April 13, 2016 nº 1,731 - Vol. 13

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

 Samuel Beckett

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  • Top News

Brazil legislative committee votes to recommend president's impeachment

A committee in the lower house of the Brazilian legislature voted 38-27 on Monday to recommend the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff over corruption and budget violations before her 2014 re-election. The full lower house must pass the recommendation by a two-thirds majority vote to send the provision to the Senate. The voting committee was set up secretly in December and stacked with proponents of Rousseff's impeachment. Last week the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court ordered the legislature to commence impeachment proceedings against Vice President Michel Temer. In December the Supreme Court of Brazil ruled on two measures to set the stage for impeachment proceedings against Rousseff: one requiring the re-formation of a congressional committee set up to guide Rousseff's impeachment through Congress, and the other giving the Senate power to review a lower house vote for impeachment. Rousseff's opposition claimed that she doctored documents to hide the size of the national deficit in order to spend more government funds as her re-election neared. It is also believed she continued to forge documents in her second term and spent over USD $210 million without the legislature's approval. Rousseff argued that the opposition is trying to impeach her to hinder government actions.

Dilma suffers fresh coalition blow

Another coalition partner of Dilma Rousseff has announced it is quitting, dealing a further blow to her bid to stave off impeachment. The Progressive Party (PP) said most of its 47 MPs would vote for Rousseff to be impeached. Last month the PMDB, the largest party in Brazil's governing coalition, also voted to leave. Rousseff, who faces an impeachment vote in the lower house on Sunday, says her opponents are plotting a "coup". They claim she manipulated accounts to hide Brazil's growing deficit ahead of her election campaign two years ago. She denies this and her supporters say the issue is not valid grounds for impeachment anyway. Earlier on Tuesday, Rousseff suggested that Vice-President Michel Temer was one of the ringleaders of the "coup" attempt against her. She said a widely distributed audio message of Temer appearing to accept replacing her as president, was evidence of the conspiracy. However, she did not identify him by name. "They now are conspiring openly, in the light of day, to destabilize a legitimately elected president," Rousseff said.

Uber wants you to know it's tired of sharing data with regulators

The ride-hailing company released its first transparency report, using the opportunity to criticize the large swaths of data it is required to share with regulators.

  • Crumbs

1 - Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Heads to Copyright Trial - click here.

2 - Deutsche Bank halts North Carolina expansion plans over anti-gay law - click here.

3 - Tax battle over film scheme set for Supreme Court - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

Counting the cost of China’s left-behind children

China has done in a few short decades what it took other countries the best part of a century to complete. And if the pace is extraordinary, then so too is the scale. Britain had a population of around 10 million when its industrial revolution began - China's today, is more than a hundred times that size. In the five years to 2013, China's construction industry poured as much cement and its banks lent as much money as the US did in the whole of the 20th Century. So it should come as no surprise that the social dislocation accompanying this economic upheaval is of a degree that Charles Dickens couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams. And nothing highlights the human cost quite like the issue of China's left behind children. The best current estimate suggests that more than 60 million children are growing up in the Chinese countryside while their parents live and work elsewhere, manning the assembly lines and operating the construction machinery at the heart of China's economic miracle. That's one fifth of all the children in China and, in recent years, the country's state-run media appears to have been given license to discuss the tragic consequences.

China arbitration panel hears first transgender job discrimination suit

A labor arbitration panel in China on Monday opened a hearing in the country's first transgender job discrimination lawsuit, filed by a 28-year-old plaintiff known as Mr. C. C was born as a woman but has considered himself a man since college. C alleges he was fired from a sales job at a health services firm just a few days into the position because the staff said he looked like a lesbian and threatened the company's reputation. The company alleges C was discharged for incompetence. The case is being heralded as China's first transgender job discrimination case. Current laws in China do not allow for the job discrimination based on sexual identity. C is outspoken about the hope that his case will lead to a new anti-job discrimination law in China, or, at a minimum, raise awareness for the rights of transgender individuals to employment. A ruling is expected in C's case by the end of the month.


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  • Brief News

Panama papers: Mossack Fonseca headquarters raided

Police in Panama have raided the headquarters of the law firm at the centre of a massive data leak. Prosecutors said the operation had been carried out at the offices of Mossack Fonseca in Panama City "without incident or interference". The leaked "Panama Papers" have shown how some wealthy people use offshore firms to evade tax and avoid sanctions. The firm has denied wrongdoing. It says it is the victim of a hack and that the information is being misrepresented. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has promised to work with other countries to improve transparency in its offshore financial industry. The attorney general's office said the aim had been "to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities". The statement added that searches would also take place at subsidiaries of the firm.

Brazil's latest headache: ticket sales lag for Rio olympics

The Summer Games open Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, but the country's many problems seem to be turning off ticket buyers in Brazil and abroad.

Goldman Sachs Will Pay $5 Billion For Misleading Investors On Mortgage Assets

US officials say the firm sold mortgage-backed securities based on loans that were a lot riskier than they were supposed to be. (Click here)

Rise of institutional investors raises questions of collusion

Big investors hold large stakes in many companies in the same industry, leading the Justice Department to scrutinize competition and pricing.

European Union calls for big companies to disclose more tax data

The proposed rules, in the works before the Panama Papers leak, are intended in some ways to lift the veil on similar types of corporate secrets.

North Carolina governor wants to change 'anti-gay' law

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has said he wants to make changes to a controversial new state law condemned by business groups, activists and celebrities as anti-gay. The law invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people. It also requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The state's anti-discrimination rules should be strengthened, McCrory said. However he said the restrictions on access to public toilets should remain. Major companies such as Bank of America and Apple have criticized the law and others vowed to curtail their businesses in the state because of it.

Eurozone crisis 'pushing migrants to UK'

The Eurozone jobs crisis is encouraging more southern European migrants to head to the UK to join those from the east, the Migration Observatory has said. Over the past five years the number of EU nationals living in the UK has gone up by almost 700,000 to 3.3 million. The report said 49% of the 700,000 were from Poland and Romania, but Spain, Italy and Portugal accounted for 24%. The Migration Observatory says there is no single "pull factor" but a mixture, including wages and economic prospects. Just over 70% of EU citizens coming to live in the UK for at least a year say they are coming to work, with more than half of them already having a job to start. The research team at Oxford University said it had tried to identify the domestic and international triggers behind migration from the EU over the past five years.

IMF: EU exit could cause severe damage

The UK's exit from the European Union could cause "severe regional and global damage", the International Monetary Fund has warned in its latest outlook. A so-called "Brexit" would disrupt established trading relationships and cause "major challenges" for both the UK and the rest of Europe, it said. The IMF said the referendum had already created uncertainty for investors and a vote to exit would only heighten this. Vote Leave said the IMF had been "consistently wrong" in past forecasts.

Venezuela's Supreme Court overturns amnesty bill

Venezuela's Supreme Court has overturned an amnesty for jailed opposition leaders approved by the opposition-controlled parliament. About 70 activists opposed to President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government had been due for release under the law approved last month. But the court declared the amnesty law unconstitutional. Maduro had condemned the law as an attempt to destabilize his leadership of the country. The Supreme Court has consistently backed the Venezuelan government since the opposition triumphed in congressional elections in December. In a statement, the court said the amnesty law was unconstitutional because it covered offences "that are acts of organized crime, which are not related to crimes of a political nature".

Zika virus 'scarier than thought' says US

The Zika virus is "scarier" than first thought and its impact on the US could be greater than predicted, public health officials have admitted. A wider range of birth defects has been linked to the virus. And the mosquitoes that carry the virus could travel to more US states than previously thought. The current Zika outbreak began almost a year ago in Brazil. It has been linked to thousands of birth defects there and has spread widely through the Americas.

Uber launches motorbike service in Jakarta

Uber has launched a motorbike taxi service in Jakarta, to offer commuters an alternative for getting around the usually congested Indonesian capital. The app-based car-hire service joins rivals Grab and GoJek, who already have established similar services. Thousands of taxi drivers protested recently in the Indonesian capital against transport apps. The drivers said ride-hailing apps such as Uber have made it impossible for them to earn a living in the city.

Kerry defends free trade deals

The US Secretary of State John Kerry has delivered a staunch defence of free trade in a speech in California. He said the economic and strategic case for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was "overwhelming". The TPP is a sweeping multinational trade deal, designed to deepen economic ties between 12 countries in the Americas, Asia and Australasia. Opponents of TPP, including Kerry's predecessor Hillary Clinton, have warned it will hurt American workers.

Al-Jazeera America prepares farewell broadcast

Al-Jazeera America, the news network that was backed by the ruling family of Qatar and struggled to gain traction in the US, will sign off for good after a three-hour farewell broadcast on Tuesday.

Tennesse Senate passes bill allowing counselors to turn away patients based on religious and personal beliefs

A bill in Tennessee that will allow mental health counselors to turn away patients based on the counselors' religious beliefs passed on Monday. In February the Senate passed the bill that allowed counselors to turn away patients based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Tennessee State House of Representatives passed the bill 68-22 with the amendment that counselors could turn away patients based on the "sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist." This amendment however will not allow therapists to turn away people who are in imminent danger or harming themselves or others.

Federal appeals court dismisses challenge to Utah polygamy ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Monday threw out a constitutional challenge to Utah's anti-bigamy laws. The lawsuit was brought in 2011 by the family from TLC's reality TV show Sister Wives after their polygamous relationship was threatened by a county prosecutor under the state's bigamy law. The court determined that because the Utah County Attorney's Office had adopted a policy under which the family was under no threat of prosecution, the suit was therefore moot. The appeals court remanded the case to the district court and ordered them to dismiss the suit without prejudice.


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