The interrogation of Lula

The Economist, 03/04/2016

For nearly two years Brazilian sleuths investigating a bribery scandal centred on Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant, have followed a trail of evidence that has led ever deeper into ranks of the country’s business and political elites. On the morning of March 4th it led them to the door of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president from 2003 to 2010. Lula, as he is universally known, was taken in for questioning (and later released). His house near São Paulo was raided, along with the homes and offices of several others targeted in the latest phase of the probe.

To many, it was only a question of when, not whether, police would come knocking. The corruption scheme, in which big construction firms allegedly funnelled billions of reais to Petrobras executives and their political masters in exchange for padded contracts, appears to have been started while Lula was in office. Surely, cynics have long muttered, it was too vast for the then-president not to have known about it, or indeed profited from it.

Prosecutors now say they have evidence that Lula, members of his family and the Lula Institute, an NGO that he heads, received “undue benefits” worth 30m reais ($8m) in 2011-14 from builders embroiled in the Petrobras scandal. Lula was “one of the principal beneficiaries of the crimes” committed at the oil company, prosecutors claim. He vehemently denies any wrongdoing, and reportedly greeted the federal police officers at his door with calm, if not his usual folksy charm.

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Army presence diminishes refusal to entry in houses, say health agents

Fabrício Lobel – Folha de S.Paulo, 02/17/2016

Behind the house curtains, Nancy Wolf, 81, a retired teacher, notices the movement in front of her gate. A man announces he works for the city hall in an action against the mosquito Aedes aegypti.

She hesitates a bit, but looks at the two Army soldiers in uniforms accompanying the health agent and allows them to enter her home.
“I don´t open the door for anyone. We get apprehensive. I felt safer just because of the Army,” says Nancy, who lives in Santana neighborhood. Part of the northern district of São Paulo underwent an operation to hunt down the Aedes larvae, promoted by the city hall and the Army.

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Transgenic Mosquito Ready to Join Brazil’s War on Zika Virus

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 01/19/2016

A genetically modified mosquito has helped reduce the proliferation of mosquitoes spreading Zika and other dangerous viruses in Brazil, its developers said on Tuesday.

The self-limiting strain of the Aedes aegypti mosquito was developed by Oxitec, the UK-subsidiary of U.S. synthetic biology company Intrexon. The male mosquitoes are modified so their offspring will die before reaching adulthood and being able to reproduce.

Oxitec, which produces the mosquitoes in Campinas, announced it will build a second facility in nearby Piracicaba, Sao Paulo state, following strong results there in controlling the population of the Aedes vector that also carries the dengue virus.

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Brazil’s Sao Paulo State freezes highway tolls

Tom Murphy & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 06/24/2013

Brazil’s largest state of Sao Paulo on Monday froze all highway tolls at current levels until July 2014, a decision taken by Gov. Geraldo Alckmin following weeks of protests focused, in large part, on the high cost of transportation.

Despite the climate of protest, Mr. Alckmin said that “this is not a populist measure. We’ve been working on this problem for the past two years.” The governor spoke at a news conference.

The decision covers both government-run highways and roads given over to private concessions through a series of auctions dating back to the 1990s.

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Will Brazil be left counting the cost of hosting the World Cup and Olympics?

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 06/11/2013

The growing influence of the Brics nations in world affairs was symbolised by the staging of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the World Cup in South Africa 2010, and will be further underlined by Brazil‘s forthcoming hosting of both events.

Leaving aside the public relations value of putting these host countries in the global spotlight, they have tried to use these mega-events to boost development by accelerating investments in infrastructure and lifting services, governance and local business to international standards.

However, the cost to the public purse and the communities affected can be enormous, prompting criticism that the money would be better spent at grassroots level, on improving health and education, rather than on awarding prestige projects to construction companies.

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Brazil police banned from giving first aid to victims injured in violent crimes

Fox News/AP, 01/09/2012

Police in Brazil’s most populous state can no longer give first aid to victims injured in violent crimes or in shootouts with law enforcement officers.

Sao Paulo State Public Safety Department says in a statement posted on its website that as of Wednesday only emergency response teams and paramedics can provide treatment to victims at the scene of the crime or shootout with police.

Department head Fernando Grella Vieira said the state government enacted the measure “to safeguard the health of victims and guarantee the preservation of the crime scene for forensic investigations.”

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12 Killed in violence in southeast Brazil

EFE/Fox News Latino, 11/15/2012

At least 12 people were killed and 15 others shot and wounded in recent hours in the southeastern Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, while the recent uptick of violence in the southern state of Santa Catarina continued with the torching of eight buses.

Seven of the homicides occurred in Greater Sao Paulo, according to police reports cited Thursday by local media.

The other five killings occurred in Araraquara, a city 270 kilometers (170 miles) from Sao Paulo, in two separate attacks Wednesday night targeting a group of people walking on the street and customers at a bar.

In metropolitan Sao Paulo, at least three police also were shot and wounded, two in attacks on off-duty officers in their respective vehicles and the third in a robbery at a bar.