Marcos Chagas Reporter Agência Brasil
Brasília – When the president of Brazil’s allies in Congress get restless they vote against the government. That has happened to Dilma Rousseff twice. The first time was when over 400 out of 513 deputies in the Lower House voted against the administration’s Land Use Law (“Codigio Florestal”) at the end of last year. It happened again this week for the first time in the Senate with a vote of 36 to 31, with one abstention, against the nomination of Bernardo Figueiredo, for the position of director-general of the National Agency of Land Transportation (“ANTT”). Figueiredo was formerly a close aide to president Dilma who has been handling the Rio-São Paulo high-speed train project that the government wants very much to get moving.
Senator Romero Jucá (PMDB-RR), the leader of the government in the Senate, commenting on the defeat of the nomination of Figueiredo, put it this way: “The administration will have to make up for this loss. And although the PMDB, as the biggest party in the Senate, had the most votes against the government it can be seen from the many votes against in other parties that you are dealing with generalized dissatisfaction across the board in all the parties and it is a situation that will demand special attention.”
According to Jucá, talks to calm the restless congressional base can begin as soon as the government makes an appointment. He added that the minister of Institutional Relations, Ideli Salvetti, will participate in any such talks.
The government has been aware of growing discontent among allied senators from various parties for some time, Jucá revealed. Party leaders communicate constantly with the administration regarding complaints by members, he explained, passing along problems with access to ministers and unanswered telephone calls, for example. There are also requests for jobs at the state level and delays regarding what Jucá called euphemistically “budgetary matters” (“questões orçamentárias”) [translation: money].
The leader of the PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil), senator Inácio Arruda (CE), who voted against the government, said there was a communication problem. Along with Jucá, he said he was in favor of each political party having separate meetings with representatives of the government to discuss problems of individual members.
“There will always be a battle for territory within the government’s base for the simple reason that there is no single party capable of providing sufficient support,” said Arruda, adding that the territory being disputed is in the cabinet and in other positions at lower levels of government.
Meanwhile, the leader of the PT (Dilma Rousseff’s party), Walter Pinheiro (BA), declared that the moment is ripe for learning from the Figueiredo nomination defeat, time to open up channels of communication with allied political parties. He added it was a good moment to regroup.
That seems to be what senator Lindbergh Farias (PT-RJ) had in mind when he halted the progress of two other nominations for the ANTT to give time for the Senate to ponder the advice and consent process further and, perhaps, allow president Dilma an opportunity to make changes in the nominations if that is what she wants to do.
Newark, NJ – February 24, 2012 – The City of Newark and The Blood Center of New Jersey are partnering to hold a blood drive on Monday, February 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in front of City Hall, at 920 Broad Street in Newark. The Bloodmobile will be located in front of City Hall.
The drive is open to the public. Anyone who wishes to donate blood must bring signed identification, know their Social Security number, and weigh a minimum of 120 pounds. All donors will receive a $10 ShopRite gift card.
WHO: The City of Newark and The Blood Center of New Jersey.
WHEN: Monday, February 27
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: City Hall
920 Broad Street
For more information, contact:
Newark Press Information Office – (973) 733-8004.
The Blood Center of New Jersey: Brenda McEntyre-Saunders: (973) 676-4700, ext. 144
“The Newark Police Department was not involved in joint operations with the New York Police Department as was described in the disclosed NYPD report. What we are discovering appears to be an NYPD operation in our city that involved the blanket surveillance of Newark residents and workers based solely on the religion of those individuals. If this is in fact what happened, it is deeply disturbing to me and strikes against my fundamental beliefs as an American. If this is indeed what transpired, it is, I believe, a clear infringement on the core liberties of our citizenry. I strongly believe that we must be vigilant in protecting our citizens from crime and terrorism but to put large segments of a religious community under surveillance with no legitimate cause or provocation clearly crosses a line. My administration will call on the Attorney General's Office to investigate so that we can better understand what actually happened and why, as well as to ensure that our residents are protected from future infringements on civil liberties by law enforcement personnel from any jurisdiction.” - Cory Booker - Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
Newark, NJ – February 22, 2012 – Mayor Cory A. Booker and Engineering Director Mehdi Mohammadish announced today that the City of Newark is installing new benches at 104 bus shelters throughout the City’s commercial corridors.
The benches are being installed by AR James Media of Allentown, New Jersey, which owns and maintains the shelters, at no cost to the City. The benches will be completed by June 2012. The benches are partially made of recycled material.
“We are determined to improve the quality of life in the City of Newark,” Mayor Booker said. “Providing benches at our bus stops extends our hospitality to everyone who rides a bus in Newark, resident and visitor alike. I commend the Department of Engineering on this program.”
“These benches are being installed at no cost to the City of Newark,” said Director Mohammadish. “So we are improving our street furniture and quality of life, without burdening taxpayers.”
Under the Booker administration, the Department of Engineering has begun a vigorous program of improving the City’s infrastructure. The City of Newark is close to completing the largest park expansion and rehabilitation initiative in more than a century. On July 28, 2009, Newark opened Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park. Through public-private partnerships, the City was able to secure $40 million for the parks initiative, in collaboration with GreenSpaces, a public/private partnership, and the Trust for Public Land. Thus far, the City has completed new parks and fields at St. Peter’s Park, Kasberger Field, Boys Park, First Street and Thomas Silk Parks, Ironbound B Field, and, in cooperation with Newark Public Schools, has built a new athletic complex at Weequahic High School. Parks have been renovated in every ward throughout the City.
In May 2008, the Department of Engineering won the New Jersey Concrete Committee’s Merit Award in the Decorative Category for the first phase of the Broad Street Streetscaping, which saw massive renovations to denote the historic nature of the historic “Four Corners” intersection at Broad and Market Streets. The project reconstructed sidewalks, created fence panels, installed new street furniture and traffic lights to promote pedestrian safety.
In November 2009, the Department won the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers Honor Place Award in the Municipal Construction Management Projects “F” Category for the first phase of the Ferry Street Streetscaping Project. The $1.9 million project, funded by the City of Newark and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, was a partnership with the Ironbound Business Improvement District, designed to enhance the Ironbound’s central artery and gateway to businesses and restaurants in the East Ward, as well as improve safety conditions for pedestrians crossing the busy thoroughfares. Under the program, state-of-the-art sidewalks with planters and decorative lighting were placed down Ferry Street from Union to Madison Streets. These sidewalks improved safety for motorists and pedestrians. The project also reconstructed sidewalks, utilities and drainage, created fence panels and utilized already existing bike paths. New street furniture, signage and traffic lights also enhanced safety for pedestrians.
The Department of Engineering has also undertaken a number of pedestrian safety improvements, highlighted by “Project Red Light,” a partnership with the Police Department, the Municipal Court, and RedFlex Systems. This automated photo enforcement system snaps pictures of license plates of cars that run red lights at key intersections and automatically sends tickets to the cars’ owners. Operating since December 2009, this system has made these intersections safer for both motorists and pedestrians.
The Department has also launched a comprehensive rehabilitation of the City’s Recreation centers, Police precincts, firehouses, and other facilities. At the same time, the Department of Engineering has opened new repair facilities for City-owned vehicles, added environmentally-friendly electric cars to its motor fleet, launched green initiatives, and is continuing the restoration of historic City Hall.
For information on all City of Newark programs and policies, contact the Non-Emergency Call Center at (973) 733-4311.
Flávia Villela Reporter Agência Brasil
Rio de Janeiro – As they say in Portuguese, this is a very old movie (“este filme já vi!”).
The recent attempt to go on strike by police and firemen in Rio de Janeiro was snapped in the bud, so to speak, when 27 leaders of the strike movement (“incitarem a paralisação da categoria”) were arrested and incarcerated in a Fire Department prison (“Grupamento Especial Prisional do Corpo de Bombeiros”).
The principal leader of the movement, corporal Daciolo, a fireman, was the first to be arrested, on February 9, when he flew into Rio from Salvador, Bahia, where he was involved in a strike that lasted over 12 days and saw a surge in crime (investigations are underway into reports that about a third of the murders in Salvador during the strike may have been committed by extermination squads led by policemen – the victims in these cases were all shot in the head).
Telephone conversations recorded by the police showed that Daciolo [calling from Salvador to police and firemen in Rio, as well as a state representative] was on his way to Rio to start (“orquestrar”) a strike similar to the one in Salvador.
Last week, after the 27 arrests were made (17 PMs and 10 firemen), the Rio strike collapsed. What is happening at this time, following the movie script, is that courts have issued writs of habeas corpus for all the arrested, including Daciolo, and they are leaving jail.
The movie plays out like this: there is either a strike or an attempt to go on strike, followed by arrests, followed by habeas corpus and, finally, an amnesty for those involved. And then another strike or attempted strike. The result is that nowadays in Brazil there is a threat of law enforcement agents walking off the job somewhere in the country at any moment.
Daciolo, the fireman, for example, has been involved in strikes since 2001. Just last year, in 2011, he was arrested along with 400 other firemen after they invaded the Fire Department headquarters in Rio during a strike. Later, he and the other 400 firemen were all released.
Although the Brazilian constitution prohibits strikes by military personnel and the police and firemen are the Military Police and the Military Firemen Corps (“Policia Militar” and “Corpo Militar de Bombeiros”), there is a legal dispute over whether or not they are really “military personnel.”
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English – content modified
By Alexandre Apsan Frediani
February 18, 2012 - Shortage of housing and increasing expansions of informal settlements are some of the many challenges that developing countries are having to cope with. According to the United Nations, the world slum population of one billion squatter dwellers will double in the next three decades. The 2001 Brazilian national census identified 930 thousand residences in squatter settlements (IBGE, www.gov.br). Since the 1940s Brazilian housing policies have been tackling in different ways its housing problem. A major donor encouraging and influencing the Brazilian government on its housing strategies has been the World Bank. The evolution of policies has reflected the changes of conceptualization in the relation between physical improvements and quality of life. Policies moved away from eradication of slums and displacement towards legalization of tenure and upgrading. Recently the World Bank has once again redirected its conceptualization of poverty, based on Amartya Sen’s understanding of Development as Freedom. However the challenge has not been overcome and slums population are still increasing. This article will firstly examine the relationship of international development trends and Brazilian housing policies. Then it will look at how Sen’s Approach is adding to this on-going debate on the strategies to tackle urban poverty in the Brazilian squatter settlements.
Concepts and Policies
The relationship between squatter settlement upgrading and poverty alleviation is both complex and contradictory. The different definitions on the concepts of poverty and squatter settlements have influenced the changes in the strategies to tackle the housing problem. Since the Second World War the period of housing intervention in the developing world can be divided in four stages which were going through different development strategies: Modernization (1945-1973); Basic Needs (1974-1984); Neo-Liberal (1985-1999) and Sustainable Development (from 2000).
By the end of the Second World War, poverty was understood as a process that had happened in the developed countries, therefore the means to overcome it was through the modernization of the developing countries economic, political and cultural spheres. At an urban level, the most influential body of theory attempting to explain the Latin American urban reality (such as Amato, 1968; Turner, 1968; 1969; Harris, 1971; Schnore, 1965; Hoyt, 1963) was based on the Chicago School of Urban Ecology (Burgess, 1925; Park, 1925; McKenzie, 1925; Wirth, 1938). This body of theory perceived Latin American urban reality “in terms of a uni-linear, dualistic, and irreversible transition to Western urban structures and processes” (Burgess in eds. Herbert and Johnston, 1981:60).The dominance of modernization theory on the housing policies were also influenced be Oscar Lewis’ (1966) dualistic conceptualization of poverty, which believed that the poor had a ‘culture of poverty’ and the only way to overcome it would be by carrying out housing improvements mirrored on western standards.
In Brazil, squatter settlements were seen by international agencies and national ruling elite as marginalized places, where the disorganization was stimulating violence and pollution (Bueno, 2000). Interventions in popular housing in Brazil become in the 1960s a bit more systematic based on illegalization of squatter settlements and relocation of the poor in suburban ghettos. In 1962 the USAID funded a major project to eradicate and relocate the poor from Rio de Janeiro. Twelve squatter settlements were removed from the city and 800 housing units were built on the periphery (Teixeira, 2002). With the beginning of the Military government (1964-1984), oppressive measures intensified and squatters were being removed with the aid of the public security forces. On the other hand in 1964 the military government created the Brazilian National Housing Bank (BNH) with the goal to meet a national housing deficit estimated at 8 million units. However it failed to target the poor and it “rather promoted mass housing construction as a means to advance the interests of the prevailing elite” (Souza and Zetter, 2004:4). “Up to 1975, two thirds of the BNH’s social interest budget was allocated to families with an income range of one to five minimum salaries” (Shidlo, 1990:42).
The 1973 oil crisis and the rise of dependency theorist critiques led to the redirection of development strategies towards a more distributive approach. The Basic Needs period was marked by the rise of the Marginality Theory (Gremani, 1972; Vekemans et al, 1969), which perceived poverty as the lack of participation in the physical, economic, cultural and social life in the city. Marginality could be overcome by good planning, social welfare legislation and policies that encouraged popular participation. Instead of eradication and displacement, the new policies were based on Turner’s (1969, 1976) concept of poverty, which argued that the poor were able to get out of poverty as long as there were favourable conditions to do so.
Site and services and slum upgrading projects soon became World Bank’s and United Nations favourable policies to tackle urban poverty. As the BNH faced a financial crisis by the mid 1970s, the Brazilian military government reverted to the tradition of building houses to sell. Some initiatives started to see squatter settlements as cost effective solutions to the Brazilian housing crisis (Mattedi, 1979). Site and services and self help housing policies were funded such as PROFILURB (which was created in 1975 and encouraged low income workers to acquire a plot of land provided with basic infrastructure) and PROMORAR (which was implemented in 1979 and proposed land regularization and self help improvements). Another initiative that marked this phase was the intervention at the stilt-settlement of Alagados in 1975. It was the first attempt in Brazil to urbanize a squatter settlement (Teixeira, 2002). However, according to coordinator of the Alagados project Carlos Medici, those initiatives were not a result of a change of ideology by the ruling elite, but rather the match of two complementary factors: socially aware engineers who were motivated to tackle subnormal living conditions; which met the objective of the BNH to find less costly solutions to the housing crisis.
However, with the failures of the distributive policies and the financial crisis faced by most developing countries in the early 80s, market enablement became the dominant ideology in the World Ba nk and in Brazil. From the 1984 Mexican crisis, the concept of poverty widely held by international donors has been based on De Soto’s (1989) perception that poverty was a result of the failure to employ market rules effectively.
This dualistic interpretation divided the cities in the developing world into a formal and informal sector. Poverty would be a phenomenon associated mainly with the informal sectors. Therefore to tackle poverty it was necessary integrate the informal sector through policies orientated to increase competitiveness, and to give access to credits and technical assistance (Martinez, 1988). The US government together with the World Bank and the IMF consolidated in 1989 at the Washington Consensus the neo- liberal ideology that was to drive the 1990s urban development strategies: while sponsoring the provision of basic infrastructure and regularization of tenure in squatter settlements, the World Bank encouraged cutting public expenditure by the reconfiguration of state functions through minimum state intervention. The ultimate purpose has been to encourage developing countries to join the global market and to generate income to repay their international debts.
The introduction of the neo liberal agenda in Brazil can be divided in two phases: in the 80s there were the political and economic reforms necessary to balance the national account and empowering the market, while in the 90s regional loans aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the conditions for the market to work more efficiently. In one hand the return of the civilian government in 1985 initiated an era of renewed democratization, but on the other hand, as the BNH faced a financial crisis, the World Bank was able to assume a more central role in the formulation of national housing policies. There was a reduction in public expenditure, in 1986 BNH was abolished, and international deficit was temporally controlled. Meanwhile poverty and inequality increased. “This period also saw the institutionalization of much more avowedly market orientated government policies which, although in different ways, have similarly impacted negatively on low income urban dwellers.” (Souza and Zettter, 2004:6) Organized land occupations returned and the squatter settlements population increased cons iderably (Gordilho, 2000).
After tackling the macro policies, the Bank also saw it as a priority to create an environment for the market to prosper, therefore an increasing budget became available for poverty alleviation programmes. In this context, poor housing has been recognised as one of the many facets of poverty (City Alliance, 2003). The aims of the squatter upgrading interventions were to re-urbanize the squatter settlements and integrate them into the formal city. While accepting that the housing solutions could be within the squatter settlements, their aesthetic conditions and social organization were still perceived as poverty. The investments concentrated on physical improvements. Social houses that were built in the periphery, were then being built within the squatter settlements. A typical example is the Project Viver Melhor I in Salvador. From 1995 to 2000, R$ 200 million1 were invested in physical interventions in Salvador (CONDER, 2004) Critiques of this intervention came from within the government and from the squatter settlement community. Tânia Scofield director of the regional government housing department, in an interview on May 25 2004, has pointed out that the great limitation of the Viver Melhor I has been its narrow perception of poverty as only physical conditions. Scofield argued that the success of the project was compromised because there was no attention to social capital. On the other hand, in an interview on June 9 2004, Lindalva dos Santos, the leader of the community organization of Calabar, a squatter settlement intervened believes that the major problem of the Viver Melhor I project was the characteristics of the physical
1 200 million Reais would be equivalent to 40 million Pounds.
Alexandre Apsan Frediani
improvements. Dos Santos argued that mass social housing buildings were not fulfilling dwellers expectations. Dwellers ended up moving back to the illegal areas where they could expand their capabilities in the way they were used to.
While there have been changes in policies since the Second World War, concepts were based on different forms of dualism. The dualist mode of explanation was first established by Max Weber, whose approach recognized a basic dichotomy between two polarities. Each of the two separate poles would have its own historical dynamic and productive system. Through the modernization period the internal structures of Brazilian cities were perceived as two poles: the modern and prosperous areas were mirrored on the Chicago model and its opposed polarity was the squatter settlements, where the rural based culture of poverty was maintained. The Basic Needs stage expanded the previous dualistic conceptualization of poverty by understanding marginality not only as physical but as social, cultural and political. Policies were aiming at ‘integrating’ the marginal areas into the prosperous ones. The neo liberal period introduced more econometric terms, at that time seeing the marginal areas as the informal sector, which was characterized by unemployment, underemployment, illegality and irregularity. This was contrasted with its ‘ideal-typical polar opposite’, the formal sector, which obeyed urban legislation. Academics criticized the dualistic framework as inadequate for understanding the nature of poverty in squatter settlements. “The result has been a static framework that fails to offer any meaningful analysis of the origins and future direction of the phenomena under study, other than a reiteration of the ethnocentric and ideological assumptions of modernization theory on linear evolutionary progress” (Burgess, 1981:85).
Therefore by the end of the 1990s the World Bank recognized the need to innovate their understanding of poverty and identified once again that their current upgrading policies were not alleviating poverty. The World Bank moved away from De Soto’s conceptualization of poverty to one based on the writings of Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen (1999), who believes “poverty must be seen as the deprivation of basic capabilities rather than merely as lowness of incomes” (1999:87). The commitment to operationalize this move can be clearly seen on the article written by the president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, and Sen (1999): “For the World Bank, too, development is a process that ends with freedom from poverty and from other social and economic deprivations”. The 2000/2001 World Development Report marked the beginning of the sustainable development period and expanded the concepts of poverty by including dimensions of vulnerability, voicelessness, and powerlessness. This more elaborate way of conceiving poverty may help to reconfigure policies and thus accomplish increased poverty alleviation. However, meanwhile the World Bank’s urban policies have become ambiguous and contradictory. Market enablement strategies are still been practiced which conceptually seems to be in disagreement with Sen’s approach
Sen’s Approach and Squatter intervention
By taking Sen’s perspective on board, ((the World Bank’s urban policies would be breaking with the dualistic tradition and moving towards a more integrated understanding of the relationship between poverty and squatter settlements)). Sen’s approach is based on two concepts: capabilities and functionings. Capabilities are freedom people have to achieve the lifestyle they have reason to value. Those variables that people value doing or being are called by Sen as functionings. In this context, poverty alleviation policies should be expanding people’s opportunities to pursue their goals. Income shortage becomes another dimension of poverty, and not the leading cause of it (Sen, 1992).
If these theories were converted into policies, the utilitarian tradition of the World Bank would be replaced by an approach based on Aristotelian roots. This approach would not only be an expansion of the dimensions of poverty, but a redirection of the process of identifying what is poverty. Innovative frameworks have been developed, such as the Livelihood Approach (Rakodi and Lloyd-Jones, 2002), which is however still within the utilitarian tradition, by understanding poverty as deprivations of multidimensional assets which impact on household productivity. Here there is still a relationship of causality narrowing its impact, since social policies would only be justified if they have a positive impact on income generation. Meanwhile Sen’s perspective perceives functionings as ends in themselves. Communities would then be active agents of the process of change.
As poverty would be conceived through poor people’s perspective, their social and cultural identities would be maintained and expanded. Sen’s approach should generate interventions that accept and optimize the already existing process of urbanization in the squatter settlement. Otherwise the imposed process will destroy the existing capabilities conquered by dwellers and it will generate further difficulties for the poor to get out of poverty (Teixeira, 2002). In other words:
Sustainable poverty elimination will be achieved only if external support focuses on what matters to people, understands the difference between groups of people and works with them in a way that is congruent with their current livelihood strategies, social environment and ability to adapt (Carney et al, 1999)
However recent literatures have argued that the World Bank has not actually changed its preconceived ideas on poverty and squatter settlements. According to Fernandes (1999) the policies based on the multidimensional perception of poverty will only be implemented if they impact positively on household productivity. Once any of these social policies is causing more costs than income bene fits, they are withdrawn. Fernandes illustrates her critiques by focusing on the role of participation: “The World Bank’s squatter upgrading projects have finally recognised the need of participation, however unfortunately as a correct way of making busine ss” (Fernandes, 1999:7). Zetter and Souza (2004) go further and argue that civic participation is still being manipulated and co-opted by the ruling elites. Therefore the participatory approach is legitimizing the market enablement policies. The process of co-optation in the participatory system is satisfying the twin objectives of achieving the acceptance of the poor whilst promoting cities as market places.
Meanwhile other academics have suggested that the World Bank’s upgrading projects are still imposing the values and aesthetics of the ‘formal city’ by not accepting dwellers urbanization process. Teixeira (2002) argues that instead of maintaining dwellers livelihood strategies, the World Bank’s squatter upgrading projects still aim at formalizing the informal settlements and including them into the formal city. Therefore while attempting to ‘include’ squatter settlements in the formal city there is an imposition of values and lifestyle which would be compromising dwellers capabilities to get out of poverty. Teixeira (2002) believes that the upgrading programme in Novos Alagados2 in the city of Salvador, Brazil, is a typical example of how the Bank has expanded its conceptualization of poverty, but has not changed its dualistic tradition of the need to ‘formalize’ the informal sectors (see picture 1).
As Jacques (2004) argues, this dialectic interpretation perceives the aesthetics and the social organization of the squatter settlements as poverty.
Picture 1: Novos Alagados upgraded residential area.
“From the most extreme case, where the slum was removed and their inhabitants reallocated in Cartesian modernistic residential buildings, to the gentlest current case, where the architects of the so called post-modernity began to intervene in the existent slums with the aim of transforming them into bairros3, the rational logic of the architects and urban planners still is prioritized and they end up imposing their own aesthetics which is nearly always of the so called formal city”. (Jacques, 2004: http:www...)
Therefore rather than a change in direction, the 2000/2001 World Development Report would be marking a continuation of de Soto’s ideas. Physical improvements would not be enough to include the poor into the formal city. Poverty would then be seen as a multidimensional phenomenon and social policies would be crucial for social ‘exclusion’ to be tackled. The poor are still perceived as the marginalized and excluded. However, as Pradilla (1976: 100) put it: “It is a curious theory of knowledge that leads the social scientist to exclude from society those who are the fundamental basis of its existence as a society”.
This examination on the relationship between poverty and squatter settlements intervention shows that there is relationship between international development trends and Brazilian housing policies. While concepts have changed dramatically from understanding poverty as culture to deprivation of capabilities, policies have rather taken a more pragmatic and linear evolution. In theory, policies moved from eviction to multidimensional upgrading interventions in squatter settlements. This shift has been motivated more by economical and political factors than a change in ideology.
2 Novos Alagados is the first stage of a squatter upgrading programed in the city of Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia and the largest metropolitan area of the poorest region of Brazil, the Northeast. The intervention started in 1996 with mainly physical improvements. In 2002 the Bank accepted to lend to the regional government of Bahia US$ 98 millions to “scale -up” the project which became the Ribeira Azul upgrading program.
3 Formal districts within a city.
Dualistic interpretations of the Brazilian urban situation are still dominating current policy makers, leading to policies that impose cultural and social values while not expanding the dwellers’ ability to get out of poverty.
Meanwhile Sen’s approach offers an opportunity to break from the dualistic tradition of the conceptualization of poverty. Policies could finally accept the poor as active agents of change and focus on the expansion of their existent capabilities. This approach allows urban dwellers to be recognized as part and ‘fundamental basis’ of Brazilian urban cities. Even though the World Bank has in theory embraced Sen’s perspective, it has been criticized recently by academics for not changing its preconceived ideology. The persistence of market orientated policies combined with an opportunistic Brazilian political tradition is ensuring that squatter upgrading programs end up benefiting international agencies, local politicians and construction companies more than the urban poor.
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Wolfensohn, J. D. and Sen, A. (1999) Development: A Coin with Two Sides. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/ORGANIZATION /PRESIDENTEXTERNAL/0,,contentMDK:20024563~menuPK:232083~pagePK:159 837~piPK:159808~theSitePK:227585,00.html Accessed on 20 November 2003.
A crew of Brazilian TV Globo were booed off and forced to stop their coverage of Rio de Janeiro's police and fire brigade strike demonstration, last Sunday, in Copacabana. The protests in Rio follow recent strikes in Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, where the lack of police and firemen attending work has contributed to more than 100 homicides being committed in the space of two weeks. After exhaustive negotiations with the local government and the arrest of many strike leaders, Bahia's state governor Jaques Wagner has announced that the strike is now over and normality has been reestablished, as the police forces of Bahia are back in the streets.
Going in the opposite direction - and just one week away from the cities' carnival - factions of Rio de Janeiro's police and fire brigade have decided to go on strike. Although they haven't been backed up by the vast majority of police and firemen, who are still attending work, around 400 unsatisfied strikers protested against the low wages and work conditions.
The monthly minimum wage for both policemen and firemen in Rio is, in average, £443 (R$ 1.200). Last week, threatened by the imminent strike, Rio's state deputies approved a pay rise of 39% to be applied until 2013, which will bring the wages to £615 (R$ 1,662). Although the pay rise was approved by the state government, some groups of policemen and firemen are still unsatisfied, as they were claiming for a wage of £1,294 (R$3,500).
During the protest in Coapacabana, on Sunday, as soon as the strikers spotted a TV Globo crew it instantly sparked a movement against the journalists, as the protesters started marching toward Globo's journalists chanting "Get out Globo, get out Globo" (Fora Globo, fora Globo, in Portuguese). Accused of being bias in their coverage of the strikes in Bahia and Rio, TV Globo, represented by their reporters and cameramen, wasn't welcome at the strike and the You Tube video shows the staff running to get into the TV crew's car to avoid the crowd and leave the place. Policemen not on strike helped Globo's journalists, avoid any further problems with the strikers.
World's sixth largest economy, host of the next FIFA World Cup Finals and the 2016 Olympics, the fast-growing Brazil still has to solve some serious internal problems in order to be "taken seriously" by the international community. Words that could be easily associated with Brazil, such as security, violence and corruption - as well as football, samba and carnival - have become Brazil's stigmas. And there are many social and political reasons - apart from cliches and stereotypes - which perpetuate such pre conceptions about the country. The police strikes in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro almost prevented Brazil's carnival from happening, but the biggest threat offered by the strikes was against the government and the local authorities, who control but also depend on the work of under-paid police and firemen.
The episode brings out some important details about contemporary Brazil: first, it shows that the South American giant still seems to be immature when it comes to dealing with internal security issues, which are vital for hosting events such as carnival, the World Cup and the Olympics; second, Brazil needs to resolve the (eternal?) dilemma of having to guarantee the country's security by convincing under-paid and often corrupt policemen to keep risking their lives; third, TV Globo's power, political influence, and "monopoly of information" are no longer passively accepted and the corporation is starting to be increasingly challenged and questioned; fourth, on the way to become a developed country, Brazil urgently needs to perform a national "spring clean" and renovate their police forces and civil servant institutions.
Kelly Oliveira Reporter Agência Brasil
Brasília – The latest weekly market survey by the Central Bank, the Focus report, found financial institutions and analysts expecting a stable period for the exchange rate with the dollar closing at R$1.75 in both 2012 and 2013.
As for foreign trade, the forecast is for a surplus of $19.1 billion (down from $19.5 billion) this year, and $14 billion (down from $14.5 billion) in 2013.
The market projection for Brazil’s current account deficit is that it will reach $68 billion this year (the forecast a week ago was $67.95 billion); the forecast for 2013 was steady at $70 billion.
Expectations in the market for direct foreign investment in Brazil in 2012 and 2013 were steady at $55 billion
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English
A young man rang my doorbell claiming to offer a better, environmentally-friendly energy deal than my current electric company. He said that he represented Just Energy, and promptly asked me for a copy of my electric bill so I could sign up for this better deal.
This young man had the bad luck of ringing my doorbell. First, this blog is all about informing and empowering consumers. So, I am always alert for identity theft, fraud, scams, and deceptive offers. Alarms go off whenever a sales representative immediately asks for personally identifying information before I have a chance to review their offer in detail.
Second, I am a member of the neighborhood watch group on my street. Third, I am the co-webmaster of my neighborhood civic association. So, it's really easy for me to get the word out to neighbors.
I thanked him for sharing his energy offer and told him that, besides not knowing him, I don't disclose the personal information he asked for. He showed me a badge which he said validated that he was from Just Energy. I told him that his badge didn't do a thing for me, and asked him to leave a business card or brochure with a phone number I could call to verify him and his company.
He left a brochure which pitches wind energy, and that Just Energy's "JustGreen Rate Flex program provides consumers with electricity from a clean, renewal energy source. The brochure doesn't mention directly but seems to capitalize on the Cape Wind project, which when built will be the nation's first offshore wind farm. The wind farm, approved in April by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior after 9 years of environmental studies and political wrangling, will be built in Massachusetts off the coast of Cape Cod.
After the young man left my front porch, I called 9-1-1 to have the local police verify his credentials. Then, I went back to work. Later during the evening, I had some time and decided to research Just Energy. A quick Google search produced a link to the Chicago Better Business Bureau, which rated Just Energy an "F" (on a scale of A+ to F). Why? 536 complaints, 42 unresolved complaints, and 28 complaints unanswered by the company.
An article in the Consumerist blog described some consumers' experiences with the company in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. Similar problems there. I called the phone number (866-587-8674) on the company's brochure and a recording said its offices were closed and to call back during business hours.
Is Just Energy's deal a good one? You'll have to decide that for yourself. Me? I'll pass on the company's offer.
Has anybody else encountered this company? Did you sign up for one of their energy plans? If so, what was your experience?
If you’re willing to let Google track you like a hawk over an extended period, the online search giant is willing to pay you $25. That is, $5 for signing up and then $5 in monthly installments if you continue to feel like you don’t deserve any privacy on the Internet. Oh, and that’s not in cash either. It’s paid in a series of Amazon.com gift cards. It’s not exactly break-the-bank kind of money, but it is probably incentive enough to draw in a pretty significant user base.
“What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone,” Google explained in a statement. Only those who are 13 years of age or older are eligible to apply. In addition, participants are oliged to use Google’s Chrome browser when surfing the Web. This program comes after Google faced heavy criticism for revamping its privacy policies across most of its online platforms.
Google noted that Amazon is not a sponsor of the promotion, which is known as Google Screenwise. It just so happens that Amazon gift cards are a pretty easy and efficient means of sending money online, since anyone can find $25 worth of stuff they need on Amazon. The program is obviously not designed with the intention of keeping tabs on any one individual users but rather to collect massive amounts of data and better understand how Internet browsers interact with the World Wide Web. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.
UPDATE: Google has reached out to us with the following statement:
((“Like many other web and media companies, we do panel research to help better serve our users by learning more about people’s media use, on the web and elsewhere. This panel is one such small project that started near the beginning of the year. Of course, this is completely optional to join. People can choose to participate if it’s of interest (or if the gift appeals) and everyone who does participate has complete transparency and control over what Internet use is being included in the panel. People can stay on the panel as long as they’d like, or leave at any time.”)) – Google Spokesperson
What do you think, folks?