May 18, 2015 nº 1,627 - Vol. 13

"Freedom in general may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires"

 Bertrand Russell

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  • Top News

Alibaba sued over alleged counterfeits

The owner of several of the world's best-known luxury brands has filed a fresh lawsuit against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , the latest challenge to the Chinese e-commerce giant's assertions that it fights the sale of counterfeit goods on its platforms.The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan by Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands owned by Paris-based Kering SA, indicates that the company is unsatisfied with Alibaba's efforts to address the problem of counterfeiting of its brands. The suit alleges that Alibaba and its associated companies "knowingly encourage, assist, and profit from the sale of counterfeits on their online platforms," according to a copy of the filing reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Alibaba said the complaint had no basis and that it has a "strong track record" of helping brands fight counterfeits. "Unfortunately, Kering Group has chosen the path of wasteful litigation instead of the path of constructive cooperation. We believe this complaint has no basis and we will fight it vigorously," an Alibaba spokesman said.

New York weighs jurisdictional rule for foreign firms

New York lawmakers are weighing a bill to make foreign companies submit to the jurisdiction of New York courts as a condition of doing business in the state, a position some lawyers say is at odds with a recent US Supreme Court ruling. The high court decided unanimously last year to put restrictions on lawsuits filed against foreign companies in the US that concern actions that took place abroad. Defense lawyers hailed the decision as a strike against "litigation tourism," the filing of lawsuits in a jurisdiction with no direct link to the issue or parties involved. New York, meanwhile, is trying to draw more corporate litigants into its courts, with the hope of surpassing Delaware as the leader in business litigation. "We do want New York to be a leader in corporate law," said George F. Carpinello, a civil litigator who chairs an advisory committee to the New York Office of Court Administration, which produced the proposal. "That's been the policy for many years." Under the proposed law, any claim against a foreign company that registers with the New York secretary of state could be filed in New York courts, regardless of where the alleged wrongdoing took place or who was harmed. Critics say it flies in the face of the Supreme Court's decision and could discourage outsiders considering business in New York.

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  • MiMIC Journal

US concerned by China's actions in South China Sea

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is concerned by the pace and scope of China's reclamation projects in contested areas of the South China Sea. China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with Brunei, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China was determined to safeguard its sovereignty.

Prominent China rights lawyer formally indicted

Chinese prosecutors on Friday said that prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has officially been indicted on charges of fanning ethnic hatred and provoking trouble for comments that he posted online. He has already been detained for one year. A more severe charge of inciting divisions and a charge of illegally obtaining personal information were dropped by prosecutors. In a statement the Beijing prosecutors' office said that the human rights lawyer should face criminal prosecution for comments he made on social media and his micro blog, which has since been shut down by authorities, that they view as a disruption of social order.

Chinese hackers force Penn State to unplug engineering computers

Penn State University, which develops sensitive technology for the US Navy, disclosed Friday that Chinese hackers have been sifting through the computers of its engineering school for more than two years. One of the country's largest and most productive research universities, Penn State offers a potential treasure trove of technology that's already being developed with partners for commercial applications. The breach suggests that foreign spies could be using universities as a backdoor to US commercial and defense secrets. The hackers are so deeply embedded that the engineering college's computer network will be taken offline for several days while investigators work to eject the intruders.


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  • Brief News

EU to back 'boat-destroyer' mission in Mediterranean

EU foreign and defence ministers are expected to approve a mission to destroy the boats used by people-smugglers operating in Libya. At a meeting in Brussels, the ministers will also discuss the mission's command-and-control structure and HQ. It is part of the EU's response to the vast numbers of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. The EU ministers are expected to fine-tune the 28-member bloc's search-and-destroy operations. Initially it will involve gathering intelligence on the activities of the gangs, but it will also take action against smugglers' boats in international waters. The third and most controversial phase of the mission will be military operations conducted inside Libyan territorial waters and on its coast - in areas controlled by a potentially hostile Islamist militia. Libya, where many smugglers operate, has objected to the EU proposals. EU countries are seeking a UN Security Council resolution that will give the mission legal backing.

Islamic State militants 'smuggled to Europe'

Islamic State (IS) fighters are being smuggled into Europe by gangs in the Mediterranean. Smugglers were hiding IS militants on boats filled with migrants. Officials in Italy and Egypt have previously warned that IS militants could reach Europe by migrant boat. However, experts have cautioned that it is very difficult to verify or assess such claims. IS is allegedly allowing the boat owners to continue their operations in exchange for half of their income. IS uses the boats "for their people who they want to send to Europe, as the European police don't know who is from IS and who is a normal refugee or not". Egypt's ambassador to the UK has warned of "boats full of terrorists" if the international community does not act, while the Italian government has expressed fears of militants infiltrating the boats, while emphasising that the boats are a humanitarian crisis. However, experts have cautioned that both countries have an interest in influencing the international response to the Libya crisis, and that it is difficult to verify the threat without evidence.

Egypt court sentences Morsi to death

An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ex-president Mohammed Morsi and more than 100 others to death for their involvement in a mass prison break in 2011. The prison break occurred during the country's 2011 uprising that ousted then-president Hosni Mubarak. Morsi was accused of conspiring with foreign militants to free Islamists during the mass prison breaks. The case was referred by Judge Shaaban el-Shami to the nation's top Muslim theologian for his non-binding opinion on whether the sentences should stand, as is customary for all death sentences in Egypt. Co-founder of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and Cabinet minister under Morsi Amr Darrag denounced the verdict, saying that Saturday would be "remembered as one of the darkest days in Egypt history." Amnesty International (AI) also spoke against the verdict, calling for a retrial and stating that all evidence gathered against the former president and his co-defendants was inadmissible as a result of their illegal detention before trial.

Boston bombing trial: Death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

A US jury has sentenced Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection. Tsarnaev is likely to be moved to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to await execution, but there could be years of appeals. Victims sobbed as the sentence was read, but Tsarnaev showed no emotion. After 14 hours of deliberations, the jury concluded that he showed no remorse and therefore should be put to death.

Ukraine crisis: 'Russian special forces' captured

Ukraine's military says its forces have captured two Russian soldiers fighting with rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies claims that it is sending its forces to help the rebels. However, it admits that a number of Russian nationals are fighting with the separatists in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ex-Minister turns to Japanese courts to halt US trade talks

A former Japanese agriculture minister is suing the government over a US-led Pacific trade agreement supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, claiming it threatens Japan's food security and farm industry. Masahiko Yamada, 73, a lawyer and minister in 2010 in the then Democratic Party of Japan government, filed the lawsuit at Tokyo District Court on Friday on behalf of more than 1,000 plaintiffs, seeking to prevent Japan from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he said by phone. The litigation is another twist in efforts by Japan and the US, the top economies among TPP members, to expedite talks on the agreement covering about 40 percent of the world's commerce. The accord would deepen Japan's dependence on farm imports and threaten its food security, said Yamada. The nation, which relies on imports for about 60 percent of its food, has cut its self-sufficiency target as the government expands trade deals.

Why big law firms are getting rid of partners' king-size offices

Law firms across town are redesigning their offices to shrink their real estate needs—and their rent. Partners have been purging her bookshelves and tossing binders from legal conferences 20 years ago to help her fit into an office that will be smaller. "You don't want to have space you don't need. It doesn't make economic sense." Firms reduce footprint by embracing emerging trends in law firm design: glass-fronted offices that create a sense of spaciousness, clustered workstations for support staff, corner offices replaced by "huddle" spaces where legal teams can work together. Most radically, firms have eliminated office sizes based on seniority. Architects and interior designers have pushed these concepts for years, but lengthy leases combined with lawyers' attachment to palatial offices have kept many firms in traditional office layouts. But that's finally changing as senior partners retire, nonlawyers enter firm management, clients increasingly resist high legal fees and technology continues to reduce the need for libraries, onsite file storage and armies of assistants. The Great Recession also played a role in the industry's new thinking. We are beginning to see the legal industry consider a lot of new innovations, at least new to them, that other industries have embraced previously. . . .And client demands are very much driving it.

UK government quietly rewrote law to allow its spies to hack

Now we know the real reason why GCHQ is openly trying to recruit hackers... The UK government "quietly" amended a law exempting intelligence agencies from prosecution for hacking computers, phones, and networks. Privacy International said it was told "hours" prior to a hearing of its claims against GCHQ, the UK's electronic spy agency, that the UK government had rewritten the Computer Misuse Act to permit its intelligence agencies to conduct cyber attacks. The privacy group argued the change in the law was in direct response to a claim it brought back in 2014, which challenges the reported hacking activities conducted by GCHQ as described in the Edward Snowden files, which show the agency is able to remotely control smartphones among other activities. But on June 6 last year -- a month after the complaint was filed -- the UK government introduced the measure as part of the Serious Crime Bill. It went into effect on March 3 this year, just days after an independent UK tribunal that handles civil and criminal cases against intelligence agencies ruled that GCHQ's mass surveillance programs were unlawful. It appears no regulators, commissioners responsible for overseeing the intelligence agencies, the Information Commissioner's Office, industry, non-governmental organizations or the public were notified or consulted about the proposed legislative changes.

Russia targets 'undesirable' foreign organisations

Russia plans to introduce new powers to prosecute foreigners whose activities are seen as "undesirable" on national security grounds. The draft leaves the definition of "undesirable" open to interpretation. Under an existing 2012 law, foreign-funded Russian NGOs linked to politics must register as "foreign agents". The label has connotations of spying. A party loyal to President Vladimir Putin drafted the new law. His supporters dominate both houses of parliament. The text going through the Duma - Russia's lower house - says it will be up to Russian prosecutors and the foreign ministry to decide if a foreign organisation or firm is "undesirable". A foreigner declared "undesirable" could face a fine of up to 500,000 roubles ($10,000) and up to six years in jail. The legislation comes amid frosty relations between Russia and the West, characterized by sanctions and counter-sanctions over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Will Israel charge soldiers in Gaza civilian deaths?

Israel is investigating potential criminal actions by its troops last summer during the war against Hamas in Gaza, including three attacks that killed nearly 50 civilians taking refuge in schools.

Amtrak ordered to take steps to improve safety

The Federal Railroad Administration has instructed Amtrak to install new automatic control systems on its northbound trains near the area of this week's derailment and to assess risks at all curves.

Mexico top court orders school to compensate student for bullying

The Supreme Court of Mexico on Friday ordered a school and teacher to compensate a student for their role in bullying, ruling that the teacher encouraged it. The private school, known as Universal Truth and Science Institute, and the teacher have been ordered to pay the seven-year-old victim 550,000 pesos or USD $35,000. The total includes tuition, costs for the trial and psychological treatments for the child. The court found that the teacher not only encouraged the abuse by the other children but also participated in it. The court further found that the child was studying in a hostile environment and the school did nothing to protect the child.

Private jets have more fatal accidents than commercial planes

Since 2000 there have been five times more fatal accidents in the US involving private and chartered corporate planes than airliners. Investigators cited pilot error among the causes of 88 percent of those crashes. Accident records show repeated examples of crews skipping safety checks, working long days, and overlooking hazards such as ice on the wings. In April, NTSB investigators reported the pilots working for billionaire Lewis Katz, who was killed last year when his Gulfstream GIV skidded off a runway, rarely did standard preflight safety checks. "Those who depend on pilots to provide safe transportation deserve pilots who are well-rested and otherwise fit for duty," NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

World of pot science

In Brazil, being LGBT can be a death sentence

Business Week
Elon Musk's Space Dream Almost Killed Tesla

The Economist
Tax-free debt. The great distortion

Der Spiegel
Mein Sex! Was Frauen wollen

Mezza pensione

  • Daily Press Review

Law or no law, Canadians better not criticise Israel
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Middle East Updates / Iraq says at least 500 killed in ISIS takeover of Ramadi
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Cameron renews NHS funding promises
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

At least 9 dead in Texas biker brawl
CNN International, London, England

Eva Longoria and Aishwarya Rai flout selfie ban on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Forget 80/20, sugar-free and raw: 'PEGAN' is the latest diet trend... and it combines the best of Paleo and vegan eating plans
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

US considering further sanctions over North Korea's nuclear programme
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

IS group claims key victory with seizure of Iraqi city of Ramadi
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

The day before he came into our lives
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Texas biker gang shooting: Police officer describes scene outside Waco restaurant as 'most gruesome crime scene I've seen in 34 years'
Independent The, London, England

Isil claims full control of Ramadi in major blow to Iraqi government
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

James Bond 24: Daniel Craig filming SPECTRE
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Contested Iraqi city of Ramadi falls to Islamic State group
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Bae Yong-joon's Engagement Dominates Headlines
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

US Kerry confident IS takeover of Ramadi will be reversed
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

AU scientists study meteorite for signs of life
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Hashimoto announces exit from politics after Osaka rejects merger plan in referendum
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Luxury fashion brands accuse Alibaba of profiting from fakes
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

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

Beat the post holiday blues
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Singapore's GIC in joint venture to buy Seoul mall for $263 million
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Boko Haram camps destroyed, Nigerian military says
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Taliban suicide car bomb near Kabul airport kills at least three
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

Poor Land Use Worsens Climate Change in St. Vincent
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Bosses at manufacturer JCB say UK could be better off outside EU
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Explosions hit pro-Kurdish party offices in southern Turkey, six wounded - party
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Ontario allowing employers to fire workers without cause
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Burundi leader in al-Shabab warning
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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