September 23, 2015 nº 1,673 - Vol. 13

"It requires wisdom to understand wisdom; the music is nothing if the audience is deaf."

Walter Lippmann

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  • Top News

Volkswagen facing multiple US probes

Volkswagen is facing multiple investigations in the United States, including a criminal probe from the Department of Justice. They follow an admission by the world's biggest carmaker that it deceived US regulators in exhaust emissions tests. A DoJ criminal investigation would be serious, as federal authorities can bring charges with severe penalties against a firm and individuals. Late on Tuesday, New York state's top lawyer announced an investigation. New York AG Eric Schneiderman said he would collaborate with other states to enforce consumer and environmental law. "No company should be allowed to evade our environmental laws or promise consumers a fake bill of goods," he said. Volkswagen said 11 million vehicles worldwide were involved and it was setting aside €6.5bn to cover costs of the scandal. One German newspaper has called it the "most expensive act of stupidity in the history of the car industry". It's stupid because manipulating pollution data to boost sales can only be seen as a slap in the face to customers who paid a premium for what they thought was a greener car.

UN rights experts call for end to Syria conflict

The UN Human Rights Council held a dialogue Monday with the Syrian Arab Republic discussing ways to end diplomatic gridlock and bring peace back to the nation. During the meeting, Syrian officials were presented with a commission report that discussed the disintegration of the Syrian nation and examples of civilians suffering within the country. The UN's Commission's Chairperson, Paulo Pinheiro, stated, "[t]ransitional justice would play a critical role in the future of Syria, and it was important that women and civil society actors took part in the political efforts to reach a solution to the conflict." In response to the report, Syrian officials stated that the findings were not impartial and were based on dubious sources.

Brazilian Congress upholds majority of Rousseff's budget vetoes

Brazil's Congress upheld the majority of presidential vetoes that are designed to block spending increases, including a key measure that prevents people from receiving higher pension payouts at a younger age. Legislators sustained all but six of the 32 vetoes under consideration before voting was suspended, leaving for the next session some of the most controversial decisions, including one that blocks pay hikes for judiciary workers. Congressional President Renan Calheiros stopped the session at 2:21 a.m. local time on Wednesday after more than five hours of deliberations, saying there weren't enough lower house members on the floor to continue. Administration officials have been meeting with lawmakers for months to ensure they uphold vetoes that are designed to prevent government spending from surging. A defeat would undo many of President Dilma Rousseff's efforts to shrink the budget deficit and throw into further doubt her ability to govern amid an economic and political crisis. The real fell to a record low on Tuesday amid investor concern that Rousseff's political woes would prevent her from shoring up the country's accounts just weeks after a credit downgrade to junk status.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China open to foreign business amid economic reforms

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to reassure US business leaders, in a wide-ranging speech covering China's economic reforms and cyber crime. Speaking in Seattle, Xi said foreign firms were welcome in China, and that Beijing would not manipulate its currency to boost exports. He also denied Beijing engages in hacking but said China would co-operate with Washington on the issue.

Does China hack US companies to steal secrets?

Xi said: "The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way." He went on to say that cyber-theft of industrial secrets was a crime as were hack attacks against government networks. Both should be punished according to "law and relevant international conventions". The president's comments echo many others made by Chinese state spokespeople over the years who regularly dispute the accusations leveled at them.


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  • Historia Verdadera


Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio de Colombia aplica sanción de US$ 96,6 mlls. para Ford y otra de US$32,2 mlls. para Janna Motors por fallas técnicas reiteradas vehículos de essa marca.

(Presione aquí)


La Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia de España abre expediente sancionador contra Schweppes por posibles conductas anticompetitivas. (LA - clique aquí)


Petrobras informó que está próximo a cerrar un acuerdo para vender a la japonesa Mitsui & Co Ltd un 49% de sus acciones de una unidad de distribución de gas natural. La operación estaría en torno de US$ 13.000 mlls. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

EU leaders to approve disputed quota plan

EU leaders meeting in Brussels are set to approve a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent, despite fierce opposition from some members. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against the mandatory quota scheme. Wednesday's emergency summit will also focus on tightening EU borders and boosting aid to neighbors of Syria, from where many migrants come. EU leaders have struggled to find a coordinated response to the crisis. David Cameron and Francois Hollande held talks on the eve of the meeting, saying that finding a solution to the Syrian conflict would be key to resolving the migrant crisis. They also agreed more should be done to return migrants who do not have a genuine claim for asylum. European Council President Donald Tusk has told EU leaders that this summit should focus on policies they can implement to help each other, rather than a long list of issues to use to blame each other. It is both an appeal for practical progress, and an acknowledgement that the political atmosphere has become pretty toxic.

The flood of syrian refugees puts ISIS on the defensive

The Islamic State claims it's building a caliphate that welcomes true Muslims. But Syrian refugees, as well as those displaced inside the country, are sending a very different message as they flee.

US drug company to cut 5,000% price rise after backlash

A US drug company that faced a backlash after raising the price of a drug used by Aids patients by over 5,000% has said it will lower the price. Turing Pharmaceuticals said it would drop the price following the outcry, but did not say by how much. After acquiring the rights to Daraprim in August, it raised the cost of the drug, which treats a parasitic infection, from $13.50 to $750. Amid criticism from medical groups - one called the cost "unjustifiable" – Turing Pharmaceuticals defended the increase, saying the profits would help research new treatments. Earlier in the day, PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's main lobbying group, tweeted that Turing "does not represent the values of PhRMA member companies".

US looks at airline investors for evidence of fare collusion

US antitrust officials investigating whether the nation's four largest airlines colluded on pricing are looking at executives' communications -- not only with each other, but also with their biggest shareholders. The Justice Department's antitrust division has asked the carriers -- American Airlines Group Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co.-- for details about meetings with their major shareholders in which "industry capacity" was discussed, according to an official information request reviewed by Bloomberg News. The requests come as antitrust officials examine arguments that consumers pay more when the same large investors hold shares in the biggest airlines. These officials have examined at least two academic papers arguing that consumers suffer when there is such overlapping ownership, according to people familiar with the matter. One of the studies shows that airfares are on average as much as 11 percent higher than they'd be otherwise due to common ownership. The antitrust officials' information demand and their interest in the academic studies provide a clearer view on their current focus as they examine the airlines after years of approving industry mergers. The officials are looking into allegedly unlawful coordination to control seat capacity, which helps drive ticket prices.

Russia flies military aid to Syria as UN-led talks continue

Russia has flown military jets and artillery to Syria, according to a US official, raising concerns among Syrian opposition groups that the move would derail United Nations efforts to end the conflict. The US is not sure whether the Russian equipment sent to the Syrian air base in Latakia in the past three or four days is meant to support the government of President Bashar al-Assad or fight Islamic State militants. The Russian action in the last few weeks, putting ships and aircraft into the region, further complicated an immensely complicated situation.

'Happy Birthday' ruled out of copyright

The company collecting royalties to "Happy Birthday To You" does not hold a valid copyright to the song, a US federal judge has ruled. Warner/Chappell acquired the copyright - which was originally filed in 1935 - in 1988. But Judge George King ruled that the original copyright was only granted for specific arrangements of the music, not the song itself. The tune was composed by two Kentucky sisters in 1893. Mildred and Patty Hill called their version Good Morning To All, which later evolved into the version popular at birthday parties around the world. The case against Warner/Chappell was launched in 2013 by Rupa Marya and Robert Siegel, who are making a film about the song.

Moroccan staff win discrimination case against SNCF

French rail operator SNCF has been ordered to pay €150m ($170m; £110m) in damages for discriminating against more than 800 Moroccan staff. The 832 Moroccans, who were hired as private contractors in the 1970s, were denied "railway worker" status and the accordant benefits, a court found. Nearly all of them were awarded damages by the court, with the settlements ranging between €150,000 and €230,000. Many of them waited more than a decade for the outcome of the case. The industrial court, which specializes in workplace conflicts, said that SNCF was guilty of "discrimination in the execution of work contracts" and "in the rights to retirement". The plaintiffs argued that their careers had been stunted and they had received lower pensions than their French counterparts. Even those who later received French nationality and were awarded permanent contracts complained their careers had been deliberately curtailed.

Former Brazil Workers' Party treasurer sentenced for corruption

The former treasurer of Brazil's governing Workers' Party, Joao Vaccari Neto, has been sentenced to 15 years and four months in jail for corruption and money laundering. He is the closest person yet to Dilma Rousseff to be sentenced over the case, which has led to calls for her impeachment. But prosecutors say there is nothing to implicate her directly. A former director of the state oil giant Petrobras was also sentenced. Renato Duque, the former director of services at Petrobras, got 20 years and eight months. Vaccari and Duque deny the charges. They are expected to appeal.

What's that smell?! When workplaces try fragrance bans

Is your colleague's perfume too strong? Did the cleaning crew just come by? Some say fragrances are chemical irritants that should be banned from the office. But doing so isn't so easy. There is a medical condition called "multiple chemical sensitivity," but it occupies a gray legal and medical area. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if an employee has a diagnosed medical condition such as asthma or an allergy triggered by a fragrance, the employer must make accommodations. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it's not clear how far an employer must go to accommodate. Employers should think about fragrance-free policies as a way to avoid lost productivity, an issue like indoor air-quality.

EU to begin slapping labels on products produced in Israeli settlements

The European Parliament decision could come as early as Oct. 1, according to reports. Israel's prime minister has called the decision "a perversion of justice and a distortion of reason."

ACLU asks federal court to enforce court orders against Kentucky clerk

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday filed a motion in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky asking the court to enforce orders relating to the issuance of marriage licenses. The ACLU is requesting that the court order the Rowan County Deputy Clerk to distribute marriage licenses as they were issued before September 8, the day county clerk Kim Davis was released from jail after being held in contempt.

Pakistan court postpones execution of paraplegic prisoner

A Pakistani court on Tuesday suspended the execution of a paraplegic prisoner after numerous human rights groups claimed that a hanging would be cruel and inhumane. The suspension of the execution comes after Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Pakistani government earlier this week to halt the execution of paralyzed prisoner Abdul Basit, arguing that Pakistan's use of capital punishment is inherently cruel to those with a disability.

Secret Pakistan military court sentences nine to death

A secret military court in Pakistan on Monday sentenced nine men to death and another to life in prison on terrorism-related charges. The men were accused of a variety of acts, including attacks on army convoys in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, an attack in the Baluchistan province that killed 27 people, and an attack on a military convoy near the border with Afghanistan. In a statement, the court characterized the men as "nine hard core terrorists involved in killings of civilians and persons of Law Enforcement Agencies," and said each of the men admitted their crimes once convicted.

French Constitutional Council rejects Uber appeal of law banning Uberpop

France's highest constitutional authority rejected Uber Technologies Inc.'s challenge of a law that bans its low-cost offering Uberpop, keeping legal pressure on the car-hailing company as two top executives face trial. France's Constitutional Council ruled late Tuesday that a provision of a new law that makes operating a system like Uberpop punishable with prison time is in accordance with France's constitution. In doing so, the court rejected Uber's arguments that the law would effectively outlaw carpooling services that involve any kind of payment. The court ruled that such services are easily distinguishable from Uberpop, which uses drivers without professional licenses.

  • Daily Press Review

India's goat sellers flock to internet this Eid
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Saragossa in Berlin
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Charities 'could face fund-raising ban'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Deputy killed serving injunction
CNN International, London, England

Celebrity Big Bother's Bit On The Side suffers 'fight between Farrah and Aisleyne'†
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Drivers warned over new insurance scam as conmen deliberately crash into your car and demand cash on the spot
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

The hajj begins: what you need to know
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Congo's longtime president calls referendum in bid to extend rule
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Women on Wheels: Women cyclists demonstrate with bikes, powder and paint
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Mother of left-handed child claims teacher sent her article on how left-handedness is often associated with evil and the devil
Independent The, London, England

Supersized big fish: 18 record breaking rod snappers, in pictures
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Miley Cyrus 'sexually suggestive' posters are not offensive, watchdog rules
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

AT-3 training jet and 2 pilots missing
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Why Can U.S. Arms Dealers Pull Korea Around by the Nose?
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Pope Francis makes historic first US visit
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Thailand urges Japan to invest in east-west rail initiative
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Pope Francis opts for a more modest Fiat on first US visit
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

Hyundai Mobis says to buy back $178.4 million worth of own shares
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Can Americans be Catholics and capitalists under Pope Francis?
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Remembering Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier for peace or traitor?
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

Oil prices edge up as U.S. stock-draw counters slowing Chinese economy
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Rival forces agree deal to avoid violence in Burkina capital
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Blue Jays lose to Yankees in extras
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Burkina coup leader defies ultimatum
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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