December 12, 2007 nº 575 - Vol. 5

"Thank you, I have other plans."

Response to "Have a nice day"
suggested by
Paul Fussell

In today's Grammatigalhas: A complaint is your opening shot. Make it a strong one.

  • Top News

New Jersey closer to becoming first state to abolish death penalty in 42 years

New Jersey took a major step Monday toward becoming the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years, a change that is expect to become law within a month. The state Senate approved a measure to replace the death sentence with life without parole, which would spare the life of a sex offender whose crimes sparked Megan's Law. The bill has the support of the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the Democratic governor.

Brazil's opposition seeks vote to scuttle CPMF

Brazilian opposition leaders said President Lula lacks the votes to pass an extension of the financial transactions tax, a levy that accounts for about 10 percent of federal revenue. The government yesterday postponed a vote on the bill until Dec. 12 after two senators' health problems made it unlikely they'd be able to attend today's session. To retain the tax for four more years, the bill must win two rounds in the 81-seat Senate, with at least 49 votes on each one. Lawmakers began debate on the measure in the afternoon.

The Roots of the mortgage crisis, by Alan Greenspan

On Aug. 9, 2007, and the days immediately following, financial markets in much of the world seized up. Virtually overnight the seemingly insatiable desire for financial risk came to an abrupt halt as the price of risk unexpectedly surged. Interest rates on a wide range of asset classes, especially interbank lending, asset-backed commercial paper and junk bonds, rose sharply relative to riskless U.S. Treasury securities. Over the past five years, risk had become increasingly underpriced as market euphoria, fostered by an unprecedented global growth rate, gained cumulative traction. The crisis was thus an accident waiting to happen. If it had not been triggered by the mispricing of securitized subprime mortgages, it would have been produced by eruptions in some other market. As I have noted elsewhere, history has not dealt kindly with protracted periods of low risk premiums.

Sentencing Leeway

The US Supreme Court gave wider latitude to judges in sentencing. In a pair of rulings, the Supreme Court emphatically declared that trial judges have wide discretion over criminal sentencing, effectively ending the federal law's 20-year experiment with rigid formulas for punishing individual defendants. It may lead to many defendants seeking rehearings.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Danone to challenge China ruling

French food group Danone is to appeal against a decision by a Chinese court that it no longer has any rights to the popular Wahaha beverages brand. On Monday, a Chinese arbitration commission said a trademark transfer deal signed in 1996 had expired, a ruling that Danone disputes. Wahaha says it owns the brand rights, but Danone says the brand can only be used by the firms' joint ventures. The dispute has highlighted risks faced by foreign firms in Chinese ventures.

Hollywood officials say China has started banning American movies

The Chinese action may be in retaliation for the U.S. decision last April to file an intellectual property rights case.

  • Grammatigalhas

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

Accept / Except

If you offer me Godiva chocolates I will gladly accept them — except for the candied violet ones. Just remember that the “X” in “except” excludes things—they tend to stand out, be different. In contrast, just look at those two cozy “C’s” snuggling up together. Very accepting. And be careful; when typing “except” it often comes out “expect.”

Actual Fact / Actually

"In actual fact" is an unnecessarily complicated way of saying “actually.”

Adapt / Adopt

You can adopt a child or a custom or a law; in all of these cases you are making the object of the adoption your own, accepting it. If you adapt something, however, you are changing it.

Advance / Advanced

When you hear about something in advance, earlier than other people, you get advance notice or information. "Advanced" means "complex, sophisticated" and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the revealing of secrets.

Refrain from 'nounizing' verbs!

The verb can be the strongest word in a sentence. Used keenly, verbs invigorate writing; misused, they create fog. Overuse of passive voice, turning verbs into nouns are potential problems. Nouns ending in –ion, -tion, -ment, -ant, -ent, -ance, and –able are sure signs of ‘nounized’ verbs! Instead of writing ‘We’ll substitute No. 4 for No. 5’, the fogged writer states ‘We’ll make a substitution of No. 4 for No. 5’.

Simple verb (DO) / Swollen verb (DON'T):

Acquire / seek acquisition
Adjust / create an adjustment
Alter / make an alteration
Assist / render assistance
Conclude / come to a conclusion
Decide / arrive at a decision
Discuss / engage in a discussion
Estimate / offer an estimation
Evaluate / perform an evaluation
Indicate / give indication
Locate / ascertain the location
Study / do a study
Undertake / venture an undertaking

The "politically correct" grammarian

A complaint is your opening shot. Make it a strong one.

A complaint is the first litigation document in a lawsuit; it should… complain. A complaint should inform and persuade the reader that the party filing the document should prevail with a set of facts in support of its claim. Lately courts had to resolve an increasing number of cases on motions to dismiss.

First impressions leave lasting impressions. And so it is with judges, oppposing parties, lawyers, the press, and the public. So why waste an opening shot by firing blank?

A good introduction is likely to grab all readers, but especially outsiders, including the press.

A detailed recitation of facts tends to impress the other party, since it shows you have done your homework.

Strong legal pleadings impress the lawyers on the other side as well as the judges.

After deciding what message you want to send in your introduction, you must decide what your complaint should include. Good practice in this area include:

Do your research effectively

Always begin with an introduction, summarizing what the case is about, why you should win and what you are seeking.

When describing the parties, don’t be afraid to include a few relevant details, especially if it puts your client in a good light.

Organize your facts so they are easy to understand

Make you factual allegations as detailed as possible. Don’t be vague and keep your opponent guessing. In most cases this strategy does not work.

Use short sentences and paragraphs

Avoid adjective and subjective words. Subjective declarations can be denied far more easily than objective statements.

Use frequent argumentative headings, both in the facts and in the causes of action. Prefer to use sections with a heading, rather than numbered sentences.

Be specific about the relief you are seeking in cases concerning injunctive or declaratory relief. Avoid ‘any other relief the court finds appropriate.’

Avoid legal jargon

If permitted, don’t be afraid to attach a few relevant documents, illustrations to your complaint

Think of the consequences if a judge converts a dismissal motion into a summary judgment, if you have no chance to develop a factual record.

… and don't write to me to complain, unless you want to submit your homework!


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  • Historia Verdadera

Farc – OEA

El vicepresidente colombiano, Francisco Santos, hizo ayer ante la OEA una encendida defensa de las iniciativas que ha acogido el Gobierno de Colombia para intentar obtener la liberación de los secuestrados en poder de la guerrilla de las FARC, a la que fustigó por esa práctica “vil, cobarde y cruel”.

Sentencia – Perú

El ex presidente Alberto Fujimori fue condenado a 6 años de prisión por haber ordenado durante su mandato el allanamiento de una residencia de su ex asesor Vladimiro Montesinos, en la primera condena que recibe dentro de los siete procesos que enfrenta en Perú.

Orgullo español

El presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, dijo el martes que las relaciones con España continuarán deteriorándose si el orgullo del rey le impide pedir disculpas por haberlo mandado a callar en una reciente cumbre.


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  • Brief News

'Crunch time' for climate change

The head of the UN opens high-level talks at the climate change conference in Bali with a call to action. Delegates to the Bali climate conference are debating what to do about refrigerants, which are being put in millions of refrigerators and air conditioners and are more powerful than carbon dioxide. Some delegates are pushing for an agreement to phase these chemicals out.

US rates reduced for third time

The Federal Reserve has cut US interest rates from 4.5% to 4.25% to help steer the world's largest economy through a housing slump and credit woes. It is the third rate cut in the US in as many months, leaving US rates 1% lower than their August peak. A downward move had been expected, but US shares fell as traders bet that the cut would fail to prevent a recession.

Fujimori jailed for abusing power

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of power.

Amazon dam contract rolls forward

Controversial plans for a multi-billion dollar hydro-electric dam in the Amazon rain forest have taken a major step forward despite heated protests. A contract has been awarded to a consortium in Brasilia at an auction that was disrupted by environmental activists. They say the Santo Antonio dam will displace 10,000 people and harm the area's environment and wildlife. But the government says the Madeira river project will prevent power cuts. It is estimated the 3,150-megawatt dam near Bolivia will cost 9.5bn reals ($5.3 bn) to build and start operating in 2012.

Court halts Brazil's largest irrigation project

A Brazilian court has ordered the government to halt a major irrigation project two weeks after a Catholic bishop began a hunger strike against the plan backed by Lula. The decision is a setback to the government and may renew investor concerns over legal and regulatory uncertainty surrounding Brazilian infrastructure projects. A federal judge granted an injunction halting all construction on the Sao Francisco River project, public prosecutors said. The judge questioned whether the government had proper authority for land and water use. The government said it would appeal. The project, Brazil's largest public works project, has generated protests for years.

Blow for unions in EU labor row

The European Union's highest court has backed the right of companies to move to another EU state to cut costs. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) was ruling on a Finnish ferry company, Viking, which replaced the crew on one of its ships with Estonian workers. Trade unions intervened, preventing Estonian union members from negotiating with the company. The court said unions were allowed to take collective action, if jobs and work conditions were under threat. But it warned the unions that collective action would be illegal if it restricted the EU's freedom of establishment, which guarantees a company's right to carry out economic activity in other member states.

Senate panel presses officials on waterboarding

A Judiciary panel on Tuesday pressed military brass and Justice Department lawyers about the interrogation technique of waterboarding, and about what goes on at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The officials refused to say whether waterboarding violates the Geneva Conventions, and they refused to call it torture. Allows Users to Erase Search Queries

In what's likely to be seen as a privacy-friendly move, IAC Search & Media's search engine Tuesday announced a ew feature called AskEraser that deletes a user's search activity data from the company's servers. When enabled by the user, the feature will completely delete search queries and associated cookie information from servers -- including IP addresses, user IDs, session IDs and the text of queries made, according to the company. In most cases, the deletion will take place within a few hours of the time a search is completed, the company said.

Societe Generale in $4bn bail-out

France's Societe Generale has become the latest bank to take a hit from the US mortgage debt crisis, bailing out a $4.3bn investment vehicle. Investors have become wary of putting their money in structured investment vehicles (SIVs), in case it ups their exposure to risky sub-prime debt. Societe Generale will provide it with a credit line and take the assets onto its balance sheet, it said. Bonds backed by home loans, including sub-prime debt, account for 12% of the holdings of Societe Generale's SIV, called Premier Asset Collateralised Entity (PACE).

Surveillance Court Declines to Release Secret Opinions

In a rare publicly issued opinion, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said Tuesday that it would not release documents related to the National Security Agency’s program of wiretapping without warrants. The American Civil Liberties Union had asked that secret court to release the opinions detailing two rulings it issued this year on the legality of the agency’s eavesdropping program, which President Bush authorized after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Though the court’s conclusions in those two rulings are known, the details of how the judges reached them are not.

BNDES Says Brazil Corporate Loans Rise 35 Percent

Brazil's state development bank, the largest corporate lender in the nation, said loans surged 35 percent in the first 11 months of the year as more Brazilian companies sought to fund expansion plans. BNDES, lent 66.7 billion reais ($38 billion) in the year through November. The bank loaned 52.3 billion reais last year. Companies filed for 133 billion reais worth of loans in the 12 months ended in November, 30 percent more than in the same period a year ago. Lula has used the BNDES's assets of 190 billion reais as a tool to get companies to create jobs in South America's biggest economy in exchange for cheap funding. The bank's lending rate, known as TJLP, is currently at 6.25 percent, lower than the central bank's benchmark lending rate of 11.25 percent a year.

Berlin debut for Abu Ghraib film

A documentary about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq will get its world premiere in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is the latest film from Errol Morris, whose Fog Of War won an Oscar in 2004.

US bid to stop Burma gem imports

The House of Representatives has voted to stop Burma's rubies and high-quality jade from entering the United States. The measure tightens sanctions against Burma's military junta, attempting to prevent laundering gemstones in third countries before they enter the US. The bill, which must be approved by the Senate and president, also tries to stop Burmese leaders using US banks to launder money in third countries.

Seeking leaders, U.S. companies think globally

The corner offices of corporate America are increasingly reflecting the worldwide reach of companies, as 15 foreign-born chiefs now run Fortune 100 companies.

Tough Bench

In the U.S., tribal justice is crippled by arcane laws and decades of federal neglect. Despite piecemeal reform efforts, much of the procedural burden falls on individual Indian reservation judges. The hundreds of judges who serve the nation's 275 tribal court systems bring strengths and weaknesses -- and a world of diversity -- to the bench. They range from tribal council members without college educations to white law professors with impeccable résumés. No matter their credentials, the obstacles they face are formidable. Some tribes are too poor to hire public defenders. Simple matters, such as who has the power to make arrests, are not always easily solved. And tribal courts -- which also rely on their own prosecutors -- have limited powers to mete out sentences. Lacking counsel, some defendants enter guilty pleas almost by default. Victims can suffer as well, since federal prosecutors take only a minority of cases. Another flaw of the system: If a crime is committed by a non-Indian, the tribes are virtually powerless, as their limited jurisdiction generally doesn't allow them to prosecute outsiders. By contrast, if a tribe member commits a crime off the reservation, some states can use past tribal convictions to augment a new sentence.

Germany state court upholds teacher headscarf ban

A German state court in Hesse on Monday upheld a ban on religious headscarves for public school teachers and civil servants. The government in Hesse , which includes Frankfurt, passed the headscarf ban in 2004. The ban includes other items of clothing which could be seen as religious or political, but has an exemption for Christian symbols. The ban was challenged as unconstitutional under the state constitution, but the court ruled Monday that the government has the authority to ban garments worn by public servants.

  • Daily Press Review

UN review after Algiers bombing
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

DR Congo rebels retake key town, Independent online news aggregator

Poor recognition of women's contribution mars democracy
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

DR Congo: Warring Sides Must Protect Civilians
Human Rights Watch (Africa), International news press releases

Darfur rebels attack Chinese oilfield
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Eleven dead gunmen show police mean business
Independent Online, News portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Sexwale surfs 'Zuma tsunami'
Mail & Guardian Online, Liberal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Photographers attacked at fire, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa

Cuba to sign UN human rights agreements 'shortly'
Brazil Sun, Independent online news aggregator

Jamaica Police halt Riding West, Rasta Bash and Reggae Fever
Caribbean News Portal, Online news aggregator

Venezuela: Proposed Amendments Threaten Basic Rights
Human Rights Watch (Americas), International news press releases

Guatemala: New Law to End Adoption Business
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Gangster cops - Montego Bay police involved in criminal activities - McGreggor
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Peru: Photo of the day - Colombia's President Honored
Living in Peru, News portal, Lima, Peru

Australian senator comes clean about 'colourful past'
The Globe and Mail, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Pickton gets 25 years
Toronto Star, Liberal daily, Toronto, Canada

Indonesia confirms 115th human bird flu infection
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

National Tax Service Must Stop Abusive Audits
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Delhi jails beggars to look modern
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Maoists blow up Bihar railway tracks
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Gadgetry supports the lazy, and Polaroid launches an iPod-friendly DVD player
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Jelapang Toll accident claims 8th victim
Malaysian Star, Online news portal, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Six school children shot in Las Vegas
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Al-Qaida branch group claims responsibility for attacks in Algeria
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Now she's got the upper hand, he has a cuppa
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

60% polling in Gujarat first phase
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

Police call emergency pay summit
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

O'Sullivan in quarter-finals, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

Priest 'bans' Madeleine
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Wife-beater released early during prison crisis killed girlfriend five days later
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Dutch city deploys Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite
DMeurope, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Health bosses admit sending firms personal details of 2,000 staff
icLiverpool, Online news portal, Liverpool, England

Medvedev, Putin’s chosen heir, speaks, and the plot thickens in Russia
International Herald Tribune, Independent daily, Paris, France

Brown to sign EU treaty in Lisbon - but by himself
The Guardian, Liberal daily, London, England

Exhibition details stories of emigrants
The Irish Times, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Bhutto sees Pakistan coalition, without Musharraf
The Scotsman, Moderate daily, Edinburgh, Scotland

Las Vegas school bus shooting injures six
The Telegraph, Conservative daily, London, England

Police Accused of Bombing Released to House Arrest
Arutz Sheva, Online, right-wing, Tel Aviv, Israel

Israeli ground troops kill five in Gaza Strip raid
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Canadian pig farmer sentenced to life for six murders
Gulf News, Independent daily, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Palestinian UN envoy slams General Assembly adoption of Israeli resolution
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Iraq: Iran Eases Support to Radical Group – For Now
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Total Opec oil output rose 40,000 bpd in Nov.
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

A Journalist to Improve US Image
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Twin suicide bombings claim at least 60 lives in Algiers
The Daily Star, Independent daily, Beirut, Lebanon

Children jailed due to Sa'ada war
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.