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Bob Fernandes of Terra Magazine on Sambodian Municipal Elections

More exercises in subtitling and vlogging of local political newsflow for the Greater Sambodian Metropoitian Area — S. Paulo, Brazil.

The rise from obscurity of Celso Russomanno is a phenomenon I have yet to understand, although some of his opponents criticize him for aligning himself with IURD, a prominent and very wealthy protestant denomination in the «theology of prosperity» mold. The church owns the nationwide Globo rivals Rede Record and Record News.

Bob Fernandes of Terra Magazine, featured here, is among the most clear-sighted and useful guides to the perplexed gringos among Brazilian journalists — he should hire me to help him localize his content pra inglês ver.

Another interesting snippet of news today is the initial numbers on campaign spending by the three leading candidates.

The PT has spent almost R$ 18 million against half that by the PSDB, with minimal spending by the leading candidate, Russomano — he is said to have spent less than 10% of Haddad’s budget.

And in fact, the Haddad for Mayor Web site and social networking presence is formidable and state of the art — worthy, and also strongly reminiscent of, Blue State Digital and Movements.org. Continue reading


Watergate Braziliense: The Leaky Police on the Leaky Police

The Fake News Cycle

The "fake-news cycle" according to John Koblin of the NYO -- himself a key link in the chain that recycled rumors from the tabloids into the blogosphere,where the same tabloids that started the rumor in the first place wound up picking them back up again. Really, the diagram should take the form of a closed loop leading back to the NYP. Click to zoom.

I  gave New York Observer reporter John Koblin a blogospheric beat-down recently for his role in perpetuating rumors and soliciting leaks about a possibly impending political scandal in New York.

I personally would never let a reporter representing my paper go around Twitting plagiarized (in that the source of the rumor — the New York Post, hence “gabbling” in the completion of the primary dependent clause, once I have finished my hyperbaton — was not identified) gabbling rumors.

Much less would I proudly feature his pontificating about the fake-news cycle afterwards. It was not treated “fake news” when he twitted the rumor, without attribution to its source, in the first place. It was treaed as a hot tip with an open casting call out for leakers and phreakers willing to substantiate it.

Having said that, I will now myself transfer a strategically leaked, anonymously sourced story about allegations of shady strategic leaks by other, as yet unnamed, police, from one blogosphere — the Portuguese-speaking one — into another — pra inglês ver.

Unfortunately, in Brazil, that is sometimes the best you can expect from the local press. You have to piece the story together from a variety of leaks and counterleaks, like the blind men with their elephant. Fear, uncertainty and doubt rule the day.

So caveat lector.

According to O Globo, the Rio metro daily, the governor of the federal district, already in federal custody to prevent further acts of witness-tampering, may be in even hotter water.

He is now accused — the federal police leak out new evidence in dribs and drabs to keep the soap opera going — of using state security agencies as a personal political police force.

Police intelligence officers are said to have spied on prosecutors building cases against Arruda and then preempted those confidential investigations with leaks.

Documento em poder de investigadores da Operação Caixa de Pandora contém indícios de que setores da inteligência da Polícia Civil foram usados para espionar o Ministério Público do Distrito Federal, base de onde partiram as primeiras investigações sobre o suposto pagamento de propina a Arruda, ao governador em exercício, Paulo Octávio, e a parlamentares da base governista.

A document in the possession of federal investigators working on Operation Pandora’s Box contains indications that resources of the district police intelligence service were used to spy on the district prosecutor’ office, source of the first investigations into alleged bribe-taking by Governor Arruda, the current interim governor Paulo Octávio (DEM), and pro-situation lawmakers.

A bit of back story here: Antônio Carlos Magalhães, the dark overlord of Brazil’s PFL political party — recently rebaptized as the “Democratic” party, in a bid to disassociate itself from its roots in ARENA, party of the situation in the Potemkin congress maintained by the 1964-1985 military dictatorship — was himself a reputed master of using public security agencies to spy on political adversaries.

In 2003, federal investigators alleged that police working for ACM were falsifying the wiretap authorizations issued by judges, adding the names of parties totally unrelated to the case at hand but considered enemies, or untrusted allies, by the Senator. IstoÉ magazine, just to give you an idea, reported at a given moment in the scandal:

Novas investigações da Polícia Federal constataram que o número original de 232 telefones monitorados eram, na verdade, a ponta de um iceberg criminoso. Os policiais da Secretaria de Segurança Pública da Bahia estavam gravando conversas de mais de mil pessoas em cinco Estados. O delegado Valdir Barbosa e o técnico Alan Farias, os principais executores do grampo e já indiciados pelos crimes de falsificação de documentos e escuta ilegal no inquérito da PF, fizeram quase 900 pedidos de escuta. Os pedidos mais recentes datam de fevereiro de 2003, quando ACM já tinha tomado posse no Senado …

New investigations by the federal police have found that the 232 illegal wiretaps installed were in fact merely the tip of the iceberg. Policemen from the State Security Secretariate of Bahia were recording the conversations of over 1,000 persons in five states. Police captain Valdir Barbosa and technician Alan Farias, the principal operators of these bugs, who have already been charged by the feds with falsifying documents and illegal wiretapping, had made over 900 requests for judicially authorized surveillance. The most recent date from February 2003, when Magalhães had already assumed his seat in the Senate ...

The 2003 reelection of Magalhães followed his resignation from the Senate in 2001 to avoid impeachment proceedings on charges of having violated the confidentiality of the vote on the Senate floor.

(His political machine was dealt a blow in the 2006 elections, losing the governorship to Jaques Wagner of the PT.  His son still occupies his Senate seat, however, even as his grandson leads the DEM-PFL benches in the lower house.)

Our governor Arruda — at the time the leader of the situation in the lower house as a member of the PSDB — after initially denying having conspired with ACM to coopt the Senate technical staff in order to learn the secret votes of Senate members in an impeachment trial, later admitted to doing so in a tearful farewell address, then resigned along with ACM.

He would also make a mythic, almost immediate Nixonian comeback, now affiliated with the party of Magalhães:

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More Sambodian Mud and Flood: Potemkin Cruise Crosses Mogi das Cruces; What the Vigia Told The News

End of the Line

Stop and hail a singing Venetian oarsman: The Régis Bittencourt near Embu yesterday. Source: Folha de S. Paulo.

It never rains in California,
But girl, let me warn ya
Man, it pours,
Man, it pours …

Neuza — my wife, nicknamed “The News” — returns from the morning dog parade with some keen on-the-scene reporting along with some fascinating gossip from the vigia — the 24-7-365 watchman hired by the residents of the Av. das Corujas to keep an eye on things.

The vigia lives in a little guard shack across the creek from the park, and apparently collects rent from carroceiros — families of homeless trash pickers, with their little horse- or man-drawn carts, who live from recycling — who camp there. Among other things.

First of all, part of the Prefeitura’s million-R$ improvement of our park — adding walking paths, drainage, and stairs up to the playing field, and planting trees and bamboo groves — as already been wiped out by yesterday’s rains. It does not seem built to last.

Neuza promises to document the estrago photographically when she has time. She is racing around today trying to avoid a R$500 fine on our vehicle inspection, after our Celta was found to be missing a R$10 hose that no one has in stock. (Around deadlines, authorized inspectors suddenly have no more appointments open.)

“I wonder what the city will do about this?” muses The News to the vigia, eyeing the wreckage.

The vigia laughs and says, “You really think the city runs anything around here? If the Comendador doesn’t give the thumbs up, nothing gets done around here.”

Apparently, the reason there is no local bus service at the triple intersection — a natural place for a bus stop, and which really needs a stoplight, by the way — is that the Comendador, some sort of local AAA-league mafioso, had the bus route re-routed to stop in front of his house.

Or so says the vigia, with a wink and a forefinger laid alongside the nose. (I refuse to pay $R3 a month for “security” to the mano on a moto with the bogus paperwork who whistles up and down the street all night, but The News pays him behind my back. She is afraid not to.)

Even more interesting is the video The News mentions over breakfast, and promises to forward via e-mail, posted to You Tube by one of the major nightly news broadcasts, she says.

The News says a prominent engineer — I believe he is the same expert cited in a recent report by Vio O Mundo — affirms to a wide audience that no dredging work has been done on the Tietê River for the past 3 to 4 years.

Journalist Luis Nassif concluded as much recently, in a post titled “The Tietê was not being dredged.”

By this account, which still needs fleshing out, city dredging contracts for the Tietê got tied up in litigation over the competitive bidding process — exactly when is not clear — and the state water and power agency, the DAEE, finally issued a no-bid work order just last week, citing the present emergency.

In the Vio o Mundo piece, Conceição Lemes had claimed that the state found no private-sector takers for competitive bidding on a public-private partnership for ongoing dredging of the Tietê, announced in 2006 — possibly resulting in a nearly three-year stoppage of dredging work.

Who will now win the emergency no-bid contract arguably caused thereby?

Meanwhile, in Grande São Paulo:

Alagamento na Régis, na altura de Embu, interditou a pista sentido São Paulo por cinco horas e provocou lentidão de 20 km

Flooding on the Régis Bittencourt highway, near Embu, shut down São Paulo traffic for five hours and caused 20km of stop-and-go traffic.

I could be mistaken, but I believe Embu is where the major highways entering São Paulo — all of them outsourced, mostly to private Spanish concerns, I think — flow into the Maluf-built traffic complex that includes the Túnel Tribuna de Justiça. I am still learning the geography of this crazy cruciform city.

And meanwhile, in Mogi das Cruces …

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Lies, Damned Lies and Latin American Opinion Polling: A Case in Point?

Conversa Afiada is the PSDB and mainstream-media bashing blog of Record TV interviewer Paulo Henrique Amorim. Tends to resort to Page Six prose style.

In suggesting that Brazil’s major media cartels still lie, cheat and purvey disinformation for the sake of a specific political clientele (the right and center-right), the following item is not atypical of Amorim.

Denúncia: FHC, Folha , Abril, Serra e Globo “montam” pesquisa contra Lula e Dilma

Charge: Former president Cardoso, Folha de S. Paulo, Editora Abril, presumptive 2010 presidential candidate Serra and Globo rig a poll damaging to President Lula and presumptive 2010 presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff.

Fonte de Edu Guimarães no jornal Folha de São Paulo informou que está sendo preparada pesquisa forjada mostrando queda da popularidade de Lula e de Dilma por causa da defesa do Sarney. A coisa foi decidida numa reunião na casa de FHC com a participação de Octavio Frias, Civita, Serra e um emissário da Globo.

A source of Eduardo Guimarães inside the Folha de S. Paulo daily said that a phony poll is being prepared to show that the popularity of Lula and Dilma is falling because of their defense of Sarney. The matter was decided at a meeting at Cardoso’s house attended by Folha publisher Octavio Frias, Abril CEO Roberto Civita, Gov. Serra, and an emissary of Globo.

The charge has verisimilitude (read the history of the Proconsult election fraud case by PHA for a historcial precedent), but is it true?

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Xô! A Take on the Sarney Tapes

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"OUT WITH SARNEY CAMPAIGN CIRCULATES ON 100 BLOGS!" Alt.media from Maranhão, where the powers that be own the TV.

The Brazilian journalist does not feel free to write. More than just having to follow the editorial line of the publications they work for, the complaints principally have to do with coercion by political or business groups. –“A Profile of the Brazilian Journalist”

Sarney diz que grampo da PF “não tem nada”: Former Brazilian president José Sarney, recently elected president of the Senate here, is angry about a report by the Economist that calls his election “a victory for semi-feudalism,” and says the federal police have nothing incriminating on his son, who runs the Sarney family businesses.

The Senate president-elect has been targeted for a campaign of jornalismo fiteiro of late — negative press based on the leaking of court-approved wiretaps. The Sarney-bashing may have more to do with competition among media cartels than it does with public probity or the res publica.

But who is this Sarney fellow? It was during Sarney’s presidential administration, the first after the transition back to constitutional democracy, that radio and TV concessions began to be handed out to political allies as party favors.

Sarney’s Minister of Communications, the late Antônio Carlos Magalhães, made sure that the Sarney clan controlled the Globo TV franchise in their home turf of Maranhão, to take a random example.

The Magalhães clan still controls the Globo franchise in Bahia, TV Bahia, to this day.

Its political machine there, however, took a bitter blow with the election of Jacques Wagner as governor in 2006 and the elimination of ACM III, the late Senator’s grandson, in the first round of the municipal elections in Salvador in 2008.

Sarney himself had to move to the remote state of Amapá (capital: Macapá) to guarantee his Senate seat after losing his traditional stronghold in Maranhão to marauding Brizolists.

At the moment, the ex-president with the Stalin moustache is also angry about a federal police investigation of his son in which he is captured on court-ordered wiretaps talking about how they are going to plant negative stories about political adversaries in the captive news media.

This sort of thing happens. See also

Sarney and his daughter, also a federal senator, suffered a defeat at the hands of Jackson Lagos of the PDT in the last gubernatorial elections in Maranhão.

Lagos is now being impeached by a regional elections court for alleged vote-buying. He claims he is being ratfinked by the crooked Sarney machine. His case is due to be heard by the federal elections tribunal today.

Brazilian news media: Boil before assuming it’s fit for human consumption.

The Folha de S. Paulo reports:

O presidente do Congresso, senador José Sarney (PMDB-AP), minimizou ontem a divulgação de grampos telefônicos sobre conversas entre ele e seu filho Fernando Sarney -executivo que dirige as empresas da família e que está sendo investigado pela Polícia Federal.

The president-elect of the federal congress, Sen. Sarney (PMDB-Amapá), minimized yesterday that publication of wiretap transcripts of conversations between him and his son Fernando, an executive who runs the family businesses and is under investigation by the federal police.

Em sua edição de anteontem, a Folha transcreveu um telefonema entre o presidente do Senado e Fernando. Em uma escuta legal feita pela Polícia Federal, ambos aparecem discutindo o uso de duas empresas de comunicação da família, a TV Mirante (afiliada da Rede Globo) e o jornal “O Estado do Maranhão”, para veicular denúncias contra rivais na política maranhense que integram o grupo do atual governador, Jackson Lago (PDT)

The day before yesterday, the Folha printed the transcript of a phone call between the Senate president and hi son. In a court-authorized wiretap conducted by the federal police, the two men are heard discussing the use of two media companies belonging to the family, TV Mirante (a Globo affiliate) and the Estado de Maranhão newspaper, to publicize charges against local political rivals allied with the sitting governor, Jackson Lago (PDT).

I will have to read that transcript.

No sábado, o jornal “O Estado de S. Paulo” também publicou trecho de conversa entre o senador e seu filho empresário. No diálogo, Sarney questiona Fernando se ele havia recebido informações da Abin (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência).

On Saturday, the Estado de S. Paulo also published an excerpt of a conversation between the Senator and his son. In the conversation, Sarney asks Fernando if he had received any information from the Brazilian National Intelligence Agency (ABIN).

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Creative Anachronism: The Curious Case of Lieutenant Edmar

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GETTING MEDIEVAL ON YOUR ASS. Ranking member of the PFL (redubbed the Democrats last year, to general derision) is a creative anachronism: A Red-baiting feudal liege from rural Minas.

O tenente Edmar: The Folha de S. Paulo reports on a colorful and atavistic character on the Tropical Lusophone political scene.

O deputado Edmar Moreira DEM-MG tem um passado tão interessante quanto o seu castelo kitsch-medieval. Um ex-preso político lembra-se dele como o tenente da PM mineira que sempre aparecia de óculos ray-ban no final de 1969 e início de 1970.

Federal legislator Edmar Moreira (DEM-PFL, Minas Gerais) has a past just as interesting as his kitsch-medieval castle.

Castle shown above.

The gentleman was asked to step down from a leadership position in the lower house last wake after forgetting to disclose Mad Ludwig’s hideaway to tax and election authorities.

A former political prisoner remembers him as the military police lieutenant who was never without his signature Ray Ban sunglasses in late 1969 and early 1970.

Rogério Teixeira, engenheiro ambiental, estava preso na cadeia de Linhares, em Juiz de Fora, acusado de subversão pela ditadura militar. Recorda-se que o tenente Edmar obrigava todos a falar o nome completo e a qual organização pertencia.

Rogério Teixeira, an environmental engineer, was locked up in the Linares jail, in Juiz de Fora, accused by the military dictatorship of subversion. He recalls that Lt. Edmar obliged all prisoners to recite their complete name and the organization they belonged to.

Chutes na porta da cela e gritos de “levanta comunista” eram comuns. “Ele soltava os cachorros no pátio. Ladravam noite adentro. E as sirenes eram acionadas”, diz Rogério. O jovem Edmar também dispararia tiros para o ar.

Kicks to the cell door and shouts of “On your feet, you commie!” were common. “He let the dogs loose in the prison yard. They barked all night long. And the sirens were turned on,” Rogério says. Young Edman would also fire shots into the air.

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Sambodian Snooping: Who Bugged the Toucan Man?

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DEIC started investigating the illegal scheme in 2004. At that time, a group was discovered in which 5 state judicial policemen were involved. They would forge court orders authorizing the use of wiretaps and hand them over to the telephone companies.

Polícia aponta esquema de grampo ilegal e prende nove: In a case they have been working with their usual maximum efficiency for five years now, São Paulo anti-organized crime police up and arrest nine persons engaged in illegal electronic surveillance of politicians, business rivals, and unfaithful spouses.

Uma operação da Polícia Civil de São Paulo desbaratou quadrilhas de dois detetives particulares que quebravam ilegalmente sigilos telefônicos, bancários e fiscais. Os dados eram usados em espionagem industrial e investigações sobre infidelidade conjugal.

An operation by the state judicial police of São Paulo broke up the criminal conspiracies headed by two private detectives who illegally invaded the privacy of banking and tax records and telephone conversations. The data collected was used in industrial espionage and investigations into spousal infidelity.

Having recently read Bruno Lima Rocha’s (nearly unreadable) study of one celebrated case of industrial espionage and media scandal, the “BNDES Wiretaps” (above), I’m reminded of the author’s main conclusion.

The Brazilian press tends to treat the leaking of illegal wiretaps (to the Brazilian press, often) as a scandalous exception to the general way of things, but in fact it is standard operating procedure for a corrupt permanent state security apparatus that remains oriented toward surveillance of “the internal enemy.”

In that BNDES case, for example, some of the Brazilian intelligence officials found guilty of producing the wiretaps — published by the Editora Globo’s flagship newsweekly with great fanfare — which suggested the 1997 telecoms privatizations may have been “steered” by senior government officials, were found to have been working second jobs as private detectives.

They were even listed in the telephone book as offering telephone surveillance services.

Same here: Five São Paulo state policemen were allegedly misusing their authority to invade the privacy of persons being probed by private investigators … much as the late Sen. Magalhães would use his pull with prosecutors in Bahia to add the names of his political enemies to the list of wiretap targets in criminal cases they had nothing to do with.

Uma das vítimas dos criminosos foi o deputado federal José Aníbal (PSDB). “Isso vem confirmar que o grampo ilícito está se tornando um problema muito grande no país. Milhares de pessoas podem estar sendo vítimas desse crime”, disse ele.

One of the victims of the criminals was federal legislator José Aníbal (PSDB). “This just confirms that illegal wiretapping is becoming a very big problem here in Brazil. Thousands are being victimized by this crime,” he said.

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