June 22, 2015 nº 1,640 - Vol. 13

"Words are loaded pistols."

  Jean-Paul Sartre

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  • Top News

UN SG: Children in war zones must be protected

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday addressed the challenges of upholding the fundamental rights of children in war zones, stating that protecting children is a "moral imperative and legal obligation." The Secretary-General spoke on the issue during an open debate on children and armed conflict which addressed the issue of increasing mass child abductions. Ban said that grave violations against children constitute "an affront to our common humanity" in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Google told to expect large fines in EU antitrust probe

The European Union threatened to levy fines on Google Inc. that would be large enough to act as a deterrent after accusing the US search-engine giant of squeezing out rivals in the comparison-shopping market. The EU's competition watchdog told Google it could face a fine based on its AdWords revenue stemming from European users. The EU also said it may tell Google to make changes to how its shopping services are displayed. The European Commission "intends to set the fine at a level which will be sufficient to ensure deterrence," the EU regulator said in the document. The regulator "considers that, based on the facts described in this statement of objections, Google committed the infringement intentionally or, at the very least, negligently."

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  • MiMIC Journal

Italy seeks t 300 over China fraud

Italian prosecutors want to indict the Bank of China's Milan branch and almost 300 people over a money-laundering scheme. Prosecutors in Florence allege €4.5bn ($5.1bn) was transferred from Italy to China. It was earned through prostitution, counterfeiting, tax evasion and labor exploitation, they say. The Ansa agency said that four senior managers with the Bank of China could be indicted. Close to half the €4.5bn, transferred between 2007 and 2010, went through the bank's branch in Milan, for which the Bank of China received €758,000 in commission for the transfers.

Chinese firm to rent Russian land in Siberia for crops

A Chinese firm is in talks with Russia about renting up to 115,000 hectares (284,050 acres) of land to grow crops and rear livestock in eastern Siberia. Trans-Baikal regional officials say the deal with investment firm Huae Sinban could be worth up to $448m. Local government leaders have signed a "letter of intent" with the company. Huae Sinban plans to rent the land for 49 years. China has made similar farming investments in other countries.


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  • Brief News

SEC fights challenges to its in-house courts

The Securities and Exchange Commission is fending off a flurry of legal challenges to its in-house court system, which has become a key cog in its enforcement strategy but has drawn mounting criticism. The agency is deploying a variety of countermeasures to fight at least seven cases brought by defendants around the country. The expanding effort prompted one federal judge last week to say the agency appears to be in "a little bit of chaos right now." The cases are forcing the SEC to defend the growing use of its five administrative-law judges, to whom it sends hundreds of cases a year. The agency has been directing more cases to its internal courts since the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law granted it more latitude to do so.

Uber bans guns in its cars

Uber Technologies Inc. has become the latest high-profile company to thrust itself into the gun debate with a decision this month prohibiting drivers and passengers from carrying firearms in its fleet. The ride-sharing company added a new policy to its website prohibiting anyone using the service from having "firearms of any kind," a ban that resonated nationally amid renewed calls for gun restrictions in the wake of last week's shooting at a historic church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine people.

Greece pledges new proposal to resolve debt crisis

The European Central Bank gave Greece an emergency loan of more than $2 billion on Friday to stave off collapse, but a June 30 deadline looms for payment on the next installment of an IMF loan.

Islamic State web accounts to be blocked

A Europe-wide police team is being formed to track and block social media accounts linked to Islamic State (IS). A recent US study found there were at least 46,000 accounts on Twitter linked to the militant group, many of which help to recruit new IS members. The European police agency Europol will now work with unnamed social media companies to track the accounts. They aim to get new accounts closed down within two hours of them being set up.

Belgium unblocks seized Russian accounts

Russian state accounts frozen by Belgium in a move condemned by Moscow have been unblocked. The assets were seized in a move triggered by a court ruling over the now-defunct Yukos oil firm. Last year a court told Russia to pay Yukos shareholders $50bn (£32bn) in compensation, after Yukos's break-up. But Russia does not acknowledge the court's findings, leading former Yukos shareholders to get Russian state assets frozen. Belgium's ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Kremlin, and told the asset seizure was "an openly hostile act" that "crudely violates the recognized norms of international law".

Petrobras case nets top businessmen

Two top Brazilian businessmen have been arrested as part of a major investigation into corruption at state-owned oil giant Petrobras. Marcelo Odebrecht heads the Odebrecht group - Latin America's largest construction conglomerate. Also detained is Otavio Azevedo, boss of Andrade Gutierrez, another top construction company. Investigators allege firms paid corrupt officials in order to get lucrative Petrobras contracts.

US government involved in confidential Medicare over-billing lawsuit

New records released by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) Wednesday revealed a confidential legal battle over Medicare over-billing that spanned three years between government officials and UnitedHealth Group. The dispute centered on a 2012 audit obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that revealed UnitedHealth charged too much for Medicare Advantage plans in nearly half of a sample of 201 patients enrolled at PacifiCare of Washington state, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.

Biggest health insurers to get even bigger under Obamacare

America's biggest health insurers are about to get even bigger, driven into a wave of consolidation by Obamacare's new regulations and markets. Anthem's disclosure Saturday that it's offered about $47 billion for Cigna Corp. is the first public confirmation the deal-making is in full swing. Cigna rejected the offer on Sunday, despite Anthem's attempt to pressure Cigna's board by taking the offer public. Anthem, Aetna Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. all are poised to emerge as buyers or sellers when the dust settles. Driving the consolidation is the 2010 health law that put tougher rules on the industry, demanding more covered services, better care and a ceiling on profits. It funded coverage for the uninsured, and companies are racing to capture the more than 20 million customers who will buy coverage through Obamacare's markets.

French court acquits 14 companies in Iraq oil-for-food scandal

A French court acquitted 14 companies accused of bribery on Thursday for negotiating contracts as part of the UN oil-for-food program with the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein. The oil-for-food program allowed the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, which was under UN sanctions in the wake of the first Gulf War, to sell limited stocks of oil in return for foodstuffs and other humanitarian supplies. In Thursday's trial, Renault Trucks, Schneider Electric and Legrand, and several other French companies were found not guilty of bribery, corruption and misuse of company assets. In a 2013 trial, other French companies, including oil conglomerate Total, also were acquitted.

Supreme Court rules prosecutors must prove dealers knew synthetic drugs were illegal

The US Supreme Court ruled in McFadden v. United States on Thursday that in a synthetic drug case, the government must prove that the defendant understood that he was dealing a substance regulated under the Controlled Substances Act or Analogue Act. The ruling could make it more difficult for prosecutors to convict drug dealers selling chemically modified drugs that are not specifically banned by state and federal drug lists.

Texas law decriminalizes school truancy

A longstanding Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to criminal court — and some to jail — for missing school is off the books, while a Justice Department investigation into one county's truancy courts continues. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect. It will take effect Sept. 1. Opponents of the previous law said the threat of a heavy fine — up to $500, plus court costs — and a criminal record was not keeping children in school and was sending those who could not pay into a criminal justice system spiral.

End of the corner office: D.C. law firm designs its new space for millennials

Nixon Peabody of D.C. is moving from its more traditional formal office — heavy on the marble, big desks and other markers of status — to an airy and open one designed not for baby boomers but with up-and-coming millennials in mind. And no one will have a corner office anymore. "The physical spaces in most law firms tend to be built for prestige. This is really an opportunity to turn that on its head," said Jeffrey Lesk, 61, managing partner of the D.C. office overseeing the move. "Law firm leases typically go for 15 years. When you think ahead, it becomes really clear really quickly that the vast majority of people now in the law office won't be here in 15 years. So we had to think, 'Who are we building for?'?" In the new space, all offices — for the junior associates and paralegals as well as senior partners — will be the same size. No one gets a conference table. Everyone has one guest chair. All offices will have glass walls in front, rather than a solid wall and door — the better to share the light throughout the office and the more to signal transparency, democracy and connection. Corner spaces, no longer symbols of individual power, are designed as team meeting rooms for group collaboration — something millennials, those roughly between the ages of 18 and 34, have been taught to do since elementary school.

European copyright madness: court strikes down law allowing users to rip their own cds

The High Court of the United Kingdom handed down an excellent decision—excellent because the result is so unreasonable, so out of touch with reality, and so divorced from the needs and expectations of ordinary users, that it provides a textbook illustration of the need for urgent reform of the outdated and unbalanced European Copyright Directive. In a nutshell, the court struck down the UK government's decision to allow users to lawfully make copies of content that they have purchased for personal use, given the absence of a compulsory levy to compensate copyright owners for the "harm" that they suffer from such copying. The government's choices are now to remove the private copying exception—making personal copying illegal again, or to supply additional evidence that copyright owners suffer no or minimal "harm" from personal copying, or else to begin imposing a new tax on users to compensate the industry for that "harm".

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Nip. Tuck. Or else. Why you’ll be getting cosmetic procedures even if you may not really want to

Top EU officials lay out euro vision as Greece totters

The Economist
Greece and the euro: My big fat Greek divorce

Der Spiegel
Das Beben

Naufragio Europa

  • Daily Press Review

Lebanon arrests guards over prison beatings
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Israeli officials: Iran and Russia in no rush to abandon Assad
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Greece debt efforts intensified
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Police now hunting for escaped killers west of prison
CNN International, London, England

Rebecca Adlington reflects on childbirth with baby daughter Summer in Hello!
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Jordan Spieth wins the US Open after Dustin Johnson misses two crucial putts on final hole
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

French president offers words of support to Italy over migrant crisis in Milan
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Greece races to offer new proposals ahead of emergency summit
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Turkish main opposition leader offers prime ministry to MHP chair in coalition government
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

J Crew vice president 'fired for mocking staff online' hours after they were made redundant
Independent The, London, England

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

Heatwave kills more than 120 in Pakistan
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Former Star Wars actor charged over high-speed car chase
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Athens lays out new debt deal proposals
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Koreans Stay Home Due to MERS Fears
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pope: 'Great powers' did nothing when Jews were taken to Auschwitz
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Night cycling a hit in Ahmedabad
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Top envoys meet in pursuit of Japan-Korea thaw
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

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

Japan fiscal blueprint to propose flexible spending on annual basis
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

'Great powers' failed to act when Jews taken to death camps, Pope Francis says
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

U.S. seeks to deport man convicted in 1982 Pan Am flight bombing
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

Amazon Dam also Brings Health Infrastructure for Local Population
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Carlyle Group commits up to $500 million to India-focused Magna Energy
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

South Korea reports two more deaths in MERS outbreak, three new cases
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Fawn Dorr won't let past missteps keep her from Olympic dream
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Al-Shabab launches Mogadishu attack
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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