April 13, 2015 nº 1,615 - Vol. 11

"New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you."

David Letterman

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  • Top News

European Court of Justice doubles number of judges

The number of judges at the second-highest court in the EU is to double to 56, even though the court itself initially only wanted an extra 12, after member states failed to agree on how to appoint them. National governments squabbled over who would get an extra member of the Luxembourg-based court, so in the end, EU leaders decided that every country would get one. The move has angered the existing judges at the general court of the European Court of Justice and has left the EU facing a bill of more than €20m a year. The extra judges — who will be paid €220,000 a year, plus generous allowances — will be introduced in three batches, with member states resorting to drawing lots to decide who joins first. The appointments are an attempt to speed up decision making at the general court, which deals with cases brought by companies and individuals against EU bodies, including antitrust cases.

Amazon sues over claimed fake reviews posted on its site

An Amazon lawsuit says three websites and a California man are free-riding on the Internet retail giant's name–and hurting sellers and consumers–by posting fake product reviews on Amazon.com. The suit accuses the defendants of violating consumer and intellectual property laws by using domain names that are confusingly similar to Amazon's and marketing glowing product reviews to those who are willing to pay for them, reports the Seattle Times. Filed Wednesday in Washington state's King County Superior Court, the suit seeks a cease-and-desist order, treble damages and attorney's fees. The suit is the first time that Amazon has litigated to enforce its product-review platform in the nearly 20 years that it has been operational.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China scraps unlimited Hong Kong entry

China is to stop issuing multiple entry Hong Kong visas to residents of Shenzhen, state media reports. Shenzhen residents will now only be able to enter Hong Kong once per week, and stay for no longer than a week. The move is an attempt by Beijing to ease tensions in Hong Kong over shopping trips by mainlanders taking advantage of Hong Kong's lower taxes. Hong Kongers say the trade pushes up costs and causes overcrowding in shopping areas, while also complaining about poor behavior from mainlanders.

Luxury fair cancelled 'because of China corruption probe'

A Macau luxury goods fair is being cancelled, its organizers say, because of China's crackdown on corruption. The Europe Asian Watch, Jewelry and Antique Coins Show had to be cancelled because of restrictions on officials entering casinos. The news came as a senior official and an executive linked to Volkswagen were targeted for corruption. China has gone after thousands of public officials and individuals in the private sector since 2012.

China antitrust regime faces test in massive Shell-BG oil deal

For Royal Dutch Shell and Britain's BG Group, a $70 billion marriage may partly depend on winning the blessing of bureaucrats in Beijing.

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  • Brief News

Turkey anger at Pope Francis Armenian 'genocide' claim

Turkey has recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in WW1 as "genocide". Turkey has reacted with anger to the comment made by the Pope at a service in Rome earlier on Sunday. Armenia and many historians say up to 1.5 million people were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915. But Turkey has always disputed that figure and said the deaths were part of a civil conflict triggered by WW1. The row has continued to sour relations between Armenia and Turkey.

Rights groups take UK government to European Human Rights Court over mass surveillance

Amnesty International (AI) revealed on Friday that the group, along with other prominent human rights organizations, has submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), bringing claims of indiscriminate surveillance practices against the UK government. The government has responded saying that mass information gathering is a legitimate tool needed for the protection of citizens. Rights groups claim that national security interests cannot override citizens' fundamental right to privacy.

UN SG: more must be done to stop crime and extremism

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha, Qatar on Sunday and highlighted the crucial connection between the rule of law and sustainable development. The Congress also adopted the Doha Declaration which highlights important aspects of fighting global organized crime, how countries can prevent crime and strengthening criminal justice systems.

Protesters in Brazil push to impeach Dilma

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined peaceful demonstrations across Brazil against government corruption. They allege involvement of the governing Worker's Party in bribery at the state oil firm Petrobas. Dilma Rousseff denies involvement and has been exonerated in an investigation by the attorney general. The political opposition say much of the alleged bribery of politicians took place when Rousseff was head of the oil company. Despite her exoneration, many protestors still believe that the president must have known about the scandal. Some have been calling for her impeachment.

Hillary Clinton to seek the Democratic Party's nomination to run for president in 2016

Clinton made the announcement in a video released on social media, ending months of speculation. She is taking a road trip to meet small groups of voters in Iowa, after announcing her presidency bid in an online video on Sunday. She had been expected to declare her candidacy for months, but reinventing herself as the embodiment of change won't be easy. She will have to find a convincing vision for America that will capture the imagination of the voters.

Estonia seeks permanent Nato force

Estonian President Toomas Ilves has called for a permanent Nato force to be stationed in his country. He said that Estonia felt threatened by Russian military flights and exercises in the area, as well as by belligerent rhetoric from Moscow.

Cuba opens its doors to Airbnb

So you're an American tourist and you've developed a yearning to see Havana before McDonald's gets there. The only problem is that there's nowhere to stay. There just aren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate the millions of intrepid US travellers planning a long weekend of mojitos and salsa. Well, don't panic: help is on the way, in the form of Airbnb. Who knew? Cubans, it turns out, are natural Airbnbers.

General Electric to sell $26.5bn property portfolio

General Electric has announced it will sell nearly all of its property portfolio, worth $26.5bn, to funds including Wells Fargo and Blackstone. The sale is the biggest commercial property deal in the US since 2007. GE has been retreating from its property investments globally as it focuses on its industrial operations. Without its properties, the company says it expects its other, "high-value" operations to bring in 90% of earnings by 2018, compared to 58% today. The plan allows GE to buy back nearly two billion of its outstanding shares. A further $4bn of commercial real estate assets will be sold to other buyers.

Euro bank identifies risks in Greece anti-foreclosure law

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Friday released an opinion on Greece's draft law prohibiting the foreclosure of primary residences. Under the draft law, banks are prohibited from auctioning primary residences valued at less than €300,000 (USD $317,580), provided that borrowers meet certain total wealth requirements. The draft law is intended to replace Greece's recently-expired foreclosure law, which provided protections for homes valued at €200,000 (USD $211,720) or less, along with less generous total wealth requirements. The ECB expressed in its opinion that the increase in scope for eligible debtors could incentivize unscrupulous debtors to engage in strategic defaults, or simply cease paying their home loans with no repercussions to inspire payment.

Retailers' on-call shifts questioned by N.Y. Attorney General

New York's attorney general is scrutinizing 13 big retailers over their staffing practices and whether they require workers to show up or stay home with little notice. The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters warning Target, Gap and 11 others that it believes the chains are using on-call scheduling and that such practices may violate a New York law. On-call scheduling systems have made big retailers more nimble, allowing them to staff stores during busy times and save on payroll during slow days. The software used by many retailers forecasts staffing needs based on real-time sales and traffic information.

Protestors staged a historic hologram protest against Spain's new gag law

Spain's government has approved a new law, the ley de seguridad ciudadana (citizen safety law), to go into effect on July 1. The law, nicknamed ley mordaza or gag law, significantly restricts people's rights to protest, introducing fines up to €30,000 ($31,000) for infringements such as taking pictures of police, peacefully protesting a public authority, or gathering in protest in front of the congress building. The law, which one political opponent of the ruling popular party called "the worst cut of rights and freedoms since the Franco regime," is strongly opposed by the public, with a reported 82% Spanish of citizens wanting it repealed. Protests followed its initial approval in the lower house in December, and the one this Friday drew almost 18,000 people from all over the world to the streets in Madrid. Except, unlike previous protests, no one was physically there. The entire protest—in a powerful and ironic commentary against the law—was carried out by holograms.

At Dentons, strategy is to go big

Through back-to-back mergers in China and the US, Dentons has transformed itself into the largest law firm in the world by head count, with more than 6,600 lawyers and professionals. And it shows no sign of stopping. "There is no logical end," said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons's global chief executive officer, on how big the firm might become. "We're going to be driven by our strategy." That strategy, which has drawn skepticism from industry analysts and rivals, involves modeling Dentons more after a "Big Four" accounting firm than after a typical law firm. In doing so, the firm hopes to become a one-stop shop for big corporations and small businesses alike.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
In the line of fire. Black lives matter.

Newsweek
Inside the Mind of Tony Blair

Business Week
An Emotional Audit: IRS Workers Are Miserable and Overwhelmed

The Economist
Hillary Clinton in 2016. What does Hillary stand for?

Der Spiegel
Kaufen, um die Welt zu retten

L'Espresso
Roma trema. Capitale da salvare prima del naufragio. Incuria, regole violate, infiltrazioni mafiose.

  • Daily Press Review

Sudan votes in polls expected to extend Bashir's rule
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Police question radical settlers over receiving classified information from soldier
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Labour pledges 'no extra borrowing'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

A Yazidi family's horrifying tale
CNN International, London, England

Ellie Goulding shows off her long legs in navy shorts as she takes to the stage for NRJ tour in France†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

DVLA car clampings soar as drivers get caught out by tax disc loophole
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Nationwide demonstrations call for Brazil's president to be sacked
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Can Hillary Clinton's 'smart power' take her to the White House?
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

European Parliament president calls Turkey's social media ban 'inappropriate'
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Unhappy landings for drug mules at Madrid airport
Independent The, London, England

The scandals and gaffes that will haunt Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Game of Thrones, season 5 premiere: talking points
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Eric Chu to attend KMT-CCP forum
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Scrapping of Adultery Law Lets 1,770 Off the Hook
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Hillarys presidential run puts focus on lack of women in US leadership
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Bakeries in city residential units spark pollution worry
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Wins in Hokkaido, Oita lift ruling bloc's prospects
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

A look at MTV Movie Awards' most memorable moments
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Magpies pair to have B samples tested
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

China tries former state oil boss on corruption charges
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Bank of Japan raises assessment for three regions in quarterly report
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Growing Republican presidential field set to include Marco Rubio
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Former Boko Haram captive tells of abducted schoolgirls' acts of defiance
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

Economic Slowdown Threatens Progress Towards Equality in Latin America
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Asian shares edge up, shrug off downbeat China trade data
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Graft trial opens for former head of China's top energy group
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Father's death leaves would-be immigrant family out $120,000
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Nigerian opposition makes gains
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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