December 5, 2016 nº 1,818 - Vol. 13

"Those of you who think that you know everything are particularly annoying to those of us who do."

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  • Top News

California may make it harder to secretly bankroll someone else's lawsuit

Bankrolling other people's court fights dates to the Dark Ages, when it was a favorite tactic of noblemen who wanted to harass their enemies. In recent years litigation funding has become a multibillion-dollar industry as investors have quietly fronted the costs of civil suits in exchange for a piece of any eventual monetary awards. The billionaire investor Peter Thiel turned the practice into a tool of revenge this year, surreptitiously paying for pro wrestler Hulk Hogan's privacy suit against the website Gawker, which published a Hogan sex tape. The case went to trial and ended with a $140 million jury verdict that pushed the site into bankruptcy. Thiel subsequently said he got involved because of a 2007 Gawker story outing him as gay. Federal judges in California may be about to deal the business a serious blow. In June the rules committee of the US District Court in San Francisco proposed that any party to a lawsuit filed in the jurisdiction would have to disclose any financial support from third-party sources known as litigation funders. The next step is for the full court to consider the question. The US Chamber of Commerce, which has called litigation funding a grave threat to the civil justice system, and other pro-business advocates contend that letting judges, lawyers, and parties know who's footing the bill will help avoid hidden conflicts of interest or frivolous suits. Disclosure will "aid in the identification of potential ethical issues and thereby protect the integrity of the judicial process," the chamber's Institute for Legal Reform said in 2014. The loosely regulated funding industry came under scrutiny after UK-based funder Burford Capital and other litigation financiers helped plaintiffs win a multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorean court. The oil giant convinced a judge in New York in 2014 that the case was the product of a racketeering conspiracy involving bribery, coercion, and fabricated evidence. Burford wasn’t implicated in the wrongdoing.

US lawmaker introduces constitutional amendment to eliminate electoral college

US Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced a constitutional amendment Thursday that proposes eliminating the electoral college and allowing for direct election of the president and vice president. This proposal comes after Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by at least 2.5 million, but lost the electoral college and presidency to Donald Trump. Cohen further elaborated: "When the Founders established the electoral college, it was in an era of limited nationwide communication. It was premised on a theory that citizens would have a better chance of knowing about electors from their home states than about presidential candidates from out-of-state. The development of mass media and the internet, however, has made information about presidential candidates easily accessible to US citizens across the country and around the world. Today, citizens have a far better chance of knowing about out-of-state presidential candidates than knowing about presidential electors from their home states. Most people don't even know who their electors are." In order for the constitutional amendment to succeed there would need to be two-thirds approval in both the House and Senate, and 38 of the 50 states would also need the approve the amendment. (Click here)

  • Crumbs

1 - Senior judges prepare to hear Brexit supreme court appeal - click here.

2 - Scotland to raise age of criminal responsibility to 12 years - click here.

3 - Draft law gives Chinese police control of online discussion on disasters - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

Shenzhen-Hong Kong trading kicks off

Investors in Hong Kong can buy stocks on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and vice-versa from today, following the official launch of the Shenzhen - Hong Kong trading link. The link was supposed to launch at the end of last year, but was delayed due to Chinese market volatility. Shenzhen has been promoted as a hub for technology and its stock market has been linked to the US-based Nasdaq. As a result, foreigners will be able to trade shares in almost 900 firms.

China clears man 21 years after execution

A Chinese man has had his conviction for rape and murder overturned, 21 years after he was executed. Nie Shubin was killed by firing squad in 1995 at the age of 20 after being found guilty of killing a woman in Shijiazhuang, in Hebei province. The supreme court ruled that the facts used in Nie's trial were "unclear and the evidence insufficient". Chinese courts have a conviction rate of more than 99%. The official number of executions are a state secret, but is believed to be in the thousands every year. Rights groups allege that confessions used in court are forced or extracted under torture. It is highly unusual for convictions to be overturned.

Obama moves to block Chinese acquisition of a German chip maker

Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese deal to buy a high-tech company, Aixtron a German semiconductor company, on national security grounds. The White House’s intervention could set the stage for President-elect Donald Trump to take a tougher stance on foreign deals.


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  • Brief News

Jill Stein to bring Pennsylvania recount petition to federal court

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said Sunday that she and her campaign intend to "escalate" her recount efforts in Pennsylvania by bringing a lawsuit in federal court. Stein had filed suit in the state court, but the Pennsylvania case law requires voters seeking a recount to pay a $1 million bond. Stein and her campaign intend to file the suit on Monday, saying "the judge's outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation." The third-party candidate was also emphatic that the recount was necessary because elected leaders have not ensured "an election that we can trust, and that is accurate, that is secure against hacking, against human error, against machine error, and in which the votes are being counted." Stein has raised more than $6.5 million for the recount and some believe Stein is using recount donations as a fundraising scheme for future elections, though Stein denied these allegations.

Brazil sees big anticorruption marches

Tens of thousands of Brazilians have joined street protests against a vote which they say threatens to undermine a major anti-corruption investigation. Demonstrators were angry after the lower house of Congress on Tuesday passed a number of amendments to a landmark anti-corruption bill. Organizers say politicians have tried to intimidate the investigators. Politicians, who are themselves being investigated, watered down the proposal, protesters say. Controversially, they included in the bill the prospect of harsh punishment for judges and prosecutors who abuse their powers. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate before it becomes law.

UK Supreme Court to hear government appeal over Brexit powers

The Supreme Court will begin a landmark legal hearing on Monday into whether Parliament's consent is required before official Brexit negotiations can begin. Its 11 justices will hear a government appeal against last month's High Court ruling that only Parliament has the authority to trigger Article 50. The hearing is expected to last four days, but the verdict is not due until next year. The outcome will have implications for Theresa May's strategy for EU exit.

Airbnb won't pursue legal case against New York over rental law

Airbnb Inc. agreed to drop a lawsuit against New York City over recently enacted legislation that will fine hosts there for listing many common short-term rentals.

PM Matteo Renzi resigns after clear referendum defeat

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after suffering a heavy defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution. Matteo Renzi's staked his political future on his attempt to change Italy's cumbersome political system. He wanted to strengthen central government and weaken the Senate, the upper house of parliament. His opponents - including some within his own party - had argued that the reforms would give the prime minister too much power. The electorate agreed. The No camp must now make clear proposals. Italy wakes up on Monday to the threat of a banking crisis, political turmoil, and a group of anti-establishment populists banging on the doors of government. Italy is the euro currency's third largest economy and it's in for a bumpy ride. And there are more unpredictable votes to come in 2017: in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Chile court rejects war crimes suit against Israel justices

A court in Chile on Saturday rejected a war crimes lawsuit filed against three justices on the Israeli Supreme Court who authorized the construction of a security wall for the Israeli settlements in the West bank. The lawsuit was filed in Chile under universal jurisdiction principles because the impacted landowners lived in Chile. However the court rejected the lawsuit in part due to the fact that Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute and as a result is not subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The Palestine Federation of Chile helped bring the lawsuit and has promised to appeal the decision to the supreme court of Chile.

US Senate unanimously approves Iran sanctions

The US Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to pass the Iran Sanctions Act, which would extend economic sanctions against companies doing business with Iran for 10 more years. Originally approved in 1996, the extended bill was passed onto the Senate with only one vote against it from the House in November.

Trump to punish 'job traitor' firms

US President-elect Donald Trump says he will impose punitive taxes on US firms that move manufacturing overseas. He promised a 35% tax on products sold in the US by any business that fired American workers, and built a factory elsewhere. Firms should be "forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake", he said. Trump has promised to help blue-collar workers, as well as reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. "The US is going to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the US without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!", the Republican tweeted. "There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies wanting to sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border," he went on.

'Fagin's Law' to target crime ringleaders in Australia

Adults who groom children into committing crimes will face up to 10 years in jail under proposed new laws in Australia. The so-called Fagin's Law would target those "procuring young people to commit offences" in the state of Victoria. The name refers to the fictional ringleader of child pickpockets in Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. The crackdown comes after a series of crimes committed by young people in the state.

US security advisors recommend moving away from private prisons for immigration detainees

The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) on Thursday suggested to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that the government should move away from housing immigration detainees in private prisons. At the behest of Johnson, an HSAC subcommittee reviewed such use of prisons and developed a report concluding that private prisons are the only realistic way to temporarily house those arrested on immigration-related charges. When the report was presented to the greater HSAC body, however, the group voted to dissent from the subcommittee's finding, voting instead to encourage the gradual move away from private prisons. As moving away from private prisons is expected to be a slow process, Johnson is expected to use the report and dissent while working with the Trump administration on reform. US immigration law continues to be a controversial and heavily politicized area of law at both the state and federal levels.

Uber indicted in Denmark for violating taxi laws

The European wing of Uber was indicted in Denmark on Friday on charges of assisting drivers in their violation of taxi laws, although Copenhagen prosecutor Vibeke Thorkil-Jensen stated that this is just a test case seeking judicial assessment of Uber's involvement in the illegal acts of two of its drivers. One Uber driver was convicted and fined USD $855 last month for violating taxi laws while another was sentenced for failing to appear in court. This is the first time Uber, as a corporate entity, has been indicted in Denmark. The Copenhagen prosecutor is seeking a fine of USD $4,300. (Click here)

US financial technology start-ups to get a license to bank

So-called fintech companies, which take deposits, make electronic payments or lend money, will be able to apply for bank charters from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Supreme Court to review Lexmark's power to prevent resale of toner cartridges

The Supreme Court said it would review Lexmark International’s power to prevent third-party companies from refilling and reselling patented toner cartridges initially sold by the printer manufacturer.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

How Castro Will Be Trump’s First Foreign Policy Test

PM Matteo Renzi to Resign After Italian Referendum's Stinging Defeat

Business Week
Confessions of an Instagram Influencer

The Economist
The dollar and the world economy: The mighty dollar

Der Spiegel
Football leaks: die Geldmeister

Referendum a schema libero


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