July 29, 2015 nº 1,652 - Vol. 13
 

"When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."

 Alexis de Tocqueville

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  • Top News

Wal-Mart warns its suppliers over labeling laws

The world's largest retailer has put suppliers on notice: Pay attention to the little things before they become big problems. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last week sent out a memo to hundreds of suppliers from Kraft Heinz Co. to Nestlé SA warning them to comply with labeling laws, emphasizing that the amount inside a package matches what is printed on the outside. The memo is a direct response to some retailers, like Whole Foods Market Inc., being accused of overcharging customers by overstating how much of a product they are selling, a person familiar with the matter said. It also comes as corporations and district attorneys are closely monitoring that suppliers are obeying all labeling and packaging rules, and are quick to file suit if they're not. It is not clear whether the memo was triggered by a specific incident at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is in the midst of a renewed push to encourage suppliers to be ever vigilant on their own costs so that the retailer can sell more products for less than competitors. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart's new US leadership called on suppliers to cut back on marketing spending and plow those savings into lower prices, a strong message that Wal-Mart was determined to win back its low-price advantage that has eroded in recent years. The New York's Department of Consumer Affairs said 89% of items tested fell outside the leeway allowed by US Commerce Department for how much the weight listed on a package can deviate from its actual weight. As a result, some customers were charged too much, ranging from an extra 80 cents for a pack of pecan panko or up to $14.84 extra for coconut shrimp.

Lawsuits over mergers?

In the decade that Sean Griffith of Fordham University School of Law has taught courses on mergers and acquisitions, one thing has gnawed at him. "The lawsuits, they never stop." In 2014, shareholders filed suits challenging 93% of corporate mergers, up from 44% in 2007. The average deal drew nearly five lawsuits claiming the transaction shortchanged investors. Most settle in a predictable manner: Companies agree to reveal more information about their deal and pay plaintiffs' lawyers a fee in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The agreements usually protect companies from future litigation, too. Defenders of such suits say they can uncover malfeasance and help police the marketplace. But Griffith, like some other legal experts, questions the value of these settlements. Now, he is taking action. Over the past few months, Griffith says he has bought a small number of shares in about 30 companies following the announcement of a takeover. When the expected shareholder lawsuits are ultimately settled, he plans to use his standing as a shareholder to formally object. "Disclosure-only" settlements are the endpoint of the vast majority of merger-related lawsuits. Judges usually approve them—often reluctantly, with some acknowledging that they encourage more lawsuits, even when the allegations are unsupported. "These settlements do shareholders absolutely no good." Griffith’s concerns are shared by other critics, including corporate executives, academics and some judges. They argue that fees paid in settlements are essentially a "deal tax" assessed on corporate transactions, including those that are fair. Others say real wrongdoing often goes undetected as plaintiffs' lawyers sue quickly, and in some cases do minimal investigating and trade away the rights of all stockholders to pursue future claims.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Denying prisoners legal aid may be illegal, appeal court rules - click here.

2 - World's most popular song is not under copyright, according to lawsuit - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China court allows first pollution suit under new law

China's Qingdao Maritime Court on Monday ruled that a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips China and China National Offshore Oil for a 2011 oil spill can proceed. The suit was brought by China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and it the first case to proceed since the country revised a law (Environmental Protection Law Article 58, PDF; LOC backgrounder) allowing NGOs to directly sue polluters in the public interest. The Chinese government has already fined the companies approximately $258 million for the spill. Other cases are also pending under the law, which became effective on January 1.

Ford warns China on car demand

Ford has predicted industry-wide sales will be flat or fall in China this year - the world's biggest car market. The car giant expects 23 million to 24 million car sales in China, compared with 24 million last year. "At best we're saying flat, probably down." If sales do fall, it would be the first time since 1990 that there has been a drop, he added. Ford said falls in commercial vehicle sales were driving the overall decline in industry sales in China. "That's usually closely tied to consumer confidence, investment in business and so forth.”

Baidu profits miss expectations

China's biggest online search engine Baidu missed analysts' expectations as profits took a hit from investment redirected elsewhere. Its operating profit was $559m in the three months to 30 June, down 2.5% on the same period last year. The company found its core search engine business less profitable in a more competitive market. Baidu announced last month that it would be investing more in its e-commerce and electronic wallets.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Venezuela x Guyana

El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, le pidió al secretario general de Naciones Unidas, Ban Ki-moon, que la organización interceda en el centenario diferendo territorial que mantiene el país petrolero con Guyana. (Presione aquí)

Gas

El consorcio GNLS, integrado por la francesa GDF-Suez y la japonesa Marubeni, no estaría en condiciones financieras de terminar las obras de la nueva regasificadora marítima de gas natural licuado en Uruguay, por lo que abandonaría el proyecto. GNLS se adjudicó la construcción de la escollera y muelle de atraque tras una licitación que realizó Gas Sayago, firma perteneciente a la estatal energética UTE y a la petrolera pública Ancap. El consorcio, que deberá pagar una multa de US$ 100 mlls. en caso de retirarse.

Acuerdo

Banco Santander y Petróleos Mexicanos – Pemex - firmaron un convenio de colaboración para proveer de servicios bancarios y crédito a más de 11,000 estaciones de gasolina en el país. El acuerdo permitirá a los franquiciatarios de Pemex acceder a servicios bancarios de Santander como Terminales Punto de Venta (TPV), depósitos referenciados, banca electrónica, nómina, traslado y manejo de valores.

  • Brief News

Brazil corruption scandal goes nuclear as police probe grows

Police extended Brazil's biggest corruption investigation to executives of Latin America's largest utility in another chapter of a scandal that has shaken the country's political and business elites. Federal police on Tuesday detained Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, currently on leave of absence as chief executive officer of Eletrobras Termonuclear SA, the nuclear venture of state-run utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA. The arrest was part of a wider operation in five Brazilian cities, prosecutor Athayde Ribeiro Costa said. Investigators are looking into allegations the executive received bribes from construction companies including Andrade Gutierrez SA and Grupo Engevix for contracts to build a nuclear plant, he said. Andrade Gutierrez, Brazil's second-largest builder, said its lawyers are analyzing the decision before making comments. Engevix's press department said the company is providing all necessary clarifications to the authorities. Eletrobras, as the utility is known, said it's seeking information on the case while it continues an independent internal probe led by law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP on operations including the Angra 3 nuclear plant. What started as the limited investigation of a reputed Brazilian money launderer has morphed into one of the region's most resounding scandals, with executives turning state's witnesses to allow authorities to present new allegations.

Greek bank-failure law puts big deposits at risk

Greece's new bank-failure law puts uninsured depositors at risk because it ranks them below state claims in an insolvency or resolution, according to Moody's Investors Service. The Greek law passed last week as a precondition for further bailout talks transposes the European Union's Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. It differs from the rules in other EU countries, however, in that "Greek state deposits together with all state claims" would take losses only after deposits of more than 100,000 euros ($111,000), Moody's said. Under BRRD, a lender can be sold, a bridge institution can be created, or good and bad assets can be separated from each other and assigned to different entities. These measures can be used alone or in combination and are available immediately. A bail-in tool becomes available on Jan. 1. Once the bail-in tool becomes effective in 2016, the more senior ranking of state claims would negatively affect recovery rates for Greek wholesale depositors. Greece last week rushed bank-resolution legislation through parliament as one of the steps it must take to open talks on its 86 billion-euro bailout package, as much as 25 billion euros of which are earmarked for recapitalizing the banking system. The law is "credit negative" for bondholders and uninsured depositors because of the limits on using public funds for bank resolution and because of the burden-sharing for all unsecured creditors starting next year, Moody's said.

Disneyland Paris faces pricing probe

Disneyland Paris is facing a pricing probe following accusations that UK and German customers are being frozen out of certain price promotions. Allegedly, people in the UK were paying 15% more for one day tickets. The European Commission said that it had "received a number of complaints" from customers. A Disneyland Paris spokesman said promotions were seasonal. The European Commission is concerned that Disneyland Paris is stopping consumers in some member states from shopping around for the best deals. Under European law, firms can not stop consumers from doing this. (Click here)

New law lets immigrants apply for licenses

A new California law that allows immigrants to apply for professional licenses is already allowing some area residents to come out of the shadows and join the state's workforce. The professional licensing law requires that by 2016 all 39 licensing boards under the California Department of Consumer Affairs consider applicants using federal taxpayer identification numbers issued by the IRS as proof of identification. Before, licensing boards would consider only applicants with Social Security numbers, which are not available to immigrants in the country illegally. The bill's financial impact is unknown at this time. Critics of the law say this is just another example of how California politicians are offering benefits to people who shouldn't be hired because of their undocumented status.

Australia encouraged by support for MH17 crash tribunal

Australia says it is encouraged by UN Security Council support for an international criminal tribunal into last year's MH17 crash. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has returned to New York to lobby for the establishment of the tribunal. The Malaysian Airlines plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed, killing all on board. Many say there is evidence the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. Australia has joined other countries involved in a joint investigation of the 17 July 2014 crash, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine, to push for the tribunal and the prosecution of those responsible. Russia is expected to veto the proposal after President Vladimir Putin earlier this month said it would be "premature".

Facebook ordered by Hamburg regulator to allow pseudonyms

Facebook Inc. was ordered by a German privacy watchdog to allow users to have accounts under pseudonyms on the social network. Facebook may not unilaterally change such accounts to the real names of users and may not block them. The company, whose European headquarters are in Ireland, can't argue it's only subject to that country's law. "Anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game. The arbitrary change of the user name blatantly violates privacy rights.” German regulators have been fighting with Facebook for years over the implementation of European data-protection rules. The US company has argued that the Irish regulator has jurisdiction over its compliance with EU privacy law. Facebook said it was disappointed its name policy is being revisited after it won disputes over the issue.

Russia terms US-funded group a threat, uses law first time

Russia enforced a law targeting foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO) for the first time, declaring as "undesirable" the National Endowment for Democracy, a group that's partly funded by US Congress. Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Malinovsky instructed the Justice Ministry to designate the group as a threat to the country's security, according to an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. Such organizations lose rights to use local bank accounts and set up branches in Russia. The decision marks the first time a foreign NGO has been declared "undesirable" under legislation passed this year. The Washington-based was founded in 1983 and says its goal is to promote democracy. It gave $5.2 million to projects in Russia in 2013-2014 with the aim of branding electoral campaigns as illegitimate, influencing government decisions and discrediting the armed forces, the general prosecutor's office said.

NATO says it stands with Turkey in fight against ISIS

After it began an air campaign against the so-called Islamic State, Turkey called a meeting of the 27 allies to raise the possibility of a need for NATO involvement.

Boy Scouts of America vote to lift ban on gay leaders

The Boy Scouts of America have voted to lift its ban on gay people serving as adult leaders in the organization. Religious groups including units run by the Catholic church and the Mormon church are exempt to the new policy. The change, which was ratified 45-12 by the executive board, takes effect immediately and end years of criticism that the Boy Scouts discriminated against gay people. In 2013, the Boy Scouts began allowing openly gay boys to become scouts.

Cuba removed from US human trafficking list

The United States has removed Cuba from its list of countries that fail to combat human trafficking. The annual State Department report comes a week after Cuba and the US formally restored diplomatic relations. .The US says concerns remain about Cuban doctors and nurses allegedly being coerced into working on medical missions abroad. The United States previously accused Cuba's communist authorities of forcing people to travel abroad to work on government-backed projects.

Twitter boss says 'not satisfied' with user growth

Twitter's revenue and earnings for the second quarter have beaten expectations, but co founder Jack Dorsey has said he is "not satisfied" with its user growth. The micro blogging site posted revenue of $502m, up 61% year-on-year and beating its own top forecast of $485m. But active users reached 316 million in the period, up only slightly on the 308 million in the first quarter. Dorsey said the firm had to do more to realize its full potential. "We've got unbelievable brand awareness, but people are not clear why they should use it themselves," he said. The bulk of new active users came from the social network's SMS fast followers - people who sign up for text alerts but don't need a Twitter account.

Appeals court upholds doctor-patient gun law

For the second time in little more than a year, a federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a controversial Florida law that restricts doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients' gun ownership. The 2-1 decision by a panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals was a victory for the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates and a defeat for medical groups that argued, at least in part, that the law infringed on doctors' First Amendment rights. The appeals court last July also upheld the 2011 law but issued a revised ruling Tuesday. After last year's decision, medical groups continued challenging the law, including asking for a rehearing before the entire Atlanta-based appeals court. Dubbed the "docs vs. Glocks" law, the measure includes a series of restrictions on doctors and other health providers. As an example, it seeks to prevent physicians from entering information about gun ownership into medical records if the physicians know the information is not "relevant" to patients' medical care or safety or to the safety of other people.

  • Daily Press Review

Erdogan in China amid tension over treatment of Uighurs
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Clashes in West Bank settlement as demolition begins
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Man dies as hundreds target tunnel
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

U.S. hunter says he regrets his role in lion's death
CNN International, London, England

Liam Neeson looks frail and gaunt as he steps out in New York
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

PETA calls for Dr. Walter J Palmer to be 'extradited charged and preferably hanged'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Syria: counting the humanitarian cost
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

One migrant dead as hundreds try to storm Eurotunnel again
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Blast suspends transport of gas on Iran-Turkey pipeline: Minister
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

China woman escalator death: Staff 'knew footplate was loose' before mother died
Independent The, London, England

Eight-year-old boy becomes youngest US recipient of double hand transplant
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Jesse Pinkman's Breaking Bad house on sale for $1.6 million
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

NATO vows solidarity with Turkey over Islamic State
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Korea Needs Special Hospitals for Epidemics
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

US man accused of killing Zimbabwe's popular Cecil the Lion
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

IMC admits in HC, it is not able to dispose garbage
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Ministry official quits amid Olympic stadium debacle
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Strife between defendant, lawyers at German neo-Nazi trial
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

Spain's toll operator Abertis readies deals in Italy, Americas
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Cecil the lion slaying: Why hunters are defending the African lion hunt
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

French foreign minister visits Tehran, invites Iranian president to France
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

Upbeat earnings lift European stocks ahead of Fed
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

U.S., Turkey weigh which Syrian rebels to support in border area
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Deaths ignite grassroots Black Lives Matter Toronto movement
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Obama's warning to Africa on power
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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