March 18, 2015 nº 1,606 - Vol. 11

"It is a condition which confronts us - not a theory."

 Grover Cleveland

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  • Top News

Hillary's emails and the law

The fact that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private server in her home, rather than a secure government server, to send emails during her four years as secretary of state has raised many questions. She now says that it was a mistake but also emphasizes that she broke no law. News reports typically describe her offense as not following "policy." It is a crime—obstruction of justice (18 USC. section 1519)—to destroy even one message to prevent it from being subpoenaed. Whether or not Clinton violated a State Department rule, her admitted destruction of more than 30,000 emails sure looks like obstruction of justice—a serious violation of the criminal law. Legal commentators call this "anticipatory obstruction of justice," and the law punishes it with up to 20 years imprisonment. The burden of proof is light. The Justice Department manual advises that section 1519 makes prosecution much easier because it covers "any matters" or "'in relation to or contemplation of' any matters." It adds, "No corrupt persuasion is required."

General Motors' stock buyback follows a worrying trend

General Motors' announcement that it will buy back $5 billion worth of stock raises the question of whether the stock buyback has turned into a shareholder activist shakedown. G.M. did not open its coffers willingly. Harry J. Wilson, a former member of the auto industry crisis task force gave it a helping hand. A few weeks ago, Wilson announced a campaign to press G.M. to buy back $8 billion worth of stock, leading four hedge funds with a total stake of about 2 percent in the automaker. As part of this, Wilson was nominated to run for a board seat. Because G.M. was bankrupt only a few years ago, it seems a bit foolhardy for the company to willingly part with billions of dollars of hard-earned cash. But in a world where stock buybacks and shareholder activism are all the rage, it makes perfect sense on paper, if not in reality.

The rule of law (and order) is dead

For nearly 230 years since the United States has built a reputation of law and order envied by much of the globe. The respect for the rule of law and the recognition no one person is above the law have been keys in the longevity and success of the nation. In 2015, however, it appears the rule of law in the United States may be dead. Laws are being selectively applied. Laws are being selectively ignored by those chosen to enforce them. Perhaps worst of all, laws are being created or changed without any regard for the process prescribed by the Constitution itself. You may be in favor of legalized marijuana and/or of changing our immigration laws. I’m not suggesting we stifle that debate. I am suggesting that if we want to preserve the rule of law and the stability it provides, we have to respect the process. Source: Tim Constantine in the Washington Post.

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  • Crumbs

1 - French Lawmakers OK Terminal Sedation, Not Euthanasia - click here.

2 - Three judges removed and a fourth resigns for viewing pornography at work - click here.

3 - PetroChina Vice-Chairman Liao Yongyuan in corruption probe - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

European allies defy US in joining China-led development bank

Italy, France and Germany are to join the UK in becoming members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Last week, the US issued a rare rebuke to the UK over its decision to become a member of the AIIB. The US considers the AIIB a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank. The US has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which is seen as spreading Chinese "soft power".

China continuing to review draft counter-terrorism law

The Chinese government is proceeding in its review of revisions to the controversial draft counter-terrorism law despite recent reports that China had suspended such talks. Hong stated that the law will be "made in light of China's need to combat terrorism by incorporating new problems emerging from the international fight against terrorism with China's anti-terrorism realities." The proposed law has generated controversy because it could potentially require "technology firms to install 'backdoors' in products or hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government," as well as, requiring "companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related Internet content." Many feel that such laws constitute unfair regulatory practices. "'This is something that I've raised directly with President Xi,' Obama said. 'We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States.'" At the completion of the third round of reviews, the draft law will be presented for deliberation to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.


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  • Historia verdadera

Petrobras ventas

brasileña Petrobras contrató a Itaú BBA SA para manejar la venta de estaciones de gasolina y activos en el sector de distribución de gas natural, en momentos en que busca recaudar US$ 13.700 mlls. al enajenar bienes no centrales de su operación. (Presione aquí)


El Tribunal Constitucional de Chile suspendió temporalmente investigación de una fiscalía a la minera SQM, luego de que la firma presentara un recurso de oposición a la medida en medio de un escándalo por supuestos desvíos de fondos a campañas políticas. (Presione aquí)


El Ministerio de Petróleo y Minería de Venezuela calificó de "justa" la compensación dictada por el Centro Internacional de arbitraje, por el caso de la petrolera estadounidense Tidewater. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

EU steps up war on people-traffickers in Mediterranean

The EU police agency Europol has set up a new team to break people-smuggling gangs who send migrants on perilous voyages across the Mediterranean. The maritime intelligence unit, called "JOT (Joint Operational Team) Mare", is based at Europol HQ in The Hague. The UK and 12 other EU countries are involved. JOT Mare will help the EU border agency Frontex and national police to track and stop the gangs.

Brazilian party treasurer charged

The public prosecutor in Brazil formally charges the treasurer of the governing Worker's Party, Joao Vaccari, with corruption in the Petrobras scandal. Another 26 people were charged in relation to the massive corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company Petrobras. The move comes a day after hundreds of thousands of people protested in cities across Brazil against corruption. Many demanded the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

Rebel 'status' row erupts in Ukraine

Ukraine's MPs have approved changes to the "special status" law for parts of rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine. The law will now come into force only after local elections monitored by international observers are held in the areas according to Ukrainian law. The amendments also envisage the pullout of "all illegal armed groups" from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Pro-Russian rebels and Moscow accuse Ukraine of introducing new terms that threaten last month's ceasefire deal. Following the agreement in Minsk, Belarus, the ceasefire took effect on 15 February and has largely held despite sporadic shelling. Both Ukraine and the rebels claim to have withdrawn heavy weapons from the line of contact.

Kraft recalls six million macaroni and cheese boxes

US food giant Kraft has recalled 6.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese after consumers reported finding metal fragments in some containers. The recall applies to boxes sold in the US, Puerto Rico and some Caribbean and South American countries.

EU seeks to shed light on sweetheart tax deals for big companies

The European Union is stepping up its fight against tax avoidance and fiscal fraud with a plan to force the bloc's 28 nations to share information on sweetheart deals for international companies. A lack of transparency helps companies engage in "aggressive" tax planning and needs a harmonized EU approach, the European Commission said in the draft of a new law, obtained by Bloomberg News. The proposals, scheduled to be published Wednesday, would make the exchange of data on so-called tax rulings mandatory for all EU nations.

Migrant given law license 125 years on

The California Supreme Court posthumously awards a law license to a Chinese immigrant who was barred from becoming a lawyer 125 years ago. Hong Yen Chang was barred from practising law in 1890 by the same court because "persons of the Mongolian race" were not granted citizenship. In a nine-page ruling, the court said its earlier decision was "discredited". Campaigners have worked since 2011 to have the licence granted to Chang, the country's first Chinese lawyer.

Greek PM brings forward Russia Putin trip

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin on 8 April, a month earlier than planned, as the indebted eurozone member state seeks to avoid bankruptcy. He came to power vowing to end austerity, but talks with creditors on Greek financial reforms are in trouble. Relations with one of Greece's biggest creditors, Germany, are at a low ebb. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has accused the new government of wrecking confidence. Greece needs the final installment of its €240bn ($255bn) bailout to stay afloat and in order to secure a four-month extension, the government has to give full details of its planned reforms by the end of April.

Venezuela decree powers divide opinion

Venezuelan opposition politicians slam a new law which grants President Nicolas Maduro the power to govern by decree until 31 December. The new "Anti-imperialist Law for Peace" allows President Maduro to bypass the National Assembly and take action to "protect against the meddling by other nations in internal affairs as well as any warmongering or external or internal activity which breaches the peace." Critics of the president called it a power grab.

Cement mega-merger in doubt as Holcim changes tack

A deal to create the world's largest cement maker is in jeopardy after Swiss firm Holcim said its merger with French rival Lafarge could not go ahead "in its present form". The two firms agreed to merge in April, with Lafarge shareholders receiving one Holcim share for each Lafarge share. But since then, Holcim's shares have outperformed those of Lafarge. Holcim said it now wanted to negotiate "in good faith" both the agreed share exchange ratio and governance issues.

California judges must cut ties with the Boy Scouts

The state's earlier ban on judges belonging to groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation now applies to youth organizations, but had an exemption for youth groups. Judges have one year to sever their ties with the Boy Scouts. Judges are already banned from joining lots of groups that other people can belong to. For example, they can't be members of country clubs that don't admit Jews or women. But banning them from the Boy Scouts, a group long associated with old-fashioned wholesomeness despite prohibiting gay troop leaders, seems to many people a step too far.

Pakistan authorities execute 12 after six-year moratorium lifted

Pakistani authorities hanged 12 men on Tuesday, the largest number of people executed in a single day following the preliminary removal of the country's moratorium on executions in December. A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry stated the men were terrorists, murderers or guilty of heinous crimes.

Transgender inmate petitions Supreme Court for sex reassignment surgery

A transgender inmate in Massachusetts on Monday asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a ruling denying her request for sex reassignment surgery. The question at issue is whether "the Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from denying necessary medical treatment to a prisoner for non-medical reasons, such as security concerns." According to the petition, the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) "violated the Eighth Amendment by refusing to provide petitioner ... with necessary medical treatment that had been recommended by the DOC's own doctors." Although the trial court, as well as the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled for the inmate, Michelle Kosilek, the First Circuit granted a petition for rehearing where the decision was reversed, thus holding that there had been no Eighth Amendment violation.

EU to stand by policy of not recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea

An EU official said Monday that the EU remains committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will stand by its policy of not recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea. The EU continues to consider Russia's "referendum" and their annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol as illegal and a threat to international security in terms of its protection of sovereignty between all states.

US may revoke settlement agreements in currency-rigging probes

US prosecutors investigating currency manipulation are considering revoking years-old settlements and prosecuting banks for rigging interest rates, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department is weighing whether evidence of wrongdoing in currency trading means banks violated old deals resolving probes into the rigging of benchmark interest rates, said two people, who asked not to be identified because final decisions haven't been made.

Fla. lawmakers work to abolish 'living-in-sin' law

Believe it or not, in spite of all the shacking up going on, an living together as an unmarried couple is still against the law in Florida. But don't break the lease quite yet. Two legislative committees approved the repeal of a nearly 150-year-old state law that says unmarried men and women cannot live together under the same roof. The 1868 law, which seems to not have been enforced, still could slap those living in sin with a second-degree misdemeanor.

  • Daily Press Review

US envoy: Almost every CAR mosque destroyed in war
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

LIVE BLOG: Final results: Netanyahu's Likud scores decisive victory in Israeli election
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Osborne to unveil pre-election Budget
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Netanyahu claims victory as main rival concedes
CNN International, London, England

Amy Childs cuts a svelte figure at launch of new non-surgical liposuction service
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

George Osborne's GBP 1bn plan to harness the power of the sea using tidal lagoon
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Arab-Israeli 'Joint List' emerges as third power in Knesset
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Netanyahu claims surprise victory in Israeli election
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Ankara's first ever private archaeology arts museum and opens
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

President Obama claims rise of Isis is 'unintended consequence' of George W. Bush's invasion in Iraq
Independent The, London, England

The West now has no choice but to work with Assad
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Steve Jobs movie: first look at Michael Fassbender as Jobs
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Relief groups rush aid to Vanuatu's cyclone-stricken islands
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Stielike Announces Lineup for Int'l Friendlies
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Chinese annual grant to Nepal increases fivefold to 128 million
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

HC restricts entry in Syedna succession row trial
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Operators to scrap three old reactors in Fukui
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

In Portuguese factory, echoes of Europe's fight for jobs
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Labor promises new high school for Ryde
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

US 1st lady visits Japan to showcase girls' education aid
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

US 1st lady Michelle Obama visits Japan to showcase girls' education aid
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Netanyahu secures resounding victory in Israeli election
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Japanese police investigate calls threatening to kill U.S. Ambassador Kennedy
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

Caribbean Community Climate-Smarting Fisheries, But Slowly
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Japan blue chips plan bigger pay hikes but smaller firms expected to lag
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Sierra Leone president sacks deputy for seeking asylum in U.S. embassy
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Benjamin Netanyahu in good shape to keep power
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Switzerland to return Abacha 'loot'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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