May 2, 2016 nº 1,738 - Vol. 13
 

"It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway."

Teilhard de Chardin

Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica

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  • Top News

Can civil-rights law stop racial discrimination on AirBnb?

Everyone knows that it’s illegal for a hotel such as a Marriott or a Hilton to refuse you a room because of your race. But what about someone who temporarily rents out their own apartment on Airbnb? May he refuse to rent to someone of a particular race? If two people want to rent out the same room, may the landlord prefer a person of one race over another? Moreover, what if the preference is subconscious and a landlord doesn’t even realize she is discriminating? Although Airbnb currently offers more rooms than most major hotel chains, the answers to these questions are far from clear. How might victims of racial discrimination in the sharing economy seek justice, and what would that mean for civil-rights law? Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits discrimination in places of “public accommodation” such as hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas. There is an intuitive argument that Airbnb rentals should qualify as places of public accommodation. After all, they are displacing hotels and serve exactly the same function: providing travelers a place to stay when they are away from home. However, Title II includes an exception for someone renting fewer than five rooms in his own home. This language could be read to exempt Airbnb owners who live in the properties they rent out. But that may only be true if we see each individual Airbnb owner as an individual establishment. The statute could also reasonably be read to treat all of Airbnb as one big public accommodation that provides, without a doubt, more than five rooms. That interpretation might well mean that Airbnb is in violation of Title II. How existing civil-rights law applies to our new sharing economy is far from clear. And as we discuss in our research, there may be other obstacles to legal recourse as well. For example, the Communications Decency Act limits website operators’ responsibility for some kinds of illegal behavior by users. In the end, it may be that our existing civil-rights laws simply need updating — either quickly, through legislative action, or incrementally, through court decisions. But in the meantime, the experiences of people of color make clear that Airbnb rental is just another way in which our society is not yet colorblind.

  • Crumbs

1 - UK nominees for judge at European court of human rights revealed - click here.

2 - U.S. top court declines to block Texas voter identification law - click here.

3 - Supreme Court approves search warrant rule change - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China: Obesity 'explosion' in rural youth

Obesity has rapidly increased in young rural Chinese, a study has warned, because of socioeconomic changes. Researchers found 17% of boys and 9% of girls under the age of 19 were obese in 2014, up from 1% for each in 1985. The study said China's rapid socioeconomic and nutritional transition had led to an increase in energy intake and a decrease in physical activity. The traditional Chinese diet had shifted towards a diet "with high fat, high energy density and low dietary fiber".

China lending inflates real estate, stocks, even egg futures

Beijing’s infusions of cash to support its economy tend to lead to investment bubbles, often in unexpected places, as the commodities market shows.

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  • Brief News

In Europe’s terror fight, police push for access to US tech firms

European counterterrorism officials say American laws and corporate policies are hampering their efforts to prevent the next attack, because legal procedures for getting international evidence from US-based social-media firms are dangerously outdated.

Everyone wants to get tough on antitrust policy, but not really

Markets are now so concentrated and ripe for abuse, and the political will for enforcement so lacking, that our antitrust laws seem increasingly hopeless.

US Supreme Court approves expanded hacking powers

The US Supreme Court has approved a rule change that could allow law enforcement to remotely search computers around the world. Previously, magistrate judges could order searches only within the jurisdiction of their court, often limited to a few counties. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the change was necessary to modernize the law for the digital age. But digital rights groups say the move expands the FBI's hacking authority. The DoJ wants judges to be able to issue remote search warrants for computers located anywhere that the United States claims jurisdiction, which could include other countries. A remote search typically involves trying to access a suspect's computer over the internet to explore the data contained on it. It has pushed for a change in the rules since 2013, arguing that criminals can mask their location and identity online making it difficult to determine which jurisdiction a computer is located in.

Lousiana prisoner freed after serving 41 years unconstitutional sentence

Gary Tyler was released from Louisiana's notorious Angola prison on Saturday after serving 41 years of an unconstitutional life sentence for the death of a white high school student resulting from a racially charged confrontation. Tyler spent eight years of his sentence in solitary confinement in Angola, a prison known for harboring racial tensions and considered among the toughest of the state's prisons. This development comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in January that the unconstitutionality of a life without parole sentence for juvenile offenders is to be applied retroactively. This ruling essentially gave prosecutors a legal avenue to reduce Tyler's sentence with a guilty plea on Friday. Tyler was only 16 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in Southern Louisiana in 1974 for the death of 13-year-old Thomas Weber. The incident occurred as Tyler was passing through an unruly crowd of white students on a bus filled with black students. Police found a gun on the bus and Tyler was charged with capital murder and tried as an adult. At the time, Tyler was the youngest person on Louisiana's death row. Afterward, some of the testifying students recanted their stories, but Tyler never received a new trial despite the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal's recognition that his conviction was "fundamentally unfair." Tyler's death sentence was commuted to life in prison after the state's mandatory death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1976.

Puerto Rico to default on debt payment after talks fail

Puerto Rico has halted a $422m debt payment due on Monday after talks to ease the US territory's crisis ended without a deal. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a televised speech he had issued an executive order suspending payments. He described it as a "painful decision", but had been warning since last year that the island's public debt of more than $70bn was unpayable. The US Congress has tried without success to agree a solution. He acknowledged before the weekend that if the payment was not made, it was likely to spark legal action from creditors. A further debt payment of $1.9bn is due in July.

Germany AfD conference: party adopts anti-Islam policy

The German right-wing party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) has adopted an explicitly anti-Islam policy. Delegates at a party conference adopted a ban on minarets, the call to prayer and the full-face veil, saying Islam was "not part of Germany".

Eletrobras said to ready delayed SEC report with graft loss

Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, the Brazilian state-run utility, has concluded the first phase of an internal investigation into alleged graft and is planning to take a write-down because of corruption when it files its long-delayed US financial statements in mid-May, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The company known as Eletrobras will present the 2014 annual report to its auditor, KPMG LLP, and the board for approval before sending it to the US Securities and Exchange Commission by a May 18 deadline. Eletrobras hired a team of lawyers and specialists to carry out an internal investigation after the 1.4 gigawatt power plant was mentioned during testimony as part of the sweeping investigation known as Carwash, which began at the state-run oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Eletrobras relied on the same group of builders that admitted to paying Petrobras executive bribes in exchange for lucrative construction work. At least six Eletrobras executives have been placed on temporary leave as the team, led by British-American law firm Hogan Lovells and Brazilian firm WFaria Advogados, carries out the probe.

Paris-attack families may face 5-year wait for justice

After a frantic manhunt and a rapid extradition from Belgium, Salah Abdeslam was helicoptered Wednesday into solitary confinement at a high-security jail outside the French capital. But legal experts say families of the victims of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks will now have to wait years before the only surviving suspect goes on trial. “Even in a simple case of armed robbery in a bakery it takes a year to get a verdict,” according to Pascal Jakowlew-Poisson, from the law-enforcement trade union Alternative Police CFDT. Given the complexity of this case, five years could elapse before those responsible for the attacks that left 130 dead in Paris are brought to justice, he said. “Slowness is part of the DNA of France’s justice system,” according to Sophie Obadia, a lawyer in Paris. “Bureaucratic habits take over once the police has done its work. It all takes for ever.” The investigative judges will want to draw up an elaborate architecture of the organization -- leadership, funding and operational role -- to the detriment of speed, according to Obadia. “Who needs to know who bought weapon number two or weapon number four?” “The end result is that rulings are delivered much too long after the facts,” according to Obadia. “The answer comes much too late. It makes no sense. Especially in a context where other terror attacks may take place before any ruling.”

South African court rules Zuma must face corruption charges

A South African court ruled that the decision by prosecutors to drop a corruption case against President Jacob Zuma seven years ago was irrational and should be set aside, opening the way for the 783 charges against him to be reinstated.

Mobile phone roaming charges cut within EU

Consumers using their mobile phones in Europe will see reductions in their bills from Saturday. Further caps are coming into effect on roaming - or connection - charges within all 28 countries of the European Union (EU). From June next year, roaming charges in the EU will be abolished completely.

Judge bans night clubs in Buenos Aires from opening

A judge in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, has banned night clubs from opening until they have set up proper health and safety systems. The judge said city authorities should train up inspectors and security guards to police the clubs. He said little had been done to control the consumption of drugs in clubs. Judge Roberto Gallardo said there was "a landscape of impunity and lack of state control with respect to nocturnal activities". He said that the city government of Buenos Aires should establish a plan of action for its inspectors and police forces to enforce laws prohibiting the consumption in public of drugs.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Havana, Here We Come

Newsweek
Reassessing Paul Mccartney, The Decent—And Insecure—Beatle

Business Week
Yahoo’s $8 Billion Black Hole

The Economist
The prosperity puzzle. The 21st-century economy. How to measure prosperity

Der Spiegel
Warum Frauen laenger leben. Wir Maenner laenger leben koennen.

L'Espresso
Lobby continua

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