November 12, 2010 Nº 978 - Vol. 8


"A photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see."

Roland Barthes


In today's Law Firm Marketing, A statistical approach to persuading prospects (using popcorn).

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  • Top News

Europe approves hedge fund rules

Hedge funds are to be subject to EU-wide regulation for the first time after the European Parliament approved new rules for the sector. They aim to make the workings of the privately-run funds more transparent and to reduce the risks to investors. MEPs voted 513 to 92 to pass a new directive, which will cover a range of funds worth 1bn euros ($1.4bn). The directive also includes rules to try to curb asset-stripping by private equity firms. The new rules, which have been almost two years in the making, aim to:

  • make the work of alternative investment funds more transparent by requiring them to register and report regularly to authorities
  • improve the protection of investors, which are often pension funds
  • deter private equity firms from buying companies in order to break them up - so-called asset-stripping
  • make regulation simpler and more coherent, as funds are currently subject to different rules in each member state.

The measures have already been passed by EU member states. The European Commisson will have what the Parliament described as "the considerable task" of working out exactly how the rules will work in detail.

Countries see hazards in free flow of capital

In China and Taiwan, regulators are imposing fresh restrictions on stock market investments by foreigners. In Brazil, officials have twice raised taxes on foreign investors. Even in South Korea, host to this week's Group of 20 meeting, pressure is building on the government to take similar steps. As the leaders of the 20 major economic powers gather in Seoul, an increasing number of them have either imposed curbs or are in the process of doing so to slow the torrent of hot money into their markets. Over the years, foreign capital flowing into emerging markets has played a crucial role in helping finance roads in India, factories in China and buyers of luxury cars in Brazil. But as the sums have compounded and led to more market volatility, fast-growing countries have begun to worry that short-term investment will push up the value of their currencies, make their goods less competitive in the global market, and lead to asset bubbles that will be painful to deflate. Short-term investment is now increasingly viewed as something that needs to be controlled. Still, the risk remains that as capital controls are adopted by more countries, a result will be a series of competitive devaluations, which could drive away overseas investors and lead to a rout of once-buoyant stock markets.

No changes now in rules for web access in Europe

Europe has sufficient legal safeguards in place to prevent the Continent's telephone operators from selectively managing consumer access to the Internet and no new restrictions are needed. Neelie Kroes, the commissioner for the bloc's digital agenda, said that the European Union's executive arm had opted to take a wait-and-see approach on the so-called network neutrality issue, which has become the focus of intense lobbying by operators, online businesses like Google, and free speech advocates on both sides of the Atlantic. "We have to avoid regulation which might deter investment and an efficient use of the available resources," Kroes said. The desire for operators to control traffic on their networks or to pass on the costs to the biggest users — or to the traffic generators themselves — has grown as the popularity of video and file-sharing has exploded. The European telecommunications law would maintain open and fair Internet access. The legal overhaul, which takes effect in May, will require national regulators to define "reasonable" network management practices. The law also prevents operators from blocking or slowing specific Internet services or Web sites, and requires phone companies to disclose their network management practices to consumers. Regulators have the option of setting minimum levels of broadband service to prevent operators from downgrading basic services to encourage the sale of costlier packages.

Corporate lawyers in the cross hairs

As lawyers have achieved greater prominence in corporate management, the likelihood of becoming the focus of a criminal investigation — and perhaps prosecution — has grown commensurately. Targeting a lawyer for prosecution based on the representation of a client is rare, but it is an area in which the Justice Department is now looking to be much more aggressive.

  • International Arbitration Express

Supreme Court hears arbitration case

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion on whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which provides for judicial facilitation of private dispute resolution through arbitration when the transaction involves interstate commerce, preempts states from enforcing alternate solutions when arbitration clauses are considered unconscionable. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the FAA does not preempt a California unconscionability law, which allowed a class action against AT&T mobile despite a contractual clause prohibiting such proceedings. Counsel for AT&T argued that the Ninth Circuit's "interpretation of section 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act would permit a State to oppose in arbitration any procedure employed in court and thereby require arbitration to be a carbon copy of litigation, precisely what the Act was designed to prevent." Counsel for the respondents argued: "The State law at issue here is not preemptive, for three reasons. First, it is consistent with the equal footing principle or nondiscrimination principle that this Court has consistently recognized is embodied in section 2. Second, it's consistent with two key purposes that the savings clause fulfills under the FAA: ensuring that arbitration is a matter of consent and not coercion; and that it represents merely a choice of forum, but not an exemption from the law. And third, the State law at issue is a correct and legitimate application of the State's common law to which this Court should defer."

Before you open the door to the boardroom, peek through the keyhole!

Michael Page specializes in the placement of candidates in permanent, contract, temporary and interim positions within client companies around the world. Have a look at the new section of the Migalhas website and discover the professional development opportunities with large corporations, in legal and business fields, presented by Michael Page International. Click here to peep through the hole!

  • Crumbs

1 - Hawaii files lawsuit over alleged drug overcharges (Click here)

2 - Morning mimosa? (Click here)

3 - US court sets May date for DiMasi trial (Click here)

4 - N.H. court overturns verdict on advertising (Click here)

5 - Fla. Supreme Court upholds death sentence for man (Click here)

6 - America's top 10 'toughest' immigration sheriffs (Click here)

7 - How protected is free speech? (Click here)

8 - Multi-million pound Basquiat painting defaced in Paris museum (Click here)

9 - Obama lawyers back military gay ban at Supreme Court (Click here)

10 - Petição dos McCann para rever caso Maddie já tem 31 mil assinaturas (Click here)

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  • MiMIC Journal

China jails tainted milk activist

A Chinese activist who campaigned for compensation for victims of a 2008 contaminated baby milk scandal has been jailed for two-and-a-half years. Zhao Lianhai, whose child was among the 300,000 made ill by the milk, was convicted of inciting social disorder. Zhao founded a website to provide information for parents after it was found milk formula had been laced with the industrial chemical melamine to give it a high protein-content reading.

China: Boom or bust?

China is a country, which has a propensity to take adverse trends close to the brink of disaster. The pumping up of a residential property bubble, as illustrated by such phenomena as the creation of the peopleless city, appears to be one such trend. This bubble is a consequence of the enrichment of a new and growing middle class facing huge restrictions on where they can invest their money. With interest rates so low and restrictions on investing abroad, buying new apartments is one of the few investments available to the new moneyed class. But here's the thing that appears odd to westerners: many of these property investors prefer to buy these apartments and leave them empty rather than rent them out.

  • Law Firm Marketing

A statistical approach to persuading prospects (using popcorn)

by Tom Trush

Statistics are powerful numeric weapons that can persuade prospects to take action on your marketing materials.

But generating responses isn't as simple as just dropping in some data.

The mind thinks in pictures, so numbers -- especially large ones -- are difficult to comprehend. To ensure the significance of your statistics is understood, you must match your data to experiences in your prospects' lives.

For example, here are two sentences from a recent ad for The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority:

With two people per room, Las Vegas' 140,000 hotel rooms could host the entire population of Boulder, Colorado.

Las Vegas has more than 10 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space, the equivalent of 175 football fields.

Notice how the descriptions after "140,000 hotel rooms" and "10 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space" made the facts easier to comprehend -- and visualize. Without anything to reference, your mind would have trouble grasping each number's significance.

In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, authors Chip and Dan Heath, tell the story of Art Silverman. In 1992, as the communications director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Art wanted to educate the public about the unhealthiness of movie popcorn.

He began by sending a dozen medium-sized bags of popcorn from random movie theaters to a lab for nutritional analysis. Tests revealed a typical bag of popcorn had 37 grams of saturated fat -- an enormous amount when you consider the United States Department of Agriculture recommends just 20 grams of saturated fat in your daily diet.

The culprit was the coconut oil theaters used to pop their popcorn.

The problem Art faced was that few people understand how bad 37 grams of saturated fat can be for your body. After all, who memorizes the USDA's recommended fat allowances? When you're dealing with grams, does "37" really seem like a high number?

Art's solution was a press conference where he presented a message almost anyone could understand:

A medium-sized "butter" popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings -- combined!

Brilliant!

The media ran with the story. Popcorn sales at movie theaters plummeted. And, before long, all the major theater chains announced they would stop using coconut oil.

The next example is from an ad written by copywriter Drew Eric Whitman for a brand of mattress covers and pillow cases. Drew's statistics are made more compelling by his ability to paint a mental picture with written words.

No matter how often you wash your sheets, your bed is an insect breeding ground, teeming with thousands of hideous, crab-like dust mites aggressively laying eggs in your pillow and mattress, causing you and your family to suffer year-long allergy attacks. While you sleep, they actually wake up and start to crawl ... eat your skin flakes ... and drink the moisture on your flesh.

It gets worse. Did you know that 10% of the weight of a two-year-old pillow is actually dead mites and their feces? This means that every night you and your family are sleeping in the equivalent of an insect's toilet, actually covered in a m?lange of both their living and dead bodies and "oceans" of their bitter excrement.

How could you not rush out to buy new bed linens after reading that copy?

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© 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

Aranceles

México aplicará aranceles a una nueva serie de productos estadounidenses como represalia a menos que Washington actúe para resolver una vieja disputa por el transporte de carga en la región fronteriza. (Presione aquí)

Ganancias

Argentina y Brasil impulsan las ganancias de firmas españolas Repsol, Telefónica y banco Santander, según balance contable del tercer trimestre de 2010.

TLC x Mercosur

Corea del Sur revela que socios mayores del Mercosur - Argentina y Brasil- ponen trabas a la negociación bilateral de un Tratado de libre Comercio. (Presione aquí)

Vista al Pacífico

El presidente chileno Sebastián Piñera ya esta en Japón para participar de la Cumbre del Foro de Cooperación Económica Asia-Pacífico(APEC), que se celebrará el 13 y 14 de noviembre en la ciudad japonesa de Yokohama. El encuentro debe asumir medidas dirigidas a fortalecer el comercio exterior a través del pacífico.

Apertura

El presidente cubano, Raúl Castro, abrió los debates previos al VI Congreso del gobernante Partido Comunista (PCC), comenzando un proceso con el que busca redefinir el rumbo de la política económica del país en la era post Fidel Castro.

  • Brief News

Report suggests rise in shareholder activism

Interviews with senior executives and activist investors found that most expected shareholder activism would increase in the next 12 months.

Airlines fined over cargo cartel

The European Commission has fined 11 airlines almost 800m euros ($ 1.2bn) for fixing the price of air cargo between 1999 and 2006. Had the Commission not intervened the "deplorable" cartel "would have continued", said EU Competition Commissioner. The illegal cartel had harmed both companies and consumers. British Airways was fined 104m euros, Air France-KLM 340m euros and Cargolux Airlines 79.9m euros. The fines follow lengthy investigations by regulators in Europe, the US and Asia, dating back to 2006.

G20 agrees to address currencies

The G20 group of major economies agrees to avoid "competitive devaluation" of currencies after a second day of talks in Seoul. Tensions had been high between some countries over how to correct distortions in currency and trade. Some fear the conflict may threaten global growth. Washington has blamed in part on Beijing's alleged manipulation of its currency to help boost Chinese exports, while other countries have also been critical of the US policy of pumping $600bn into the economy. The US can say they got some numbers attached to the language about limiting imbalances - but those numbers are dates. And even those are not very specific The question of whether countries will ever be - even nominally - committed to particular current account targets has been kicked down the road, for the finance ministers to sort out (or fudge) in the first half of next year.

Renault can name new car Zoe as girls' case rejected

Renault can name a new car model Zoe, a French judge has ruled - throwing out a case brought by the parents of two girls called Zoe Renault. The families had argued that their children - and to a lesser extent, other children who have the first name Zoe - could face a lifetime of mockery for sharing the name of a car. But the judge found no evidence that it would cause the children "certain, direct and current harm". The families say they plan to appeal. Following Wednesday's hearing, their lawyer told reporters that the judge had accepted Renault's argument that Zoe "was not a first name, but just a common noun". He said that logic was perverse.

Internet faces 'turbulent times'

The internet could face years of instability as it moves to a new addressing system. With current addresses due to run out in 2012, nations and businesses must get on with switching. The net has grown to its current size using version 4 of its addressing scheme (IPv4), which allows for about 4.3 billion addresses. Estimates suggest that this pool of addresses will be exhausted by the end of January 2012. A system with a far larger pool of addresses has been created, called IPv6, but progress towards using it has been sluggish. The business community needs to understand that this is an infrastructure they are relying on and it needs to change for them to continue to grow and to rely on it. They are "short-sighted" for not making the shift sooner. They cannot grow their business if they do not have an address space to grow it into.

Developing world in obesity alert

Developing countries should act now to head off their own "obesity epidemic", says a global policy group. Low-income countries cannot cope with the health consequences of wide scale obesity. Increasing prosperity in some developing countries has led to a rise in "Western" lifestyles. Rates in Brazil and South Africa already outstrip the OECD average.

US unveils anti-smoking scare photos on cigarette boxes

Graphic pictures depicting the possible consequences of tobacco use are soon to adorn boxes of cigarettes sold in the US. The pictures, which include a corpse on a morgue slab and a man with a tracheotomy hole in his neck, are intended to scare people off smoking. The initiative sees the US follow the lead of Australia, Canada, the UK and other nations. Tobacco use is responsible for 443,000 US deaths each year, statistics show.

EU opens tough talks on 2011 budget rise

European governments have gone into battle against Euro MPs and the EU Commission over the size of next year's EU budget. UK, France and Germany are among 12 EU governments backing a 2.9% as the maximum acceptable budget increase. The European Parliament voted for a 6% increase - a figure backed by the European Commission. If there is no deal before December the budget will stay at the 2010 level.

Farmers win privacy fight over EU funding

The EU's top court says the EU must stop publishing data about individual farmers who receive subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). But the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling does not affect data about agricultural firms, so the size of their subsidies can still be disclosed. The case was brought by three German farmers who demanded data protection under existing privacy laws. Since May 2009 the 27 EU member states have been obliged to publish CAP data. CAP subsidies, which include grants for rural development, account for nearly half the EU's budget. In 2010 the CAP total was 58bn euros ($81bn). Major beneficiaries include rich landowners such as the British royal family and European aristocrats with big inherited estates, according to farmsubsidy.org, a group campaigning for EU transparency.

Brazil prison riot leaves at least 18 dead

A prison riot in northern Brazil has left at least 18 inmates dead after fighting broke out between rival gangs. Several victims were reportedly decapitated by cell mates and their heads thrown out of the windows. The rebellion, which has now ended, erupted on Monday at the jail in the state of Maranhao when a group of prisoners wrestled a gun off a guard and went on the rampage. Inmates had demanded better conditions in the overcrowded jail.

Brazil bank oversight under fire

Brazil's central bank is being urged to strengthen its oversight of the banking sector after it alleged that Banco Panamericano, a medium-sized bank by assets, had concealed losses of about R$1bn (US$580m), apparently resulting from high rates of customer default at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Loan portfolios that had been sold to other banks had remained on Panamericano’s books, artificially inflating its balance sheet. There were also indications that some portfolios had been sold more than once. The central bank has been praised for identifying the problem – apparently not spotted by Panamericano's auditors – in a ­special inspection of the sale of loan portfolios begun in August. Luiz Sandoval, president of Panamericano's board of directors, said he had dismissed its accountants.

Admirals urge rethink on Harrier and Ark Royal cuts

A group of former Royal Navy admirals has called for the decision to scrap the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the fleet of Harrier jets to be reversed. They say defense cuts will leave the "newly valuable" Falkland Islands open to attack and calls the plan to axe the Harrier fleet "financially perverse". But ministers insist the UK will still be able to defend the Falklands. And the Falklands government said it was "satisfied" with its protection.

Fox TV joins US networks to block Google TV

US TV network Fox has joined its rivals in blocking Google TV from airing its programs to viewers. Fox held out after CBC, ABC and NBC refused to let full shows air on Google's new platform - where users can view the web and video on home TVs. The networks are concerned they will suffer because online advertising is less lucrative than TV commercials. The Fox move will come as a blow to Google, which needs the backing of the major media companies to thrive.

Kenya to launch Africa's first carbon exchange

Kenya is to launch a climate exchange platform to facilitate the trading of carbon credits and help tackle climate change. The market will be the first of its kind in Africa, enabling all African countries to sell their carbon credits. The exchange is expected to be open for business by the middle of next year.

Bankers to see mobile calls taped

New rules would oblige financial services UK firms to record relevant employee communications made on their work cell phones.

Scammers 'using consumer laws'

Consumer protection laws are being exploited as part of a new type of ticketing scam, the BBC has learnt. Fraudsters have set up websites offering tickets for events including concerts, festivals and comedy tours. But the tickets do not exist and out-of-pocket customers are told to use consumer legislation to get money back from their credit card companies. One security specialist called it "a clever scam", worth an estimated £12m ($19.5m) over the last year alone. "It's a new trend that we've seen escalate in the the past few months," said Reg Walker, director of security specialists, the Iridium Consultancy. "The customer is a bit miffed at not getting their tickets, but because they tend to get their money back, they don't see themselves as victims and so a lot of it goes unreported," he said. The customer is a bit miffed at not getting their tickets, but because they tend to get their money back, they don't see themselves as victims and so a lot of it goes unreported." Some of the emails have even directed victims to government websites for advice or those run by organizations such as Which?.

Law Council concerned with bikie laws

Anti-bikie laws sweeping across Australia are an unfortunate example of anti-terror provisions creeping into ordinary law enforcement, the Law Council of Australia says. Council president Glenn Ferguson said the fight against organized crime was important but legislation should not diminish the rights and freedoms of the Australian people and turn traditional notions of criminal justice on their head. His comments came after Thursday's High Court judgment which struck out aspects of South Australia's Serious and Organized Crime Act or so-called anti-bikie laws. The court found the provision forcing magistrates to approve any government application for a control order over a gang member or an associate as unconstitutional. The court said the provision went against the independence and integrity of the courts. Ferguson said the decision demonstrated the vigilance with which that integrity and independence was safeguarded in Australia.

British and U.S. law firms merge

Partners at two law firms — Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in the United States and the Hammonds of Britain — agreed to merge on Monday. The long-expected announcement creates a firm with about 1,275 lawyers in 37 offices in 17 countries.

Lehman lawyers seek a fresh $90 million

Lawyers representing former executives of Lehman Brothers are asking the judge to release more money to cover their legal costs.

FCC investigating Google for Street View privacy breach

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed on Wednesday that it is investigating Internet search company Google to determine if it violated communications laws when its Street View vehicles inadvertently collected private user data, including passwords and URLs, over WiFi networks. The FCC did not reveal any details, but stated that the investigation was officially opened earlier this year. If Google is found to have intentionally violated federal communications law, including electronic eavesdropping laws, the company could face fines of up to $50,000 for each violation. Members of Congress have also indicated that the incident could factor into new Internet privacy legislation that will be considered next year.

UK court to review controversial online copyright infringement act

The UK High Court on Wednesday granted a request to review the nation's Digital Economy Act, which is aimed at the prevention of online copyright infringement. The claim was filed by UK Internet service providers (ISPs) BT Group PLC and TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC in July in response to the legislation being rushed through parliament by the previous Labour government just weeks before the general election in May. BT and TalkTalk claim that the bill was not given adequate scrutiny before its passage and may require certain amendments in order to comply with EU rules on privacy and policing by ISPs. The ISPs also claim that Internet users are already moving away from peer-to-peer (P2P) content sharing and that "[t]he measures in the will hasten the migration away from P2P, ignite the development of new tools and popularise the notion that stealing content is socially acceptable." The court did not disclose a time frame for the review.

Kenya court rules no jurisdiction over international piracy cases

The high court of Mombasa ruled Tuesday that Kenya does not have jurisdiction outside of its national waters, releasing nine suspected Somali pirates. Citing the repeal of Chapter VIII, section 69 of the Kenyan penal code as the basis for his decision, Justice Mohamed Ibrahim concluded that the suspects, who were arrested in March 2009 in the Indian Ocean by German and US troops, did not violate the territorial waters of Kenya. Section 69 was repealed by the Merchant Shipping Act of 2009, signed into law in June 2009, which replaced the original penal code language with, in section 371, "any person who (a) commits any act of piracy; (b) in territorial waters, commits any act of armed robbery against ships shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for life." Ibrahim expressed concern for the suspects' safety and ordered that they be put in the custody of the UN High Commission of Refugees. In April, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said that Kenya would no longer accept Somali pirate cases, although there are currently 84 pirates still waiting to be tried in Kenyan courts.

  • Daily Press Review

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority closes $2.1b deal
Middle East North African Network, Online financial portal, Amman, Jordan

G20 Leaders Vow to Avoid Currency War
Nahamet, Online news portal, Beirut, Lebanon

Urgent assistance addresses illegal migrant issues
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Britain calls for calm over Ireland bail-out
The Independent, London, England

Judge's fury as Gazza skips court for rehab
The Sun, London, England

Obama gets no trade deal amid troubles at home and abroad
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Petition challenges sugar price hike in LHC
Dawn, English-language daily, Karachi, Pakistan

India, Japan conclude negotiations on CEPA
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Briton jailed for showing finger in Dubai
Sify News, Chennai, India

Parliament stalled over spectrum issue
The Hindu, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

More Dominican lawmakers plan a pilgrimage to the Palace
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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