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Demóstenes Torres | Numbers Are Up?

Item:

Senator Torres, of the DEM, or Democrats, is heard on 300 wiretaps conversing with a numbers racketeer and political power broker in his home state of Goiás, which surrounds the federal district of Brasilia.

The former governor of the federal district, also a DEMocrat, José Roberto Arruda, fell suddenly from grace for similar reasons.

I confess that I dislike the DEM, despite my general rule about opining on political matters — I do pay tax here, however.

No, it is more the distasteful sensation of hearing the discourse of my hometown neocons being machine-translated into Portuguese and blasted at full volume, night and day. What, I moved to another hemisphere for this? The  party is known for its McCarthyite rhetoric and gestures of extreme moral indignation, but leads the current governing party, the PT, by a margin of 6 to 1 in politicians relieved of office over corruption charges — and 12 to 1 when the PSDB-DEM slate in the last elections is factored in.

If hometown papers like the New York Times really wanted to present a picture of a deep-rooted and colorful cultural tradition here in Brazil, they would take this case on as an opportunity to explain Carlismo — the political machine of Bahia, run with an iron grip by Antônio Carlos Magalhães. This was a man of legendary brutality and stupidity who is nevertheless treated with a note of adulation in Larry Rohter’s obituary — sickening as it was.

And now, at any rate, another one bites the dust, in a story broken by Leandro Fortes of Carta Capital magazine which has managed to bubble up despite the general silence of the MSM on the topic.

Senator Torres is the focus of a political crisis brought about by the federal police operation dubbed Monte Carlo, which last month dismantled a scheme of corruption and money-laundering in the underworld of illicit slot machines.

The alleged kingpin of the scheme, Carlinhos “Waterfall,” is a personal friend of Torres and exchanged 300 telephone calls with him on a line tapped by the police.

Torres was said to have been of assistance to Mr. “Waterfall” in a bid to legalize illegal bingo pools and slot machines. The law was passed, but later, in 2007, was struck down by the Supreme Court, which recognized federal jurisdiction. These are the sort of Federal Societeers we see here in Sambodia, where sociopathy is sometimes confused with «freedom-loving». Continue reading

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The Art of the Artless Insinuation: Suppose Globo Blackmailed The Prosecutor …

GLOBO LIES: I have fact-checked a number of cases in which this claim proved absolutely true.

Marco Aurélio Mello — not to be confused with the Supreme Court Justice appointed by his cousin, President Collor de Mello — is a journalist trained at the São Bernado do Campo campus of the Methodist University of São Paulo, with a master’s degree in journalism from La Crosse University.

He currently works at Jornal da Record, a TV newscast of the Rede Record, archrival of the Rede Globo, and writes the blog DoLaDoDeLá (From the far side, the other side).

Record has been picking up a lot of dissident journalists fired from Globo for what Globo vehemently denies was a case of ideological incompatibility.

The rivalry between Globo, with its Opus Dei ties, and Record, which is owned by a very wealthy and powerful Protestant evangelical congregation, reminds one of the One Hunded Year Wars of Religion.

Mello, for example, was fired for refusing to sign an internal petition attesting to the journalistic integrity of Globo’s 2006 election coverage. A meeting was called with Globo Journalism Central director Ali Kamel:

O editor de economia do Jornal Nacional em SP, Marco Aurélio Mello, estava presente. Ele havia sido um dos jornalistas a se recusar a assinar o abaixo-assinado preparado por Kamel com o objetivo de negar que a Globo havia tentado influenciar o resultado das eleições.

Mello, São Paulo economics editor for the [[Globo Evening News With Mr. and Mrs. Boner]] … had been one of the journalists refusing to sign the Kamel petition, which denied that Globo had attempted to influence the outcome of the elections.

O jornalista, assim como outros que estiveram presentes à reunião, entendeu a atitude de Kamel como uma proposta de trégua. O diretor da Globo chegou a colocar seu endereço eletrônico à disposição da equipe e incentivou que escrevessem sempre que tivessem alguma reclamação.

Mello and others at the meeting believed tht Kamel was proposing a truce. Kamel even provided his e-mail to the team and urged them to write him with any complaints.

Then he fired them all. Mello had been the editor for Globo business anchor Franklin Martins, who was also fired — and ended up as the presidential press secretary, who in Brazil also has control of government advertising budgets.

Reportedly the government has since drastically reduced its TV advertising.

On Globo’s election coverage in 2006, see

I translate the transcript of a tape that captured journalists receiving a leak from a federal police agent. Some are overheard agreeing to proactively lie about their source because the agent is doing something illegal.

They also agree to Photoshop certain information out of an iconic photo of a mountain of money.

On the other hand, the federal minister of communications is still a former top Globo exec.

Maurelio produces an intriguing, teasing contrafactual insinuation about sleazy promiscuity among hypothetical politicized — Alberto Gonzalezified –prosecutors and the national press in São Paulo.

What he means to say is that José Blat of the MPE-SP — removed from the state organized crime task force during a criminal investigation of his extracurricular activities that was later dropped — is being blackmailed by Globo journalists.

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School for Scandal 101: Bancoop and Campaign 2010

Bancoop newsflow

Google Notícias newsflow histogram for Bancoop

Back in the garage with my bullshit detector
carbon monoxide making sure it’s effective
People ringing up making offers for my life
I just wanna stay in the garage … all night

Name that tune and win … nothing.

Item: A fresh campaign finance scandal makes the cover of Veja magazine (Editora Abril, Brazil).

Brazil is going to be a living laboratory for the study of manufactured scandals in this election year of 2010.

I am actually kind of excited at the opportunity to exercise some of the more advanced techniques of bullshit detection that will be required.

It is helpful to have access to the actual playbooks for this sort of bullshit-generation campaign, such as Olavo de Carvalho’s How To Win an Argument Without Being Right (a plagiarized translation and commentary of Schopenhauer’s treatise on informal fallacies).

In this latest case, the Blog de Ricardo Noblat cuts and pastes an article from Veja magazine reviving charges of financial shennanigans at a union housing co-op with ties to the labor movement (CUT) that produced the current federal president.

The alleged swindler in chief is now the campaign treasurer of Dilma Rousseff, presidential candidate of the situation.

I approach this “revelation” with two biases:

  1. Veja has a track record of promoting scandals lacking a foundation in fact, as well as the selective omission of pertinent facts, so that anything it reports is to be considered suspect until carefully corroborated from reliable sources;
  2. Any news article that editorializes in the lede, with the liberal use of alarmist adjectives, is to be considered suspect until carefully corroborated from reliable sources.
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Dantas dossier on bribe-stuffed offshore bank accounts of the president and chief of the federal police, et alia. Veja described the authenticity of the dossier, later debunked, as "plausible."

In this case, the accusations date from 2004-5 and have their own Wikipedia entry, published March 28, 2008 by Bruno Leonard of São Luís, Maranhão, who wrote:

O ”’Escândalo da Bancoop”’ é um novo [[escândalo político]] [[brasileiro]] iniciado em março de 2008. O motivo do escândalo é que o dinheiro da empresa de cooperativa de habitação [[Bancoop]], foi direto aos cofres do [[Partido dos Trabalhadores]], o que teria dado calote aos 3 mil consumidores. As primeiras denúncias começaram após no início de [[2004]].

The Bancoop Scandal is a new Brazilian political scandal that began in March 2008. The reason for the scandal is that money from the Bancoop housing cooperative went directly into the campaign coffers of the the PT, which allegedly reneged on its contractual duty to 3,000 consumers. The first allegations arose in early 2004.

There is a misplaced dependent clause in there.

In this resurrection of the scandal by Veja, the number of coop participants who feel screwed by, and who are suing, Bancoop has fallen from “thousands” to 400.

The original Wikipedia entry assumes as fact the allegation to be proven: that co-op money was funneled into a slush fund.

Petitio principii alert.

Continue reading

The Assassination of a Brazilian Elliot Ness (Luis Nassif)

Spy x SpyThe Untouchables

I offer another in an irregular set of translations from a series that could be translated as “The VEJA Files,” by Brazilian economic commentator and journalist Luis Nassif.

At some point I will try to pull all these together, edit them properly, and present them as a gift to Nassif. Nassif attempts to demonstrate that VEJA magazine (Editora Abril) is a disgrace to the journalistic profession. I have arrived at that conclusion myself. These people are literally unbelievable.

In this, the last installment so far, from September 2008, Nassif narrates how Brazil’s top federal cop, Paulo Lacerda, came to be publicly accused (falsely) of maintaining bribe-stuffed offshore bank accounts. See also



Some added context: Since that time, Lacerda was transferred to the directorship of ABIN, the Brazilian CIA — where his promise to promote a housecleaning similar to that undergone by the federal police caused visible friction — then was removed from that post in the wake of questions about the propriety of that agency’s purported loan of manpower to a federal police investigation into banker Daniel Dantas. He now serves as a police liaison in Brazil’s diplomatic mission to Portugal.

In plain English, the man, despite his unequivocal record of  measurable efficiency, was royally borked. A recent poll of Brazilian city dwellers showed that public safety, law and order, and impunity in white-collar and political corruption cases remain top concerns.

Meanwhile, the federal police delegado in charge of the Dantas case was replaced, and the judge hearing the case has been temporarily suspended pending a hearing on his impartiality. At the same time, a federal court issued an order freezing any further action in the case until that issue is decided in February — including execution of Dantas’ 10-year sentence for attempted bribery of a federal agent.

Translation — in haste, draft-quality — follows:

In its edition of October 20, 2004, VEJA magazine featured a bombastic cover story: “The Untouchables: A group of elite federal agents battle organized crime and corruption inside the federal police.”

In its edition of August 13, 2008, VEJA ran a cover story entitled “Spies Out of Control,” dealing with the very same federal police and the very same methods it had previously praised, only now launching vicious attacks on the agency.

What changed? — who changed? — between the publication dates of these two cover stories? The federal police? Federal police director-general Paulo Lacerda? Or VEJA itself? What led the magazine to mount one of its patented character assassination schemes in recent weeks against a federal officer whom it had praised to the skies not long before? What led VEJA to describe as an assault on individual liberties what it had not long before described as an unavoidable war on corruption?

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Dig the PIG: “Veja Lies”

"Are we really swine?" Yes. You really are.

“No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted.” –Mark Twain

A fellow member of the Luis Nassif online community reports the latest in countless atrocities against simple honesty perpetrated by the folks at Veja magazine (Editora Abril, Brazil).

As the foreign correspondent of a major Argentine daily once told me, sotto voce, as if it were not glaringly obvious already: “Veja lies, you know.”

Sidnei Soreiro reports that he was irritated by what he felt was a gratuitous attack on presidential candidate Dilma Roussef — the post-Lula continuity candidate — by a Veja columnist and resolved to comment online. He writes:

Irritado com o artigo, resolvi então enviar um comentário e qual a minha surpresa foi apresentado. Mas com o sentido alterado.

Irritated by the article, I decided to comment, and to my surprise, the comment was published. Only with the meaning altered.

Continue reading

Relief for Nassif: Permission to Say That Veja Sucks

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Luis Nassif gave Veja grief.

Brazilian online journalist and multimedia economics pundit Luis Nassif is being sued by the editors of Veja magazine (Editora Abril) for having argued — not to put too fine a point on it — that the magazine’s journalism sucks outrageously.

I believe he may have referred to it as a “journalistic sewer,” in one of the more purple passages from his series on the quality of journalism at the glossy neo-Lacerdist weekly.

A careful argument, based on case studies and generally accepted standards and practices, and a persuasive one. I, for one, from experience, have long been convinced that Veja sucks big-time. Nassif’s series really only reinforced that belief.

Selected chapters from Nassif’s “Veja Dossier” that I have translated:

I should gather those together and produce a unified translation. One of these days. Then again, I am a lazy sod.

Reproduced in the Observatório da Imprensa is the following report by the Agência Carta Maior on Nassif’s recent victory in a SLAPP suit filed by Veja‘s editors. There are many more such SLAPP suits to come, one hears.

I translate, in haste, pra inglês ver.

Algo importante aconteceu na blogosfera brasileira quando o jornalista Luis Nassif começou a publicar reportagens a respeito da revista Veja: o debate mudou de plano. O que Nassif batizou de dossiê analisa, com farto material, o jornalismo praticado pela publicação semanal. Nesta semana, o juiz Carlos Henrique Abrão, da 42ª Vara Cível do Foro Central de São Paulo, julgou improcedente a ação de danos morais movida pelo e diretor de redação Eurípides Alcântara contra Nassif.

Something important happened in the Brazilian blogosphere when journo Luis Nassif began publishing articles about Veja magazine: the debate moved to another level. In what Nassif calls his Veja “dossier,” he analyzes, with plenty of examples, the kind of journalism practiced by the glossy newsweekly. This week, Judge Abrão of the 42nd São Paulo Civil Bar threw out a defamation lawsuit filed against Nassif by Veja editor in chief Eurípides Alcântara.

“O maior fenômeno de anti-jornalismo dos últimos anos foi o que ocorreu com a revista Veja. Gradativamente, o maior semanário brasileiro foi se transformando em um pasquim sem compromisso com o jornalismo, recorrendo a ataques desqualificadores contra quem atravessasse seu caminho, envolvendo-se em guerras comerciais e aceitando que suas páginas e sites abrigassem matérias e colunas do mais puro esgoto jornalístico”, é o que se lê logo no primeiro parágrafo do visualmente simples blog de Luis Nassif.

“The greatest example of antijournalism in recent years has been what has happened with Veja magazine. Brazil’s biggest weekly has gradually devolved into a libelous rag without the slighest commitment to journalism, launching personal attacks against anyone who crosses it, involving itself in commercial disputes and allowing its pages and Web sites to harbor articles and columns containing pure journalistic sewage,” Nassif wrote in the first paragraph of his visually unsophisticated blog.

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Dantas’ Inferno: “Minocarthismo”

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Reinaldo Azevedo of Veja (left) and Márcio Chaer of Consultor Jurídico and Original123 Public Relations (right)

Reinaldo Azevedo and Márcio Chaer, in their attempt to misuse the program as a personal platform in the face of such delicate issues and such a controversial interviewee, conspired against the journalistic quality and balance of this edition of Roda Viva. The program’s directors should reflect on their criteria for selecting interviewers in the future.

Consultor Jurídico editor Márcio Chaer was last seen on the interview panel of TV Cultura’s Roda Viva interviewing Brazilian Supreme Court Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes. See

Now, in an article published in ConJur on December 23, Chaer finally produces a riposte to an article critical of his publication that appeared in the pages of Observatório da Imprensa a month or so back, written by an e-commerce entrepreneur and former Daniel Dantas business partner named Luís Roberto Demarco. See

Rather than rebutting the factual allegations Demarco made against him — that his publication provides journalistic coverage of persons that Chaer is paid to represent through his public relations agency, which constitutes a sleazy conflict of interest — he prefers to resort to a tu quoque argument:

a Latin term used to mean a type of logical fallacy. The argument states that a certain position is false or wrong and/or should be disregarded because its proponent fails to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. It is considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the party itself, rather than its positions.

The headline puns on the term “McCarthyism” and the name of the publisher of CartaCapital magazine, Mino Carta — founder in his day of the newsweeklies Veja and IstoÉ, among others, and a journalist whose magazine has, indeed, closely covered the criminal cases against Daniel Dantas over the years.

The pun suggests a running theme of Dantas’ defense team: That the banker is a victim of political persecution. Chaer is picking up the thread of a campaign begun by Veja according to which Carta and the like are chapa brancas — journalists secretly paid off to ratfink and slander the enemies of their political sponsors.

I personally do not believe this.

It is a public issue at the moment, however, because the federal indictment against Daniel Dantas includes allegations that Dantas paid off journalists to conduct smear campaigns on his his behalf. See, most recently,

The bulk of the article, however, consists of personal attacks against and charges of alleged conflicts of interest on the part of journalist Luis Nassif, who, Chaer claims, is secretly on the payroll of this Demarco, himself portrayed as yet another omnipotent, politically connected member of the conspiracy to persecute Dantas.

Since this journalistic debate interests me, I am going to translate it to my notes, and then present Nassif’s rebuttal.

Most of the misconduct alleged here is recycled from old attacks by Veja magazine on Nassif, which Nassif has already written detailed, factual rebuttals to.

The adjective-laden style and the copious use of insinuation, labeling, guilt by association, and facts not in evidence are remarkably reminiscent of the journalistic style of the old Tribuna de Imprensa, edited by Carlos Lacerda.

I have been reading a book recently about Lacerda’s battles with Samuel Wainer of the pro-Vargas Última Hora over the years leading up to the coup of 1964.

Indeed, this is a historical parallel Chaer would like us to believe applies here: That neither party to the dispute is disinterested or impartial.

That CartaCapital and Nassif, for example, are chapa brancas, as Wainer was for the Vargas government of the 1950s (when the vast majority of the press was rabidly anti-Varguist).

This is a recurring theme in yellow-press smear campaigns against journalists who have crossed Daniel Dantas in the past.

See also

At any rate, draft-quality translated, Chaer writes:

Minocarthismo

Ideology is the wrapping paper in dispute among journalists

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