August 10, 2015 nº 1,657 - Vol. 13

"Words without actions are the assassins of idealism."

 Herbert Hoover

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  • Top News

FTC to clarify its powers to police unfair competition

The Federal Trade Commission in its 100-year history has never agreed on formal principles for policing companies engaged in "unfair" competition. That looks set to change. Members of the FTC are close to a bipartisan agreement to lay out for the first time how the commission views its authority to bring cases against businesses it believes compete unfairly. An accord would be a breakthrough for Democrat and Republican commissioners who have clashed over when and how the FTC should deploy the century-old Section 5 of the FTC Act in enforcement matters. The provision declares "unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce" to be unlawful. But the agency has faced criticism that with no formal guidelines or parameters, it is hard for anyone—businesses as well as regulators—to know what may be considered unfair. Democrats have worried that formal policy guidelines could limit enforcement flexibility to address evolving markets and business practices. Republicans generally have favored setting limits, believing an undefined power created the opportunity for government overreach and deprived the business community of clarity on what type of conduct was illegal. The exact details of the proposed FTC policy statement couldn't immediately be learned. But people familiar with the deliberations say it would emphasize a focus on consumer welfare and discuss how the FTC's authority to police unfairness intersects with traditional antitrust laws prohibiting anticompetitive conduct. If commissioners vote for the agreement, it could be announced as soon as this week. The FTC hasn't exercised its "unfairness" powers frequently in recent years, though it has used the power in some high-profile cases. It cited the authority against Intel Corp. in 2009, alleging the company used its dominance to stifle competition from rival chip makers. The commission also brought claims against Google Inc. in 2013, alleging the company didn't play fairly in bringing patent infringement claims against rivals instead of agreeing to license technology. Both cases settled, with the companies denying wrongdoing but agreeing to refrain from certain practices.

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China probes consumer rights violations in auto industry

China is investigating violations in the auto industry, including the infringement of consumer rights and dissemination of false or misleading publicity, as demand wanes in the world's largest auto market. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce is conducting a probe that will look at consumer complaints and media reports. The investigation started this month and will continue through the end of the year. It will also cover any violation of registered trademarks and bribery in commercial transactions. China last year introduced a new consumer protection law, which raised penalties for fraud and false advertising, and added return policies for online purchases. The steps come as an increasing number of middle-class Chinese become more vocal about their rights, raising concerns from food and drug safety to the quality of air.

China TV anchor Bi Fujian to be punished for Mao insult

A Chinese star TV anchor is facing "severe punishment" over ‘serious violations of political discipline’ after joking about Mao Zedong. Mao, who led the country through the Cultural Revolution and a crippling famine which killed millions, remains the subject of much debate.


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  • Brief News

Ruling lets drugmaker promote use without FDA approval

Amarin Corp. won a court ruling allowing the company to give doctors information about unapproved uses of its fish-oil pill, despite the objections of US regulators seeking to limit how drug makers promote their products. The ruling by a federal judge could open the door for the pharmaceutical industry to more openly encourage doctors to try its medications for uses the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved. While doctors are already allowed to prescribe drugs off-label, drug makers have been restricted on promoting such uses. Amarin's prescription-grade omega-3 fatty acid is approved to treat severely high triglycerides -- a measure of fat in the blood. The company wanted to provide doctors information on a trial that examined the drug's use in patients with more moderately elevated triglycerides. It said the FDA threatened to bring misbranding charges against the company if it tried to discuss that off-label use. Amarin claimed the FDA was "chilling it from engaging in constitutionally protected truthful speech," according to the ruling filed Friday. Judge Paul Englemayer of the Southern District of New York agreed, saying Amarin can talk truthfully to doctors about treating patients with triglyceride levels that aren't as high as the FDA has mandated. The decision means the FDA needs to more broadly apply a 2012 ruling overturning a criminal conviction of a sales representative for promoting an off-label drug.

Industry, states set to fight EPA greenhouse gas rules

Industry representatives and a group of state attorneys general are preparing to file lawsuits soon to challenge Obama administration rules requiring significant cuts in power-plant carbon emissions. The move, expected in the coming weeks, would open up a legal battle by contesting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency on a wide range of grounds, some of them little explored by the courts. The EPA issued the regulations last week under a seldom-used section of the Clean Air Act. The agency also is confronting a legislative oddity from 1990, when Congress updated the clean-air law but inadvertently enacted differently worded House and Senate amendments that are relevant to the EPA's carbon rules. How courts interpret the amendments could determine whether the administration's power-plant rules survive. Additional legal challenges will focus on whether the agency exceeded its powers by pushing utilities to shift to cleaner forms of energy instead of just focusing on pollution controls at fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The paucity of legal precedent on the Clean Air Act provision behind the carbon rules, known as Section 111(d), has some upside for the EPA, giving it flexibility to be creative with power-plant oversight.

On the defensive, the S.E.C. quietly pursues high-profile cases

Wall Street's chief regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, appears to some to be in need of a makeover. Critics say it is too focused on minor cases, it is not aggressive enough in forcing wrongdoers to admit liability and yet it is too aggressive in seeking an unfair advantage for trying cases. The agency contends that it has been ramping up enforcement. And it is quietly pursuing some high-profile cases that could enable it to redefine its regulatory role and reclaim some momentum. In one case, the S.E.C. is poised to file charges soon in an unusual investigation that combines insider trading with cybersecurity. It is also pushing ahead with another insider trading case that involves trading activity in the shares of Dean Foods by the golfer Phil Mickelson and the professional sports gambler William T. Walters. And the agency is pursuing a major investigation into Wall Street's hiring of the children of China's elite. Progress in the insider trading cases comes as the criminal investigation of insider trading in New York has slowed, with federal prosecutors' efforts stymied by a recent appellate court ruling that has made it harder to mount cases.

Brazil to remove Israel' nationality from passports of jerusalem-born citizens

Brazilian passports of citizens who were born in Jerusalem will no longer name Israel as country of birth, the foreign ministry in Brasilia decided. The decision to omit Israel from such documents was taken last year. The United States, Canada and France also omit Israel from passports for holders born in Jerusalem, stating only the city's name. The number of passport holders affected is estimated at 60 out of approximately 15,000 Brazilian Israelis, according to the daily. The United Nations partition plan for the British Mandate over Palestine envisaged Jerusalem – claimed by Jews and Arabs alike – as an internationally-governed enclave. However, following the Arab rejection of the plan, the city was divided along an armistice line that left the west of the city in Israeli hands and the east under Jordan, before Israel captured the whole city in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it. Israel, which declares Jerusalem as its capital, is frequently criticized internationally for its control of the city, which is often decried as occupation. The Palestinian Authority has also laid claim to Jerusalem as the only acceptable capital for a future Palestinian state, though successive Israeli leaders have vowed to never divide the city.

Hungary rushes to erect border fence as rights group decries law

Hungary's government pledged to work "at full steam" to complete a razor-wire fence to keep out immigrants, while a human rights group said its laws also provide unreasonable legal barriers to asylum seekers. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has given the army until Aug. 31 to build the fence, with materials manufactured by prison inmates. As the number of migrants who reached Hungary so this year exceeded 110,000 by Friday, more than twice in all of 2014, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said it's in the interest of the European Union to physically seal the border fast. Hungary also introduced amendments to its immigration law from Aug. 1 that allows denying asylum to those arriving via third countries deemed "safe." As a result, Hungary may violate its obligations not to return people to countries where they have a reason to fear prosecution, said the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a group formed to protect human rights in 1989, which has been providing legal aid to migrants.

Federal judge rules New York teacher exam not discriminatory

A federal judge on Friday ruled that a new licensing exam for teachers in the state of New York did not discriminate against minorities. Kimba M. Wood of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York said in his ruling that even though minority teachers tended to score lower on the test than other teachers, the test was a proper evaluation of the skills necessary to perform the job. The test, called the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), was first given in 2013 and tests teachers' abilities to read and write, as well as their ability to master the Common Core standards for English. Some schools complained that the too many African American and Hispanic teachers were failing the test, as only 41 percent of African Americans and 46 percent of Hispanics passed. However, Judge Wood stated that the test was fair and that the "content of the ALST is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher's job." The ruling is a departure from Wood's earlier decisions in which she ruled against exams.

Migrants 'threaten EU standards'

Europe will not be able to preserve its living standards if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa, Philip Hammond, the UK foreign secretary, has said. He called for EU laws to be overhauled to make sure that people coming from Africa to Europe could be returned to their home country. Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn accused Hammond of "scaremongering". Steve Symonds of Amnesty International UK described Hammond's "mean-spirited response" as "shameful". "Rather than throwing up the drawbridge and talking about how Europe can 'protect' itself from migrants, Hammond should be working with our EU partners to ensure that people don't drown in the Mediterranean or get crushed beneath lorries at Calais," he said.

11 billion people by 2100

The number of people on the planet is growing at the fastest rate in history. U.N. demographers say the world's population will be up by 4 billion at the end of the century.

Spanish ships accused of 'violating' Gibraltar's territory

Spanish vessels and helicopters were in "clear violation of international law" after entering UK waters in Gibraltar. Spanish police chasing criminals have made several incursions into British waters in the past two days. The Royal Navy escorted the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera (SVA) - the Spanish police's drugs and money laundering squad - out of the waters. Minister Hugo Swire said the incursions were "completely unacceptable". "We understand that the Spanish were in pursuit of vessels who may have been committing crimes. However it is completely unacceptable and unlawful under the international law of the sea to enter our waters without notifying us." He described the "repeated incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters" as a "clear violation of UK Sovereignty by another EU country".

Michigan lawmaker reportedly concocted fake scandal to cover up a real one

The Detroit News says that state Rep. Todd Courser sought to spread a rumor that he is homosexual to hide his extramarital affair with a female lawmaker.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Why is Virtual Reality about to change the world

Trump: No Apology Necessary for Remarks About Megyn Kelly

Business Week
Google’s $6 Billion Miscalculation on the EU

The Economist
Innovation: Time to fix patents

Der Spiegel
Welt ohne Wasser

Padroni in fuga

  • Daily Press Review

Istanbul hit by explosion and gunfire
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Blast hits Istanbul police station; gunshots fired outside U.S. consulate
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Crackdown on illegal migrant employers
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Police involved in at least 1 incident, say they were fired on
CNN International, London, England

Perrie Edwards wears bridal inspired dress as she steps out for dinner in LA
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Berlusconi sells his 68-room Sardinia mansion to Saudi royals for GBP 350m
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Haiti: angry scenes as voters go to the polls
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Tensions flare in Ferguson on police shooting anniversary
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

In photos: Best beaches of Istanbul
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

El Salvador: Flight for life from the world's most dangerous country
Independent The, London, England

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

Australian television personality defends calling Muslim MP a 'Mussie'
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

The Car Man's Jonathan Ollivier killed hours before final performance at Sadler's Wells Theatre
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Seoul blames North Korea for mine blast, vows response
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Has Kim Jong-un Taken Leave of His Senses?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Gunshots fired during clashes on Ferguson shooting anniversary
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Devotees walk miles for jalabhishek
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Nagasaki bombing remembered, but doubts emerge over anti-war, anti-nuke policy
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

New hearing begins for Washington Post reporter held in Iran
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

Carillion selected for government contracts worth up to 4.1 bn pounds
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

2 shot during late-night protests in Ferguson on anniversary of Michael Brown's death
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Attackers open fire outside U.S. consulate in Istanbul: 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

Back to the future: Nokia prepares for mobile comeback
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

'Preppers' hone skills for coping with disaster and dystopia
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Several dead as Mali siege ends
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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