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The (Big) State of Brazilian Journalism

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Pitiful, how the Estado de S. Paulo metro daily has taken to the production of quasi-fake news of late, in the form of topical coverage of conference events produced by the newspaper itself for its various clients and then reported on as if objectively newsworthy.  Continue reading

Car Wash Judge: Spy for the FBI?

Together with [Supreme Court Justice] Gilmar Mendes, Judge Moro symbolizes the biased and partisan justice system that plagues Brazil.

Paulo Nogueira of the Diário do Centro do Mundo on recent debate over Brazilian friends of Uncle Sam and his beloved GWOT.

Marilena Chauí was quite right to say some of what she said recently about Judge Moro.

Continue reading

Amigos S.A. | The New Sheriff in Western Zone Shantytown

FANFARRÃO 2

Col. Alexandre Fontenelle Ribeiro de Oliveira, CEO of the death-dealing COE

In September, Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Public Security (SSP) released something of a bombshell for Brazil crime analysts: the city’s infamous militia groups have expanded dramatically over the past decade. —Insight Crime

Source:  EL PAÍS (Brazil edition).

An item for my clipping file on the death-dealing police. WordPress is misbehaving at the moment, however, which is very frustrating.

The story translated here dates back to mid-September, with a fresh round of warrants in early November.

Continue reading

Taiana Bares All | Brazil’s Operation Car Wash

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Photo: Autumn Sonnichsen/ Divulgação Playboy

Wearing high heels and covered in dollar bills, the former lover of the currency trader [Youssef] appears on the cover of the January edition of Playboy posing in hotel rooms and private jets. She told the magazine that she was “the first person he messaged after he was arrested.”

As I have noted before, every knock down drag out political scandal has its muse or poster child — a figure, usually an attractive woman who, to coin a phrase, “lays bare the facts” or some such analogy as that.

As Veja and Playboy are both Abril publications, it is not difficult to imagine how Taiana became the Goddess of Truth. Create a poster child with scandalous overtones  Divert attention from other significant  aspects of the case until you can measure the results and decide how — and against whom — to proceed.

Mountains of Money

This meme is a close cousin to the Mountain of Money concept in South American news media, itself a corollary to  the Perp Walk — a standard procedure for Brazilian police.

In Ecuador several years ago in an election won by the leftist Rafael Correa, the viciousness of the smear campaign by the local media was astonishing. Mobilized against Correa,  Ecuadoran TV and radio in general have to be seen to be believed , as is, or was, the case in Venezuela.

A case I remember well was an anti-Chavist talk show host who displayed a parking lot full of colorful HMMVVVs and identified them as constituting bribes to members of the government. A clever researcher was able to pin down the exact location of the photo — a HMMMVV dealership in Southern California. A sign was crudely Photoshopped in an attempt to identify the parking lot as government property in Venezuela. Grotesque.

Continue reading

Deep Float | Petrobras Underwater, Fire

A napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme

A back of the napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme

Item.

There is curiosity today as to the identity of a “deep throat” witness in the Petrobras corruption megascandal.

One month after Operation Car Wash was carried out, in the middle of this year, a career public servant with 30 years of service approached federal agents in charge of the task force and denounced Petrobras for ignoring “signs of criminal behavior” and “intentional mismanagement” inside the state-run petroleum giant “in order to divert funds without awakening the suspicions of auditors and inspectors.”

Together with the acquisition of the Pasadena Refinery in the U.S. – the most emblematic of the charges involving the case — the witness named former Mines and Energy minister Edson Lobão as the “godfather” of one of the suspects and [alleged that] current Petrobras CEO Graça Foster was responsible for the nomination of two other senior executives in the foreign trade division, supposedly responsible for a sale of assets to Nigeria that had led to losses for the company.

charge-latuff-obama-petroleo_0-preview

Was it a note with awful grammar from some General Nigeriano Ubuntu offering you a handsome sum for laundering some huge amount of cash through your account?

This is the Nigerian Third World Corruption scam. Purge it from your e-mail client. A variant is the wealthy but oppressed damsel in distress, for those more responsive to an emotional stimulus, and might be called the Rwandan Woman in Fear for her Life gambit.

During a four-hour closed session held on April 28 in Rio de Janeiro, – the transcript was appended to the Car Wash case file on Tuesday — the «informant», whose name will not be released during continuing investigations, described six cases of alleged criminal misconduct, chief among them the acquisition of  Pasadena, initiated in 2005. The deal, valued at US$ 359 million at the outset, wound up cost US$ 1,2 bilhão, causing Petrobras to suffer a US$ 793 million, according to the federal accounting tribunal (TCU).

[ … translation to come …]

Continue reading

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.

Alstom Case | Information “Round-Filed” For Years

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Source: Jornal do Brasil

Federal lawmakers file suit against former attorney-general Rodrigo de Grandis. The parliamentarians demand an explanation for the postponement of a request for assistance from Swiss prosecutors.

The explanation given so far: The documents were filed in the wrong envelope and then lost and forgotten. I kid you not.

Workers Party legislators are due to file suit with the National Council of the Public Ministry (CNMP) this Friday against prosecutor Rodrigo De Grandis on the suspicion that he delayed acting on a request from Swiss authorities regarding the possible involvement of ranking Toucans — Social Democrats — in an international crime scheme. The collaborative effect was intended to examine the formation of a cartel involving Siemens and Alstom in contracts with the commuter railway, the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM).

The petition comes with the signature of the leader of the PT benches in the lower house, José Guimarães (CE), as well as deputies Ricardo Berzoini (SP) and Edson Santos (RJ). In the document, they ask for a true explanation of the violations of legal principles that a preliminary probe has already revealed. The document requests that if the charges are true, then de Grandis should be held responsible for a crime of omission in the investigation of the the CPTM cartel.

The PT deputies want more information on the fact that de Grandis [literally] buried the case. Deputy Renato Simões (PT-SP) says de Grandis failed to live up to his duties as a prosecutor, disrupting an investigation and refusing to collaborate with the Swiss, an action that needs a better explanation.

This weekend, information published in the press indicates that Rodrigo de Grandis [“round-filed”] the case starting in 2010 — and not just this case. He dragged his feet in eight more cases despite repeated requests for cooperation from the Swiss. The Swiss agency MOP discovered financial transactions by the consultantsArthur Teixeira, Sérgio Teixeira and José Amaro Pinto Ramos, all three suspected of brokering bribes, as well as the  ex-director of the CPTM, João Roberto Zaniboni, suspected of having gotten away with R$ 18.4 million from Alstom.

Folha de S. Paulo and its publisher Otavio Frias were uncharacteristically harsh in a case in which it, too, might be said to have swept a few facts under the rug:

A harsh editorial in the Frias family newspaper, calls the excuse that the file requesting the assistance of Swiss prosecutors looking into a case that involves bribery and the social democratic party.

“No investigation work has been done, then. And the reason given for this act of omission defies the credibility of even the most naive of us. They say they the request from the Swiss was misfiled. Or so says the prosecutor responsible for the case in Brazil, Rodrigo de Grandis,” the editorial says. “Let us not just leave it at that so that the Toucan train can roll on to its all too familiar destination: impunity.”

The Minister of Justice, Cardozo, says de Grandis failed to take action as ordered on several occasions.

Uma nota oficial do Ministério da Justiça, divulgada na noite de ontem, joga por terra a alegação do procurador Rodrigo de Grandis e do Ministério Público de que também teria havido falhas do governo federal na cooperação com autoridades suíças em relação ao caso Alstom, empresa que distribuiu propinas a personagens ligados ao PSDB para obter contratos milionários nos setores de transporte e energia em São Paulo. A equipe de José Eduardo Cardozo esclareceu ainda que o procurador Rodrigo de Grandis foi alertado em diversas oportunidades para tomar providências. Leia abaixo:

Brasília, 1º/11/2013 – Em relação à nota da Procuradoria-Geral da República, o Ministério da Justiça esclarece que não houve qualquer falha na tramitação dos pedidos de cooperação oriundos da Suíça referentes ao denominado Caso Alstom.

Os mencionados pedidos de cooperação foram encaminhados, desde março de 2010, à então Assessoria de Cooperação Internacional da Procuradoria Geral da República (atual Secretaria de Cooperação Internacional). Ressalta-se que este procedimento ocorre com todo e qualquer pedido recebido de países estrangeiros pelo Departamento de Recuperação de Ativos e Cooperação Jurídica (DRCI) e são direcionados à Procuradoria Geral da República para cumprimento.

Os únicos ofícios que foram encaminhados somente ao Procurador da República, Rodrigo de Grandis, foram seis reiterações dos pedidos iniciais, como forma de cobrar o andamento do pedido, procedimento adotado pelo Departamento.

Considerando este cenário, não procede a informação de que haveria tido falha no envio do pedido.

Jose Dirceu accused de Grandis of politicizing the case

News of an internal investigation of de Grandis is in th papers today: the Folha, the Estadão and Valor. “Rodrigo de Grandis did not comply with requests from Swiss authorities,” reads a subhed in the Folha. “Internal affairs wants to know why Rodrigo de Grandis did not comply with the request for assistance from the Swiss in the Alstom case, read a headline in the Estadão.

No episódio comprova-se mais uma vez a seletividade do Ministério Público nas investigações. E da cobertura da imprensa, que habitualmente dá pouquíssimo espaço ao caso – e nenhum, quando envolve o procurador De Grandis. Já a palavra dele próprio, entrevista, etc… – nada. Habitualmente exibido e falador quando é para atacar a honra alheia, ele agora se esconde da mídia.

Tampouco sua “distração” em relação ao pedido da Suíça, à investigação, motiva menções nos jornais a nomes de políticos e governadores tucanos em cujas administrações se formou o conluio em torno do cartel. Já quando os casos envolvem o PT o nome do partido e de seus integrantes vai para as manchetes, títulos, legendas, chamadas, textos – vai em tudo.