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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘brazil

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that the average price of a home in Toronto has risen above six hundred thousand dollars.
  • D-Brief observes an acceleration in the deforestation of the Amazon.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the environment of close-orbiting exoplanets.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks the standards of Rolling Stone, and Jann Wenner.
  • Steve Munro studies the frequency of service on the St. Clair streetcar line.
  • Peter Rukavina notes that the proportion of women running for political office in Prince Edward Island’s election next week is far below their share of the population.
  • Torontoist looks at homelessness and underhousing in the Toronto inner suburbs and explains the rights of tenants.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy explains why a Colorado bakery could refuse to write an anti-gay inscription on a cake.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the writings of a Kalmyk Eurasianist and examines the popularity of ethnic nationalism in the Russian intelligensia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell provides more evidence of the poor judgements of the United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrats.

[LINK] “For Brazilians in Manhattan, Window-Shopping Is Now All the Rage”

One consequence of the slide of the Brazilian real versus the American dollar, as depicted by Bloomberg’s Julia Leite and Paula Sambo, is a crimp placed on tourist budgets in New York City. Other world currencies, including the Canadian dollar, are experiencing comparable declines, too.

Walking out of the B&H store in midtown Manhattan this past weekend, Tabata Bandez said she had been nervously tracking the real’s drop during her eight-day trip and scrapped plans to buy a computer to bring back to Rio de Janeiro. A few days earlier, the Gaiao family was taking plenty of pictures in front of Rockefeller Center but doing little shopping. And at the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, Claudia Tavares decided to get her stepson’s iPhone fixed instead of paying up for a new model.

“You have to do the math and see if it’s worth it,” Tavares, 51, said while waiting in line. The day after arriving from Brazil, she and her friend, who are staying in a short-term apartment rental with their daughters after finding hotels too expensive, went to Target to stock up on food. That was some of the only shopping they planned to do, she said.

Even before the real fell another 15 percent against the dollar this year — part of a two-year, 36 percent tumble that sent it to a 12-year low last week — Brazilians were already paring back their spending on overseas trips. In the fourth quarter, they spent 8 percent less than they did a year earlier, the biggest drop for any quarter since 2009.

More declines may be looming. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts the real could fall another 10 percent in the next 12 months, while Standard Chartered Bank says the currency could tumble another 15 percent by year-end as President Dilma Rousseff struggles to shore up a sputtering economy and bolster investor confidence in her government’s finances while quelling street protests triggered by a widening corruption scandal.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Big Picture has photos of the winter snowtowns in New England.
  • blogTO has old photos of various Toronto intersections.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how atmospheres can break the tidal locks of close-orbiting planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze suggests Fomalhaut b is a false positive, speculates on the evaporation time of hot Jupiters, and wonders if planetoids impacting on white dwarfs can trigger Type Ia supernovas.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the status of the Brazilian navy, notes the Egyptian purchase of 24 Rafale fighters from France, and observes that Russia no longer has early-warning satellites.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the sociology of the red carpet.
  • Far Outliers assesses the achievements and problems of Chiang Kai-shek.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes intra-European negotiations over Greece.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the progress of a same-sex marriage bill in Slovenia.
  • Languages of the World argues that of all of the minority languages of Russia, Tuvan is the least endangered.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the Confederate diaspora in Brazil.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the larger the American state the more likely it is to be unequal, notes that South Korean wages have exceeded Japanese wages for the first time, and looks at anti-Valentine’s Day men in Japan.
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  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane notes how a German translator of her Star Trek novels put subtle advertisements for soup in.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Rosetta of its target comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is skeptical about the Nicaragua Canal, wonders about Greece in the Eurozone, looks at instability in Venezuela, and suggests an inverse relationship between social networking platforms–mass media, even–and social capital.
  • Spacing Toronto wonders if the Scarborough subway will survive.
  • Towleroad notes popular American-born Russian actor Odin Biron’s coming out and observes that Antonin Scalia doesn’t want people to call him anti-gay.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at the forces which lead to the split of communtiies.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the non-Russian republics of Russia will survive, argues that Putin’s Russia is already fascist, and notes that Russians overwhelmingly support non-traditional families.

[LINK] “Brazil Dries Up and Blacks Out”

Bloomberg View’s Mac Margolis notes that the drought facing Sao Paulo is really getting quite serious.

Water is to Brazilian politicians what oil is to Latin American petrocrats — just a pipeline away, too abundant to fret over. Except when it’s not.

Despite a summer storm over the weekend, Rio de Janeiro is parched, and its reservoirs are depleted. Sao Paulo is worse: the Cantareira System of interconnected lakes that supplies water to 8 million people is dipping into its “dead volume,” roughly the equivalent of the red zone on your car’s gas gauge.

January rains were enough to cause flash floods and craters in the streets, including one that swallowed a motorcycle in Sao Paulo, but not to top up the nation’s depleted reservoirs and hydroelectric dams.

For months now, specialists have been waving the windsock over the gathering weather emergency — not least because some 68 percent of the nation’s power is hydroelectric. In Brazil, water supply is power supply. Power cuts on Jan. 19 darkened Rio, Sao Paulo and seven other Brazilian states for several hours.

Climate scientists blame forest-cutting in the Amazon basin, which damages the rainforest’s capacity to pump humidity back into the atmosphere. The official response has been that this crisis is a one-off, an unseasonable conspiracy of spiking temperatures and scant rains. Mines and Energy Minister Eduardo Braga recently dismissed rationed power cuts, allowing that Brazil had technical glitches but no dearth of grid capacity. Because God is not always Brazilian, Braga also announced a rate hike plus incentives for consumers who conserve water. “Sincerely, I see no risks,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2015 at 11:16 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes a leaked E-mail from Target Canada suggesting that liquidation sales will begin Thursday the 4th.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper wondering if the unusually close orbit of Kepler-78b is a product of a stellar close encounter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Russian interest in a BRICS space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the worsening of Sao Paulo’s water crisis.
  • Otto Pohl links to a paper of his noting the role of borders in resettling Soviet deported peoples.
  • Savage Minds started a series about indigenous anthropologists.
  • Torontoist maps biking and running across Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes the beginning of a gay scene in North Dakota’s oil patch.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that the first court heard by the Iowa supreme court saw a slave be freed.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes yet again how privatization does not make things better.

[LINK] “An Orangutan Has (Some) Human Rights, Argentine Court Rules”

Wired‘s Brandon Keim reports on the story of Sandra, an orangutan in a Buenos Aires zoo, who has been deemed to possess some human rights. This sort of story is inevitable, I think, especially given the speed with which human beings have come to realize the existence of high intelligence elsewhere in the animal world. Should this intelligence, this sapience, not be protected in ways analogous to the ways in which dependent humans are protected?

The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights, an animal advocacy group, had asked Argentine courts recognize the 28-year-old great ape’s right to freedom from unjust imprisonment.

On Friday, an appeals court declared that Sandra, who is owned by the Buenos Aires Zoo, is a “non-human person” who has been wrongfully deprived of her freedom.

Sandra, who was born in German zoo and sent to Argentina two decades ago, at an age when wild orangutans are still living at their mother’s side, won’t be given complete freedom.

Having lived her entire life in captivity, Sandra likely could not survive in the wild. Instead, if the zoo does not challenge the decision within 10 working days, Sandra will be sent to a sanctuary in Brazil.

“This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories,” said lawyer Paul Buompadre, one of the activists who filed the suit, to the La Nacion newspaper.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

[LINK] “Can Brazil Get Its Ethanol Mojo Back?”

Bloomberg View’s Mac Margolis describes how a confused Brazilian energy policy is harming the country’s ethanol fuel industry.

By June, the international regulator, ASTM, had signed off on commercial use of farnesane, a new Brazilian-made jet fuel ginned up by biotech firm Amyris and French energy major Total. But the Brazilian wonks are a nationalistic lot and demanded tests of their own. Barred at home, Gol had its homemade fuel jetted from Sao Paulo to Orlando and triumphantly flew back, the other way.

If only Brazil’s struggling ethanol industry had such a flight plan. Farnesane, which scientists say will sweeten the skies by releasing drastically fewer greenhouse gases, would probably not exist without the innovations of Brazil’s clever sugar and ethanol makers.

For the past six years, however, the world’s signature manufacturers of clean-burning renewable fuels have lived on razor’s edge.

Some 60 ethanol plants have shuttered this year alone and “blue slips,” Brazil’s unemployment notices, are multiplying: Nearly half of the more than 36,000 industrial jobs erased last month were in the sugar and alcohol industry, reports Valor Economico.

What’s worse, they are victims of the wonks and activist bureaucrats whose good intentions to goose growth and contain inflation have only compounded their troubles. The road to ruin was paved by the government of President Dilma Rousseff, a micro-manager who converted state-run companies into the useful idiots of misguided economics.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 22, 2014 at 10:28 pm

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