February 15, 2016 nº 1,709 - Vol. 13

"No man thinks clearly when his fists are clenched."

George Jean Nathan

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  • Top News

Justice Antonin Scalia's death sparks battle for Supreme Court control

The death of one of the most conservative members of the US Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia, has sparked arguments over the process to find his successor. Obama said he would nominate a replacement. But the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have called for a delay until after the election. Before Justice Scalia's death, the US high court had a conservative 5-4 majority. Justice Scalia's biting wit succeeded in stalling major efforts by the Obama administration on climate change and immigration. Republicans in the Senate are going to be under intense pressure from some conservatives to do everything they can to delay confirmation of a replacement until a new chief executive is sworn in on 20 January 2017. "For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench," Obama said, calling him "an extraordinary judicial thinker" with "an incisive wit". He was one of the most prominent proponents of so-called originalism - a conservative legal philosophy that believes the US Constitution has a fixed meaning and does not change with the times.

Originalism: A primer On Scalia's constitutional philosophy

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has defined "originalism" this way: "The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted." The term has been used often — but it's more than just a simple word. And its meaning goes far deeper than a simple definition. The idea that the Constitution would be an enduring document and that if there were going to be major changes in the way policies were implemented that they would have to be done through the democratic process. And that you don't want to give judges too much power to make those kinds of decisions. The flip side of that is a static interpretation of the law that doesn't move with the times, doesn't move with the society. And that's the struggle that you see on the Supreme Court today. In some ways between some of the conservatives on the court and other members of the court.

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  • MiMIC Journal

EU probes cheap Chinese steel imports

The European Commission is opening three investigations into steel products made in China as cheap imports add to the woes of the UK industry. It said it would not allow "unfair competition" to threaten Europe. Producers of steel in the UK have laid off thousands recently and there have been warnings of more to come. It is the latest probe into cheap imports from non-EU countries. There are nine other anti-dumping investigations already under way.

China Bank chief blames ‘speculators’

Chinese central bank governor has accused "speculative forces" of targeting the country's currency, the yuan. He said there was no reason for the yuan to keep depreciating in value and that China would not let international speculators dominate market sentiment. Efforts to defend the yuan have eroded China's foreign currency reserves.


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  • Brief News

Congress passes bill banning Internet access tax

The US Senate on Thursday approved legislation that will place a permanent ban on states taxing Internet access. The Senate, by a vote of 75-20, passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. Although the main provisions of the bill will strengthen enforcement of US duties on foreign goods, the bill also includes an extra provision known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act. The provision will also implement some taxes on digital goods and services. The vote was lauded by many, including the Internet Tax Freedom Act Coalition, which stated, "[t]his legislation ensures, once and for all, that hundreds of millions of consumers, students, families and businesses across the country will never have to pay onerous taxes to use the Internet." Supporters of the legislation are pushing for Congress to take the next step and improve enforcement of state sales tax collections related to Internet purchases, which this bill does not address.

UN urges EU to implement measures for handling the migrant crisis

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, expressed concern over the growing number of migrants arriving in Europe and urged all EU member states to implement measures agreed on last year to ensure human treatment of all refugees entering their nations. The measures include "hotspot" arrival points, relocation of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Italy and Greece, and to apply the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan. According to Fleming, some countries have tightened their border control to keep refugees out instead of trying to find solutions. Some countries, she said have also created measures with the purpose of appearing less desirable than other countries and some strip refugees of any valuables. The UN is urging European countries to remember that asylum is a fundamental human right and these measures are necessary to reduce the dangers that come from sea voyages or putting their lives in the hands of smugglers.

Uganda president urges African nations to quit ICC

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday urged African nations to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Speaking during a televised presidential debate, Museveni accused the court of working against Africa and said the court is not serious about their problems. Museveni has been the President of Uganda for 30 years and is currently a candidate for President in the February election. He argued that Uganda should already have left the court.

Syria takes Turkey “violations” to UN

Syria has condemned Turkish military action against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and described it as a violation of its sovereignty. It called on the UN Security Council to take action. Ankara views the Kurdish militia in Syria as allied to the outlawed PKK, which has carried out a decades-long campaign for autonomy in Turkey. ‘The United States and others back the Kurdish militia in Syria, the YPG, in its fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

Google tells Parliament it won’t pay ‘Google Tax’ in UK

Google’s top global tax executive told UK lawmakers that a new UK tax provision dubbed “the Google Tax” will not actually apply to the US technology giant. The law, officially the Diverted Profits Tax, was introduced last year amid concerns that Google parent Alphabet Inc. and other global tech companies were using their complex corporate structures to shift profits to offshore tax havens. It allows the government to charge a 25 percent tax -- five percent above the standard UK corporate rate -- on any profits it decides have been improperly moved out of the UK.

Uber settles claims its `safe rides fee' misled passengers

Uber Technologies Inc. said it will pay $28.5 million to settle claims that a $1 “safe rides fee” charged to riders was misleading because its background checks on drivers aren’t as rigorous as the company advertised. The company said in a statement it will now call the charge a “booking fee” to resolve class-action lawsuits on behalf of riders in several states. The accord couldn’t be immediately verified in court records. Uber is still fighting allegations by California prosecutors that it gives the public false assurances that its rides are safe.

French prosecutors don’t seek prison time for Uber executives in trial

French prosecutors asked a court to slap two top executives with fines and a ban on running companies but declined to ask for prison time during the second day of a symbolic trial against the car-hailing company.

Morgan Stanley agrees to $3.2 billion settlement with state and federal authorities

Morgan Stanley agreed Thursday to pay about $3.2 billion to settle charges that it misled investors in residential mortgage-backed securities. The charges come from an investigation by the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Group that serves to prove potential misconduct from the financial crisis. $2.6 billion of the settlement will go towards resolving the claims by the US Department of Justice, while another $550 million will go to New York and another $22.5 million will go to Illinois. Morgan Stanley is accused of misleading investors on the quality of the residential mortgages it was selling. As part of the settlement agreement, Morgan Stanley acknowledged in writing that it failed to disclose critical information about the quality of the mortgage loans underlying its residential mortgage-backed securities and about its due diligence practices.

Virgin Atlantic flight back in UK after 'laser incident'

A flight heading to New York turned back to London Heathrow Airport after a "laser beam incident", Virgin Atlantic has confirmed. A crew member is recorded saying to Irish air traffic control that they had a "medical issue with one of the pilots after a laser incident after take-off". A new law introduced in 2010 means people could be charged with "shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot". A total of 414 "laser incidents" in the UK were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority between January and June 2015.

HSBC to keep headquarters in London

UK banking giant HSBC has announced it is to keep its headquarters in London. Concerns about stricter UK regulations led Europe's biggest bank to launch a review into whether to move elsewhere, with Hong Kong seen as the most likely alternative. But the bank said it had decided unanimously against the move and that London "offered the best outcome for our customers and shareholders". The decision was seen as a vote of confidence for the UK.

Bite forensics

A Texas forensic science commission has recommended that bite mark evidence should no longer be admitted in court cases. How accurate is the science? The commission determined that it is too risky to continue allowing the evidence into court, and asked the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) to return after it has conducted further scientific research on its techniques. The commission will now begin auditing every bite mark conviction obtained by the state of Texas in the last ten years.

Negative 0.5% interest rate: Why people are paying to save

A decade ago, negative interest rates were a theoretical curiosity that economists would discuss almost as a parlor game. Two years ago, it began showing up as an unconventional step that a few small countries considered. Now, it is the stated policy of some of the most powerful global central banks, including the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan. But as negative rates — in which depositors pay to hold money in bank accounts — become a more common fixture, there are many unknowns about what these policies mean for finance, for the economy and even for the definition of money. There is a question of whether that would even be legal. It’s not clear if the language of the Federal Reserve Act allows negative bank rates. Yellen said in testimony this week that the legality of negative rates “remains a question that we still would need to investigate more thoroughly.”

Facebook loses in French nudity case

The Paris appeal court has upheld a ruling that Facebook can be sued under French - not Californian - law. A French teacher won in the Paris high court last year, arguing that Facebook should not have suspended his account because of an erotic image on his page. Facebook appealed against that ruling - but the appeal court has now upheld the criticism of Facebook's user terms. US-based Facebook says users can only sue in California. It removed a close-up of a nude woman, painted by Courbet. The Paris high court decided that the company's argument was "abusive" and violated French consumer law, by making it difficult for people in France to sue. It is seen as a test case, potentially paving the way for other lawsuits against Facebook outside US jurisdiction.

Brazil deploys soldiers over Zika virus

More than 200,000 soldiers have been deployed across Brazil to warn people about the risks of the Zika virus. Brazil is at the center of an outbreak of the virus, which has been linked to a surge in babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Venezuela Supreme Court upholds Maduro's emergency decree

Venezuela’s Supreme Court declared an emergency decree President Nicolas Maduro says he needs to fight triple-digit inflation and the deepest recession in over a decade to be legal and valid, overruling the opposition-controlled congress that rejected the legislation last month.

Coca-Cola fights for ‘Zero’ trademark rights

The Patent and Trademark Office is gearing up to rule nearly 13 years after Coke first tried to register “zero” in the US, triggering a challenge from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which also has a diet drink named Zero.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Alzheimer’s from a new angle

Britons Pessimistic About EU Deal, Poll Shows

Business Week
Oil Is the Cheap Date From Hell

The Economist
Regulating cannabis: The right way to do drugs

Der Spiegel
Die Sprache der Sterne

Manuale del perfetto evasore

  • 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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