May 21, 2013
Paige McClanahan – The Guardian, 05/21/2013
Biofuels have long been hailed as one of the potential answers to climate change. Their environmental credentials are controversial, but a handful of countries are now looking at them from another angle entirely: they want to use biofuels to try to reduce poverty among rural smallholder farmers.
Such efforts are in full force in Brazil, a country that is home to both a sizeable biofuels industry and about 4.1m small-scale family farms. But while some of the country’s biofuels policies have fallen short, others have proved a boon to the rural poor. Smallholder farmers have seen their incomes rise thanks to the introduction of more progressive standards and new rules on contract negotiations.
“The numbers show that the farmers in Brazil … have been earning far more than they were before – not only in absolute quantities, but also as a percentage of the whole value of the [biofuels production] chain,” says Mairon Bastos Lima, a PhD researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the author of a recent briefing paper (pdf) that looked at the social impacts of biofuels polices in Brazil, India, and Indonesia. Bastos Lima describes the Brazilian biofuels policies as “the best example” he has seen.
May 21, 2013
Nicolas Bourcier – The Guardian, 05/21/2013
Earlier this month the World Trade Organisation (WTO) announced that it had chosen the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, 55, as its next director general. In September he will take over from France’s Pascal Lamy, who has served two four-year terms.
It is a personal success for this career diplomat, but it is also a victory for Brazil on the international scene. The Brazilian diplomatic corps pulled out all the stops to convince a majority of the 159 member states that their candidate was the right choice. But Azevedo’s appointment is also a new departure, this being the first time that a Brazilian has headed one of the key bodies in the postwar Bretton Woods system. The country at last has a seat at the top table.
The vote “shows a global order in transformation”, said foreign minister Antonio Patriota, with “emerging markets [showing] leadership”.
May 21, 2013
Ian Rodgers – Bleacher Report, 05/21/2013
The preparations for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year are gathering at pace as the country opened its latest stadium in the capital, Brasilia.
The new 72,800-seater National ManéGarrincha Stadium was unveiled on Saturday ahead of its first match, the Federal District league championship final between Brasilia and Brasiliense.
The new stadium is the fifth to be completed and handed over in readiness for the World Cup finals next year following the re-opening of the iconic Maracana Stadium last month, as the Daily Mail reported.
May 20, 2013
Deepanshu Bagchee – CNBC, 05/20/2013
Rumors that Brazil’s social security fund called Bolsa Familia was to be cancelled led thousands of people to rush to withdraw money from a Brazilian bank over the weekend.
Customers lined up at ATMs at dozens of bank branches of Caixa Economica Federal, a government-owned bank, which pays the social security subsidy on Saturday and Sunday.
“The bank branches themselves aren’t open on Saturdays. What happened is that once the rumor gained momentum, people flocked down to their local branches to try to withdraw money from the ATMs,” Rafael Carregal, a journalist at Brazil’s main TV network Globo told CNBC.
May 20, 2013
Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg, 05/20/2013
Brazil’s economy will grow below 3 percent in 2013, economists predicted for the first time in a central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today.
Latin America’s largest economy will grow 2.98 percent this year, down from the previous week’s projection of 3 percent. It would be the first time in a decade that Brazil grows below 3 percent for three consecutive years.
Brazil’s economy has struggled to recover from last year’s expansion of 0.9 percent as accelerating inflation undermines consumer demand. While economists raised their 12-month inflation forecast to 5.64 percent from 5.57 percent, they maintained their projection for inflation this year and next at 5.8 percent, according to the survey.
May 16, 2013
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/14/2013
The council overseeing Brazil’s judiciary ruled on Tuesday that notary publics cannot refuse to performsame-sex marriage ceremonies, a decision that opens the way for gay couples across Latin America’s largest country to marry.
The move by the National Council of Justice, a 15-member panel led by Joaquim Barbosa, the chief justice of the nation’s high court, effectively legalizes gay marriage throughout Brazil, legal scholars here said. The decision follows legislation in twoneighboring countries, Argentina and Uruguay, where lawmakers have managed to pass bills authorizing same-sex marriage nationwide in recent years.
Still, there is some room for judicial appeals of the Brazilian decision, potentially within the high court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, and resistance may emerge in Congress, where gay-marriage legislation has faced opposition from an influential bloc of evangelical Christian lawmakers. Even so, supporters of same-sex marriage described the council’s decision as pioneering.
May 16, 2013
Erin Brodwin – Scientific American, 05/15/2013
The Amazon Basin is the epicenter of the world’s hydropower plants—the same gushing rains that give the region its lush foliage make it a prime destination for developers seeking to capitalize on this allegedly renewable energy source. But the long-term sustainability of these projects, which use the natural flow of water to generate electricity, is now under scrutiny.
A new study of the Belo Monte Dam, one of the world’s largest hydropower energy complexes currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern region of the basin, found that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon poses a significant threat to a dam’s energy-generating potential.
Although many studies have examined the impacts of deforestation on the immediate vicinity of hydropower projects, less attention has been paid to its effects on a regional scale. In fact, earlier studies found that a loss of trees within the water basin of hydropower sites increased the energy-generating capacity of the dam in the short-term, because less trees were available to suck water from the ground and export it outside the watershed in a process known as evapotranspiration.
May 16, 2013
The Washington Post/AP, 05/15/2013
Brazil’s Supreme Court has annulled the trial and conviction of a rancher jailed for ordering the 2005 murder of U.S. nun and Amazon defender Dorothy Stang.
In a ruling posted Wednesday, the court said Vitalmiro Moura was not given enough time to prepare his defense in 2010 when he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The court said Moura will remain behind bars until he his retried at a yet-to be scheduled date.
Also convicted of ordering Stang’s murder is Regivaldo Galvao. Last year, the Supreme Court ordered his release, saying he had the right to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal process. He was sentenced to a 30-year jail term in 2010.
May 15, 2013
Rodrigo Orihuela, Juan Pablo Spinetto – Bloomberg, 05/14/2013
BP Plc (BP/) and Total SA (FP), Europe’s biggest oil companies after Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), won exploration rights in the Amazon basin as Brazil’s first oil auction in five years attracts a record level of bids.
Total, based in Paris, gained exploration access to operate five blocks at the Foz do Amazonas basin in northern Brazil together with partners BP and Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the oil regulator said today. London-based BP won an additional license to operate a block at the same basin in partnership with Petrobras, as the state-controlled oil company is known.
Brazil, home to the largest crude discovery in the Americas in more than 30 years, is holding its first oil exploration round since 2008, attracting more than 60 prospective bidders for a total of 289 blocks in 11 basins. The country is set to break the $1.1 billion record in auctioning licenses, according to Joao Carlos de Luca, the head of the Brazilian Oil Institute.
May 15, 2013
Andrew Downie – The Christian Science Monitor, 05/14/2013
A decade after Brazil tightened rules on weapons sales and two years after a lone gunman shot 12 people dead at a Rio de Janeiro school, Brazil’s Congress is trying to loosen legislation on gun ownership that critics say could cause the number of homicides to rise sharply after a period of relative stability.
The number of homicides in South America’s largest nation fell by 2,000 in 2004, the first such fall in 12 years, thanks largely to the Disarmament Statute, legislation that made it harder to buy guns and slapped tougher penalties on those caught in possession. The number of gun deaths fell by a similar amount the year after, as well, Brazil’s Justice Ministry said.
However, with the government focused more on growth and infrastructure issues and preparing the country to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, gun control has ceased to be a priority says Antonio Rangel, a researcher who coordinates the Arms Control Project at Viva Rio, a well-known NGO.