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Posts Tagged ‘brazil

[LINK] “The Blue Amazon, Brazil’s New Natural Resources Frontier”

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The Inter Press Service’s Fabiola Ortiz has a nice overview of Brazil’s growing interest in the resources in the exclusive economic zone off the Brazilian coast, on its continental shelf and beyond.

The Atlantic ocean is Brazil’s last frontier to the east. But the full extent of its biodiversity is still unknown, and scientific research and conservation measures are lagging compared to the pace of exploitation of resources such as oil.

The Blue Amazon, as Brazil’s authorities have begun to call this marine area rich in both biodiversity and energy resources, is similar in extension to the country’s rainforest – nearly half the size of the national territory.

And 95 percent of the exports of Latin America’s giant leave from that coast, according to official figures.

Brazil’s continental shelf holds 90 and 77 percent of the country’s proven oil and gas reserves, respectively. But the big challenge is to protect the wealth of the Blue Amazon along 8,500 km of shoreline.

“We haven’t fully grasped just how immense that territory is,” Eurico de Lima Figueiredo, the director of the Strategic Studies Institute at the Fluminense Federal University, told Tierramérica. “To give you an idea, the Blue Amazon is comparable in size to India.”

“But we aren’t prepared to take care of it; it isn’t yet considered a political and economic priority for the country,” the political scientist said.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 10:51 pm

[LINK] “Cash-Strapped Latin American Countries Turn to China for Credit”

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The Inter Press Service’s Mario Osava notes how, following Angola, many Latin Americans needing credit have turned to China.

[S]everal Latin American countries in financial difficulties have recently turned to China as a sort of lender of last resort. Argentina and Venezuela, for example, lacking access to international credits, obtained large loans from Chinese banks.

For China, it makes no sense to refuse loans to countries with strong agricultural production or that possess plenty of commodities, especially oil and gas. There is no need to be concerned about their solvency if their products guarantee their loans, whatever the reasons for their difficulties.

Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras announced on Apr. 1 an injection of 3.5 billion dollars from China to relieve its finances, which have suffered from the corruption scandal that has rocked the economy, the government, large companies and several political parties in the country since 2014.

The loan from China Development Bank is helping Petrobras weather a storm that also includes gross management and planning mistakes which raised the cost of constructing two refineries, of the purchase of another plant in the U.S. city of Pasadena, Texas, and of other projects by tens of billions of dollars.

The crises faced by potential Petrobras suppliers provide opportunities for China, but are not seen as indispensable. China Development Bank previously loaned Petrobras 10 billion dollars in 2009, when the oil company appeared prosperous and had recently discovered vast reserves in the pre-salt layer off the Brazilian coast.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:44 pm

[LINK] “Brazil’s urban Indians confront city life head on, with headdress off”

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Al Jazeera America’s James Young notes how Brazil’s increasingly urbanized indigenous peoples are facing serious problems in their new environments. This story is sadly familiar to this Canadian.

The bow and arrow, recipes for plant-based medicines and traditional headdress hanging on the walls contrast sharply with the jumble of office blocks visible through an open window and the industrial clank of a nearby train transporting iron ore from a mine outside the city. The Center for Urban Indians, a resource center and meeting space, is housed in a cramped room in a drab two-story building on one of the busiest streets of this sprawling city in the southeast of Brazil.

“Everything changed when we arrived in the city,” said Paulinho Aranã, 54, who along with 14 family members moved to Belo Horizonte from the Jequitinhonha Valley in the north of the state of Minas Gerais in 1979. “We had grown up in the forest. The only thing we knew was animals, not cars or planes.”

“The first time I had an electric shower, I was terrified that the water would be electrified,” remembered Juliana Pataxó, 35. “So I’d fill a bucket with water and take it into the bathroom and use that instead. When my cousins asked me what I was doing, I’d lie and say it was to clean the bathroom afterward.”

Araña and Pataxó — both leaders at the center — are two of more than 315,000 of Brazil’s approximately 817,900 indigenous people who live in urban areas.

“Many come for work or for health care,” said Pablo Camargo, a historian and representative of the Minas Gerais branch of FUNAI, the National Indian Foundation of the Brazilian Government. “Also, life on Indian territories can be difficult. Many are small, and old ways of life such as hunting and fishing are no longer practical. Social problems such as alcoholism and unemployment are common. And today younger indigenous people have access to technology and so are becoming more and more interested in what the cities have to offer.”

The profile of urban Indian populations can vary greatly from city to city, with indigenous culture enjoying greater visibility in the more remote north and west of Brazil. In the vast cities of the prosperous south and southeast of the country, such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, however, urban Indians often struggle to be seen and heard.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2015 at 11:36 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • 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

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