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Nelson Pretto | Why No Brazilian Laptop Per Child?

Why has the One Laptop Per Child | OLPC program apparently failed to take root in Brazil? I have always assumed a link between Brazilian intransigence and vicious lobbying by the chief Big Tech philanthropic foundation.

In any case, Nelson Pretto of Terra Magazine offers the following analysis. Pretto is professor of education at the Federal University of Bahia and a member of the Bahian Academy of Sciences.

Pretto took part in the panel on promotion of domestically produced content and technology at the recent Brazilian Internet Forum II.

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Civita Dei | Notes on The Brazilian Education Lobby

Brasil Escola — an educational publication of Brazil’s Record media group — observes, correctly, a major source of difficulty in trying to cover, in any comprehensive way, the actions of corporate, private and third-sector lobbies, and combinations thereof.

The trouble is that the lobbying industry here is just about as unregulated as Liberty Valence. I translate:

The term “lobby” is frequently heard in the political milieu. Sadly, however, most people hold an incorrect view of the term’s meaning.

First of all, we should understand that lobbying is nothing more than the bringing of political pressure by groups seeking to influence official policy for their own ends, whether openly or in secret.

Lobbying is a very natural activity, something we all do. Examples include a son trying to get his father to increase his allowance, or a union debating improved working conditions.  In the U.S., lobbying is openly recognized  and even regulated by law. Lobbying is acknowledged as an important part of the political process.

Some experts believe that lobbying should not sneak in  through the back door, which only supports accusations of improprieties.  According to Maria Coeli Simões Pires, secretary of regional development and urban policy for the government of Minas Gerais, there are no angels in the political world, and no demons as well, merely interests, chief of which are economic interests. Viewed this way, lobbying must unlink itself from illegalities, since defending special interests is not only not illegal but rather a fundamental right.

First of all, in the case of «edutainment» policy, what groups seek to influence federal, state and local education policy in Brazil, and what are their respective agenda and tactics? The answer involves sophisticated governance structures set up to facilitate private- and third-sector collaboration with municipal, state, and federal bodies and private enterprise.

«Program, get your program, you can’t tell the players without a program!”

Selecting key-man nodes in publicly available social networks and traversing their relationships — above, aa chain leading to international philanthropy by Sylvan Laureate — is a legitimate method, but also very labor-intensive.

I propose using automated «beat-building» techniques to obrain an overview of the sector.

First, relevant and useful Web sites are selected and crawled, breadth-firt — using NaviCrawler or WIRE, in my case — and a link ecology analysis is performed, using Pajek, Gephi and yEd.

Then, using yEd, basic social network characteristics can be diagrammed and pondered visually.

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Initiating Tracking | Tropical R&D

The tools provided by the SIMILE project and used to develop this timeline gizmo in Drupal really are useful. .

It is useful, for example, to see Mr. Sorrell of the WPP group dining with President Obama not long after buying Blue State Digital, the agency that handles the spectacle of Obamism. I follow the company, and the timeline gives me a 1 to + 1 = 2.

I proclaim myself convinced, and I am ready to take a serious run at something I have wanted to do for several years now: track Brazilian IT.

Still a bug or two, as you an see. In any event, it all begins with the Computer Science Bill of 1985, subject of the prize-winning 1988 investigative report, long form, by Vera Dantas.

Once I get caught up and set my coverage universe, I can start think about translating the diachronic — one thing after another — into the syncrhonic — the general outcome as a whole considered as a structure or scenario.

Wandora would be one tool available for that purpose.

Information already gleaned through my Semantic Mediawiki just has to be transferred over …

And so I lift my Coney Island shot glass of Old Mudmaker arguardente to you, if you wish me well: May Brazilian IT become hot, hot, hot in about a year, by which time I will know a lot of detailed stuff about it, rather than the piecemeal knowlege I have now.

And if you do not wish me well, honi soit qui mal y pense.

Novos Mercados-Máquinas: IBM e Febraban?

Aí, o jeito que o tempo têm de complicar as coiss.

No meio da década dos 2000, eu editava um jornalzinho sobre a indústria financeira. Tinha meu gabinete quase na esquina da Rua Wall com Water.

Na época, a NYSE — a Bolsa de Nova York — era a NYSE que sempre tinha sido, ou assim pensavamos, e além de uma “demumutalização” da bolsa, não havia muita gente esperando as enormes mudanças à vir. John Thain, ex-Goldman e mostrado acima à esquerda, parecia ser um homem esperto mas nunca espertalhão.

À mesma época, atraia atenção o model de consolidaçao  de pequenas bolsas pela ambiciosa e tecnicamente avançada OMX, a Bolsa de Oslo, em Noruega. Eu sempre isso um modelo que deveria interessar a BM&F, seguindo nos passos do seu grande amigo e mentor, o Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Da Nasdaq eu, pelo menos, eu não esperava senão que ia continuar sendo o Nasdaq, cotando os preços em letras dez metros de altura no Times Square.

Então, a fusão NYSE-EURONEXT, e a emergência de bolsas de valores e balcões de transação inventandas na hora, em vez de crescer sobre o curso de um século, como tinham feitas a Londres e a NYSE.

E agora?

Do Estadão | Nasdaq e ICE elevam proposta pela Nyse em US$ 350 milhões.

A Nasdaq OMX Group e a IntercontinentalExchange ICE melhoraram a oferta para comprar a Nyse Euronext, oferecendo-se para pagar US$ 350 milhões, além da proposta anterior de US$ 11,18 bilhões, se autoridades antitruste bloquearem o negócio. Às 11h25 de Brasília, as ações da Nasdaq subiam 0,22%, as da ICE caíam 0,20% e as da Nyse avançavam 0,98% em Nova York.A oferta melhorada foi apresentada numa carta formal para o conselho Nyse Euronext, que na semana passada rejeitou a proposta não solicitada por motivos estratégicos.”Nós acreditamos que o conselho da Nyse Euronext procurará aumentar o valor para seus acionistas, reunindo-se conosco, para avaliar a nossa proposta melhorada”, disse o chefe-executivo da ICE, num comunicado.Representantes da Nyse Euronext não estavam disponíveis para comentar a notícia.

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Softex | Hard Sell from Intel

Softex, the software development arm of BNDES, announces:, and I translate an excerpt or two:

Intel Brasil and Softex announce the signing of a Tecnical and Scientific Cooperation agreement that establishes a mutual commitment to the Brazilian software and IT services industry, inceasing Brazil’s share of a sector that already brings inUS$ 18.5 billion and is expected to grow 25% in 2011.

In recent weeks, Intel had announced it would bypass India and China and invest half a billion dollars in an R&D center in Brazil.

The MOU establishes work standards for the training of Brazilian IT personnel in bleeding-edge technology in order to make them more competitive in the world market and making it possible to offer services and products of the highest quality to the Brazilian consumer. at the same time, innovative solutions developed in Brazil will be immediaely made available all over the world through Intel’s online store. The initiative will benefit, not just Softex members, but all organizations represented on its board, such as Assespro, Abes and Fenainfo.

That is to say, industry syndicates generally aligned with the Business Sotware Association of America and the Entertainment Software Association.

The technology press here is dominated by “coverage” of the latest U.S. releases, with little if any attention paid to the Brazilian industry.

One of the first initiatives under study is a survey of IT firms which state of the art technologies,such as parallel programming, cloud computing, mobile solutions, security and graphics computing, should be focused on first in the context of the agreement.  Continue reading

New regulatory regime for Brazilian software, Mercadante says

CETI is an IT business owners association from the gaucho South. It reports on what the sector is anxious to know: Will there be adequate subsidies for IT R&D in this year’s budget, despite fiscal austerity measures that are being taken? I translate an excerpt and comment for my notes.

BRASÍLIA — Federal science and tech minister Aloizio Mercadante defends the need for a new regulatory framework for the software industry in Brazil, which still depends a great deal on the Information Technology Law. He also demonstrated sympathy for tax-breaks benefiting companies in the sector. He was cautious, however, as to when such a measure might take the form of a bill sent down to Congress.

Without speaking in much detail about the proposed new regulatory scheme — escept to say that it could take the form of an amended Informational Technology Law — Mercadante, who was taking part in the opening ceremonies of AbineeTec 2011, at Anhembi University in São Paulo, was strident about the need for short-term incentives to help the industry grow.

“I am very sympathetic to tax breaks for IT firms. This is a sector in Brazil could be doing a lot more than it is today. We have all we need to fight for a better seat at the global table”, the minister said.

Asked about the revised version of the PDP, the Productive Development Policy, Mercadante promised that the IT sector will continue to be one of the pillars of the policy. “I can guarantee you that TIC is in the new PDP, we are going to improve existing measures so that we can realize appreciable gains”, he said.

Mercandante was reluctant, however to discuss whether Science and Tech might find itself at odds with other ministries, and the Treasury in particular, which has said that any such incentives will require a quid pro quo from the industry benefitted..

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Bahia | One-Armed Banditry

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Vintage roleta with bichos. Source: Museum of the State Judicial Police of Rio de Janeiro.

I like to keep an eye on the Agência de Notícias de Polícia Federal, the press release page of the Brazilian feds.

It makes me feel young again, as if I were a cub reporter writing the police blotter for the old South Pasadena Review.

Operations are always deflagrados — unleashed, like a sudden storm — against criminal suspects. Whoever names the operations has a classical education and impressive cultural depth.

The war on “nickel-hunter” slot machines continues and spreads.

A very elaborate scheme of police corruption in Rio de Janeiro was uncovered in relation to this particular racket a few years back.

A senior aide to the state secretary of public safety was implicated, then assassinated while a fugitive. He had been the reputed leader of a paramilitary “militia” in the Western Zone of the city.

The previous director of the state judicial police, freshly elected to the state legislature, was also implicated. A federal congresswoman on leave from her job as a senior police inspector was overheard on a wiretap suggesting that a college turning state’s evidence “needs two [bullets] right between the horns.”

Subsequently, someone tried to put two right between the man’s horns in broad daylight along the main drag of the world-famous Southern Zone beaches. He survived.

Salvador/BA – This morning, the Federal Police Bahia unleashed Operation Reset, serving 14 arrest warrants and  37 search and seizure warrants. The action is designed to combat a criminal  organization operating illegal gambling devices in Bahia state, in conjunction with related crimes such as bribe paying and receiving,, fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and “crimes against the popular economy.”

I will have to look that last one up. “Defrauding consumers,” something like that.

The suspects and their companies had been targeted previously by the federal police in Operation Aposta — “bet” — in 2007, which led to the booking and indictment of the same by the federal prosecutor in a federal organized crime tribunal for the state of Bahia..

Even while faced with a criminal indictment, the organization continued to commit the same crimes, changing only the method of importing electronic components into the state and using other companies to do so, demonstrating their complete contempt for police, the courts and the rule of law..

These companies possess all the infrastructure required to build and operate the gambling devices, from software to the installed machine. The machines are built with wooden frames, the electronics are installed, and then the finished product is transported and installed. Regular maintenance is provided..

An analysis of the documents seized during  Aposta in 2007, showed that the organization had 7,000 machines in operation at the time, statewide.Today, we estimate the number to be nearly 20,000. Annual revenues are some $35 million.

We emphasize that this crime involves not just a misdemeanor gambling violation but also smuggling and racketeering.

It was official policy at a lot of Brazilian newspapers to refer to the gambling lords as contraventores — translatable as whatever the opposite of a felon is, my head just stopped working. Some semi-openly lobbied for legalization.

A perícia a ser realizada no material apreendido durante a manhã de hoje na Operação Reset deverá comprovar outras modalidades delitivas possivelmente praticadas pela organização como a falsificação de documentos público e particular, falsidade ideológica, uso de documento, corrupção passiva e ativa, sonegação de tributos, crimes contra a economia popular e lavagem de dinheiro.

Forenscs to be performed on the material seized this morning in Reset will likely provide evidence of further acts of forgery, identity theft, bribery, tax evasion, and so on, by the organization.

There will be a press conference today at 3 p.m. at the federal police HQ in Salvador.

Salvador, what a great town.

LAB-LD: Money Laundering Mining

I may have mentioned that I dream of someday writing a hamfisted financial potboiler about money laundering. There are a few examples of the genre, ghostwritten as vanity projects for Wall Streeters, mostly, but they are not very good.

Something in the genre of Bruce Sterling meets Rubem Fonseca or Garcia-Roza. Homages to John D. McDonald.

So it was interesting to read about how a new data mining laboratory is tracking down front businesses laundering money for the Rio WalMart of Bolivian Marching Powder.

É o Laboratório de Tecnologia contra Lavagem de Dinheiro (Lab-LD), sistema lançado em 2007, resultado de um convênio entre o Ministério da Justiça, Secretaria Nacional de Justiça, Secretaria de Segurança Pública e Polícia Civil do Estado, no âmbito da Estratégia Nacional de Combate à Corrupção e à Lavagem de Dinheiro (Enccla).

O Rio recebeu duas unidades do Lab-LD, uma para a Polícia Civil, outra para o Ministério Público do Rio de Janeiro (MPRJ). É uma estrutura simples, com equipe reduzida – seis pessoas na polícia e dez no MP -, que ocupam duas ou três salas pequenas. Patricia Alemany, coordenadora do laboratório na polícia, define o sistema como um conjunto de softwares, técnicas e profissionais especializados (contabilistas, economistas, estatísticos) que trabalham na análise de dados.