July 11, 2016 nº 1,764 - Vol. 13

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

  John Quincy Adams

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  • Top News

No Brexit without free parliamentary vote, UK lawyers urge

The British government must consult Parliament before any decision is made to leave the European Union, more than 1,000 lawyers will urge UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Last month’s historic vote to quit the EU was advisory and not legally binding, the lawyers said in a letter to Cameron to be delivered this week. Lawmakers should be allowed a free vote on an Act of Parliament before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty can be triggered and the two-year timeline to Britain’s exit formally starts, they said. “There is evidence that the referendum result was influenced by misrepresentations of fact and promises that could not be delivered,” wrote Philip Kolvin, the lawyer who coordinated the letter, according to an e-mailed statement. "Since the result was only narrowly in favor of Brexit, it cannot be discounted that the misrepresentations and promises were a decisive or contributory factor in the result." (Click here)

UK government rejects petition for second EU referendum

The UK government on Friday rejected a petition calling for a second referendum vote to prevent the UK from leaving the European Union (EU). The petition achieved 4.1 million signatures, surpassing the 100,000 signature threshold which obligates the UK government to respond. The petition argued that the vote to leave the EU did not achieve a 60 percent majority nor a 75 percent turnout. The Foreign Ministry responded via email that the European Union Referendum Act, as agreed upon by Parliament, states no such threshold requirements. The government response further stressed that the referendum was a "once in a generation" vote and that the government must honor the majority's decision and prepare for the UK's exit from the EU. While the petition may be scheduled for a debate, the Petitions Committee has stated that such a debate could only take place in Westminster Hall and would not have the power of law to actually trigger a second referendum. A decision on the petition has been postponed until July 12 due to an investigation into the petition's rising number of discovered fraudulent signatures.

Senate approves legislation requiring GMO labels on food

In a 63-30 vote, the US Senate approved legislation Thursday requiring food packaging to display genetically-modified organism (GMO) contents using words, pictures or scannable bar codes. If passed in the House, this law would stand as a national standard for displaying GMO contents and replace all state-based GMO packaging laws, including more stringent laws in states like Vermont. The law stipulates the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will decide which ingredients will constitute being genetically modified. This provision has raised concerns from groups, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in particular because some ingredients, including beet sugar and soybean, can be genetically modified but contain little to no genetic material after being processed and so would not fall within the scope of the legislation. However, the USDA was adamant that it would include these and other similar ingredients in its list of GMOs. Others, including Senator Bernie Sanders, expressed concerns that the law is too ambiguous and will lead to confusion. The food industry, though generally a proponent of GMOs, is more accepting of a uniform national standard as opposed to state-based regulations. (Click here)

High court asked to rule on credit-card law

Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking the US Supreme Court to take up a dispute about the constitutionality of a Florida law that has blocked businesses from imposing surcharges on customers who pay with credit cards. A divided 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the longstanding law is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment. The appeals court said Florida allows businesses to offer discounts to customers who pay with cash but does not allow surcharges for credit-card purchases — a situation the majority opinion likened to "distinctions in search of a difference." But in a petition filed last month, Bondi's office asked the US Supreme Court to hear the case. The petition argued that the law deals with a "pricing practice" and is not a free-speech issue. "This (Supreme) Court's intervention is necessary to correct the 11th Circuit's contravention of a well-established axiom of First Amendment law: Regulations of economic conduct do not implicate the First Amendment," the 28-page petition said. "The surcharge statute, by prohibiting a particular pricing practice, is just such a regulation. If allowed to remain, the 11th Circuit's holding to the contrary will obscure the bright line that this (Supreme) Court has drawn between speech and economic conduct and … will cast a First Amendment cloud over a variety of economic regulations."

  • Crumbs

1 - Uefa takes action against Viagogo over illegal Euro 2016 ticket sales - click here.

2 - US tax authorities probe Facebook’s Irish transfers - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

China warns on global economy and says G20 must lead

China's commerce minister says the outlook for the global economy remains grim despite it having overcome the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. Gao Hucheng said at a G20 meeting in Shanghai that major economies must lead the way in tackling problems, including slowing trade and sluggish growth. To boost trade the G20 ministers, from the world's major economies, agreed to cut trade costs, increase policy co-ordination and enhance financing. They also approved a trade growth plan.

China's charm offensive in the foreign media

With a UN court set to rule on China's territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, Chinese ambassadors have been on a flurry of charm offensives in foreign media over the last few months. It is widely expected that the ruling in the case brought by the Philippines will go against China, but that hasn't stopped its ambassadors making a push to convince the world that China is in the right. English-language state media has released cutesy English-language videos discussing the history of the area and has entire website sections dedicated to analysis and discussion of the issue. But over the last few months, Chinese ambassadors across the world have been targeting the foreign press as well, writing signed articles in national newspapers to put forward China's case.

Amnesty: China must end oppression of human rights activists and lawyers

Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday urged Chinese authorities to "end their ruthless assault against human rights lawyers and activists." This call to Chinese officials comes just before the one-year anniversary of a massive police crackdown within the country, which led to the targeting of an estimated 248 activists and lawyers. Of those detained, 17 still remain in custody—the leading charge being "subverting state power." AI alleges that officials are holding activists without counsel or contact to anyone outside. AI has called this, "a clear violation of their rights." The organization also claims Chinese authorities are using the security of family members to hold against the activists.


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  • Brief News

Venezuelans cross into Colombia to buy food

Thousands of people have crossed to Colombia after Venezuela opened their common border to allow its people to buy food and medicine, officials say. The frontier, closed by Venezuela last August as part of a crime crackdown, was to open for 12 hours. Venezuela is going through a deep economic crisis and many say they struggle to feed their families. Last week, about 500 Venezuelan women broke through the border controls in search of food. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the border closure because, he said, the area had been infiltrated by Colombian paramilitaries and gangs. The measure also prevents subsidized goods from being smuggled from Venezuela into Colombia.

UN criticizes Hungary over border controls

Nearly 1,300 migrants are stuck in dire conditions at the Serbia-Hungary border after Hungary blocked their entry, the UN's refugee agency says. The UNHCR criticized Hungary, which said it had deployed 10,000 police and soldiers to seal the border. The agency says it is concerned that migrants are being illegally forced to return from Hungary to Serbia. Serbia's government accused Hungary of breaching international law by returning the migrants.

Russian region 'bans' divorce for one day

A region in north-western Russia has said it won't accept any divorce applications on 8 July, as the country celebrates its version of Valentine's Day. Officials in the Novgorod region say that on Friday they'll be dealing only with people who want to tie the knot - not undo it.

Deutsche Boerse may drop LSE approval levels

Deutsche Boerse says it is considering lowering the approval threshold for its proposed merger with the London Stock Exchange (LSE) from 75%. The German exchange is concerned that the threshold could be hard to reach without its index fund shareholders. They hold up to 15% of its shares but will not be able to accept the offer until the minimum level of acceptances has already been reached. The merger has already been backed overwhelmingly by LSE shareholders. If it goes through, the tie-up will create the world's biggest exchange by revenue, forecast to be €4.7bn ($5.19bn) this year.

Sale of Tata UK steel business on hold

The sale of Tata Steel's UK business is on hold as the company considers a European tie-up, creating further uncertainty for British steelworkers. Tata said it had started talks with "strategic players in the steel industry". They include the German company Thyssenkrupp. Tata said the uncertainty created by Brexit was a factor in its deliberations. The company declared its intention to sell all or part of its UK business in March.

Lawsuit aims at Jeffrey Katzenberg and his dual-class shares

He owns 11.5 percent of DreamWorks Animation but has 60 percent of the shareholder vote, which gives him control in a sale to NBCUniversal.

Investors get stung twice by executives’ lavish pay packages

Shareholders suffer when generous stock grants dilute the value of their stakes, and then again when companies buy back stock to counter that dilution.

Russia expels US diplomats in tit-for-tat row

Russia has expelled two US diplomats from Moscow, after the White House said it had ordered two Russian embassy staff to leave Washington. On Friday, the US State Department said their move came after a Russian policeman attacked a US diplomat near the US embassy in Moscow. That US diplomat has now been expelled from Moscow, along with one other embassy worker. The Kremlin accused the men of being CIA agents. Russia's deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said both US embassy staff were expelled for "activities incompatible with their diplomatic status".

Why high school students need more than college prep

For nearly 70 years, one of the nation's largest student organizations has hammered home this message - teenagers need job skills whether they're headed to college or not. And students are listening.

Apple agrees to pay $25 million settlement in patent infringement case

Apple agreed on Friday to a $25 million settlement with Network-1 Technologies to end a patent infringement claim. The claim involved US Patent No. 6,006,227 (227 Patent), a "document stream operating system" that organizes files chronologically. The original claim involved multiple patents and proceeded to a jury trial in which Mirror Worlds, a subsidiary of Network-1, was awarded $625 million. This award was later overturned, prompting the instant claim also filed by Mirror Worlds regarding only the 227 Patent. The settlement includes more than a payout; Apple will now have a nonexclusive and fully-paid license to use the technology, as well as license to use some of Network-1's other technologies.

Gambia and Tanzania outlaw child marriage

The Gambia and Tanzania announced the end of the practice of child marriage along with prison sentences for those who continue the tradition. Gambian President Yahya Jemmah on Wednesday announced that "as from today, July 6, child marriage is illegal and is banned in The Gambia." He also announced the penalties from violating the practice are steep. The adult spouse will spend 20 years in jail, the parents will spend 21 years in jail, and those who know about child marriage but fail to do anything about it will spend 10 years in jail. He then instructed the Gambian congress to pass a bill by July 21 to outlaw the practice. On Friday, the Tanzanian High Court ruled child marriage was illegal by ruling provisions of the Tanzania Law of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The ruling makes any marriage by anyone under the age of 18 in the country illegal, even with parental consent.

Ten states sue Obama administration over transgender bathroom guidance

Ten additional states, including Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio, have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its directive for schools to allow transgender to use the restroom correlating to their gender identity. The Obama administration, through the Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Justice (DOJ), previously issued a letter informing states that transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, dealing with employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, handling federally funded schools. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson contends that the agencies bypassed necessary procedures in creating new federal regulations. The lawsuit asks for a temporary injunction on enforcing transgender use of restrooms intended by the administration pending the outcome of the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit was brought earlier in May by 11 states.

Goldman Sachs hires former European Commission president

José Manuel Barroso, who was also the former prime minister of Portugal, will serve as an adviser and the chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Rage in Baton Rouge

Dallas Police 'Convinced' Shooter Planned Wider Assault

Business Week
Target’s Future Will Be Decided by Kids

The Economist
Italian banks: The Italian job

Der Spiegel
Urlaub in Angst

Ladri di bambini


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