August 5, 2015 nº 1,655 - Vol. 13

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance."

 Bruce Barton

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  • Top News

Obama announces new EPA air quality regulations

Obama on Monday announced a set of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power plant pollution regulations designed to improve air quality and reduce green house gas emissions. The so-called "Clean Power Plan" sets carbon and other pollutant emission standards for states and requires them to submit plans to meet the standards by September 2016. It also provides incentives for the adoption of solar and other alternative energy production methods and recommended guidelines for states to use in creating their plans. Obama said the plan would help the country reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and lead to fewer air-quality related diseases. "We can figure this stuff out, as long as we're not lazy about it," he said. Opponents of the rules say they will be prohibitively expensive to implement and some energy companies have already said they plan to challenge the rules in court.

Obama's climate plan faces huge political challenges

For Obama, climate change has taken on the fierce urgency of now. NASA and NOAA call 2014 the hottest year on record, and Obama says the US can no longer wait to take action. “When the world faces its toughest challenges, America leads the way forward. That's what this plan is about,” he said. But while environmentalists are cheering the new rule, others are attacking it. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell calls the regulation a blow to the economy and the middle class, especially in his home state where coal mining is big business. “I'm not going to sit by while the White House takes aims at the life blood of our state's economy. I'm going to keep doing everything I can to fight them,” he said. Obama insists the economic benefits of addressing climate change far outweigh the cost. And he notes critics made similar dire predictions about regulations aimed at combating water pollution and acid rain, but each time, industry found a way to adjust.

Don't like Obama's carbon plan? Fine, here's cap and trade

Republican governors who boycott the Obama administration's new power-plant regulations may instead get an offer they can't refuse: a cap-and-trade system many of them also oppose. Five years after Republicans in Congress shot down Obama's plan for carbon trading, his administration unveiled rules to combat climate change. They include a provision for carbon trading, which Republicans had criticized as a government intrusion in the workings of the free market. "It's clear that what they're trying to do -- without establishing a federal cap-and-trade program -- is set up a plan that has a very strong likelihood of becoming a de facto federal cap-and-trade program," an analyst said. While the idea of using pollution trading was initially embraced by Republicans as a way to use markets to lower the cost of environmental compliance, business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce demonized the push for an economy-wide cap-and-trade program that was pushed by Obama and passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives in 2009. It died in the Senate the next year. Now, while the Chamber said it opposes the new Environmental Protection Agency's carbon regulations, many company representatives say they're pleased that trading can be used to help them keep down the cost of cutting their use of coal under the EPA regulations. Trading is one of the most efficient ways to get the market to act. It yields results and minimizes the cost on customers.

SEC set to approve CEO pay-gap disclosure rule

Regulators are set to approve a contentious new rule requiring companies to disclose the pay gap between rank-and-file employees and the chief executive, marking the culmination of years of debate and pressure on the Securities and Exchange Commission over a mandate from the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. The SEC is slated to vote on a final version of the rule at a meeting Wednesday. The measure is expected to leave corporations and their trade groups disappointed by allowing companies to exclude only 5% of their overseas workers from the pay-ratio calculation. Companies had argued the SEC should allow them to exclude a much larger percentage of foreign workers, an approach that would have likely narrowed the reported pay gap at some multinational firms. Some companies already reveal such pay-ratio information.

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1 - Illegal immigrants to UK face eviction without court order under new laws - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China egg freezing ban sparks massive debate online

There has been intense debate in China over a controversial ban on single women freezing their eggs. In addition to the ban for single women, married women can only freeze their eggs in specific circumstances - for instance when they are to undergo chemotherapy. The ban is not new but caught attention after news that actress Xu Jinglei had gone to the US to have her eggs frozen. Many have ridiculed the ban and described it as sexist.

Drones and powerful chips face China export limit

National security concerns have led China to restrict exports of high-performance drones and supercomputers. The new regulations cover drones that can stay airborne for longer than an hour, handle bad weather and reach altitudes of 1 mile. They also limit the export of computer hardware supporting processing speeds of eight teraflops a second or more. The moves come soon after the US clamped down on the computer hardware that firms can sell to China. The announcement did not make clear how the technologies were a threat to national security.

China: proposed cybersecurity law will bolster censorship

The Chinese government should scrap provisions in the proposed Cybersecurity Law that require Internet companies to practice censorship, register users' real names, localize data, and aid government surveillance, Human Rights Watch said today in a submission to the National People's Congress Standing Committee. The draft law will further stifle peaceful speech online, which is one of the only means people in China have to publicly express their opinions.


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  • Historia Verdadera


El fondo holandés Moench Coöperatief y Doporto & Asociados están a la espera de la decisión que tome la Comisión Federal de Competencia Económica (Cofece) de México, sobre la compra del 50% más una acción de Grupo Comercial e Industrial Marzam, por 1,350 millones de pesos. (Presione aquí)


La petrolera BP decidió suspender la búsqueda de hidrocarburos en Uruguay, en medio de la caída de los precios del petróleo que hace más difícil sostener proyectos de alto riesgo para la industria. Tras haber invertido más de US$100 mlls desde 2012 en trabajos de exploración en el país sudamericano, la multinacional devolverá a Ancap en octubre los tres bloques que dispone en la Cuenca Oriental del Plata, una zona de baja profundidad marítima.


El Gobierno de Panamá pidió el martes a la Corte Suprema de Justicia anular la compra de radares por US$ 125 mlls. a la italiana Finmeccanica, alegando que hubo corrupción en el contrato firmado por el gobierno del ex presidente Ricardo Martinelli. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

India orders pornographic websites blocked

India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asked internet service providers (ISPs) on Monday to block more than 800 pornographic websites under Section 79 (b) of the country's Information Act. Certain sources within the DoT state that "certain websites have been reviewed and found to be spreading anti-social activities as hyperlinks from these websites, some of them were pornographic, so we have sent letters to internet service providers to block them." Information Technology Secretary RS Sharma stated that the request was made by the country's Supreme Court. However, just weeks before India's highest court had refused to block pornographic content stating that adults have the right to consume pornography in the privacy of their homes. Experts argue that the government has no legal standing to ban pornography as Section 69(a) of the IT Act does not provide the government any ground to ban any website on the basis of morality or obscenity.

Puerto Rico fails to make its bond payment

Puerto Rico's default on Monday raises pressure on Washington to step in with help and opens a new chapter in Puerto Rico's relationship with its lenders — one now expected to move to the courts.

Israel jails suspected Jewish militant without trial

Israel has taken the unusual step of jailing a suspected Jewish militant without trial, amid a tightening of measures against Jewish extremists. Mordechai Meyer, a resident of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, has been placed under administrative detention for six months. He is suspected of violent activity as part of a Jewish terror group. Israel has used administrative detention against Palestinians but not against Jewish suspects. The use of such orders against Jewish militants was approved on Tuesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet.

Grynberg girds for Swiss last stand against big oil

US courts have been good to Jack Grynberg, netting him hundreds of millions of dollars in disputes with some of the world's largest oil and gas producers since 1984. Despite that fortune, the 83-year-old oilman says he's fed up with America's legal system and has taken his biggest suit yet -- a battle over profits from Kazakhstan's most valuable oil fields -- to Switzerland. Grynberg is suing a consortium led by BP Plc, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Statoil ASA and Phillips 66, saying the oil giant backtracked on a 1991 deal promising him 20 percent of the profits from Kazakh fields he helped find. Instead, Grynberg says in the lawsuit that BP cut him out and struck deals directly with the Kazakh government, greased with bribes paid by a CIA agent who was arrested in 2003. He claims some of the bribes were paid into Swiss bank accounts, giving him the right to sue under Switzerland's Unfair Competition Act, which covers corporate theft. The lawsuits are a legal last stand for the maverick prospector who has been a persistent thorn in the collective side of big oil for more than three decades. Grynberg claims to have won more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in awards and settlements from cases against oil and gas firms. There are more than $900 billion of profits at stake, based on the price of oil and the estimated 66 billion barrels of crude in the Kazakh fields. Grynberg isn't yet seeking a specific amount in the latest cases.

German prosecutor sacked over Netzpolitik treason probe

Germany's justice minister has sacked the country's top prosecutor, who had accused the government of interfering with a treason investigation. Heiko Maas said he no longer had confidence in Harald Range, dismissing his statements as "incomprehensible". Prosecutors are investigating whether the Netzpolitik website revealed state secrets in articles about plans to step up state surveillance. News of the case sparked street protests last week over press freedom. The outcry put the government on the back foot, with senior officials stressing that Germany was committed to press freedom and casting doubts over whether the articles constituted treason.

Judge rejects settlement in American Express case

Citing "egregious conduct" in text messages and emails between two lawyers, a federal judge scrapped a proposed $75 million settlement between American Express and a group of retailers. It sounded like an innocuous message: "Amex negotiation has gotten crazy," Gary Friedman, representing merchants in a lawsuit against American Express, said in a text message to his friend and fellow lawyer Keila Ravelo two years ago. "Gmailed u the issue." On Tuesday, a federal judge called the text, as well as emails from Friedman to Ravelo, "egregious conduct," citing them as the basis for rejecting a proposed $75 million class-action settlement between American Express and a group of retailers that have been fighting for the right to charge consumers more for using Amex's credit cards. The decision could have ripple effects for another settlement, a nearly $6 billion agreement between many of the same merchants and Visa and MasterCard in 2013. In his 44-page decision on Tuesday, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of United States District Court in Brooklyn said Mr. Friedman's communications to Ravelo included confidential information that could have jeopardized the fairness of the proposed American Express settlement.

Ex-Lula aide Dirceu held in corruption probe

Police in Brazil say they have arrested Jose Dirceu, who served as chief of staff under then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from 2003 to 2005, and took him into custody. He is the most senior member of the governing Workers' Party to be arrested as part of an investigation into alleged corruption at state-owned oil giant Petrobras. Dirceu was already under house arrest. He was sentenced in 2012 for his role in another corruption scandal known as the Mensalao. Speaking during a press conference, Federal Prosecutor Lima also said claimed Dirceu took bribes while in office.

Russia makes renewed bid for contentious Arctic regions

Putin recently made the Arctic a naval priority in a new doctrine. Russia has renewed its efforts to get the United Nations to recognize 1.2 million sq km (463,000 sq miles) of the Arctic shelf that it lays claim to. It made a similar move for the resource-rich territory in 2001, but that was rejected by a UN commission because of insufficient evidence. Russia's foreign ministry said the fresh bid is backed by scientific data. But all other countries bordering the Arctic - Norway, Denmark, Canada and the US - reject Moscow's claim. All five nations have been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. The competition for Arctic resources has intensified in recent years as the shrinking polar ice opens new opportunities for exploration.

Neiman Marcus files for IPO again

US luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has announced plans to float in New York. The department store operator filed plans for an IPO with US regulators and said it would use the $100m raised to repay some of its $4.7bn in debt. After announcing plans to go public in 2013, it was bought by Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $6bn. The two investment firms will retain majority control of the 100-year old company after the listing. Known for its wealthy clientele, Dallas-based Neiman Marcus owns 41 stores as well as Bergdorf Goodman on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and 42 Last Call outlets. Many Neiman Marcus customers earn more than $200,000 a year

New York AG orders immediate halt to realistic toy gun sales

New York law requires toy guns made in realistic colors to have a bright, 1-inch-wide orange stripe "down both sides of the barrel and the front end of the barrel," according to a press release.

Oil prices tumble again, hurting drillers but helping drivers

Oil prices are falling, down sharply since mid-June to just over $45 a barrel. That has affected gasoline prices, now down to an average of $2.65 a gallon, about 85 cents less than a year ago.

Uber driver challenge is early test for 'sharing economy'

The most serious challenge to Uber Technologies Inc.'s "Be your own Boss" business model might also present an early test to the wider sharing economy as well as undermine its own $50 billion valuation. The immediate battle comes Thursday in San Francisco, where Uber is seen as having a difficult task in persuading US District Judge Edward M. Chen to block a lawsuit seeking to reimburse 160,000 California drivers for mileage and tips from proceeding as a class action. Chen's decision hinges on the broader issue of whether Uber drivers are independent contractors, as the company claims, or employees entitled to unemployment and workers' compensation as well as the right to unionize. The issue is already fodder for the 2016 presidential campaign, with Democrat Hillary Clinton drawing fire from Republican rivals after saying the sharing economy, though promising, raises "hard questions about workplace protections." Besides crimping Uber's "drive whenever you have time" motto, a ruling treating drivers as employees, if upheld on appeal, would damp profits. It would also raise the same specter for other companies operating in the "sharing," "gig" or "on-demand" economy, which pair customers with products through apps and typically avoid the costs of traditional employment. The Uber lawsuit before Chen, the most advanced of similar cases, argues the model violates labor laws. The case is significant for firms that farm out work to others in exchange for a share of the revenue they generate. Uber's value might drop because it's based partly on the arrangements with drivers. Treating them as employees would add to costs and probably shrink profit. Classifying drivers as employees would result in higher prices, and fewer Uber drivers overall who must work longer hours. The higher costs would be passed on to consumers, with reductions in drivers' income and Uber's cut of their fares.

Judge blocks layoff of tenured law professor

A South Carolina judge has blocked a law school in Charleston from laying off a tenured professor suing over her termination — at least until her case plays out in court. Judge R. Markley Dennis in Charleston County has told lawyers involved in the dispute that he will issue an injunction against Charleston School of Law, allowing Professor Nancy Zisk to keep her job for now. Zisk, a torts and employment law scholar who joined Charleston the year it was founded in 2004, sued the law school in June after it terminated her job and let go six other tenured professors. The administration says it's running out of money and was forced to shrink its faculty to stay open. A key issue is whether the school's financial problems were grave enough to override tenure protections. Courts have said institutions of higher education can dismiss tenured professors because of a "bona fide" financial exigency. But Zisk's lawsuit alleges the private law school's two remaining founding owners "contrived" the crisis to cover up financial mismanagement and improper expenditures. And she claims the school failed to follow proper procedures when it informed her she wouldn't be returning this fall.

Cecil The Lion case charts new territory for US wildlife law

A 115-year-old US law aimed at preventing unlawful animal trafficking may be difficult to enforce in the case of an American hunter who killed a celebrated Zimbabwean lion. The killing last month of 13-year-old Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, sparked international outrage among animal lovers. Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, has admitted to killing the lion, but has said through a publicist he thought the hunt was legal. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for possible violations of the Lacey Act. But legal experts say the case may be difficult to prosecute because the law has rarely, if ever, applied to hunters who do not import parts of the animals they kill. The Justice Department said it would not comment on whether the case could be formally prosecuted until the wildlife agency concludes its investigation. The Lacey Act was enacted to help US states enforce their hunting regulations. Over time it has been expanded and it now prohibits the import, export, sale, acquisition, or purchase of animals protected by US or foreign laws. Legal experts said that any effort to bring Lacey Act charges in the Cecil case would be complicated by the tenuous link between the hunt in Zimbabwe and the United States.

US airlines in big trophy game ban

Delta, United and American Airlines have banned the shipment of big-game trophies on flights after the illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. The airlines announced that they would no longer transport lion, rhinoceros, leopard, elephant or buffalo remains. They have not, however, given official reasons for their announcements. Delta flies direct to a number of African cities and was subjected to an online petition to ban such shipments. American Airlines and United fly to fewer sub-Saharan cities than Delta, but United said in a tweet its decision to stop carrying trophies was "effective immediately". United spokesman Charles Hobart said: "We felt it made sense to do so.

  • Daily Press Review

Dozens dead as two trains derail over river in India
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Wheelchair users to ride train for free for a year in Israel
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Hauliers owe GBP 4m in migrant fines
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Thousands flee homes as fires rampage across California
CNN International, London, England

Taylor Swift in racy thigh-slit dress for Vanity Fair's September issue
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Jeremy Corbyn suggests Tony Blair should face trial for war crimes over Iraq
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Norwegian police investigate 'bomb-like' package at Oslo university
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

EU offers to help France, Britain tackle Calais migrant crisis
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Ricky Martin still going strong
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Lake Victoria boat capsized: Two dead after passenger boat collides with fishing boat
Independent The, London, England

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

Pictures of the day: 5 August 2015
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Pierce Brosnan tries to board plane with 10-inch knife
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

MOE says schools can choose textbook
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Half of All New Cars Are Diesel Models
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombing haunts survivors 7 decades later
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Odisha issues notice to 448 doctors for prolonged absence
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Broken power cables knock out vast swath of JR East services in Tokyo-Yokohama area
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Newborn found in stroller on Los Angeles street
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

EU's Jean-Claude Juncker expects Greek debt accord by August 20
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

India train derailment kills at least 24 people, 300 rescued
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Italian foreign minister invites Iran's Rouhani to Rome: report
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

Alibaba pins U.S. growth hopes on Goldman's China rainmaker
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Turkey says comprehensive battle against Islamic State to be launched soon
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Stephen Harper raged against Supreme Court rulings, new book says
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Lake Victoria collision kills two
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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