Explosions and Urban Drought | Where Are We, Fallujah?

Diário do Comércio reports: We are not the only neighborhood to suffer from exploding electrical transformers in the greater metro area.

These explosions, which never fail to scare the hell out of me, are regular occurrences during heavy rains, which peak in the summer months of Januray through March.

An AES Eletropaulo tranformer burned out around 5 p.m. yesterday, interupting service at the Baixo Cotia water processing plan, which provides water to some 350,000 reisidents of Itapevi, Jandira and part of Barueri, in the Greater Metropolitan Area.

In a press relese, Sabesp said that since replacing a transformer takes at least 4 hours, cities in the region may go without water. The company recommends rationing of water until service is restored.

Another district will have to wait until October to resolve problems caused by an electrical blackout that hit pumping stations in the area, the DC says.

Resients of the Jardim São Norberto, in the extreme southern district of São Paulo, have had problems with their water service for several weeks now, sincee a blackout took out 46 pumps in seven elevaors. In a press release, Sabesp said the area is in distant region at a high alititude, explaining the difficulty of serving it. Further, the company said, the area is densely populated with many irregular hookups to the water system. Work is planned for October of this year, but until then no solution to the problem is foreseen..

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Globo No-Bids Tupi Super Bowl

“Globo unlesashes coup over broadcast rights,” is the dramatic headline

They will never forgive the network for growing fat from the largesse of the generalissimos.

My friends at Brasilianas note the media group’s press release for the record, and I translate.

I pretend to love football more than I actually do, I admit, although I really am excited about Ganso’s signing with Corinthians — historic object of fealty of the Tupitalian family I married into.

Dinner at the home of my sogra is like a scene from a Fellini movie.

Ganso and Neyman — fans were angry that neither made the World Cup team, and they both incredibly skilled and exciting to watch.

What I am trying to understand i the latest maneuver by the Globo television network with regard to the national championship tourneys in 2012-2014 — for which, for the first as far as I know,  it has announced it will not submit a bid .

The anxiety of the rival Record Network and Bandeirantes to claim a larger share of the audience for these matches had been expected to drive up prices during the auction, benefiting the Group of 13, the largest and wealthiest teams in the CBF.

In a press release issue ‘Friday evening, Globo also says it will hold separate talks with the clubs in order to hash out a format for the distribution of the transmission rights.”

Team executives worried, and with good reason, about the legitimate interests of their clubs and, above all, with the fans, can bear witness to the enormous investments Globo has made over the years in partnership to bring the viewer world-class football, with Globo quality and professionalism.

Globo event coverage, aside from sports, is often laughably bad — especially Carnaval. Not to mention the abysmal quality of its telejournalism. Globo runs these TV ad blitzes about how professional, creative and high-quality they are — and then the program comes back on and it is gabbling banana-republican nonsense likie Fantástico.

There are so many familar Globo PR clichés in that firt short paragraph that you begin to think they write their press releases using an algorithm nowadays

When they trot out the argument that that are “merely thinking of the fans,” I nearly choke on my slicke of mamão.

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Defending the CCultural Heresy

image credit: barbarasays.com

What  Creative Commons wants is to be known as the only licensing scheme possible and available, as though it were the ultimate contractual instrument for regulating the culture industry. What pissed  Creative Commons off what the loss of the free advertising it got from a government seal of approval. They say it is the ministry’s losse, but in truth, the biggest loser here is CC.

Renato Pacca defends the decision to retire the CC license from the sites of all but two federal ministries.

I have been reading aqbout how the MinC removed the  Creative Commons license from its site. As may be expected, the reaction was swift..

O GLOBO noted a certain “hubbub on the social networks” and interviewedthe assitant director of the CTS-FGV, Carlos Affonso, who says that removing the license simply means that rhe fact that content can be copied, with proper attribution, creates as “legal dilemma” over the problem of transparency, which could affect Brazil’s reputation abraod.

I disagree. The MinC did not just removethe logo from the site. It swapped the phrase “The content of this site is licensed under aCreative Commons liicense” in favor of: “Terms of Use: The content of this site, produced by the Miinistry, may be reproduced if the source is properly cited.”

This is the plain public domain 1.9 we are talking about. Can you think  of a clearer example?

The Ministry itself said “the removal of  Creative Commons from the front page of the site occurred because Brazilian law permits the ceding of authorship rights. There is no need for the Ministry to provide publicity to any specific campaign in this area. And it does not prevent CC from being used by anyone interested in it.” Perfectly said..

So what is the problem? Why the hubbub?  Creative Commons has the ambition of becoming a new platform – and judging from all the noise it make, the ONLY platform. The terms of service on the site of the Ministry are legally valid and suffice to permit free reuse, with due credit to the source, without any need to stamp this simple concept with  CC’s consumer branding.

Ronaldo Lemos, director of CC Brasil and the CTS-FGV, went so far as to say “from a legal point of view, the terms of use they deployed mean absolutely nothing. Those who rely on them encounter enormous legal uncertainites”. Say what? From the legal standpoint, the terms of use mean exactly what they say. What legal uncertainties? The content is freely usable, so long as the source is cited. How much freer can the user be?

According to Lemos, quite a bit. “The rights afforded b  CC are much broader and better drafted, covering collaborative usa, the further development of derivative ideas, dissmenation and so on. So the MiniC loses lot with this change”. He sounds like a used car salesman, doesn’t he?

Lemos, whos has run the center for years, has always struck me as somewhat vacant between the ears and given to brute-force hyperbole.;

I find it amazing for a Brazilian citizen to come out and say that a bill drafted by U.S. lobbyists not elected by Brazilians should become the law of the land.

It’s nonsene. If you want to reuse,  recombine or remix the site content to create derivative works? Dissmenation of the work is guarantedd. What  Creative Commons wants is to be known as the only licensing scheme possible and available, as though it were the ultimate contractual instrument for regulating the culture industry. What pissed  Creative Commons off what the loss of the free advertising it got from a government seal of approval. They say it is the ministry’s losse, but in truth, the biggest loser here is CC.

No one ever asks who is really behind CC. What interest are in play? Who finances those interests? It is easy to call Brazilian law restrictive and clamor for greater freedom for digital culture, but it is quite difficult to protect the rights of the author. CC is a great marketing scheme with a lot of fans among performers who have not yet achieved success — for which reason they have nothing to lose — or who are so successful they can afford to cede some of their royalties.

The fact is that it pleases their fans when they pass up a chance to make money, providing them with defending “cultural democracy” — a reputation that certainly cannot hurt the effectiveness of their marketing and publicity, and, as a consequence … their profitability?

These are nothing but publicity stunts, carefully plainned. The big stars give very little away, it seems, and never espouse the CC orthodoxy wholeheartely After all, we are talking business here, and business means money.

Attorney João Carlos Muller gave a great interview to  O GLOBO a while back..Read over the parts reprduced below if you want to understand why this is not a struggle between the good cultural democrats, i.e., Creative Commons, and the evil Industry. There are many other commercial interests in play.

I will get to that when I get a chance. I think the lady nails it. I have long had some of the same impressions — especially after that BloggerCon I went to in Palo Alto — where, by the way, some asshole A-list blogger stole the cab we had called.

“A Warner acabou de cancelar o direito deles (do Google) de acesso às obras no YouTube, porque achou que estava sendo mal remunerada. Isso é um problema que não é meu. Essas autopistas não têm pedágio, mas têm outdoors, e muitos. E quanto mais tráfego, maior a quantidade de outdoors. O que você acha que é mais caro: um outdoor na (Rodovia) Dutra ou na Friburgo-Rio? Quanto maior o tráfego, maior a remuneração. Se pudessem, nem cobrariam o pedágio. Porque o internauta não gosta de pagar. Na verdade, ninguém gosta. Mas vamos lá: o cara com a publicidade ganha o bastante e muito bem. Quanto mais barato o tráfego, maior ele será. Quanto mais coisas circularem e quanto menos eu tiver de pagar pelo tráfego, melhor

Então as empresas de comunicação são contra o direito de autor. É por isso. O direito deles é totalmente industrial, as patentes deles, é a Microsoft, etc. O software eles defendem com unhas e dentes, mas o direito de autor mesmo, para eles é um porre. Quem está por trás de tudo isso? Se fizermos uma pesquisa boba, veremos quem é que financia o Creative Commons. Vai na Fundação Getúlio Vargas, vê se eles abrem quem é que põe dinheiro no centro de cidadania a tecnologia. E aí você vai ter surpresas interessantíssimas. Nunca vai ser nada diretamente, mas é por aí.”

 

The Demise of the Minister of CCulture

A German company takes out a worldwide trademark on the term rapadura, a form of unrefined sugar in hard blocks that has been made in the Brazilian Northeast. They intend it for use as a brand name for granulated organic sugar.

They have the absolute balls to try to enforce their trademark, too. If it were up to them, old men in village markets could no longer sell rapadura. They would have to call it something else.

This actually happened.

There was a melodramatic but utlimately  banal article in yesterday’s Ilustrada section of the Folha de S. Paulo — there are still giving  a frre subscription that we never asked for — on the recent dropping of the Creative Commons license from the Web sites of the Ministry of Culture here in Brazil.

Under the previous MiniC, led by the all-time great songwriter Gilberto Giil, Creative Commons had been something of a holy crusade, with the support and encouragement of the CTS-FGV, the local counterpart — some would say clone — of CYBR.LAW.HARVARD and CYBER.LAW.STANFORD, where the strange notion that giving up your authorship rights and responsibilities is an enlightened thing to do.

Currently, only two of the thirty-odd ministries of the federal government license their content in this way. It seems like a redundant gesture anyhow, as public documents are just that — public — in the first place.

A major advocate for the policy at the ministry was this Jose Murilo fellow, who promoted it as the Brazil editor for Gloval Voices Online — without properly disclosing that he was a Brazilian civil servant. He reported merely that he was the worldwide Webmaster of Santo Daime, a religious cult focused on the drinking of yage, or ayahuasca, or hoasca, as you prefer.

Murilo worked hard to promote the image of Brasil as the poster child for Creative Commons — although he often left himself open to analogies between this treatment of intelectual property and the practice of grilagem — the xpropriation of real property

The Folha personalizes the debate as a disagreement between Gil and another all-time musical great, Caetano Veloso, who defends the track record of the local version of ASCAP, known as ECAD.

The substance of the article is essentially the two founding Tropicalistas trading insults and otherwise expressing personal animus, rather than any arguments of substance.It’s a pseudoserious gossip page.  Continue reading

CEMIG | The New Model PPP?

Something you don’t see every day in a lot of countries are firms like Sabesp, the multilisted public-private sanitation department, and, according to a tip from the carioca feuilleton Relatório Reservado, CEMIG, a listed PPP from Minas Gerais in the electricity sector.

Firms of this type have great political significance — sometimes to the detriment of their good governance. Sabesp was and is to be a model of its kind, reflecting positively on the administration of the PSDB over the past 16 years by universalizing access to basic sanitation — and doing so more efficiently than the federal government, which is less open to private-sector participation in planning and management.

In Sambodia, a “turn key” contract was adopted for new subway construction to have been completed by now. A giant smoking hole opened up in the ground and now the new quilometragem will not be delivered until some hazy point in the future, it seems to me.

With the advent of the CGU — an audit office oft the federal executive parallel to the audit tribunals run by the judiciary branch, which are always causing a scandal — the countryside is swarming with bean counters.

This creates a certain virtuous circle of political one-upsmanship that bodes well for the Sambodian future, I think.

The problem with Sabesp is that its duty to shareholders and its duties to customers make it what I call an example of a “multiple pesonality order.”

On the TV, an advertising blitz for Sabesp as the crowning achievement of the state government, at a time when the ex-governor was running for president. In the newspapers, whole small towns being washed away in torrents of mud and feces, and beaches closed for exceeding the allowable limits on the presence of human fecal coliform bacteria.

In Guarujá recently, over 1,000 cases of dysentery were being reported per day. Sabesp preferred to stick to its utopian future-oriented RI — “this model will be exported throughout the Amerias!” — and just plain ignore the difficult questions. This is an infallible sign of a bad crisis communicator, I always think. You have to be ready to knock the screwball into left for a clean single when these things come up.

Now, according to RR, there are signs of restructuring for similar purposes at Cemig, the electrical power utility part-owned by the state and partially floated on the Bovespa. I will see if I can gist what they believe they know, with the caveat that I have no way of knowing whether they actually know it.

The state government is joining with government contractor Andrade Gutiérrz, they say, with an eye to slicing the equity pie a little differently in order to create the conditions for listing Cemgi on the Novo Mercado, the highest governance rating on the S. Paulo Stock Exchange — where Sabesp will be found already listed.  Continue reading

Prison for Punning | Blogger Jailed for Satire

The Coluna de Herzog is the aesthetically clueless, rhetorically pyrotechnic political ravings of Carlos Santos of Mossoró

One of the most interesting books I have read lately was a dry, scholarly study of the “festive” press of São Paulo around the turn of the XIXth century.

Between shilling for railroad shares, slandering poltical opponents for hire, and committing some very witty atrocities against proper Portuguese, the papers of the time could be well be the papers of today — as could be the “honor laws,” a local version of our SLAPP suit allowing a private citizen to redeem his honor by bringing criminal libel charges against his adversary.

Comunique-se | O portal da comunicação, reports.

Journalist Carlos Santos, from Mossoró, in Rio Grande del Norte, was sentenced to four months in jail for text published on his blog and considered offensive by the mayor, Fátima Rosado of the DEM-PFL.

Curious, given that the DEM-PFL purports to represent some sort ofanarcolibertarian ultraright and has made press freedom one of the issues it yells loudest about.

The sentence was, hoevver, reduced to R$7,020 in donations to charity.

Pay it to the BCLU. Not that there seems to be one.

Carlos Santos is the defendant in  27 cases brought by the mayor, seven of which have already been tried. Santos was convicted in three, found innocent in another three, and the seventh was dismissed.  In all the articles in question, the journalist questioned the mayor’s managerial and administrative competence and criticized relatives of hers. In his defense, he says that Fátima is only a placeholder for the person who really runs the city, here brother and chief of staff, Gustavo Rosado of the Green Party.

Amazing, how the Green Party became a party of the Right in so many countries in the last decade. There is a certain affinity between its call for strong measures and the authoritarian bias of the parties that embrace its ideology, I would guess.

In the last elections, the Greens mounted a semi-successful bid to paly the divide et imperans gambit during the first round of the elections.. Its vice-presidential candidate was the CEO of Natura, a Brazilian version of the Body Shop.

“If we lived in a civilized nation; this sleazeball would rot in jail, if we were fundamentalists, he would have his hands amputated. In a fascist regime, he would be made an example of in front of a firing squad,” said one article, published in 2009.

The journalist was convicted over several articles, the first titled “zonked out on Valium and living in virtual reclusion”, the second “Our ‘real mayor” pays the price for her lack of education,” “and “the holy pontiff of the  Songamongaist Sect of the Sky Blue Realm reforms church ritual”. Aantos was sentenced to about six weeks in jail for each before the sentence was reduced to R$ 2.040,00 in donations for each, according to Congresso em Foco.

The The Hill of Brazil editorialized against the political persecution of the blogger.

About ten days ago, Carlos Santos appealed the sentence and applied to the Supreme Court for an urgent ruling..

Judge Welma Maria Ferreira de Menezes of the  Mossoró Criminal Tribunal, the texts published offended the honor of the mayor. Among other things, the blogger criticized the fact that the town had been governed for 63 years by the same family, the Rosados.

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The Sunday, Paperless | The Rise of the Global Megafirm | Utopian Singapore | Pandemonia in Roma

I am losiing track of my interexistences; I blame the rollout of the write once, post to every single umpteenth channel immediately, a feature introduced recently introduced by WordPress.

I have almost a compulsion to try all these sorts of schemes at least once, but more often than not I am sorry I did.

The Boi Zebu Editorial site is supposed to be a pleasant, succinctly informative intro to our services for clients, but got a little out of control as I succumbed to the temptation to hack Drupal.

This post from today, for example, is really a Sousaphone — news oriented with an alternative slant and animated by the unquiet spirit of Mark Twain — item:

As you aee from my online mindmap, writing more in Englilsh on general subjects — survival for gringos, the grey-market cachaça industry, black-marketeering and bartering, great shows and new artists to enjoy — might be more satisifying. I wrote mostly by rote these days, rather than following the meandering path from strt to finish that makes a good essay.

The Economist, whose prose has gotten shriller and more melodramatic over the years, sees “Barbarians at the Gates” of Brazil.

This narrative is about as plausible as the notion that Arab peoplss — except for Saudis and Syrians,, for some reaon — are spontaneously reprising the Orange Revolution — which as we sometimes forget turned out rather badly in the end.

I always enjoy writing about folksononies and comparative xingamentos, and other grist for linguiistic linguiça. I have always wanted to write a language column modeled on the droll intellectual exercises of Willaim Gass — of whom no one has ever heard, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, I have created Sousaphone Semantic Labas, a venue for my experimenting with CAR technique such as data-mining, Web-crawling and SNA.This gets pretty eye-crossingly technical for the general reader, but affords a nice sandbox for semantic tech being developed for Drupal and the like.

A lot of that material I had been writing up in Portuguese for O Bicho, Preguiça, my blog in Portuguese. Mostly for the practice in Portuguese prosfication. I translated a lot of material on SEO-SEM marketing from the English, sometimes creatively, to bring the Brazilian media watcher up to speed on the sort of work down by PR Watch and SourceWatch and others.

I stuck up some model projects that might be worthy of Tropicalization, like a mini version of SourceWatch, above.

But I sense that the Bicho is getting boring and formulaic and I would like to dedicate it more to news and personal narratives for Brazilian friends — maintaining it as a pillar of support for colleague who battle to make a decent standard of ethics prevail in the  major newsrooms.

And so I am entirely confused, and readding my Sunday paperless mash-up of a paperless newspaper from Calibre.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, for example, shows up in a Uruguayan daily under a portrait of Chomsky saying, “The U.S. is following the standard script in Egypt.”

She is probably right. Continue reading

Brazil | Federal Home and SME Loans Survive Budget Cuts

Underlying the battle in the Congress this week over the increase in the minimum wage — the opposition leader in the Senate, Aécio Neves, has just announced he supports the lower rise, silencing loud noises from the former presidential candidate of his party as well as disappointing the major trade union conferderations —  is a project to cut the federal budget this year while maintaining development subsidies.

The local press, except for the leftist Carta Maior — the editoriographic above is from the cheerfully pelego DComércio — makes no mention of this linkage, but the factoid of the hour is that each additional real committed to the wage adjustment is R$15 billion unavailable for social and economic development programs.

As at home, the tactic of the opposition is Starve the Beast, as we saw in the purely symbolic defeat of a meaningless tax o financial transactions, the CPMF, that was simply made up for with the increase of the IOF.

With the deal now closed at the lower wage increase, the Estadao is able to report that

… the Caixa Econômica Federal and the National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES) will have an additional R$ 130 billion in capital for loans this year . The  Caixa will receive R$ 2.2 in  Petrobrás and Eletrobras, raise to some R$ 30 billion its loan reserve;  BNDES will get an additional R$ 6.4 billion, raising its loan capacity to R$ 100 billion.

With the increase in assets, the Caixa’s Basel Index will rise from 15.4% to 16.0% or so, but should settle at about 15% by year’s end due to a 30% increase in loan volume planned for this year.

A VP of the CEF says …  Continue reading

Massacre at the Estadão | Shanghai-Sambodian Data Pipeline

Comunique-se reports: local metro daily O Estado de S. Paulo lays off 22 journalists.

Already, most of Brazil’s estimated 12,000 “journalists”– the term also applies to publicists — are working in corporate communications. My wife just landed such a job. Pbulic service journalism is palpably shrinking.

I once calculated on the bakof a bar napkin that Brazil has something like 8 to 10 times fewer journalists per capital than the U.S., even before separting out the flacks.

The Estadão surprised its journalists on Wednesday by laying off  22 professiona from both the print and online sides. One journalist laid off was Marcelo Auler, police reporter from the Rio de Janeiro bureau. Some administrative personnel also lost their jobs, but most employees affected were journalist, .The Estado group cited cost savings as the reason for the move;.

“What I find weird is that in December we were all told that the Estadão was the fastest-growing paper in Brazil for the year. We even joked about how this revenue growth would be punished by reducing the staff . One manager said no, our jobs were safe”, said Auler, who felt secure in her job given the stability of the company..

Ricardo Gandour, content manager of the  Grupo Estado, , said the layoffs were aimed at cost reduction. “It is a matter of budgetary goals..It was an adjustment already underway in other parts of the group. We had them in IT, and now we have them here in the newsroom,” he said..

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BATS Brasil | “Catalyst of Consolidation”?

You stop paying attention to a subject for a couple of years and suddenly you have know idea what is happening any longer.

To the announcement that the BATS exchange — third-largest in the U.S. — would enter Brazil, and will seek to kick off a process of consolidation of exchanges through M&A, for example, my response was, “What in the hell is BATS?”

I have not been keeping up with Mondo Visione as I should.

In one of those one-analyst interview types of stories today, Brasil Econômico. – semi-heir to the old Gazeta Mercantil, thought still awfully thin in terms of in-depth reporting — plays up the international consolidation angle.

I always thought, with the participation of the Chicago Merc, that the model of expansion centered in São Paulo would be the establishment of  network of regional excchanges. Brazil is a practically a continent, after all, and the BM&F Bovespa is just a tiny little chamber of open outcry  in a bad neighborhood, trading maybe ten big Brazilian companies for the most part.

The DB-NYSE-Euronext deal was a confluence of very deep waters. Here, the well is still being dug, it seems to me.

I have a photo of myself, for example — during a fattish period, so no way I am posting it — in front of the Stock Exchange of Pernambuco and Ceará. It was essentially some lady writing on a whiteboard every half hour or so after getting off the phone with someone — just like the Iraqi Stock Exchange when I interviewed the consultant helping them put that together.

Imagine a stock exchange whose very location cannot be disclosed without extreme information security.

Anyway, that old bourse in the Old Town of Recife could actually become a real exchange, serving a real need in the real world.

But we will just have to see. As to BATS Brasil, I translate hastily.

The U.S. consultring firm Solaris sees the arrival of Bats Global Markets on the capital markets scene in Brazil as the first step in a process of merger and consolidation of stock markets in Latin America..

Described as a New York firm, Solaris lives in Bedford Hills — hedge fund country — and not the Apple.

Overseas,  Deutsche Börse of Frankfurt has just tied the not with  NYSE Euronext of Paris, New York Brussels and Amsterdam,. forming the largest exchange in the world.

The announcement last week that Bats Global Markets might move to Brazil through a partnership with the local securities firm Claritas, diluting the concentration of capital markets here, is not universally dismissed as absurd, given the international scenario.

Another historical example to consider is the consolidation of the Nordic exchanges by, the group behind the  Oslo exchange, I think it was. I interviewed the damn CEO, now I cannot remember the name of the company.

One of those sharing this view is Timothy Ghriskey, investment director at  Solaris Asset Management, an independent New York consultancy. He sees no dissimilarities between the international scene and the situation in Brazil.

“I see little difference between the markets. The big companies today are all global, and the exchanges are starting to reflect this internationalization,” he points out.

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