World
TracFone Failed Promise to Offer Unlimited Data Costs them $40 Million
The largest prepaid mobile provider in US settles charges it throttled customers
 
When TracFone, the nation’s largest prepaid cell phone provider, promised unlimited data, it really meant, not so much. The company agreed Wednesday to pay $40 million to settle FTC charges that it deceived customers with its $45 per month “unlimited” data plans, such as Straight Talk, Net 10, Simple Mobile and Telcel America. 
 
Instead of actually providing unlimited data, the company drastically slowed or cut off consumers’ mobile data after they used more than a certain amount in a 30-day period, the FTC said in its complaint. Data throttling hinders a smartphone user’s ability to search the web, use GPS navigation and watch streaming video, among other applications.
 
“The issue here is simple,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When you promise consumers ‘unlimited’ that means unlimited.”
 
In October 2014, the FTC filed suit against AT&T alleging that the company data throttled more than 3.5 million customers since October 2011, reducing data speeds by 80 to 90 percent until the next billing cycle began. AT&T said the allegations were baseless.
 
TracFone slowed data service when a customer used one to three gigabytes and suspended data service when the customer used four to five gigabytes, the FTC said in its suit against TracFone.
According to the lawsuit, one TracFone employee who tested the effects of throttling said: “Customer experience is affected because (it) is very slow… Regular users like me may get upset.”
 
Ya think?
 
Consumers on the Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile or Telcel American unlimited plan can file a claim for a refund at www.ftc.gov/prepaidphones.
 
Read more here about cellular companies and deceptive advertising. 
 

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US Acknowledges Conviction of David Hicks, Guantanamo Detainee, Should Not Stand
US Acknowledges Conviction of David Hicks, Guantanamo Detainee, Should Not Stand
 
The United States has acknowledged that the conviction of an Australian man held for nearly six years in Guantanamo Bay was not legally valid.
 
The Australian, David Hicks, was one of the first people sent to Guantanamo, and he has already figured in a key U.S. court decision that expanded the rights of detainees held in the offshore prison. Initially charged with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, attempted murder, and aiding the enemy, Hicks ultimately pleaded guilty to a single charge of providing "material support'' to terrorism.
 
Hicks recently appealed, arguing that the law used against him was passed after 9/11 and could not be applied retroactively. In its reply, the U.S. argued that the review court should refuse to review the case because Hicks had entered a guilty plea. But in a crucial concession, the military commission's chief prosecutor said that if the appeal were allowed, "the Court should not confirm Hicks's material-support conviction." 
 
The Jan. 16 brief by Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins was obtained by ProPublica and has not yet been made public.
 
"Hicks will finally get justice," said Michael Mori, a Marine Corps major who was Hicks' military lawyer. Mori is now out of the military and is no longer involved in the case, but he said he has seen a copy of the prosecutor's brief, as did two lawyers currently representing Hicks.
 
Hicks would not have been convicted in the first place "if the case had been tried in federal court, instead of the politically motivated military commissions," said Mori, author of a book about the case, "In the Company of Cowards: Bush, Howard and Injustice at Guantanamo," which was published last September.
 
The latest development is a striking retreat for the American government. The Bush administration initially described Hicks as among the "worst of the worst," the label used for the men held in Guantanamo. And in 2007, when Hicks was still in Guantanamo, the American ambassador in Australia, Robert D. McCallum Jr., described the Guantanamo detainees as "ruthless fanatics who would kill Australians and Americans without blinking an eye."
 
Hicks' case stands out in any discussion about the use of the military commissions in the war on terror. He was a Westerner, Detainee 002 (001 was another Westerner, John Walker Lindh, from San Francisco. Lindh pleaded guilty in federal court to two-terrorism-related charges in 2002 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison) and he was on the first plane bringing prisoners to Guantanamo.
 
Later, Hicks was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that Guantanamo detainees had the right to file habeas petitions in civilian courts to challenge their detention. And he was the first person convicted and sentenced by the military commission.
Many legal analysts have questioned whether the military process begun by the Bush administration can ever arrive at the truth. How can a judge assess a statement extracted by torture? How reliable are the allegations in the government's indictments when prosecutors overcharged, as they did in Hicks' case? If the Bush administration had allowed suspects to be tried in federal courts, the government's charges and the suspects' claims of innocence could have been put to rigorous test.
 
In the case of David Hicks, opinions remain divided over whether he was a lost soul in search of adventure and meaning in his life or a committed Taliban supporter, who, with his Caucasian skin and Australian passport, was being groomed by al-Qaida to carry out terrorist attacks in the West.
 
A heavy drinker and drug user, Hicks was expelled from school at 14. He was only 5-feet-5-inches tall, but he played Australian Rules football, which is physically more demanding than rugby, and became a kangaroo skinner in Australia's Outback; he then went to Japan to train horses. Tired of that, he ventured to the Balkans where he joined the Kosovo Liberation Army, which at the time was fighting with NATO support against Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia's leader. When that war ended, he returned to Australia, and after trying unsuccessfully to join the Australian army, he went to Pakistan, hoping to ride the Silk Trail on horseback, he told his parents.
 
There, he found Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-supported organization battling India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba eventually ended up on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations and executed the 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans. But at the time, the group was officially viewed as a collection of regional insurgents.
Lashkar sent Hicks to Afghanistan for training. American and Australian officials have said that he attended at least four al-Qaida camps.
 
 
Related stories: Read more of ProPublica's coverage of Guantanamo Bay.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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10 weeks of outflows from Emerging Markets
While Indian markets are getting huge inflows, money is flowing out of other emerging markets
 
 
Dedicated EM (emerging markets) equity funds reported a large outflow of US$3.20bn for the week ending 21 January 2015. This is the 10th consecutive week of outflows for dedicated EM equity funds, cumulatively amounting to US$24.3bn (2.7% of AUM-assets under management). This is according to a Morgan Stanley research note. 
 
The chart below shows the extent of outflows:
 
 
The position specific to the Indian market over more than a decade is shown in the chart below:
 
 
At the country level for equities (aggregate flows from all funds, global + EM dedicated funds, in US$ terms), China reported the largest outflows within EM markets of US$1.9bn this week. Relative to their AUM, China, Columbia and Chile were the major EMs to report outflows this week, while India, Turkey, and Korea reported inflows relative to their AUM. Within developed markets, USA and UK reported the largest outflows relative to their AUM this week, while, Germany, France and Italy reported the largest inflows relative to their AUM.
 
All sectors in EM reported outflows this week, with Financials, Energy and Utilities reporting the largest outflows relative to AUM in this week.
 
The comparative position of emerging markets in different countries is shown in the chart below:
 

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