August 3, 2016 nº 1,773 - Vol. 13
 

"Consistency is the quality of a stagnant mind."

 John Sloan

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

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  • Top News

Student-loan defaulters in a standoff with Federal Government

There is more than seven million Americans in default on their loans, many of them effectively in a standoff with the government. These borrowers have gone at least a year without making a payment—ignoring hundreds of phone calls, emails, text messages and letters from federally hired debt collectors. Borrowers in long-term default represent about 16% of the roughly 43 million Americans with student debt, now totaling $1.3 trillion across the US, and their numbers have continued to climb despite the expanding labor market. Their failure to repay—in many cases due to low wages or unemployment, in other cases due to outright protest at what borrowers see as an unfair system—threatens to leave taxpayers on the hook for $125 billion, the total amount they owe. In the case of homeowners, though, foreclosures offered a chance to start fresh and slowly rebuild their lives. There is generally no such option for student debtors—federal law prohibits them from expunging their debts in bankruptcy, except in extremely rare circumstances. The Obama administration says it can help borrowers get back on track with programs that slash their monthly payments and forgive a portion of their balances, if only they would respond. The administration is also working to expand a program that forgives debt for borrowers who can prove their schools defrauded them with deceptive advertising claims. And in a controversial move, the government has stepped up garnishments of borrowers’ wages. It garnished $515 million in the nine months through March, federal figures show.

Economic anxiety weighs on US corporate earnings

America’s biggest companies logged a fourth straight quarter of shrinking profits and tepid sales, as weakness from energy companies and lower business investment more than offset US consumer strength.

UK lawmakers urge more action on migrant crisis

Britain’s government should do more to resettle Syrian refugees as well as strengthen border controls to clamp down on people smuggling as part of Europe’s migrant crisis, an influential committee of UK lawmakers said in a report due to be published Wednesday. (Click here)

  • Crumbs

1 - U.S. court puts Brazil's Petrobras class action on hold - click here.

2 - Mitsubishi scandal probe finds unrealistic goals, conflicts - click here.

3 - China court warns against illegal fishing in riposte to South China Sea ruling - click here.

4 - Microsoft sells $20bn of debt to fund LinkedIn deal - click here.

5 - NHS can fund 'game-changing' PrEP HIV drug, court says - click here.

6 - Bavaria to sue VW over state pension fund losses - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Chinese activist found guilty of subversion

Chinese rights activist Zhai Yanmin has been found guilty of subverting state power after a one-day trial in Tianjin. Zhai was among 300 lawyers and activists arrested since July last year as part of a crackdown on legal activism - about 20 are still detained. In the first trial since the crackdown, he was given a three-year suspended prison sentence. The cases have provoked international criticism and accusations they are politically motivated.

China releases human rights lawyer

Chinese authorities released a prominent human rights lawyer from detention on Monday. Wang Yu was released on bail after confessing to "subverting state power" and rejecting awards from the American Bar Association and Ludovic Trarieux Prize for her work defending human rights, saying that they were intended to "blacken the reputation of the Chinese government." The televised confession alleged that "foreign forces" trained her and her colleagues to attack and smear the government of China. Yu's colleagues claim that she would never say such things unless she were put under extreme pressure. Yu was detained over a year ago during China's "crackdown" on the legal and human rights activist community.

China, not Silicon Valley, is cutting edge in mobile tech

American tech companies study Chinese users and apps as a smartphone revolution changes how people interact, buy products and manage their money.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Competencia

El organismo antimonopolio de México impuso una multa de $ 72 mlls. - US$ 4, 8 mlls- a las empresas japonesas Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) y Denso Corporation, por coludir para manipular el precio de compresores para aire acondicionado de automóviles. (Presione aquí)

Transporte

Las empresas TransCanada, Sierra Oil & Gas y Grupo TMM ponen en marcha un proyecto de US$ 800 mlls. para la construcción en México de infraestructura para el transporte y almacenamiento de petrolíferos para distribución en el centro del país. El proyecto contempla la construcción de una terminal marítima en Tuxpan, en el estado sureño de Veracruz, así como un poliducto de 265 kilómetros y una terminal de almacenamiento y reparto (TAR) que se ubicará en la región central de México, dijeron las empresas en un comunicado conjunto.

Bancos

Cuatro bancos quedaron en la carrera por el negocio minorista del Citibank en la Argentina, de ocho grupos financieros interesados. Se trata de los bancos Galicia y Macro de capitales argentinos y los españoles Santander y BBVA-Francés. Por lo que trascendió, las ofertas llegan hasta los US$ 250 mlls. El Citigroup confirmó, el 18/2, su decisión de abandonar sus operaciones minorista en Argentina, Brasil y Colombia. Y a fines de abril, hubo una ronda de ofertas informales no vinculantes que los interesados acercaron a la entidad financiera. Luego el banco concretó una preselección. En ese momento quedaron atrás el banco chino ICBC, el anglo chino, HSBC y el brasileño Itaú.

  • Brief News

Texas professors sue over new law allowing guns on campus

Texas’ new law allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms, buildings and dorms has barely started and already faces a legal challenge seeking to block it before students return for the fall semester. Three professors at the University of Texas sued July 6 to overturn the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and is forcing colleges to impose “dangerously-experimental gun policies.” The 50,000-student Austin campus has been a flashpoint of opposition to the law among faculty and students. Texas has allowed licensed concealed handguns in public since 1995 but had previously made college buildings off limits.

Supreme Court could redefine insider trading law

The court will decide what benefit must be provided to prove a quid pro quo arrangement, and it could take insider trading law in a new direction.

Delaware Supreme Court rules death penalty law unconstitutional

Delaware's Supreme Court has ruled that the state's death penalty is unconstitutional. The high court said on Tuesday the law violated the role of jury described in the Sixth Amendment of US Constitution. The Delaware state law gave judges - not juries - the final say to impose a death sentence. The decision comes after the US Supreme Court ruled in January that a similar death penalty law in Florida was unconstitutional. Delaware, Florida and Alabama were the only states that gave judges the final say to issue a death sentence, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Delaware is one of 32 states with capital punishment. There are currently 14 people on death row in Delaware and the state held its last execution in 2012.

Illegal in Massachusetts: asking your salary in a job interview

A recently-passed pay equity law requires Commonwealth employers to pay men and women equally for comparable work. It also prohibits them from asking candidates about their salary history as part of the screening process or during an interview.

U.A.E. plans to seek credit rating once debt law is issued

The United Arab Emirates will seek a sovereign credit rating and tap the bond market soon after authorities approve a long-awaited federal debt law. The U.A.E. aims to finalize the law by the end of the year. The measure has been under discussion for several years. Without a debt law, sovereign bond sales in the second-biggest Arab economy are restricted to the seven local governments making up the U.A.E., including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The central bank may sell as much as 100 billion dirhams ($27.2 billion) in bonds after the law is approved.

Aetna’s Obamacare reversal is latest blow to US health law

Aetna Inc., facing more than $300 million in losses from Affordable Care Act health plans this year, may exit Obamacare markets in some states as challenges to the health-care overhaul pile up. While the health insurer has yet to leave any states in which it now sells Obamacare programs, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said Aetna is evaluating its participation by market and will start making decisions in coming weeks. The company, which covers 838,000 people through Obamacare, is halting a planned expansion of those offerings in new states for next year. “We’ve got to be able to cover the costs associated with providing the care,” Bertolini said in an interview.

North Korea fires ballistic missile into Japanese waters

North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile which travelled 1,000km (620 miles) before landing in Japanese waters, the South and Japan say. The North is barred from developing nuclear and ballistic missile technology by UN resolution. But it had vowed a "physical response" to the US and Seoul's plan to deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea. It has carried out repeated launches in recent months. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it posed a grave threat to Japan's security, calling it an "unforgiveable act of violence". He said Tokyo had protested strongly against it. The US similarly condemned the launch.

Australia condones asylum seeker abuse, say rights groups

Two leading international campaign groups claim the Australian government has a deliberate policy of ignoring abuse of asylum seekers. Australia transports asylum seekers who arrive by boat to off-shore processing centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International conducted extensive interviews on Nauru and said Australia had condoned severe abuse there. Australia's government said it was not given a chance to address the claims.

India parliament to vote on key GST bill

India's parliament is due to vote on the much-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill on Wednesday. The bill seeks to streamline India's fragmented tax system with a single levy. Indian businesses have been lobbying for the single tax rate as it would reduce costs, particularly for shipping goods across state borders. Analysts say the move could boost India's economic growth by up to 2 percentage points. If the bill is passed in the parliament, India's states will have to pass further laws to determine the rate and scope of the tax.

South Korea suspends sale of 80 Volkswagen models

South Korea has suspended sales of 80 Volkswagen models and fined the German carmaker over allegations the firm rigged emissions test data. Volkswagen will be fined 17.8bn Korean won ($16m), in addition to a 14bn won fine from last year, the ministry of environment said. South Korea's environment ministry also revoked certification for an additional 83,000 cars, bringing the total number of cars de-certified to more than 200,000. Europe's largest carmaker admitted last year that it had falsified emissions data in its diesel vehicles. The firm has since suffered a global setback in sales and reputation.

AIG to buy back $3bn in shares as pressure mounts for break-up

American International Group (AIG), the US insurance giant, has revealed plans to buy back $3bn in shares as it fights calls to break itself up. The insurance firm reported a better-than-expected $1.9bn net income for the second quarter, up from $1.8bn for the same period last year and ending three consecutive quarters of losses. The results showed "strong improvement", it said. AIG has been under pressure to break up to improve profitability.

Judge allows Trump University case to go to trial

The federal judge who has come under fire from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday refused to throw out a civil case alleging fraud at Trump University.

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