December 11, 2017 nº 1,930 - Vol. 14

"Confidence is not a personality trait; 
it is an assessment of a situation that sparks motivation."

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  • Top News

France allows use of blockchain to trade some traditional securities

France said Friday that it will allow wider use of the record-keeping technology behind bitcoin in the issuance and trading of traditional securities, part of a growing number of experiments to speed up trading by decentralizing it.mThe change is the latest seal of mainstream approval for systems, often called blockchains or distributed ledgers, that were first developed to allow total strangers on the internet to place faith in virtual-currency transactions without the need for a trusted third party. A blockchain is an electronic record of verified transactions that is maintained not by a central authority, but by a network of users on computer servers, and protected by cryptography. Proponents say blockchains could speed trades by eliminating the need for transactions to be centralized, potentially leading to an array of blockchain-based stock exchanges, and putting whole classes of brokers and other middlemen out of business. But blockchains could raise new challenges if used to replace entities that currently do settlement and clearing for large exchanges—like how to make sure the distributed systems remain resistant to hackers, and what to do in trades in which one party doesn’t pay up.

Bitcoin futures launch stokes fears of manipulation, hacks, glitches

Bitcoin fans are cheering the imminent launch of futures on the digital currency. But critics say the new market could be roiled by hacks, technical snafus or manipulation schemes. Trading of the first US bitcoin futures is set to begin at 6 p.m. ET Sunday on an exchange run by Cboe Global Markets Inc., while its larger rival CME Group Inc. plans to introduce its own bitcoin futures a week later. One risk, critics say, is that the underlying markets for bitcoin are largely unregulated and have a troubled history. Mt. Gox, once the largest bitcoin exchange, collapsed in 2014 after being robbed of more than $470 million worth of bitcoin. Other bitcoin exchanges have faced criminal charges of money laundering. “The Bitcoin cash markets are immature, and hardly seem the epitome of robustness,” Craig Pirrong, a finance professor at the University of Houston, wrote in a blog post last week. “Behemoth futures contracts could be standing on spindly cash market legs.” The virtual currency bitcoin continues surging to new highs as a frenzy of investors get in on the action. The shaky foundations of the bitcoin market add uncertainty to a market already known for wild gyrations. Bitcoin exchanges have been plagued with glitches and choppy trading in recent weeks, even as the price of the virtual currency hit record highs—passing $17,000 on Thursday, up from just $968.23 at the start of the year, according to CoinDesk. For their futures products, CME and Cboe are betting that a handful of bitcoin exchanges are sufficiently reliable and trustworthy to support a derivatives market.

Trump Jerusalem move 'a dangerous violation' of international law, says Arab League

Arab foreign ministers have called Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a "dangerous violation of international law" that had no legal impact and was "void". bThe Arab League urged the United States to abandon an announcement it said would increase unrest in the region. “The decision has no legal effect ... it deepens tension, ignites anger and threatens to plunge region into more violence and chaos,” the Arab League said early on Sunday after an emergency session attended by all its members in Cairo. Palestinians to reject meeting with Trump as anger over Jerusalem rises. Read more Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital goes against long-standing US policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The league said it would seek a UN security council resolution rejecting the US move.

  • Crumbs

1 - U.S. Department of Justice investigating fetal tissue transfers. (Click here)

2 - Saudi Arabia will allow cinemas to operate within the kingdom from early 2018. (Click here)


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  • MiMIC Journal

Lego wins first copyright case against China copies

Lego says it has won a landmark copyright case in China against rival products almost identical to its famous colored toy bricks. It is the first time the Danish toymaker has won a competition case against Chinese copycats. The imitation products were manufactured under the name Bela and were sold by two Chinese companies. The victory follows an earlier ruling that Lego's name and logo are well-known trademarks in China. (Click here)

No escaping Big Brother in China

China has been building what it calls "the world's biggest camera surveillance network".

Recycling chaos in US as China bans 'foreign waste'

The US ships a big chunk of its recycled goods to China. But China doesn't want them anymore, and that's leaving the recycling industry in turmoil.

Germany warns of Chinese LinkedIn spies

Germany's spy agency says China is using the site to gather information on politicians.


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  • Brief News

Netanyahu: Palestinians must face reality

Israel's prime minister says Jerusalem has "never been the capital of any other people".

North Korea: Urgent need to open channels, UN says after visit

A top UN official told senior North Korean figures there was an "urgent need" to keep channels open to avoid the risk of war, the organization says. The statement follows a visit to Pyongyang by Jeffrey Feltman, the highest-level trip by a UN official to the isolated nation in six years. North Korea says it has agreed to regular communication with the UN. Tensions over the North's weapons program were raised further after a fresh ballistic missile test last week. North Korea said it was its most advanced missile yet, capable of reaching the continental US. The test was the latest in a series of nuclear and missile tests conducted in defiance of UN sanctions. The world faces a "nuclear crisis" from a "bruised ego", the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) has warned in an apparent reference to US-North Korea tensions. Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday, Ican's executive director Beatrice Fihn said "the deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away".

Drug companies sue to block California drug price law

Pharmaceutical companies on Friday sued to block a new California law that would require them to give advance notice before big price increases. The law was approved this year in response to consumer outrage over a rise in drug spending and high costs for some prescription treatments, including new Hepatitis C medications and EpiPens to control allergic reactions. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group for drugmakers, said in its lawsuit that California's law illegally tries to dictate national health policy. Because the law is tied to a national measure of drug prices, PhRMA argues that California's advance notification requirement could restrict drugmakers' ability to raise prices in other states. The group also argued the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates the First Amendment by forcing drug companies to justify price increases.

Argentina judge orders arrest of former president

Argentinian Judge Carlos Bonadio ordered the arrest of current senator and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Thursday for her alleged involvement in a cover-up of Iran's participation in a 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 people dead

EU agrees biggest free trade deal with Japan

The European Union and Japan have agreed terms for a free trade deal set to create the world's biggest open economic area. The deal - the largest struck by the EU - is expected to liberalize almost all trade between the bloc and the world's third-largest economy. It is being seen as a challenge to the protectionism championed by US President Donald Trump. It must now be ratified by EU members and the European Parliament. (Click here)

Uber settles defamation lawsuit filed by Indian rape victim

Uber has agreed to settle a US civil lawsuit with a woman who accused its executives of improperly obtaining her medical records after she was raped by a driver in India. The lawsuit, which follows on from a crime committed in 2014, cited media reports where officials at the firm were said to have doubted her account. The Indian woman was living in the US when she filed the lawsuit. The Uber driver was sentenced to life in prison for the rape in 2015. "Uber executives duplicitously and publicly decried the rape, expressing sympathy for the plaintiff, and shock and regret at the violent attack, while privately speculating, as outlandish as it is, that she had colluded with a rival company to harm Uber's business," the lawsuit said. Terms of the latest settlement have not been disclosed.

Polish judicial reforms approved by lower house

Poland's lower house of parliament has approved controversial reforms which critics say would increase the ruling party's control over the judiciary. One bill allows politicians to choose members of the National Judiciary Council, which appoints judges. The governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) says the aim is to curb corruption and the influence of the former communist elite. But critics say the party is trying to cement its hold on power.

Sudan women in trousers: No indecency charges

Charges of indecency have been dropped against 24 women who were caught wearing trousers at a party near the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The gathering was raided by morality police on Wednesday. If convicted, the women could have faced punishment of 40 lashes and a fine for wearing "an obscene outfit". Rights activists say tens of thousands of women are arrested and flogged for indecency every year, and laws can be applied arbitrarily. They say the law in Muslim-majority Sudan against wearing trousers and short or tight skirts discriminates against Christians. Traditionally, women in Sudan wear loose flowing robes.

Brazil clown 'ashamed to be a lawmaker'

A professional clown in Brazil who ran for congress and won by a huge margin says he will not stand again in 2018. Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known as Tiririca, is coming to the end of his second term in the Chamber of Deputies. He complained that he was one of only eight out of more than 500 lawmakers who regularly turned up to sessions. Tiririca said he was "ashamed" of his colleagues' behavior and would return to being a full-time clown.

Lawsuit claims California has failed to improve grade school literacy standards

California's Public Counsel partnered with Morrison & Foerster on Tuesday to file a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles claiming the state has failed to uphold its suggested standards for improving literacy rates for grade school children. The complaint is filed on behalf of former and current students along with teachers from multiple school districts. Five years ago, the president of the California State Board of Education, after identifying a crisis in literacy proficiency, published the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Plan "SRCL Plan." This report suggested new educational standards in an effort to increase the state's literacy rate. The SRCL Plan acknowledged an "urgent need to address language and literacy development of California's underserved populations."

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, Please Wake Up!

Lawyers and judges in complex trials struggle with a rash of sleepy jurors, blaming short attention spans and unrealistic courtroom scenes from Law & Order. ‘A total blow to the ego.”

Shariah law puts Greece at odds with European Court—and with Turkey

In a historic sliver of land on the border with Turkey, about 100,000 Greek citizens live with a relic of Greece’s historically fraught relations with its neighbor: Shariah law. In Western Thrace, Shariah law is enforced for Muslim citizens, making Greece the world’s only non-Muslim country that officially applies laws grounded in the Islamic faith. But that situation could soon be coming to an end, with the Greek government having submitted legislation this week that would make compliance with Shariah optional in the wake of a clash between Muslim rules and Greek laws. Government officials said it would become law before an international court rules that the current arrangement breaches Europe’s human-rights standards.

Global recall of Lactalis baby milk over salmonella fears

French baby milk formula maker Lactalis has ordered a global product recall over fears of salmonella contamination. Health authorities in France said 26 infants in the country have become sick since early December. The recall affects products and exports to countries including Britain, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

TIME’s Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers

Trump casts doubts on alleged Moore victim

Business Week
What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?

The Economist
South Africa: The corruption of South Africa

Der Spiegel
Das gelieferte Fest (Onlinehandel)

La prima volta


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