August 24, 2007  nº 532  -  Vol. 5  
 

"Corruption and impunity are leading our people to distrust politics."

Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha
At a news conference over mensalão



In today's Law Firm Marketing, how to handle objections andovercome two costly excuses prospects make.

  • Top News

Brazil court considers graft case

Brazil's Supreme Court has begun deliberations on whether 40 people have a case to answer over one of the country's biggest corruption scandals. They are accused of running an illegal scheme through which the governing party financed election campaigns and bribed legislators from other parties. The scandal has forced several ministers to resign. Meanwhile, a Brazilian archbishop has warned that corruption scandals in Brazil are weakening democracy. The corruption hearing centers on a scandal known in Brazil as "mensalão" (the big monthly payment) because it relates to payments said to have been made each month in 2003 and 2004 to opposition politicians, to support the policies of Lula’s government. The president always denied any knowledge of the alleged scheme, but the controversy overshadowed much of the last two years of his first term of office.

Fights erupt in Bolivian Congress

Bolivian politicians have exchanged blows in Congress amid a dispute over control of the country's judiciary. The fighting in La Paz erupted when the opposition tried to stop pro-government deputies from bringing charges of improper conduct against four judges. Protests also continued in Sucre with demonstrators calling for the seat of government to be returned to the city. The ongoing protests have disrupted the work of an assembly meeting in Sucre to re-write the country's constitution. The trouble began when opposition deputies accused supporters of President Evo Morales of trying to exert undue control over the judiciary. Legislators aligned with Mr Morales were trying to bring charges against Constitutional Court judges who in May ordered the suspension of four of the president's judicial appointees.

Stocks dip as credit worries persist

Wall Street experiences a surge on the back of the Federal Reserve Bank's cut in the discount rate charged to banks.

Gangs find new source of revenue: Mortgage Fraud

The housing boom of recent years has turned mortgage fraud into a big business — so big that some of the nation's largest gangs are getting into the act. They are searching for new ways to launder drug-dealing and gun-selling money. Many of the scams now start with gangs getting a mortgage on a property they already own. From there they "get an inflated appraisal for it, resell it a couple of times over, and when they think they have run the course on that scheme on that particular property, they just walk away from it, and walk away from the mortgage. The scheme affects more than just lenders. Innocent buyers are hit, too. The crooked appraisals have a ripple effect: "Comps" — or comparable assessments — made on the value of other houses in the neighborhood yield inflated prices. That means innocent buyers end up overpaying for their houses and are saddled with an overvalued, hard-to-sell property. It is unclear exactly how gangs migrated from street crimes to white-collar ones. Law enforcement officials suspect that tougher gun laws and sentencing guidelines may have played a role in the shift. When street gang members were sentenced to serve time in federal institutions on gun charges, they got an unexpected new criminal education from the inmates incarcerated there.

Bank of China reports extent of exposure to subprime crisis

The bank's Hong Kong share prices dropped Friday after it reported it holds $9.65 billion in subprime asset-backed securities.

Fast forward in the history of the current financial situation: cheap money extends credit and risk expands to match

The credit boom, now in the process of reversing, originates in actions taken years ago, such as responses to the S&L Mess, the Asian financial crisis and the Fed's low interest rates. When the Fed cut interest rates to the lowest level in a generation to avoid a severe downturn, then-Chairman Alan Greenspan anticipated that making short-term credit so cheap would have unintended consequences. China's foreign-exchange reserves rose above $1 trillion, and the nation spent much of that cash - part of what Bernanke has called a "global saving glut" - buying U.S. Treasury’s, also referred to as “the foreign appetite for U.S. debt...” "We tried in 2004 to move long-term rates higher in order to get mortgage interest rates up and take some of the fizz out of the housing market. But we failed," Greenspan said. Demand prompted lenders to make more and more sub-prime loans. Originations rose to more than $600 billion in 2005 and 2006 from $160 billion in 2001, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. When the Fed held rates down after 2001, lenders could offer borrowers with sketchy credit histories adjustable-rate mortgages with introductory rates that seemed affordable. Low interest rates engineered by central banks and reinforced by a tidal wave of overseas savings fueled home prices. By 2006, the volume of such leveraged buyouts was smashing records from the 1980s. Generous credit markets enabled private-equity firms to do larger deals and pay themselves bigger dividends. Wall Street began packaging bigger pools of securities into collateralized debt obligations and carving them into "tranches." Riskier tranches suffered the first losses if underlying loans defaulted. 

The tech IPO is back

The sky is falling! The ground is rising! But could the subprime skunk that is fouling the public market actually be a bit of a blessing for Silicon Valley's high-technology investors? Highly out of favor in recent years, public offerings of technology start-ups are enjoying a mild resurgence. And some venture capitalists are arguing that the fragile trend could be bolstered by the problems that mortgage-related securities have caused in the stock and credit markets. The rationale is that technology investments, because they are far afield from credit-centric securities, could look relatively enticing.

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Events

The International Bar Association organizes a conference on the best practices in developing and protecting investments in privately financed infrastructure projects, on August 30 and 31, 2007  at the  Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. It will bring a particular emphasis on recent projects and new developments in PPP from around the world, with a focus on Latin America. The program and registration information is available by clicking here.  

The AASP - Association of Lawyers of Sao Paulo - in cooperation with the IBA, organizes a conference on August 29 in São Paulo (Centro) on PPPS and Project Finance: best practices in development and protection of investments projects. For further information on the program and registration please click here

  • Crumbs!

1 - Death Penalty: Texas carries out 400th execution. (Read more)

2
- EU: Parliament not public will decide the fate of EU treaty, says Brown.
(Read more)

3
- An error: HSBC denies blame for forcing Barclays into the red over loan.
(Read more)

4 - Photos: Suit over corpses posed in morgue settles. (Read more)

5
- $500 million: 4 Major Banks Tap Fed for Financing.
(Read more)
 

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  • MiMIC Journal

New recall of Chinese toys in US

Two more US firms have recalled Chinese-made toys, saying they include paint with dangerous levels of lead. The recall of about 300,000 toys comes a week after US firm Mattel recalled 18.5 million toys. That prompted a US senator to call for all toys imported into the country from China to be inspected.

China fear over 'tainted' US soya

China has accused some United States exporters of supplying tainted soy bean crops. Chinese officials said potentially harmful "weeds and contaminated dirt" had been found in the beans, but made no mention of any import restrictions. China has recently been at the centre of concerns about the safety of some of its own exports. US soya bean exporters said China was trying to "balance things out".

China banks witness profit surge

Half-year profits at two of China's biggest banks have surged on the back of higher lending and rising fees. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China's biggest bank, said net profits for the six months to June rose 62% to 41.04bn yuan ($5.4bn). Meanwhile, Bank of China revealed net income rose 52% from the same period last year to 29.5bn yuan. Higher lending and a rise in fee-based income drove the increase, the country's fourth-biggest lender said.

CVRD inks MOU with Baosteel for steel slab plant in Brazil

Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with China's largest steel mill, Shanghai Baosteel Group, to jointly construct a 5 million-ton capacity steel slab plant in Brazil.

  • Law Firm Marketing

How to overcome two costly excuses prospects make

by Trey Ryder

Why do clients and prospects make excuses?  And what do those excuses mean?

The excuses you regularly hear are really symptoms of other problems:

Excuse #1:  "Too expensive."  Prospects don't appreciate the value of what you're offering, choosing to focus on price instead.  (Also, "too expensive," if true, could mean you’re reaching the wrong audience and should redirect your message so you reach qualified prospects.)

Excuse #2:  "Too busy."  Prospects don't understand the importance of what you're offering, so they ignore your suggestions and claim they’re too busy.

The purpose of a competent marketing message is to make sure prospects understand the depth of their problem - and the solutions you can provide.  When you hear excuses, they demonstrate the failure of your marketing message.  Obviously, you're trying to reach people who don't appreciate the depth of their problem - and the importance of solving it NOW!

Part of the issue is Credibility.  When prospects trust you, they are more likely to follow your advice.  So another problem is that your marketing program does not establish a high enough level of trust for prospects to do what you suggest.

Part of the issue is Importance.  Prospects must understand the terrible problems they will create if they don't act soon.

Part of the issue is Urgency.  Motivating people to take action is hard.  Motivating them to take action AND write a check is even harder.

Part of the issue is Convenience.  Over the past year, I've carefully watched marketers in all types of businesses.  Those who achieve the greatest marketing success are those who make their message and their services very convenient for their prospects.

Here's a recent example:  Before her stroke, my wife Stephanie become a Mary Kay lady and worked hard to build her business.

Steph hosted three holiday extravaganza Mary Kay showcases, one each month starting in October.  Near Christmas, she featured gift baskets.  Steph had a hard time getting friends and customers to attend because they were all too busy with other priorities.

Mary Kay ladies have now started offering "trunk sales" where they take all their stuff to their customers' houses and sell it out of their trunk.  Bottom line:  It is now too inconvenient for people to attend a gift-party extravaganza.  If Steph hopes to sell her gift baskets, she has to drive them to people’s front doors.

Convenience is hugely important, especially in a world where no one has enough time.

For your marketing program to succeed, it must do all these things:

> Firmly establish your prospect's legal problem and its importance

> Offer solutions that only you can provide

> Prove that paying money to you is not a high cost -- but, instead, an essential and good investment -- in fact, the best investment they will ever make

> Clearly point out what people lose by not hiring you now!

Your marketing message must be air tight, without any holes.  And you need ways to deliver that message that effectively reach your prospects.

For marketing success, your marketing program must deliver a competent message that puts everything in the right perspective.

© Trey Ryder

FREE LAWYER MARKETING ALERT:  If you'd like to receive Trey Ryder's weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert, send an e-mail to Trey@TreyRyder.com. Write "Subscribe LMA" in the subject line and write your name and e-mail address in the body of the message.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Fronteras

Ferromex y Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) se aprestan a ampliar la capacidad de los pasos comerciales que tienen en la frontera norte. Rogelio Vélez, director general adjunto de Ferromex, anunció que este año empezarán las obras para aumentar la capacidad en los pasos internacionales en Piedras Negras y Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

Democracia Boliviana

En Bolivia, la cámara de Diputados se convirtió en un campo de batalla, el partido del presidente Evo Morales, el MAS se impuso y aprobó el juicio de responsabilidades a cuatro miembros del Tribunal Constitucional.

Reforma venezolana

El proyecto del presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, de permitir la reelección indefinida y otras reformas constitucionales pasó su primera prueba en la Asamblea Nacional sin grandes inconvenientes. El proyecto de Reforma Constitucional llegó al parlamento la pasada semana.

Empresas fusión

La Fiscalía Nacional Económica de Chile advirtió el jueves que la anunciada fusión de las minoristas Falabella y D&S restringirá la competencia en el negocio de los supermercados, por lo que recomendó la venta de las cadenas Tottus y San Francisco de la primera firma.

Abogados

M&L Estudio Legal, firma especializada en derecho marítimo en México, firmó una alianza estratégica con la empresa británica Dolphin Maritime and Aviation Services, con sede en Londres, Inglaterra, y que dirige Ardna Dellisen-Curran.

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  • Brief News

Brazilian prisoners die in blaze

Twenty-five prisoners have died in Brazil after fellow inmates set fire to mattresses in a cell during a dawn riot, police say. Officers said the incident appeared to be a settling of scores between rival gangs in the Ponte Nova jail in the central state of Minas Gerais. Police broke up the riot using water cannon and tear gas. Brazil is notorious for its overcrowded prisons and the presence of organized criminal gangs within their walls.

US judge upholds BA's $300m fine

A US judge has upheld a $300m fine against British Airways (BA) for price fixing after a guilty plea. The case was heard by a judge in Washington, who had to formally approve the fine which was recommended in July by the Department of Justice. BA now faces the likelihood of a class action lawsuit by thousands of US customers who were overcharged. The airline had tried to fix the price of fuel surcharges on US flights in collusion with Virgin Atlantic.

Venezuela lawmakers back reforms

Venezuelas parliament has given initial approval to reforms proposed by President Hugo Chavez, including an end to presidential term limits. The proposals still require a final endorsement by parliament, which is dominated by Chavez's supporters, and must then be put to a referendum. The constitutional reforms would also increase presidential control over the central bank.

Ransom paid to free Danish ship

The Danish government says the owners of a Danish cargo ship seized by Somali pirates in June paid a ransom to secure its return. A spokesman said the government was disappointed, but understood why the Danica White's owners had paid for the release of the ship and its five crew. No details of the deal were given, but Danish television reported that the pirates had demanded $1.5m. The pirates turned the vessel over to a French warship on Wednesday. The Pirates target passenger and cargo vessels for ransom or loot, and use the money to buy weapons. 

American pilots will testify in U.S. in Brazil plane crash probe

Two American pilots facing criminal charges after their executive jet collided with a commercial airliner over the Amazon are willing to testify in the case, but will not return to Brazil, their American lawyer said Thursday. "We are going to tell our story according to international treaty."

US to shut anti-terror database

The Pentagon has said it will shut down a controversial anti-terror database. US officials said the Talon program would end on 17 September because the amount and quality of information gathered had declined. The database was used to compile information on potential threats to US military facilities and personnel. A Pentagon review found that it had included reports on peaceful protesters and anti-war demonstrations which should have been deleted.

Texas carries out 400th execution

Texas has carried out its 400th execution since the US Supreme Court reintroduced the death penalty in 1976.

Federal appeals court to reconsider case of 'enemy combatant' held in US 

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Wednesday agreed to reconsider its June ruling  that the military cannot seize and imprison civilians lawfully residing in the United States and detain them as "enemy combatants" . In June, the court rejected government arguments that the president was authorized to order the military seizure of Illinois resident and Qatari native Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri from civilian custody and hold him indefinitely in a military jail without charge. The Department of Justice subsequently asked the court to re-hear al-Marri's case en banc . The DOJ had argued that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction over al-Marri's claims under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 , but the Court rejected that argument.

Oil-for-Food Settlement

Textron will pay $4.7 million to settle with federal authorities, mainly over kickbacks to Iraq in the oil-for-food program, the U.S. government said. Regulators are expected to outline more settlements over abuses in the United Nations program.

US lawmakers criticize White House effort to hold back evidence on missing e-mail

A House of Representatives committee chairman is leading the criticism about the Bush administration's claim that a White House office involved in a dispute over missing e-mail can keep records from the public. The Justice Department detailed the argument in its response to a lawsuit that sought to force the White House Office of Administration to say what it knows about the disappearance of an undisclosed number of messages. The White House has provided few details about the e-mail problem. It came to light more than a 1 1/2 years ago and resurfaced amid an uproar over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of federal prosecutors. For Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, the fight is just one of many between his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Republican White House over access to documents since Democrats took control of Congress in January. "The White House obsession with secrecy is absurd," Waxman said. "The White House is inventing new legalisms to thwart oversight and public accountability." In response, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "If there is an obsession here, it seems to be one with endless political fishing expeditions."

Slavery: Resistance amid the horror

The newly opened International Slavery Museum in Liverpool thrusts the visitor directly into the cultures of West Africa, emphasizing that many slaves came from a proud heritage that continues to thrive. Its goal is to be an educational institution rather than primarily a repository of artifacts. The riverside docks here, now a gentrified quarter, were a critical pivot in the trans-Atlantic slave trade when this city rose from seedy port to rich entrepôt in the 17th century. From Liverpool, traders sailed forth with guns and metals to sell in Africa, and from the proceeds bought slaves for the flourishing markets in the Americas. After the merchants sold their human cargo, their ships returned home brimming with sugar, cotton, coffee and tobacco. To commemorate and, more important, elucidate this dark passage of the city's past, the International Slavery Museum opened here Thursday, part of a series of events across Britain on the bicentenary of the 1807 British law that banned the slave trade.

Devotion to beauty paying off for Brazil

The longtime devotion of Brazilians to the body beautiful - whether it be spending fortunes on perfumes and cosmetics, slimming down to fit into minuscule swimsuits or revealing body waxing - is paying off. Exports of beauty products have been rising quickly in the past few years. In 2006, Brazilian companies exported $484 million worth of cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances, said João Carlos Basilio da Silva, president of the Brazilian Toiletry, Perfumery and Cosmetic Association, or Abihpec. That was up 152 percent from 2001, he said. In a retail market devoted to the word "natural," the abundant Brazilian supply of natural oils, fruits and plant extracts has played a crucial role, too, in the increase in sales. The Brazilian Amazon has about 13,000 plant species, according to the agricultural research agency, Embrapa. Only a few of those plants have been comprehensively analyzed and fewer than 1 percent currently provide active ingredients for cosmetics, according to experts.

  • Daily Press Review

Khartoum 'defying Darfur embargo'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

UN Mission in Congo National Staff Goes On Strike
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

Frimpong-Boateng to leave office in September
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Israel: Halt Summary Expulsion of Sudanese Migrants
Human Rights Watch (Africa), International news press releases

One dies as tugboat sinks
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Scorpions asked to look into graft bombshell
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Sunday Times, Manto set for court showdown
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Double tragedy for widow
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Plane crash kills two in Brazil
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

TnT to ban hand held cell when driving - but hands free ok
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Guatemala: Investigate Killing of Activist's Son
Human Rights Watch (Americas), International news press releases

ECUADOR:   Support Grows for Letting Sleeping Amazon Oil Lie
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Debate may be decider - Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) wins a major popularity boost
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

US$450 Million Investment Required for Reconstruction of Ica, Peru
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

PM must commit to 2009 withdrawal, Bloc says
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Quebec police admit agents posed as protesters
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Allocation for education in 2008 state budget slightly up, Yudhoyono says
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

U.S. Rejects Austria's Criticism of Missile Defense Plan
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Salman Khan will go to jail, says Court
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Japanese funds for IIM-Calcutta
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Eden
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Statue stolen from Penang cathedral
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Australia hands over ammo depot to PNG army
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

UAE to establish unified surveillance system for infectious diseases
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Kings star falls after sex assault
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

CPI(M): onus is  on government
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Rhys police hunt teenage killer
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Navarro's porn sideline
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

'Please catch my baby's killer': Gun victim's mother appeals for help
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Velcom registers as foreign company
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

My baby was just 11 ... this shouldn't happen
icLiverpool, Online news portal, Liverpool, England

Playwright sees actor in Sarkozy
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

Pupils celebrate record results
Manchester Online, Independent daily, Manchester, England

Bogus builders linked to oap death
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

Soap factory to axe 31 workers
North-West Evening Mail, Independent daily, Cumbria, England

Inconspicuous plastic toy that has made it to the National Museum
Radio Prague, Online news portal, Prague, Czech Republic

Murdered Rhys 'Was Never In A Gang'
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

SPIEGEL Pub Quiz:  What Pootie-Poot Did this Summer
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Gang warfare goes public
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

India now Nokia's second market
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Deep Water -- eight months in a leaky boat
The Scotsman, Moderate daily, Edinburgh, Scotland

'This should not be happening'
The Sun, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Last son returns from Iraq after brothers killed
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Transformer director in rant against Paramount over Blu-ray
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Terrorists Open Fire on IDF Soldiers in Shechem
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Condoleezza Rice to Visit Libya in October
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Emotional homecoming for Dutt after spending 23 nights in jail
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Haniyeh aide said to quit over Fatah-Hamas rift
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Still No Light at Tunnel's End
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

QIZ workers end strike unconditionally - Jordan
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

ETA Returned with a Car Bomb, Wounding 2 Guardsmen
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

200 Al-Qaeda fighters assault Iraqi town
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Security chief promises Waeel will be freed 
Yemen Times, Independent weekly, Sana'a, Yemen

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Copyright 2007 - Migalhas International

The messages that appear in this newsletter are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be and should not be considered legal advice nor substitute for obtaining legal advice from competent, independent, legal counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.

Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The information contained on this list may or may not reflect the most current legal development.