August 21, 2017 nº 1,898 - Vol. 14

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

Mark Twain

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  • Top News

The Teamsters' Impunity

A legal loophole gives organized labor a license to threaten. Federal prosecutors say members of Boston's Teamsters Local 25 demanded jobs at the "Top Chef" cable-TV show, and when they didn't get them, they showed up on set in June 2014 and threatened and roughed up the staffers. But last week a jury found the four Teamsters members not guilty of extortion, thanks to a legal loophole that lets unions get away with behavior that would likely land nonmembers behind bars. At trial in federal court, several witnesses described the Teamsters' tactics. Remarkably, while the union members denied guilt, they didn't dispute that they'd behaved aggressively. Defense attorney Oscar Cruz told us that while some of the testimony was exaggerated, his client, Daniel Redmond, had engaged in "typical picket-line conduct, which is oftentimes not very politically correct." Instead, the defense relied largely on a 1973 Supreme Court decision that effectively creates an extortion carve-out for organized labor. US v. Enmons established that union members could not be investigated or prosecuted under the Hobbs Act as long as they are carrying out "legitimate union business." Since that ruling, several states have created their own organized-labor exemptions for behavior that might typically qualify as criminal..The Freedom From Union Violence Act, which would have closed the loophole in federal law, has repeatedly failed to gain momentum in Congress, most recently stalling in 2015. That same year, in response to some egregious union intimidation in Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania passed legislation ending an exemption that shielded unions from prosecution for stalking, harassment and violent threats during labor disputes. When unions can resort to mafia tactics with impunity, why risk it?


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  • MiMIC Journal

US to review China intellectual property policies

The US has formally launched an investigation into China's policies regarding intellectual property. The top US trade official, Robert Lighthizer, said his office had "determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation". China has voiced "serious concern" over the inquiry, which could result in US trade sanctions. The annual cost to the US economy from counterfeit goods, pirated software and theft of trade secrets has been estimated at up to $600bn.

Chinese 'cyber-court' launched for online cases

China has launched a digital "cyber-court" to help deal with a rise in the number of internet-related claims. The Hangzhou Internet Court opened on Friday and heard its first case - a copyright infringement dispute between an online writer and a web company. Legal agents in Hangzhou and Beijing accessed the court via their computers and the trial lasted 20 minutes. The court's focus will be civil cases, including online shopping disputes. Judges were sworn in and the first case was presented on a large screen in the courtroom. (Click here)


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  • Brief News

Turkey's Erdogan says German leaders are enemies

Erdogan has called Germany's ruling politicians "enemies of Turkey" who deserve to be rejected by German-Turkish voters. Germany will hold a general election on 24 September, and about one million ethnic Turks living in Germany can vote. A majority of them backed Erdogan in an April referendum. "The Christian Democrats, SPD, the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey," he said. German ministers protested angrily. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Mr Erdogan's comments were an "unprecedented" act of interference in Germany's sovereignty.

US-S Korea hold divisive military drills

Pyongyang has already lashed out at the annual drills, saying they were "adding fuel to the fire".

Indian court grants woman divorce over lack of home toilet

An Indian woman has been granted permission to divorce her husband because he would not build a toilet in their home. The woman in her 20s had been married for five years, but had been forced to relieve herself in nearby fields. Indian law only allows divorce in limited circumstances such as domestic violence or proven cruelty. The woman's lawyer said that the judge said forced open defecation was a form of torture. The court, in the state of Rajasthan, said that women are often forced to wait until dark to travel to the open fields used instead of toilets. (Click here)

Bid to end Polanski case fails

A court in Los Angeles has refused a plea by a sex-abuse victim of the film director Roman Polanski to have the 40 year-old rape case dismissed. Samantha Geimer, who is now 54, had told the Los Angeles Superior Court she had forgiven him and wanted to move on. But the judge ruled that her testimony was evidence of the damage done to her, and that Polanski had to face justice. "As eloquently described by Geimer, his conduct continues to harm her and compounds the trauma of the sexual assault committed against her that gave rise to this case," the Judge said.

Venezuela's pro-Maduro assembly seizes congressional powers

Venezuela's controversial new constituent assembly has overwhelmingly voted in favor of assuming the powers of the opposition-led parliament. Parliament has rejected the move. President Maduro says the new assembly will end political unrest, but many say it is a slide towards dictatorship. Meanwhile Colombia says the former chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz has arrived in the capital Bogota. Ortega said she feared for her life after being sacked by the new assembly. Once a staunch supporter of Maduro, she had become a strong critic of his socialist government in recent months.

Google's stance on neo-Nazis 'dangerous', says EFF

Decisions by Google, GoDaddy and Cloudflare to eject a neo-Nazi site from their services were "dangerous", a US-based digital rights group has said. Tthe Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticised the response. "We strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous," the EFF said. "Because internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors, control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world." It added that it believed "no-one" - including the government and private companies - should decide who is able to speak or not.

El Salvador strikes down part of family code permitting child marriage

The El Salvador Legislative Assembly unanimously voted on Thursday to eliminate a law that allowed men to marry minors that they had impregnated. The legal age to marry in El Salvador was 18 even before this change. But, a 23-old exceptional rule allowed those under 18 to wed with parental consent. That exception has been widely abused, particularly in rural areas, where families have been marrying off daughters to their alleged rapists with an intention to protect the "family honor," and so that the girl would not have to care for the child on her own. The exception also protected rapists and other sex offenders from criminal prosecution. This change leaves the legal age of consent intact at 18, but strikes down the exception that allowed these "honor marriages." (Click here)

South African court says State can't intervene on bank clients

South Africa's High Court said the government can't intervene in the relationships between banks and their clients and dismissed an application from former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for a declaratory order on the matter. "We hold the strong view that this application was clearly unnecessary," Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said in the ruling in Pretoria on Friday. "To grant the minister the declaratory relief would allow the judiciary to stray into the exercise of executive functions." The nation's four biggest banks last year closed accounts linked to the Gupta family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons.

US national monument review to test key land protection law

US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will recommend on Aug. 24 whether to eliminate or shrink nearly two dozen national monuments, creating the first major test for a 111-year-old law that gives presidents the power to protect swaths of public land. Zinke is expected to recommend that at least some of the national monuments under review - which were all created since 1996 - be rescinded or shrunk in size, responding to an order by President Donald Trump, who believes there should be greater opportunity to increase local resource development and economic opportunities. Any recommendation of reductions could herald a move into unchartered territory. Under the Antiquities Act, a president can declare certain areas of historic or scientific interest a national monument. However, no president has ever revoked a previous designation.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Will the Nation Succeed After Charlottesville Where Donald Trump Failed?

Dumping Trump. All You Need To Know

Business Week
Forced Into the City After 9,000 Years in the Jungle

The Economist
Unfit: Donald Trump has no grasp of what it means to be president

Der Spiegel
Die wahre Gesicht des Donald Trump

Volete Giulio o Barabba?


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