March 30, 2015 nº 1,611 - Vol. 11

"We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can."

 Will Rogers

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  • Top News

UN to appoint Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted four new resolutions, one of which creates a special rapporteur on the right to privacy in the digital age. Decided without a vote, the council reaffirmed the standing right to be free from unlawful or arbitrary interferences to privacy, and set to appoint a special rapporteur in June to monitor potential infractions, for a three year term. Although the right to privacy is enumerated in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has been largely ignored at the international level. Coming in the wake of disclosures regarding privacy infringement perpetrated by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), there was some concern that the US or UK may try to block or significantly alter the language of the measure. However, the measure, which was backed by Germany and Brazil, passed without opposition. Regarding the new resolution, the US noted that it does not block all interference with privacy, but only that done arbitrarily.

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  • Crumbs

1 - French lawmakers debate whether to punish prostitutes or clients - click here.

2 - Indiana Governor: Lawmakers To 'Clarify' Anti-Gay Law - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

New China corruption task force

China has announced a new initiative to help bring to justice corrupt officials who have fled overseas. The plan, called Sky Net, starts next month as part of efforts spearheaded by President Xi Jinping to crack down on rampant corruption. It will co-ordinate investigations of offshore companies and underground banks that transfer money overseas. China is increasingly seeking international co-operation to tackle corruption and track down suspects.

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  • Brief News

Medical privacy rules let Germanwings co-pilot conceal illness

Alone in the cockpit in control of Germanwings Flight 9525, Andreas Lubitz was harboring a deadly secret. Ignoring instructions from his doctor, who certified him unfit to fly on the day the plane crashed into the French Alps, the 27-year-old appears to have single-mindedly set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the worst air disaster for German Wings. Strict medical privacy laws mean the companies were oblivious to the potential dangers lurking in Lubitz's mind as the first officer took the plane into a steep descent over the region that members of his local gliding club, where he developed his passion for flying, had toured in the past. Confidentiality regulations, designed to protect medical data and encourage people to consult doctors without fear of repercussion, put the onus on patients to disclose potentially hazardous diagnoses to authorities and their employers. "The medical secrecy rules are centuries old and touch the core of the medical profession," said René Steinhaeuser, an attorney at Wigge lawyers in Hamburg who specializes in medical law. "Without that, the relationship between physician and patient, and thus the medical system as a whole, wouldn't work," he said. The case is sparking debate over how practices may be changed as a result of the tragedy.

World powers to meet Iran foreign minister on nuclear program

Ministers from US, Germany, France, the UK, China and Russia are expected to hold their first full session on Monday with Iran's foreign minister over its nuclear program. The deadline for reaching an agreement is Tuesday. The essence of an emerging deal is to keep Iran at least one year away from being able to produce enough nuclear fuel for a single weapon. Restrictions on Iran's nuclear work would last at least a decade, and include rigorous inspections, in exchange for an end to crippling sanctions.

Greek markets show all at risk should mistake trigger a default

In Athens, the unspeakable is at risk of becoming the inevitable. Market metrics show Greece is in danger of sinking under the burden of its debt, putting repayments of about 500 billion euros ($546 billion) owed to European taxpayers, rescue funds, banks and bondholders in jeopardy. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is locked in talks with creditors over measures attached to Greece's bailout loans and a government official said on Friday the country won't service its debt if creditors don't release the funds. The government has also floated a restructuring that would link some future payments to economic growth, reduce interest rates and allow more time for repayments. While their intention is to exclude private bondholders, the danger is that talks collapse and Greece leaves the euro, leaving all parties facing losses. The biggest fear now is that Greece exits by mistake; the only feasible solution in the absolute extreme would be to turn all the official debt into a perpetual bond so it never gets repaid.

Egypt court decision designating Hamas as terrorist organization annulled

The February decision from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters declaring the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas a terrorist organization was annulled on Friday. The initial decision was based on lawsuits alleging that Hamas is responsible for multiple attacks against Egyptian security forces, which have resulted in casualties and deaths.

Arab leaders agree to use unified military force amid crisis

Arab leaders announced Sunday that a unified military force will be formed to oppose the growing threats from Yemen to Libya. The announcement came after a summit level meeting of the Council of the League of Arab States in Egypt on Thursday. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the press conference that working out the logistics of such a unified force could take months, but that progress has been made already.

Dozens killed in Nigerian election violence as polling continues

Boko Haram extremists are being blamed for more than 40 deaths, including one lawmaker, as balloting continues in a closely-fought presidential elections.

App that aims to make books 'squeaky clean' draws ire from edited writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Quebec has 'no legal right' to federal government's long-gun registry

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that the federal government does not have to relinquish its gun-registry database to Quebec. The Court's 5-4 decision affirmed Parliament's constitutional right over criminal law. Although three Quebec judges dissented, the majority ruled that the principle of cooperative federalism—collaborative national, state and local government interactions to solve common problems for the national good—does not limit the federal government's constitutional powers to legislate in matters of criminal law. The justices determined that Quebec had no legal right to the data and that the government's decision to dismantle the long-gun registry and destroy the data was a choice that Parliament was permitted to make under the Constitution.

Turkish lawmakers approve controversial security law

The Turkish Parliament on Friday approved a controversial security bill giving police more powers to search, arrest and use firearms. The bill passed with a vote of 199 to 32. Last month, the government withdrew a more expansive version of this bill after a debate on the proposed law led to a brawl between lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) and opposition parties. The revised and narrowed bill still grants heightened security measures, including the right for police to use force against demonstrators. The government contends that the new law is similar to security measures that have been taken in Europe. However, the bill has been criticized by rights groups and members of the Kurdish minority, who believe the AKP will use the law to target them. Members of the opposition have said they will seek to overturn the bill through Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Foreclosure to home free, as 5-year clock expires

Thousands of homeowners who stopped paying mortgages years ago may have an out as statutes of limitations expire, though banks are fighting back. The courts are not the only source of delay. Over the years, the federal government has made 69 changes to its mortgage modification programs, forcing lenders repeatedly to scrap previous offers to homeowners and extend new terms. Of course, the banks have also dragged out this reckoning through shoddy paperwork, botched modifications and general dysfunction as they struggled to cope with a flood of soured mortgages. Many cases were passed among lawyers like hot potatoes and lay dormant on court dockets.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Cuba on the cusp

Newsweek
'Murder-Suicide' Plane Crashes Have Killed Over 600

The Economist
Universities. The world is going to university

Der Spiegel
Der Amokflug

L'Espresso
Le guerre segrette dell’Italia

  • Daily Press Review

The greater reality for Iran and Saudi Arabia
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert found guilty in 'cash envelopes affair' retrial
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

PM warns voters of 'stark choice'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Transcript details last moments of doomed flight
CNN International, London, England

Late actor Warren Clarke makes final TV appearance in moving death-bed scene
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

No booking in advance GPs tell one million patients: 150 practices introduce new rules as part of cost-cutting drive
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Ex-Israeli†Prime Minister†Ehud†Olmert guilty over illegal payments from US businessman
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Right-wing UMP claims major victory in local French ballots
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Istanbul - city of legends and fairy tales
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
Independent The, London, England

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

Andreas Lubitz's hometown pastor says community stands by co-pilot and family
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Mia Farrow was ''joking'' when she claimed Frank Sinatra was the father of her son Ronan
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Singapore gives Lee a hero's funeral
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

How Korea Can Benefit from China-Led Development Bank
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

ExIsraeli PM Olmert convicted in another corruption case
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Fire breaks out at fibre sheet godown in Maharashtra's Bhiwandi
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Tepco refusing to pay fallout-hit municipalities for most decontamination work
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Iran nuclear talks at crunch time
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Collingwood audit their supplements after players test positive for clenbuterol
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

4 tips to avoid getting fleeced by your broker
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Another blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh: police
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Ehud Olmert, ex-Israeli PM, guilty in corruption retrial
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

U.K.'s Labor warns of 'chaos' over Europe if Cameron wins election
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

Q&A: 'Protect Your Biodiversity'
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Dufry to raise $4 billion via rights issue and debt for WDF bid
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Heavy rains trigger flood fears in Kashmir; 10 people buried alive
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Canadian egg farmers help nourish children of Swaziland
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Count begins after close Nigeria vote
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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