September 5, 2007  nº 537  -  Vol. 5  
 

“The machine does not isolate us from the great problems of nature but plunges us more deeply into them.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery


In today's Grammatigalhas: "Do and don't" in legal writing, words and phrases to avoid, plus a summer guide on success writing.

  • Top News

Brazil proposes international environmental organization

Brazil has offered a proposal to break a deadlock over how the United Nations should protect the world's environment. France has suggested an international environmental agency along the lines of the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. The United States and other countries have balked, saying they would prefer to strengthen existing bodies such as the U.N. Environmental Program and the Global Environment Fund. Environment Minister Marina Silva said Brazil's plan would leave the existing agencies in place, but create an "umbrella organization" that would have the resources to finance projects.

Brazil pressured on cluster bombs

The Brazilian government will come under increasing pressure over its position on cluster bombs at a conference of Latin American countries. Brazil, which produces cluster bombs, has stayed outside the so-called Oslo Process which seeks to conclude a treaty banning these munitions by 2008. Its government says it would prefer to see the issue dealt under the auspices of the United Nations. Cluster bombs remain one of the most controversial weapons of war. If these smaller bombs fail to explode, they can pose a hazard to civilians and especially children for many years to come.

US row over Iraq army dismantling

Paul Bremer who ran Iraq after the 2003 invasion has insisted that President George W Bush approved plans to dismantle Iraq's army. Bremer released a series of letters to the New York Times detailing the need to take "robust" action against the toppled regime of Saddam Hussein. But in a book published on Tuesday, Bush says the agreed policy was to keep Iraq's army intact. The disbanding is now widely seen as a mistake that fuelled Iraq's insurgency. This episode is another example of a falling-out among senior administration officials about policy in Iraq.

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  • Crumbs!

1 - Feet on train seat: Student is taken to court after putting her feet on train seat. (Read more)

2 - Election: Jamaican opposition party appears to win election. (Read more)

3 - Suprise Visit: Bush, in Iraq, says troop reduction is possible. (Read more)

4 - At the prison rodeo, a lot of bulls, some broken limbs and a small taste of freedom. (Read more)

5 - Nifong held in criminal contempt by judge, sentenced to day in jail. (Read more)

6 - Premier raises bread prices as profits half. (Read more)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China denies Pentagon cyber-raid

China has denied reports that its military hacked into the computer network of the US Department of Defense in Washington. A foreign ministry official said the claims "reflected Cold War mentality". US officials said the Chinese army made the attack, which crashed part of a system for the defense secretary's office.

Last week China dismissed reports that its armed forces had infiltrated German government computer systems. The reports come as Bush prepared to meet his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at the Apec summit in Sydney, Australia.

China reserves 'not in subprime'

China has said its $1.3 trillion in foreign reserves have not been invested in the US subprime sector, according to state media. The reserves include "no holdings of US subprime securities", reports say. Chinese reserves are mainly invested in US Treasury bonds, the newspaper said.

China becomes Brazil's second-largest supplier  

China has overtaken the Mercosur group of nations to become the second-biggest source of imports for Brazil, following the United States. From January to August, Chinese companies exported products to the value of US$7.579 billion, a performance which made it possible to consolidate Asia’s position as leader amongst the blocs exporting most to Brazil, with a total of US$18.604 billion. In the period, total Brazilian imports reached a new record of US$74.921 billion, or 27.8 percent more year on year.

  • Grammatigalhas

As If Your Life Depended On It… or How to get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice, practice

Just say no: words and phrases to avoid

Want some quick style fixes? Avoid these words and phrases.

"Clearly," "plainly," and "patently"

We know we shouldn’t use these words, but sometimes the temptation is too strong. Try to heed the advice of Second Circuit Judge Roger Miner:

“Eliminate adverbs such as clearly and obviously. If things are so clear or obvious, why do we still have a legal dispute on our hands?”

"As a matter of law"

Many lawyers overuse this phrase.

Example: “Because Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts supporting each of the four Counts, the Court must dismiss the Complaint as a matter of law.”

As one judge told me, “What else would it be a matter of? Art history?”

Cut this phrase when you can.

"As such"

As such is clunky. When used for therefore, it’s also incorrect.

A common mistake: “As such, the Court should construe the arbitration clause against the drafter.”

Instead, try the following: “The Court should thus construe the arbitration clause against the drafter.”

"Said" and "such" to mean "the," "this," or "that"

This use of said and such is archaic and awkward—a parody of legalese. Consider this excerpt from a brief in one of the McDonald’s obesity cases:

“[T]he ‘fatty acid profile’ of Chicken McNuggets more closely resembled beef rather than chicken as said nuggets were cooked with ‘beef tallow.’”

The problem with said sentence speaks for itself.

"And/or"

Courts have called this expression a “freakish fad,” an “inexcusable barbarism,” and a “Janus-faced verbal monstrosity.” Drafting experts agree.

To avoid ambiguity, rather than write that a landlord shall provide “gas and/or electricity,” try “gas and electricity,” “gas or electricity,” or “gas, electricity, or both.”

"Provides that"

Replace this heavy phrase with under and a comma. That way, you focus on the parties, not on the case name or statute.

Before: “Section 102(a)(3) provides that life support may be removed upon notice of intent by the spouse to the hospital.”

After: “Under Section 102(a)(3), spouses can remove life support by notifying the hospital of their intent.”

"Additionally"

Replace with also.

Before: “Additionally, we request that you respond to our demand within fifteen days.”

After: “We also request that you respond to our demand within fifteen days.”

"The fact that"

Strunk & White call the fact that a “debilitating expression.” You rarely need it.

Before: “The fact that you failed to raise the issue at trial is tantamount to your relinquishing your right to contest it on appeal.”

After: “Because you failed to raise the issue at trial, you cannot contest it on appeal.”

"Hereinafter"

Ban it.

Before: “The Ford Motor Company (hereinafter, ‘Ford’).”

After: “The Ford Motor Company (‘Ford’).”

Even better, just write “Ford” as long as it’s clear which Ford you mean.

Here’s what Judge William Eich once said about parenthetical repetitions:

“Excusable, perhaps, if the lawyer is 127 years old and was apprenticed in his youth to Silas Pinney, but never welcome in any piece of writing by anyone younger.”

"However" at the beginning of a sentence

Most stylists are opposed.

Before: “I have reviewed your letter. However, I disagree with many of your arguments.”

After: “I have reviewed your letter. I disagree, however, with many of your arguments.”

Ten Tips for Summer Writing Success 

By Ross Guberman

1. Relax. 

Attorneys spend decades refining their writing skills. Everyone at your firm understands that writing is hard, and that you’ve had few opportunities to draft the documents you’ll be asked to generate. Your efforts will be appreciated. 

2. Don’t relax too much. 

When reviewing exams or even papers, law professors often overlook typos, citation errors, spelling mistakes, and formatting gaffes. Law firms are much less forgiving. Never let sloppy mistakes mar your work product.  

3. Know where you’re headed. 

After you meet with assigning attorneys, email them a summary of the assignment (what you think you’re expected to accomplish and how many hours you should spend). Attorneys often spot misunderstandings only after they see them in writing. 

4. Hunt for context. 

You may find that you don’t fully understand how your assignment fits into “the big picture.” Consult the assigning attorney or another attorney on the matter, read the file, pull the complaint, search the Web—do what you can to understand the context of the assignment.  

5. Stay in touch. 

After you’ve worked several hours on a major assignment, email the assigning attorney an update on where things stand. This exercise will help you organize your thoughts and keep you on track. 

6. Descend from the clouds

Remember that the purpose of your assignments is to help the assigning attorney solve problems, plot strategy, or give advice. It is not to prove that you have a big vocabulary or a high IQ. When your work product helps resolve practical problems, attorneys will value you and your contributions.  

7. Take a stand. 

When you draft a memo, distill your research into substantive points that help answer questions about the law. Avoid the “on the one hand, on the other hand” approach that characterizes many summer-associate memos. Similarly, don’t rely on the old saw that “the law is unclear.” That’s why the firm needs a memo. Use your judgment to make the law clear—or at least clearer.  

8. Read aloud. 

You’ll be amazed at how often you can spot embarrassing mistakes and awkward wording when you read something aloud. A good rule of thumb: if you have trouble breathing when you read a sentence, it’s too long. 

9. Submit with confidence. 

Before you submit any assignment, print it out and then pick it up as if you were the assigning attorney. Read the first few paragraphs. Have you answered the question that generated the assignment? If not, rework the draft until you’re satisfied. Also spend at least 15 minutes cutting needless words and phrases. And proofread from the last line to the first.  

10. Appreciate feedback. 

When you receive feedback, keep an open mind. Many law students challenge the assigning attorney’s edits. Others become defensive or throw up their hands. Handling criticism well can be as important as writing well in the first place. To make the most of feedback, separate the attorney’s edits into two groups: (1) changes that are idiosyncratic or cosmetic; and (2) changes that are stylistic or substantive. Focus on the second group. List the ways the attorney refined your work so you can incorporate those strategies the next time. If you receive similar edits from several partners, add those changes to your list even if you believe they are idiosyncratic. 

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  • Historia Verdadera

Aerolíneas

La empresa mexicana de vuelos a bajo costo, Aerolíneas Mesoamericanas (Alma), obtuvo un certificado internacional en materia de seguridad con el que podrá hacer vuelos desde y hacia Estados Unidos a partir de 2008.

Argentina - Venezolanas

Venezuela decidió la apertura a la importación de papa semilla argentina. El Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria dijo que las negociaciones para la venta del tubérculo superan los US$ 200 mil.

Hoteles

Luego de tres años de haber comprado las tierras del dique 1 de Puerto Madero, en Argentina, los mexicanos del conglomerado hotelero IQ construirán en el lugar el primer hotel 6 estrellas de Latinoamérica.

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  • Brief News

UN chief to visit troubled Darfur 

UN chief Ban Ki-moon visits Sudan's Darfur region, where the world's biggest peace force is to be deployed.

Colombian army 'kills rebel head'

The Colombian army says it has killed a leading member of the country's largest left-wing guerrilla group, the Farc, during an assault against rebel troops.

Panama Canal expansion under way

Panama has started work on a $5bn building project to widen the Panama Canal to increase its capacity. Many tankers are now too large for the 50-mile (80km) route and supporters say the modernization is vital to maintain trade and will create 7,000 jobs. Opponents have attacked the project, due to be completed by 2014, arguing that it will damage the environment and widen the gap between rich and poor in the country.

Job cuts plan in Peugeot shake-up

Carmaker Peugeot Citroen has unveiled an aggressive restructuring program which includes plans to trim its European workforce by 8,000. The shake-up, which also features more focus on emerging markets, aims to make the firm more efficient and double its profitability by 2010.

Death sentence upheld for Iraq's 'Chemical Ali'

Iraq's High Tribunal upholds the sentences on "Chemical Ali" al-Majid and two other lieutenants of Saddam Hussein for their roles in a decades-old massacre of Kurds that killed up to 180,000 people.

Lenders urged to help avoid foreclosures

US Federal and state banking regulators urged lenders and investors to restructure the loans of millions of borrowers at risk of losing their homes as their adjustable-rate mortgages reset to a higher rate. Lenders should "review to determine the full extent of their authority to identify borrowers at risk of default" and find a way to keep the borrower in a home, the regulatory bodies said in a joint statement. The statement is a direct effort to tackle an issue that has bedeviled efforts to restructure loans in the past: Many loans are no longer on the books of the original bank or lender; they have been bundled with others and sold off as securities in the secondary market in a process known as securitization. The originator often remains the loan servicer -- collecting payments on the loan in return for a fee.

Scholars link success of firms to lives of CEOs

Should shareholders in a company care if the chief executive's child dies? What if the mother-in-law passes away? Such things don't normally figure in investment decisions. But maybe they should, according to a recent study by three finance professors. Mining a trove of Danish government data on thousands of businesses, they were able to track links between CEO-family deaths and the companies' profitability over a decade. The study is part of an emerging -- and controversial -- area of financial research that delves into the lives and personalities of executives in search of links to stock prices and corporate performance. The trend is an outgrowth of the tendency to lionize CEOs as critical to the businesses they lead. If their performance is so vital, the researchers say, investors should want to know anything that could affect it. "When you go to the track, you study the horse," says David Yermack, a New York University finance professor. "Investing is not that different. You want to know as much as you can about the jockey."

Belgian prosecutor recommends classifying Church of Scientology as criminal 

Belgian prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen said Tuesday that the Church of Scientology  should be classified as a criminal organization after completing a 10-year investigation into the church's activities. Van Espen also recommended that the Church and a dozen of its adherents should face criminal charges of fraud and extortion in Belgium , where the Church is not deemed an official religious group . The Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office also alleges that the Church of Scientology International European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights  in Brussels has unlawfully practiced medicine and violated privacy laws. A Belgian administrative court will evaluate whether charges should be filed against the Church; if so, a court hearing may occur within the next few months.

US federal government secrecy on the rise

US government secrecy increased in 2006, according to the Secrecy Report Card 2007  released over the weekend by OpenTheGovernment.org . The report cited an increased reliance on national security letters (NSL)  and more frequent assertions of the state secrets privilege. The fourth-annual report also examined other indicators of secrecy in the federal government such as the numbers of presidential signing statements , non-competed federal contracts, whistleblowers, and assertions of executive privilege. The report found that across the federal government there was "a continued expansion of government secrecy across a broad array of agencies and actions and some, limited, movement toward more openness and accountability."

Indonesia lawyers fail to reach settlement in civil corruption lawsuit against Suharto 

Indonesian prosecutors announced Tuesday the breakdown of court-ordered settlement negotiations  with lawyers representing former Indonesian President Haji Mohammad Suharto . Prosecutors will instead proceed in court with the government's civil lawsuit  against Suharto for allegedly embezzling $440 million between 1974 and 1998 from the Yayasan Supersemar, a state-funded academic scholar fund. Indonesian law requires that parties try mediation to resolve civil disputes before courts may proceed with a case. Suharto's lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon indicated that the negotiations failed because government prosecutors insisted on terms identical with their suit. Government lawyers are seeking to recover the $440 million in state funds, and an additional $1.1 billion in damages.

Fashion industry grapples with designer knockoffs

A debate is raging in the American fashion industry over designs like those by knockoff firms from the Garment District that dress more people than most of the famous designers. Copying, which has always existed in fashion, has become so pervasive in the Internet era it is now the No. 1 priority of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which since last year has been lobbying Congress to extend copyright protection to clothing. Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator from New York, is co-sponsoring a bill and held a news conference in August to rally sympathy for designers. An expert working with the designers' council estimates that knockoffs represent a minimum of 5 percent of the $181 billion American apparel market. Outlawing them is certainly an uphill battle, since many shoppers see nothing wrong with knockoffs, especially as prices for designer goods skyrocket. Critics of the designers' group even argue that copies are good for fashion, because they encourage designers to continuously invent new wares to stay ahead. Designers say that is pre-Internet thinking. "For me, this is not simply about copying," said Anna Sui, one of more than 20 designers who have filed lawsuits against Forever 21, one of the country's fastest growing clothing chains, for selling what they claim are copies of their apparel.

  • Daily Press Review

UN chief to visit troubled Darfur
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Concern as violence causes more displacement in North Kivu
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

African Govts urged to prioritise money transfer sector
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

Ban bolsters peace deal in Sudan
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Comrades demand public apology from Lekota
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Tributes pour in for Gift Leremi
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Expert trips up 4x4 trips
News24.com, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Hurricane Felix down to category 4 but still dangerous
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Son of Tommy Joseph shot dead by bandits
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Brazil: Report on Past Atrocities a Key Step Forward
Human Rights Watch (Americas), International news press releases

Death Squads Still Operating
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Bruce edges out Portia - 31: JLP 29: PNP
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru: U.S. INS - Immigration Officials Much Stricter on Undocumented Immigrants
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Wife and daughter replaced by imposters, actor tells trial
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Adventurer Fossett missing
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Indonesian lawyers fail to agree Suharto settlement
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

Howard: Australia Will Not Cut Troop Levels in Iraq
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Uphaar verdict deferred till Oct 20
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

IT couple's son abducted in Hyderabad
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

A recurring moral hazard
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Youth, jailed for not carrying IC then freed, gets new card
Malaysian Star, Online news portal,  Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett missing
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

DPRK security service arrests several foreign spies
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Meat and greet - all the president's lunch
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

25 killed in Rawalpindi blasts
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

All UK 'must be on DNA database'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Djokovic battles through to last eight in US Open
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Police to be issued with traffic warden-style ticket machines
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

CenterTelecom selects Alvarion for WiMax deployment
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Visitors robbed in visit to Walton prison
icLiverpool, Online news portal, Liverpool, England

Strike cripples London Underground
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

Relief for feet-on-seat student
Manchester Online, Independent daily, Manchester, England

Train crash points were 'not checked'
News & Star, Independent daily, Carlisle, England

Sewer flood plans explained
North-West Evening Mail, Independent daily, Cumbria, England

Poster columns bring Masaryk's life to the streets in new exhibition
Radio Prague, Online news portal, Prague, Czech Republic

Search For Missing Millionaire Adventurer
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Atomic Exports:  German Technology Ends Up in Iranian Nuclear Plant
Spiegel International, Liberal newsmagazine, Hamburg, Germany

Titan Rain - how Chinese hackers targeted Whitehall
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Dempsey to meet Shannon group
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

New health scheme launched to help world's poor
The Scotsman, Moderate daily, Edinburgh, Scotland

Island bikini babes
The Sun, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Chinese hackers 'raid Whitehall computers'
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Eurostar's record run means French can finally forget about Waterloo
Times Online, Conservative daily, London, England

Siniora Promises to Rebuild Nahr el-Bared
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Rafsanjani to Head Key Iran Cleric Body
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

3 held in Germany over airport attack plot
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

PM, Blair discuss confidence-building between Israel, Palestinians
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Haditha Probe Limps to a Close
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Al Masraf to replace ARBIFT via a multi-million dirham re-branding program - UAE
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

Colombia Kills Senior Rebel
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Ramadan will tell the tale in Iraq - senior US general
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

50% of Yemeni people's decisions are manipulated by political parties 
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.