November 13, 2017 nº 1,920 - Vol. 14

"In a world of unlimited voices and choices, those who can bring people together and tell a good story have power."

Shonda Rhimes

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  • Top News

Supreme Court hears arguments in case questioning Bankruptcy Code interpretation

The US Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in Merit Management Group, LP, v. FTI Consulting, Inc., a case concerning the scope of protection afforded certain institutions acting as so-called "safe harbors" in claims against bankruptcy trustees. The controversy arose out of a securities transaction between FTI as the estate bankruptcy trustee and Merit Management as the recipient of the alleged fraudulent transfer. Specifically, "the trustee attempted to avoid a payment by the bankrupt company, Valley View Downs"—a horse race track company—"to Merit Management, in exchange for Merit Management's shares in Bedford Downs," a competing race track company. Such a scenario presents competing interpretations of Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code. Section 546(e) "protects from avoidance any 'settlement payment' that is made in connection with a 'securities contract,' so long as the payment is 'by or to (or for the benefit of)' any of six listed types of financial intermediaries." The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of FTI, finding "that the safe harbor does not apply when a financial institution 'is neither the debtor nor the transferee but only the conduit.'" Thus, the transfer was not protected under Section 546(e) and Merit's portion could be voided. Despite the Seventh Circuit's holding in this case, other Federal courts support Merit's view; specifically, "the Second Circuit is very concerned about the effect that this would have on the leveraged buyout industry and therefore, the economy more broadly."

Trump Russia: US 'in peril over president's stance'

Two former US intelligence chiefs say Donald Trump's stance on Russian meddling in last year's presidential election is putting the US at risk. The US president sparked uproar by suggesting he believed Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when he said there had been no interference. US intelligence has long concluded Russia tried to sway the vote in Trump's favor.

  • Crumb

1 - Shell to sell part of its stake in Woodside Petroleum for $1.7 bi. (Click here)


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  • MiMIC Journal

Trump and XI Jinping visions collide at summit

Trump and Xi Jinping have set out starkly different visions for the future of global trade in speeches at a summit in Vietnam. In a defiant address, Trump told the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting that the US would no longer tolerate "chronic trade abuses". In contrast, President Xi said globalization was irreversible. Since taking office, Trump has pursued his "America First" agenda and pulled the US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership - a major trade deal with 12 Apec nations - arguing it would hurt US economic interests.


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  • Brief News

Supreme Court hears arguments in separation of powers case

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Patchak v. Zinke. The case centers around whether Section 2(b) of the Gun Lake Act is an unconstitutional violation of Article III of the Constitution regarding separation of powers. The statute, which was implemented after the court decided the suit may proceed, directs federal courts to promptly dismiss a pending case without amending the substantive law. Patchak's attorney argued the specific section of statute permitted Congress to exercise judicial powers and prevented the courts from fulfilling their constitutionally assigned duties. Patchak's attorney argues that the statute essentially grants Congress the authority to decide the outcome of a specific case, stripping the courts of their essential duty. This was met with questioning by Justice Samuel Alito, who challenged whether this was a jurisdiction-stripping statute, which would potentially immunize the statute from review under the separation of powers rule.

Germany constitutional court rules non-binary gender option must be available at birth

Germany's highest constitutional court ruled in an order published Wednesday that a third gender designation for intersex people must be made available at birth. This ruling comes from a case brought by an intersex individual who was required to be registered at birth as male or female or leave the gender blank, resulting in a designation on their record as "missing information." A chromosomal analysis found that this individual was not distinctly male or female. An intersex person does not necessarily view themselves as not having a gender but may view their gender identity as being beyond the male or female designation thus leaving the "missing information" option as an incorrect representation of their identity. The court held, through their interpretation of Article 1, Article 2, and Article 3 of the German federal constitution that the requirement of an intersex person to register conforming to a binary gender was in violation of fundamental rights of the individual and therefore unconstitutional. (Click here)

DOJ begins compensating victims of Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme

The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has begun distributing compensation to victims of Bernie L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC's Ponzi scheme. The first set of distributions involve $722.5 million that will be distributed to 24,631 victims. The distribution is the largest distribution of forfeited funds in the DOJ's history. The funds will be distributed through the Madoff Victim Fund. In total, $4.05 billion will be distributed to victims of BLMIS. More than 65,000 petitions were submitted to the MVF, which represents victims from 136 countries. Most of the funds were recovered from third parties, not Bernie Madoff himself. $2.2 billion was recovered from the estate of Madoff investor Jeffry Picower, and $1.7 billion was recovered from JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A.

Spanish PM vows to end Catalonia 'havoc'

Mariano Rajoy makes a first trip after imposing direct rule in response to a push for independence. He addressed a campaign event on his first visit there since imposing direct rule on the region a fortnight ago. Defending his decision in Barcelona, he said he had "exhausted all roads" after the Catalan government's unilateral declaration of independence last month. Several key Catalan leaders are currently being detained over the move.

US administration publishes new Cuba travel restrictions

The US administration has published a series of measures increasing limits on Americans' dealings with Cuba. The package includes a blacklist of state-owned companies and entities, including shops and hotels. Most US citizens travelling to the island will now have to go as part of organized tour groups. The measures come as part of a partial rollback of ex-president Barack Obama's policy of engagement with Cuba, as announced by President Trump in June. Officials have denied that any of these steps are related to the recent acoustic incidents, defined as "health attacks" by the state department against its officials in Havana.

Saudi authorites detain more than 200 in corruption probe

Saudi authorities have detained more than 200 individuals in connection with an investigation into corruption that has cost more than USD $100 billion over the past several decades, Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said Thursday. Of these 208 individuals called in for questioning, seven have been released without charge. The governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority agreed Tuesday to suspend personal bank accounts of persons of interest in this investigation, assuring "only personal bank accounts have been suspended, companies and banks are free to continue with transactions as usual."

Europe Rights Court hears UK surveillance cases

The European Court of Human Rights held simultaneous hearings Tuesday regarding the UK's practice of intercepting private communications in large amounts, which was leaked by Edward Snowden. The cases, brought by civil rights groups, were heard by a panel of seven judges, over violations of privacy, expression and right to a fair trial. In particular, 10 Human Rights Organisations and Others v. the UK has gained particular attention as the Investigatory Power Tribunal of the UK holds some evidentiary hearings in secret, without even the parties involved. The tribunal concluded that internal arrangements were in place that required oversight to support the legality of the UK's actions. The other parties to this hearing include: Big Brother Watch, an organization focused on privacy and freedom of express; the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, a media organization, and Alice Ross, a writer for the Bureau. The cases have taken some four years to be heard by the court after Edward Snowden's Wikileak in 2013. The ECHR will release the rulings on the cases at a "later stage" according to the press release by the court. (Click here)

Indonesia Constitutional Court declares discriminatory religion law unconstitutional

The Indonesian Constitutional Court on Tuesday found that a 2013 law requiring people who adopted indigenous native faiths to not disclose that religion on their ID cards was discriminatory and unconstitutional. The Indonesian government only recognizes six official religions and anyone who fails to identify with one of the religions is often denied equal access to "education, employment, and legal marriage." A 2000 census reported about 400,000 Indonesians to identify with a religion or faith other than the those nationally recognized: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The nine-judge panel unanimously deemed Article 61 (2) and Article 64 (5) of the Civil Administration Law to violate peoples' right to equality before the law and, therefore, not legally binding. The court's decision prompted the House of Representatives to initiate a review of the Civil Administration Law. A House meeting concerning this plan is set for November 15.

TPP trade deal talks move forward

Members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed a new framework to revive the proposed trade deal, following the US withdrawal earlier this year. Meeting on the sidelines of the Apec summit in Vietnam, the remaining eleven nations released a joint statement saying they were committed to free and open trade. The bid to revive the TPP, which would have covered 40% of the global economy, was led by trade ministers from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

More jurisdictions to provide legal defense for immigrants at risk of deportation

More cities and counties across the US will now be using public funds to provide representation for immigrants at risk of being deported.

GOP tax cuts expected to push up nation's debt

Both tax proposals in the House and the Senate would add about $1.5 trillion to the nation's debt over the next 10 years. That's a big concern for many economists and some lawmakers.

Venezuelan debt crisis widens, with power company in default

The utility failed to make a payment within the grace period, and similar deadlines loom on securities issued by the government and state enterprises.

Uber suffers setback as UK Court rules its drivers should have workers' rights

Uber Technologies suffered a setback in a British court when an appeals tribunal reaffirmed a decision that the company must give its drivers employee rights like paid vacations.

Hollywood holds #MeToo march against sexual harassment

Hundreds of people have marched in Hollywood in support of victims of sexual assault and harassment, inspired by the #MeToo social media campaign. The march follows a torrent of assault and harassment allegations against public figures, set off by revelations about the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. In France the equivalent is #balancetonporc, meaning "expose your pig".

Uber reaches deal to sell stake to SoftBank

The agreement paves the way for the ride-hailing company to make sweeping governance changes and to go public by 2019. (Click here)

Lawsuit seeks new recourse on for-profit college fraud

Two women who claim they were defrauded by a for-profit college have sued the Education Department and a private loan servicer in a case their attorneys say could provide a new legal remedy for tens of thousands of students frustrated with the department's inaction on claims seeking loan forgiveness.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

The President of France Is at Home in the World

Trump's Pressure Points

Business Week
How to Break Out of Our Long National Tax Nightmare

The Economist
Geopolitics: Endangered America’s future as a global power

Der Spiegel
Xing Lai! Der hellwache Riese



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