Brazil’s Real Drop to Five-Year Low as Rousseff Support Climbs

October 1, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg, 10/1/2014

Brazil’s real fell to a five-year low on concern Latin America’s largest economy will struggle to recover as a voter poll showed President Dilma Rousseff winning her re-election bid.

The real declined 0.3 percent to 2.4549 per U.S. dollar at 10:03 a.m. in Sao Paulo, the lowest level on a closing basis since December 2008. The currency declined 9.5 percent in the third quarter, the worst performance among 24 emerging-market currencies after Russia’s ruble.

Rousseff has taken the lead and would win a second term in Brazil’s election this month against former Environment Minister Marina Silva, according to a Datafolha poll released yesterday after markets were closed. Speculation that a new government would revive economic growth and curb inflation helped push the real to a one-month high on Aug. 29.

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The Brazilian church that welcomes gay believers into the fold

October 1, 2014

Beth McLoughlin – The Guardian, 10/1/2014

From the outside, there is little to distinguish the Metropolitan community church from the many other evangelical houses of worship in Rio’s Zona Norte. But as Marcos Lord prepares for an evening sermon, it soon becomes clear that this church is not like the others.

It takes the pastor about an hour to prepare for the pulpit: donning false eyelashes, a wig and a pair of vertiginous heels to transform himself into the drag queen Luandha Perón. In a country where evangelical Christians have become increasingly influential – and outspoken in their homophobia – the church provides a space for gay, bisexual and transsexual believers.

This evening, Luandha is hosting a recital of lesbian poetry. “This story isn’t erotic enough for my liking,” she jokes with the congregation, before reading a touching poem that one member has written about the first time she met her partner. Watching this confident character command an audience, it is hard to imagine that Lord once believed he was possessed by demons, and felt unable to come out until he was 26.

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Brazil presidential rivals clash over central bank

October 1, 2014

Samantha Pearson – Financial Times, 9/30/2014

It looks like a scene from a low-budget gangster movie. Four men in suits gather around a table in a dark room to plot an apparent financial scam, winking and shaking hands.

However, this is the Brazilian central bank, or rather, an illustration of what it would look like if it were given formal autonomy, according to one of President Dilma Rousseff’s recent scaremongering campaign videos. “This would mean handing over to the bankers a huge power to make decisions about your life and your family – the interest you pay, your job, prices, and even salaries,” the narrator explains, cutting to a family whose food slowly disappears off their table.

Central bank autonomy, a seemingly obscure topic in a country where at least one in 10 adults are illiterate, has become a central controversy of the Brazilian presidential election, which kicks off on Sunday and is likely to extend to a run-off on October 26.

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Brazil’s evangelicals become a political force to be reckoned with

October 1, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 10/01/2014

As the curtains part to reveal a giant gold replica of the Ark of the Covenant, a preacher in a skullcap walks on to the stage and extols family values to a congregation of thousands. The believers raise their hand s and rock their heads in a communal prayer that starts in a whisper and builds to a crescendo. Female ushers in flowing white robes, gold waistbands and gold shoes smile serenely in the aisles as they collect donations.

Brazil’s newest and most spectacular Pentecostal church, the Temple of Solomon, has been drawing throngs of worshippers and curious onlookers to its daily services since the $300m (£185m) building opened earlier this year and immediately became a symbol of the rising power of evangelical Christianity in this largely Catholic nation.

Like many other churches, it has also become a campaign battleground in the run up to Sunday’s presidential election in which the country’s pastors are hoping to play an influential role and set a pattern for the years ahead.

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‘Teachers not footballers’ needed by Brazil

October 1, 2014

Martin Hall – BBC News, 09/30/2014

In the run up to this year’s World Cup in Brazil there were protest banners reading: “Teachers are more important than footballers.” For Brazil, this is saying something. And when Brazilians go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections this week, one of the main issues will be education.

There is a shortage of some 300,000 primary school teachers. At the other end of the education journey there is space for less than 20% of all students in Brazil’s highly regarded public universities – the rest pay fees for qualifications of variable quality.

In the protests that have swept through Brazilian cities, education is a recurrent theme on placards and in social media. Brazil’s demand for education is driven by both the country’s size and by the sustained economic growth through the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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Brazil’s Rousseff widens lead over Silva in fresh polls

October 1, 2014

Reuters, 9/30/2014

President Dilma Rousseff has solidified her lead over opposition candidate Marina Silva and would win a runoff vote to Brazil’s presidential election, two new polls showed on Tuesday.

A survey by pollster Datafolha showed Rousseff with 49 percent support, compared with 41 percent for Silva in a simulation of an expected second-round vote, doubling the 4 percentage-point lead Brazil’s first female president had in the previous poll released last Friday.

According to a poll by Ibope that was commissioned by media conglomerate Globo Comunicações, Rousseff could garner 42 percent of the votes in a runoff, compared with Silva’s 38 percent. In the prior Ibope poll a week ago, Rousseff and Silva were tied at 41 percent.

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An environmentalist’s calculated push toward Brazil’s presidency

October 1, 2014

Paulo Prada – Reuters, 10/1/2014

In March 2003, three months into her tenure as Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva gathered a half-dozen aides at the modernist ministry building in Brasilia, the capital.

She told them the new government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to embark on a pharaonic infrastructure project for Brazil’s arid Northeast.

The project, a still-ongoing effort to reroute water from one of Brazil’s biggest rivers, had previously been opposed by environmentalists, including Silva herself. Rather than explain how she would thwart the plan, however, the former activist said she would work to make it as sustainable as possible.

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