August 17, 2015 nº 1,660 - Vol. 13
 

"Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often."

Mae West

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  • Top News

Clinton defies the law and common sense

Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct public business while serving as secretary of state, followed by the deletion of information on that server and the transfer to her lawyer of a thumb drive containing heretofore unexplored data, engages several issues of criminal law—but the overriding issue is one of plain common sense.

Let's consider the potentially applicable criminal laws in order of severity. It is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than a year to keep "documents or materials containing classified information . . . at an unauthorized location." Note that it is the information that is protected; the issue doesn't turn on whether the document or materials bear a classified marking. This is the statute under which David Petraeus—former Army general and Central Intelligence Agency director—was prosecuted for keeping classified information at home. Clinton's holding of classified information on a personal server was a violation of that law. So is transferring that information on a thumb drive to David Kendall, her lawyer.

Moving up the scale, the law relating to public records generally makes it a felony for anyone having custody of a "record or other thing" that is "deposited with . . . a public officer" to "remove" or "destroy" it, with a maximum penalty of three years. Emails are records, and the secretary of state is a public officer and by statute their custodian. The Espionage Act defines as a felony, punishable by up to 10 years, the grossly negligent loss or destruction of "information relating to the national defense." Note that at least one of the emails from the small random sample taken by the inspector general for the intelligence community contained signals intelligence and was classified top secret. To be sure, this particular email was turned over, but on paper rather than in its original electronic form, without the metadata that went with it. If other emails of like sensitivity are among the 30,000 Clinton erased, that is yet more problematic. The server is now in the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose forensic skills in recovering data in situations like this are unexcelled.

The highest step in this ascending scale of criminal penalties—20 years maximum—is reached by anyone who destroys "any record, document or tangible object with intent to impede, obstruct or influence the proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States . . . or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter." So, for example, if Clinton caused to be wiped out emails that might have been anticipated to be of interest to a congressional committee, such conduct would come within the sweep of the statute. That, by the way, is the obstruction-of-justice statute, as revised by the Sarbanes-Oxley law, passed by Congress in 2002 while Clinton served as a senator, and for which she voted.

All of this is not to suggest that Clinton is in real danger of going to jail any time soon. All of these laws require at least knowing conduct, and the obstruction statute requires specific intent to impede at least a contemplated proceeding. It is not helpful to Clinton's cause that the emails finally turned over to the State Department were in paper rather than electronic form, which makes it impossible to search them—and easier to alter them—and would thus tend to impede rather than advance a congressional investigation.

The common-sense issues in this matter are more problematic than the criminal ones. Anyone who enters the Situation Room at the White House, where Clinton was photographed during the Osama bin Laden raid, is required to place any personal electronic device in a receptacle outside the room, lest it be activated involuntarily and confidential communications disclosed. Clinton herself, in a now famous email, cautioned State Department employees not to conduct official business on personal email accounts. The current secretary of state, John Kerry, testified that he assumes that his emails have been the object of surveillance by hostile foreign powers. It is inconceivable that the nation's senior foreign-relations official was unaware of the risk that communications about this country's relationships with foreign governments would be of particular interest to those governments, and to others.

That something so obvious could have eluded Clinton raises questions about her suitability both for the office she held and for the office she seeks.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Trump says he would deport illegal immigrants

Donald Trump is calling for the deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and for the end of automatic citizenship for children born to foreigners on U.S. soil, adding specifics to the hard-line immigration stance that first helped his Republican presidential campaign take flight. Trump's policy prescriptions will likely open him up to new attacks from Republican competitors who have seen their candidacies eclipsed by the star power of the wealthy businessman and television personality. Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist, said the other hopefuls can no longer assume Trump's campaign will flame out, and they will have to draw distinctions on policy. Trump, who sits atop several polls for the GOP nomination, has made immigration a signature issue since his June campaign announcement, when he said many Mexicans crossing the border are "rapists" who are bringing drugs and crime into the U.S. Many of his GOP rivals since then have tried to distance themselves from those remarks without alienating Trump's sizable base of support.

Public policy and the Brazilian constitution

Thiago Henrique Barouch Bregunci, an attorney at Pinheiro, Mourão, Raso e Araújo Filho Advogados, delivered a lecture to students of the course Master of Public Affairs from Brown University, in Rhode Island, on Public Policy and the Brazilian Constitution.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China says it will stabilise stock market 'for number of years'

China's market regulator said it would continue to stabilize the stock market for "a number of years". It said the role of the state-backed China Securities Finance Corp to stabilize the market would not change. However, it added that it would allow market forces to play a bigger role in setting stock prices. The comments come after wild swings on the stock market earlier this month, which saw the main index slump 8.5% in one day. Chinese currency devaluation could mean turmoil in world markets.

Premier Li visits Tianjin explosions scene

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has visited the victims of a major disaster at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin. A series of explosions at the facility on Wednesday, claimed at least 112 lives. Ninety-five people, most of them firefighters, are still missing. An investigation is under way to ascertain what triggered the disaster. Residents have been demanding more information from the government The state news agency Xinhua said 50 sites were accused of creating panic by publishing rumors. The operators of the Tianjin facility have been accused of violating safety procedures. Prosecutors are to set up a team to investigate any possible offenses related to the disaster, including dereliction of duty. The Chinese government has also ordered officials to make nationwide checks on dangerous chemicals and explosives and to "crack down unwaveringly on illegal activities to ensure safety".

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  • Brief News

Thousands turn out across Brazil to demand president's ouster

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests across Brazil calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Support for Rousseff has fallen to single-digit figures in recent polls. Many voters have accused her of failing to stamp out corruption and blame her for the economy's worst slump in 25 years. "We want things to change and if the people don't go in the street that's impossible," retired engineer Elino Alves de Moraes said. Rousseff is less than a year into her second term as president.

Russia squeezes critics at home by declaring them 'foreign agents'

The Kremlin's move in recent months to tighten regulations on activist groups that receive funding from abroad has sent a shudder through Russia's fragile civil society.

Egypt's al-Sisi imposes strict anti-terror laws

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws to fight a growing Islamist insurgency. The laws establish special courts and offer additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who have used force. They also impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group. Rights groups say the legislation will be used by Sisi to crush dissent.

US 'warns China over use of covert agents'

The Obama administration has warned China over its use of agents on US soil to put pressure on Chinese expatriates. Beijing is running a global campaign to repatriate Chinese fugitives and recover illicit funds. The US state department has now resorted to warning Chinese officials about the activities. The alleged program - reportedly codenamed Operation Fox Hunt by Beijing - is separate from China's routine spying activities against the US. Undercover agents are working under the direction of China's Ministry of Public Security and probably entering the country on tourism or trade visas. Their tactics reportedly include threats to family members who remain in China. The fugitives sought under Operation Fox Hunt are believed to be prominent expatriates, sought for economic corruption or what China considers political crimes.

Bank of England member warns of low interest rates risk

Waiting too long to raise interest rates risks undermining the UK's recovery, Bank of England policymaker Kristin Forbes has warned. Shesaid a rate hike took between one and two years to take full effect. As a result, rates would need to rise "well before" inflation hit the Bank's 2% target, she said. Her comments suggest interest rates could rise sooner than currently expected. She said that the pound's continuing strength, together with recent falls in energy and commodity prices, would keep inflation low for longer, and gave the Bank "a bit more time".

Refugee influx in Swiss town puts immigration at election's core

While the recent spike in migrants from the Middle East and Africa isn't as dramatic as in neighboring France or Italy, it comes at a time when the country, which faces general elections in October, is already trying to keep a lid on legal immigration. "Closing the border remains, in my view, a measure to be implemented in case of necessity because the numbers we have are very high," Interior Minister said. Switzerland is not the only country facing an influx of migrants. Italy has become a gateway into Europe for people from war zones such as Syria and Iraq and from Africa, with more than 85,000 migrants landing on Italian shores by July 21. The tide has led to tensions in several places throughout Europe, including Calais in France, where thousands of attempts have been made by migrants to force their way onto trains and trucks to England over the summer.

US Department of Justice files sealed opposition in Guantanamo Habeas case

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Friday submitted a sealed document [The Guardian report] in opposition to the habeas corpus petition of Tariq Ba Odah, despite a 2009 government security review that cleared Ba Odah for transfer. In a public disclosure, the US government reported it "remains committed to promptly securing an appropriate location to which petitioner Ba Odah can be transferred." Ba Odah is represented by Omar Farah of the Center for Constitutional Rights [official website; case backgrounder]. After the government's filing, Farah announced [WSJ report] that he was disappointed by the inconsistencies between the original plan to close Guantanamo and the government's execution of that plan.

Austria refugee camp branded 'shameful' by Amnesty International

Human rights group Amnesty International has criticized what it calls "inhumane" conditions at Austria's main refugee camp. The camp was built to accommodate 1,800 people - but is currently housing more than twice that number. Amnesty says around 1,500 people are sleeping in the open air at the Traiskirchen center near Vienna. It describes the facility as insanitary and badly organized and says there is insufficient medical care. AI said the conditions in Traiskirchen were "shameful", particularly in a rich country like Austria.

US flag raised over reopened Cuba embassy in Havana

The US has reopened its embassy in Cuba more than 54 years after it was closed, in a symbolic step signaling the warming of ties between both countries. John Kerry, the first US Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years, presided over the ceremony in Havana. The US flag was presented by the same US marines who brought it down in 1961. Kerry said the US administration wanted to lift the trade embargo on the island - something that the Republican-controlled US Congress has blocked.

Arab Bank reaches settlement in suit accusing it of financing terrorism

Arab Bank Plc settled a U.S. lawsuit with hundreds of terror victims who accused it of financing a wave of violence that killed or wounded Americans in Israel in the early 2000s. The agreement avoids the damages phase of a trial that would have been a painful exercise to calculate the human cost of terrorism. The lender's financial services were used by Hamas militants in carrying out devastating attacks against civilians during a Palestinian uprising, including suicide bombings in restaurants and public buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from 2001 to 2004. It was the first trial of its kind in the U.S. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan was scheduled to begin questioning a group of potential jurors on Monday for the damages phase. Lawyers for the bank and about 300 terror victims and relatives agreed to settle instead. A six-week trial last year highlighted the ways banks can play a role in funding terrorist groups and the extent to which they can be held responsible in court for monitoring customers.

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and longtime NAACP chair, dies at 75

The activist, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was a key figure in organizing sit-ins and freedom rides and the 1963 March on Washington. Bond said in 2005 that black Americans were still "far, far from" achieving equality Obama said he had been "privileged" to have called Bond a friend. Bond was also a writer, poet, politician and professor.

Connecticut Supreme Court rules existing death penalty sentences unconstitutional

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Thursday that a state law banning executions for future sentences, but allowing them for past sentences is unconstitutional. Writing for the court, Justice Richard Palmer said imposing the sentence on existing inmates when it has been outlawed for future use constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Connecticut State Constitution : “The death penalty no longer serves any legitimate penological goal in our state. As Judge Kozinski concludes, ''we have little more than an illusion of a death penalty in this country. To be sure, we have capital trials; we have convictions and death sentences imposed; we have endless and massively costly reviews by the state and federal courts; and we do have a small number of people executed each year. But the number of executions compared to the number of people who have been sentenced to death is minuscule, and the gap is widening every year. Whatever purposes the death penalty is said to serve— deterrence, retribution, assuaging the pain suffered by victims' families—these purposes are not served by the system as it now operates.''

In Iowa, Clinton calls email controversy 'usual' partisan politics

Appearing at the state fair with former Sen. Tom Harkin, who endorsed her on Friday, she reiterated that she never "sent or received email marked 'classified' " on her private server.

US eases oil export ban

The US Department of Commerce on Friday agreed to allow limited crude oil trading with Mexico, easing a ban on crude exports that has been in place for 40 years. Members of the US Congress was informed by the Department of Commerce that it plans to approvean application by Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico's state run oil company, to trade heavy oil pumped in Mexico for light crude pumped in the US. Despite applications from less than a dozen other countries, which were denied [Bloomberg report], Canada is the only other nation currently exempt from the ban. Unlike the trade agreement with Mexico, however, Canada is not required to import similar crude quantities to the US. An end to the ban has been called for by both members of Congress and oil producers, including Exxon Mobil Corp .

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
What It’s Like to Be a Cop in America

Newsweek
Trump: As President, I'd Deport Undocumented Immigrants

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

The Economist
China, East Asia and history. Xi’s history lessons

Der Spiegel
Wie ich ich bleibe. Menssch sein im Google-Zeitalter

L'Espresso
La vita condivisa

  • Daily Press Review

Egypt adopts controversial anti-terror law
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Heat wave in Israel sets records for August
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

First Labour leader votes to be cast
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Elite Army skydiver dies in accident
CNN International, London, England

Charli XCX shows off toned stomach at Hard Rock Hotel And Casino's Rehab pool party
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Morgan Freeman's granddaughter E'Dena Hines 'stabbed to death by Lamar Davenport'
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Will ex-President Rajapaksa return to power in Sri Lanka general election?
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

S. Sudan rivals return to peace table only hours from deadline
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

MHP welcomes AKP invitation but sustains objection to interim or election government
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Syrian defectors reveal horrors of life under Bashar al-Assad's regime in reminder for West to 'not just focus on fighting Isis'
Independent The, London, England

Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa: The key players in Sri Lanka's election
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Robin Williams: 50 great quotes
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Strike against draft of constitution cripples life in Nepal
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Boycotting Lotte Only Hurts Korean Jobs
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Iraq: Suicide attacks, clashes near Fallujah kill 17 troops
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Cellphone company to pay up for faulty handset
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Woman dies after car plows into pedestrians; driver arrested
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

From campaign to court: Trump reports for jury duty in NYC
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

Quindell appoints Indro Mukerjee as new CEO amid SFO probe
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Indonesia rescuers spot wreckage of plane that went missing with 54 people on board
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Julian Bond, civil rights activist, dies at 75
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

Asia dragged down by volatile China stocks, dollar edges up
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Indonesia police say aircraft debris spotted in Papua - media
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

How many black men have been killed by Toronto police? We can't know
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Shekau 'still leads' Boko Haram
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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