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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

Brazil | Clicktivism and the Impeachment Question

VejaMostSOcialNetworkImpeachment

It is being reported widely here in  Brazil that turnout for this past weekend’s pro-impeachment demonstrations was markedly lower — by  200% or more in the most visible of urban congregations — than that of the March impeachment rallies, themselves inflated by fancy  camera angles from news photographers.

Some 500 marchers turned out to call for the downfall of the Rousas much asseff government in Salvador, Bahia, for example — an electoral redoubt of the Workers Party since the defeat of Carlismo — a sort of regional Brazilian version of Mexico’s PRI — in recent elections.

The Radar column of Veja magazine suggests that this lack of activism be weighed against what is treated as a significant volume of supporting «clicktivist» chatter on «the social networks» …

But beware the clicktivist fallacy: the notion that computer and network users represent a segment of the population proportional to support for a given proposition.

Factor in the digital divide, in other words.

For example, if 52% of the population uses the Internet, including mobile Internet — 103 million Brazilians — and 48% does not, how representative are half a million Internauts discussing impeachment for good or ill?

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King Momo and the Car(nival) Wash

galo-madrugada

Viva o Zé Pereira,
Que a ninguém faz mal,
Viva a pagodeira,
Nos dias de Carnaval

As the annual revels get underway, the mighty Rooster of the Dawn, like most carnival societies, is not shy about lampooning its betters.

Bakhtin, after all, was right about the Carnivalesque and the four modalities of the WUD, or “world upside down.”

But not everyone is convinced. One the key figures in the Car Wash case is attempting — apparently successfully — to quash distribution of a mask depicting his face, exposing him to ridicule on national TV.

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PT | Sue You Too

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Source:  PT (Brazilian political party)

The national president of the Workers’ Party,  Rui Falcão, announced today (February 11), that the party will sue former Petrobras manager Pedro Brausco, who accused the finance secretary of our party, João Vaccari Neto, of acting as a go-between in illegal fundraising for the party, without presenting any proof of this accusation.

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São Paulo | The Triumvirate of Transport

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Topic: Who runs the São Paulo bus system?

by  Guilherme Boulos

Source: Viomundo

Originally published in the Folha de S. Paulo.

Translated excerpt by C. Brayton

The predominant force in the city bus service is José Ruas Vaz, also known as “The Baron of the Asphalt” or “The Pope of the Turnstyles.” He is the founder of the Ruas Group, which controls no less than 53% of the rolling stock and receives 56% of the public funding. He also controls bus transport in Guarulhos and other cities in the greater metro area.

Vaz is a man of many enterprises, all of them oddly interrelated. He is, for example, a partner in the consortium that manages advertising at bus stops and the owner of Caio Induscar, which supplies bus chassis to its own sister companies as well as to competitors. If a sector as monopolistic as this can be said to have competitors, that is.

Ruas Group is also known for filing for the bankruptcy of debt-laden companies and then refounding them in order to make it difficult to collect its debts. In 2013 it faced 242 cases of execution for debt. Its pension plan contribution to the INSS reached R$ 750,000.

This is the gang that rules supreme over public transport in the largest city in Brazil.

Another major player in this area is Belarmino Marta, owner of the Belarmino Group, which comprises more than 20 companies that control public transport in various cities, as well as a portion of the capital city.

Along with Ruas Group, Belarmino is owner and partner in a number of Mercedes Benz concession-holders. Mercedes furnishes 65% of city buses.

A Mercedes sales director, testifying to the parliamentary inquiry (CPI) into the transport scriminalityector, produced the following pearl of wisdom: “They sell the bus and microbus chassis to themselves.” Clever, is it not?

The level of cartelization and criminality in the sector has become self-evident. Zero transparency. They have turned a public concession into a means to extort society.

Fares can and should be cut. But where to cut? The profits of the concessionaires, together with a thorough-going reform in the management of urban transportation. The creation of a public transportation company that would manage the system directly is an urgent and necessary measure.

Profitablity does not combine well with quality. A for-profit transport system means that riders must cope with overcrowding and expensive fares. An example of this is the bizzare practice of paying the buses according to the number of passengers carried rather than distance covered. In other words, it is a matter of carrying more people at a lower cost. The result is overcrowding.

Popular demonstrations and the new round of auctions for transport contracts scheduled for March represent an opportunity to question this logic, to begin treating public transport as a right.

What remains to be seen is whether anyone will have the courage.

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.

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Car Wash Witness | Contrary to Fact Conditional Parole?

"They knew everything"

“They knew everything”

I was leafing idly through the news coverage of Operation Car Wash — a megascandal with dozens of suspects of operating illegally inside Petrobras — thinking of doing a coverage timeline of the scandal,  when I came across a surprising statement.

TV Globo said that its sources did not confirm the version published by Veja, and described the Folha article as “distorted.”

It is very rare to see these particular establishment media outlets criticizing one another in this way.  Normally, stories like this are handled as a three-man tag-team match.

According to Valor, however, the naming of politicians involved in the case will not occur until February — Ash Wednesday, when people finally get back to work.

A tropical W$J or FT in incubation, Valor has published as a joint venture with O Globo and the Folha de S. Paulo — odd bedfellowssince May 2000. With the demise of the Gazeta Mercantil, it represents a relative concentration of the market shared with Brasil Econômico — a cousin to the Rio daily O Dia — and the business pages of the Estado de S. Paulo, along with the weekly Exame (Abril).

Bloomberg, Reuters. AFP, Yahoo News and others add a foreign flavor to the mix. The flow of information from various sources cannot but encourage the market observer.

Rumor and leakage in the Petrobras case do appear to have died down since mid-December as defendants — and officers of the court, including the federal police  — honor the gag order, in the case of defendants on pain of losing their plea deal, and leaky civil servants suffering administrative punishment.

Backgrounders [+]:

  1. Car Wash | Big Brother Is Watching
  2. Nassif on Car Wash | The Tipping Point?
  3. Watergate Braziliense: The Leaky Police on the Leaky Police

Source: CartaCapital (October 30, 2014):

Correction to Youssef deposition is a “lie,” attorney says.

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