By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
Brian Bethune’s latest from Rome
In all the Third World pope buzz that has swirled since Pope Benedict announced his resignation a month ago, most has focussed on African or Asian papabili. Strangely little, given how South America is the most Catholic of continents, has been said about Latin America (Mexico and Central America add another 100 million to the total.) Until very recently. Suddenly, everyone is talking about Brazil’s Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo, the largest archdiocese in the world’s largest Catholic. Viewing his record and his lack of charismatic presence–the same knock that may prove decisive in the case of Canada’ Cardinal Marc Oullett–points to only two favourable points: the age (63) is good, and he apparently gets along splendidly with the cardinals of the Curia, the papal bureaucrats whose incompetence and worse has made Church governance among the key issues–if not the single most important one–that the cardinals will weigh in their choice for pope. By this theory, the Italians–by which Vatican waters mean the bureaucrats–know they can’t get their wish, an Italian and pro-Curia pontiff, so they’ll settle for what’s important in that combo: the pro-Curia part. (In mirror opposite, the reformers are said to be coalescing around an Italian, Milan’s Cardenal Angelo Scola, to sweeten their bitter change package.) Like every other pathway proposed–and assiduously leaked by interested parties–for any of a half-dozen papal contenders, it’s perfectly logical. Unlike most, moreover, it does actually reflect what is a serious divisive issue within the College of Cardinals. Whether the business-as-usual (with a few tweaks, of course) cardinals or the housecleaners prevail, however, will probably not turn on specific candidates, but on whether those voters–67, more than half–appointed by Benedict think the pope emeritus was hamstrung all along by his bureaucracy or by his own missteps.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:30 PM - 0 Comments
SAO PAULO – Hate that hair? In Brazil, beware.
A self-regulatory council for Brazil’s…
SAO PAULO – Hate that hair? In Brazil, beware.
A self-regulatory council for Brazil’s advertising industry is looking into complaints against razor maker Gillette for running body-shaving commercials.
Council spokesman Eduardo Correa says 20 consumers have filed complaints that the campaign “encourages prejudice against hairy men.”
The online commercials show beautiful women telling men they should shave their chests to please their girlfriends.
The council’s ethical committee is expected to rule on the case in 30 days.
Elaine Moreira is a spokeswoman for Gillette parent company Procter & Gamble. She says the campaign was “an irreverent way to say that women prefer hairless men and that the company never meant to offend consumers.”
By Mika Rekai - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:23 PM - 0 Comments
Free classes on offer in advance of 2014 soccer competition
Sex workers in Brazil, where prostitution is legal, will soon be getting a new set of skills to pay the bills.
Hundreds of prostitutes are signing up for free English classes in advance of the 2014 World Cup, which will be hosted by multiple cities in the country. Cida Vieira, president of the Minas Gerais state Association of Prostitutes, told Reuters learning to communicate in other languages will be extremely important for prostitutes who do not want to be taken advantage of. In English, they will learn to negotiate prices and boundaries, but also how to describe sexual fantasies and fetishes to provide better service.
The classes are “important for the dignity of the work,” says Vieira. “The women need to be able to negotiate a fair price and defend themselves.”
While proponents believe English lessons are a sensible investment in the lead-up to the World Cup, some in Brazil believe prostitutes’ time could be better spent learning to speak Portuguese, as many are immigrants and do not speak the local language. Regardless, tourism money is proving to be an effective catalyst for the education of the country’s prostitutes, many of whom are young and grew up in poverty.
By Mika Rekai - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM - 0 Comments
France threatens to take the Internet search giant to court over getting rich from revenue-starved media sites
For media agencies, producing good content is expensive, and giving it away online has never made much sense as a sustainable business model. As readers have dropped print subscriptions and migrated to the web, newspapers have suffered years of plunging revenue. Many hoped the losses would be temporary as advertisers also moved online, but news sites still aren’t reaping the benefits. According to the Newspaper Association of America, in 2011, for every $25 lost in print revenue, newspapers made only $1 online.
While many news organizations, including the Globe and Mail and the Postmedia chain in Canada, have put in place online paywalls, a more radical solution is unfolding in France that could put an end, once and for all, to the industry’s crisis. French newspapers, with the help of the socialist government of François Hollande, are going after Google.
Many companies spend millions to advertise on the Internet, but instead of doing so on sites that produce content, the money largely goes to search engines (i.e. Google) and web aggregators (widely used sites that provide links to news content). Last month, leading French newspaper publishers called on the government to adopt a law that would require Google to make payments to news sites for displaying links to their content. Google, which earns $3 billion every month in ad revenue, said in a statement that it “could not accept” the move and “would be required to no longer reference French sites” as a consequence of such a law. Forcing Google to pay for linking to news content, a spokesperson says, would threaten Google’s “very existence.” Continue…
By David Agren - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:14 PM - 0 Comments
The Brazilian president, an ex guerrilla, wants to cut taxes
Brazil’s economy boomed over the past decade as its exports—from soybeans to iron ore to offshore oil drilled from dizzying depths—were in high demand. In the past 10 years, 35 million people crossed the poverty line and joined the burgeoning middle class, according to government figures.
But the economy inched ahead just 0.6 per cent during the first half of 2012; even Latin American laggard Mexico is expected to outpace Brazil this year. Combined with worries about a credit bubble and diminished demand in China, where the economy has slowed, “the mood has changed,” says independent financial analyst Ulysses de la Torre, based in Mexico City.
President Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla turned pragmatist, is proposing cutting taxes and increasing private participation in the country’s crumbling infrastructure—even if some in her leftist Workers’ Party aren’t on board. Plans to allow private companies to operate roads, railways and airports are especially radical; the Workers’ Party rarely cedes control of public assets.
By Gustavo Vieira - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
FIFA has a beer sponsor for the World Cup, but Brazil has a beer ban in stadiums
Brazil has been giving FIFA, soccer’s governing body, quite a headache over beer. The South American country known for its raucous Mardi Gras and its uninhibited beaches has, surprisingly, a ban on alcohol during soccer matches.
With just two years to go before the country will host soccer’s biggest party, the World Cup, Brasilia has yet to alter its strict ban on alcohol in soccer stadiums. FIFA’s secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, recently went as far as to say Brazil needed a “kick in the pants.” (President Dilma Rousseff later received an apology for the slight from FIFA president Joseph Blatter.) Far from being the kick-start Valcke intended, the move gave Brazilian senators another reason to continue stalling last week, demanding Blatter appear at a hearing before a bill to allow alcohol sales goes to the Senate.
FIFA wants the ban lifted. It has promised its long-term partner, the beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev, that Budweiser will be the World Cup’s official beer in 2014.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
Last October I wrote a really strange column noting that the government of Brazil is sending 75,000 students abroad on scholarships, and Brazilian businesses were bankrolling another 25,000, and Canada was way behind in recruiting those students to Canadian universities.
Who else is getting ready to play host to the Brazilian scholarship students? The United States, of course: they’ll take 35,000 students, nearly half of the total. In June, the Institute of International Education held conference calls with 80 U.S. universities to tell them how to make sure the Brazilian kids choose those schools as their study destination.
Who else? Germany’s on board for 10,000. France will take 5,000. That leaves 15,000, spread among “institutes in Asia and other countries in the Americas and Europe.” Probably some will wash up on Canadian shores, more or less by accident. That’s the way it usually goes.
But today I’m here to tell you it’s not going to go the way it usually goes. From the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada:
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is collaborating with the Canadian Bureau for International Education to bring Brazilian university students to Canada. Through the CBIE/AUCC program and other agreements between Canadian institutions and the Brazilian government, an estimated 12,000 Science without Borders scholars are expected to come to Canada between now and 2016. Continue…
By Gustavo Vieira - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 8:35 AM - 0 Comments
The Brazilian city is poised to start using nine digits after the area code
Not seven, not eight, but nine digits after the area code. That’s what dialing a cellphone number will look like for the 22 million people who share the same area code in the giant metropolitan area of São Paulo, Brazil. And that’s because they simply ran out of combinations for the existing eight-digit format there. Being the economic engine of a booming Brazilian economy, São Paulo already has more than 40 million mobile numbers. All of Canada, by comparison, has about 25 million; adding the extra digit instead of creating more area codes was the way Brazilian authorities decided to avoid confusion between local and long-distance calls for the people of the 64 municipalities that make up greater São Paulo and its surroundings. While users will have their calls rerouted automatically for six months as they get used to the changes, mobile phone companies will pick up the $180-million tab to implement the new numbering system. It may seem expensive, but in fact it’s a sound investment for these companies that have to keep up with São Paulo’s current appetite for phones, tablets and other mobile gadgets: 340,000 new numbers every month.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 25 Comments
The Environment Minister spreads the good word.
Environment Minister Peter Kent repeated his sharp criticism of Kyoto at a high-level session of the Durban talks. “Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,” Mr. Kent told a large audience of delegates and climate negotiators on Wednesday. “For Canada, the Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies,” he said. “It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 per cent of global emissions.”
As he spoke, six Canadian activists stood up and silently protested by turning their backs on him, wearing T-shirts that said: “Turn your back on Canada.” Security guards quickly rushed over and escorted them away, leading them through a narrow corridor at the back of the room and then evicting them from the conference. But the protesters won louder applause than Mr. Kent, whose speech was greeted by a smattering of polite applause from delegates.
Earlier this week, Mr. Kent promised the Harper government wouldn’t withdraw from Kyoto during the Durban conference, but wouldn’t comment on what might happen after the talks. Officials from Brazil, Germany, India and South Africa are unimpressed.
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 21 Comments
Other countries are doing serious work to attract international students, but not us
This week we are wondering whether the government of Canada thinks it’s more important to talk or to act.
Every now and then, Stephen Harper’s government phones up some experts and asks them to lead a panel and come up with smart advice. Then it ignores the advice. In 2008 it asked a businessman named Red Wilson for advice on making Canada more competitive. Wilson offered 65 recommendations. Most were never implemented. This fall there are new reports, from businessman Tom Jenkins on corporate R&D, and from career soldier Andrew Leslie on the structure of the military. We’ll see whether they do better.
Meanwhile, every week brings a new panel. In October, Ed Fast, the trade minister, was in China announcing a panel to come up with advice on “an international education strategy.”
By Jen Cutts - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
Brazil’s new president is cleaning out corruption
Dilma Rousseff is on a roll. After just nine months in office, Brazil’s president has parlayed a string of corruption scandals into a boost in popularity (87 per cent of Brazilians say she is doing an average, good or excellent job). She is quickly shaking off the expectation that she would quietly serve as a placeholder for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a man described by Barack Obama as “the most popular politician on Earth” (but prevented by law from seeking a third consecutive term in office). And when the UN General Assembly opened last week, Rousseff delivered the opening address, the first woman ever to do so.
For most heads of state, losing four ministers and dozens of officials to accusations of corruption in under a year would spell trouble. But Rousseff is making it work for her, appearing to Brazilians to be shaking bad apples from government. The latest is Pedro Novais, 81, who resigned on Sept. 14 as tourism minister after a São Paolo newspaper ran a story alleging he used public money to hire a maid and chauffeur for his wife. In August, more than 30 officials from his ministry resigned over similar accusations. Rousseff has also pushed out her chief of staff and transport and agriculture ministers, all over allegations of graft.
The press in Brazil has tried to paint a picture of a president who is “only putting on a show of cleaning house,” says Matthew Taylor, a political scientist at the University of São Paulo, “without engaging the deeper problems of corruption.” But that image isn’t sticking. “It seems she’s managed to convince the public that she had nothing to do with the worst of the problems,” says Taylor, by “discreetly pointing to the fact that she ‘inherited’ much of her cabinet” from Lula, who took more of a wait-and-see approach to releasing scandal-stained ministers.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:18 PM - 171 Comments
And just this once, I mean the title non-ironically. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada “applauds” and “is delighted by” Harper’s announcement of increased Canada-Brazil cooperation in higher education and research. And it “welcomes” a plan to open three new visa centres in Brazil.
Now, Paul Davidson, the AUCC president, is a born diplomat, and he is always careful not to be too critical of a government on which universities depend for much of their funding. But by the same token, he knows how to be non-committal if some government announcement doesn’t really turn his crank. But increased cooperation between Canada and a big neighbour like Brazil really does make more sense than the odd petty rivalry that has sometimes put our countries pointlessly at odds. The visa centres, as Davidson says, “will lead to more Brazilians choosing Canada as their preferred place to conduct research and study.”
But there’s one more reason the AUCC is in a good mood: Governor-General David Johnston will lead an AUCC delegation to a hemispheric conference on international education next spring. This is a really handy change of heart on the part of the Harper government, which has argued for too long that marketing Canadian higher education abroad is the responsibility of the provinces. No other federation makes the same assumption. Provinces alone can’t make the noise they need to attract students in a crowded and competitive global higher-ed market. One suspects it’s Johnston’s personal involvement in these fields — he was University of Waterloo president and he’s said he wants to make a “smarter Canada” a hallmark of his tenure at Rideau Hall — that has helped the Harper government change its mind.
So yeah, some funny stuff may or may not have happened in or near the bathrooms on this trip, but on issues that matter, Harper also seems to have done some useful work.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 5:11 PM - 22 Comments
“That’s absolutely incorrect. It never happened,” Carlos de Abreu said. “There was good chemistry between both delegations.” He said Harper went to the bathroom for “regular reasons.” ”It is something that every human being has to do every now and then. Nobody would have negotiated that (whether to have toasts before or after.)”
By Jen Cutts - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Rio de Janeiro is lifting up its poor—literally
Rio de Janeiro is lifting up its poor—literally. A new 3.4-km gondola line, much like those used at ski resorts, will soon carry residents high above their homes in the Complexo do Alemão, a group of shantytowns, or favelas, packed onto a hillside in the city’s north. The neighbourhood’s passages are too narrow and winding for buses, so getting in and out of the area has meant a long, rambling walk. When the line opens in the next few weeks, users will sail through six stations in 16 minutes, free of charge.
The $74-million project is part of a larger investment in public works initiatives by Brazil’s government ahead of Rio’s hosting of the 2016 Olympics. Jorge Mario Jáuregui, the line’s architect, says it creates a tangible and symbolic connection between the favelas and the rest of Rio, making “the informal city part of the formal city.” While residents welcome the upgrade, says Patricia Maresch, a documentary filmmaker who works in the area, some feel the money might have been better spent. “It looks good, it’s technologically inventive,” she says, “but it doesn’t really help. You can get your kids to school quicker, but it’s still a bad school.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM - 1 Comment
The fatheads who resent the war on fat, plus Quebec announces a new anti-corruption unit
Fatheads resent war on fat
The latest conservative smear campaign against the White House circles around Michelle Obama’s waistline. According to radio host Rush Limbaugh, the first lady could stand to lose a few, particularly since being seen munching on braised short ribs while on vacation in Colorado. Limbaugh, who is no Adonis, suggested Mrs. O is a hypocrite for not following her own dieting advice. “Our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue,” he said. Sarah Palin has ridiculed Obama’s anti-obesity efforts, too, arguing she has no business in America’s kitchens. Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart’s website ran a cartoon depicting a double-chinned first lady hoarding hamburgers while mouthing pro-health slogans.
The simple life of an Amish schemer
Unlike fraudster Bernie Madoff, Monroe L. Beachy lived a simple life among his fellow Amish in the quaint village of Sugarcreek, Ohio. But the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges Monroe, 77, ran a Ponzi-style scheme for 24 years, costing his largely Amish clients millions. It began to unravel after Beachy declared bankruptcy last June. (A horse, buggy and harness are among his personal assets, the Washington Post reports.) By then, less than US$18 million of the original $33 million invested remained. Ironically, some of the loss resulted from the dot-com bust, a shock to his investors, who shun modern technology. Investors don’t want to pursue the claims in court, saying it’s a matter for the church. “Members of the Plain Community love and trust one another in all their relationships,” an Amish creditors group said.
Where have we heard that before
Maclean’s took a thrashing last fall for calling Quebec “the most corrupt province” in Canada. While we don’t wish to reignite that debate, it’s refreshing to see the announcement last week of a permanent anti-corruption unit in the province. It will have a $30-million budget and 189 investigators and support staff, said Quebec Public Security Minister Robert Dutil. He called it a better anti-corruption strategy than the public inquiry demanded by the opposition. “We want to have these criminals in jail, not on television,” he said. Stéphane Bergeron, public security critic for the Parti Québécois, conceded the unit “wouldn’t hurt” the corruption fight. It’s “also an admission that the problem is bigger than [the government] has been willing to admit,” he told reporters.
What would Jack Bauer say?
Kiefer Sutherland is considering a return to TV after his break from eight seasons playing CTU agent Jack Bauer on the hit series 24. The Hollywood Reporter says he’s in talks for the lead role in Touch, by Heroes creator Tim Kring. He’d play the dad of a mute, autistic son who predicts the future. Meantime, the past of his real-life grandfather Tommy Douglas resurfaced in declassified documents, the Canadian Press reports. In one curious item, the former RCMP security service claimed Douglas, then NDP leader, met with actress Jane Fonda in 1970 about efforts to stop the Vietnam War and to bring Vietnamese to Canada for a public inquiry.
And baby makes four
Little Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen has an impressive parentage. “Katherine” honours her father Rufus Wainright’s late mother, singer Kate McGarrigle, and “Wainright” his father, Loudon Wainwright III. The other “proud parents” are “Deputy Dad” Jorn Weisbrodt (Rufus’s romantic partner), and Lorca Cohen, daughter of Leonard Cohen. No pressure to deliver on a dazzling musical career, kid.
Party for one!
Kim Jong Il usually uses his birthday celebration to instill confidence in the North Korean people by giving them at least a day’s worth of rice and corn. This year, though, the Supreme Leader failed to carry out the ritual, since food shortages are crippling the country, with the UN predicting shortfalls of more than 500,000 tonnes of grain. Even senior officials felt the pinch, reportedly receiving knock-off celebratory Rolex watches and Gucci bags in lieu of real ones. But the day wasn’t all for naught: Jong Il went home with presents including a fleet of Mercedes Benz automobiles and a US$16-million yacht. And heir apparent Kim Jong Un was named vice-chairman of the defence commission on the eve of his proud papa’s birthday.
Tears of a clown
Coming from a world of squirting flowers and joy buzzers, Brazilian clown and newly elected congressman Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva would surely be adept at pushing buttons. But last week Silva, a.k.a. Tiririca, generated more groans than laughs when he blew his first congressional vote. He’d pledged to back the government’s austerity measure for a new minimum wage. But he pressed the wrong button on the computerized system and backed an opposition motion for a much higher wage. Tiririca had outpolled all candidates by admitting he knew nothing about politics. But his slogan, “It can’t get any worse,” apparently underestimated his abilities.
High art with a very low brow
Fallen women tend to figure in opera—think of Violetta in La Traviata. But most divas haven’t fallen this far. The Royal Opera House in London dressed itself in sequins and hot pink this week for the premiere of Anna Nicole, an opera about Anna Nicole Smith. Richard Thomas’s libretto—called “caustically witty”—follows the life of the late Playboy model who married an 89-year-old billionaire, then died of a drug overdose. Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage said people will be “surprised how seriously we’ve taken the subject,” and soprano Eva-Marie Westbroek was hailed as sensational. Not all critics were moved: the Financial Times said the opera “belongs in the same genre as Jerry Springer, strung along a clothesline of lewd ditties and frothy choruses.” But the masses gobbled it up: all six performances sold out.
Ye can’t fight city hall, matey
Rodney McGrath calls his backyard—with its homemade two-storey pirate ship and “Mohawk Mountain,” a sculpture of tires and concrete—an “enchanted kingdom.” But what city inspectors and many of his neighbours on Midwood Avenue see is an unsightly safety hazard. Last week, after a two-year fight, councillors issued a demolition order for both ship and mountain. City engineers say the structures are unstable and aren’t built to code. Pirates, of course, aren’t big on rules and codes. “It’s beautiful,” McGrath says of his land-locked ship. “When the sun comes up in the morning it… reflects on the whole structure,” he told the CBC. “It comes alive.”
The new Wonder Woman
It wasn’t enough to possess superpowers, fight crime and look impossibly good in satin granny underpants; in a TV remake starring Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights, she also has a power career and work-life balance issues. The new show departs from the old, but apparently Lynda Carter approves.
Home, sweet KABOOM!
Steve Jobs ended a decades-long battle to tear down his own house. In 1984, the Apple CEO purchased a Spanish-style mansion in Woodside, near San Francisco, in the hopes of demolishing it and building a new residence. But Jackling House was the 1920s dream abode of copper industrialist Cowan Jackling, and Jobs faced legal challenges and cries for preservation of the manse. When he finally obtained a demolition permit this week, Jobs’s demo team destroyed the house in a single day, prompting Wired magazine to note the move was consistent with Jobs’ career: “He doesn’t have any doubts about deleting the past to create the future.”
Unlikely queen of queens
At age 15, Phiona Mutesi may be Uganda’s best female chess player. She’s certainly the unlikeliest, living in a Kampala slum, and just learning to read. She was attracted to the game at age nine, after her brother learned it from Robert Katende of the U.S. charity Sports Outreach Institute. Soon she was beating Katende. By 2009 she’d won regional tournaments. Last fall she travelled to Siberia for the Chess Olympiad, where she was beaten by Dina Kagramanov, the Canadian champ, who gave her advice and books on advanced chess. Mutesi continues to improve. “In chess, it doesn’t matter where you come from,” she said, “only where you put the pieces.”
Another day for the Jackal
The French aren’t finished with Carlos the Jackal, one of the world’s most hunted terrorists pre-Osama Bin Laden. The 61-year-old Venezuelan—real name is Ilitch Ramirez Sanchez—goes on trial in Paris in November for a series of bomb attacks that killed 11 people in France from 1982 to 1983. He’s already serving a life sentence for a run of deadly crimes, including an attack and hostage taking at the Vienna headquarters of OPEC in 1975.
It’s all in the mail
A forensic scientist and a student from Simon Fraser University may offer the best hope of solving one of aviation’s great mysteries. Amelia Earhart vanished in 1937 while circumnavigating the world. Donya Yang hopes to collect DNA from the envelope glue of four letters written by Earhart to see if it matches a bone found on the South Pacific island of Nikumaroro. The letters came from a collection held by student Justin Long’s grandfather, Elgen Long, an Earhart scholar. The letters are personal: “One was written by Amelia on airline letterhead while waiting for a flight—so we can be fairly certain that she is the one who sealed the envelopes,” says Long.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM - 2 Comments
Death toll rises past 370
Southeastern Brazil has been buried under a series of mudslides that have killed at least 370 people in the towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis, and Petropolis. The death toll is expected to be much higher, but heavy rain is hampering the efforts of the 800 rescue workers deployed to help victims and recover bodies. The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, has blamed local governments for failing to control illegal housing and overcrowding in the region’s slums. President Dilma Rouseff has called a state of emergency and has allocated $480 million in emergency aid.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM - 61 Comments
The program, called Bolsa Familia (Family Grant) in Brazil, goes by different names in different places. In Mexico, where it first began on a national scale and has been equally successful at reducing poverty, it is Oportunidades. The generic term for the program is conditional cash transfers. The idea is to give regular payments to poor families, in the form of cash or electronic transfers into their bank accounts, if they meet certain requirements. The requirements vary, but many countries employ those used by Mexico: families must keep their children in school and go for regular medical checkups, and mom must attend workshops on subjects like nutrition or disease prevention. The payments almost always go to women, as they are the most likely to spend the money on their families. The elegant idea behind conditional cash transfers is to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 9:59 AM - 0 Comments
Outgoing Brazilan president hints that he may run for office again
Brazil’s outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hinted that he might run for office again, in four years’ time, once his handpicked successor nears the end of her own presidential term. His comments, made to a Brazilian TV channel, come less than two months after the election of the country’s new president Dilma Rousseff, and might overshadow her debut in the top job. Rousseff, who’s known as a tough administrator and shrewd technocrat but has no previous experience in an elected office, faces a difficult task in trying to match her predecessor’s stellar personal approval ratings, which hover around 87 per cent.
By Paul Wells - Monday, December 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM - 8 Comments
Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is barred by the country’s constitution from serving as president for three consecutive terms. So at the new year, he’ll hand off to his hand-picked successor. But will he run again later when a third term wouldn’t be consecutive? He might.
By Claire Ward - Monday, December 6, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Will Brazil’s first female president bring change, or is she just ‘Lula in a skirt’?
This time last year, many Brazilians didn’t even know her name. But on Jan. 1, she will be sworn in as Brazil’s ﬁrst female president. Already, Dilma Rousseff, former chief of staff to populist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil’s Workers Party, ranks 16th on Forbes’ “Powerful People 2010” list, the third most powerful woman behind Angela Merkel and India’s Sonia Gandhi.
Rousseff, known as a tough, pragmatic and demanding civil servant, is poised to inherit one of the world’s fastest-growing economies—an emerging market and global player alongside Russia, India and China. Her handling of a massive oil discovery—some 50 billion barrels beneath the ocean floor—could potentially send Brazil hurtling into developed country status. Rousseff has indicated that she plans to create millions of jobs, continue to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and schools, and maintain her predecessor’s wildly popular social welfare programs and market-friendly policies.
By Claire Ward - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
Brazil’s president’s hand-picked successor is headed for certain victory in the Oct. 3 general election
Brazil has all but ushered in its first female president in advance of the Oct. 3 general election. Despite lacking her boss’s charisma, widespread popularity and elocution, Dilma Rousseff, the 62-year-old chief of staff to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (or “Lula,” as he is affectionately known), is riding a widening gap in the polls with 50.5 per cent popularity, according to a Sensus poll. Her main opposition, São Paulo Gov. José Serra of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PDSB), sits at 26.4 per cent, down from 28 per cent in August. Rousseff’s surge in the polls is widely attributed to the popular outgoing president’s early endorsement of her as his successor, and his ongoing involvement in her campaign. “Today there is no one more prepared to govern our country than our future president, our comrade,” Lula said, pointing at Rousseff at a small-town appearance over the summer.
The president is enjoying 80-plus per cent approval ratings as his second and final term ends, arguably the kind of popularity that can rub off on even the most unlikely of candidates. “I can’t think of any other case in Latin America in the recent past where this has been the case: a twice-elected president simply saying, ‘Trust me,’ ” Riordan Roett, director of the Latin American program at Johns Hopkins University, has said. “The attitude is, ‘If Lula says she is the right person, she is the right person.’ ”
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
When news hit that Japan had lost the war, many Japanese Brazilians refused to believe it
Japanese began migrating to Brazil in 1908. By the Second World War, they numbered half a million, and ran the country’s most productive farms. When news hit that Japan had lost the war, many Japanese Brazilians refused to believe it. Soon, secret societies sprang up dedicated to the idea that Emperor Hirohito had triumphed; underground newspapers reported Japan’s army had landed in California and would soon march on New York. Japanese who accepted the defeat, meanwhile, enraged the triumphalists. By 1947, assassins with the Shindo Renmei, the largest of the secret groups, had killed 23 and injured 147.
This internecine conflict has long been taboo among Japanese Brazilians, 31,000 of whom were in jail by war’s end. Outside Brazil it’s largely unknown. That may change when Dirty Hearts, a Brazilian film with Japanese stars, hits screens next spring. Many of the narrative’s strangest claims are true. Japanese loyalists, who numbered over 100,000, believed Gen. Douglas MacArthur had surrendered, and presented doctored photos of president Harry Truman bowing to Hirohito as proof. Con artists hawked land in Manchuria, where they said Japan ruled over a new eastern empire. Mobs ﬂocked to Brazil’s coast, convinced Japanese ships would rescue them.
Belief in Japan’s victory persisted until 1950, when Japanese Olympic swimmer Masanori Yusa toured ecstatic Japanese enclaves in Brazil. It was his embarrassed shock at the notion that led to its demise.
By Isabel Vincent - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
How the outgoing President turned around a troubled nation
Last month, the nonagenarian Brazilian socialite Lily Marinho hosted an extraordinary event at her Rio de Janeiro mansion—a political endorsement for the ruling Workers’ Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff. Over champagne, salmon remoulade and passion fruit crepes, Marinho introduced Rousseff as “Lady Democracy” to the 40 powerful women assembled at her grand colonial home. When a reporter asked her if she would be hosting luncheons for the eight other candidates, the bejewelled Marinho shot back from her wheelchair, “No, just for her!”
While Rousseff, the 62-year-old frontrunner in Brazil’s October vote, basked in the adulation, Brazil’s president and Rousseff’s former boss, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, 64, must have been savouring the turn of events. After all, when he first took office in 2003, members of Marinho’s rareified circle worried that he would take Latin America’s biggest economy down the road to ruin, turning the country into a Marxist banana republic.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Nestlé is sailing the Amazon with a floating grocery store to try to reach a lucrative, untapped market
For the month of July, Nestlé Brasil has unleashed a floating supermarket barge on the tributaries that thread deep into the Amazon region in an attempt to reach some 800,000 Brazilians living in isolated, riverside communities. “We are going to pick up the customer where he is,” announced Ivan Zurita, the CEO of Nestlé Brasil, in a statement. “This will be a service to the population of the Amazon, which has streets and avenues in the form of rivers.”
Wherever the boat docks, locals can come aboard and wade through 1,000 sq. feet of supermarket space packed with more than 300 products, including chocolate, cookies, yogourt and ice cream. To meet the needs of poorer customers, Nestlé will sell smaller, more affordable packages of their branded foods and enrich them with nutrients to address deficiencies in local populations.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is launching an international TV channel aimed at Africa
He’s tried to solve the Iranian nuclear problem, and now Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is launching an international TV channel aimed at Africa. The signal for Brazil TV will reach 49 nations, including the Portuguese-speaking countries of Angola, Mozambique and Equatorial Guinea, and will cater to local audiences as well as the three million Brazilians living overseas. “I want a channel that speaks well of the country, that can show Brazil as it really is,” said Lula at Monday’s launch.