April 15, 2015 nº 1,616 - Vol. 11

“When the incentives are screwed up, the behavior is screwed up. And it creates a culture where screwed up behavior is normal. It is even praised because it increases profits. Unless you change the incentives, you won’t change anything else.”

Michael Lewis

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  • Top News

At 800 and aging well, the Magna Carta is still a big draw

The British Library is now showing the original manuscript of the Magna Carta, issued by King John in 1215 — more than 500 years before the US Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. This exhibit, "Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy," is all part of an effort to show how the English document shaped today's world. The British Library is displaying two original copies of the Magna Carta. The text— translated into modern English from the original Latin reads: "No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned save by the lawful judgment of their equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice. In 1215, it was revolutionary for a king to say that not even he was above the law. Of course, King John did not actually want to issue this document. He was at war with English barons; they gave him no choice. Then the king went behind their backs and secretly wrote a letter to Pope Innocent III, saying, "I have been forced to sign this awful thing! What people often don't realize is that Magna Carta itself was only valid for 10 weeks. The pope responded with a letter known as a "papal bull," which is also on display. The pope says, 'I declare the charter to be null and void of all validity forever. And yet the document became the foundation of the modern judicial system.

US congressman introduces resolution to block net neutrality rules

US Congressman Doug Collins on Monday introduced a resolution to block net neutrality rules that were introduced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in February. In a press release Collins noted that this resolution would only require a "Senate majority to pass under special procedural rules of the Congressional Review Act." In Collins' view, the resolution would be "the quickest way to stop heavy-handed agency regulations that would slow internet speeds, increase consumer prices, and hamper infrastructure development ... as resources that could go to broadband deployment will go to federal taxes and fees." Collins also questioned the timing of the FCC's net neutrality solution, claiming that it came under political pressure, and that the FCC "will continue to grow its power in secret, despite Congress' authority in this matter." Thus, in presenting this resolution, Collins and his colleagues claim to be promoting a "Free and Open Internet," that "increases access and participation."

Europe to pull trigger on Google antitrust charges

Europe's antitrust regulator plans to file formal charges against Google Inc. for violating antitrust laws, stepping up a five-year investigation likely to become the biggest competition battle here since the European Union's pursuit of Microsoft Corp. a decade ago. The European charges will focus on complaints that Google uses its dominant Internet search engine to favor its own services over those of rivals, people familiar with the situation said. Rivals say Google search results in areas like travel, shopping and maps increasingly favor Google's own offerings, rather than links to similar online services run by rivals. (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

Taiwan rejected from China-led Asia bank

The Chinese government has said Taiwan will not be a member of a new regional bank, but would be welcome in the future under a different name. China is leading the set-up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a project opposed by the US. Taiwan, which split from China in 1949, wanted to join the bank as an independent nation. But China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and was expected to reject any move which suggested otherwise. The bank "is open and inclusive, and welcomes Taiwan to join under an appropriate name", and added that they would be "open to suggestions from all sides".

China's growth slows to 7%

The question is not whether China will slow, but how it is slowing. On that score, in the first quarter China more or less hit its full-year target, which is a rate of around 7%. But how it hit that headline figure was rather less encouraging. In nominal terms, China’s economy expanded just 5.8% in the quarter compared with a year earlier. It hit the 7% real GDP figure thanks to the application of a negative price deflator of around 1%. Deflation, it turns out, can be your friend when it comes to hitting growth targets. Yet for an economy saddled with debt, falling prices make it harder to deleverage.


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  • Historia Verdadeira


La estatal Petróleos de Venezuela, Pdvsa, hizo una oferta a la petrolera estadounidense Harvest para adquirir su participación en una empresa mixta en el país petrolero. (Presione aquí)


Ecuador notificó este mes, al Consejo General de la Organización Mundial del Comercio la resolución 011-2015 del Comité de Comercio Exterior (Comex) sobre la adopción de la medida de salvaguardia a las importaciones. La medida se aplica a unas 2.900 partidas gravadas con sobretasas arancelarias de entre el 5% y el 45%.


La petrolera mexicana, Pemex, informó que está en negociaciones con compradores en Japón y Corea del Sur sobre el contenido de cloruro en el petróleo mexicano y que ofrecería descuentos si el nivel del químico, que puede causar corrosión. (Presione aquí)


Con una inversión inicial aproximada de US$ 1 millón, la canadiense TechFab instalará su primera planta de producción en Querétaro y en el país para atender principalmente al mercado aeronáutico, informó Solange Fresneau, vicepresidenta de la compañía. El proyecto, que comenzará a operar en las próximas semanas.

  • Brief News

Obama and Congress reach deal over Iran nuclear talks

The US Congress will have a say on a nuclear deal with Iran, under a new agreement reached with the White House. Obama withdrew his opposition to a bipartisan bill that was unanimously passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has agreed to sign the bill, which gives Congress the right to reject any forthcoming agreement with Iran.

Thousands of young women in US forced into marriage

Sometimes the women aren't allowed to leave their homes. Some commit suicide. Many have little recourse, advocates say, because current laws are ill-equipped to address this hidden crisis. "The parents can go to a court and get a marriage certificate — indicate they're waiving the minimum age requirement. And the court has no procedures in place to ensure the child is wanting this. And so we've seen this happen. Parents often consider marriage a matter of family pride and honor. It's a way to protect daughters, and sometimes sons, from "Western ways." US laws are not designed to deal with the complexity of forced marriage especially if there's no pattern of past violence. Even state laws on the marriage age don't always help. Most were written for Romeo and Juliet scenarios and power lies with parents, not the young people.

Dutch government taken to court on climate change

Campaigners in the Netherlands are taking the government to court for allegedly failing to protect its citizens from climate change. The class action lawsuit, involving almost 900 citizens, aims to force the government to cut emissions faster. The first hearing opened in the Hague on Tuesday. It is said to be the first time in Europe that citizens have tried to hold a state responsible for alleged inaction on climate change.

US to exhume Pearl Harbor remains

The remains of nearly 400 US servicemen killed at Pearl Harbor are to be exhumed so they may be identified and given individual burials. The sailors and Marines were aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was struck by Japanese torpedoes in 1941. Their remains were buried together in Hawaii. The identification effort will use advances in forensic and DNA testing, aided by genealogical help from family members.

Rousseff nominates law professor for seat on Brazil's top Court

Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday nominated a professor of law to become Supreme Court judge, after an eight-month delay in filling the seat amid a standoff with allied leaders in Congress. The appointment of Luiz Edson Fachin, visiting professor at King's College in the UK, has yet to be approved by the Senate. Rousseff has faced opposition in Congress, including from the allied PMDB party, to a series of economic austerity measures she proposed to cut a budget deficit and avoid a credit rating downgrade. Legislators had been pressuring Rousseff to accelerate the announcement, pledging to approve legislation that would impose deadlines for presidents to fill posts in the judiciary and the executive.

Chile recognises same-sex civil unions

The Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, has signed into law a bill recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples. The law - which will come into effect in six months - gives same-sex and unmarried couples many of the rights enjoyed by married couples. Several Latin American countries already recognize civil unions. But only Argentina and Uruguay in South America allow full marriage by same-sex couples.

France backs Nokia deal with Alcatel-Lucent

Nokia is in talks to buy French rival Alcatel-Lucent in a deal that could create a European telecoms equipment group worth more than €40bn. In a joint announcement, the two companies said there could be "no certainty at this stage" that the discussions would result in a deal. But combining two of the industry's weaker players would be attractive. Prospects of a Nokia/Alcatel merger increased after the French government said it would back a deal.

'The market is rigged' - Michael Lewis

In his seminal work on the role of high-frequency traders in global stock markets, Michael Lewis quotes Charlie Munger who said that high-frequency trading was "the functional equivalent of letting a lot of rats into a granary". His central thesis is that electronic trading has rigged the market against ordinary investors, particularly in America. Computer algorithms allow high-frequency trading (HFT) firms to "get ahead" of institutions investing on behalf of our pension funds and savings schemes. Because HFT firms execute deals in tiny fractions of seconds they are able to "front run" human traders who are buying stocks and make a small "skim" on the deal by pushing prices up or down. Although each "skim" is tiny, the overall effect, according to Lewis, is that billions of dollars are being lost by investors to HFT firms which have inserted themselves into the market. This, Lewis says, is tantamount to rigging the market.

Swiss banks strong-arm clients in US Tax-evasion endgame

Swiss banks, for decades the bastions of secrecy, are preaching the virtue of transparency to their US clients as they try to head off billions of dollars in potential fines for helping Americans evade taxes. Faced with the threat of penalties that could bankrupt some of them, almost 100 of the country's banks are calling thousands of US clients in an 11th-hour push to get them to disclose any offshore accounts they may be hiding. Customers are being asked to prove they have paid any taxes due, according to a dozen lawyers for banks or their customers. Some have even had their accounts partially blocked to force them to comply, according to the Swiss banking ombudsman.

France lawmakers debates controversial surveillance bill

The French Parliament on Monday debated a bill that would give French intelligence services more powers to bug and track potential terrorists in France. The bill would require Internet companies to monitor suspicious behavior. Internet companies are concerned that the legislation could deter clients, and civil liberties advocates argue that the bill lacks adequate privacy protections. The government has dismissed these concerns and clarified that the measures being proposed are not aimed at general surveillance, but to monitor target people to protect citizens of France. The government's hope is that such action would prevent an imminent terror attack. The French government presented the bill in March.

White House says it will remove Cuba from list of State sponsors of terrorism

The move is just one part of the Obama administration's push to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Italy court declares Berlusconi has served sentence for tax fraud

A Milan court declared on Tuesday that former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has fully served his sentence for tax fraud and will now be permitted to travel out of the country.

Japan court blocks restart of two nuclear reactors

The Fukui District Court issued an injunction on Tuesday halting the restart of two nuclear reactors is Takahama, Japan. These reactors, operated by Kansai Electric Power, met the basic safety guidelines set by Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) and were scheduled to re-open this year. However, the court ruled in favor of the locals that requested the injunction, citing the lack of credible evacuation measures and an underestimated earthquake risk. The court stated that the NRA's regulations lack rationality.

France Inc. bristles over law giving votes to select few

Billionaire Vincent Bollore and France's Socialist government aren't obvious bedfellows, yet the two have found common cause in trying to secure double-voting rights for long-term French investors. The government's determination to force compliance with its "Florange Law" -- promising extra voting power to those owning stocks for more than two years -- became apparent last week when it increased its stake in Renault SA to scupper the carmaker's attempt to avoid making the change. While other big French companies will also try to block the measures at annual meetings starting this week, Bollore has emerged as a supporter. Owner of a 14.5 percent stake in Vivendi SA, the Breton businessman wants to use the double-voting rights to give him greater control over the Paris-based media company.

US tobacco companies file suit against FDA over label regulations

The biggest US tobacco companies on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, challenging an alleged effort to assert authority over labels on tobacco products. Tobacco subsidiaries of Altria Group Inc., Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc. argue a recent FDA requirement violates free speech by requiring them to submit labels for approval. The FDA in March issued an update regarding new tobacco products and said changing the background color of an existing product from green to red, changing its logo or adding words such as "premium tobacco" would make it a new product requiring agency approval.

  • Daily Press Review

Saudi Arabia boosts security on Yemen border
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Dozens of Hamas members arrested in overnight West Bank raid
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Clegg pledges schools cash increase
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

It's unclear how long forces in Ramadi can hold out
CNN International, London, England

Still in the honeymoon phase! Newlyweds James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley are inseparable at pre-summer garden party
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Ed Balls says post-election SNP deal would be 'betrayal of the English vote'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Pope Francis's iPad fetches 28,500 euros at auction
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Video: Ukraine's Slaviansk still tense one year after start of war
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Germany's Günter Grass, author of 'The Tin Drum', dies at 87
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Winnie the Pooh 'twerking' dance routine sparks criminal investigation at Russian dance school
Independent The, London, England

Plane wrecked after skidding off runway
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Justified finale: is Nick Searcy Hollywood's angriest conservative?
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Local rose tea brand contains DDT: gov't
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Will N.Korea Choose to Stay out in the Cold?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pakistan stops senior Lashkar from travelling to Saudi Arabia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Jewel thieves arrested by ctiy crime branch
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Fukui court forbids Takahama nuclear plant restart
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Rights group accuses Serbia of harassing migrants
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Timpanist Rick Miller on 40 years with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Kerry: still confident US can conclude Iran nuclear deal
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Confident Barack Obama can negotiate final nuclear deal on Iran: John Kerry
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Iran bill could clear U.S. Congress after Obama compromises with Republicans
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Cubans hail removal from U.S. terrorism list
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

Opinion: Two Winners and One Loser at the Summit of the Americas
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Samsung Electronics says demand for Galaxy S6 models much higher than planned for
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Japan ruling party panel summons media bosses over news shows
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Modi-mania expected when Indian PM hits Toronto
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Hundreds feared drowned off Libya
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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