Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Brazil: Army takes control of Rio security in bid to squash gang violence

February 17, 2018

Brazil’s military has taken full control of security in Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding state in an effort to fight gang violence. The move comes after the Defense Ministry said security in the city was “broken.”

A military officer in the Barbante slum of Rio de Janeiro

President Michel Temer has signed a decree giving the military control of security in Rio de Janeiro in response to spiraling drug gang violence.

The military already supports police in favelas, large slums overrun by drug gangs. It had previously helped provide security during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

But the decree, which went into effect immediately, hands the military power over all police operations in Rio state. It must be approved by both chambers of Congress within 10 days.

“Organized crime nearly took over in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This is a metastasis that is spreading in our country and it threatens our people. That’s why we decided on the intervention,” Temer said at the presidential palace in Brasilia on Friday. “Our administration will give a tough, firm answer.”

The military mission will last until the end of the year.

Broken security

The dramatic decision in a country that was ruled by a military dictatorship from 1964-1985, comes after Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said last month that “the security system is broken.”

Brazilian military police in a Rio favela (Getty Images)Military units already support police in patrols in Rio slums

On Friday, he said the decree will put in place “a more robust, better coordinated security system, with a better intelligence service.” It would not impact the country’s democracy, he said.

Highlighting the dire state of security in Rio, Carnival in recent years was marked by violence and muggings.

“The total confusion and lack of coordination of the security forces during the Carnival” prompted Temer’s decree, David Fleischer, professor of political science at the University of Brasilia, told the Agence France-Presse.

Arthur Trindade, a university professor and former security secretary for Brasilia, told AFP the decree is also aimed at cleaning up a corrupt police force.

Other motives

Former National Security Secretary Jose Vicente da Silva told The Associated Press that the military invention would help, but not totally end systemic drug gang violence.

“Rio state can’t solve this any time soon and the military could be effective in keeping some smaller groups that have operated lately off of the streets,” da Silva said.

Analysts say the move is also an attempt to distract from Temer’s single-digit poll numbers and failure to advance pension reform ahead of a general election scheduled for October.

The military intervention also raises questions over accountability. If soldiers commit crimes during patrols, they will not be tried by civilian courts. It is the first time the military has taken control of a state’s security since the return to democracy in 1985.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)


US eyes heavy tariffs on China, Russia to counter steel, aluminum glut

February 16, 2018


© AFP | US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross believes that cheap steel and aluminum imports from places like China and Russia “threaten to impair our national security”

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Commerce Department said Friday it recommended imposing tariffs on China, Russia and other countries to counter a global glut in steel and aluminum which it says threatens national security.In a report to President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross includes among the options a nearly 24 percent tariff on all products from China, Russia and three other economies.

Other options would impose either high tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports.

The findings are part of an investigation into the impact of the oversupply of steel and aluminum, and whether it undermines US national security.

In each case “the imports threaten to impair our national security,” Ross told reporters in a conference call about the so-called Section 232 investigation.

China and Russia are primary targets, but many other countries are included in the recommended sanctions, which are sure to spark fears of a global trade war if implemented.

Ross said the sanctions were designed to be broad to prevent targeted countries from circumventing the limits by shipping through a third country.

He said “serial offenders can evade these orders by transshipment through another country.”

For steel, Ross recommended three possible options: a 24 percent tariff on all steel from all countries; a 53 percent tariff on imports from 12 countries, including China, Russia and Brazil; or a quota on steel from all countries.

For aluminum, he recommended either a 7.7 percent tariffs on the metal from all countries; a quota for all countries; or, perhaps the most shocking of all the options, a 23.6 percent tariffs on imports of all products from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Venezuela.

Ross submitted the two reports to the White House in late January.

Trump has until mid-April to decide on any possible action, which he acknowledged likely would prompt action by US trading partners in the World Trade Organization.

US industries have urged the administration to take care since high import tariffs would raise the cost of supplies for major industries.

But Commerce said the goal of the measures is to boost domestic aluminum and steel prodcution.


U.S. Weighs Tariffs and Quotas on Steel, Aluminum Imports

February 16, 2018

Trump administration weighs different options, ranging from a global tariff of at least 24%, to a more targeted approach focusing on China and other nations

The Trump administration on Friday said it was weighing broad-based tariffs and quotas to curb imports of steel and aluminum to protect national security, though officials stressed no final decisions had yet been made and the ultimate policy could be considerably more limited.

The recommendations were part of internal administration reports released Friday laying out the options for President Donald Trump as he considers how to fulfill a campaign promise to take a more aggressive stance than predecessors to shield domestic steel and aluminum makers from growing foreign competition.

The recommendations suggest the president choose among several options. One of them is a global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries. Another is a tariff of at least 53% on steel imports from a dozen countries. Under the latter, targeted option, the tariffs of 53% would be applied on steel from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

The report from the Commerce Department also included, as an alternative, a quota on steel products from countries equal to 63% of the countries’ 2017 exports to the U.S.

“I am glad that we were able to provide this analysis and these recommendations to the president,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “I look forward to his decision on any potential course of action.”

The recommendations are opposed by many lawmakers and businesses who worry that the tariffs risk provoking a trade war and raising prices on a range of domestic products.

The recommendations sent sector stocks soaring Friday. Nucor Corp, the largest U.S. steel producer by sales, rose almost 5% and US Steel Corp and AK Steel Holding Corp gain more than 10%. Aluminum stock reaction more muted, with market leader Alcoa Corp. recently up almost 3% and Arconic Inc up 1.6%, both off earlier highs

Mr. Trump faces an April deadline to decide whether, and how, to restrict imports under little-used section 232 of the 1962 trade law that gives the president wide discretion to impose tariffs and quotas if he deems certain imports pose a national security threat. Mr. Trump launched the studies in a White House ceremony last April with cheering industry and union executives by his side, and he promised at the time dramatic action within weeks.

On aluminum, the Commerce Department recommended global tariffs of at least 7.7% on all aluminum imports, or a tariff of 23.6% on select countries or a quota on imports equal to a maximum of 86.7% of the countries’ 2017 exports to the U.S. Under the second option, which targets individual countries, tariffs would apply to aluminum from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at and William Mauldin at

Brazil to maintain control over Embraer: Temer

December 22, 2017


© AFP | Brazil’s President Michel Temer said the government would not relinquish control over the aircraft manufacturer Embraer

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazilian President Michel Temer on Friday ruled out relinquishing government control over aircraft manufacturer Embraer but said partnership talks with Boeing were welcome.”We welcome an injection of foreign capital. What we are not considering is a question of transferring” control, Temer said in Brasilia. The government holds a so-called golden share in Embraer, the world’s third biggest airplane builder.

Embraer and the US aerospace giant announced Thursday that merger talks were underway, triggering an immediate sharp rise in the Brazilian company’s share price.

A merger between the two companies would build on their existing alliance on the KC-39 military plane and would permit the much-bigger Boeing to fill a gap in its fleet with regional single-aisle planes.

A transaction also would rebut an alliance between Boeing archrival Airbus and Canada’s Bombardier to build smaller planes.

However the political sensitivity over Embraer’s ownership and immediate opposition from the unions means that Boeing is more likely to seek something less than a full takeover, such as a joint venture.


Temer warns pension reform failure will hurt Brazil’s credibility

December 22, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

Brazil’s President Michel Temer


BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Michel Temer warned on Friday the country would face economic volatility and loss of international credibility if a bill overhauling its costly social security system is not passed by Congress early next year.

Speaking to reporters, Temer acknowledged that corruption accusations had undermined his popularity and delayed passage of a pension reform bill that is now scheduled to be put to a vote on February 19.

He said his government would not support a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections that does not back pension reform.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn

Boeing Aims to Bulk Up With Embraer’s Small Jets

December 22, 2017

A takeover of the Brazilian company would give the aerospace giant parity with Airbus and a skilled workforce

Boeing 737MAX. Boeing photo

Boeing Co.’s pursuit of Embraer SA fits one of the goals Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg has set for the aerospace giant: creating a level playing field in the commercial jetliner business.

Boeing on Thursday confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it was in talks with Embraer, though factors such as potential objections from the Brazilian government could thwart a tie up. Some analysts said that the chances of a full takeover were slim and that an expansion of the companies’ existing joint venture was a more likely outcome.

Buying the Brazilian maker of small jetliners, business jets and military aircraft would give Boeing parity with rival Airbus SE, which plans to expand in the market for jets with 100 to 150 seats through a joint venture with Canada’s Bombardier Inc. It also would prevent fast-growing Chinese aerospace companies from scooping up the Brazilian company and give Boeing more leverage in its talks with suppliers.

Mr. Muilenburg hadn’t previously put small jetliners high on his agenda. In the two and half years since he took charge, he has focused on cutting costs, reducing Boeing’s reliance on some suppliers and cutting pension liabilities, as well as capitalizing on huge demand for its jetliners.

The company has an order backlog of 6,000 jets valued at $420 billion. Sales are generating substantial cash flow, much of which the company has returned to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks. Mr. Muilenburg has pledged to more than double the size of Boeing’s aircraft services business—a more profitable line than its aircraft sales—and the company had been expected to pursue a takeover in this area.

A takeover of Embraer would give Boeing jetliners that are smaller than most of its product range, with between 70 and 140 seats, as well as business jets, a market that has been flat since the last financial crisis. Analysts estimated buying Embraer would cost Boeing up to $9 billion, including debt, and while the company had around that amount of cash at the end of the third quarter, a deal would reduce its capacity for buybacks.

Mr. Muilenburg’s interest in smaller planes has been kindled by new executives that have joined the company, ​according to a person familiar with the company’s strategy. Notable among those is Kevin McAllister, a former General Electric Co. executive who joined Boeing last year to lead its commercial-aircraft business, the person said.

Another attraction is Embraer’s well-regarded engineering workforce. Boeing, which has been trimming its U.S. staff to cut costs, is losing a lot of its engineers to retirement and the company faces a shortage of entry-level engineers. Buying Embraer and expanding other overseas ventures—including a Boeing research center in Russia—could help alleviate that problem, analysts said.

A third motivation cited by industry experts is to prevent China’s fast-growing aerospace companies from tying up with Embraer. China is developing regional and single-aisle passenger jets, as well as larger aircraft and more advanced military capabilities.

The Brazilian government has invested heavily to develop a domestic aerospace industry and retains a so-called golden share in the company, giving it a veto over any potential sale or joint venture. Analysts said Boeing had a better chance than a Chinese rival of persuading the Brazilian authorities to sell Embraer, though securing government backing will still be a challenge.

“I don’t think any one of these nations that have indigenous aerospace capabilities wants to relinquish these to another nation,” said Carter Copeland at Melius Research LLC.

If the deal and the planned Airbus-Bombardier venture proceeds, aerospace suppliers could be the biggest losers.

Airbus and Boeing are already pressuring suppliers to boost production and cut costs. That pressure has unleashed a wave of consolidation among suppliers, including plans by United Technologies Corp—maker of Pratt & Whitney engines—to buy Rockwell Collins Inc., a specialist in aircraft electronics and interiors.

Airbus and Boeing have both expressed concern about their suppliers bulking up through deal-making. The plane makers have said acquisitions could distract suppliers from handling the big production increases the aerospace companies are planning, though analysts said the companies don’t want to lose their negotiating leverage. Boeing has said it opposes the planned United Technologies-Rockwell Collins deal, which it has said isn’t in the best interest of Boeing customers. United Technologies has said the deal would spur innovation and benefit customers.

“The shoe may be on the other foot as major plane makers use M&A and their own, enormous buying power to drive down supplier costs on newly acquired aircraft programs,” said David Wireman, global co-head of aerospace and defense consulting at AlixPartners LLP.

Boeing’s pursuit of Embraer may also explain its criticism of Bombardier, which competes heavily with the Brazilian company, said aerospace consultant Richard Aboulafia at the Teal Group.

Boeing has accused Bombardier of using illegal state subsidies that have allowed it to sell its planes at below their production cost. The allegations, which have led U.S. trade officials to propose big tariffs on some Bombardier planes, puzzled many analysts as the Canadian company largely operates in different markets.

Boeing has said the pricing and sales of its jets are being damaged by Bombardier’s tactics, a charge the Canadian company denies. But the tariff allegations criticism may have been meant to protect Embraer, said Mr. Aboulafia at the Teal Group. “It’s about the only thing that would make the trade case against Canada look sensible,” he said.

Boeing and Embraer declined to comment on the matter.

Write to Doug Cameron at
Image may contain: airplane
Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft

Boeing Held Takeover Talks With Brazilian Aircraft Maker Embraer

December 21, 2017

Boeing and Embraer have discussed deal that would value Embraer at a big premium to its market value Thursday morning of some $3.7 billion

Boeing Co. has been in takeover talks with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA, a move that would strengthen Boeing’s hand in the regional jet market and help it counter a recent move by Airbus SE to strike a similar deal.

Boeing and Embraer have been discussing a deal that would involve a relatively large premium for Embraer, which had a market value of about $3.7 billion Thursday morning, according to people familiar with the matter. The talks are on hold as the parties await word from the Brazilian government on whether…

Boeing held takeover talks with Embraer: WSJ

(Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) has held takeover talks with Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA (EMBR3.SA), the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

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FILE PHOTO – The Boeing Company logo is projected on a wall at the “What’s Next?” conference in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Boeing Co297.15
  • BA.N
  • EMBR3.SA

Boeing and Embraer have been discussing a deal that would involve a relatively large premium for Embraer, the WSJ reported. (

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

BP warms to renewables with $200m stake in solar developer

December 16, 2017

FT — Financial Times

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor
Oil major returns to field with investment to bolster Lightsource expansion beyond UK

BP is to invest $200m in Europe’s largest solar power developer, marking its return to a sector from which it withdrew six years ago.

The UK energy group will buy a 43 per cent stake in Lightsource, a London-based company developing solar projects in Europe, the US and Asia, under the deal announced on Friday.

The acquisition adds to the growing number of investments by oil and gas producers in renewable energy as the world begins to move beyond fossil fuels.

BP first entered the solar market in the 1980s as a manufacturer and installer of the photovoltaic cells used to harness energy from the sun. It closed the business in 2011 after it was made unprofitable by low-cost competition from China.

Dev Sanyal, BP’s chief executive of alternative energy, said the company had learnt from past failures.

By working with Lightsource in the development and management of solar farms, BP was returning to a more attractive part of the solar market than low-margin panel manufacturing, he added.

“Some of the lessons were pretty tough but it gave us a fundamental understanding of the solar business,” Mr Sanyal said.

Nick Boyle, chief executive and founder of Lightsource, said BP’s global reach and capabilities would strengthen his company’s expansion beyond the UK, where all its 2 gigawatts of operational solar capacity is located.

“BP has relationships around the world built up over 100 years and we can piggy back on that by becoming their in-house solar developer of choice,” he said.

Solar power is the fastest-growing part of the global energy industry after a tripling of installed capacity over the past four years, according to BP data. This expansion has been accelerated by the falling cost of predominantly Chinese-made solar panels.

Rapid growth in renewable power and other “clean” technology such as electric vehicles is forcing oil and gas companies to confront a future in which fossil fuels face increasing competition — as well as regulatory pressure to cut carbon emissions and air pollution.

Royal Dutch Shell agreed in October to buy NewMotion, Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging company. A month earlier, Total acquired a 23 per cent stake in Eren, a French renewable power company, for €237.5m.

BP was the first oil “supermajor” to make significant commitments in renewable energy and adopted the slogan “Beyond Petroleum” in the 2000s.

Most of its $8bn of “green” investments during that era were written off but the group still has wind assets in the US and a biofuels business in Brazil.

Mr Sanyal said there was potential for BP to integrate renewables and natural gas assets with its power trading business to deepen the group’s role in the electricity supply chain. The aim was to make Lightsource the global market leader in solar power, he added.

Lightsource, founded in 2010 and owned by its management and staff, will receive an initial $50m from BP upon completion of the deal early in 2018, with the $150m balance paid in instalments over three years.

The company will be renamed Lightsource BP and BP will have two seats on the board. Mr Boyle said BP was chosen from a shortlist of three potential investors.

Lightsource develops, finances and operates solar arrays under long-term power purchase agreements, usually with corporate customers.

Notable projects include a 23,000-panel floating solar farm on Thames Water’s Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near London. It has 6GW of capacity in development around the world.

Brazil’s Paid Social Media Users — Aiming to influence

December 14, 2017

BBC News

  • 13 December 2017
Illustration of hands playing with marionettes

“I used to spend the whole day in front of the computer, starting early in the morning,” says 21-year-old Pedro from the city of Vitoria, in south-eastern Brazil. KAKO ABRAHAM/BBC

“I posted pictures, wrote about my days, added people. And then I would give my opinion about some politicians, especially when there were debates between candidates going on on TV.”

It might sound like an average day for an ordinary young social media user, but Pedro (not his real name) is actually describing his time as a “cyborg”, someone who is paid to run fake social media accounts to influence public opinion.

Three years ago, during Brazil’s hotly contested general election campaign, Pedro says he worked for a Rio-based PR company whose clients include a number of leading politicians.

He says that for around $360 (£270) per month, he ran 20 fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter designed to create a buzz around the company’s clients.

BBC Brasil spoke to Pedro as part of an investigation into the way fake social media accounts were used during the country’s highly charged 2014 general election.

Read the full investigation (in Portuguese): Investigação revela exército de perfis falsos usados para influenciar eleições no Brasil

There is no evidence the accounts in any way influenced the result, or even that any of the candidates were aware of what was happening, but the investigation offers a fascinating glimpse into a new frontline in the way politics are conducted and elections are fought in Brazil.

‘Everything was monitored’

Pedro’s story is backed up by the accounts of three other young people who also worked as social media “activators” during the 2014 campaign.

They all told BBC Brasil that they worked from home via Skype.

“Everything was monitored. If I was online and didn’t respond, I could be penalised. So I had to inform a coordinator every time I took a toilet break.”

A photo showing Facebook's logo reflected in a pair of glasses.
Those hired to run the fake accounts were closely monitored by their supervisor. Credit PA

At the start of the job they were each given a set of fake profiles and photographs, plus basic personal details.

Their first task was to spend a couple of months building up or “activating” the profiles, posting everyday stories to establish themselves as real people.

After a while the activators would start talking politics.

And gradually they would begin interacting with each other, and then with real people. building up a network of friends.

The activators often used the social media management platform Hootsuite, to control many accounts simultaneously.

They would praise whichever political candidates they were being paid to support, attack their opponents and sometimes join forces with other fake accounts to create trending topics.

“Either we would win [debates] through sheer volume, because we were posting so much more than the general public could counter-argue,” one activator told BBC Brasil. “Or we would manage to encourage real people – real activists to fight our fight for us.”

Dead woman’s photo

The inclusion of personal details and non-political posts made the accounts much harder to detect because they broke up the pattern of automation which usually helps social media platforms spot fake accounts.

Operators of such accounts are often called “cyborgs” because of this mix of automated and “human” posts.

A Facebook like button is pictured at the Facebook"s France headquarters in Paris, France, November 27, 2017
The cyborgs expressed their backing for certain politicians and their policies. Reuters

BBC Brasil’s investigation identified at least 100 fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook which were active during the 2014 election.

They all used photographs sourced from image stocks or stolen from news websites and existing social media profiles.

BBC Brasil was able to trace several of them. One turned out to be a female murder victim whose photograph had appeared in a local newspaper. Another was a well-known actor from Greece.

Some images were digitally modified to make them hard to track. This was the case with a picture stolen from Rio journalist André Moragas, and used by the fake profile of “Jonh Azevedo”.

Jonh’s account was created in 2012 and for a couple of years just posted personal messages.

“Son finishing another semester at university!” said one. “Very proud!”

Long-term strategy

During the 2014 presidential elections the “Jonh Azevedo” account suddenly went political, posting in support of an opposition candidate.

Illustration of a factory producing social media profiles

“I suppose they plant a fake profile and leave it to mature,” says Andre Moragas, whose photo was used by “Jonh”. KAKO ABRAHAM/BBC

“This guy didn’t appear yesterday, but five years ago, connecting with people, gathering followers.”

Eventually Jonh Azevedo was debunked as a fake after other Twitter users became suspicious of his repetitive style. They reported him after the account posted the same phrase – “Need to rest” – twenty times in two months.

Some profiles appear to have been “recycled”.

BBC Brasil found the same user, “Fernanda Lucci”, appearing in three different conversation threads in three different states in 2014 appearing to support three different candidates.

‘Bit naive’

Looking back, the four activators have mixed feelings about the job they were doing.

“I was a bit naive at the time,” one woman told BBC Brasil. “I had limited access to the accounts and couldn’t check them.”

But another has no regrets.

“You are just a person masking behind a profile,” he said. “The response is strong, the interaction is good. You feel that you really make a difference in a campaign.”

Many of the fake accounts identified by BBC Brasil have been inactive since the 2014 election.

Both Twitter and Facebook have told the BBC they are constantly working to identify, suspend and remove fake accounts.

That task looks set to be even more challenging next year as Brazilians prepare to go to the polls again.

Facebook deleted tens of thousands of fake accounts in France and Germany ahead of elections in both countries this year, and the organization told BBC Brasil similar measures were now being considered in Brazil.

The 2018 campaign is expected to be even more bitterly fought than four years ago and, with “fake news” and “troll factories” now common currency around the world, everyone will be keeping a close eye on the role of social media.

Macron is ‘pretty sure Trump will change his mind’ on Paris climate pact

December 12, 2017



© Screengrab | French President Emmanuel Macron during his interview on CBS

Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2017-12-12

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday reminded his US counterpart Donald Trump of his responsibility to history over his decision to quit the Paris climate change agreement, in an interview aired on CBS.

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Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump appeared together in France last July.  Reuters

Speaking on the eve of the One Planet Summit, two years to the day since 195 nations adopted the climate planMacron rejected the idea that Trump could negotiate a fresh deal and termed his withdrawal an “aggressive” maneuver.

The French president said: “I’m sorry to say that, it doesn’t fly, so, so sorry but I think it is a big responsibility in front of the history, and I’m pretty sure that my friend President Trump will change his mind in the coming months or years, I do hope.”

He added: “It’s extremely aggressive to decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate because one decided to leave the floor.

“I’m not ready to renegotiate but I’m ready to welcome him if he decides to come back.”

Asked about his relationship with the US president, Macron characterized it as “very direct,” adding he had been frank about his opposition to Washington recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Two years on from the Paris Agreement, Macron will meet with world leaders on Tuesday, this time to talk about money.

Without trillions of dollars of investment in clean energy, the pact’s goal to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels will remain a pipedream, observers and participants have warned.