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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

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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Lies, Damned Lies and Infographics? | Folha de S. Paulo

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Item: Blog da Cidadania |

This is how it works: the passerby reads only the front page headline and skips the article to which it applies. In this way he forms his “opinion” based on a short, snappy phrase and goes around parroting the headlines of these news media, which, as a rule, distort the reporting of the top story.

For this reason, other news outlets — even more tendentious than the others — place their faith in the sale of short, stereotyped ideas which in a manner of seconds implant theses of all kinds in the mind of these consumers of  “fast-food information”.

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Such was the case of the notorious election-eve campaign of Veja magazine, which throughout the most recent election campaign, distributed giant banners to newsstand vendors, free of charge, containing accusations against Dilma Rousseff and the PT which, if you actually read them, are obviously nothing than insinuations.

In today’s example, the headline is grounded in an infographic purporting to support the headline that “Dilma is responsible for the Petrogras scandal” according to 63% of survey subjects.

“Brazilians [ the common Brazilian ] blame(s) Dilma for corruption.”

Do they? The juggernaut of a recent march calling for the impeachment of Rousseff swelled to an amazing 500 to 300, and at some point the event turned into a free for all between the two groups of Potemkin villagers.

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The infographic reproduced on the front page does not assist the reader much in understanding the situation. What registers most is the negative headline about Dilma.

Notice, dear reader, how the phrase is perfectly comprehensible even in the miniaturized version between the top headline and the fold on the front page. Turning to the inside pages, we will begin discovering facts that the headline obscures.

And although the subhed underneath the headline reveals that an overwhelming 46% of those interviewed by Datafolha believe Dilma has done more to fight corruption than her predecessors — more than Lula, even — her party maintains that her popularity has weathered the storm of political attacks against her since her second-round victory.

What is more, the graphic displays an extremely negative fact about the PSDB: ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso appears to have been extremely lenient in the fight against corruption. Only 4% of those surveyed believe corruption was combated during his government, second only to Fernando Collor, believed by 11% to have done most against corruption.

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This would make a good critical reading exercise for a Brazilian high-schooler, studying up for his ENEMs, but I will simply cite some of the conclusions of Edu Guimarães, with right of reply assumed by the Estado de S. Paulo from today’s editorial page.

As you can see, the Folha shied away from publishing on the front page the fact that only 43% believed Dilma behaved in a corrupt manner while in charge of Petrobras, and that 45% considered her responsibility for the scandal negligible to none.

And so the Folha and Datafolha plot the intersection of the 43% who accuse Dilma with involvement with that of the 25% who, in answering other portions of the survey, indicate that Dilma is less responsible because of anti-corruption efforts that exceeded those of her predecessors.

The Folha has produced another farce based on market research that, though the bombastic headline suggests otherwise — that there exists a steep decline in confidence — actually shows that most of the population with an opinion on the Petrobras case are supporting Rousseff’s actions against corruption.

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Some 75% of Brazilians find their government excellent or acceptable as of December 3

Brazilians apparently recognize that there is institutional progress in the investigation of wrong-doing. Only the PT militants incapable of their removing their blinders will fail to notice that only a few attribute this progress to the president herself — on the contrary, 43% believe she is greatly responsible for corruption.

It is not that Brazilians have a high tolerance for criminality; it is more likely that gratitude for social programs realized over the past 12 years is a determining factor.

But let Dilma beware, because her popularity owes more than her political capital can repay. This capital will dry up as soon as taxpayers suffer the harsh measures that mismanagement during her first mandate become inevitable.

The ESP is a conservative paper with a generally admirable track record of loyalty to the Empire of Fact.

The Numbers

No fewer than 85% of Brazilians surveyed in 173 townships say they are convinced that there was corruption in Petrobras, the scandal of the moment. Worse: 68% believe the president has some involvement in the case.

It cannot be pleasant for the current government to see that it loses only to the Collor government (1990-92) as the government with the most corruption, a proposition believed by 20% and 29% of those surveyed.

There is a certain confusion in all these surveys as to whether the survey is meant to measure the (mostly media-driven) perception of corruption and opinions about actual, proven cases of corruption.

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A more telling statistic is the number of  Federal Police  operations during each presidential term. Under Lula, operations realized starting in 2003 outgrew police investigations by FHC by a factor of 50, and white collar crime was a significant new priority.

After the political defenestration of Paulo Lacerda from the PF and ABIN (the Brazilian CIA), the numbers have fallen off a bit, it seems, but there are a number of major cases in the pipeline.

Despite this, 42% assess the Dilma government as excellent or good. This is the same index announced on October 20, just before the second round. It appears that the intense revelations about wrongdoing at Petrobras has not been sufficient to undermine her prestige.

«Globo Downplays FIFA Association»

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Source: Brasil 24/7

Globo, the official broadcaster of the World Cup, has already brought in R$ 1.4 billion in advertising revenues for event coverage.

Despite this, last week TV Globo issued a recommendation to its journalists to avoid “positive spin” on the event.

In a memo circulated among staff, Globo calls for balanced coverage of the championship and asks that irregularities also be covered. These guidelines appear to apply mainly to the staff of the Jornal Nacional. It is no accident that the network’s flagship news program affords daily coverage of delayed public works and the rising cost of stadiums. Continue reading

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.

Trensalão | Furthering the Plot

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IstoÉ magazine overreaches a bit in selecting a Watergate-themed headline for this week’s issue — All the Toucan Bribery Scheme’s Men. Even so, it continues to lead the way in breaking new aspects of the São Paulo cartel case. I translate because mostly because I found myself with time on my hands.

Source: IstoÉ | Viomundo .

Last week, the investigation by the antitrust authority CADE demonstrated that the formation of cartels in the commuter railway sector is a national phenomenon. This enormous swindle, investigators concluded, was repeated in various regions and was systematically manifest in São Paulo, with bid-rigging, price-fixing and subcontracting of auction losers.

The frauds, spanning the 20 years of the PSDB government of São Paulo, exhibit some peculiarities that differentiate them from  other schemes investigated by CADE, however.  The São Paulo scheme stands out for its pioneering nature (the scheme began operating in 1998, in the middle of the Covas administration), its duration, its dimensions and the sums involved — nearly half a billion reais drained away during the reign of the Toucans

More importantly, however, the S. Paulo Metrô scandal has detected the participation of public agents linked to the PSDB. In exchange for guarantees that enabled the swindle to continue and the profits of the cartel to increase.  Significant figures of the PSDB took bribes and greased the wheels of a bribery scheme that diverted public funds into poltical campaigns.

The magazine offers no conclusive details on who received what, if anything. Continue reading

Metrogate | “Marked Cards,” Says Folha

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Source: Folha de S.Paulo

An exchange of e-mails among Siemens executives indicate that companies had prior access to the plans of the CPTM for four auctions held by the state government in 2004 — during the second term of Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) as governor.

A document in the possession of federal antitrust authorities to which the Folha had access show that even before the publication of the conditions for the auction, the companies were already discussing how to divide up the  Boa Viagem program, launched by Alckmin and designed to refurbish, renovate and modernize the trains.

On November 24, and titled “Acquisition Planned by CPTM in Brazil,” an e-mail sent by a Siemens exec detailed how the company wish to divide up the contracts among the major suppliers. The first public announcement of the auctions were not made until two days later.

“The various reforms should go to various suppliers. The main goal of the  CPTM is to assign the complete package to four major suppliers  (Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and T’Trans). In our case, we can count on  Iesa and  MGE as subcontractors”, the e-mail, signed by executive Marcos Missawa, said.

[Link] The other side: State denies ever discussing project with contractors

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