Reuters blog archive

from Alison Frankel:

DOJ dismissal motion leaves mystery in shipping magnate’s libel case

We know the U.S. government believes that it has such significant national security interests at stake in a libel suit by the Greek shipping magnate Victor Restis against the non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran that on Friday, the Justice Department invoked the state secrets privilege and asked for Restis' suit to be dismissed. What we don't know is why.

The government's brief is maddeningly opaque about its interest in a private libel case. It states just that the head of an unnamed federal agency has determined that information related to Restis' claim is subject to the powerful and rarely invoked state secrets privilege. Even revealing the identity of the agency or the basis of the assertion of the privilege, according to Justice, might compromise "classified and privileged matters," the brief said. All of the specifics on Justice's claim of privilege are contained in declarations that only U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos of Manhattan - and not even lawyers for Restis and UANI - can see. The judge will have to decide whether to permit Justice to intervene, though that's really a formality because of the executive branch's broad discretion to claim the state secrets privilege.

It's extremely unusual, though not unprecedented, for the government to invoke the state secrets privilege and move to intervene in private litigation. In a 2010 decision called Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, for instance, Justice secured the dismissal of an Alien Torts Act suit against a company that allegedly helped the Central Intelligence Agency transport suspected terrorists for interrogation outside of the United States, after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, concluded that the case implicated the state secrets privilege.

But the U.S. government's interest in shrouding the CIA's extraordinary rendition program seems obvious. The national security implications of Restis' case against UANI are, as the New York Times reported Sunday, much murkier. Restis' lawyer, Abbe Lowell of Chadbourne & Parke, told the Times that "there is no precedent, literally, for what the government is attempting to do." (Lowell didn't return my call.) Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented plaintiffs in the 9th Circuit case that was dismissed under the state secrets doctrine, told Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, "I have never seen anything like this."

from jharonnemartis:


RadioShack Corp. (RSH.N) is encountering major static from an online marketing environment. The nearly century-old company said on Sept. 11 it may need to file for bankruptcy protection, after reporting its tenth straight quarterly loss. We look at another retailer with a big investment in bricks and mortar – Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY.N),which is going through its own troubles.   

StarMine analysts seem to like the fact that BBY is cutting costs and seeing strength in appliance sales. However, is this really sustainable in the long run?

from The Great Debate:

Russians love their children, too – but that alone won’t stop a nuclear war


Back when most of today's Western decision-makers were in college, Sting had a hit song with “Russians.” It began:

In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

It sometimes seems that most Western analysis of Russia has the sophistication of this song.

from India Insight:

Indian tennis players “lack killer instinct”: Bogdan Obradovic

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

Riding on the back of two magnificent comeback matches (Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna doubles victory, followed by Somdev Devvarman's win in singles in Bangalore), Yuki Bhambri, 22, had everything going for him in the final rubber of the India-Serbia World Group play-off tie. Yuki had the "momentum" going into the match against Filip Krajinovic, 22, but he didn't bring two important ingredients to the court: tenacity and killer instinct.

from Mark Jones:

Why vote yes? Scotland’s voice is drowned out in the United Kingdom.

Why vote yes? Scotland’s voice is drowned out in the United Kingdom.

from Mark Jones:

Rape myths hide crimes. Just ask these children.

Rape myths hide crimes. Just ask these children.

from Data Dive:

Bankruptcy isn’t what it used to be

Radio Shack is considering bankruptcy. The electronics retailer has struggled in the digital age, and announced today that its CFO, John Feray, resigned last week. He will be replaced by Holly Etlin, a managing director at AlixPartners, which has been advising Radio Shack financially since 2013. Even with outside help, the company's share price has tumbled since 2010:


Bankruptcy isn't quite as helpful for a company as it used to be. While retailers used to be able to use Chapter 11 as a shelter to devise new business plans, with around half emerging from bankruptcy, a 2005 law has changed all of that.  Reuters reports that if Radio Shack files for Chapter 11, it isn't likely to recover, thanks to the nine-year-old law that only gives companies 210 days to turn things around. Now, only 12 percent of companies emerge from bankruptcy without going out of business. "Circuit City Stores, Borders Group, Filene's Basement, Linens 'n' Things, Coldwater Creek and plenty of smaller chains have gone out of business after filing for Chapter 11," write Tom Hals and Nick Brown.

from Mark Jones:

Bankruptcy isn’t what it used to be

Bankruptcy isn’t what it used to be

from Reuters FYI:

Algae: It’s smarter than we are

A man stands beside the algae-covered coastline of Qingdao, Shandong province, June 26, 2014. Picture taken June 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

A man stands beside the algae-covered coastline of Qingdao, June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Algae: 1, Humans: 0

While climate change continues to baffle humans, marine algae has found a way to evolve during global warming.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Dollar bulls – may the (external) force be with you

The Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee meets this week to discuss the outlook for the U.S. economy and for rates. It’s something of a shame for Janet Yellen & Co that the event will be mostly overshadowed by the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum two days later. The dollar is around its highest in over a year and logic would dictate that this is a function of the growing expectations for the Fed to signal its first rate rise in almost a decade. At least that’s the theory.

The practice is a lot less dollar-centric, according to BNY Mellon chief currency strategist, Simon Derrick. The dollar has gained more than 5 percent so far in 2014 against a basket of currencies, putting in track for its largest increase in a year since 2008, the year the financial crisis exploded. But this has a lot less to do with the Fed gradually inching towards tighter monetary policy and a lot more to do with just about everything else. “It seems to me that expectations about Fed have actually been least important element in USD performance over past month,” Simon said. “Look over the past month and each USD move has really been about external factors Mid-August - that was about Japan and (its pension fund); early September – that was about the ECB and then Scotland. It feels very much as if the dollar has been the funding currency of choice over past 12 months and that what we are really seeing is a variety of factors that are denting confidence in carry trade.”