March 9, 2015 nº 1,602 - Vol. 11

"The rule of joy and the law of duty seem to me all one."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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  • Top News

Juncker calls for creation of EU army

The president of the European Commission has called for the creation of an EU army in order to show Russia "that we are serious about defending European values". Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the EU's executive arm, said an EU army would let the continent "react credibly to threats to peace in a member state or a neighbor of the EU". The EU is divided on how to deal with an increasingly forthright Russia, which has been accused by Nato and the US of supplying rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine with military equipment and intelligence in the conflict against government-backed forces. Some member states, including the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are calling for the bloc to take a much stricter line on its eastern neighbor. Large member states are also split over the idea of an EU army, with the proposals being cautiously welcomed by many senior German politicians but repeatedly dismissed outright by a succession of British governments.

Antitrust chief sends tough message to EU telecoms

Europe's new antitrust chief has warned that telecoms mergers must not endanger "affordable prices" for consumers, in a shot across the bows of deal making executives that suggests takeovers will face tougher EU scrutiny. Margrethe Vestager vets all big EU mergers and oversees sensitive investigations ranging from US tech group Google's alleged abuse of its dominant position to sweetheart tax deals for multinationals, wielding far-reaching powers to impose hefty fines or block takeovers without the approval of a court. With a wave of proposed takeovers reshaping markets from Britain to Denmark, Vestager has stressed the need to avoid price increases in her most detailed comments on the telecoms sector since becoming EU competition commissioner.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Amazon opens Alibaba shop in China

Amazon, the US online retail giant, has opened another shop on rival Alibaba's Tmall marketplace in China. Amazon is offering food, women's footwear, toys and kitchenware on the platform in an attempt to expand further into the huge Chinese market.

China takes pollution film offline

The authorities in China have a removed from websites a popular documentary which highlights the country's severe pollution problem. Under the Dome explains the social and health costs of pollution, and was watched by more than 100 million people online, sparking debates.

China lets local authorities convert debt into municipal bonds

China will allow regional authorities to convert some high-yielding debt into municipal bonds in a bid to cut financing costs on liabilities which brokerages estimate have topped $3 trillion. The government will permit as much as 1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) of the obligations to be swapped into local-government notes that have lower yields,

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  • Brief News

Some Supreme Court Justices cite 2012 argument against health care law as defense for it now

In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that Congress had put "a gun to the head" of states by pressuring them to expand Medicaid, and it said that such "economic dragooning" of the states violated federalism principles embedded in the Constitution. Now, in a separate case, comments by several justices indicate that they could uphold a pillar of the Affordable Care Act — insurance subsidies for millions of lower-income people — by invoking those same principles. In 2012, the court said it would be unconstitutional for Congress to cut off all Medicaid payments to states that refused to expand eligibility, and this ruling instantly transformed the expansion of Medicaid into a state option. That precedent echoed through oral arguments last week before the court; justices again expressed respect for federalism and state sovereignty.

Clintons face scrutiny ahead of Hillary's campaign announcement

As the country awaits a decision on a possible 2016 presidential run, Hillary and former president Bill Clinton are forced to defend decisions involving donations and Hillary's email practices.

In Greece, desperate times and offbeat measures

Athens is coming up with radical ways to fill its shortfall as it nears a deadline to meet financial obligations, including wiring tourists, students and housekeepers to catch tax evaders. The Greek government could hire "non-professional" tax inspectors, including tourists, to spy on tax evaders, according to a leaked document. Students and housewives could also be used as part of the reported scheme to tackle fraud, which could include hidden cameras and recording devices. It is said to be one of the ideas Greece will raise at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Monday. It needs to convince them it is serious about reform to receive further credit.

Venezuela installs finger scanners in supermarkets

Venezuela is due to begin installing about 20,000 fingerprint scanners at supermarkets across the country. President Nicolas Maduro said the rationing system would reduce food hoarding and panic buying. Over the last year there have been long queues at supermarkets because of widespread shortages of basic goods. Maduro said the shortages were due to manipulation of the food supply and prices. Last month the owners of several chains of supermarkets and drugstores were arrested for allegedly artificially creating long queues by not opening enough tills. Maduro has also accused Colombian food smugglers of buying up price-controlled goods in state-run supermarkets along the border. Last week South American foreign ministers said the region would help Venezuela address the shortages. The lack of staple foods and medicines has contributed to discontent and to frequent large, often violent anti-government demonstrations. The economic crisis has been made worse by falling oil prices.

Maduro sees only plots as his economy crumbles

Maduro is struggling. He has failed to tame one of the world's highest inflation rates, food shortages are getting worse and the economy last year contracted by almost 3 percent. But instead of rebooting his economic policies, Maduro is lashing out at critics. He ccuses the US of plotting a coup against him, and is expelling most US diplomats from Venezuela. He is also demanding that Americans secure visas to enter the country.

Apple to replace AT&T on Dow Jones

The tech giant will replace the telecoms giant after the close of trading March 18. The change, effective March 19, was prompted by stock splits announced by Apple and Visa.

FDA approves first of new type of generic drugs

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first in a class of generic drugs that are made from living cells instead of chemical compounds. So-called biosimilar drugs closely mimic existing drugs but are made from living cells, blood components and tissue. In some cases, they could substantially reduce the cost of drugs. Biosimilars, unlike traditional generics, aren't precisely identical to the brand drug. The FDA says biosimiliars must have no "clinically meaningful differences" in safety or effectiveness and must work in the same way as the drugs they are meant to substitute.

UK Parliament to pass amendment to equal pay law

The UK House of Lords on Wednesday will debate a bill recently passed through Parliament that will require certain businesses to reveal whether there are differences in the pay of male and female employees. The bill calls for the Secretary of State to make changes to the 2010 Equality Act, requiring employers with more than 250 employees to publish information relating to employee pay.

US and France to strengthen nuclear accords with Iran

The US and France agreed on Saturday to strengthen nuclear talks with Iran in negotiations to persuade Iran to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. Secretary of State John Kerry explained that there are still gaps in the agreement they would like to address with Iran. Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi said he believes technicalities which had been hindering the discussion have been eliminated, clearing the way for a deal. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the countries still need to work toward agreeing on the volume Iran would be allowed to operate, as well as implementing a system to check and verify compliance of the deal. Britain, China, Germany and Russia are also involved in the nuclear talks. The western nations have set a self-imposed deadline for a preliminary deal by the end of March and a final deal by the end of June.

German Parliament approves gender quota legislation for large companies

Germany's lower house of parliament passed legislation on Friday requiring large companies to allocate 30 percent of non-executive board seats to women, after a survey found that women remain grossly under represented in big business. The survey found that the chief executives of Germany's largest 30 firms listed on the blue chip Dax index are all male. The new quotas will come into effect in 2016, and the legislation requires more than 100 listed companies with employee representation on their supervisory boards to be made up of 30 percent women. About 3,500 medium sized companies will have to determine their own quota. Companies that do not meet the quota will have to fill vacancies with women or leave those positions empty.

At Goldman Sachs, stress test results could endanger an important profit source

Concerns have emerged that Goldman Sachs — long the leader on Wall Street — may lose an important engine of profitability. On the Federal Reserve stress tests last week, Goldman performed poorly compared with other big banks. Now analysts and investors are worried that the bank could be barred by regulators from buying back its own stock or increasing dividends. Goldman has used dividends and share buybacks to appeal to investors at a time when other elements of the bank's business have faced challenges. When companies buy shares of their own stock on the open market, it generally increases the amount of profits attributed to every share, an important metric for investors.

J.P. Morgan, Justice Department reach $50 million robo-signing settlement

A J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. unit struck a $50 million deal with regulators who accused the bank of filing "robo-signed" mortgage documents to bankruptcy courts across the country. Under the deal with the US Justice Department, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A. promised to make payments to more than 25,000 homeowners, including some who weren't properly notified that their mortgage payments increased after they filed for bankruptcy protection. The deal came after bank officials were accused of filing tens of thousands of documents to bankruptcy courts that weren't actually reviewed by the people who vouched for their accuracy.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The Bush Identity. Where Jeb fits in the family business.

Newsweek
Five Held in Nemtsov Murder in Moscow

Business Week
One Nerd to Rule Them All (With Lots of Kate Upton)

The Economist
Nuclear weapons. The new nuclear age

Der Spiegel
Kontrenzier dich! Psychologie - Dranbleiben, bitte!: Nur noch schnell die Mails checken: Immer mehr Menschen klagen über zu viel Ablenkung. Psychologen sprechen von dem Phänomen des "wandernden Geistes". Doch Konzentration und Durchhaltevermögen lassen sich trainieren.

L'Espresso
Gottopardi di Provincia

  • Daily Press Review

Solar-powered Swiss plane attempts flight around world
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

IAF chief: Iron Dome can't completely protect Israel and its citizens
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Cameron pledges 500 new free schools
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Terror plot suspect shares attack plan and link to ISIS
CNN International, London, England

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Now Queen Helen is putting Blair in the hot seat
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

The rise of the over-50s pageant queens: Most competitions have no age-limits and increasing numbers of entrants are now middle-aged women
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Bombs rock Egyptian city of Alexandria, killing at least one
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Chad, Niger launch joint offensive against Boko Haram in Nigeria
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Women, virginity and honor among the Ottomans
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Baby found alive in crashed car in freezing Utah river
Independent The, London, England

World's first attempt to fly a solar plane around the world begins
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Six great authors who achieved success before 35
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

'Import bride' remark haunts Taipei Mayor
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Activists to Float More Propaganda Leaflets Across Border
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Around the world without a drop of fuel Solarpowered plane takes off
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

CM quota files to panel: Maharashtra government to tell HC today
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Abe calls for swift security legislation at LDP convention
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

University group to close after racist video posted online
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Not always a fairytale for marquee men as Titans gamble on Daly Cherry-Evans
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

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

South Korea blasts North over wage row in joint industrial zone
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Solar Impulse 2 takes off for historic around-the-world attempt
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

China agrees to provide 10-year visas to Canadians
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

Bolivia's School Meals All About Good Habits and Eating Local
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Brent drops toward $59 as dollar firms on U.S. jobs data
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

A different sort of Bush: policy wonk Jeb faces campaign image test
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Kurds aware of Canadian visit before friendly fire incident, military source says
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Allies begin push against Boko Haram
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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