November 16, 2016 nº 1,812 - Vol. 13

"Epitaph for a dead waiter - God finally caught his eye."

George S. Kaufman

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  • Top News

US House committee agrees to release information for SEC insider trading investigation

The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, as well as an ex-staff member, reached an agreement to provide requested material to the SEC in relation to an insider trading investigation. New York district judge Paul Gardephe ordered the government authorities to comply with subpoenas issued by the SEC last year. The subpoenas asked for documents and information from members of the committee and from Brian Sutter, a top congressional health care aide, to assist in its insider trading investigation relating to leaked information about Medicare reimbursement rates within the government. The agreement set a protocol for the SEC to review the documents it sought, and in exchange the House panel would dismiss the appeal of Gardephe's 2015 ruling. The enforcement of securities regulations continues to be a major concern in the US. In October the SEC established new liquidation risk management rules for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that require the industry to establish programs that protect shareholders in the event that investors suddenly sell off their assets.

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Hong Kong pro-independence lawmakers disqualified from office

Hong Kong's high court has disqualified two pro-independence lawmakers from taking their seats in parliament. Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching altered their oaths to insult China, and promote Hong Kong's independence from China, when being sworn in last month. Beijing pre-empted the court judgement, ruling last week that legislators who did not take their oath in a solemn way would be disqualified from office. Critics called the intervention a violation of Hong Kong's rule of law.

Getting divorced to afford a home

The property market in parts of China is so inflated that young couples are getting divorced to get around new rules restricting families to just one home. Restrictions in Shanghai and other major cities were introduced to try to take heat out of demand. But there was a rush of couples at government offices who got divorced - under false pretense - so they were able to buy a second property.

Suit says Glaxo's conduct led to couple's imprisonment in China

Two former corporate investigators sued GlaxoSmithKline on Tuesday, alleging that the drug maker hired them under false pretenses that led the pair to be imprisoned in China.


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  • Brief News

Obama warns of rise of 'crude nationalism'

Obama has warned of a "rise in a crude sort of nationalism" following the Brexit and US presidential votes. Speaking in Greece on his final foreign trip, he said: "We have to guard against... tribalism built around an 'us' or a 'them'." He said the US was painfully aware of the danger of divisions "along lines of race or religion or ethnicity". He also put the victory of Donald Trump down to "the view of the American people to just shake things up". "At times of significant stress, people are going to be looking for something and they may opt for change even if they are not entirely confident what that change will bring."

Trump denies transition disarray after sackings

US President-elect Donald Trump has defended his handling of the transition to the White House, amid reports of disarray in his team. He tweeted that the process of selecting his new cabinet and other positions was "very organized". US media say two senior members of the transition team working on national security have been forced out.

French emergency law likely to be extended

France's emergency law is likely to be extended beyond January because of risks linked to next year's presidential elections, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. The measures, which give police greater powers to carry out searches and detain suspects, were enacted after the Nov. 13, 2015 attacks by Islamic State militants that left 130 dead in and around Paris. They were extended for six months in July. "Every week, we make arrests, we dismantle networks," Valls said. "It will take time but we will win this war."

Trump's effort to gut Dodd-Frank law may spare whistle-blowers

Trump, who has vowed to tear down six years of financial regulation, may spare the whistle-blowers. Two Republican lawmakers with sway in the Trump camp, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, have voiced support for programs meant to reward workers who bring allegations of governmental wrongdoing to US officials. That gives recent whistle-blower rules a degree of political cover that doesn’t necessarily extend to other financial regulations made possible by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. "My sense is that unless there's a complete repeal of Dodd-Frank, the whistle-blower statute will survive," said Jill Rosenberg, an expert on employment law and a partner at the Orrick law firm in New York. "There's been bipartisan support for the bounty program. It hasn't been attacked like regulatory aspects" of the law. What's less clear is whether the programs will keep their current form or support.

Obama blames failure to close Guantanamo on congressional restrictions

US President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged the difficulties he has encountered trying to shut down the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, blaming his failure on congressional restrictions. On his second day in office in 2009, Obama issued Executive Order 13492, which ordered that prisoners be removed from Guantanamo and the facility be closed within a year, but this vision has still not been achieved after almost eight years in office. Speaking at a press conference before an international trip Monday, Obama said, "it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing because of the congressional restrictions that have been placed on us." The president has, however, reduced the population of the facility to "significantly less than a hundred people."

Egypt court overturns former president's death sentence

Egypt's Court of Cassation on Tuesday overturned the death sentences of former President Mohamed Morsi and five fellow leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. During the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, Morsi allegedly conspired with Hamas and Hezbollah militants to break himself and fellow Brotherhood members out of Wadi Natroun prison. In 2015, following the ousting of Morsi and his political party, a court sentenced the former president and more than 100 others to death for organizing the prison break that resulted in the destruction of prison property and the murder and kidnapping of its guards. (Click here)

Police name Jakarta governor as blasphemy suspect

Indonesian police have named Jakarta's governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as a suspect in a blasphemy investigation. Popularly known as "Ahok", he is accused of insulting the Koran while campaigning in governorship elections. Purnama is a Christian from the Chinese ethnic minority and the first non-Muslim to lead the city. The case has prompted fears of a rise in tensions in the largely Muslim country.

Cuba pardons 787 inmates after Pope's call for mercy

Cuba has pardoned 787 prisoners in response to a call by Pope Francis to consider granting inmates amnesty. Those pardoned include female, young and sick prisoners but not those who have committed "extremely dangerous" crimes such as murder or rape.

Hundreds of hate attacks recorded in US since election

A US hate-attack monitoring group has documented 437 cases of intimidation and abuse towards minorities since the general election a week ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said that evidence of a nationwide surge in such incidents is "anecdotal but not a fantasy". The nonprofit group said many of the attacks were linked to supporters of President-elect Donald Trump. It comes after the FBI reported a 67% rise in anti-Muslim bigotry last year. SPLC said it has created an online form for victims to report hate attacks. It added that it was also monitoring social media and news reports of hate incidents.

Amazon sues sellers for offering fake goods on its site Inc. this week filed lawsuits targeting sellers allegedly listing counterfeit goods on its website, publicly cracking down on an issue that has caused increasing friction. (Click here)

Trump looks to put his stamp on the Courts

The vacancy on the US Supreme Court may be the most talked-about empty seat in the federal judiciary, but dozens more await Donald Trump and his White House throughout the lower courts. Federal investigations with ties to public officials probably will move forward in the Trump administration, although the types of cases that the US Justice Department will pursue over the longer term is more uncertain.

IMF sees slow recovery in Brazil, warns of risks ahead

The International Monetary Fund's executive board said on Tuesday the Brazilian economy could be close to pulling out of a grueling recession, but faces a long and bumpy recovery that hinges on the approval of unpopular reforms. In its considerations of the IMF staff's annual report on Brazil, the executive board said that despite the new government's efforts to avoid a fiscal crisis they expected a gradual recovery in Latin America's top economy. "Directors strongly emphasized the need for fiscal consolidation to ensure macroeconomic stability," the IMF said in a statement. Disappointing industrial output and consumption data has diminished hopes of a faster recovery next year with some government officials scaling back their 2017 growth projections to 1 percent from 2 percent. The IMF is even more pessimistic with a forecast of 0.5 percent growth next year after two straight years of contractions.

Tracking malware behind fake social media 'likes'

Malicious software lurking in unprotected wi-fi routers is feeding the illicit online market for fake social media "likes". The "stealthy" Linux/moose botnet has one goal: infecting connected devices with malware in order to create and sell social media credibility. Researchers have been tracking the botnet since 2015. Now they have new research into what they call the "ego market" for fake online fame the botnet is feeding. Accounts of aspiring celebrities and models, small businesses, and online retailers are those typically buying batches of "likes" openly advertised for sale online. Average people are also paying to inflate their social media presence. There are a lot, a lot, a lot of just common people looking for fame. Creating fake social media accounts that then like and follow other accounts is not illegal but it goes against the terms of service of social media networks like Instagram. The purchase of Facebook and Instagram likes and Twitter followers is openly advertised online. What's illegal and criminal is doing it through a botnet, through infected devices.


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