July 20, 2015 nº 1,648 - Vol. 13
 

"Man has no greater enemy than himself."

   Francesco Petrarch

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  • Top News

Greek debt crisis: Banks reopen after three-week shutdown

Greek banks are reopening after three weeks of closures sparked by the deadlock over the country's debt. Athens reached a cash-for-reforms deal aimed at avoiding a debt default and an exit from the eurozone. But several restrictions remain in place, including a block on money transfers abroad, and Greeks also face price rises with an increase in VAT. Meanwhile, Germany has said it is prepared to consider further debt concessions to Greece.

Law Firms Take Shears to Debt Loads

In the years since Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP's collapse, law firms have cut their reliance on bank loans and leaned more heavily on their partners for cash in times of need. The change isn't solely a reaction to Dewey's high-profile flameout in May 2012, but some law-firm leaders say watching Dewey's mistakes—on display during the criminal trial of three former Dewey leaders—led them to reassess the way they run their operations. Compared with their corporate clients, law firms are relatively simple businesses. Cash comes in from clients and is used to pay expenses, including rent and employee salaries. In theory, partners, as joint owners in the business, split what is left at year-end. Today's law firms, many of them billion-dollar-plus businesses, are becoming more complex. But risk-averse lawyers still shy away from practices considered common in other industries, including the use of debt. Other law-firm leaders echo the sentiment, often using the "no debt" mantra as a recruiting tool. At the same time, the amount of equity that law firms are raising from partners has risen consistently since 2008. A survey showed average capital of $383,300 per equity partner in 2014, 92% higher than a decade before. Many partners take out bank loans to finance capital requirements rather than paying the money up front, effectively moving the debt from a law firm's books and onto its lawyers. Such loans are generally given on good terms, often requiring interest-only payments for a few years, but can still become a burden

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  • MiMIC Journal

Beijing police arrest five people in Uniqlo sex tape

Police in Beijing have arrested five people over a sex tape filmed in a branch of the Uniqlo clothes shop. A clip filmed in the dressing room of a Beijing store went viral on Chinese social media last week. Media reports said the couple in the video were arrested on Wednesday, hours after the footage was published. Part of the investigation will reportedly focus on whether the clip was a publicity stunt.

Chinese bid for Spain airport

A group of international investors has won a bankruptcy auction for an abandoned airport in central Spain with a €10,000 (£7,000) offer - 100,000 times less than it cost to build. The investors were the only bidders for Ciudad Real airport, south of Madrid, completed during Spain's boom years. But it is not clear if the sale will go ahead as another buyer could still step forward outside of the auction process. The winning bid was made by a Chinese-led consortium of investors. The group, Tzaneen International, says it wants to make the airport an entry point into Europe for Chinese companies.

China Human-Rights Lawyers Confess to Being 'Criminal Gang'

Several Chinese human-rights lawyers and advocates detained in a crackdown on legal activism have confessed to being part of a criminal gang inciting disorder, Chinese state media said.

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  • Brief News

Pennsylvania federal court issues indictment for insider trading

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued an indictment Thursday against real estate lawyer Herbert Sudfeld for alleged insider trading. The charges include securities fraud, three counts of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and aiding and abetting. The indictment suggests that Sudfeld overheard a colleague discussing an imminent future merger between the Pennsylvania law firm's client Harleysville Group, Inc. and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and illegally used the information when he purchased stock in the client's company. The indictment states that Sudfeld, a former partner at Fox Rothschild LLP, breached his fiduciary duty to the firm's client when he used the non-public information to engage in a scheme that netted him a total of $75,530. Sudfeld's lawyer said his client would plead not guilty at his arraignment on Monday.

Brazil's House Leader Says He's Not Trying to Create 'Chaos'

Brazil's lower house President Eduardo Cunha is downplaying concerns that his decision to abandon the government alliance will worsen the country's economic turmoil. "I don't have a history of helping to create chaos in the economy through measures that put public accounts at risk," Cunha wrote on his Twitter account Saturday. "As president of the lower house, I will continue to behave as I've always done." The comments came a day after Cunha identified himself as a member of the opposition and urged his party, Brazil's biggest, to leave the ruling coalition. Folha de Sao Paulo reported Saturday that Cunha would rebel against the administration by blocking a fiscal-austerity package designed to shrink the budget deficit. Cunha's announcement escalated a political crisis that already had driven Rousseff's popularity to a record low and revived talk of impeachment. The real on Friday was the worst performer among emerging-market currencies as concerns grew that instability will send Brazil deeper into recession.

German Lawmakers Back Greek Bailout Plan

Greece has reached the deadline it couldn't afford to miss, for a bill it can finally afford to pay. Monday is the day the country must reimburse the European Central Bank 4.2 billion euros ($4.5 billion), including interest, as bonds bought during its last debt crisis mature. The impending reckoning may have been the factor that eventually forced Tsipras on July 13 to accept the austerity he and his electorate had previously rejected, in return for the funds needed to keep his nation from default. As Greece blew past multiple political and financial supposed end-dates over the past five months, July 20 always remained make-or-break. European Union law bans the ECB from financing governments, meaning a default would probably require it to pull support from Greek lenders, leaving an exit from the single currency all but assured. Otherwise, changes in the way Greece conducts business would be disruptive but could also help mend the country's economy.

Cuba and US formally restore diplomatic relations

Cuba and the US have formally restored diplomatic relations after an agreement struck last year putting aside decades of hostility came into force. Just after midnight on Monday, the diplomatic missions of each country became full embassies. Despite the historic shift, both sides admit to lingering difficulties. There were still "issues that we don't see eye to eye on", a US state department spokesman said.

Japan's Mitsubishi makes prisoners of war apology

Japan's Mitsubishi corporation has made a landmark apology for using US prisoners of war as forced labor during World War Two. A senior executive, Hikaru Kimura, expressed remorse at a ceremony in Los Angeles that prisoners had been put to work in mines operated by the firm. It is believed to be the first such apology by a Japanese company. One of the few surviving former US prisoners forced to work in Japan was present to accept the apology. James Murphy, 94, said this was "a glorious day... for 70 years we wanted this."

Gold price falls to five-year low on US rate rise talk

The gold price has fallen to its lowest in more than five years as talk of a US interest rate rise this year has led investors to sell the precious metal. The price fell 4% to as low as $1,088.05 an ounce in Asian trade - the lowest since March 2010. Investors turned to the US dollar, which rose on the likelihood of the Federal Reserve raising rates because of a stronger US economy. Investors generally buy gold during times of uncertainty. The price of platinum also fell 5% to its weakest since the global financial crisis.

Queen Nazi salute film: Palace 'disappointed' at use

Buckingham Palace has said it is disappointed that footage from 1933 showing the Queen performing a Nazi salute has been released. The Sun has published the film, which shows the Queen aged about seven, with her mother, sister and uncle. The palace said it was "disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago... has been obtained and exploited". The newspaper has refused to say how it got the footage but said it was an "important and interesting story". The footage is thought to have been shot in 1933 or 1934, when Hitler was rising to prominence as Fuhrer in Germany but the circumstances in which it was shot are unclear.

AI: Zambia commuting death sentences a laudable first step

Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday commended President Edgar Lungu for commuting the death sentences of 332 men to life imprisonment, calling it "a laudable first step and a 'triumph' for the right to life." AI is now calling on President Lungu to completely abolish the death penalty. The organization claims that there is no evidence that the death penalty deters people from committing crimes any more than other form of punishment.

UPS sued for religiously discriminatory polices and practices

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against United Parcel Services, Inc. (UPS) for their discriminatory employment policies. The complaint alleges that UPS's employment policies have violated Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964. The specific policy addressed in the complaint keeps male employees from growing a beard below collar length with no exceptions for those who wear their beard based on religious beliefs. Not only have the appearance policies for those employees dealing directly with customers kept the company from hiring certain employees for their appearance, but it has also kept certain employees segregated from interacting with the public if they did not abide by the policy. The complaint states that attempts at conciliation between EEOC and UPS have failed. Robert D. Rose, the regional attorney for EEOC's New York District Office stated in a press release that: "No person should be forced to choose between their religion and a paycheck, and EEOC will seek to put an end to that longstanding practice at UPS." The press release further calls for any individual who may have been the victim of this policy to contact the EEOC. UPS is one of the largest package delivery systems in the nations and the company employer over 300,000 individuals nationwide.

FCC Cracking Down on 911 Service Failures

The Federal Communications Commission is prodding telephone companies to improve their 911 emergency systems due to several major outages in recent years. The nationwide outage, disclosed on Friday, was at least the third major outage by a variety of telecom operators of the 911 call system in three years, raising concerns among federal regulators that the country's emergency response system is becoming more vulnerable. The system has evolved away from local networks connected by copper lines to a more national model based on Internet technologies. Phone companies prodded for new technology to avoid glitches.

Rule of Law in America is in tatters

We are no longer a nation under the "Rule of Law." The "rule of man" now prevails, as we are more and more governed by individuals — elected and appointed — in the executive branch of government. Too often, these individuals arbitrarily exercise powers belonging to Congress under the Constitution. It has become the norm in the current administration's playbook to follow a "selective enforcement" policy. President Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama's regulators have abused the rule of law, preferring to enforce only those laws they choose to. Enforcement of these laws seem mostly to apply to people who do not share Obama's political positions. In particular, the Department of Justice selectively enforces laws by failing to prosecute those who break laws that Obama disagrees with. The rule of law has been one of the major contributing factors to America's greatness, and to its worldwide economic leadership in modern times. In fact, the American Declaration of Independence is essentially a document complaining about the decrees of one man against the American colonies: England's King George III. The rule of law in the US is based on the fundamental doctrine that the individual is sovereign. Individuals band together and, using due process, make a body of laws agreed to by all. The individual is the master over government, and laws are not issued by some king, dictator or tyrant. The "king" is not the law; the rule of law is king. The US rule of law is based on principles that safeguard against arbitrary governance, clearly described in our founding documents. Selective enforcement is an absolute violation of the rule of law because it allows persons to decide which laws will be ignored and which will not. Without question, under Obama, the rule of law is crumbling because executive orders, decrees and regulations issued by his administration are capricious and based both on political currents of the times and the whim of tyrannical individuals with their own agendas. These people choose to both grant and revoke legal rights, placing the targets of their despotism under an arbitrary system of administrative rules written by these same individuals.

Surges in Medicaid enrollment causes concern over state budgets

Over a dozen states that have decided to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have seen enrollment numbers surge over recent months, raising concerns over state budgets as federal aid is set to reduce in two years. Lawmakers have warned that the price of expanding the ACA, as states are doing, could lead to state's having less funds for other government services. The expansions and subsequent rises in enrollment have occurred in states across the country. It has been reported that in Michigan enrollment is a quarter higher today than what official predicted it would be at five years from now. Governor Rick Snyder's administration had initially predicted that about 477,000 people would be enrolled by 2020. The current number of enrollees 15 months after the program's expansion launched is now 600,000. Likewise in California, it has been reported that the number of people currently enrolled in the program is three times the amount predicted by officials. The current number of enrollees in California is 2.3 million.

Apple bag check lawsuit granted class action status

The US District Court for the Northeastern District of California on Thursday ruled that Apple retail workers may pursue a class action lawsuit against Apple for failure to compensate them for time taken to have their bags searched. The ruling by US District Judge William Alsup grants the motion of the plaintiffs to certify a potential class of over 12,400 former and current hourly-paid, non-exempt specialists, managers and "genius bar" employees who have worked in one of Apple's 52 California stores since July 25, 2009. The complaint filed by five Apple employees concerns the retailer's requirement that employees have their bags searched prior to leaving each day to ensure that no one has stolen anything from the store and states that the practice is both time consuming and demeaning. The issue in the case is whether the time waiting for these exit searches to be completed was compensable under California law. Apple argued that the case should be be tried on a class-wide basis as the store's written search policy was not uniformly followed and that some managers chose not to follow said policy. Apple admitted, however, that the company had nothing in writing granting such discretion to the store managers. The case will be litigated under the assumption that employees brought bags out of personal convenience. Those who wish to litigate special needs for a bag at work will be invited by the class action to intervene or opt out, if they prefer.

IRS Probes Singapore Asset Manager

Criminal investigators at the IRS are probing whether a Singapore asset-management firm accepted transfers from undeclared Swiss accounts closed by US taxpayers.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Iran Trades Nuclear Standoff for Regional Power

Newsweek
Jihad vs J-Lo: Morocco is on a knife-edge between Isis and the West

Business Week
How Lynn Tilton Went From Company Savior to SEC Target

The Economist
Nuclear Iran Hiyatollah!

Der Spiegel
Versichert und Verraten

L'Espresso
Quest’ uomo fa paura Ancha a noi.

  • Daily Press Review

Greek banks reopen after three-week shutdown
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

In an ISIS training camp, children practice beheading on dolls
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

PM to unveil anti-extremism strategy
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Two independent groups sent teams to investigate allegations
CNN International, London, England

Kim Kardashian shares Instagram photo of her and Kanye West eating ice-cream
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Dorset man gets a shock after 4ft long corn snake inside meter reader box
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

US: Iran nuclear deal leaves military option open
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Greek banks reopen as Tsipras eyes return to normal
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Construction of new Istanbul airport officially starts under shadow of challenges, questions
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Magaluf crackdown: Majorcan resort fails to tell British tourists it has cleaned itself up
Independent The, London, England

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

Film star Alex Rocco dies, aged 79
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Film star Alex Rocco dies, aged 79
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

KMT gives Hung's candidacy the OK
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Why Even a Giant Like Samsung Can Topple
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

South Africa: Surfing champion fights off shark attack on live TV
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Bassi meets LG, briefs about law and order situation in Delhi
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Japan's hospitals weigh overseas branches, medical tourism in search for profit
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Afghan official: Coalition airstrike kills 8 Afghan troops
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

Rolls-Royce wins new engine contracts totalling $2.23 billion
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Greek banks reopen as government eyes return to normalcy
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Capturing an emotion with empathy
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

Greek banks reopen as Tsipras eyes return to normal
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Greek banks reopen as Tsipras eyes return to normal
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Province vowing to fix laws governing towns, cities
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Timbuktu rebuilds 14 mausoleums
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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