Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Few high points as World Cup kicks-off

June 13, 2014

We are off.

An own goal, a disputed penalty and two mediocre shots elevated by poor goal keeping.

The real battle going on within FIFA but off the pitch. Football fever muting the social unrest in Brazil.

Not a very noisy or musical crowd.

But Brazil won as they should have and Croatia can’t complain. Tradition has been upheld and the hosts have won the opening game.

No vuvuzelas.




German football team builds its own resort in Brazil for the World Cup

December 16, 2013

The construction program for the 2014 Brazilian World Cup venues is well behind schedule. A number of deaths have occurred at the various construction sites. Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed onto the roof of the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo in November. Another was killed at the Palmeiras arena in Sao Paulo which is/was to be a training ground for some of the teams. The latest accidents were at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas. The Arena is scheduled to host four group stage matches during the competition. Two deaths on Saturday bring the death toll at this Arena to three. A 23 year old construction worker was found dead and is said to have suffered a heart attack. (At 23!) Another worker fell 35 meters after a cable snapped. Work is so far behind at most sites that accelerated, 3-shift programs are being conducted to catch up. Inevitably safety procedures are being given less priority. Some have refused to work and a general strike over safety standards has been called for and further threatens the schedule. Less than a month away from the Dec. 31 FIFA-imposed deadline for Brazil to deliver all 12 of its tournament venues, half are still unfinished, with three of those having no realistic shot of wrapping up before February.

Hotels and transport arrangements are also behind schedule.

TelegraphThere have been disputes and delays to the new light rail vehicle system in another host city, Cuiaba, while in the north-eastern settlement of Natal, mobility projects had to be abandoned and redesigned because of a shortage of time.

Accommodation is also a concern with a shortage of hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Recife, according to the Brazilian Association of Hotel Industries (ABIH). This week, workers at Rio’s Gloria Hotel, which is due to open before the World Cup, told Jornal do Brasil that the renovations were falling well behind.

But the German Football Association is not taking any chances. Winning the Cup is a serious business and they do not place much confidence in the assurances that facilities will be ready. They could not find the hotels to pass muster. So they are taking matters into their own hands and are building their own resort for their players. Der Spiegel writes: Unable to find a suitable location to set up shop in Brazil during the upcoming 2014 World Cup, the German football team has decided to simply build its own. The remote beachside camp will “help minimize strain” on players, the team manager says”.

A digital rendering of the luxurious beachside retreat provided by the German Football Association.

A digital rendering of the luxurious beachside retreat to be provided by the German Football Association.

The team’s beachside “resort” will be located in the sleepy village of Santo André in the state of Bahia, population just around 1,000, the paper wrote. It’s the first time in history that the German team has built its own World Cup facility from scratch, it added.

Coach Joachim “Jogi” Löw, his players and the team’s staff will spend the tournament living in 13 houses, with a soccer playing field and press center about a kilometer away. An airfield just 15 kilometers off will facilitate travel to the match sites.

Bild reports that the construction site entrance already bears the colors of the German flag — black, red and gold.

The location of “Camp Bahia” is “very remote,” Bild added. Some 30 kilometers away from the Porto Seguro resort area, most travelers get there via an old ferry across the Joao de Tiba River.

FIFA promoting and condoning slave labour

September 27, 2013

FIFA are “going to investigate”.

It would seem a little too little and much too late.

Brazil is resorting to extraordinary means to get ready for the World Cup next year.


Construction workers employed on a project in Brazil ahead of next year’s World Cup face “slave-like” conditions, officials say.An investigation into the expansion of Sao Paulo international airport found that 111 workers were living in poor accommodation near the building site.

They were approached in poorer states and some had to pay more than $220 (£140) to secure a job, the Labour attorney general’s office says. The promised wages were $625 a month.

The workers, among them six ethnic Pankaruru indians, were reportedly lured in the country’s north-east with promises of work in Sao Paulo. However, many were not immediately employed and had to stay in one of 11 makeshift camps near the airport which is being expanded in preparation for next year’s World Cup. The Labour attorney general’s office says it found the workers living in “conditions analogue to slaves” and has 30 days to present legal action against the contractors.

According to Brazilian legislation, companies must contract migrant workers in their hometown before transferring them to other cities. 

Similar investigations were under way in other World Cup-related building sites, attorney Cristiane Nogueira, from the Labour attorney general’s office in Sao Paulo, told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S Paulo.

But it would seem to be even worse in Qatar for their World Cup in 2022 – undeserved and where the voting was clearly bought. FIFA have been falling over themselves to ensure their share of Qatar money and where they – for the first time ever and in conflict with most football seasons – are going to hold the World Cup in winter. Here at least 44 Nepalese construction workers have died in just 3 months and the World Cup is still 9 years away. At the rate they are going thousands could die before the World Cup is held.

The Guardian: 

Dozens of Nepalese migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent weeks and thousands more are enduring appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.

This summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar, many of them young men who had sudden heart attacks. The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.

According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

The investigation also reveals:

 Evidence of forced labour on a huge World Cup infrastructure project.

• Some Nepalese men have alleged that they have not been paid for months and have had their salaries retained to stop them running away.

• Some workers on other sites say employers routinely confiscate passports and refuse to issue ID cards, in effect reducing them to the status of illegal aliens.

• Some labourers say they have been denied access to free drinking water in the desert heat.

• About 30 Nepalese sought refuge at their embassy in Doha to escape the brutal conditions of their employment.

The allegations suggest a chain of exploitation leading from poor Nepalese villages to Qatari leaders. The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us,” said one Nepalese migrant employed at Lusail City development, a $45bn (£28bn) city being built from scratch which will include the 90,000-seater stadium that will host the World Cup final. “I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless. I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.” 

Of course FIFA is shocked and distressed and will investigate! Not as distressed as the workers are in Qatar or as distressed as the families of the dead.

The Telegraph: 

Britain’s most senior Fifa member said he was “appalled and distressed” by allegations made in an expose of construction practises in the Gulf State as it readies its infrastructure to stage the 2022 tournament.

Boyce told the Telegraph Sport: “Fifa must fully investigate all the facts contained in the article and hopefully report back to the executive committee.”

The Northern Irishman also insisted the matter would be discussed at next week’s Fifa executive committee meeting.

That meeting had initially been expected to confirm that the tournament would move from the summer but is now in danger of being hijacked by a “slavery” scandal. …


Citation stacking rife in Brazil

September 3, 2013

The impact factor of an academic journal is a measure of the average number of citations for articles in the journal. In the academic world it is always better to have your papers published by a “high impact” journal. For editors and publishing houses, impact factor is directly related to revenues earned. Over the years the methods of increasing the number of citations (not self citations, by articles in other journals and preferably from a different publishing house) and the impact factors of journals have become increasingly sophisticated.

Citation stacking has been the method that has developed where editors of journals – sometimes even from quite different publishing houses – have colluded to see to it that articles in their journals cited articles in the others. This has been going on for some time and a year ago THE reported that Thomson Reuters had suspended 26 journals for citation stacking.

“Anomalous citation patterns” is a euphemism for excessive citation of other articles published in the same journal. It is generally assumed to be a ruse to boost a journal’s impact factor, which is a measure of the average number of citations garnered by articles in the journal over the previous two years.

Impact factors are often used, controversially, as a proxy for journal quality and, even more contentiously, for the quality of individual papers published in the journal and even of the people who write them.

When Thomson Reuters discovers that anomalous citation has had a significant effect on a journal’s impact factor, it bans the journal for two years from its annual Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which publishes up-to-date impact factors.

In Brazil the Ministry of Education is obsessed by impact factor. In consequence publishing in high impact factor journals has become a matter of survival in academia.  Journals have been caught in a vicious cycle where nobody wants to publish in their pages because their impact factor is too low and their impact factor falls further because they have insufficient citations.

“By 2009, editors of eight Brazilian journals decided to take measures into their own hands”. 

Ciencia Brasil has been pointing out dubious cases in Brazilian journals for some time. The Brazilian scam has now reached the pages of Nature as Thomson Reuters suspends some Brazilian journals from its rankings for ‘citation stacking:

Brazilian citation scheme outed

Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva thought that he had spotted an easy way to raise the profiles of Brazilian journals. From 2009, he and several other editors published articles containing hundreds of references to papers in each others’ journals — in order, he says, to elevate the journals’ impact factors.

Because each article avoided citing papers published by its own journal, the agreement flew under the radar of analyses that spot extremes in self-citation — until 19 June, when the pattern was discovered. Thomson Reuters, the firm that calculates and publishes the impact factor, revealed that it had designed a program to spot concentrated bursts of citations from one journal to another, a practice that it has dubbed ‘citation stacking’. Four Brazilian journals were among 14 to have their impact factors suspended for a year for such stacking. And in July, Rocha-e-Silva was fired from his position as editor of one of them, the journal Clinics, based in São Paulo.

…. Editors have tried before to artificially boost impact factors, usually by encouraging the citation of a journal’s own papers. Each year, Thomson Reuters detects and cracks down on excessive self-citation. This year alone, it red-flagged 23 more journals for the wearily familiar practice. But the revelation that journals have gained excessively from citations elsewhere suggests that some editors may be searching for less detectable ways to boost their journals’ profiles. In some cases, authors may be responsible for stacking, perhaps trying to boost citations of their own papers.

The journals flagged by the new algorithm extend beyond Brazil — but only in that case has an explanation for the results emerged. Rocha-e-Silva says the agreement grew out of frustration with his country’s fixation on impact factor. In Brazil, an agency in the education ministry, called CAPES, evaluates graduate programmes in part by the impact factors of the journals in which students publish research. As emerging Brazilian journals are in the lowest ranks, few graduates want to publish in them. This vicious cycle, in his view, prevents local journals improving.

Abel Packer, who coordinates Brazil’s system of free government-sponsored journals, known as SciELO, says that the citation-stacking venture was “unfortunate and unacceptable”. But he adds that many editors have long been similarly critical of the CAPES policy because it encourages local researchers to publish in high-impact journals, increasing the temptation for editors to artificially boost their own impact factors, he says.

Nature 500, 510–511 (29 August 2013) 

Read the articledoi:10.1038/500510a

BRICS is losing BIS as the financial crisis bites

August 20, 2013

Emerging markets have the fundamental problem that their own domestic markets – while promising – are not large enough yet to raise the finances needed to drive their entire economies. They are critically dependent upon foreign investment. And now as funds return to the dollar, India, Brazil, South Africa and other emerging markets are feeling the global financial heat – and some of the heat is intense enough to cause some currency meltdowns.

The Indian economy is shrinking in real terms. Currency controls are on the way though the Indian government is – as usual – doing too little too late. Sovereign ratings of these countries are likely to be degraded which will reduce foreign investment further and raise the cost of foreign borrowing. A vicious downward spiral could ensue.

BRICS is losing BIS.

Economic Times:

A fierce selloff in many emerging currencies shows no sign of abating as the expected withdrawal of US monetary stimulus prompts investors to shun markets seen as riskier because of funding deficits, slowing economies and inflation. 

The rupee fits that bill, as do the Indonesian rupiah, the South African rand and theBrazilian real. The rupiah plunged to four-year troughs on Monday while the rand lost another 1 percent to bring year-to-date losses to almost 17 percent against the dollar. 

Brazil’s real extended last week’s fall of more than 5 percent fall to trade at its weakest level since March 2009 even as the central bank sold nearly $3 billion worth of currency swaps, which are derivatives that mimic an injection of dollars in the futures market. Like the rupee, it has been hammered by doubts over the efficacy of policy actions to stem the rout. 

The rupee and the real, respectively, have been the worst performers in Asia and Latin America since late May when the Fed first signalled that it may begin winding down its monetary stimulus this year. India’s currency has lost 13 percent against the dollar this year while the real has plunged 15 percent in the same period. 

A decline in the Fed’s bond purchases will push government debt yields higher, which should raise the attractiveness of the dollar and dollar-denominated assets. In Brazil, the currency weakness has complicated policymakers’ efforts to rein in inflation, leading many investors to bet the central bank may speed up the pace of monetary tightening next week.  

In India, the rupee’s sell-off threatens to drive Asia’s third-largest economy towards a full-blown crisis. 

“Our primary concern is that the policy authorities still don’t ‘get it’ – thinking this is a fairly minor squall which will simmer down relatively quickly with fairly minor actions,” Robert Prior-Wandesforde, an economist at Credit Suisse in Singapore, wrote in a note on the Indian currency on Monday. 



Bizarre in Brazil: Referee stabs player, crowd beheads referee

July 7, 2013

Of course in Brazil, football fanaticism is quite similar to the religious fanaticism seen elsewhere. But it does not bode well for the World Cup in 2014. After hosting the Confederation Cup – and fairly successfully – Brazil saw the street protests which have had the spending on the World Cup extravaganza in their sights. Along with the corruption that pervades politics and – of course – football. And violence is never far away when football is involved.


Football spectators in northern Brazil decapitated a referee after he fatally stabbed a player for refusing to leave the pitch, officials say.

An angry mob stormed the field during the amateur game in the state of Maranhao and stoned Otavio da Silva to death before severing his head.

Police said the murder was in retaliation for Mr Silva stabbing player Josenir dos Santos.

One man has been arrested over the killing and investigations continue.

The incident took place on 30 June in the remote town of Pio XII, but news of the event has been slow to emerge.

The state’s Public Safety Department said it started when the referee and Mr Santos got into fist fight after the player was sent off but refused to leave the pitch.

Map of Brazil

Mr Silva then pulled out a knife and wounded Mr Santos, who died on his way to the hospital.

The player’s friends and relatives rushed onto the field, stoned the referee to death and dismembered his body, the department said in a statement.

Financial Times accused of lying and shoddy journalism

May 10, 2013

Despicable when a newspaper of the stature of the Financial Times has to resort to this kind of shoddy journalism.

This is from Svenska Dagbladet (my free translation):

You are an Embarrassment Financial Times!

It must be deplored that some reporters cold-bloodedly invented information about the new WTO Director Roberto Azevedo.

The day after the World Trade Organization had chosen the Brazilian diplomat as new head a major article was published in the prestigious Financial Times. It began with a detailed description of how Azevedo appeared  when he came out of the WTO headquarters in Geneva at 18.30 on Tuesday night to meet a large press contingent. “He came out of the headquarters and met an expectant press gang outside,” writes the paper’s two reporters. The report continues on how Azevedo was quiet and did not say anything. But his happy facial expressions and his smile revealed that he had been elected.  A smile that was also used in the title:

The FT Headline: “Sealed with a smile: how Brazil got its man Azevêdo into the WTO”

By Claire Jones in London and Joseph Leahy in São Paulo Last updated: May 8, 2013 9:26 pm

The Brazilian candidate betrayed his success with a smile.

Just after 6.30pm local time on Tuesday evening, Roberto Azevêdo made his way out of the World Trade Organisation’s Geneva headquarters to find an expectant press pack gathered outside.

The Brazilian ambassador to the WTO remained silent. But his cheery expression was a giveaway: minutes earlier, Mr Azevêdo had been told he had secured the nomination to replace Pascal Lamy. With that, he capped an almost five-month campaign by Brazil that saw him visit 47 countries and join President Dilma Rousseff in key meetings with global leaders as she lobbied on his behalf. … 

The Svenska Dagbladet continues:

Not just embarrassing, it was just not true.

Azevedo did not come out of the WTO headquarters.

Nor was he silent, nor did he smile and  he certainly did not meet any press contingent. He was not even there!.

He sat and waited nervously with Brazil’s UN delegation several kilometers away.

The only one who received the news at WTO headquarters was Brazil’s deputy ambassador Estanislau Amaral.

I know this along with all the other journalists with certainty because we were there.  We saw Amaral hurrying out, spoke briefly with him, saw him go off in his official car. No Azevedo in sight. Moreover a picture of Azevedo was sent on Twitter at that moment  was sitting in his office in a completely different part of town with his wife Maria.

The FT journalists were not even there.

One sat in London, Claire Jones, and one in Sao Paulo, Joseph Leahy.  They invented the story that implied their presence and to provide a personal touch.  Not a very good journalistic idea for a magazine that should be concerned about its credibility and its reputation.

They could learn from what happened with journalists at Bloomberg this week. Two journalists in Prague published an article on the Czech National Bank one minute ahead of an embargo. It caused Bloomberg’s news director in Washington to hit the roof, take the next plane to Prague and and fire them on the spot.  Journalistic reliability is “extremely important” was the explanation.

“White Pimpernel” cat arrested for assisting planned prison breakout in Brazil

January 5, 2013

Two years ago we heard about the drug smuggling pigeons at a Colombian jail, and now comes news of a cat heavily implicated in assisting a planned break-out from a Brazilian prison!! The cat was caught red-handed on New Years day! The arch-criminal has so far refused to speak and all 263 prisoners are suspect. It is not known if the cat is the ring leader or merely an accomplice.

It has been over 5o years since since I read Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s novel of the arch prison escape arranger during the French Revolution – The Scarlet Pimpernel – but this verse is for forever etched in my memory:

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.

A prison guard holds a cat that has objects wrapped around his body with tape at a prison in Arapiraca in this handout photo obtained by Reuters on January 5, 2013. A cat carrying a saw and a mobile phone was 'detained' as it entered a prison gate in northeast Brazil, Brazilian media reported on Saturday. Prison guards were surprised when they saw a white cat crossing the main gate of the prison, its body wrapped with tape. A closer look showed the feline also carried drills, an earphone, a memory card, batteries and a phone charger. REUTERS-Superintendent General of Prison Administration shows -Handout

White Pimpernel: Reuters

Reuters: A cat carrying a saw and a mobile phone was “detained” as it entered a prison gate in northeast Brazil, Brazilian media reported on Saturday.

Prison guards were surprised when they saw a white cat crossing the main gate of the prison, its body wrapped with tape. A closer look showed the feline also carried drills, an earphone, a memory card, batteries and a phone charger.

All 263 detainees in the prison of Arapiraca, a city of 215,000 people in the state of Alagoas, are considered suspect in the plot, which is being investigated by local police.

“It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak,” a prison spokesperson told local paper Estado de S.Paulo.

The cat was taken to an animal disease center to receive medical care.

The incident took place on New Year’s day but was first reported by national media on Saturday

Lula’s legacy in Brazil being badly tarnished by new corruption scandals

November 25, 2012

Influence peddling and other forms of political corruption are not of course restricted to Brazil or just to the developing countries. It is just a lot more sophisticated in the US and japan and Europe. But more mud is being flung and a great deal of it is now sticking to former President Lula’s period of office in Brazil.

Reuters reports:

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, moving quickly to nip a new scandal in the bud, ordered the dismissal on Saturday of government officials allegedly involved in a bribery ring, including the country’s deputy attorney general.


Following Indian MMRCA success, Dassaut’s Rafale also tipped for Brazil

February 13, 2012
Dassault’s success in being selected as the lowest bidder for the Indian MMRCA competition with the Rafale aircraft seems to be having a significant impact in other deals. The Rafale is now the most likely winner of the Brazilian contract for 36 aircraft. The aggressive pricing by Dassault and the active (and very effective) lobbying by the French government is a potent combination. The Rafale has not yet been sold outside France and the Indian and Brazilian deals are critical for the future export life of the Rafale.
In Brazil the Rafale is competing against Boeing’s F-18 and Saab’s Gripen. Though Saab is also desperately looking for export orders for the Gripen, it is unlikely that it can afford to drop its prices by the levels that Dassault obviously can. Boeing on the other hand is not so dependent on the Brazilian orders and is unlikely to drop its price by very much – especially since they will not wish to disturb the already very high price levels they enjoy for exports to the Middle-East. And that probably leaves the Rafale sitting very pretty.

Svenska Dagbladet reports (freely translated):


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