April 4, 2016 nº 1,727 - Vol. 13

"Man has made use of his intelligence, he invented stupidity."

 Remy de Gourmont

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  • Top News

Japanese lawyers’ problem: too few cases

Japan is struggling with an unlikely problem: Its people aren’t litigious enough. Fifteen years ago, the nation kicked off a plan to double the number of lawyers. Officials thought they could breathe dynamism into society by mimicking the Western legal system, where courts are more involved in settling issues such as consumer safety and corporate malfeasance. But Japan’s new lawyers have failed to make a winning argument for why they are needed. The number of regular civil cases filed each year hasn’t budged in a decade. With crime near a record low and bankruptcies plunging, many lawyers are pleading poverty.

SEC’s white warns Silicon Valley on valuations

The SEC’s chairman fired a warning shot at Silicon Valley, cautioning the tech community against playing fast and loose with valuations and urging it to channel more information to investors devouring its latest innovations such as online loans.


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  • MiMIC Journal

China's overheated property market

The announcement of new measures - meant to cool the housing market in China's mega-cities - caused a surge in sales. People wanted to move in before the minimum deposit rose.

Why Chinese have turned to underground churches

The Chinese Communist Party once tried to destroy religion. It failed. Today, according to some estimates, there are more Christians in China than Communist Party members. Up to 100 million will be celebrating across China this Easter weekend. But what it failed to destroy, the Party still wants to control. So, an officially atheist government effectively runs its own churches and controls the appointment of its own priests.


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  • Brief News

Brazil Supreme Court takes over corruption case against former president

The Supreme Court of Brazil ruled Thursday that it will take over the corruption probe against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva instead of returning the case to federal Judge Serio Moro. Senior officials are not immune from prosecution, but can only be tried before the Supreme Court. Judge Sergio Moro has been leading the corruption case relating to the Petrobras scandal and has been accused of unfairly targeting the former president. Current President Dilma Rousseff's appointment of Lula as the former's chief of state has remained in "limbo" for weeks awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court to authorize and lift the injunction that is currently preventing Lula from taking office. Lula's appointment as Chief of State would afford him greater legal protections under Brazilian law, granting the Supreme Court the only institution to authorize an investigation, detention and indictment of a Cabinet member.

Bank of Israel governor defends law to cap finance chiefs' pay

Israel’s parliament enacted a law last week that in effect caps salaries at banks and other financial companies at 2.5 million shekels ($662,000). According to the law, they won’t be able to claim any amount above that as tax deductible. Senior employees are likely to quit the industry to safeguard their retirement packages ahead of the law’s implementation. The nation’s banks are facing a regulatory overhaul which includes the prospects of forced divestitures and increased competition. Lawmakers enacted the salary legislation in response to public anger at income inequality that’s among the highest in developed nations.

Mossack Fonseca leak reveals tax havens

A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They show how it has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax. The documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years. The company says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing. The documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data.

Putin associates linked to 'money laundering'

A suspected money laundering ring involving close associates of Vladimir Putin has been uncovered in a leak of confidential documents in Panama. The billion-dollar operation was run by Bank Rossiya, which is subject to US and EU sanctions following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Documents show how money has been channeled through offshore companies. They suggest Sonnette Overseas, International Media Overseas, Sunbarn and Sandalwood Continental have profited from fake share transactions, bogus consulting deals, uncommercial loans and the purchase of underpriced assets. The documents show that International Media Overseas and Sonnette Overseas were officially owned by one of the Russian president's closest friends.

IMF tells Greece debt leak is 'nonsense'

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has dismissed reports that the body is trying to push Greece towards default as "simply nonsense". "The IMF conducts its negotiations in good faith, not by way of threats, and we do not communicate through leaks," Lagarde wrote in a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Her letter comes after Wikileaks published a transcript of IMF officials discussing bailout negotiations. One says a "crisis" could force a deal. Greece publicly demanded an explanation after the leak, suggesting the comments meant the IMF could be planning to deliberately prolong debt negotiations until the country was close to running out of money.

Nuclear terrorist attack would 'change our world', says Obama

The threat from terrorists trying to launch a nuclear attack that would "change our world" is real, Obama has said. ''There's still a great deal of nuclear and radioactive material around the world that needs to be secured.'' The world has taken "concrete" steps to prevent nuclear terrorism. But the so-called Islamic State (IS) obtaining a nuclear weapon is "one of the greatest threats to global security," he added.

Malware attacks on hospitals put patients at risk

A computer virus that may be an inconvenience for another business leaves hospitals unable to effectively care for patients. Cyberattacks have left 14 US hospitals without access to critical data.

ACLU seeks to unseal docket in Massachusetts iPhone case

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM) filed a motion on Tuesday to request that the federal court unseal any docket sheets associated with a government request to unlock an iPhone in Massachusetts. The ACLUM says no formal applications or orders exist in the docket in connection with the government's request, but that it was referenced in a publicly docketed affidavit filed by an FBI special agent. This suggests, the ACLUM claims, that if documents for the request exist, they are held separately in sealed dockets. The motion argues that these should be unsealed because the public has a First Amendment right to access materials relating to criminal proceedings as well as common law right to access judicial documents. ACLUM conducted research with the national ACLU finding over 60 cases in which the government sought assistance from Apple or Google to unlock electronic devices.

Trump says 'laws are set' on abortion

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said US abortion laws should remain unchanged, although he believes the procedure amounts to murder. In an interview, Trump said: "The laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way". His comments come as Trump has struggled this week to articulate his position on abortion. He withdrew a call for women who have abortions to be punished, only hours after suggesting it. After an outpouring of criticism from both anti-abortion and abortion rights activists, Trump later said only the people who perform abortions should face punishment. The comments end a rocky week for Trump on the campaign trail.

Netherlands to vote on EU-Ukraine trade deal

The Netherlands will vote in a non-binding advisory referendum on Wednesday regarding Dutch ratification of the EU-Ukraine trade agreement. The EU-Ukraine deal will remove trade barriers between the European Union (EU) and the Ukraine. Many Dutch citizens view the EU unfavorably due to its expansion and allegedly "undemocratic decision-making processes." Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated to the press about the deal: "We believe that Ukraine should have both a good relationship with Europe and with Russia. They can not if they are in the European Union."

US asks JPMorgan, Wells Fargo to save records tied to 1MDB

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Wells Fargo & Co. have been asked by US authorities to retain and turn over records that may be related to improper transfers from an embattled Malaysian state fund, The banks facilitated transfers for 1MDB and related entities. Authorities from around the world -- including in the US, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore -- are trying to piece together evidence to determine if some of the billions of dollars that 1MDB raised since 2009 were siphoned out of its coffers and into the personal accounts of politically connected individuals.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Porn and the Threat to Virility

The Jihadi web of Brussels: raids, robberies and recruitment

Business Week
Clippy’s Back: The Future of Microsoft Is Chatbots

The Economist
Chinese politics: Beware the cult of Xi

Der Spiegel
Der furchterlicher Freund (Erdogan)



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