The New York Times/AP, 02/04/2016
Brazil is not sharing enough samples and disease data to let researchers determine whether the Zika virus is, as feared, linked to the increased number of babies born with abnormally small heads in the South American country, U.N. and U.S. health officials say.
Without viruses from Brazil — the epicenter of the ongoing Zika crisis — laboratories in the United States and Europe are being forced to work with samples from previous outbreaks, and is frustrating efforts to develop diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines. Scientists tell The Associated Press that having so little to work with is hampering their ability to track the virus’ evolution.
One major problem appears to be Brazilian law. At the moment, it is technically illegal for Brazilian researchers and institutes to share genetic material, including blood samples containing Zika and other viruses.
Rupert Neate – The Guardian, 6/25/2015
A US court will hear arguments on Thursday that oil giant Petrobras should stand trial for a culture of bribery and corruption that has rocked Brazilian businesses and political elite and lowered the company’s value by $90bn.
Investors, led by the UK Universities Superannuation Scheme, which manages the pension funds of British academics, claim they lost billions as a result of the huge money laundering and corruption scheme. The investors, which also include the retirement funds of state workers in Ohio, Idaho and Hawaii, claim in court filings that Petrobras was “rotten to the core”.
The scandal, which has been dubbed “operation carwash” because huge amounts of money were allegedly laundered through a money exchange in a nondescript gas station in the Brazilian capital, has already led to the indictment of more than 40 Brazilian executives allegedly involved in the bribery scheme dating back to 2006.
Aruna Viswanatha and Sara Germano – The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/2015
U.S. authorities are examining payments made by Nike Inc. under a groundbreaking 1996 soccer sponsorship with Brazil for possible evidence of any wrongdoing by the company in addition to its counterparts in the deal, people familiar with the matter said.
The examination indicates the company is still of interest as the Justice Department pursues its wide-ranging probe of corruption in the global soccer business.
Allegations of corruption around Nike’s 10-year, $160 million agreement to sponsor Brazil’s national team are discussed in barely veiled terms in the Justice Department’s 161-page indictment of officials in and around soccer’s governing body, FIFA.
Vinod Sreeharsha – McClatchyDC, 04/01/2015
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to meet President Barack Obama next week when the Western Hemisphere’s leaders gather for the Summit of the Americas in Panama, in what will be Rousseff’s highest-profile encounter with Obama since revelations last year that the National Security Agency had spied on her.
Made public in the documents leaked by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the spying revelation led to the cancellation of a planned Rousseff visit to Washington, and she’s expected to respond next week to an invitation from the White House to reschedule the trip.
Yet tense relations with the Obama administration are nothing compared with what Rousseff faces at home: two years of virtually no economic growth, a currency that’s plunged 18 percent against the dollar just since Jan. 2, a major corruption scandal and loud calls for her resignation or impeachment. In just the third month of her second four-year term, her approval rating is 13 percent, according to the Brazilian pollster Datafolha, after she won 52 percent of the vote last fall.
Brian Winter – Reuters, 3/24/2015
The Obama administration has again invited Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff for a state visit to Washington, a diplomatic breakthrough that both sides hope will lead over time to greater trade between the two biggest economies in the Americas.
Rousseff had originally been scheduled to make a state visit, which involves a black-tie dinner at the White House and is considered the strongest expression of friendly ties between allies, in October 2013.
But the leftist leader canceled her trip after she was angered by revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on her personal communications. She said it was “incompatible” with a relationship among allies.
Monica de Bolle – The Huffington Post, 2/20/2015
It is unfortunate that Brazilian-American relations have become strained in recent years. This sense of frustration is further enhanced by the fact that the two largest countries in the Americas have very similar agendas when it comes to tackling inequality and income disparity. President Obama’s proposals towards “middle-class economics” and the recently released Economic Report of the President for 2015 highlight just how close the two countries are in their thinking about these issues and on how to make economic policies work more equitably for everyone. And yet, rather than coming together, the distance between the two countries has widened.
President Dilma Rousseff’s newly reelected government has vowed to rebalance Brazil’s economy – plagued by fiscal disarray and mounting inflation – in a way that preserves the legacy of the PT (Brazil’s Workers’ Party) achieved over last twelve years: the impressive social inclusion that has raised millions from the lowest ranks of the income distribution to the middle class. Aided by the macroeconomic stabilization of the 1990s and the unprecedented favorable external conditions that dominated the economic landscape between 2004 and 2010, the PT governments have set in motion their own version of “middle-class economics.” Remarkable social mobility took hold, and many were able to raise their overall quality of life as a result of targeted cash transfer programs such as “Bolsa-Família,” as well as specific programs aimed at allowing working mothers to remain in the marketplace and programs to help small and medium entrepreneurs tap into credit markets, among many other initiatives.
Julia Belluz – Vox, 2/20/2015
The way we talk about nutrition in this country is absurd. And you only need to look as far as Brazil to understand why.
Yesterday, a US-government appointed scientific panel released a 600-page report that will inform America’s new dietary guidelines. These guidelines only come out every five years, and they matter because they truly set the tone for how Americans eat: they’re used by doctors and nutritionists to guide patient care, by schools to plan kids’ lunches, and to calculate nutrition information on every food package you pick up, to name just a few areas of impact.
But this panel and their guidelines too often over-complicate what we know about healthy eating. They take a rather punitive approach to food, reducing it to its nutrient parts and emphasizing its relationship to obesity. Food is removed from the context of family and society and taken into the lab or clinic.