October 5, 2015 nº 1,678 - Vol. 13

"Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control."

 Denis Diderot

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  • Top News

JWorld Bank: Extreme poverty 'to fall below 10%'

The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015. The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25. It forecasts the proportion of the world's population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%. However, it said the "growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern"; this will still represent around half of the world's poor. "We are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. The bank says the downward trend was due to strong growth rates in developing countries and investments in education, health, and social safety nets.

UN rights experts again urge Pakistan to put moratorium on death penalty

A group of independent UN human rights experts on Friday called on Pakistan to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty after reports of minors being sentenced to death. There are more than 8,000 people on death row in Pakistan, and the UN experts believe that many of them may have been sentenced for crimes they committed as children. The experts' call came after Ansar Iqbal was executed this week by hanging. Iqbal was arrested and condemned to death for a crime committed when he was reportedly 15 years old. The experts said, "once again that by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Pakistan has accepted the legally binding obligation to ensure that death sentences will never be imposed on a defendant who was under 18 at the time of the crime."

The only banker sued for the housing crisis prepares her appeal

Rebecca Mairone scarcely deserves a mention in the annals of finance, except for this: She's the only executive of a major US mortgage lender found liable for her part in the 2008 financial crisis. Mairone was chief operating officer for a division of Countrywide Financial Corp., the California giant that came to symbolize the excesses of the subprime era. While top executives there and elsewhere walked away, Mairone, now 48, was targeted in a civil case by federal prosecutors. In October 2013, a Manhattan jury found her liable for misrepresenting the quality of mortgages her company sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. US District Judge Jed Rakoff called her testimony "implausible" and slapped her with a $1 million fine. Bloggers said she helped destroy the US economy and should be jailed or worse. Two years later, Mairone is heading back to court in an attempt to overturn that ruling and restore her reputation. As she has all along, she maintains she did nothing wrong. Years after the housing bust, her case reminds Americans yet again that not a single senior executive has been held accountable for a mortgage meltdown that cost millions of people their homes, livelihoods and savings.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China's middle-class dreams in peril

Parents all over China have the same dream, even in smaller cities. They want their children to have a good education, a better future, see them become richer than they are. But the perils of previous excesses are also more evident here: There is too much debt, too many factories and too many vacant apartments. Smaller cities on the cusp of China's transformation toward consumer-driven growth struggle to overcome ill effects of previous economic model Smaller cities hold promise for China's future growth. But it is a promise that could slip away as the economy slows.


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  • Brief News

Most EU countries to ban cultivation of 8 GMOs using new rules

More than half of the European Union's 28 nations plan to prohibit the cultivation of a group of genetically modified crops awaiting EU regulatory approval, marking the first use by individual governments of a new right to go their own way on the planting of biotech foods. Nineteen EU countries have demanded that all or part of their territory be shielded from eight pending applications to grow gene-altered crops in the bloc, according to the European Commission. One application is a request for renewed authorization to cultivate Monsanto Co.'s MON810 corn variety, which was approved in 1998 and is the only biotech food grown commercially in the EU. The nations invoked an opt-out enshrined in new EU legislation on the growing of biotech foods, known as gene-modified organisms, or GMOs. The 2015 law, which resulted from a political divide in Europe over the safety of biotech foods, lets any EU government demand that the "geographical scope" of an application for authorization to plant GMOs in the bloc "be adjusted" to exclude all or part of the territory of that member state.

Printer case to test patent rights for refurbished goods

A lawsuit over used printer cartridges has morphed into a proxy fight pitting Silicon Valley against Big Pharma that could ultimately determine whether consumers can buy refurbished and resold goods -- from car parts to computers. The case was argued before a dozen judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday. The dispute involves inkjet cartridges initially sold by Lexmark International Inc. and then refilled and sold by Impression Products Inc. Lexmark claimed Impression was infringing its patents for the cartridges. Impression claimed Lexmark already got paid once for use of its patented inventions, when the cartridges were first sold, and had exhausted its patent rights. "It's part of a multifront effort to scale back manufacturer's rights to control who repairs and refurbishes products after sale."

US, EU Working to ensure firms can operate after data-pact ruling

The US is working with European counterparts to provide more certainty for companies if a court ruling next week invalidates a trans-Atlantic data-transfer pact vital to thousands of businesses, the US commerce chief said.

California's racial profiling law is 'terrible' legislation

California is about to tackle head on the charged issue of racial bias in law enforcement. Gov. Jerry Brown this weekend signed legislation mandating that California law enforcement agencies collect — and make public — data on the racial makeup of all those encountered by police. For civil rights activists, Brown's action was a big step toward protecting minorities from racial profiling. For many in law enforcement, the measure creates a massive new bureaucratic headache that will do little to illuminate the question of whether police treat minority groups fairly.

US States jumping into investigation of VW emissions deception

At least 30 states and the District of Columbia are cooperating in an inquiry into the possibilities of fraud and violation of environmental laws.

Brazil's Justice Min. says audit no grounds for impeachment

The expected decision by Brazil's audit court to reject the government's 2014 accounting practices isn't grounds for impeaching Rousseff, Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said. The government will file a complaint Monday against Augusto Nardes, the auditor responsible for the case in the court known as the TCU, and ask for his suspension, Cardozo told reporters in Brasilia. Rousseff's opponents are using the case to promote reasons for impeachment while the accounts analysis should be technical only, he said. The alleged violation of government accounting practices is one of the main arguments being used in calls to impeach Rousseff.

EU court rules countries may imprison migrants who illegally reenter

The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday that EU nations can imprison migrants who attempt to reenter after having already been formally expelled from the nation. The case involved an Albanian migrant who returned to Italy after being expelled three years prior. The judges found that the imprisonment of the migrant was justified and that the jail term was proper under EU law. The decision is expected to have broad implications given the current situations of third party nationals fleeing to EU nations.

Class action lawsuit filed against maker of Natural American Spirit cigarettes

The company that manufactures American Spirit cigarettes is the subject of a new class action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by a Florida law firm Wednesday against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and its parent company Reynolds American, Inc., claims that the company's marketing strategies mislead consumers into thinking that their products are healthier to smoke than other tobacco products. Specifically, the lawsuit points to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning that states that the use of the words "natural" and "additive free" in the company's advertising violates federal laws. The company is already subject to a 2000 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consent order, which states that the company must include in its advertising a disclosure that states, "No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette."

American Apparel files for bankruptcy protection

Troubled clothes retailer American Apparel has filed for US bankruptcy protection. It said it had reached a restructuring support agreement with 95% of its secured lenders. American Apparel, which has been trying to turnaround its business, has seen falling sales and recorded a loss of $19.4m (£12.8m) in the second quarter. The firm has also been involved in a drawn-out legal battle with its founder Dov Charney over misconduct claims.

Pope Francis opens Roman Catholic synod amid gay row

Pope Francis has celebrated Mass at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, at the start of a synod of Roman Catholic bishops focusing on family issues. The run-up was dominated by a row over a Vatican priest who on Saturday announced he was in a gay relationship. Poland-born Krzysztof Charamsa said he wanted to challenge the Church's "backward" attitude to homosexuality. He was later dismissed from his post at the Vatican's office in charge of guarding Roman Catholic doctrine. The controversy has set the scene for what some fear could be a fractious three weeks; many campaigners and more liberal Catholics would like to see a change in Catholic doctrine on issues ranging from homosexuality to contraception.

Dodd-Frank's effect on small banks is muted

The 2010 law has raised costs, but by some measures community banks are quite healthy—and in any case, low interest rates pose a bigger hit to profits, observers say.

Ex-Brazil President Lula to be questioned in Petrobras case

Brazilian officials investigating a corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras will be allowed to question ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the supreme court has ruled. It said Lula would be heard as a witness and was not being investigated. Police say they want to see if he benefited from the Petrobras scheme. Other members of the governing Workers' Party will be questioned. Meanwhile, embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has closed eight ministries and reshuffled her cabinet in an effort to cut costs and shore up support.

Coca-Cola, McDonald's among sponsors calling for FIFA president's resignation

Major sponsors want Sepp Blatter, who is being investigated for corruption, to step down immediately. He has said he'll leave the job in 2016.

British teen is sentenced to life over terrorist plot

The 15-year-old, who was not named because of his age, must serve at least five years of that sentence. Police found that the teen had exchanged thousands of messages with extremists abroad.

Argentina hands 135% return to bondholders who braved crises

Investors who bought Argentina's bonds in the aftermath of its 2001 default and had the stomach to hold on for the next decade are about to be rewarded with a 135 percent return when the securities pay out next week, according to Bank of America Corp. The $5.7 billion of 10-year notes will be paid off Monday, handing investors more than the average 93 percent gain for emerging markets, after years of turmoil generated by lawsuits with creditors, a plummeting currency, soaring inflation and a government that allied itself with Hugo Chavez. When things looked diciest, Venezuela's socialist president even stepped in to buy a portion of the notes to aide Argentina.

Deaths draw attention to Wall Street's grueling pace

Wall Street has always been a very demanding place to work, but these episodes, whether related to overwork or not, seem to have crystallized a larger need for change. The deaths of young bankers have raised concern about jobs known for long hours and heavy workloads and how they affect the junior workers who do them. There is no simple answer to what leads a person to take his own life. Depression, drugs, mental illness, despair over circumstances one feels powerless to change — all of these can conspire. "When somebody commits suicide, it's not because they were working too hard," said one senior Wall Street executive. And there is no evidence that the incidence of suicide by young professionals on Wall Street is higher than in any other industry.

Gun safety group sees room to reinforce existing laws

On Monday, a group whose goal is to prevent gun violence will release a report urging the administration to issue a series of regulations that would clarify existing laws in an effort to reduce gun-related crimes. The group, Everytown for Gun Safety, writes that Mr. Obama could help protect potential gun victims from attackers, especially in cases of domestic abuse, by encouraging five relatively small changes to the way the federal and state governments interpret laws that are already on the books. "The White House can take steps today to keep dangerous people with guns out of our schools, to keep convicted domestic abusers from possessing guns, to crack down on trafficking and to help federal law enforcement and states enforce the laws on the books that keep criminals from getting guns," said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Why Doctors Are Rethinking Breast-Cancer Treatment

The Dirty Truth About 'Organic' Produce

Business Week
The new money issue

The Economist
The world economy: Dominant and dangerous

Der Spiegel
Operation Wunderkind

Bruxelles corrotta Europa infesta

  • Daily Press Review

To the Moon and back: Apollo images online
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Turkey scrambles fighter jets after Russia violates airspace
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Labour peer to head Osborne commission
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

UN calls ISIS' destruction of Palmyra antiquities 'a war crime'
CNN International, London, England

Kris Jenner given a guiding arm by Corey Gamble during Paris Fashion Week
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Merseyside Police officer run over and killed during car chase in Wallasey
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Typhoon Mujigae rips through Southern China
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Islamic State group blow up 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph in Syria's Palmyra
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Yorgo Seferis Gallery in Turkey's Urla moves to new space
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

'Blood moon' prompts Mormon announcement: This is NOT the end of the world
Independent The, London, England

Blue Ice: A journey through the Antarctic with Alex Bernasconi, in pictures
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Strictly Come Dancing: hottest romances
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Doubts increase over Hung KMT presidential bid
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

LG's New Premium Phone Garners Praise
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

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

UNESCO panel meets to examine Memory of the World nominations
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Student debt squeezing parents and children simultaneously
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

American Apparel files for bankruptcy protection
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Hillary Clinton to announce gun control proposals today
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Brazil's brutal prison system in crisis proves a tough cage to rattle
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

American Apparel files for bankruptcy
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

In India, meat and murder threaten Modi's inclusive agenda
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

TPP talks stall again Sunday as negotiators meet into the night
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Extreme poverty falls to record low
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England


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