November 18, 2015 nº 1,697  - Vol. 13
 

“On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées.”
(One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.)

Victor Hugo

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  • Top News

Victims of VW scandal may be eclipsed by lawsuit underwriters

The real victims of Volkswagen's diesel-emissions scandal may end up being eclipsed in court. That's the risk, at least, when firms that specialize in underwriting lawsuits for profit get involved. One of them, Bentham Europe, is already funding a case that claims that the German carmaker duped shareholders. The financial muscle may improve the odds for large awards – but also hefty gains for Bentham and others. The basic facts are not much in dispute. VW admitted rigging millions of Jettas and other vehicles with software that sharply reduced emissions when the cars were being tested. It is likely that VW will lose cases, but the big question is how much it will have to pay out. That may depend on litigation financiers like Bentham Europe, which is partly backed by Elliott Management, the hedge fund run by Paul Singer. The litigation-financing industry started in Britain decades ago, largely because rules that limited class-action lawsuits, barred lawyers from sharing awards and required losers to pay winners' fees often made suing prohibitively expensive. Outside funders stepped in to finance the bill in return for up to a third of the proceeds. It's a decent business. The Australia-based IMF Bentham, Elliott's partner in Bentham Europe, says it has made a 158 percent return on investment since 2001. Its rival, Burford Capital, reports a 71 percent net return over six years, and last month it announced a joint venture with the law firm Hausfeld to bring antitrust cases in Germany.

The benefits for victims are less clear. They receive help suing in costly places like Britain and Germany, perhaps when they otherwise would not. Even in the relatively litigation-friendly United States, funding may give plaintiffs bargaining power to extract bigger settlements. But conflicts of interest are a concern. Litigation financiers emphasize that they do not interfere with legal strategy. But critics fear they still have indirect influence on the timing and amounts of settlements. Their cut also reduces what goes to victims.

UN rights expert: Paris attacks may be crimes against humanity

An independent UN human rights expert said Tuesday that last week's attacks in Paris may constitute crimes against humanity. The UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said, "these attacks may constitute a crime against humanity and certainly one which viciously and deliberately targeted sites of arts and leisure where people come together to enjoy their cultural rights." Bennoune called on the international community to aide French authorities in ensuring that perpetrators re brought to justice in accordance with international law. On Friday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the "despicable terrorist attacks," and gave his full faith to the French authorities' ability to prosecute those responsible.

Arbitration

The CBMA – Brazilian Center of Mediation and Arbitration will promote, on December 10 and 11, the CBMA’s I International Conference on Arbitration, at FIRJAN’s Convention Center, in Rio de Janeiro/RJ. The event will bring together some of the most important Brazilian jurists, such as Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, Judge Alexandre de Freitas Câmara and lawyers Marçal Justen Filho, Gustavo Tepedino, Carlos Alberto Carmona and Heleno Taveira Torres, as well as renowned international arbitration practitioners, such as lawyers Luis O'Naghten (USA), Andrew Haynes (Canada), Ana Elisa Bruder (Germany), and José Miguel Júdice (Portugal), among others. The goal of the event is to stimulate the debate on the new trends and practices related to arbitration, and also to face the latest relevant discussions on the subject, such as "Arbitration in conflicts involving the Public Administration", "Arbitration Clause, Bylaws, New Market and Corporate Law", "Civil Procedure and Arbitration", and "Hot Topics in International Arbitration". (Click here)

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  • Crumbs

1 - Without rule of law, conflict-affected areas will become poverty ghettoes (Click here)

2 - Supreme Court stays out of lawsuit on Planned Parenthood contract (Click here)

3 - The Challenges for Volkswagen’s Internal Investigation (Click here)

4 - Judge throws out $42 million copyright case against Taylor Swift, quotes Swift hits in lawsuit dismissal (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China, Brazil are left out of M&A boom that's sweeping the globe

In a year of potentially record global deal making, executives are turning a cold shoulder to buying companies in China, Brazil and other emerging markets. The culprits: geopolitical uncertainties, market and currency volatility and a slump in commodity prices. Deals to buy companies in emerging markets are headed for their quietest year since 2009 -- at a time when the dollar amount of global transactions this year is poised to surpass the $4.2 trillion achieved in 2007.

China nearly triples number of supercomputers

China has almost tripled its number of supercomputers, according to a reputable list of the world's most powerful machines. The country has 109 high-performance computing systems on the biannual Top500 list of supercomputers, up 196% from 37 just six months ago. The most powerful supercomputer, China's Tianhe-2, also retained the top spot for the sixth consecutive time. In contrast, the US has seen the number of its supercomputers decline.

Obama defiant over South China Sea dispute

Obama has put a firm focus on the South China Sea dispute, as an economic summit of Asia Pacific nations begins in Manila. He said China must stop land reclamation in the disputed waters, a day after committing monetary and naval assistance to the Philippines, which has competing claims with China. The territorial dispute is not officially on the agenda of the summit but is expected to overshadow it. China says its dredging work is legal.

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  • Historia Verdadeira

Cobre - China

Codelco planea recortar en un 26 % el recargo sobre las ventas a China, en su mayor magnitud desde la crisis financiera global, en un esfuerzo por incrementar los embarques al mayor consumidor y contrarrestar la desaceleración en la demanda. (Presione aquí)

Daños

El costo del colapso en un yacimiento de mineral de hierro operado por la minera Samarco en Brasil ya superó el límite del seguro para cubrir daños civiles, según la minera Vale, socia de la australiana BHP entro la compañía. La La minera Samarco se comprometió a pagar al menos unos US$ 260 mlls. por los daños ambientales. (Presione aquí)

Contrato

La estatal Petroperú revisa su contrato de asociación en un lote petrolero en el norte del país con la energética Geopark, con el fin de reducir riesgos y así garantizar la inversión prevista en su plan de modernización.

  • Brief News

US states halt taking Syrian refugees

More than a dozen US states say Syrian refugees are no longer welcome due to security fears after the Paris attacks. Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan said he was suspending the acceptance of new arrivals until after a review. Alabama, Texas and several other states issued similar statements but a State Department spokesman said the legality of this action was still unclear. Obama has urged the US to "step up and do its part" to help those fleeing the civil war. "Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values," he said. "Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both." The governors' decisions come in the wake of the attacks in Paris which killed 129 people on Friday evening.

After Paris attacks, encrypted communication is back in spotlight

Security officials say the Paris attacks are an example why law enforcement needs to access encrypted data. Privacy advocates and the tech industry say such "back doors" are not the best solution.

Canada officials drop challenge to face veil for citizenship ceremonies

Canada's Minister of Justice and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship issued a joint statement on Monday announcing that the government will withdraw an appeal that sought to require removal of the niqab for citizenship ceremonies. A niqab is a veil worn by some Muslim women that covers part of the face. The case was originally brought by Zunera Ishaq against the Canadian government after she refused to take the oath of citizenship if she had to remove her niqab. A lower court ruled that this requirement was unlawful and an appeals court upheld that decision. The ministers said they respect the decision of the courts and added: "Canada's diversity is among its greatest strengths, and today we have ensured that successful citizenship candidates continue to be included in the Canadian family. We are a strong and united country because of, not in spite of, our differences."

EU-Ukraine free trade 'set for 2016'

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko says the EU has confirmed that an EU-Ukrainian free trade zone will be launched on 1 January. The deal was supposed to take effect this January but Russia objected. Political tensions escalated into violence in Ukraine after former President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from the agreement with the EU in 2013.

TIAA-CREF bought Brazilian farmland from notorious land grabber

The US investment company TIAA-CREF has amassed vast holdings of Brazilian farmland through a joint venture that has done business with one of the country's most notorious "land grabbers." The report details a complex business arrangement that enabled TIAA-CREF to invest in Brazil's real estate market, even though the country's laws restrict foreign ownership of land. Much of the land purchased by the company has been in the Cerrado, a large region where woodlands are being replaced by farmland — a process that worries many environmentalists.

Federal judge orders Congress to cooperate with insider trading probe

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered a US House of Representatives committee and a former staffer to cooperate with an insider trading investigation into a health care policy leak. Judge Paul Gardephe ordered the enforcement of subpoenas sent by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the House Committee on Ways and Means and aides who are linked to the leak. The subpoenas ask for documents and information from members of the committee and from Brian Sutter, a top congressional health care aide, to assist in its insider trading investigation.

  • 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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