The Nowhen Bridge to Nowhere | La Tribuna, Santos

Ferryboat, Ilhabela-São Sebastião

A Tribuna files a curmudgeonly editorial on a not atypical Brazilian experience. People will cite the title of the famous paean to Brasil by Stefan Zweig, Brazil: Nation of the Future, and .find all sorts of irony in it

Taking the advice of a virtual colleague, I try to read more of the regional press. Under subsidies put in place by Lula I and II, small and midsize newspapers are going through a fascinating phase. A “glocal” mode of journalism is being introduced to the countless Pasadenas of Brazil — small cities with populations up to 100,000.

The example I like to cite is the lady in the queue with me reading two papers, neither one of them one of the competing metro dailies– the free Destak and Brasil de Fato.

Our editorialist provides us with a very nice lead on the theme of time passing — — “dictators like Pinochet and Saddam have risen, fallen and died” — to dramatize plans for a Santos-Guarujá bridge that have been in the works since 1970.

Since Santos is actually a place I might consider living someday — if it did not frighten me so much — I translate the gist of the editorial complaint and mark it one our personal Sambodian geolocation map.

Note to self: Also add Old Downtown Recife and Ouro Preto.

During all this time, the bridge, which was not a new idea even in 1970, remained as it ever was: a figment of the popular imagination. It would have been the world’s largest bridge in terms of traffic volume,handling 28,000 vehicles a day — not a meaningful world record, to tell the truth, but something..

The record delays have flowed from government inaction, which even in the face of such enormous demand cannot manage a short, dry traffic connection between the two principal cities of the Baixada Santista. Only those who depend on the ferry system to get to work and return home everyday can really tell you how irritating it is to wait sometimes 10 or 20 minutes to board a ferry to take you to the mainland. You will often have to suffer a half-hour delay  upon debarking should one of the ferries conk out, as they often do. Inevitably, it will be raining like the dickens at the time..

And so it was thaat José Serra, 2007-2010, during the PSDB’s 15th year running the richest state in Brazil, announced that it was withdrawing plans for a tunnel (seen as an ideal solution at the time) and relaunching plans for a bridge. Serra had the gall to unveil, with all the pomp and ceremony of a ribbon-cutting,  a tiny scale model of the project, one year later, the 16th of the São Paulo reign. He promised a toll-free crossing, as is currently the case with the ferries.

After revealing plans for the bridge – scheduled to break ground in late 2010 – the governor filed them in the deepest, darkest drawer in the  Bandeirantes Palace, at the beginning of this year, for lack of funding, leaving it up to  Paulo Alexandre Barbosa, a former PSDB state lawmaker who served as head cheerleaderfor the project all these years, and currently serving as state social development secretary, to try to beat out the flames.

Some say the failure to deliver is just the result of another cynical campaign promise, in this case by last year’s presidential campaign. . Others blame the conflict between Serra and his sucessor, current governor  Geraldo Alckmin, who belong to different PSDBs.

Together with  Saulo de Castro Abreu Filho, state secretary of transportation, o Paulo Alexandre of Santos, has tried to smooth over the episode promising a meeting today at which the bridge will be one of the main items on the agenda.We should know soon what fruit those discussions bore.What will be hard to know is is when the suffering of the citizens of Santos and Guaruja, the main victims, will finally be over.  .

.

School for Scandal 101: Bancoop and Campaign 2010

Bancoop newsflow

Google Notícias newsflow histogram for Bancoop

Back in the garage with my bullshit detector
carbon monoxide making sure it’s effective
People ringing up making offers for my life
I just wanna stay in the garage … all night

Name that tune and win … nothing.

Item: A fresh campaign finance scandal makes the cover of Veja magazine (Editora Abril, Brazil).

Brazil is going to be a living laboratory for the study of manufactured scandals in this election year of 2010.

I am actually kind of excited at the opportunity to exercise some of the more advanced techniques of bullshit detection that will be required.

It is helpful to have access to the actual playbooks for this sort of bullshit-generation campaign, such as Olavo de Carvalho’s How To Win an Argument Without Being Right (a plagiarized translation and commentary of Schopenhauer’s treatise on informal fallacies).

In this latest case, the Blog de Ricardo Noblat cuts and pastes an article from Veja magazine reviving charges of financial shennanigans at a union housing co-op with ties to the labor movement (CUT) that produced the current federal president.

The alleged swindler in chief is now the campaign treasurer of Dilma Rousseff, presidential candidate of the situation.

I approach this “revelation” with two biases:

  1. Veja has a track record of promoting scandals lacking a foundation in fact, as well as the selective omission of pertinent facts, so that anything it reports is to be considered suspect until carefully corroborated from reliable sources;
  2. Any news article that editorializes in the lede, with the liberal use of alarmist adjectives, is to be considered suspect until carefully corroborated from reliable sources.
The image “http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/brasil14.jpg?t=1195330970” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Dantas dossier on bribe-stuffed offshore bank accounts of the president and chief of the federal police, et alia. Veja described the authenticity of the dossier, later debunked, as "plausible."

In this case, the accusations date from 2004-5 and have their own Wikipedia entry, published March 28, 2008 by Bruno Leonard of São Luís, Maranhão, who wrote:

O ”’Escândalo da Bancoop”’ é um novo [[escândalo político]] [[brasileiro]] iniciado em março de 2008. O motivo do escândalo é que o dinheiro da empresa de cooperativa de habitação [[Bancoop]], foi direto aos cofres do [[Partido dos Trabalhadores]], o que teria dado calote aos 3 mil consumidores. As primeiras denúncias começaram após no início de [[2004]].

The Bancoop Scandal is a new Brazilian political scandal that began in March 2008. The reason for the scandal is that money from the Bancoop housing cooperative went directly into the campaign coffers of the the PT, which allegedly reneged on its contractual duty to 3,000 consumers. The first allegations arose in early 2004.

There is a misplaced dependent clause in there.

In this resurrection of the scandal by Veja, the number of coop participants who feel screwed by, and who are suing, Bancoop has fallen from “thousands” to 400.

The original Wikipedia entry assumes as fact the allegation to be proven: that co-op money was funneled into a slush fund.

Petitio principii alert.

Continue reading

More Sambodian Mud and Flood: Potemkin Cruise Crosses Mogi das Cruces; What the Vigia Told The News

End of the Line

Stop and hail a singing Venetian oarsman: The Régis Bittencourt near Embu yesterday. Source: Folha de S. Paulo.

It never rains in California,
But girl, let me warn ya
Man, it pours,
Man, it pours …

Neuza — my wife, nicknamed “The News” — returns from the morning dog parade with some keen on-the-scene reporting along with some fascinating gossip from the vigia — the 24-7-365 watchman hired by the residents of the Av. das Corujas to keep an eye on things.

The vigia lives in a little guard shack across the creek from the park, and apparently collects rent from carroceiros — families of homeless trash pickers, with their little horse- or man-drawn carts, who live from recycling — who camp there. Among other things.

First of all, part of the Prefeitura’s million-R$ improvement of our park — adding walking paths, drainage, and stairs up to the playing field, and planting trees and bamboo groves — as already been wiped out by yesterday’s rains. It does not seem built to last.

Neuza promises to document the estrago photographically when she has time. She is racing around today trying to avoid a R$500 fine on our vehicle inspection, after our Celta was found to be missing a R$10 hose that no one has in stock. (Around deadlines, authorized inspectors suddenly have no more appointments open.)

“I wonder what the city will do about this?” muses The News to the vigia, eyeing the wreckage.

The vigia laughs and says, “You really think the city runs anything around here? If the Comendador doesn’t give the thumbs up, nothing gets done around here.”

Apparently, the reason there is no local bus service at the triple intersection — a natural place for a bus stop, and which really needs a stoplight, by the way — is that the Comendador, some sort of local AAA-league mafioso, had the bus route re-routed to stop in front of his house.

Or so says the vigia, with a wink and a forefinger laid alongside the nose. (I refuse to pay $R3 a month for “security” to the mano on a moto with the bogus paperwork who whistles up and down the street all night, but The News pays him behind my back. She is afraid not to.)

Even more interesting is the video The News mentions over breakfast, and promises to forward via e-mail, posted to You Tube by one of the major nightly news broadcasts, she says.

The News says a prominent engineer — I believe he is the same expert cited in a recent report by Vio O Mundo — affirms to a wide audience that no dredging work has been done on the Tietê River for the past 3 to 4 years.

Journalist Luis Nassif concluded as much recently, in a post titled “The Tietê was not being dredged.”

By this account, which still needs fleshing out, city dredging contracts for the Tietê got tied up in litigation over the competitive bidding process — exactly when is not clear — and the state water and power agency, the DAEE, finally issued a no-bid work order just last week, citing the present emergency.

In the Vio o Mundo piece, Conceição Lemes had claimed that the state found no private-sector takers for competitive bidding on a public-private partnership for ongoing dredging of the Tietê, announced in 2006 — possibly resulting in a nearly three-year stoppage of dredging work.

Who will now win the emergency no-bid contract arguably caused thereby?

Meanwhile, in Grande São Paulo:

Alagamento na Régis, na altura de Embu, interditou a pista sentido São Paulo por cinco horas e provocou lentidão de 20 km

Flooding on the Régis Bittencourt highway, near Embu, shut down São Paulo traffic for five hours and caused 20km of stop-and-go traffic.

I could be mistaken, but I believe Embu is where the major highways entering São Paulo — all of them outsourced, mostly to private Spanish concerns, I think – flow into the Maluf-built traffic complex that includes the Túnel Tribuna de Justiça. I am still learning the geography of this crazy cruciform city.

And meanwhile, in Mogi das Cruces …

Continue reading

Lies, Damned Lies and Latin American Opinion Polling: A Case in Point?

Conversa Afiada is the PSDB and mainstream-media bashing blog of Record TV interviewer Paulo Henrique Amorim. Tends to resort to Page Six prose style.

In suggesting that Brazil’s major media cartels still lie, cheat and purvey disinformation for the sake of a specific political clientele (the right and center-right), the following item is not atypical of Amorim.

Denúncia: FHC, Folha , Abril, Serra e Globo “montam” pesquisa contra Lula e Dilma

Charge: Former president Cardoso, Folha de S. Paulo, Editora Abril, presumptive 2010 presidential candidate Serra and Globo rig a poll damaging to President Lula and presumptive 2010 presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff.

Fonte de Edu Guimarães no jornal Folha de São Paulo informou que está sendo preparada pesquisa forjada mostrando queda da popularidade de Lula e de Dilma por causa da defesa do Sarney. A coisa foi decidida numa reunião na casa de FHC com a participação de Octavio Frias, Civita, Serra e um emissário da Globo.

A source of Eduardo Guimarães inside the Folha de S. Paulo daily said that a phony poll is being prepared to show that the popularity of Lula and Dilma is falling because of their defense of Sarney. The matter was decided at a meeting at Cardoso’s house attended by Folha publisher Octavio Frias, Abril CEO Roberto Civita, Gov. Serra, and an emissary of Globo.

The charge has verisimilitude (read the history of the Proconsult election fraud case by PHA for a historcial precedent), but is it true?

Continue reading

“Alstom Chipped In to Toucan Slush Fund”: The Folha Dredges Up The Spreadsheet

//i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/Stuff/kron.jpg?t=1215227509” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Arena Pública reproduces the report from the Folha de S. Paulo today: Contributions from Alstom (above, CEO Kron from the home office in France, here for some contract signings) found their way into the off-the-books campaign funds — caixa dois, which as former small child during the fall of Nixon I think is best translated as “slush fund” — of the PSDB’s Reelect Cardoso campaign in 1998.

Alstom is being probed by a Swiss judge on suspicion of engaging in bribery to win big engineering contracts in Brazil and elsewhere in the world. Its president was just here briefly and said that (1) the company is being lynch-mobbed by the Brazilian press and (2) its own internal audit found nothing untoward.

See

Then again, the known tendency of internal audits to find nothing wrong is precisely what continues to send the children of external auditors to good schools.

Former PSDB president and Minas Gerais senator Eduardo Azeredo has already been indicted and will stand trial in the Supreme Court for running a scheme that laundered money out of state-run companies into slush funds, using fraudulent advertising contracts.

The same scheme may have been used by some members of the government that succeeded Cardoso, giving rise to the “big monthly allowance” scandal.

But it is my impression that the preexisting PSDB scheme involved way more money. Let me check that. I think I saw someone publish an infographic on that, with bar charts and everything.

Duas empresas do grupo francês Alstom (Cegelec e ABB) são citadas nas planilhas eletrônicas do comitê financeiro do PSDB que abasteceram o caixa dois da campanha do ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso à reeleição, em 1998. Não há mensão dos valores.

Two members of the Alstom group (Cegelec and ABB) are cited in the spreadsheets of the PSDB’s finance committee, which fed the caixa dois of the campaign to reelect Cardoso in 1998. There was no mention of the sums involved.

No mention by whom? What is the source of this information?

Em reportagem -sem primeiro página- da “Folha de S. Paulo”, assinada por José Ernesto Credencio, Mario Cesar Carvalho e Andrea Michel, são reveladas planilhas que atribuem ao atual secretário de Subprefeituras de São Paulo, Andrea Matarazzo (PSDB), então secretário de Energia do Estado, a missão de buscar recursos junto à Cegelec e à ABB. As estatais de energia eram os principais clientes da Alstom no governo de São Paulo.

In a report — which ran on an inside page — by José Ernesto Credencio, Mario Cesar Carvalho and Andrea Michel, the Folha divulges spreadsheets that attribute to Andrea Matarazzo (PSDB), currently the São Paulo city secretary for subprefectures and state energy secretary at the time, the mission of raising funds from Cegelec and ABB. State-owned energy firms were Alstom’s chief government clients in the state.

As usual, you would be better off reading the original report rather than the report that the reporters reported roughly what they reported — not to mention this report that the report on what the Folha reported leaves out some of the hard facts that the Folha put in.

Em 1998, Matarazzo acumulou o cargo de secretário com o de presidente da Cesp (Companhia Energética de São Paulo), justamente uma das principais clientes da Alstom.

In 1998, Matarazzo, in addition to his other duties, took over as president of state-owned electrical generator CESP, one of Alstom’s biggest clients.

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 269 other followers