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King Momo and the Car(nival) Wash

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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.

Continue reading

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.

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.

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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Ich Bin The Champion | Of Tournaments and Pyramids

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Above, a lovely match-by-match tournament illustration by the Estado de S. Paulo, dated prior to the beginning of sudden death matches.

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Above, from Hierarchical structure and the prediction of missing links in networks: Nature,  453, 98-101 (1 May 2008). Notice the cut-vertices and bridges, which may be the locus of critical social stress and loss of cohesion, or as informal but intentional departures from formal rules in pursuit of collective goals.

As part of my own ongoing reading project on the subject, then, I wonder: What does social network theory have to say in such cases: a directed network  in which the loser transfers structural prestige to the winner, who parlays this relationship of winner and loser –if that is the proper way to say it? — into moving onward and upward.

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«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.