November 11, 2015 nº 1,694  - Vol. 13

“If everybody's thinking alike, somebody isn't thinking.”

General George S. Patton

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  • Top News

Supreme Court declines case on cell data search warrant

The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to rule in Davis v. United States, Monday, rejecting a case that questioned the necessity of search warrants being presented to wireless carriers when law enforcement requests access to cell phone location data. The case was on appeal  from the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Quartavious Davis alleged that his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated when no warrant was sought or provided by law enforcement to the carrier of his cell data, MetroPCS. A search warrant requires probable cause, but police obtained the appellant's cell location with a court order, requiring less than probable cause, under the Stored Communications Act. The Act does require "specific and articuable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds" to believe the relevance of the records to the investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union has argued that the statute did not foresee the information made obtainable by modern technology. (Click here)

Facebook, McDonald's and Amazon among 11 companies to face EU tax grilling

Amazon.com Inc. is among 11 companies that will be questioned by European Union lawmakers next week about low-tax deals as the Internet retailing giant awaits a decision from antitrust regulators on its fiscal pact with Luxembourg. Barclays Plc and McDonald’s Corp. are also among firms that will appear at a meeting of the European Parliament’s special tax committee on Nov. 16, the panel’s secretariat said Tuesday in an e-mail. An earlier hearing was scuttled when nearly all the corporate invitees turned lawmakers down. The Parliament "can be credible and achieve what it wants when it shows its teeth. But let’s be realistic: we shall wait and see what the companies will tell us." Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which hasn’t responded to the committee’s invitation, and Starbucks Corp. last month were told to repay tens of millions of euros in back taxes in the first decisions from EU antitrust regulators on fiscal deals that allowed companies to avoid taxes. The European Commission may issue a second set of decisions in cases involving Apple Inc. and Amazon before the end of the year.

The parliamentary probe, which is separate from the regulatory inquiry, was started after documents leaked by a group of investigative journalists showed that Luxembourg alone struck hundreds of secret fiscal deals known as tax rulings with companies from around the world, from PepsiCo Inc. to Walt Disney Co. Amazon, which has more than 1,000 people working in the tiny nation, said in a U.S. filing that its taxes could increase in case of a negative decision by the EU in its case. Disney, Coca-Cola Co., and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV said they will send someone to the Nov. 16 meeting, as did HSBC Holdings Plc, Ikea Group and Philip Morris International Inc. Out of 13 companies, only Wal-Mart Stores Inc. declined to appear, the committee secretariat said. EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told lawmakers at a separate meeting Monday that her decisions against Starbucks and Fiat on Oct. 21 sent a strong signal to national governments that they can’t use tax rules as a backdoor way to give multinationals illegal state aid. She said the EU authority is looking at some 300 tax deals for possible violations of state aid law and that she won’t shy away from opening new “tax ruling cases if we have doubts that the rules are not followed as they should be.”

Patent law meeting in Japan

The Asian Patent Attorneys Association's 17th General Assembly, as well as the organization's 64th and 65th Council Meetings, will take place on November 13 to 17, in the Ginowan and Chatan areas of Okinawa, Japan. Licks Advogados will be represented by attorney law, Roberto Carapeto, research collaborator at Waseda University's Research Center for the Legal Systems of Intellectual Property. (Click here)

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  • Crumbs!

1 - Serious Fraud Office drops charges against camera-maker Olympus (Click here)

2 - Judge reviewed after asking sex assault complainant, 'Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?'  (Click here)

3 - Pentagon to list alternative U.S. sites to Guantanamo prison (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

Alibaba breaks Singles Day record as sales surge

E-commerce giant Alibaba has broken its own record for sales on China's Singles Day, the world's biggest online shopping event. The firm said sales surpassed the record amount of $9.3bn made last year in just over half the time. Singles Day, also known as Double Eleven because it is held on 11 November, has become a major annual event for Chinese retailers. Alibaba said more than $1bn was spent within eight minutes of midnight. In comparison, sales on Cyber Monday, which is the biggest online shopping day in the US, hit $1.35bn.

Backlash over college chastity pledge

A college in north-west China has come under fire for asking female students to sign a chastity pledge as part of a course. While there have been complaints from students at the college itself, there has been a huge online response, with many social media users criticizing the college for using an "outdated" approach. "It's hard to imagine that this would brazenly appear at a college in the 21st Century."

Chinese defaults spread as cement maker to miss bond payment

China is headed for its latest corporate default amid slowing economic growth, as a cement maker said it will fail to pay bond investors and will file for liquidation. Investors have been scarred by defaults from Chinese firms this year in industries including property and commodities, as Xi Jinping shifts toward greater reliance on services to drive growth amid the weakest economic expansion in a quarter century.

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  • Historia Verdadeira

Gasoducto

La Comisión Federal de Electricidad de México adjudicó a la empresa Transportadora de Gas Natural de la Huasteca, filial de la empresa TransCanada, la prestación del servicio de transporte de gas natural a través del gasoducto denominado Tuxpan–Tula, que presentó una oferta de poco más de US$ 297 mlls. para construir y operar por 25 años el ducto.

Contratos

La petrolera estatal de Venezuela, PDVSA, espera asegurar contratos a principios del 2016 para importar crudo, con la finalidad de eliminar sus compras en el mercado como parte de su estrategia para reducir costos y aumentar la calidad de sus mezclas. PDVSA negocia con unas 15 empresas, incluso algunos productores internacionales.

  • Brief News

Syria 'peace plan' revealed

A Russian document circulating at the United Nations has proposed a constitutional reform process in Syria, lasting 18 months, to be followed by presidential elections. The document does not say whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should remain in power during that time. It says certain Syrian opposition groups should take part in key talks on the crisis in Vienna on Saturday. The Syrian army meanwhile is reported to have broken a siege in the north. A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said that the priority ahead of next Saturday's meeting should be to establish which Syrian opposition groups are to be regarded as partners in the process, and which are "terrorist" and unacceptable.

Supreme Court weighs whether the Government can freeze a defendant's assets

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case testing whether the government can freeze a defendant's legitimately obtained assets, thus preventing the accused from hiring a lawyer. Sila Luis, the owner of Miami home health care companies, was indicted on Medicare fraud charges in 2012. She has been detained at her home for two years while her case wended its way to the Supreme Court. She wants to use some of her assets to hire a lawyer for her trial. The government concedes that some of her financial holdings are not connected to her alleged criminal conduct. But prosecutors contend that Luis has already spent so much of her ill-gotten gains that if she is convicted, she won't be able to pay back the Medicare Trust Fund what she owes unless her untainted assets are there to be tapped.

Volkswagen offers cash, vouchers to defrauded diesel owners

The German automaker is starting the process of making amends with its U.S. customer base. The company is offering $1,000 in cash and vouchers to owners of diesel vehicles implicated in the emissions scandal. Volkswagen faces a number of class-action law suits stemming from the emissions scandal. One of the law firms pursuing Volkswagen said today there's a risk that VW owners could be signing away their right to sue the company by joining the program. Volkswagen denied that charge and said in a statement, quote, "affected customers eligible for the goodwill package are not required to waive their rights or release their claims against Volkswagen Group of America in order to receive the package." Volkswagen says a similar deal will be offered to Audi customers affected by the emissions scandal this Friday. (Click here)

Obama administration to appeal immigration ruling to Supreme Court

The US Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it disagrees with a federal ruling upholding an injunction against President Barack Obama's plan to protect as many as 5 million immigrants from deportation and plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court. The Monday 2-1 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a federal judge's injunction against the president's plan. Under executive orders issued by Obama, the parents of children who are legal permanent residents or citizens of the US would be protected from deportation. Other immigrants who came to the country as children would be protected as well. While Texas Governor Greg Abbot supported the ruling, calling Obama's "executive amnesty program" "lawless," the White House released a statement saying that "the Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws." A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked two key parts of Obama's recent immigration initiative in February. (Click here)

Cameron sets out EU reform goals

David Cameron has outlined his four goals for reforming the UK's membership of the EU. He said Britain faced a "huge decision" in the in/out referendum promised before the end of 2017. But he said he was confident of getting what he wanted from reform talks.

  • Protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries
  • Boosting competitiveness by setting a target for the reduction of the "burden" of red tape
  • Exempting Britain from "ever-closer union" and bolstering national parliaments
  • Restricting EU migrants' access to in-work benefits such as tax credits

The European Union realizes the British prime minister needs a fight and a bloody nose to drown out criticisms back home that this EU reform process is a sham; that Cameron's demands are wishy-washy and worthless. The European Commission said Cameron's benefit restriction proposals were "highly problematic" as they affected the "fundamental freedoms of our internal market" and amounted to "direct discrimination between EU citizens".

Eike Batista banned for 5 years from serving as a corporate officer

The fallen Brazilian mogul also faces a criminal case, which has been suspended.

Dizzying ride may be ending for start-ups

The latest sign of growing unease over the valuations of some richly priced companies has emerged with Snapchat being discounted 25 percent by Fidelity, one of its earliest investors.

Catalan regional parliament approves plan for independence from Spain

Madrid argues that the move is symbolic and won't change a thing. But Catalan lawmakers say their region will be its own country by 2017.

SEC: short selling gets continuous attention

Reacting to concerns that many financial stocks were losing value at an alarming rate due to aggressive bets by short-sellers who profit when prices fall, federal regulators on Wednesday acted to stem the abusive practice known as "naked short selling." In an ordinary short sale, a short seller borrows stock and sells it, with the hope of buying it back later at a lower price to replace the borrowed shares. In a naked short trade, the seller doesn't borrow the stock before selling it and doesn't deliver it to the buyer. As a result, naked short sellers can force prices far lower than possible than in a legitimate short transaction, the SEC said.

Belgium court orders Facebook to stop tracking non-users

Belgium's Court of First Instance on Monday ordered Facebook to cease all tracking of users within the country who have not signed up for the social networking platform. The court has given Facebook 48 hours to stop tracking unregistered users. The Belgian Privacy Commission, which brought the case in June, welcomed Monday's ruling. Last May the commission released a report illustrating the numerous ways the social networking giant has violated Belgium's privacy act. If Facebook does not comply, the company faces fines of up to €250,000 each day, which will go to the Belgian Privacy Commission. Facebook has stated that it plans to appeal the decision and claims it has not illegally used a cookie to track user traffic on the website.

UK couple challenge same-sex marriage ban in Northern Ireland

A same-sex couple in Northern Ireland is challenging the same-sex marriage ban, arguing that reducing their marriage to a civil partnership is unlawful discrimination. Gay marriage has been legal in the rest of the UK since 2013, but not in Northern Ireland. The couple, who filed the suit anonymously, married in London in 2014. A lawyer for the couple said the status devalues the marriage and has made the couple feel embarrassed and alienated. Amnesty International (AI) welcomed the challenge, saying the law is absurd because the couple's marriage is legally recognized in other areas of the UK, but is invalidated the moment they land in their native Northern Ireland.

New Jersey governor signs bill allowing medical marijuana on school grounds

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law Monday that would allow for the administering of edible medical marijuana to sick and disabled children on school grounds without triggering the arrests of parents or educators.

  • Daily Press Review

Turkey sacks Ankara police chief after suicide bombings
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

MPs approve Osborne's budget rules
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Israeli-Palestinian violence: What you need to know
CNN International, London, England

Heidi Klum is 'mom and a dad at the same time' since her split from Seal in 2012
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Denmark's Princess Marie denies boob job after Her & Nu magazine claimed she had one
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Tense times in Jerusalem
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

Israel seals off East Jerusalem after 'Day of Rage' attacks
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

?? Sanat to present a rich program in its new season
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

Pompeii's pilferers punished with a curse from the gods
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

The Apprentice 2015: episode 1, live
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Hung ouster in motion, Chu calls for party unity
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Up to 10 Million People Made Sick by Their Phones
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

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

Minister vows to return donations from firms involved in bid-rigging
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Financial services startup Square files for $275M IPO
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

Nike says expects revenue of $50 bn by 2020
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

It's official ó the 1% finally own 50% of everything
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

New York teen dies after beating at church during 'counselling'
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

Wall St declines as Wal-Mart's weak forecast drags on retailers
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Malaysia's embattled PM facing stern test as parliament returns
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Blue Jays cut lead to 2-1 against Rangers in Game 5
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

US troops to help fight Boko Haram
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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