Author Archive: Brian Sanchez

Pentagon moves to shut foreign firms out of its supply chain

(c) 2017, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is taking initial steps to more closely enforce so-called “Buy American” laws, elevating a series of Depression-era statutes that require manufacturers to rely on U.S. materials when they make guns, equipment, uniforms and food for the nation’s military.

A June 30 memo from the Office of Management and Budget provides new guidance on how federal agencies should enforce such laws, asking them to limit exemptions and calling for them to draft policies to maximize the procurement of U.S. products, specifically mentioning steel, iron, aluminum and cement.

An earlier memo from the Pentagon’s top acquisitions office instructs federal contractors to put in place a training program on how to comply with the 80-year-old laws.

The documents come as President Donald Trump has vowed to put American interests first as he rewrites the nation’s trade agenda. The White House published an April 18 “Buy American” executive orderfocused on limiting the use of waivers and ending what it considers to be unfair trade practices. It is also weighing broader restrictions on steel and aluminum imports.

At a time when the president’s other major initiatives are held up in Congress and in the courts, changes to Defense Department acquisition policy might be seen as an easier path to enact change.

“This is an area where the president’s hand is very strong and he has a lot of authority to make policy,” said Andrew Hunter, a procurement expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The two laws in question are the 1933 Buy American Act, which requires the Pentagon to purchase domestically-produced products for purchases over a $3,500 threshold, and the more-restrictive 1941 Berry Amendment, which applies mainly to clothing and food products purchased by the military.

Together, these laws ostensibly require that the U.S. military’s entire supply chain be sourced from inside the country, down to the textile factories that churn out soldiers’ uniforms and the metalworkers that help make tanks and ammunition.

But in practice a sprawling hodgepodge of free trade agreements means American defense manufacturers can draw heavily on foreign materials. In fiscal year 2013, for example, approximately $19.7 billion, or about 6.4 percent of all U.S. military spending, went to foreign entities, according to a May 2014 report from the Defense Department Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

The largest portion of that money is spent on raw materials like fuel and construction supplies. But the Pentagon also pays foreign firms to manufacture airframes, ship components, combat vehicles, weapons and medical supplies. Also, defense products that are built by U.S. firms generally have deep supply chains incorporating products from allies like Canada and numerous foreign raw materials.

Even when no exemptions exist, those laws are not always enforced. Out of a sample of 33 Air Force contracts reviewed last year by the Defense Department’s Inspector General, about a third didn’t enforce the Buy American Act, often due to administrative error or a lack of familiarity with the law on the part of procurement officials.

U.S. weapons manufacturers generally want to see those exemptions stay in place because it gives them more flexibility over their supply chains. Industry representatives are also worried that all the talk around domestic sourcing laws could spook the government officials who oversee specific contracts, leading them to turn down legitimate exceptions to the law.

“Waivers are there for a reason,” said Ronald J. Youngs, assistant vice president for national security policy at the Aerospace Industry Association, which lobbies on behalf of defense contractors. “I think (government) contracting officers are going to be much more reluctant to step out and do a waiver even when it makes sense.”

Others are worried that closer enforcement of Buy American laws could drive up prices for taxpayers by reducing competition.

“We’re now involved in a global supply chain,” said Chris Taylor, chief executive of government contracting market research firm Govini. “In the 1930s, when the Buy American Act was passed, we weren’t at all.”

Bill Greenwalt, a former Defense Department procurement secretary who is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, suggested closer enforcement of Buy American laws could even bring retaliation from other countries, hurting U.S. sales.

“Foreign governments now have a lot more foreign alternatives in (aerospace and defense) than they once did,” Greenwalt said. “This renewed focus on Buy American will not be good for U.S. manufacturing jobs if our allies begin to look elsewhere.”

There’s little evidence of a backlash so far. But the Buy American push is becoming a subject of conversation in international defense policy circles, as Trump’s brash leadership style and unconventional encounters with foreign leaders add a wrinkle to established international relationships.

“Mr. Trump said, and he’s right, I work for Americans so I want the Buy American Act. Why not? So Europe should say ‘I work for Europe so we want also the Buy European Act,‘” Eric Trappier, chief executive of French aerospace firm Dassault Aviation, told the trade journal Defense & Aerospace Report last month at the Paris Air Show. “We need reciprocity.”

buy-american

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Online firms to face costs for contempt

Multinational social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter could be found to be in contempt of court for failing to promptly remove material from their websites on the order of a judge.

Judges would also be able to instruct tech firms to prevent the publication of certain material on their websites if it was believed it could jeopardise or influence the outcome of a court case. The maximum sentence for contempt of court under the new law will be life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Traditional media companies and newspaper groups face the prospect of thousands of euro in fines and imprisonment for prejudicing court cases.

However, there is a massive grey area around the responsibility of multi-billion-euro tech companies and the content published on their websites.

The new legislation being proposed by Fine Gael’s Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan was drafted in the wake of the controversial Jobstown trial. Serious concerns were raised about the use of social media by hard-left political supporters throughout the trial.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other protesters were found not guilty of falsely imprisoning former Tanaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell at the end of the nine-week trial.

The DPP warned Mr Murphy about his use of social media during the trial and the TD removed posts he made on Twitter. Comments and videos posted online by hard-left politicians have led to a debate about the use of social media during court cases and the powers of judges hearing trials.

In response to the use of social media during the trial, Ms Madigan is drafting the Contempt of Court Bill 2017 which she hopes will be accepted by the Dail in the coming months.

“This is not about curtailing freedom of speech, this is about respecting the independence and autonomy of a jury reaching a decision,” she told the Sunday Independent.

Ms Madigan’s bill is at the draft stage but the final legislation will have a section giving courts powers to instruct online publications and social media companies to remove and block material on their websites.

Contempt of court is not defined in legislation in Ireland but is set out in common law. In the UK, contempt of court is set out in legislation. There have been calls in the past from the Supreme Court and the Law Reform Commission to legislate for contempt of court.

The new bill would make it an offence to knowingly prejudice a trial in a calculated manner. It would not be an offence to unwittingly prejudice a trial by posting a comment on a social media company while believing a trial was not ongoing.

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France’s pro-business charm offensive continued Friday, as the government laid out a series of measures aimed at luring firms leaving London’s financial centre in the wake of Brexit.

France’s pro-business charm offensive continued Friday, as the government laid out a series of measures aimed at luring firms leaving London’s financial centre in the wake of Brexit.

Paris has lagged behind other European cities in reaping the bounties of Britain’s post-Brexit uncertainties, in large part because the climate in France is widely seen as inhospitable to business. While the previous president, François Hollande, said he considered the world of finance his enemy, France’s new leader, Emmanuel Macron, a former banker himself, has vowed to make French soil more fertile for firms looking to do business here.

The proposals aim to reduce taxes and some of the regulations in France to bring it more in line with its European peers, and to remove some of the expenses associated with a firm being based in France. While Macron has made overtures to the tech industry and to climate-change scientists in the past, the most recent measures are aimed primarily at banks and financial institutions—organisations that are expected to have difficulty operating in London once the UK is no longer part of the European Union.

“To investors, and to those disappointed by Brexit, I want to say that we are ready to roll out the blue, white and red carpet for you,” Paris regional president Valérie Pecresse said at an event announcing the plan. “Welcome back to Europe.”

After Brexit, Britain may lose the “passporting rights” financial firms use to deal with clients in the rest of the European Union, meaning that employees in direct contact with customers may need to be based in EU territory in the future. And EU regulations require that certain positions, such as risk management workers, be located in Europe.

Among the propositions laid out by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe is the abolition of the extension of the current tax on financial transactions and the elimination of the top payroll tax bracket. France charges banks and a few other sectors, such as real estate and healthcare, a tax on each salaried employee. That tax is not levied in most other European countries.

Philippe also proposed disregarding bonuses when calculating severance pay for particular types of “risk-taking” workers, such as stockbrokers, thus making it less expensive to lay them off.

Other impediments for firms considering relocating to Paris are linguistic and legal; most international contracts are written in English and refer to British law. Philippe said that work was already under way to establish an international tribunal that could handle financial cases in English.

These measures alone would likely not be enough to make Paris more enticing than Frankfurt or Dublin; its two main rivals in the contest to woo firms relocating from London. At least seven international banks with bases in London have announced they would either move their European headquarters to Frankfurt or open subsidiaries there, and another dozen have said they would move at least some of their operations to Dublin.

So far, Paris has only gained an anticipated 1,000 new jobs, which will come in the form of employees relocated by HSBC. “At this stage there are no commitments beside HSBC’s,” said Benjamin Griveaux, junior finance minister. “We’re working on it. Today is an important signal to investors.”

France has some particular disincentives for businesses, including its notoriously inflexible labour laws, which have “seemed to be, if not always the reality, a major deterrent to doing business in France”, said Iain Begg, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute at the London School of Economics.

Macon has put the goal of reforming those laws and streamlining the nation’s cumbersome bureaucracy at the forefront of his presidency, but it won’t be easy. When the previous administration attempted labour law reform, France was paralysed by sporadic demonstrations for months.

The government also said it would open three new public international high schools in and around the French capital by 2022, in addition to the six that already exist.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-07-07

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Efforts to raise quality of construction workforce hamstrung by dishonest firms

SINGAPORE — The perennial problem of companies here cheating foreign workers by paying them lower salaries than promised is undermining a new rule by the Government to raise the productivity and quality of the construction workforce.

Since Jan 1, construction firms are required to have at least 10 per cent of their work-permit holders belonging to the higher-skilled R1 category. But just months after the rule kicked in, shades of how firms could game the system have emerged.

Migrant workers advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) recently highlighted a case involving five Bangladeshi workers of what it called the “R1 scam”, under which employers would over-declare the salaries of their higher-skilled workers and pay lower foreign-worker levies for these employees: S$300 monthly instead of S$650 for lower-skilled workers (increased to S$700 on July 1).

In the case of the Bangladeshi workers, they were unable to get the money owed to them in salary arrears despite successfully obtaining a Labour Court order.

TWC2 called on the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to follow the letter of the law and not allow employers to reduce salaries below than what were declared in the foreign workers’ in-principle approval (IPA) document, which contains employment details given by the MOM before a migrant labourer arrives in Singapore.

In addition, the Labour Court “should not legitimise arbitrarily-reduced salaries” by taking the employer’s word that the lower salary had been agreed to by workers, even verbally, said a TWC2 spokesperson.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the MOM said it is conducting further investigations into “possible offences in relation to the salary claims and false declaration of salaries in the work-pass applications”.

The five workers involved in the case highlighted by TWC2 returned home in March and April because they were unable to find another employer here, said the MOM.

They received “ex gratia financial assistance” from the labour movement-backed Migrant Workers’ Centre, the MOM added, although it did not provide the sums received by the workers.

The ministry urged workers with salary claims to bring the cases to its attention “as early as possible”, to “greatly improve” the chances of successfully resolving claims before the employers reach dire financial straits.

The MOM did not respond on whether such cases could negate the Government’s efforts to raise productivity in the construction sector.

WORKERS DUPED

The five workers in the case — Mr Mazibar Md Jongsher Ali, 45, Mr Bikas, 38, Mr Anu, 43, Mr Mohammad Ripon Mohammad Shajahan, 48, and Mr Mohammed Sirajul Islam Late Mohammed, 37 — all had at least six years’ experience.

According to TWC2, they started work with Everglory Construction between May and October 2015, and were supposed to be paid about S$1,600 monthly — the minimum salary under one of the pathways for a construction worker to be considered higher-skilled, or belonging to the R1 category.

They were paid less than their correct salaries from early on, and after two months of not being paid at all, the workers lodged complaints at the MOM.

They approached TWC2 in September and December last year.

Each worker’s claim ranged from S$14,000 to S$21,000, but the Labour Court awarded between S$3,000 and S$4,000 each, said the TWC2 spokesperson.

According to TWC2, they were made to sign statements declaring their employer no longer owed them any money, before their passports were returned to them.

CONSTRUCTION FIRM’S DIRECTOR CANNOT BE CONTACTED

Checks by TODAY showed that Everglory Construction was incorporated in July 2014.

Its director and secretary are listed as Huang Guixiang and Li Xiao Ping respectively, based on Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) records.

The company’s registered address is a unit at Paya Lebar Square, but this turned out to be the address of its accounting and secretarial firm Excellent Accounting & Management Services.

Mr Yang Bin, the accounting firm’s director, told TODAY that Ms Huang owes it S$200 for listing its Paya Lebar premises as Everglory’s registered address, and about S$100 in stamp duty.

When TODAY visited the Jurong West Street 93 unit which is listed as Ms Huang’s address on Acra records, an occupant Ms Hu Huijie, 32, said Ms Huang did not live there and she was her schoolmate from Nanyang Technological University.

Both of them are from China originally, and she had agreed for Ms Huang to state the unit as her address. They last met at Christmas last year but Ms Hu has been unsuccessful in contacting her friend since.

Aware of Everglory’s difficulties, Ms Hu said the MOM officers had turned up at the flat once last month, but Ms Huang was not there. 

‘FIVE TO EIGHT CASES A MONTH’

TWC2 said the Everglory case was not the only “R1 scam” case it has come across. Such cases were either non-existent or very rare before late last year, and seemed to have emerged only after the 10-per-cent rule came into force.

TWC2 classifies them under the broader category of salary cases, and does not have exact numbers for them. “But anecdotally, we have been seeing about five to eight cases a month since the beginning of 2017,” said the spokesperson.

As for other NGOs, HealthServe said it has not come across similar cases, while the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), said it does not have figures for such cases.

“The bigger issue here is the common practice of employers over-declaring salaries in the IPAs,” said Home.

”Workers have little choice, but to accept the lower amount (of salary actually paid), as they have paid high recruitment fees in their countries and would suffer severe economic loss if they choose not to accept the new contracts.”

It added that Labour Court commissioners “regularly accept the (workers’) lower salaries once contracts are produced”. Nearly one-third of the workers (109 out of 365) it has helped this year experienced such deception in their salaries.

The MOM said its rules require employers to obtain workers’ consent and inform the Controller for Work Passes in writing before reducing salaries of their work-permit holders.

Those who fail to do so could be fined up to S$10,000 per infringement. It fined 12 employers in 2015 and 11 employers last year.

“Employers who deliberately provide false declaration of work-pass salaries face a more severe penalty,” an MOM spokesperson said.

They can be fined up to S$20,000 and/or jailed up to two years per charge.

These employers will also be barred from hiring foreign workers and renewing the work permits of their existing foreign workers. Since 2014, 88 employers have been taken to task for false salary declaration offences, said the MOM.

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Local law firms and Legal Aid team up to serve KC urban neighborhoods

An abandoned house stands at the corner of East 66th Terrace and Tracy Avenue. Trash overflows on the front porch. Overgrown weeds consume the yard. The back porch is about to cave in.

Nina Whiteside-McCord has been a homeowner on this block for 23 years. This was the view from her back window every morning. This was the cause of her declining property value. But through Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s Adopt-a-Neighborhood project, Whiteside-McCord was able to make a change.

Adopt-a-Neighborhood is a collaborative project between Legal Aid of Western Missouri, private law firms and east side neighborhoods in Kansas City.

In October 2015 Legal Services Corp., the parent company to Legal Aids around the U.S., donated a two-year $257,000 grant for Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s project. Their goal was to help urban core communities address quality of life concerns by providing professional legal service to qualifying individuals, neighborhood associations and local non-profit organizations that serve the neighborhoods.

Whiteside-McCord is the secretary for Neighbors United for Action, a neighborhood association working to beautify their residential area bounded by Troost Avenue, the Paseo, 63rd Street and Gregory Boulevard. When her organization was paired up with local law firm, Kutak Rock LLP, this abandoned house was her first concern.

“I don’t think people understand what they’re looking at out their front window,” Whiteside-McCord said. “You have a right to make sure that what you wake up and look at is eye pleasing. So when one of my neighbors died on Tracy, that was the view from my backyard.

“This is my neighborhood, this is what I look at when I have coffee, show me what you look at when you have coffee in the morning.”

kitchen composite

These are before and after photos of 6617 Tracy Ave., which is now the only completed rehabilitation from Legal Aid’s Adopt-a-Neighborhood project.


Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Kutak Rock is one of six law firms paired up with neighborhoods in the east side area to aid residents with pro bono legal services. Their focus for Neighbors United for Action is revitalizing abandoned homes to encourage economic development.

For a small neighborhood, these vacant homes are a big problem. Kutak Rock and Legal Aid are using Missouri’s Abandoned Housing Act to take properties from absentee owners. The property must be vacant for six months, delinquent on taxes or a nuisance to the community before the firm can file a lawsuit to eventually claim ownership for the neighborhood.

After the neighborhood has claimed title with the help of the law firm, Legal Aid steps in and finds a local resident or company willing to rehabilitate the house. Because the process of title claim and revitalization takes so long, only the house on Tracy Avenue has been completed. But 20 other houses are now undergoing the same procedure.

before-after home

These are the before and after photos of 6617 Tracy Ave., which is now the only completed rehabilitation from Legal Aid’s Adopt-a-Neighborhood project. (From left): Alex Acsenvil, president of Neighbors United for Action, Nina Whiteside-McCord, secretary of Neighbors United for Action and the property’s developer Robert Jenkins of Heirloom Enterprises.


Legal Aid of Western Missouri

“I want to see a beautiful craftsman house that is maintained with a family living in it, because those are the people that are going to invest in this neighborhood,” Kutak Rock lawyer Anna Berman said.

“Those are the people that are going to keep property values coming up. Those are the people that are going to keep crime away. They’re going to keep squatters away and keep drugs out of the neighborhood because they’re the ones that are invested and care about their neighborhood. That’s what we’re hoping to see out of every one of these houses.”

Not only does this rehabilitation process help increase property values, it’s inspired neighbors around the area to clean up their own homes, said Legal Aid’s working team of Kayla Hogan, a paralegal, and lawyer Rebecca McQuillen.

“It’s making an effect on the whole block,” Hogan said. “I mean if a house is occupied and the person is paying their property taxes, there’s not a whole lot we can do to say, ‘you need to cleanup your property,’ but to see that they’re taking that initiative themselves just because of the fact that we have come in and started working on the house next door is really cool.”

Another local law firm aiding an urban core neighborhood is Polsinelli PC. It has teamed up with the Key Coalition Neighborhood Association, which ranges from 27th to 35th Street from Woodland and Prospect Avenue.

M2M (Males to Men) Community Foundation is a mentoring group for boys 7-17 years old founded by Dre Taylor within the Key Coalition neighborhood. It was formed to help young men be productive members in the community.

Polsinelli helped the group reach its non-profit status after starting as a corporation. The law firm has also helped the foundation obtain a lease for a house to act as a separate teaching center across the street from an ongoing project the group is working on.

The project is Nile Valley Aquaponics, formed by Taylor in 2015, a tilapia farm and community garden at 29th Street and Wabash that provides for people in Kansas City’s food desert. Aquaponics involves fish and plants growing in the same system. Fish eat bugs and duckweed, while waste from the fish feeds the plants. In turn, the plants and rocks clean the water.

IMG_NILE_ME_20170324_KAM_2_1_DVB0N77B_L304093753

Dre Taylor (center), founder of Nile Valley Aquaponics, talked with Ruby Berry (left) and Jeanne Johnson on Friday, March 24, 2017, at a ribbon cutting celebration for the facility at 2905 Wabash Avenue.


Keith Myers


kmyers@kcstar.com

Nile Valley Aquaponics is in the center of the Key Coalition neighborhood and gathers the community as a whole. Whether it be people volunteering, children visiting the goats within the gated area or residents coming to pick some of the free vegetables from the garden, it’s a key attraction.

“The community has watched something grow,” Taylor said “You know, they’ve seen a lot that used to have 18 trees on it where bad things used to happen and now, they see economic development. They’re seeing a traffic of people that wouldn’t necessarily come to 29th and Wabash. They see something positive and are able to say, ‘I remember when.’”

The law firm helped Taylor clear up a dispute between Harrel Johnson Jr., the owner of the land and head of the Kansas City Keys nonprofit. Johnson barred Taylor from the land when he refused to pay the demanded price for it, but Polsinelli was able to help the two reach an accord.

The law firm also helped Taylor through the process of obtaining a patent for his Aquaponics system.

“Although it wasn’t work directly for the neighborhood, we had sort of the biggest green light possible from the neighborhood,” Polsinelli lawyer Brendan McPherson said. “They wanted us to get involved and help Mr. Taylor and his foundation just because it’s such a cool thing that’s going on within the Key Coalition neighborhood right now.”

While these are major projects Kutak Rock and Polsinelli have worked on, the firms, along with four others, help individuals with a wide range of legal services that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

The other law firms and neighborhood duos include:

▪ Stinson Leonard Street LLP and Marlborough Community Coalition focus on holding landlords accountable for the condition of the properties they rent.

▪ Dentons US LLP and the Wendell Phillips Neighborhood Association focus on Public Safety and Smart Technology — a grass-roots answer to promoting public safety in the urban core.

▪ Husch Blackwell LLP and Historic Manheim Park Neighborhood Association focus on abandoned nuisance properties and tenants’ rights and host regular legal clinics in the neighborhood where walk-ins are welcome.

▪ Lathrop & Gage LLP and Tri-Blenheim Neighborhood Association focus on abandoned nuisance properties and helping the association with their bylaws and filing non-profit status.

With the two-year grant coming to a close in October 2017, McQuillen and Hogan of Legal Aid are confident that they will receive a sustainability grant to keep the Adopt-a-Neighborhood project going. Otherwise, the team and even some of the law firms said they will continue their legal efforts within the urban core neighborhoods on their own.

“Nina said it best. She called the east side of Kansas City the forgotten neighborhood, and I think that in a lot of ways that rings true,” Hogan said. “I think that a lot of people on the east side feel disenfranchised. They do feel forgotten. They feel disempowered.

“To have Legal Aid and these private firms step in and say, ‘we’re here, we care about you and we work for you,’ has been really empowering for them, and it’s also opened our eyes to a lot of projects going on that we didn’t even know about just because we weren’t there.”

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Law School Brands Professor As Sexual Harasser Over Test Question Featuring Bikini Wax Job

After a protracted 16-month investigation, officials at Howard University in Washington, D.C. found a law professor guilty of sexual harassment because he presented students with an exam question about a hypothetical person who was molested while undergoing a Brazilian wax job.

Administrators at Howard University School of Law labeled the professor, Reginald L. Robinson, as a sexual harasser in May, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Higher Education (FIRE), a civil rights organization.

Robinson gave students the hot wax question way back in September 2015. The question involved a person who slept through a Brazilian waxing (which is the removal or all or pretty much every bit of pubic hair and other nether-regional locks using heated goo and pieces of fabric).

Robinson’s full question mentioned a “landing strip” and a lack of hair from “belly button to buttocks,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

At some point, a student disagreed that a person could possibly sleep through the Brazilian waxing process.

Later, two unidentified students filed an official complaint about Robinson’s question.

One of the complaining students allegedly said she believed that the question somehow forced her to divulge whether or not she had undergone a Brazilian wax job process herself.

Administrators at Howard were also deeply troubled by Robinson’s use of the word “genitals” in the test question.

Candi Smiley is the Title IX coordinator at Howard who conducted the 504-day investigation of Robinson and ultimately determined that he was guilty of sexual harassment for giving students a hypothetical test question about a molested bikini wax customer.

Smiley’s LinkedIn profile shows that she has a law degree and has previously worked as a contract attorney and document reviewer at various law firms.

Robinson’s very extensive curriculum vitae includes a multitude of academic publications and two advanced degrees. He received his undergraduate degree — magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa — from Howard in 1981.

Howard University has punished Robinson. School officials will force him to undergo sensitivity training and require him to submit future test questions to prior administrative review. Administrators also warned the professor that he may be fired if is found in violation of Title IX for a second time.

Title IX is a comprehensive 1972 federal law that prohibits federally-funded entities from discriminating on the basis of biological sex.

“Robinson’s test question clearly does not constitute sexual harassment,” said FIRE spokeswoman Susan Kruth, in a press release. “Howard’s overreaction to a simple hypothetical question is a threat to academic freedom and a professor’s ability to effectively teach students.”

In a statement provided by FIRE, Robinson suggested that sensitivity training and policing course material for anything someone may find offensive are bad ways to prepare law students for the often unpleasant factual scenarios encountered by attorneys.

“My case should worry every faculty member at Howard University, and perhaps elsewhere, who teaches in substantive areas like law, medicine, history, and literature,” Robinson said. “None of these academic areas can be taught without evaluating and discussing contextual facts, especially unsavory and emotionally charged ones.”

“I also can’t prepare my students adequately for legal practice if I can’t teach them new developments and require them to read unedited, unfiltered cases,” the professor added.

Robinson’s attorney, Gaillard T. Hunt, charged that Howard’s administration “wants to treat its students as delicate snowflakes who must be protected from unpleasant hypothetical cases,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

Hunt also described Howard’s sexual harassment finding against Robinson as “libelous of him as an individual.”

In 2014, a Harvard Law School professor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, predicted that law professors would become increasingly hesitant to teach students about laws regarding rape because of the generally awful fact patterns which are necessary to provide students with any sort of context about rape laws and rape cases.

Howard University School of Law charges students about $102,000 for a three-year degree preparing them for legal careers. Bar-passage rates for Howard students are frequently lower than average state bar-passage rates.

As an expensive private school, Howard is not susceptible to First Amendment litigation. However, FIRE notes, school policy guarantees academic freedom to students and professors.

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Sebi initiates action against 1,088 firms for not complying with listing norms

Mumbai: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Friday said it has initiated action against at least 1,088 firms on stock exchanges’ dissemination boards that have not been able to comply with listing norms within the given deadline.

Sebi said that since these firms were not traceable, they would be included in the list of “vanishing” firms, and the regulator will debar their directors and promoters from accessing the capital market.

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Additionally, the registrar of companies and the ministry of corporate affairs will take action against these firms by initiating legal proceedings against their promoters and directors, Sebi said in a release.

Following the closure of 18 regional exchanges since 2014, around 3,000 companies were moved to the dissemination boards of nationwide stock exchanges such as BSE and the National Stock Exchange.

In January 2015, Sebi had said that firms listed exclusively on closed regional stock exchanges would be given 18 months to get listed on nationwide bourses and could, in the interim, be moved to their dissemination boards.

In October 2016, Sebi had allowed firms on the dissemination boards to raise capital to become eligible to list again.

Every firm on the dissemination boards was directed to submit a plan of action to indicate its intention to either comply with listing norms or provide an exit to shareholders within three months.

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Sebi had warned that if the promoter or director of such a firm did not demonstrate sufficient effort to provide an exit to shareholders, the company, its directors and its promoters, as well as other companies promoted by any of them, would be debarred from the market for 10 years.

Further, the shares of the promoters/directors of such non-compliant firms were to be frozen and their bank accounts/other assets were to be attached so as to compensate investors.

The time to submit a plan of action was subsequently extended until 30 June 2017.

“Sebi has taken the right step… But while debarring the directors of these companies, Sebi should exercise some caution because as per the last information available with RoC (registrar of companies), there could be many who must have already resigned before the company went to the dissemination board,” said Sudhir Bassi, partner at law firm Khaitan & Co.

First Published: Sat, Jul 08 2017. 11 17 PM IST

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Mining firms react to Tanzania’s new laws

By JAMES ANYANZWA
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By ERICK KABENDERA
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Australian mining company OreCorp has announced plans to review its operations in Tanzania, which is reviewing its mining laws to enable the government to renegotiate mining contracts.

Other mining companies have also said they are reviewing the implications of the proposed law changes, which have drawn criticism for their potential to stifle investment.

Acacia announced that it had served a notification for international arbitration shortly after the Bills were passed ahead of the negotiations between the company and the government over tax evasion allegations.

Acacia’s decision came even after President John Magufuli warned that companies seeking international arbitration would be banned from operating in the country.

OreCorp said the new law could potentially impact its $287 million Nyanzaga gold project, which is projected to produce about 213,000 ounces of gold per year over a 12-year mine life.

According to Creamer Media, South Africa’s mining news weekly, trading of the shares of Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) -listed exploration company Kibaran Resources was suspended as the company considered the implication of the proposed law.

Kibaran’s Epanko graphite project is expected to cost some $89 million to construct, and could produce some 60,000 tonnes of graphite per year.

Graphite developer Walkabout Resources said it would continue engaging with Dar on the issue while monitoring the situation.

Walkabout is currently constructing Lindi Jumbo graphite project in southeast Tanzania that will produce 40,000 tonnes of graphite per year for over 20 years.

According to Reuters, Black Rock Mining Ltd has received legal advice confirming that it is too early to ascertain the full impact on the company’s Mahenge graphite project while Graphex Mining Ltd said a number of new provisions of proposed legislation are not expected to impact the company.

Shanta Gold Ltd is seeking advice while assessing its potential impact. On its part, Volt Resources Ltd said  it would continue with  its plans for Namangale project.

Strandline Resources Ltd believes the legislation will not have major impact on its plans to achieve exploration and project development goals.

While rejecting international arbitration, the proposed legislation provides that renegotiation of mining contracts be completed within three months or the specific section of the contract be cancelled.

Turbulent economic time

Tanzania said it is bracing itself for turbulent economic times after parliament passed the Bills.

The amendments will affect six laws: The Mining Act, Cap.123; the Petroleum Act, Cap. 392, Income Tax Act, Cap 148; the Insurance Act, Cap 394 and the Tax Administration Act, Cap 438.

Recently, parliament passed the Natural Wealth and Resources Contract (Review and Re-negotiations of Unconscionable Terms) Bill, 2017 and the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Bill 2017, which states that all natural resources belong to Tanzanians.

The Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty Act 2017 further states that all disputes relating to extraction, exploitation or acquisition and use of natural resources shall be adjudicated by judicial bodies or other organs established in and accordance with laws of Tanzania.

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Law firm accused of touting for business in Grenfell fire

  • Leigh Day has reportedly suspended two paralegals pending an investigation
  • The pair are accused of seeking clients among the victims of the Grenfell fire
  • They are accused posting flyers adverising their services at the fire scene
  • A spokesperson for the company said they would never authorise such action 

Ross Parker For The Daily Mail

A controversial law firm has been accused of ambulance-chasing survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Leigh Day has reportedly suspended two paralegals after they allegedly touted for business among survivors of the blaze.

The firm has begun an internal investigation after The Times reported that two members of staff had put posters up at the scene, advertising their services.

A controversial legal company has been accused of ambulance chasing victims of the Grenell Tower tragedy by flyposting adverts offering their services near the disaster scene

A controversial legal company has been accused of ambulance chasing victims of the Grenell Tower tragedy by flyposting adverts offering their services near the disaster scene

A controversial legal company has been accused of ambulance chasing victims of the Grenell Tower tragedy by flyposting adverts offering their services near the disaster scene

Bosses at the company, which championed claims by civilians of mistreatment at the hands of British troops during the Iraq conflict, said they were completely unaware of the alleged activity.

A poster that offered to ‘kick-start’ insurance claims on behalf of those who had their lives shattered by the fire listed the names Harmita Rai and Sejal Sachania, who both work for Leigh Day. Details on the posters also reportedly claimed that the company would contact embassies and draft letters for survivors in need legal assistance.

The poster was allegedly put up among pictures and tributes to the dead and missing close to the tower block. It offered ‘free legal support’ and immigration advice. ‘Our aim is to help you kickstart any potential insurance claims and review any complex documents,’ it read.

Email addresses for Miss Rai and Miss Sachania were different from their work contact details.

A disclaimer on the poster read: ‘We do not charge for the assistance we provide. However a third party may charge.’

The poster said they would be at the Westway Sports Centre, where the relief effort was based, on June 20 at 7pm. It is understood to be under examination by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.

The emergence of the poster will spark fears that those who have lost their homes and possessions in the blaze could fall prey to unethical, ambulance-chasing legal firms.

Leigh Day solicitors Anna Crowther, left, Martyn Day, centre , and Sapna Malik, right, were cleared of any wrongdoing concerning their work on torture allegations against British troops in Iraq. The trio were brought before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

Leigh Day solicitors Anna Crowther, left, Martyn Day, centre , and Sapna Malik, right, were cleared of any wrongdoing concerning their work on torture allegations against British troops in Iraq. The trio were brought before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

Leigh Day solicitors Anna Crowther, left, Martyn Day, centre , and Sapna Malik, right, were cleared of any wrongdoing concerning their work on torture allegations against British troops in Iraq. The trio were brought before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

Officials have said that at least 80 people died in the fire, with the number of dead expected to rise further. A criminal investigation has been opened by authorities.

The North Kensington Law Centre, which is reportedly helping more than 100 survivors, told The Times: ‘We heard quite a lot of reports of ambulance-chasing in the aftermath of the fire. People were being told, “You need a lawyer ASAP, here’s the form, sign here”.’

Leigh Day, which has represented hundreds of suspected Iraqi insurgents since the end of the Iraq War, was accused of wrongly drumming up cases against troops, causing them ‘years of torment’.

It was alleged the firm pursued false allegations, despite having evidence the accusers were lying, in a business that raked in £9.6million.

Leigh Day solicitors Martyn Day, Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther were cleared of any wrongdoing at a tribunal last month.

Last night, a spokesman from Leigh Day said: ‘Leigh Day had no prior knowledge of the posters displayed around the Grenfell Tower.

‘As soon as the posters were brought to our attention, a full internal investigation was commenced. The two individuals concerned have been suspended.

‘Leigh Day would never have given authority for the posters or their display and we are taking this matter extremely seriously.’

Last night, an insurance agent was also said to have been knocking on doors to assist with claims.

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How to invest in firms profiting from the growth of cyber attacks 

The list of high-profile cyber-security breaches has been growing rapidly, and the firms that aim to stop such attacks are growing impressively.

The recent attack on Parliament and the “ransomware” demands that affected the NHS in May are among the latest in a string of assaults.

Businesses that could benefit from increased awareness of the dangers include those that provide hardware and software to keep information secure and those that consult on where organisations may be at risk.

These fledgling sectors of the economy are growing rapidly. Their revenues are estimated to be rising by about 11pc a year, and between 2017 and 2021 global spending on cyber security is expected to exceed $1 trillion (£780bn).

For investors who want to buy a slice of this potential, there are several options.

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) exists that invests solely in these companies. The ETFS ISE Cyber Security Go ETF was floated in September 2015 and since then has returned 33.4pc.

Although impressive, this is some way shy of both global stocks, which have risen by 49.2pc, and the global technology sector, which has gained an astonishing 67.9pc.

So far this year the ETF, whose annual charge is 0.75pc, has risen by 10.6pc. Unsurprisingly, the fund has attracted a great deal of interest from investors, who have put £128m into it so far this year, including £70m since the ransomware attack in May.

Given that the ETF has assets of only £200m in total, it’s fair to say that it’s a hot investment right now. Most of the money has come from professionals such as wealth managers.

Howie Li, the head of Canvas, an ETF provider, said those who were investing now were buying into a very long-term growth story: “Technology is transforming the way we live and operate in our daily lives and the risk to our identity and online profile is only going to increase.”

On top of these trends, EU legislation that comes into force next year (called the “General Data Protection Regulation”) is driving companies’ investment in cyber security. 

The regulation gives firms 72 hours to disclose that they have been subject to a data breach once they have discovered it, a move that brings Europe into line with the United States. 

The penalties for negligence in protecting personal information are severe: fines of up to 4pc of annual global turnover or €20m (£17.5m), whichever is larger.

Mr Li said the new EU law was a “huge stick” that would motivate companies.

“I believe that there are a lot more unreported than reported hacks and attacks. What you don’t want as a listed company are concerns around data protection, particularly given how damaging it can be for a company’s reputation,” he said.

Given how new this industry is, most of the companies in the ETF are small: 43pc of the holdings are smaller companies, while 38pc are medium-sized, and the remaining 19pc are larger players.

Mr Li said the smaller firms in particular were ripe for takeovers by technology firms that hadn’t established their own presence in the cyber-security market.

America is in the vanguard of the broader technology sector and it is no different here, with around 70pc of cyber-security companies based there. The US is followed by Israel (10.4pc), Japan (6.5pc) and Britain (5.9pc).

However, the ETF’s largest holding is London-listed Sophos, which accounts for 5.5pc of the fund.

The company, based in Oxfordshire, is one of the global leaders in security software. It lists the NHS as one of its biggest accounts.

Its share price has soared since the cyber attack on the health service, rising by more than 30pc since the beginning of May.

One risk of investing in these firms is that they, as well as the organisations under attack, can be embarrassed when a cyber-security breach happens.

After the NHS attack Sophos quickly changed the boast on its website that “the NHS is totally protected with Sophos” to “Sophos understands the security needs of the NHS”. 

Nick Evans, the manager of the £1.3bn Polar Capital Technology investment trust and £1.2bn Polar Capital Global Technology fund and one of the world’s leading active investors in technology, said he believed in the dynamics driving growth in the sector.


Three investment philosophies for buying and selling shares


Three investment philosophies for buying and selling shares


02:34


“Cyber and physical security remains a top spending priority for businesses,” he said. “We are seeing benefits from combining the adoption of ‘cloud computing’ and an increased focus on data security.”

However, he highlighted the risks of investing too narrowly.

He said: “When investing in a single sector there will always be a trade-off between potential returns and the risk of big losses. Technology is a fast-moving sector and new technologies often wipe out existing and legacy companies.”

This has been reflected in the volatility of the Cyber Security Go ETF. It has been around 30pc more volatile than the global technology index, which in turn has been 16pc more volatile than the UK stock market as a whole.

The ETF is quoted on the London Stock Exchange under the rather appropriate ticker symbol ISPY.

Although the shares are quoted in sterling, many of the underlying holdings are denominated in dollars, so investors are exposed to exchange rate movements; there is no currency “hedging”.

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