Jonah Busch – Center for Global Development, 08/18/2016
From 2004-2013, Brazil reduced climate emissions by more than any other country on earth, thanks to its success cutting Amazon deforestation by 80 percent. Now, a new study in Ecological Economicsfinds that actions to protect the Amazon were affordable too, costing Brazilian governments at the federal, state, and local levels just $2.1 billion over nine years—one-third the estimated $6.2 billion price tag of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Felipe Arias Fogliano and the paper’s other authors arrived at this finding by estimating the incremental budget increase in dozens of government programs once forest conservation efforts began in earnest after 2004. Their analysis of actual government expenditures adds an important new strand of evidence to a large body of published research suggesting that conserving forests is one of the lowest-cost ways to reduce climate emissions. (Previous evidence has come from opportunity cost-based models, integrated assessment models, and site-specific case studies.)
Will Carless – Global Post, 08/18/2016
You’ve probably heard by now about the robbery scandal in Rio de Janeiro involving the United States’ 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and his swimming friends — and how Brazilian officials accuse them of lying.
The details are really fuzzy, but here’s a 25-second synopsis of what’s believed to have happened (if you already know the basics, skip down below the video):
Lochte and three other Team USA swimmers went out drinking in Rio on Saturday night. They left a party in the early hours of Sunday morning, and got back to the athletes’ village just before 7 a.m. Later that day, Lochte claimed that their taxi had been held up by men calling themselves police. The robbers took Lochte’s money but left his cellphone, he told NBC News. Rio police started investigating.
Rodrigo Viga & Jeb Blount – Reuters, 08/18/2016
Brazil TV aired a video on Thursday that showed four U.S. Olympic swimmers did not tell the whole truth when they said they were robbed at gunpoint in an incident that has marred the image of South America’s first Olympic Games.
The security-camera images broadcast on Globo TV appeared to show the swimmers, including Olympic gold medallists Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen, in a dispute with staff at a Rio gas station, a fact they did not mention to police in their accounts.
“The athletes lied to us about their story,” a top Rio police official told Reuters on Thursday, declining to be identified because the matter was still under investigation.
Dom Phillips & Dave Sheinin – The Washington Post, 08/18/2016
RIO DE JANEIRO — Two U.S. Olympic swimmers were prevented from leaving Brazil on Wednesday night as differences emerged in their accounts of an armed robbery they said they endured last weekend.
The U.S. Olympic Committee said Wednesday evening that swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their return flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities.
Early Thursday, the USOC released a statement indicating that Conger and Bentz were no longer being detained but were not yet free to leave the country.
Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 08/16/2016
Acting President Michel Temer’s prized fiscal austerity proposal tocap public spending will only succeed if he can convince Brazil’s Congress to pass a controversial pension reform as well, according to a leading member of his economic team.
While Temer’s administration is confident it can win congressional approval this year of a constitutional amendment to limit federal spending, the inability to cut back on retirement benefits would put public finances at risk, said Mansueto Almeida, the Finance Ministry’s secretary of economic monitoring. A spending cap with growing pension obligations would squeeze other areas in the budget such as health care, he said.
“With the constitutional amendment, spending will be limited, and without pension reform, those costs are going to just grow and grow and grow,” said Almeida, who studied public policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ran a popular blog on public finance before joining the ministry.
Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 08/16/2016
Dilma Rousseff appealed to Brazilian voters and legislators less than 10 days before her impeachment trial starts in the Senate, pledging to hold a plebiscite on new elections if she survives in office.
Rousseff presented her case in a four-page letter to the Brazilian people and Senate on Tuesday, reading the text to reporters in Brasilia without taking any questions. She was flanked by some of her former ministers.
“The solution to the political and economic crisis we face is through the popular vote,” she said. “Democracy is the only way to build a partnership for national unity.”
Maria Pia Palermo and Guillermo Parra – Reuters, 08/16/2016
A Brazilian Federal Supreme Court justice has authorized the opening of an investigation into President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for allegedly working to obstruct the course of a sweeping corruption probe, GloboNews news channel said on Tuesday.
According to GloboNews, Justice Teori Zavascki’s ruling has given Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot permission to look for additional evidence that Rousseff sought to name Lula to a cabinet post to help him avoid prosecution. In June, Zavascki barred the use of some wiretaps that showed Rousseff and Lula negotiating the cabinet appointment.
The news channel, without saying how it obtained the information, also said Zavascki authorized the opening of separate investigations against Aloizio Mercadante and Jose Eduardo Cardozo, two former Rousseff ministers, for similar allegations.