labour's leadership are moving towards backing a four-week limit on unpaid internships.

Dick Cheney insists 'rectal feeding' was for medical reasons, not torture

Dick Cheney refuses to call rectal feeding torture.The former US vice-president who was at the forefront of the post-9/11 push towards aggressive interrogation techniques since denounced as torture, has defended the use of "rectal feeding" of terror suspects, claiming it was done for "medical reasons". In a combative interview with NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Cheney was unrepentant about the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" that were deployed under his watch. He swatted away evidence contained in the Senate intelligence committee report into the CIA programme that a suspect later found to be innocent froze to death having been shackled naked to a cell wall, and that detainees were rectally infused with food, refusing to accept a torture definition for either example. "Torture to me is an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death on the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York City on 9/11," Cheney said. "There's a notion that there's moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do, and that's absolutely not true. We were very careful to stay short of torture."

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Person of the year: the Ebola fighters

Newsweek
Hostages held in Sydney cafe, forced to hold Islamic flag in window

Business Week
China’s killer profits

The Economist
Criminal justice: America's police on trial

Der Spiegel
Die dunkle Seite der Macht. Wie Amerika seine Werte verlor

L'Espresso
Torna a casa azienda

  • Daily Press Review

Hostages held in Sydney cafe siege
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

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

Meet the human GPS who's saving Bedouin lives
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Hostages held in Sydney cafe siege
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Jeb Bush to release 250,000 emails
CNN International, London, England

Alex Gerrard sizzles in orange bikini as she tops up her tan in Dubai
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Five Sydney hostages escape cafe
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Cologne shows its more tolerant side and stages an anti-racism rally
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Live: Hostages held in Sydney café siege
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Ancient holy road to now serve tourism
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Sydney siege: Gunman demands meeting with Tony Abbott and claims four bombs in area
Independent The, London, England

Hostages held by 'Islamists' in Sydney cafe siege: live
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Ben Haenow wins The X Factor 2014 final: as it happened
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

3 flee from Sydney cafe at heart of hostage drama
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

End Rampant Nepotism in Family-Run Conglomerates
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Executed Chinese teenager found innocent 18 years on
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Four shot dead in Bihar for refusing to share fish
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Abe tightens grip on power as ruling coalition wins 325 seats in Lower House election
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Jihadis capture army base in northwestern Syria
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Gunman holds hostages at cafe window
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Mideast peace push at UN puts US in tough spot
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Ahead of taxi protest, France says UberPop to be banned
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Australia hostage standoff: 5 people exit Sydney cafe
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Saudi Arabian security man shot dead in Riyadh, police say
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

Climate Neutrality - the Lifeboat Launched by Lima
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

VW's Bentley raises car sales target on new models: report
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Fears of jihadist attack as hostages held in Sydney cafe
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

New report highlights need for better end-of-life care
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Many dead after DR Congo ferry sinks
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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