Category Archives: International

World News Legal developments from around the world. The following is a collection of the most recent posts from other blogs addressing topics of international law.

Chris Odom: ‘Bitcoins are Not Under Legal Law, They’re Under Cryptographic Law’

By Kyle Torpey Nov 19, 2015 1:30 PM EST

Smart contract is a term that gets thrown around quite often in the Bitcoin community, but the reality is not many people truly understand why these types of cryptographic contracts are useful and secure. Smart contracts can come with varying levels of complexity, and one of the most widely-used smart contracts right now is a basic Bitcoin transaction. At the recent Bitcoin Investor Conference in Las Vegas, Stash Co-Founder Chris Odomexplained the key attribute of a smart contract that makes it different from a legal contract.

Smart Contracts Don’t Need a Court of Law

During his remarks on smart contracts, Chris Odom made it clear that the self-executing properties of these sorts of contracts are what separate them from the legal contracts that have been used in the past. He explained:

“The distinguishing factor of a smart contract is that it’s self executing. It executes on its own. You see, most contracts that people make in the legal world are contracts that are designed so that someday they have to be enforced in the court of law; they have to be legally enforced, and so they’re written that way. They’re written based on, you know, ‘We’re going to expect that if we have to enforce this it will be in a court of law, and therefore, all these terms are written based on that assumption.”

Odom also noted that the point of a smart contract is to — at least partially — avoid the legal system in its entirety. He explained that the preferred smart contracts are the ones that automate the enforcement of the contract and do not require the use of a court:

“The last thing you want on a [smart] contract is something saying that it’s enforceable in court. That, ‘Hey, if you use this smart contract, you’re going to end up in court!’ Who wants to sign that? That’s your worst nightmare. When I’m picking a smart contract, I want something that will securely flow the money properly according to its terms and will not land me in court.”

Smart Contracts Automate the Flow of Money

Another key point made by Odom during his presentation is that smart contracts are mostly about automating the flow of money between the parties associated with a particular contract. Instead of having a judge decide the outcome of a contract, a smart contract can automatically trigger a transfer of funds based on a set of parameters defined by computer code. Odom noted:

“A real smart contract is something that automates money flows. It does escrow; it does surety bonds; it does insurance. These are the sorts of things that we’re building with our smart contracts. They automate the money flow. The money goes in here; after so many days, it automatically goes over there, unless a dispute gets triggered, and then maybe an oracle has to come online — or a dispute mediator or arbitrator.”

Smart Contracts Operate Under Cryptographic Law

During his presentation, Chris Odom also told a short story about a lawyer who was recently trying to understand smart contracts and how they work. Odom told the lawyer there is one important statement that should be included in any smart contract:

“Here’s what you want to put in a smart contract. Here’s how you know when you’re writing a smart contract instead of a normal, legal contract. The first thing you put at the top of the contract is ‘This contract will not be enforceable in a court of law.’”

Odom claims the lawyer did not seem to understand the point of a contract that could not be enforced in a court of law, so he went on to describe his point in further detail:

“First of all, courts of law are not able to enforce these [contracts] anyway. Imagine that you’re in court, and there’s a judge, and she says, ‘I have ruled those bitcoins shall be moved to that address.’ But it doesn’t happen. Even though she has robes, a nice chair, and a bailiff with muscles, the bitcoins don’t move. You have to have the private key to move the bitcoins because bitcoins are not under legal law, they’re under cryptographic law. It’s a new form of law that’s coming into existence.”

In short, smart contracts do not require a court or a judge to be enforced. Not only do these types of contracts not operate within the current legal system, but as Odom explained, it is sometimes impossible to enforce the rule of law on what is essentially nothing more than computer code.


Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report, and many other media outlets. You can follow@kyletorpey on Twitter.

Full Article – http://insidebitcoins.com/news/chris-odom-bitcoins-are-not-under-legal-law-theyre-under-cryptographic-law/35915

Hawaii becomes first U.S. state to raise smoking age to 21

Hawaii’s governor on Friday signed a bill raising the legal smoking age statewide to 21, the first U.S. state to do so.

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and will also ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes for those under the age of 21.

“Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free,” Governor David Ige said in a statement.

Also on Friday, Ige signed a bill banning smoking and e-cigarette use at state parks and beaches, acts already banned in all city and county parks other than of Kaua’i County, according to his office.

Most U.S. states set the legal smoking age at 18, while a handful have set it higher at 19. Some cities and counties, including New York City and Hawaii County, have already raised the smoking age to 21.

Lawmakers in Washington state and California have also pushed to raise the legal smoking age to 21 in recent months.

Opponents of the bill have argued that it limits choice for people considered adults in other situations, like joining the military.

In Hawaii, roughly nine out of 10 smokers start before the age of 21 and many report receiving cigarettes from friends or relatives of legal age, according to the governor’s office.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said that tobacco use kills 1,400 people and costs some $526 million in medical bills annually in Hawaii.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths annually, or one of every five deaths overall, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers have found that raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 or 25 years old would significantly reduce smoking and tobacco-related illnesses in the country and that a majority of U.S. adults support raising the legal age to 21.

Adult smoking rates in the country have dropped sharply to 18 percent of the population today from 42 percent in 1964.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Read more at Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/20/us-usa-hawaii-tobacco-idUSKBN0P006V20150620#jkmCyfL88G3D7aGO.99

Mafia trial puts the ‘Pirate’ of Rome in the dock

Massimo Carminati, a former member of a neo-fascist group, is charged along with dozens of politicians and businessmen.

Sara Manisera |

Rome, Italy – Dozens of politicians, businessmen, and alleged gangsters go on trial on Thursday on charges including corruption, money laundering, and weapons possession in one of Italy’s most important mafia prosecutions in the past decade.

Italy’s Special Operation Squad (ROS) has, since 2012, investigated Mafia Capitale, a mysterious organisation based in the Italian capital that prosecutors allege involves politicians and other public officials working alongside mob figures.

  Italy’s long road of corruption

Important businessmen have been implicated and, according to the prosecutor of the case, alleged Mafia Capitale leader Massimo Carminati delivered envelopes full of money to bribe officials involved in managing public tenders.

Carminati is a former member of the neo-fascist group Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR), which was active from 1977 to 1988 and carried out several terrorist attacks, including the bombing of the Bologna train station that killed 85 people.

Known as “The Pirate” because of his one eye, Carminati gained a reputation as a ruthless mafia boss who controlled large parts of Rome.

Local legend has it that Carminati is immortal after he miraculously survived a close-range gunshot to the head by a police officer in 1981.

The trial opens at Rome’s Palace of Justice on Thursday before moving to Rebibbia prison. It is expected to last until July.

Luca Odevaine, a former deputy head of the mayor of Rome’s cabinet, has confessed to receiving 5,000 euros ($5,500) monthly from Mafia Capitale. Paolo Pozzessere, the former commercial director of Finmeccanica, an Italian public company, has been charged with corruption.

Like other organised crime groups, Mafia Capitale is allegedly involved in extortion, smuggling, and money-laundering, as well as above-board activities that have allowed it to effectively control large parts of Rome.

But Mafia Capitale is not a conventional mafia group, according to Nando dalla Chiesa, who heads the Observatory on Organised Crime.

“Rather than having a hierarchical structure, it is organised as a network with different members – those in charge of using violence, and those who apply a partial territory control,” dalla Chiesa told Al Jazeera.

A wounded woman receives assistance following the Bologna train station bombing on August 2, 1980 [The Associated Press]

Perhaps Carminati’s greatest power is his impunity, observers say.

In 2011, l’Espresso journalist Lirio Abbate wrote one of the first articles published about Carminati headlined The Four Kings of Rome.

Abbate, who has lived under police escort for the past seven years because of his journalism on the mafia, explained that Rome was divided among four bosses and one of them is Carminati – also dubbed the “Last King of Rome”.

Read Full Article – http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/11/mafia-trial-puts-pirate-rome-dock-151104055722963.html

China urges U.S. against further provocation in S. China Sea

BEIJING, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — China on Tuesday urged the United States against further provocation in relation to the South China Sea.

“We urge the United States to […] not take any action that threatens China’s sovereignty and security,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

Her remarks came in response to a question regarding comments by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Monday, who said there would be more demonstrations of the U.S. military’s commitment to the right to freely navigate in the region.

According to media reports, the U.S. Navy plans to conduct patrols in the South China Sea about twice a quarter to remind China and other countries about U.S. rights under international law, said a U.S. defense official Monday on condition of anonymity.

Hua said China has always respected and safeguarded the freedom of navigation and overflight of various countries in accordance with international law, but strongly opposes any country using this as an excuse to damage China’s sovereignty and security.

She reiterated that China is firm in its determination and resolve to maintain its territorial sovereignty, security and legitimate maritime interests.

“We will resolutely respond to deliberate provocation from any country,” said the spokesperson, adding that China will closely monitor the situation.

The U.S. warship USS Lassen entered waters near Zhubi Reef last week, which is part of China’s Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, without the permission of the Chinese government.

In response, China has officially lodged a strong protest to the U.S. government, and expressed strong discontent and resolute opposition through various channels.

Full article – http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-11/03/c_134779998.htm

Assange Lawyer: UK and Sweden ‘Violating International Law’

U.K. authorities say they will arrest the Australian national if he leaves the embassy to seek medical treatment.

The United Kingdom and Sweden are “clearly violating international law” for refusing to grant Julian Assange medical attention outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London without arrest, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder told RT Thursday.

Assange, who has been living in asylum in the embassy for over three years, has been suffering from a “deep pain” in his right shoulder since June, for which his doctor has advised a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

U.K. authorities have said that they will arrest the Australian national if he leaves the embassy to seek medical treatment, which Assange’s legal team says is an affront on his human rights.

RELATED: The Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth

“The U.K. and Sweden are clearly violating international law,” lawyer Carey Shenkman told RT in a televised interview. “The U.K. is effectively brushing off its international obligations.”

According to Shenkman, both the U.K. and Sweden are contravening legally binding accords, including the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which grant the right to medical treatment, while both nations recognize asylum in embassies.

“What they are doing in reality is making Assange choose between his asylum and getting medical treatment. No person should ever have to make that choice,” Shenkman added.

Assange is wanted for questioning by Sweden over sexual assault. If arrested he faces the risk of extradition to the U.S. where there has been an ongoing attempt to prosecute Wikileaks and its founder over the slew of damning revelations made about the U.S. military.

For Full Article and Video – This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Assange-Lawyer-UK-and-Sweden-Violating-International-Law–20151016-0002.html