December 14, 2015 nº 1,706 - Vol. 13
 

"It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions."

Charles F. Kettering

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  • Top News

COP21: Paris climate deal is 'best chance to save planet'

The climate deal reached in Paris is "the best chance we have to save the one planet we have", Obama has said. He said it could be a "turning point" towards a low-carbon future. China, the world's biggest polluter, also hailed the deal, as did India. But some campaigners said it did not go far enough to protect the planet. The Paris pact aims to curb global warming to less than 2C (3.6F) by the end of the century. Nearly 200 countries took part in tense negotiations in the French capital over two weeks, striking the first deal to commit all nations to cut emissions. The agreement - which is partly legally binding and partly voluntary - will come into being in 2020.

Tech firms gird for new EU privacy law

Technology firms are girding for tough provisions in a new privacy law that European Union officials are likely to agree upon Tuesday, setting up for what executives say could be years of court battles. The European Parliament, representatives of the national governments and the European Commission—the bloc’s executive body—have been negotiating for the past four years to agree on a final version of the EU-wide data-protection law, which would replace a patchwork of 28 different sets of national laws.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China to register urban migrants

China is to offer residency status to some of the millions of migrant workers who have moved from rural areas to cities in recent decades. It means migrants will be entitled to use public services, such as health and education, where they live, rather than in the villages they come from. Migrants will be able to apply if they can show proof of work, study or housing in a city for six months. By 2030, up to 70% of Chinese will live in cities, the World Bank predicts. An estimated 61 million Chinese children are left behind in the countryside by their parents. Migrants who bring their children with them can only place them in unregistered schools, often of dubious quality. The new rules, which come into effect on 1 January, will not apply to day laborers.

China disappearances highlight ruling party detention system

The baffling disappearance of Chinese executives in recent weeks has drawn attention to the ruling Communist Party’s practice of holding people incommunicado either as targets of investigations themselves or to help with probes of others.

China to track renminbi based on basket of currencies

The announcement by the country’s central bank was likely to rock global financial markets.

Scuffles at China rights lawyer trial

One of China's most prominent human rights lawyers has gone on trial in Beijing, amid scuffles outside court. Pu Zhiqiang is accused of "inciting ethnic hatred" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble". Pu is the latest to be tried in a crackdown on lawyers, dissidents, and those accused of corruption.

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  • Brief News

Trump’s Muslim moratorium is constitutional

One of the main criticisms of Donald Trump’s proposed moratorium on Muslim immigration is that it’s unconstitutional. For example, Republican presidential candidate and law graduate Marco Rubio said that the plan “violates the Constitution” earlier this week. However, two notable law professors — Jan C. Ting of Temple University and Eric Posner of the University of Chicago — say those critics are wrong and possibly don’t know much about legal history. Ting, a professor at Temple University’s School of Law and a former Immigration and Naturalization Services commissioner for the Department of Justice, explained to The Daily Caller that Trump’s plan is in keeping with over a hundred years of legal precedent. “No kind of immigration restriction is unconstitutional,” Ting said. “The US government can exclude a foreign national on any basis.” The legal scholar explained that the Supreme Court’s decisions since ruling unanimously in favor of the legality of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1889 have upheld the authority of the political branches — executive and legislative — to make immigration law as they see fit and to exclude foreigners on grounds that would not be applicable to American citizens. “The statutes are clear: immigration is different from all other aspects of the law,” Ting said. “The Supreme Court has ruled we can enact laws against foreign nationals that would not be permissible to apply to citizens. The courts historically have no role in these decisions.”

What really sank Brazil

It’s easy to blame plummeting oil prices for the economic crisis in Brazil. It’s also wrong. Brazil’s wounds are self-inflicted by an antigrowth policy mix dating back to 2008. The results were predictable. The Brazilian economy contracted a whopping 4.5% in the third quarter from a year earlier. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that for 2015 Brazil’s gross domestic product will shrink by 3% and another 1% in 2016. That follows flatline growth in 2014.For a political culture predisposed to abuse government power, breaking the rules established during the Cardoso government—which were designed to constrain that power—triggered a return to bad behavior. Since the 1960s Brazil has pursued industrialization through high levels of protectionism and subsidies for domestic producers. The failure of that strategy is manifest. But letting uncompetitive businesses fail had political costs that Lula and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, weren’t willing to pay. Instead they increased protectionism and subsidies, and rapidly expanded credit through the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and other state-owned banks. They also financed large government deficits with mostly domestic borrowing. The deficits were exacerbated by the tripling of the civil service during the PT governments and unjustified increases in the minimum wage and welfare and retirement benefits.

Merger-mania brings out the antitrust police

It was an action-packed week in the antitrust arena. It started Monday after General Electric Co. abandoned a $3.3 billion agreement to sell its appliances business to Electrolux of Sweden, a transaction that started unraveling this summer when the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block it. Then the Federal Trade Commission sued to stop Staples Inc planned acquisition of rival Office Depot Inc. Later in the week came news that Halliburton Co. $35 billion deal to buy Baker Hughes Inc. has encountered a growing list of antitrust concerns from the Justice Department. On Friday came the announcement of a union between two titans of industry’s old guard, Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. The companies plan to combine operations and eventually break apart into three separate businesses, an unconventional move that in no way guarantees a blessing from regulators. Cheap debt and a sluggish economy have propelled the latest wave of deal-making. It’s not surprising that in such a business climate, antitrust cops would break out the batons.

Saudi Arabia: First woman councilor elected

A woman has won a seat on a municipal council for the first time in Saudi Arabia, after the kingdom lifted its bar on women taking part in elections. Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi won a seat in Mecca province in Saturday's vote. Women have also won in several other regions in the country, including Jeddah and Qatif, reports suggest. The election was the first where women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates, and is being viewed as a landmark in the conservative kingdom. Saudi women still face many curbs in public life, including driving.

Assange to be questioned by Sweden

Ecuador has agreed to allow Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be questioned by the Swedish authorities at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Assange took refuge there three years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault against two women in 2010. He denies the accusations and says he fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States for possible trial there. In 2010 Wikileaks published a huge number of US classified documents. Britain has accused Ecuador of perverting the course of justice by allowing Assange to remain in its embassy. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said, "It is for the Swedish prosecutor to decide how they now proceed with the legal case."

Ins and outs of non-compete pacts

Employers often ask me whether they can require employees to sign non-competition agreements, and if these types of agreements are enforceable. A properly written non-competition agreement generally prohibits an employee from working for a competitor, or providing certain information about the former employer’s business. Some of these agreements may also contain language that prohibits an employee from soliciting customers or other employees away from the former employer. Many states enact laws limiting the types of restrictions an employer may place on a former employee. These laws originate from both statutes and court cases, and they generally require that an employer carefully draft these agreements in a way that protects a specific aspect of an employer’s business. Additionally, these laws often place limits on the amount of time they are valid and the number of miles from the employer’s location. A court will likely scrutinize any non-competition agreement that contains too many restrictions on a former employee and interferes with the employee’s ability to obtain future work. Sometimes, employers seek to have the agreement signed after the employee has accepted the employment offer, or a period of time after the hire date. The US District Court of Massachusetts, a federal court, recently upheld a non-competition agreement that was signed during an employee’s employment. Consideration is generally defined as the bargained for exchange between parties to a contract, or I promise to do or not do something in exchange for something else. The federal court ruled that Massachusetts law recognizes continuing employment as valid consideration for a non-competition agreement that is signed by an employee during the term of employment and the agreement is not void simply because the consideration between the parties only consists of an employer’s promise of continuing an employee’s employment, and the employee’s promise to continue working for the employer.

Donald Trump has escalated his rhetoric. So has the press covering him

As the front-running GOP presidential candidate's controversial pronouncements multiply, the reporting, commentary and editorials from major news outlets have taken on more urgency.

Cuba and US to restore postal service after 52 years

Cuba and the United States have agreed to restore a direct postal service, suspended 52 years ago at the height of the Cold War. A pilot postal service will be launched shortly, but it is not clear when a full service will be implemented. The move is part of the rapprochement process that was announced by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro on 17 December last year.

AirBnB racism claim: African-Americans 'less likely to get rooms'

People with names that suggest they are black are being discriminated against on room sharing site AirBnB, a Harvard study suggests. A survey of more than 6,000 hosts in five US cities concluded that names that sounded African-American were about 16% less likely to get a positive response to a request for a room when compared against white-sounding names like Brad or Kristen. In a statement, AirBnB admitted it faced "significant challenges" over the issue. It invited collaboration with "anyone that can help us reduce potential discrimination in the Airbnb community".

Law enforcement bears down on smartphone crime wave

Amid a thriving black market overseas for smartphones, more criminals are turning to fraud and identity theft to obtain discounted devices in bulk.

Net-neutrality proponents warn of loopholes

Some consumer advocates are warning that attempts to circumvent the government’s net-neutrality rules are starting to emerge before they have even taken root.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
The choice: Angela Merkel

Newsweek
Obama: Paris Climate Pact 'Best Chance We Have to Save...Planet'

Business Week
Insuring the Toys of the Wealthy Is a $40 Billion Business

The Economist
Illiberalism: Playing with fear

Der Spiegel
Die verstoerte Nation

L'Espresso
Cosi spiamo I covi del Califo

  • 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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