June 29, 2015 nº 1,643  - Vol. 13

"Grexit isn't a hard stretch from here — the much feared mother of all bank runs has already happened, which means that the cost-benefit analysis starting from here is much more favorable to euro exit than it ever was before."

Paul Krugman

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  • Top News

Greece to close banks, impose capital controls amid looming default

Alexis Tsipras announced Sunday that banks will be closed and capital controls imposed in order to stave off a run on the euro after negotiations with the country's international lenders broke down. On Saturday, Tsipras called for a national referendum on July 5 to decide the fate of a bailout package hammered out in negotiations led by Germany, the home of the ECB and the grouping's strongest economy. Finance ministers with the European Union have rejected the surprise vote. "Some European leaders say the Greek government closed the door on negotiations by calling a referendum. If parliament gives its nod, Greek voters will be asked to rule on two complex draft documents that detail a proposal by the country's creditors to unlock aid of as much as 16 billion euros for Greece in return for sales-tax increases and pension reforms. An agreement on the package has remained elusive after five months of contentious negotiations that have left the country at the brink of default when the bailout expires on Tuesday. But the hastily called vote poses significant logistical challenges that make it doubtful it could be held as early as next Sunday. There's also the question on whether the offer on which people will vote will still be on the table by the time of the referendum. If the referendum is held indeed, which is not certain, it risks being a charade. Others are pushing for a compromise to preserve the euro." Greeks will vote on whether to pay EU's price for financial bailout. Lenders from the European Union and International Monetary Fund want austerity measures to continue for another five months in Greece in exchange for $16 billion in aid.

Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage legal in all 50 States

The Supreme Court decision Friday that upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry was one for the history books. States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions, the Supreme Court says in a ruling that for months has been the focus of speculation. The decision was 5-4. Obergefell v. Hodges was exalted by gay rights groups and their supporters, and condemned by those who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman. Opponents of same-sex marriage say that the fight is far from over. Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday after the U.S Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage. Obama praised the Supreme Court's ruling, saying it arrived "like a thunderbolt" after a series of back-and-forth battles over same-sex marriage. He says the ruling "will strengthen all of our communities" by offering dignity and equal status to all same-sex couples and their families. The president calls the ruling "a victory for America." "The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society," Justice Kennedy wrote. His opinion sketches a history of how ideas of marriage have evolved along with the changing roles and legal status of women. Comparing that evolution to society's views of gays and lesbians, Kennedy noted that for years, "a truthful declaration by same-sex couples of what was in their hearts had to remain unspoken." "The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times," Kennedy wrote after recounting the legal struggles faced by same-sex partners. Justice Roberts wrote that the court had taken an "extraordinary step" in deciding not to allow states to decide the issue for themselves, saying that the Constitution does not define marriage. Justice Scalia said the Supreme Court's "highly unrepresentative panel of nine" had violated "a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation."

Gay marriage: It's a 'judicial Putsch' warns dissenting Scalia

Justice Anthony Kennedy, seen as a pivotal swing vote in the case, wrote the majority opinion. All four justices who voted against the ruling wrote their own dissenting opinions: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. But the ones by Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts were stylistic counterpoints. Scalia flashed anger, railing against an elitist majority on the Supreme Court who were imposing their values on "320 million Americans coast-to-coast". "They are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution," he writes. He called the decision a "judicial Putsch" and "a threat to democracy", in which the majority discovered a right to marriage that all the US legal minds before them had overlooked. Roberts's dissent was more restrained, akin to a resigned shake of the head. He cloaked his opinion in warm words for the gay rights activists he knew would cheer the court's action. "Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration," he writes. "But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority's approach is deeply disheartening." He warns, however, that there is a dark side to achieving their objective by judicial fiat.

Same-sex marriage decision eases data burden for companies

The Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage means that it will be easier for most companies to administer benefits.

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  • MiMIC Journal

AIIB is a major achievement for China

China has hosted the signing ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new international financial institution set to rival the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Delegates from 50 countries signed articles that determine each member's share and the bank's initial capital. The UK, Germany, Australia and South Korea are among the founding members. Japan and the US, which oppose the AIIB, are the most prominent countries not to join. The US has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which it sees as spreading Chinese "soft power", and tried to persuade others to stay away.

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  • Brief News

US House passes compromise trade bill

The US House of Representatives voted 286-138 to approve a trade law that provides assistance to workers who lose their jobs to international trade and renews President Barack Obama's authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the country. It also establishes programs to increase trade between the US and Africa. The Trade Preferences Extension Act includes measures Obama has long pushed for and is seen as clearing the way for him to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) later this year. The bill was largely supported by Republicans as part of a compromise, but opposed by Democrats and labor union groups who say it still won't do enough to protect US jobs. Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

Argentina judge orders asset seizure of Falklands oil firms

A federal judge in Argentina has ordered the seizure of assets of five companies drilling for oil in the Falkland Islands. Tierra del Fuego judge Lilian Herraez ordered the authorities to seize boats and other assets worth $156m. Argentina claims sovereignty of the islands, which it calls the Malvinas. The oil companies named in the case are not based in Argentina and it is not clear how the measure will be implemented. Drilling for oil in the territorial waters around the Falklands began in 2010 despite opposition from Buenos Aires.

SEC allows Tweets for startups raising money

When a new company is seeking investors, using 140 characters is just fine with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Last week, the agency's staff, in a ''Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation,'' said a startup can post a Twitter message about its stock or debt offering to gauge interest among potential investors. The SEC announcement continues the agency's trend of warming up to social media, which began two years ago when it approved the use of posts on Facebook and Twitter to communicate corporate announcements such as earnings.

Puerto Rico's Governor says island's debts are 'not payable'

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said that his administration would probably seek significant concessions from its creditors on a $72 billion debt load. He plans to discuss the island's fiscal crisis on a televised broadcast on Monday night.

Police capture prison escapee David Sweat, ending weeks-long manhunt

Police say the convicted murderer who escaped from a prison in New York earlier this month, has been shot but captured alive. Just days ago, his accomplice, Richard Matt, was fatally shot by police. "The nightmare is finally over." The hunt for the escaped convicts involved hundreds of local, state and federal officials who scoured dense forests dotted with hunting cabins, where the pair apparently sought shelter while on the run.

High-profile study turns up the antitrust heat on Google

Google is facing a new high-profile adversary in the roiling fight over whether its monolithic search engine violates antitrust law: Columbia Law School professor and noted Internet theorist Tim Wu. The author of the influential book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires co-wrote a paper asserting that Google is engaging in anticompetitive behavior by prominently serving up its own content, like restaurant reviews and doctors office phone numbers, in search results. Wu is an unlikely person to join the antitrust chorus against Google. He's often been an ally of the company over the years. Before an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor of New York state last year, Wu worked as an unpaid Google fellow in 2008 and served as a senior advisor to the US Federal Communications Commission in 2011 and 2012, helping draft Internet traffic regulation that Google favors. Wu coined the term "network neutrality," and a 2008 Businessweek story credited him with partly inspiring Google's open mobile strategy in Android.

Consensual violence is still against law

Q. If two service members agree to fight each other as a way to settle a dispute, can they be criminally charged with assault even though they both agreed to the fight? A. Just because someone says "hit me" doesn't make the invited act of violence defensible. Troops who engage in "mutual affrays" can be charged with and convicted of assault by battery in violation of Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's because "the law protects a societal interest in ensuring its members are free from injury or harm, and protects the public from exposure to such affrays and disorders," the Army Court of Criminal Appeals said in US v. Mark A. Arab (2001). Consensual violence would only undermine this societal interest in public safety.

Uber ruling is a harbinger of the need for employment law change

The recent ruling by a hearing officer with the California Labor Commission in a case involving an Uber driver is bad public policy. The issue this ruling addresses — whether the driver should be classified as an "employee" or "contractor" — is of crucial importance to Uber and all the on-demand companies that use a similar business model. Having a fleet of employees is much more costly than a fleet of contractors. As a result, classifying on-demand drivers as employees will negatively impact the economics of Uber and most other on-demand services. Reclassification as employees also negatively impacts on-demand drivers, potentially taking away their job flexibility and personal freedom. Contractors can set their own hours, for example, while employees typically cannot. While this ruling is not helping anyone, it does have one positive. It shines a bright light on how archaic legislation can create negative externalities and incentives when applied to new business models. It clearly points out the need for a substantial update to our decades-old employment laws. Such laws must be revised so that they meet the needs of today's evolving economy: for workers, businesses and the public.

How the 'law' of war lets Islamic State slavery thrive

Islamic State troops parade safely through Ramadi, Iraq, in broad daylight, flags waving, with no US aircraft in sight. American intelligence agencies identify the Islamic State's headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, but they remain untouched. These seem like natural targets in the continuing American air campaign against the Islamic State. However, in both cases, they were in built-up, densely populated areas. Even the most precise attacks could not be conducted without the possibility of causing civilian casualties, which runs afoul of restrictive US rules of engagement. The enemy knows this and has turned entire city populations into collective human shields. The Obama administration's air-only strategy is helpless against this kind of countermeasure. Western countries have voluntarily raised the bar of the laws of armed conflict so high that even precision attacks on legitimate military targets invite the wrath of international investigators.

Palestine submits alleged evidence of Israel war crimes to ICC

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Thursday that he had presented documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist in the investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes. The documents describe the Israel occupation of the West Bank, treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and alleged war crimes committed during fighting in the Gaza Strip last year. Both the US and Israel have criticized the Palestinian Authority's submission, calling in "unproductive" and challenging whether it is qualified as a member of the court.

Protesters call for resignation of Honduras president on corruption allegations

Thousands of protesters marched in Honduras on Friday calling for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and demanding an independent investigation into his role in an ongoing corruption scandal. Hernandez is accused of knowingly using money from a $200 million embezzlement scandal at the Honduran Institute (IHSS) of Social Security to help pay for his 2013 presidential campaign.

In bid for stricter vaccine rules, officials grapple with decades-old distrust

California lawmakers have decided to tighten the criteria for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children. But some parents resent officials telling them how to care for their children.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The Old Answer to Humanity's Newest Problem: Data

Newsweek
Greek banks close for a week as default looms

Business Week
Here's How Greece Can Fix Itself

The Economist
Doctor-assisted dying. The right to die

Der Spiegel
Augenzeugen ueber den Alltag im 'Islamischen Staat"

L'Espresso
Bobocrazia

  • Daily Press Review

Iran nuclear deal tough sell for US Congress
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Israel's attorney general: a frequent flier at citizens' expense
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

UK 'united in grief' over Tunisia toll
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Prison escapee David Sweat shot and captured alive
CNN International, London, England

Holly Willoughby and husband Dan Baldwin share a kiss in London
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Women's World Cup stars sport David Beckham-inspired tattoos
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Israeli forces intercept aid for Gaza protest flotilla
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Burundi on edge as polls open in controversial elections
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Turkish army reluctant over government will to intervene in Syria
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Father of Tunisian gunman speaks: 'I don't know who has contacted him, influenced him or put these ideas in his head'
Independent The, London, England

Burundi parliamentary speaker flees as three killed in capital on eve of election
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Culture stars who died in 2015
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Color party injured count rises to 524
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

The Past and Future of International Adoption
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

CNN editor mocked for mistaking a sex toys banner for IS flag
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

'Illegal construction by Assam violates border agreements'
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

LDP media bashers put security bills in doubt
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Amid Iran nuclear talks, non-diplomats compete for attention
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

Pro-European candidate wins Moldova vote
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

'The nightmare is finally over': 2nd escaped N.Y. inmate caught near Canadian border
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Troopers hustled escaped killer to hospital in hopes he can share tale
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

EU Commission says Greek capital controls seem justified
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Greece reels in shock as banks shut
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Judge signals it's time to offer relief from 'backbreaking' fines
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Tunisia beach attacker 'had help'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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