Huffington’s Colonel Kurtz: “Exterminate the Brutes”


This is not a psychopathic Brazilian criminal who wants to eat your NGO. This is a corrupt Brazilian policeman in his spare time, increasing his earnings by a factor of ten by immolating his enemies in “the microwave.”

Which Are Worse: Brazil’s Bandits Or Its Leaders? (Chris McGowan, in The Huffington Post):

Three French NGO workers were stabbed to death Tuesday at their group’s headquarters in Rio’s Copacabana neighborhood. Christian Pierre Doupes, his wife Delphine Douyere, and Jerome Faure ran Terr’Ativa, which helped children in poor communities. They were allegedly murdered by three men, one of whom was Tarsio Ramirez, an accountant for Terr’Ativa who had been accused of embezzling 80,000 Reais from the group (roughly $38,000). According to O Globo newspaper, Ramirez was a homeless child who was rescued from the streets of Rio ten years ago by the agency. The murders were especially violent and Jerome’s body showed signs of torture.

This provokes a familiar diatribe:

The grisly slayings of Christian, Delphine and Jerome reflect a disturbing trend in Brazil, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Not only is violence out of control, but torture is becoming commonplace as an accompaniment to killing. Criminals, especially members of gangs, often see cruelty as a mark of machismo. They take pride in being indifferent to the suffering of their victims …

Actually, that applies both to criminals and police. And especially to criminals who are police, from law enforcement agencies with a long and unchecked institutional culture of of torture and extrajudicial executions going back to OBAN and DOI-CODI in the 1970s.

It is somewhat surprising to me to see a Huffington blogger parroting the same hysteria that has characterized the media coverage here in Brazil on the latest poster child for the crusade to exterminate the brutes.

Perhaps it should not be; the political blogging industry, after all, whether Red State or Blue, seems to shares the same commitment to apocalyptic rhetoric and the appeal to atavistic emotions.

These incidents are, in fact, sad to say, actually a matter of routine here, first of all, and secondly are showing hopeful signs of an incipient reversal as new policy initiatives kick in.

The implication, as always, is that the latest case only proves that violence is quickly streamrolling out of control and attaining apocalyptic levels.

Violence is slightly less awful than it has ever been, and getting slightly and steadily better. But there may be a long slog ahead before its gets markedly better. Some fundamental governance change need to be consolidated first.

See also

  1. World in Crisis: Reuters on the Virtually Naked Cidade Maravilha
  2. World in Crisis, II: Carnival of Flackery
  3. Brazil: Hysteria Industry Consolidation in the Air
  4. Sampa: Churning the Fuss Over Burning The Bus?
  5. Free Overseas-Market Media Clipping for the Marketers of Manda Bala
  6. Reuters: “Lula Is Soft on Crime”

Brazilians who operate this noise machine tend to be fighting to preserve the hog heaven of the hard men, as the government brings law enforcement back under civilian control, along with other aspects of the state, such as domestic aviation. See Rio: Cabral Backs Off On Bogotá and Look, Here’s The Scoop on the Brazilian Bureaucracy Wars.

But perhaps this is not surprising, given the “local sources” that McGowan cites: The O Globo newspaper and Veja magazine. The same sort of people that folks like Larry Rohter generally mean when they cite “local press sources” to give substance to their fairy tales.

The interesting question about this case in particular might be whether or not it fits another emerging NMM hypothesis: Rio de Janeiro NGOs can get to be a real barra pesada because they make attractive fronts for dubious actors.

Who is this McGowan guy, anyway?

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Cargill: Outlaw in Pará?


Santarém, Pará.

MPF/PA requisita embargo urgente do porto da Cargill em Santarém (Press release, Ministério Públic Federal, Brazil).

International logistics Cargill has crossed my radar more frequently recently, mainly for its high public profile in the Mexican tortilla crisis, as a silent bit player in the quiet corruption scandal over Gil Díaz’s maneuverings in the Mexican customs administration, and for the way that a Globo TV news reporter, absurdly, managed to mistake its facility in Paranaguá for a public maritime freight depot in report designed to bash the government there for making a massive hash of things in Paraná, the state to the south of us here in São Paulo.

The reelection campaign of incumbent President Squid had featured port and airport renovation and construction prominently in its advertising to argue that its infrastructure investments had paid off and helped Brazilian export industries.

Now, a Cargill port facility in Santarém, Pará, inside the massive Amazon estuary in Northern Brazil, is getting close scrutiny from federal authorities on environmental grounds, and the MPF — the top federal civil prosecutor, I guess you could say — wants an emergency shutdown of its operations there.

Without fully understanding all those cases I think you could at least say Cargill is a firm with a lot of political risk at the moment.

I translate into my notebook for future reference. I need to try to study up on environmental policy and enforcement, partly because I have a feeling that a tidal wave of esgoto is about to come rolling down the content pipeline and I would sincerely like not to drown in it.

Also, at some point I am going to go up there and have a look-see and I would like to understand what I am looking at.

O Ministério Público Federal no Pará requisitou ao Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Ibama) uma inspeção urgente no porto da Cargill Agrícola S.A, em Santarém (oeste do Pará). O pedido é para fiscalização por analistas ambientais e paralisação imediata das atividades do porto, além de autuação da empresa por operação irregular. O ofício foi enviado hoje, 26 de fevereiro, ao gerente do Ibama em Santarém e deve ser atendido no prazo de dez dias.

The MPF instructed the Brazilian Institute on the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) to conduct an urgent inspection in the port operated by Cargill Agrícola S.A. in Santarém, eastern Pará. The request is for an inspection by environmental specialists and the immediate stoppage of activities at the port, as well as legal action against the firm for operating irregularly. The document was sent on Feb. 26 to the Ibama director in Santarém and must be responded to within 10 days. 

O embargo a ser imposto pelo Ibama é conseqüência das sucessivas derrotas judiciais da Cargill, empresa com sede em Minneapolis (EUA) que construiu e colocou em operação um terminal graneleiro no Rio Tapajós sem elaborar estudos de impacto ambiental (EIA-Rima). A irregularidade foi apontada pelo MPF em processo ajuizado em 2000 (2000.39.02.000141-0), que obteve liminar favorável do juiz federal Dimis da Costa Braga, antes da construção do porto. Na tentativa de reverter a decisão, a empresa impetrou sete recursos e foi derrotada em todas as instâncias do judiciário – Tribunal Regional Federal da 1ª Região, Superior Tribunal de Justiça e Supremo Tribunal Federal. Agora, a decisão transitou em julgado, ou seja, não cabem mais recursos e a ordem deve ser cumprida.

The embargo to be imposed by Ibama is the outcome of series of legal defeats for Cargill, headquartered in Minneapolis (USA), which built and began operating a grain terminal on the Tapajós River without conducting an environmental impact report (EIA-Rima). The irregularity was pointed out by the MPF in a lawsuit filed in 2000 (2000.39.02.000141-0) in which it obtained an injunction from federal judge Dimis da Costa Braga, prior to the construction of the port. In an attempt to reverse the decision, Cargill filed seven appeals and was defeated at all levels — the district court. the court of appeals and the Supreme court. Now the decision is final: No further appeals are possible and the order must be complied with.  

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PhReaking: Hong Kong Flack-Hacking Case


Infosecurity lapses can bug the hell out of your customers.

SEC sues PR hackers: Some newsflow arbitrage is mildly illegal and not conducive to the orderly operation of free and open markets.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed fraud charges against a Hong Kong-based company that allegedly hacked into corporate servers to access advance PR filings and made at least $2.7 million in the past two months by trading on the stolen data.

Another reason to be wary when rocket-scientists armed with glittering generalities promise to deliver you “unique information few have seen before it becomes news.”

The regulator has obtained an emergency asset freeze against Blue Bottle – which is described as an accounting and tax consultancy — and its owner Matthew Charles Stokes.

Not Blue Bottle the antispam company, I assume. Quick: Issue a “we are not THAT Blue Bottle” press release! But let me check.

EDGAR data shows a fellow by that name as a stakeholder in a firm called Helios and Matheson of Singapore and Chennai.

The Commission alleges that the defendents fraudulently gained access to non-public information using illegal “devices and schemes” which may include hacking into computer networks and gaining electronic access to systems that contain information about imminent news releases.

And who did they allegedly victimize? Pay-for-play infotainment network geniuses and the leading computer security specialist.

The firm is accused of using the stolen data to trade in securities of at least 12 US companies, including AllianceBernstein, Symantec and RealNetworks.

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One Owner for Univision


Above: Felipe Calderón of PAN receives crucial support from Brozo the Televisa ambush interview clown. Source: YouTube. Televisa will not take over the U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, nor will Vicente Fox head the network under its new ownership. Some superflack with deep K Street ties will head it instead. Adjust your bets accordingly.

El Financiero has some media deal squeal that maybe even Dealbook has not got around to yet: Televisa sells out its stake in U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, which is being acquired by a “group of investors” called Broadcasting Media Partners.

México, 28 de febrero.- Televisa, la cadena más grande de televisión y radio en México, confirmó que venderá todas sus acciones en la cadena estadounidense en español Univision Communications Inc., luego que los recientes propietarios nombraron al próximo director general de esta última empresa.

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From The Identity of Identify and Non-Identity File: Florida Elections Again


PKI identify management system used by the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control.
Could a DNS poisoning attack dupe the end user?

Is it just a glitch in the system? (Times-Union, Duval Country, Florida).

“Glitch” is one of the most interesting Google News keyword searches there is, I find.

This case, which just popped up on screen,  reminds me a lot of a case that we saw here in Sâo Paulo in the last election, for example: Will the Real Revolutionary Movement of Wladimir Please Stand Up and Be Counted?

It started with a computer making a mistake. Shocking, I know. But while we’re debating what some humans in a polling place did, let’s not forget that this all stems from what some voter identification software didn’t do: accurately identify a voter.

You will recall that a ChoicePoint-generated list of voters ineligible to vote because of felony convictions wound up denying the vote to tens of thousands of voters with the same, or similar, names but different identifying data — in some cases, the criminal John Jones from North Dakota was white and the poor bastard who did not get to vote in Florida was black, and had never been to North Daktoa, for example — as convicted felons in other states.

In case you missed it, just when it looked like our local elections might be dull, we have a juicy little subplot in, of all places, the race to see who oversees local elections. We have a security video given to the Times-Union by someone hoping to see Jerry Holland lose his bid to remain Duval County supervisor of elections. We have accusations that Holland acted improperly in August, allowing a woman to vote twice in 45 minutes. We have counter-accusations of the video being obtained illegally and interpreted inaccurately.

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Current Wetware Content Downloads: The Critique of Pure Carta


Hard numbers on the foot-pound biting power of fanged biological weaponry. Floofy-woofy cutie-wootie munchkin-cats. The problem being that the former can sometimes try to eat the latter. We have that problem, in fact, although our cats are street smart and not especially floofy woofy. Newsstand, Santos bus terminal, in São Paulo’s spooky port city, as recently reconnoitered.

Some people collect stamps.

I collect published instances of logic-chopping and other rhetorical fleurs du mal, and I also enjoy reverse-engineering the editorial strategy of glossy magazines in various fields. I really like magazines. Working on magazines. Reading magazines. The magazine, potpourri of fabulous factoids, is a great genre. Long live the magazine.

In theory, this is part of an exercise specifically targeted to my technical chops as a business editor — if that is what I plan to keep working at, although lately I find myself interested more in working in the anonymous trenches of journalistic and technical translation.

Still, I often find myself wandering off into other areas that interest me as well, including fashion magazines, general-interest newsweeklies, sports rags, specialty rags, and gossip rags. And combinations thereof.

This week’s Carta Capital — one of my favorite magazines down here in Brazil, run by the veteran journalist who received this year’s journo of the year award from the foreign correspondents — tends to confirm two pet theories of mine.

(1) That some of the nonsense that crept in to the magazine lately crept in because Mino Carta was on vacation.

And (2) that the magazine’s recently sealed partnership with the U.K. Observer means that I am just going to have to accept having to read manipulative, blowhard, massively overwritten, political marketing-laced Fleet Street nonsense from time to time.

But did I not move semi-permanently, on a rotating basis, to the Southern Hemisphere just because I wanted a break from that sort of thing?

First, however, it was interesting to read the magazine’s take on a campaign being launched by the federation of Brazilian Catholic bishops advocating for closer attention to the problems, social and environmental, of Brazil’s Amazon Basin region.

Would this campaign join the chorus of the general “Lula has failed to address the impending environmental apocalpyse!” meme?

Remarks from Lula on not permitting “obstructionist” environmental lawsuits to thwart the Rio San Francisco big dig — the river’s waters will be partially diverted into irrigation for the drought-prone Northeast — led to a barrage of criticisms along the lines of “Lula betrays his peasant origins by defending people who burn down the rainforest to support their primitive swidden agriculture.”

Same folks who violently — literally, violently, as in running death squads — oppose land reform.

Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva — a figure of some moral stature — is likely staying on in her post. But you read very little about the activities of her ministry.

It was interesting, on that score, to note that federal police running a huge white-collar crime sting in the Zona Franca de Manaus, by the way.

This is a notable noise-machine product from the fatherland, property and family cabal down here in Brazil, and observers of political Catholicism are naturally on high alert with the Pope arriving to declare Brazil’s first saint in a São Paulo soccer stadium, hard on the heels of a Lula-Bush exchange of visits.

On the other hand, a prominent São Paulo cardinal recently moved to Vatican City to take up a key post, leading to further speculation about the balance of power of various factions.

As has the case of the Guarani-speaking former bishop who is running for president of Paraguay.

On that same story, Carta has a backgrounder in this issue titled “The Return of the Jesuits.”

It comes out at the same time as a characteristically vandalistic Larry Rohter filing from Assunción on the case.

You can count on Rohter — like clockwork, this guy — to build up the public of grotesque, ultraviolent anti-democratic crooks in the Pinochetist mold as bulwarks against populism.

Much as Reagan celebrated the nun-raping Contras as “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers.”

But let’s start with the Amazon, a wild and wooly region that provokes an awful lot of paranoid, apocalyptic drivel in the rabid, nakedly self-serving press and the fascistoid Netroots here.

I am going to translate a bit of the brief note straight out of my glossy newsstand copy, FYI, as a benchmark for later developments.

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“Swiftness of Dow drop due to computers”


Propagation of light through space “due to the luminiferous aether.”

Swiftness of Dow drop due to computers (BusinessWeek):

Dow Jones & Co., the media company which manages the flagship index, said around 2 p.m — just two hours before the New York Stock Exchange was to close — it was discovered computers were not properly calculating trades. The company blamed the problem on the record volume at the NYSE, and switched to a backup computer.

This seems to contradict the Reuters headline on the story and the Dow’s own statement: Glitch hits Dow average but prices unaffected.

NEW YORK, Feb 27 (Reuters) – A technical glitch hit the system that calculates the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> on Tuesday, but it did not affect stock prices, a spokeswoman for Dow Jones Indexes said.

The spokeswoman made the following point:

“At around 2 p.m. we realized extraordinarily heavy volume coming in and that caused a delay in the Dow Jones data system,” said Sybille Reitz. “As a result the calculation of the Dow average temporarily lagged behind the market decline. We then switched over to a backup system, which resulted in a rapid catch up in the published value of the Dow,” she said.

But she emphasized that no calculation errors were involved. The problem was in the publication of the output.

Reitz added that at no point did the swing in the index affect stock prices. “The calculation is absolutely correct, we just had a delay in the output.”

Which is bad enough, as NMM noted yesterday:

Did the market really go nuts because its brain was suddenly deprived of the oxygen of information?

Still, (2) either BusinessWeek knows better when it writes that “computers were not properly calculating trades,” or (2) it is garbling the facts.

Did they fact-check the Dow Jones statement and find it inaccurate and full of spin, warranting a report whose wording seems to contradict it?

Let’s have a read.

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