Communist Tax Lawyer

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Legal & Regulatory

Police Detain Unauthorized Protesters in Moscow

February 1st, 2010

Russian Protests in MoscowDemanding tax cuts and job creation, protests against Russia’s current administration were once again staged across the country over the weekend.

In Moscow yesterday, police detained as many as 100 protesters at an unauthorized anti-Kremlin demonstration in downtown Triumfalnaya Square.

Among those arrested were several prominent opposition leaders, including Eduard Limonov, leader of The Other Russia; Boris Newtsov, former Russian deputy prime minister; and Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group. Read the rest of this entry »

EU: Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta Fixing Budgets

January 27th, 2010

European Commission responds to updated budget cut proposals from ailing Eastern European economies Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Malta:

BRUSSELS (Dow Jones)–The European Commission on Wednesday said Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta are taking “effective action” to cut their budget deficits, but warned Hungary that its public finances face “considerable risks” this year.

Hungary likely hit its deficit target last year, with a shortfall worth 3.9% of gross domestic product, according to the commission, the European Union’s executive arm. But state revenue and spending are at risk this year and planned tax cuts next year could further hurt the country’s bid to bring its budget gap back below 3% of GDP by a 2011 deadline, the commission said. Read the rest of this entry »

To Protect Domestic Films, China Scales Back ‘Avatar’ Screenings

January 20th, 2010

AvatarChinese cinemas have confirmed that they are being told to stop showing the international blockbuster ‘Avatar’ in standard format starting as early as Thursday, a move that the media claims is an effort to give domestic films a fair chance at the profits.

‘Avatar’ will retain about one-third of its showings in the popular 3D format while the 2D version is likely to be replaced with the Chinese film, ‘Confucius,’ starring Chow Yun-Fat and Zhou Xun.

Despite being featured in approximately 2,500 theaters across China since its debut on January 4th, patrons are still waiting in line for hours to buy tickets to the international blockbuster, the New York Times reports. Read the rest of this entry »

China Google Relationship on the Rocks

January 14th, 2010

Recent cyber attacks threatening user security, corporate data, and critical software source codes, as well as expanding censorship restrictions demanded from the Chinese government, have led Google execs to question whether remaining in China is in the company’s best interest and, furthermore, whether a decision to stay would adhere to the company’s official motto, “Don’t be evil.”

Although blocked in China, here is the link to Google’s official statement issued yesterday for our readers abroad.

Here is also the CNBC interview with David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google, who discusses the Internet giant’s reaction.

Google has disclosed that its computer systems experienced sophisticated cyber attacks last month that it suspects originated in China and that targeted Gmail user accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Taking into consideration the technology, brains, and power behind the Google machine, as well as the severity of the implications, it is pretty safe to say that this isn’t a baseless claim.

Google’s decision to stand up to the Chinese government has earned them praise around the world from human rights advocates, but has undoubtedly irked the powers that be in the Chinese government and has received mixed reactions within China.

China’s largely government influenced media outlets have been trying to downplay the news online and during television broadcasts.
Xinhua: China seeks clarity on Google’s intentions

China Daily: Google pullout threat ‘a pressure tactic’

Shanghai Daily: Mixed bag of reaction to Google quit threat

Since its entrance into the Chinese market in 2006, Google has come under criticism from human rights activists for agreeing to censor a portion of their search results, resulting in some calling the ‘neutered Google’ or ‘communist Google’.

Google, however, has defended its decision to enter the Chinese market with a modified version, claiming that it is still a more open option for Chinese Internet users than domestic search engines like Baidu, which controls approximately 61 percent of the market (to Google’s approx. 31 percent) and maintains a close relationship with the government.

While this is largely true, entering sensitive words like ‘freedom,’ ‘freedom of speech,’ ‘freedom of religion,’ and ‘dalai lama’ into Google search within China will not only lead you to a blocked page, but will shut down the Google search function on your computer for 90 seconds, even today.
Regardless of whether or not Google indeed leaves China, the fallout from this will be very interesting to watch.

Here are some more interesting articles on the subject:
Google Gets on the Right Side of History

Google is not alone in calling China’s bluff

Clash on the Great Firewall

What do Chinese people think about all this? China Geeks has compiled and translated excerpts from all over the web. To find out what Chinese people have to say on the topic, click here!

U.S. Judge Awards US$1 billion in Lawsuit against Cuba

June 2nd, 2009

Last Friday, a Miami-Dade Circuit judge awarded more than US$1 billion in damages against the Cuban government for the lawsuit filed by a Cuban-American man blaming them for the suicide of his father.

Gustavo Villoldo, 76, claimed that Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro and others were guilty for his father’s 1959 suicide in Cuba. Villoldo would later join the U.S. military and be involved with the CIA-led capture of revolutionary Che Guevara. Even though the damage award would be almost impossible to collect, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Adrien said he wanted to send a signal to Cuba’s government.

Judge Adrien awarded almost US$1.2 billion; US$393 million for economic damages suffered by the family; US$393 million for pain and suffering; and US$393 million in punitive damages.

Villoldo’s attorney said the law firm search for global Cuban assets to fulfill the judgment. The Cuban government has not offered a defense to the lawsuit. In February 1959, Villoldo’s killed himself by overdosing on sleeping pills after being held by the government and tortured for days and threatened to be executed on supposed grounds that he was a U.S. agent.

Cuba to Regulate Foreign Companies’ Bank Accounts

April 22nd, 2009

Cuba’s central bank will put restrictions on the banking transactions of foreign companies operating inside the communist country starting on May 7th, according to Reuters.

The Nuevo Tribune newspaper has speculated that this surprise move has come as an attempt to cut down on illegal financial activities, such as money laundering, which have become a problem in the country.

Other sources believe that the move is in response to liquidity problems in the economy following a disappointing 2008.

The news regarding the changing banking policy was sent out via mail by state-owned Banco Metropolitano to foreign establishments and associations.

In the future, withdrawals will be restricted to those required to pay salaries to Cuban employees and special authorization from bank officials will be required for other bank transactions.

China Releases National Human Rights Action Plan

April 15th, 2009

China released a two-year human rights action plan on Monday in an effort to reinforce some of the civil liberties that have been neglected in recent times.

Among the policies targeted in the document is the right to a fair trial, the right to question government policies, and a call for measures to discourage torture.

The plan has received praise from many world organizations that see this as a step in the right direction, but maintain that China still has a long road ahead.

“It’s a step forward, I think. It’s also good there are some concrete benchmarks with 2010 as a deadline,” said Roseann Rife of Amnesty International, before also adding, “There are very serious abuses omitted from the plan.”

Two American Reporters Detained in North Korea

March 23rd, 2009

North Korea confirmed on Saturday that they were holding two American reporters who they apprehended last week near the Chinese-North Korean border.

The two captured journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were doing a report for the U.S. based Current TV on North Korean refugees in China. Two others, reporter Mitch Koss and an unidentified Chinese guide, were also part of the television crew, but managed to escape back to the Chinese border.

The four seemed to have trespassed onto North Korean lands near the Chinese city of Tumen while trying to get closer footage.

According to human rights activists who have visited the area, the border area in question is said to be tough to distinguish; marked by the Tumen River, which is less than 30 yards across here, it is a combination of dry-river bed and ice this time of year.

Regardless, the Chinese-American Ling and Korean-American Lee are currently being held in Pyongyang on charges of “illegally intruding” into North Korea.

Counterfeit Crackdown in Beijing

March 2nd, 2009

Beijing’s Silk Street Market, known for its vast selection of knock-off designer products, is facing increased pressure from domestic lawyers to stop selling counterfeit goods. The market managers have shut down 29 stalls over the last month provoking angry protests from the aggressive vendors.

The recent shut downs are a result of pressure put on the market managers by the Beijing law firm IntellecPro, which specializes in intellectual property rights. The firm represents a collective of Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton who first filed a trademark violation lawsuit four years ago.

The lawyer representing the vendors claims that his clients are too ignorant to distinguish brand names or real goods from fake. “We don’t read English. We don’t know what the letters mean. We just think it is pretty,” claimed one vender.

The market is an extremely popular tourist attraction in Beijing, reportedly attracting more than 15 million annual visitors – two-thirds of them foreigners.

Foreigners can’t use Azerbaijan’s FM Band

January 7th, 2009

According to the New York Times, Azerbaijan has begun to enforce a ban on foreign companies from broadcasting on national frequencies, effectively closing its airwaves to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the BBC.