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Brazil | Clicktivism and the Impeachment Question


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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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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Ere I Saw Elba Ester | AMLO on the Comeback Trail

At first I found it mildly irritating.

Now I find it utterly abhorrent. The U.S. press is reporting on this year’s presidential race in Mexico as though it were a Manichean choice between two sharply defined alternatives: the return of the PRI or the perpetuation of the PAN.

The result of this crude statistical hack tends to take the form of polling results which do not add up to 100%, with no explanation offeredof as to where the other preferences are flocking.

Like it or not, Andrés Manuel López Obrador — AMLO — is a viable candidate whose chances are significantly enhanced by corruption scandals involving the PAN candidate.

Furthermore, I firmly believe AMLO was cheated of a narrow victory in the 2006 elections, during which PAN received illegal support from the U.S. business community and the political consultant Dick Morris, working under an assumed name.

A key element in the political machine mobilized against the center-left candidate is one of the most byzantine political villainesses in the history of south of the border, the national teachers union boss Elba Ester Gordillo. I took a fair amount of notes on the subject on my former blog, New Market Machines.

Among other villainous acts, Gordillo promoted the murderous repression of an SNTE local in Oaxaca, during which the U.S. journalist Brad Wills was assassinated by a political death squad controlled by the corrupt governor. The State Department embarassed itself royally by attempting to soft-peddle the incident in its press conferences. How do these seersucker Yale legacy men face the mirror after squash?

Anyway, that pretty well fucking did it for me: I am a gringo in a strange land myself. Will Hillary defend me when the death squads knock on our door?

Ciudadania Express (Mexico) reports that Gordillo remains a powerful political patron capable of mobilizing union members to defraud the voting. I translate.

Oaxaca, México.- Andrés Manuel López Obrador says that when he is elected President, he will not protect any of Mexico’s  political machines, including that of  Elba Esther Gordillo, national president of the teachers union, the «Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación» (SNTE); democracy, he says, is the way to defeat them..

“For this as it is for many things, democracy is the remedy,” said the presidential candidate of  Movimiento Progresista, a coalition of the PRD, PT and Movimiento Ciudadano.

During a morning news conference on the fifth day of the official presidential campai gn, AMLO focused on educational challenges confronting Mexico and exemplified by low quality of services, especially in elementary and middle school education …

“Only 4 in 10 young persons attend high school; 6 of 10 have no opportunity to study. The same is true of college education: only 28% of college-age youth are able to actually attend”, the former federal district governor said..

«What will you do with Elba Ester Gordillo?», reporters asked the candidate..

«Nothing must stand in the way of improving education, especially not machine politics ….»


The Empire of Orange Juice | Cutrale v. the MST

The pro-rural media is once again drooling its hatred for the MST, which yesterday returned to reoccupy land “claim-jumped” by Cutrale in Iaras, in rural São Paulo.

Altamiro Borges, a one-time editor of Vermelho — the party organ of the PCdoB — recites the litany: the commercial media in Brazil is systematically biased against the Landless Workers Movement, or MST.

The allegation has the misfortune of being painfully obvious, independent of which side you favor. I translate in the spirit of providing context for official diplomatic cables on the situation of the MST.

TV anchors and commentators denounced the “invasion” and ran archive footage in which orange trees were damaged …. footage dating from September 2009. Though Incra has ruled again and again that the land belongs to the federal union, the media insist on demonizing the landless workers movement .

The occupation of Cutrale was part of a day of action for agrarian reform, including an encampment with 4,000 participants in Brasilia and various actions in other states. The media aired not a single word of our grievances or the absurdities of land ownership in Brazil. The media prefers to hear from the “victim,” Cutrale – a fact that at least attracts attention, even if it is negative attention, to the problem of land entitlement.

A criminal omission

At critical moments, the hegemonic mass media always takes sides. It unfailingly takes the side of the powerful, including in this case the barons of agribusiness, against the side of the workers. It will even cover up events that it has already reported during a less eventful period. Cutrale’s is an emblematic case. The newsrooms know full well the irregularities practiced by this company, but prefer the criminal conspiracy of silence.

In May 2003, for example, Veja magazine — possibly for mercenary reasons –- did a long report on Cutrale. Veja recounted that Cutrale is one of the largest agribusiness concerns in the world and that it has built its empire on the basis of predatory and illegal practices. “The Brazilian José Luís Cutrale and his family control 30% of the world market in orange juice, a figure comparable to that of OPEC in the oil business”.

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Satanic Mills and The Pigs of Steel

A black-hat carvoaria in Piauí — entire debt-enslaved families engaged in illegal deforestation and the defrauding of carbon-steel production standards.  

It is a shame that Brasil Econômico is hiding today’s report on the black-market carbon industry behind its pay-to-play firewall.

Although it has taken some time to get up steam, the BE — which takes the place of the late, lamented Gazeta Mercantil — thoroughly explores the proposition that specialty steels used by automakers could not be produced sustainably without Brazilian slave and child labor and black-market carbon manufacture.

To be precise, the coverage is largely based on a 7-year study by the Observatório Social, whose methods and means are closely scrutinized. The Observatório titles its report “The Steel of Devastation.” It is itself a steely-eyed and devastating document.

The Observatório describes how companies dedicated, pro forma, to the use of legally produced carbon in their production of pig-iron are really just overlooking the illegal back-door introduction of slave labor-based, environmentally predatory carbon production into the supply chain of “certified” carbon producers.

The illegal facilities are generally located some 10km from the Potemkin villages that front for them — far enough away for plausible deniability, close enough for midnight runs with unmarked trucks with no onboard manifest.

Steel producers — unlike industries that scream for the economic sense and moral rectitude of “self-regulation” — claim that oversight of standards and practices is not their responsibility, Brasil Economico reports.

Again, the real grabber here is the claim that the entire industry would not be sustainable under any other regime now practicable — such as eucalyptus plantations for carbon production — if it were not for slave labor-produced predatory deforestation.

This report really ought to be Englished, and Englished proficiently, o quanto antes.

ANJ | An Exercise in Brazilian Self-Control

Luiz Egypto of the Observatório da Imprensa hammers on the one-note samba: the Brazilian press still shows signs of a sadistic immaturity.

Contemplating this sudden passion for self-regulation of the Brazilian news media — this year’s media blitz —  is like encountering a two year-old with the astonishing civility of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

The major Brazilian press in general is sleazy, raunchy, stupid and cruel, and wholly uninterested in small-t truth, has been since forever, and aims to stay that way because that sells papers, as far as I can see.

I translate a trecho pra inglês ver.

Receiving only bureaucratic mention – and a segment on the Jornal Nacional –  was the May 26 announcement by the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ) that it has approved its Permanent Program of Self-Regulation. This is a commendable effort by the ownership syndicate in the direction of formalizing a set of best practices for journalism vehicles and their affiliates. It is the fruit of much labor by Sidnei Basile, who passed away in March before seeing it flower.

Basile was a long-term consilgliere to the Civita family of Editora Abril and, if I am not mistaken, a founding partner in Innovation Media Consulting.

It is not quite the case, however, that the program has been “implemented.”.In its announcement, the ANJ informed us that “a guide sheet with the Program will be made available on our Web site”, which has not in fact yet happened.

It is now available, discretely tucked away in a corner of the Web page:

It is nothing but a set of PowerPoint slides that belabor the obvious, with an accent on the message that the Brazilian news media already exercises sufficient self-control. Requires swearing an oath to the free enterprise system — which is sort of a grim joke in such a densely concentrated market.

In any event, the ANJ has made a very important amendment to its by-laws, including among the duties of its members the obligation of newspapers and news sites to create their own self-regulation programs, communicating this to the ANJ and to readers. According to the ANJ, “the period for implementing this step, whether in a year or more, is still to be determined”.

The big story here, then, is that the ANJ released a set of principles that in principle will eventually lead to a set of principles that will be boiled down into principles that will actually be followed. I am shocked! Shocked! Oh, the humanity!

Luiz puts his finger on the defects to which we are referring.

Three simple points

While the program is still getting up steam, the ANJ could at least urge its affiliates to observe its own Code of Ethics. These are the ten commandments known since time immemorial to affiliates of the organization.

Item 5, for example recommends “assuring that readers have access to different versions of the facts and various tendencies of social opinion.” Or, as in item,  6, “guarantee the publication of objective rebuttal by persons or organizations who are accused , in its own pages, of wrongdoing
 or reprehensible conduct.” And finally, item 10, “Correct any errors made in its editions.”

If just these three principles were applied consistently in  Brazilian journalism, the so-called self-regulation announced by the ANJ would already, in fact, have begun.

.Journalism is not rocket science. Write down what actually happens according to everyone who was there and then double-check to see you spelled the names right. End of story.

ECAD | Razing The Royalties Machine

Above: Scandal at ECAD — the Brazilian ASCAP! Cruelty to the beloved Creative Commons! A reform of authorial rights legislation that would prevent the labels from keeping everything! Falling out with prominent leftist intellectual Emir Sader, who is disinvited from heading the Rui Barbosa Institute!  Since the media blitz began here — Bring Me the Head of the Minister of Culture — I have been trying to get to the bottom of certain vague accusations against the Brazilia ASCAP, ECAD, which collects and  distributes royalties, handling a modest amount of funds in the low hundreds of millions per year. All I have found is a single case in which ECAD distributed money in error to a fraudster who gamed its IT system, reported after the fact by a journalist who simply leaked what someone else told them. The organization says it detected the fraud, has already charged the man criminally and is suing to get the money back. Even so, the episode is being used to leverage the proposition “the Minister of Culture consorts with corrupt or incompetent lobbying organizations!” This is bullshit, I think. Today, for example, in the Estadão, we read that a parliamentary commission of inquiry is moving forward with respect to ECAD. Absolutely the only concrete reason for ordering the expensive and time-consuming probe is the single documented case of someone defrauding the distro system. It is as if Congress, espying a single sparrow in the snow, launched a probe of why spring was so cold this year. You enthusiasts of informal logic know what I mean: One case does not constitute a trend or patterm. I smell a media-driven ratfuck — the first of the season. But audit reports by ECAD are too adequate, by far, to raise the spectre of systematic fraud based on a single case, for one thing. So I have to admit it: I am rooting for Ana Buarque. I like her music, too. Continue reading