Bill Amendment to Prohibit Congress Members from Paying out Sexual Harassment Cases


Congress members have introduced new legislation that will prohibit legislators from paying settlements in sexual harassment cases with taxpayers’ money. The Bill in question is the “Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act” that demands the accused lawmaker to pay compensation to the US Treasury within 3 months of the settlement.

In a situation where the legislator refuses the reimbursement to the US Treasury than the compensation will be deducted from their salary. The Bill will also provide a legal office for complaints against members of Congress pertaining to these matters. The Bill will no longer require the victim to sign a non disclosure agreement in order to file the complaint. It would also allow for the Member of Congress to retain their employment but may have to take paid leave.

The Bill is yet to have a committee date on the calendar but has been bypassed with the House, Oversight and Government Reform, Ways and Means and the Committees on Ethics. This is the first amendment to the Bill since it was first passed in 1995.

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Starbucks Trademark Infringement Claim against Belgian Coffeehouse


The trademark in question is the Starbucks logo of a circular emblem containing a mermaid with the text in bold letters around the emblem, spelling out “STARBUCKS”. In 2013 a Belgian coffeehouse, owned by Hasmik Nerseyan, submitted an application for Trademark Registration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. A couple of months later, Starbucks hit back with an opposition for the application in regards to Article 46.

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The EUPIO had dismissed the case, regarding that the logos were conceptually similar, but differed in their distinctive characteristics. The court summarized the case as having “a low degree of similarity”. Nerseyan’s coffee house logo has a circular emblem with the words “Coffee Rocks”, spelled out in bold letters around it and a musical note fashioned from coffee beans inside the logo, where Starbucks has used a mermaid.

Recently, Starbucks reopened the case for an appeal against the closing summary of a “low degree of similarity” to the EU General Court, stating that the logos are not only visually similar but phonetically as well. The Court agreed with the re-appeal and has discontinued the 2015 dismissal of the case, allowing Starbucks to proceed with its claim.

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Thailand Revises Narcotics Law to Allow the Sale of Medical Marijuana

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Khao Sod reports on Thailand’s government changes on the narcotics law that will allow the sale of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription to be sold over the counter. The revision of the drug law follows the Justice Minister’s declaration last year of the failure on “the war on drugs”. Thailand now follows other developed nations on the decriminalization and implementation of more common sense regulations.

The policy is currently awaiting approval from the Cabinet, where once passed will be voted on by Junta-appointed Parliament for the final say. The Narcotics Board Control Director has inputted that from interviews with various health and law agencies that there is little opposition and predicts the same responses from law makers.

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The law, however, will not include the cultivation of the plant at home or recreational use. Doctors in Thailand still fear that the legalization of marijuana for recreational use may fall into the hands of children, damaging their developing brains. The director mentions, that although the law won’t extend that far, he didn’t rule out a future possibility based on debates.

A Thailand divorce agreement is a contract entered into by divorcing couples who can agree on important issues such as assets, child support and alimony.

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US Embassy Staff to Become Sales Force for Defense Contractors


The Trump Administration has loosened the policy on foreign US arms sales. The major policy change may come about as early as February and could result in conflict escalation around the world. The “Buy American” scheme will involve US diplomats and military personnel stationed internationally to be the transaction connection for American arms contractors and US defense sales.

The aim is to engage embassy staff members to aggressively sell weapons opening the gateway for foreign bodies to do business with the US. It is a possibility for weapons that were once considered illegal and black market to become mainstream and see the light of day as official US policy. The scheme would further deputize US diplomats at the forefront of arms deals.

The new foreign arms policy deal will greatly benefit the 5 main US defense companies. The plan as told by a senior administration official is to not only promote the sales of small arms but also drones, fighter jets, tanks and artillery. Current regulation for arms sales out of the US is centered on human rights and to make sure the sales of weapons do not fall into the hands of war criminals and sanctioned regimes. However, it is unclear how the new policy will mitigate current regulations whilst increasing sales as it will boost sales with non-NATO allies such as Egypt and Pakistan who have fewer restrictions when it comes to human rights issues.

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New Polish Prime Minister Removes Unpopular Cabinet Ministers

Polish PM, Morawiecki has managed to persuade Poland’s most powerful political leader, Kaczynski, to let go of Poland’s most criticized Cabinet Ministers in an attempt to strengthen relations with the EU. The former Ministers now include the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Environment. The removal of these Ministers who approved of the logging in one of Poland’s old forests has deterred sanctions on Poland by the EU.

Morawiecki had kept the Minister of Justice, Zioboro, as he fully backs the amendments of the justice system and was behind the sweeping reform of the justice system. The PM has expressed the change in the justice system has been a long time coming and necessary. He also comments that the objective is to be more “transparent and cost-efficient”. Some of the new policies include energy and climate policy and the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees who have been displaced by the conflict with Russia.

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The PM hopes that the reshuffling of the government shows a more conciliatory approach to the EU and that it allows for Poland to have a significant role in a strong Europe. The Ministers that have been replaced are the Defense, Finance and Development Ministers.

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