Extra! Extra! | An Observatory of the Headline

Screenshot from 2014-10-20 15:13:32

Manchetômetro  | For 20 years a tracking tool for favorable, neutral and unfavorable press on the front pages of the principal media organizations in Brazil. It is not to be mistaken with voter polling, but it does provide ammunition to media critics who refer to the mainstream press as “the party of [coup-plotting propaganda]” (PIG)  Continue reading

Get Out of Jail Free | “Clean Slate” Law Tested

Electoral Free-For-All!

Electoral Free-For-All!

I sometimes think of the courageous, though not very affable, Élio Gaspari as something of a Chris Hitchens paulista, but such analogies hardly ever clarify what they are meant to. At any rate, at odds with myself, I resolved to translate a recent viewspaper essay on the current election race, currently mulling over last week’s debates and preparing this week’s.

In her latest debate with Aécio Neves, Dilma Rousseff enumerated a number of scandals involved the rival Toucan party, the PSDB. “The Sivam Affair”, “The pink folder”, “Buying votes to reelect Cardoso,” the “monthly payola of Minas Gerais,” and “The alleged siphoning of funds destined for the São Paulo subway.” 

Who is responsible for such cases? Where are they? All enjoying their freedom, every one of them, down to the present day. Elio Gaspari surveyed these corruption cases in his regular column in the Folha de S. Paulo [as follows]:

Dilma did not lock the doors of the prison at Papuda,* and it was not Aécio who liberated his partisan allies**, but this seems like a good place to start the conversation.

In the mediocre debates held at TV Bandeirantes and SBT [last week], In which Dilma Rousseff seemed to be campaigning against FHC (Cardoso) while Aécio Neves seemed to be running for reelection in Minas, there was one very interesting moment: Dilma’s jeremiad on the five Toucans who are “back out on the streets,” “in perfect liberty.”

He pointed to signs of corruption in the PT organization and she responded with five PSDB-related scandals of her own: the Sivam affair, the pink folder, the buying of votes to enable the second mandate of FHC, the “Monthly Payola of Minas Gerais,” and the trains and subways scandals highlighted in last month’s street protests. As Dilma ticked off the question for each name on the list, asking, “and where are they now,” she answered, “[enjoying their freedom.]

It was not Dilma who raised the issue, it was the judiciary that put the “Papuda benches” — [under penal law, some can qualify to work outside the prison, as Zé Dirceu is doing].

Lula and the PT commissariat lent all the support they could to their comrades, but it was Justice that sentenced these miscreants to Papuda Prison, not the President. Lula and the PT commissariat provided all possible solidarity, including those who declared themselves “political prisoners.” But Aécio himself was not involved in the five scandals in Minas Gerais, and the suspects remain at large. They received this benefit because the Public Ministry (state’s attorney) could not place them in handcuffs. The Toucanate favored them with different degrees of solidarity and silence.

According to the line assumed by both candidates, it would betray an ignorance of manners to depict the confrontation in such Manichean terms. The sad fact of it is that both sides have truth on their side in the context of specific cases. The good news is that both promise to change the script.

And so, Dr. Dilma listed the five major Toucan scandals, all of them dating back to the last century and unpunished down to the present date. These are worth remembering.

Despite all the low-brow campaigning that the PT set in motion during this, the second turn of the national elections, it no longer resembles the party capable of reducing its campaigning to the lowest level possible. During a rally on Saturday in Belo Horizonte it was clear that factions within the party have no respect for ethical limits. In an activity organized by the PT in Minas Gerais, the personal attacks on the candidate Neves because extreme at some points. Adjectives used against the Top Toucan were “evil thing,” a “boor,” a “mama’s boy” and a “playboy,” “a brat” and “despicable.”

I have been known to refer to George W. Bush as a “chimp.”

Where do I go to pay my fine?

Awaiting the  arrival of former president Lula for a Dilma campaign event, the master of ceremonies of the event read a message by the psychologist, who calls herself a “human rights specialist.” The text is replete with violent attacks on the Toucan man: It insinuates that Aécio has used drugs, is “a habitual abuser of women,” has been detained for driving drunk and has interfered in a number of corruption cases.

The psychologist “diagnoses” Aécio as a megalomaniac, which she once again links to the use of drugs. “Megalomania is a psychological syndrome in which the subject experiences delusions of grandeur, power and superiority. This is very characteristics of bipolar affective disorder. The user of drugs exacerbates and amplifies this scenario.” The gathering of activists greeted the text with an ovation.

Source: Veja.com

Yes, but where is the Selfie showing Neves slaloming down a virgin trail of Medellin’s finest poweder? As my wife noted the other evening, the political climate is reminiscent of the Collor debacle, and a PSDB victory might do more damage than a loss with a candidate like Aécio. His youth-age, innovation-inertia scheme seens incoherent for a number of reasons.  A plague of “#playboy” could be the death of his chances.

A Curious Case | The Jailhouse Militancy of Zé Dirceu

PSDB seeks support among the highly symbolic quilombo communities. Bad PR.

PSDB seeks support among the highly symbolic quilombo communities. Bad PR.

Zé Dirceu is a founding member of the Brazilian Workers Party and a former chief of staff to its iconic figure, former two-term president Luis Ignácio da Silva.

Zé Dirceu blogs.

Or more accurately, he blogs from behind bars after being found guilty by the Supreme Court of criminal conspiracy involving the skimming of cash from publicity budgets to feed election campaigns.

This may seem like a curious case, were it not for the ex-minister’s relentless argument that his conviction was a case of dois pesos e duas medidas — or, as you will sometimes find drunken (white) Brazilians saying, “For our friends, anything; for the rest, the Law.”

Dirceu, the ex-revolutionary, has a point. As the current president, Dilma, has insisted throughout the first two bloody TV debates, persons related to such scandals as (1) the buying of votes for the amendment that allowed presidential reelection in 1998 and the (2) laundering of money from state-sponsored sporting and cultural evidence for use as black market cash.

The two cases — I like to call them (drunk) the «Payolae of the PT and PSDB” — are for all intents and purposes identical, down to the same roster of shady characters that kept it in motion for over a decade, and yet nearly all cases involving the PSDB “get swept under  the rug.”

Lacking any way to defend or deny the serious charges against his political career as governor of Minas Gerais, against his party and the Cardoso government, the PSDB-DEM candidate for the presidency, Senator Aécio Neves, plays the role of victim and accuses his critics of lying and carrying on a dirty campaign.

Unaccustomed to never being questioned — quite to the contrary! — and having the media perpetually in his favor — during the «Gerais Minas payola» case he has mixed censorship with advertising budgets and accepted no critics or accusations.

That is, political use of an advertising budget intended to “inform” the population. The following is a matrix of spending on PSAs — public service announcements — by the Accounting Tribunal of MG, for example.

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 15:30:45

But to return to of our study of short-form Gutenberg dialectics, during  the first two debates, the opposition candidate would respond to a sharp question such as this like an aristocratic dueler — «Never mind that, I am a family man, an honest man, an honorable man.» The overuse of pathos arguments throughout took me back to my days in the classroom.

He wants to hide from voters the scandals of his government as well as his votes as a federal deputy.  This has been his intent in all the TV debates, including the one held by SBT yesterday.

The candidate spent the entire first round of the elections attacking the president and her government. Now that the tables are turned, he turns to the tactic of insulting his opponent with ferocity.

Feminists should look over the transcripts with special interest. There was a real Oedipal drama going on at certain points, as Dilma and Aecio form a sort of pair.

Aécio’s sister, a Globo-backed PR Amazon queen with a thick file of ball-busting incidents in questions of daily coverage, illustrates the extent to which the public’s business has become the family business. Aécio refused to comment on political appointments of relatives during his time as governor, except for the formulaic, “You lie, you stupid-pants on-fire liar, liar, liar, liar!”

esclaracimento

A curious moment came when Dilma produced a document purporting to validate a claim about her opponent’s government of Minas and — reportedly — about 50,000 Internet users logged on at once, according to an official statement by the state Accounting Tribunal, which later explained that this had had the effect of a DoS on its servers. I took the snapshot above toward the end of the debate, I will have to look up the time stamp on the screenshot.

Zé:

Suffice it to observe the debate held by SBT-UOL-Rádio Jovem Pan yesterday. Or rather, that public policy proposals for the nation be the focus of the debate. This is exactly what the president did and is doing in the first and second rounds, failing to expose her proposals to public opinion.

Why did the PSDB candidate not explain the destination of public funds for his privately owned radio stations?

Aécio goes ballistic when asked — and Brazil is asking — about the budgeting of advertising and publicity on which the media of Minas has gorged itself during his eight years in office. Especially when this question relates to money earmarked for the upkeep of three radio stations and a newspaper his family owns in Minas. These budget allocations were made by the communications department of his state government, led by the candidate’s sister, Andrea Neves.

The PSDB candidate reiterated that Andrea — a potent player with a direct line to Globo —  worked as a “volunteer” in these episodes. Please!

The candidate grew even angrier when he was asked about the increase in levels of criminality every year during his two mandate (2003-2010), on the awful state of education in the state and on the siphoning off of R$ 7.6 billion from health care under his administration.

He has prepared a flipbook of talking points, such as  that education in his state is the best in the federal union and that its healthcare is the best in the Southwest region, as attested to by federal ministers of Education and Health. To this day no one has said they witnessed any ministers saying such things or from what source this information proceeds.

How much credibility does the  TCE-MG have?

Minutes after the revelation was aired, as in a magical illusion, the TSE-MG site went off the air.

When it came back online hours later, the reports on skimming  from health budget funds had disappeared. The TCE-MG has not even taken the trouble to explain what happened.

To be more honest, it eventually responded using the nastiest trick in the child’s first primer of crisis management: “Not our fault. Go ask the tech guys.”

How can an accounting tribunal publish and then “depublish” a report of this kind?

But that is what happened. The plug was simply pulled on the TCE-MG Web site. Who believes in the credibility of the rest of the work performed by a TCE capable of pulling such a stunt to protect a former governor? What value is there in trusting to the conclusions drawn about the accounts presented by this same governor?

What is more, Aécio boasts of having had all his accounts approved by the  TCE-MG, whose members he nominated and from whose site he is able to censor information relevant to irregularities in his administration …

Screenshot from 2014-10-16 16:33:51

Corruption in the PSDB: Everyone Is Out of Jail

During the latter Lula years, as the PT boasted at the the time, that PT legislators and executives had far fewer cases of malfeasance against them than the anti-situation mob at the time: the PSDB, the PFL-DEM and the perenially folkloric PMDB.

This was true — the study was carried out by Congresso em Foco — and remains true, but has not yet been emphasized by either candidate in this year’s contest, apparently in order to avoid politicizing ongoing investigations — like the politicization of the Auto da Fé of Zé Dirceu.

An important note: This is the first election held under the new elections law, so perhaps the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is worth following.

Media Blitz 2014: Coffee, Cream and Sugar at Presidential Debates

A report on the current incarnation of the hoary old Café com Leite economic and political movements — a phrase used to describe the ideological dichotomies of the Old Republic of the late XIX Century.

(Milk stands for agricultural Minas Gerais while São Paulo still embraces the ways of  the fantastic, legendary coffee bubble.

The old coffee exchange still stands in the vicinity of Wall and Pearl Streets, I think. I just remember being surprised to come across an almost identical building in the port of Santos, with the same title.

Northeastern sugarcane completes the picture and I sigh after taking a cautious slurp.

My translation, with minor corrections to preserve the flow.

During the second round of elections,  (PSDB) will rely on support that far exceeds the numbers of its campaign supporters and militants.

According to the  Manchetômetro [Headline Watch],  which monitors  election media coverage  on a daily site, in a typical week has yielded a wealth of stories and articles contrary to reelection of Dilma. The group recently counted 79 negative headlines about Dilma and only 10 (ten) about the center-right Toucan candidate, Neves.

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As Falls Jaguari Falls ..

reservatorio-Jaguari-Sistema-Cantareira20111231-0015-size-598

A view of the  Jaguari reservoir, part of the  Cantareira system in the region of Vargem.

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To Dilma or Not To Dilma | The Media Sector

brasil-post-size-598 (2)

How Brazilian media oligopolies are chipping away at the traditional Chinese wall of editorial independence from the commercial side.

Been there. Done that. As have many Brazilian colleagues, such as  J. Carlos de Assis. He confirms, though with only indirect evidence — Abril has no shareholders meetings to worry about and rarely releases financials  — that politics and press are as intimate as the owl and the pussycat.

Suggestion to colleagues: get a better union. As to Abril, I would say that a major worry is the growth of its educational publishing division, in which it has invested heavily with M&A and blitzkrieg-lobbying the Congress about the criteria for educational materials. As I gather, they oppose expanding the choices of teachers in selecting authorized material from an expanded catalogue, giving small publishers a modest leg up.

In a related story is the series of strategic alliances Abril has made in the past few years — including Huffington. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

At any rate, it is time for me to shut up and translate.

Source | GGN.

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Dam(n) | Someone Call Saint Paul

"Reduce water usage"

“Reduce water usage”

Nassif writes:

Today, 27 August, is the anniversary of a low point in the annals of water and waste management in São Paulo.  For the first time since it began to function as a system of five integrated dams – Paraitinga, Ponte Nova, Biritiba-Mirim, Jundiaí e Taiaçupeba – the Upper Tietê River system  was  at 16,4% of full capacity, a benchmark achieved on December 6, 2003. Between then and now we have suffered the worst water shortage in the history of São Paulo. At the time, it seems, the Paraitinga and Biritiba-Mirim were public works in the process of finalization, and were to function as reserve capacity in the process of priming the system.

In the context of that crisis, these two dam were perceived as an important solution to avoiding having a significant portion of the population — nearly 5 million inhabitants — run once again the risk of full  exhaustion. At the time, Governor Geraldo Alckmin himself also prayed for rain, which increased far above average in the early months of 2004 and relieved this system and the Cantareira system as well. At the end of this year, the Upper Tietê fell back to some 25% of its capacity, sending a yellow signal to the PSDB administration. Once again, San Pedro was generous and provided a rainy season considered to be exceptional.

 

Saint Peter is the patron saint of rain and is said to favor one or the the other political party — if only because the blessed rainy season is also the season of human degradation and Schadenfreude in its coverage of impoverished flood survivors.

This time, however, the water shortage seems more serious – and this it not just because we have a single media outlet that has assigned the problem to the top headline, which will make it difficult to overcome. This, of course, because we are in late August now. The negative records we cited above each occurred in December — which meant that at time, when the rains were late in coming, aggravating the dramatic aspect of the problems. In our present case, the possibility of seeing this phenomenon repeat itself is considerable, based on the estimates of climatologists previously published in this space.

It will be difficult to keep faith with Saint Peter when the gizmo shown above — a thingamajig analogous to the boot the cops put on a car with too many tickets — achieves wide publicity.

Restricted-use water taps prevent the consumption of water by unauthorized persons in densely populated locations such as clubs, parks and schools, and aid in reminding users to turn the faucet all the way off. These tools control the consumption of water, but only when necessary.

It sounds like a measure planned and partially executed , leaving behind the impression that the state government does not really care what consumers think. And this in an election year.

Restricting use is done in one of two ways: : with the installation of padlocks that block the faucet from being turned, or else with a key similar to the “bow tie” key of an ordinary faucet.

The padlock goes  for  R$ 14.90 a R$ 26.90. In the case of the mobile key, prices range from R$ 50.90 aR$  118.90, Globo says.

A trickle of water from a faucet results in a wast of 442 liters a day, according to Sabsesp [the state-owned water and sewage company.] Left completely open, a garden hose consumers 40 liters a minute;

Source: Como economizar água | da Rede Globo.

Massive infrastructure problems and the fortunes of the center-right: It takes you pack to 2002, when Brazil was slammed by cascading electricity outages just as Prof. Cardoso was running (successfully) for president.

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