Brazil’s New Leader Begins in Shadow of Predecessor

Source: By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO – The New York Times

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — When Dilma Rousseff assumes the presidency of Brazil on Saturday, she will do so at a time when her country is thriving economically and full of swagger, eager to flex more of its newfound wealth and influence at home and abroad.

But Ms. Rousseff, the first woman to be elected president of Latin America’s biggest country, will have especially big shoes to fill, having to succeed the nation’s most popular leader in history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

While Ms. Rousseff has been eager to show that she is not a political puppet of Mr. da Silva, analysts say the challenge before her is one that her predecessor managed fairly well: balancing an ambitious domestic agenda with securing Brazil’s global position.

Since being elected in October, Ms. Rousseff has mostly reassured investors that she is not looking to steer the country further to the left than under Mr. da Silva, who faced those same concerns when he was elected in 2002, before he adopted a pragmatic approach.

“As Lula’s handpicked successor, Dilma will have to deal with high expectations for continued gains,” said Michael Shifter, president of the policy research and advocacy group Inter-American Dialogue. “Her appointments, decisions and comments to date have been reassuring for those who were nervous that she would be tempted to pursue a radically different course from Lula.”

While many expect her to mostly follow the economic course paved by Mr. da Silva, she has already signaled that she will adopt a tougher stance on some issues, including Iran, a subject that deeply divided Brazil and the United States last year.

On his final day in office, Mr. da Silva left his successor with a still brewing international dispute to grapple with. On Friday, Mr. da Silva decided not to extradite a former Italian guerrilla, Cesare Battisti, despite a decision by Brazil’s Supreme Court in 2009 that he should be extradited to Italy on murder convictions in Italy from the 1970s.

“I consider this situation is anything but closed,” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy said in a statement on Friday.

Strong-willed and short-tempered, Ms. Rousseff, 63, is viewed as more of an ideologue than Mr. da Silva, for whom she worked as chief of staff. She favors more state control over industries, including Brazil’s rapidly expanding oil sector. But she also has a reputation as a pragmatic deal maker.

She will have the support of two-thirds of Congress, and analysts see Mr. da Silva working behind the scenes with the leaders of the 10 parties that form her presidential coalition.

Ms. Rousseff filled about half of her 37-member cabinet with ministers already serving under Mr. da Silva, including Finance Minister Guido Mantega. She appointed some well-respected professionals for other key posts.

Ms. Rousseff takes over at a time when Brazil is still in the midst of a domestic consumption boom and has record-low unemployment of 5.7 percent. The economy is projected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2011.

She inherits a country that is in significantly better economic shape than the one Mr. da Silva took over in 2003. By expanding cash-transfer programs for the poor, subsidizing housing loans and raising the minimum wage, his government pulled more than 20 million people out of poverty. The middle class has grown by 29 million people since 2002.

The country, which received a record $30 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund when it was close to economic collapse in 2002, now lends money to the I.M.F.

“When President Lula came to office, Brazil was a regional power with global ambitions,” said Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the American ambassador to Brazil. “Today, Brazil is an aspiring global power with regional interests and international responsibilities. That is a significant change from eight years ago.”

Global ambitions led Mr. da Silva and the departing foreign minister, Celso Amorim, to try to broker a compromise on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discounted the deal that Brazil and Turkey had brokered as a “ploy” by Iran to delay sanctions, and friction worsened when Brazil voted against the sanctions sought by the United States at the United Nations Security Council.

Antôniode Aguiar Patriota, who served as ambassador to Washington under Mr. da Silva, will be charged as Ms. Rousseff’s new foreign minister with rebuilding mutual trust between the countries, “which was badly damaged by the Iranian episode,” said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Mr. Shannon said the countries had put the issue behind them. “We got the resolution we wanted, and the Brazilians have committed themselves to implementing that resolution, so that’s it,” he said.

Still, Ms. Rousseff declined an invitation by President Obama to visit the White House before her inauguration, saying she was too occupied with forming her new government, but hoped to visit soon. Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to attend Saturday’s inauguration in Brasília.

Mr. Shannon said Ms. Rousseff’s recent comments in The Washington Post were reassuring on the question of human rights, an area where the da Silva government drew criticism from Washington and which Ms. Rousseff feels deeply about, having been brutally tortured during Brazil’s dictatorship.

She said in the Washington Post interview that Brazil’s abstention in a recent United Nations vote condemning stoning as a method of execution was “an error,” and she signaled her misgivings, shared by many Brazilians, about Mr. da Silva’s failed Iran mediation effort.

“She differentiated herself rapidly with respect to Iran,” said Julia Sweig, director of the Global Brazil Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On the domestic front, Brazil faces significant challenges in infrastructure development, education and health, as well as with regulatory and tax barriers that are limiting high-end economic growth, analysts said. Ms. Rousseff has said her principal goal is to fight poverty, and she also will oversee the preparations for the 2014 World Cup and for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

Mr. da Silva, the 65-year-old former metalworker with a fourth-grade education, leaves office with an approval rating of more than an 80 percent.

In his final days, Mr. da Silva sent some parting shots to the United States, saying American policies toward Latin America had changed “little or not at all” since Mr. Obama took office. And he seemed to express personal satisfaction about the American economic crisis. Mr. Shannon declined to comment on the statements.

Still, in his waning hours in office Mr. da Silva was able to inspire Brazilians in a way that Ms. Rousseff will be hard-pressed to duplicate. In his final nationally televised address last week, he underscored what many analysts see as his singular accomplishment.

“Today, all Brazilian men and women believe more in their country and themselves,” he said. “This is a shared victory for all of us.”

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After 25 Years, Larry King Signs Off

Source:  By BRIAN STELTER – New York Times

 Google imagens

 Joined by a dozen of his favorite guests over the decades, Larry King hosted his final edition of “Larry King Live” on Thursday, ending a 25-year chapter at CNN.

The suspenders will remain, he said, but his nightly forum for newsmakers and noisemakers will not. He said at the beginning of the program, “Welcome to the last ‘Larry King Live.’ It’s hard to say that. I knew this day was coming. These words are not easy to say.”

Mr. King, a television icon, announced in June that he had decided to step down from the program, which defined a generation of cable news and inspired an generation of interviewers. The ratings for “Larry King Live” had fallen sharply in recent years. In about a month “Piers Morgan Tonight” will take over the 9 p.m. time slot on CNN.

Mr. King, 77, will host specials four times a year for CNN, and he is exploring other on- and off-air opportunities. Said Bill Maher, a longtime friend of Mr. King’s, on the program, “This is the end of the show, not the end of a man.”

All sorts of stars came on “Larry King Live” on Thursday to praise Mr. King. The “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said the program had been “America’s kind of confessional,” and the “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest said Mr. King is “such a tremendous guy with a great heart.”

Mr. Seacrest hinted at a possible production collaboration with Mr. King, saying, “We’re in talks.”

Later, he introduced a taped message for Mr. King from President Obama.

“Larry, for 25 years, you’ve hosted a conversation between newsmakers, celebrities and the American people,” Mr. Obama said in the message. “From presidents and generals to Kermit the frog and Joe from Tacoma. You say that all you do is ask questions but for generations of Americans, the answers to those questions have surprised us, they have informed us, and they have opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms.”

Mr. King invited his wife and his children on the set, and here’s what he said as the program closed at 9:59 p.m.:

It’s not very often in my life I’ve been without words. I want to thank everybody associated with this program, all the people behind the scenes. As I’ve mentioned, Wendy and the staff, the floor people, everybody that makes it possible, even the suits at the top. Love them too.

When I started 25 years ago at a little studio in Washington, D.C., I never thought it would ever last this long or come to this. So I’m going to go on — do a lot of other things. We’re going to do specials here on CNN. I’m going to be seen in other places, do some radio work, be around baseball.

So you’re not going to see me go away. But you’re not going to see me here on this set anymore. For two weeks, they’re going to be playing highlight shows. I — I am — I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience: thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long?

Then the studio lights dimmed, and only Mr. King’s iconic microphone stayed lit.

Joined by a dozen of his favorite guests over the decades, Larry King hosted his final edition of “Larry King Live” on Thursday, ending a 25-year chapter at CNN.

The suspenders will remain, he said, but his nightly forum for newsmakers and noisemakers will not. He said at the beginning of the program, “Welcome to the last ‘Larry King Live.’ It’s hard to say that. I knew this day was coming. These words are not easy to say.”

Mr. King, a television icon, announced in June that he had decided to step down from the program, which defined a generation of cable news and inspired an generation of interviewers. The ratings for “Larry King Live” had fallen sharply in recent years. In about a month “Piers Morgan Tonight” will take over the 9 p.m. time slot on CNN.

Mr. King, 77, will host specials four times a year for CNN, and he is exploring other on- and off-air opportunities. Said Bill Maher, a longtime friend of Mr. King’s, on the program, “This is the end of the show, not the end of a man.”

All sorts of stars came on “Larry King Live” on Thursday to praise Mr. King. The “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said the program had been “America’s kind of confessional,” and the “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest said Mr. King is “such a tremendous guy with a great heart.”

Mr. Seacrest hinted at a possible production collaboration with Mr. King, saying, “We’re in talks.”

Later, he introduced a taped message for Mr. King from President Obama.

“Larry, for 25 years, you’ve hosted a conversation between newsmakers, celebrities and the American people,” Mr. Obama said in the message. “From presidents and generals to Kermit the frog and Joe from Tacoma. You say that all you do is ask questions but for generations of Americans, the answers to those questions have surprised us, they have informed us, and they have opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms.”

Mr. King invited his wife and his children on the set, and here’s what he said as the program closed at 9:59 p.m.:

It’s not very often in my life I’ve been without words. I want to thank everybody associated with this program, all the people behind the scenes. As I’ve mentioned, Wendy and the staff, the floor people, everybody that makes it possible, even the suits at the top. Love them too.

When I started 25 years ago at a little studio in Washington, D.C., I never thought it would ever last this long or come to this. So I’m going to go on — do a lot of other things. We’re going to do specials here on CNN. I’m going to be seen in other places, do some radio work, be around baseball.

So you’re not going to see me go away. But you’re not going to see me here on this set anymore. For two weeks, they’re going to be playing highlight shows. I — I am — I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience: thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long?

Then the studio lights dimmed, and only Mr. King’s iconic microphone stayed lit.

iPad news apps may diminish newspaper print subscriptions in 2011

 Source: University of Missouri – EUA

The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) recently completed the first phase of a multi-year research project to understand how Apple iPad users consume news content. This initial phase was a cross-sectional survey with 20 questions conducted online from the beginning of September through the end of November. The RJI plans to conduct at least two follow-up panel surveys and another cross-sectional survey in 2011. The project is funded by the Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA), a member-supported initiative of the RJI.

Based on the responses gathered from more than 1,600 iPad users, here is what we have learned:

Users are predominantly well-educated, affluent men between the ages of 35 and 64 who tend to be early adopters.

  • More than four-fifths (80.2%) of the responding users are men.
  • More than half of all respondents (55.6%) report a household income of at least $100,000 a year.
  • More than three quarters (76.3%) have at least a bachelor’s degree, with 38% of all respondents with at least a master’s degree.
  • More than two-thirds (69.5%) are between the ages of 35 and 64. The average age of all respondents is 48.
  • Nearly half (44.6%) of the respondents were early adopters, acquiring their iPads in April or May 2010.

Overall satisfaction and time spent with the iPad are very high.

  • More than nine out of 10 respondents rated their overall satisfaction as either very satisfied (70.2%) or somewhat satisfied (23.4%).
  • More than three-quarters (76.1%) indicated that they are very likely to recommend the iPad to a friend or relative.
  • More than six out of 10 (62.7%) reported that they spent more than an hour during a typical day with their iPad, with nearly three out of 10 (28.3%) saying they used their iPad more than two hours a day.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 (89.0%) indicated that they use their iPad throughout the week, with nearly three-quarters (73.1%) reporting that they use it most frequently at home.

Keeping up with news and current events is their most popular main use.

  • Using the iPad to follow breaking news reports and current events is the most popular use for the device, with 84.4% of respondents saying this is one of their main uses. Next according to popularity: leisure reading of books, newspapers and magazines (81.5%); browsing the Web (80.8%); and e-mail (75.8%).
  • More than three quarters (78.6%) of the users spent at least 30 minutes during a typical day consuming news on their iPad. Respondents spent a similar amount of time with other media at a much lower rate: television (52.5%), personal computers (50.7%), printed Sunday newspapers (30.7%), printed weekday newspapers (18.8%).
  • Nearly half (48.9%) of the respondents said they spent an hour or more during a typical day consuming news on their iPad.

iPad news consumers prefer newspaper apps to newspaper websites; less likely to use print.

  • The vast majority of those who read at least an hour’s worth of news on their iPads each day — more than nine out of 10 — said they are either very likely (71.8%) or somewhat likely (21.2%) to use a newspaper’s app for reading news and feature stories as opposed to using a Web browser to navigate the newspaper’s website. The trend is similar even among lighter iPad news users, suggesting that users who consume news on the iPad tend to prefer to do so using an app.
  • Users who consume news regularly do so across multiple media. However, correlation analysis shows that the more one uses the iPad for news consumption, the less he or she uses printed newspapers. While these negative correlations between iPad news use and printed newspaper use aren’t incredibly strong, they are statistically significant.
  • Among the 931 respondents who indicated that they currently subscribe to print newspapers, there is a statistically significant, moderately strong, positive correlation between iPad news consumption and the likelihood of canceling their print subscriptions. For example, more than half (58.1%) of the respondents who subscribe to printed newspapers and use their iPad at least an hour a day for news said they are very likely to cancel their print subscriptions within the next six months.
  • More than three out of 10 (30.6%) respondents indicated that they do not subscribe to printed newspapers, with another one out of 10 (10.7%) saying that they had already canceled their subscriptions to printed newspapers and switched to reading digital newspapers on their iPad.
  • The more one uses the iPad to consume news, the more one is likely to use other digital media for news.
  • About six out of 10 respondents implied that they had used an e-reader for some period of time prior to taking the survey. Of those, about 30% indicated that they had used it to consume news during a typical day.
  • About three-quarters of the respondents implied that they had used an iPhone. Of those, about 70% indicated that they had used it to consume news during a typical day. About two-thirds implied that they had used a smartphone other than an iPhone. Of those, about 50% indicated that they had used it to consume news during a typical day. (Note: The overlapping data for iPhones and smartphones suggest that about half of the respondents have used both types of mobile phone either simultaneously or sequentially for some period of time prior to taking the survey.)
  • Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (89.2%) said they used a personal computer for some period of time during a typical day to consume news.
  • Nearly all of the respondents (99%) indicated that they used their iPad for some period of time during a typical day to consume news.

Positive iPad reading experience influenced by age, traditional media habits.

  • Users were asked to rate their reading experience on the iPad compared to other media on a five-point scale (1=Much worse than, 5=Much better than). Reading experiences with the iPad, on average, were rated as being somewhat better than or about the same as their reading experiences with printed newspapers or magazines and personal computers. Nearly half of the respondents rated their experience with reading on the iPad as much better than their reading experiences with iPhones (48.1%) or other smartphones (47.2%).
  • Age of the user influences how one rates reading experience on the iPad compared to other media. For example, the older the users, the more likely they are to rate their reading experience on the iPad worse than their reading experience with printed newspapers and magazines. On the other hand, older users also tend to rate their iPad reading experience much better than electronic devices with smaller screens, such as iPhones, smartphones, and netbooks.
  • As might be expected, comparative media experience was strongly related to traditional media use, particularly with newspapers. For example, the more that respondents had read printed newspapers in the past 30 days, the worse they rated iPad reading experience compared to reading a printed newspaper.

Low prices and ease of use are key factors in users’ decisions to purchase newspaper subscriptions on the iPad.

  • When asked in an open-ended question what factors would influence the users’ decisions to purchase news apps or newspaper subscriptions on their iPad, “a price lower than the price of a print subscription” was mentioned most often. Users also indicated that they want a very easy-to-use and reliable app, with access to at least all the content available in the printed edition. While respondents mention video and interactive features, they are much less commonly expressed in the survey than the aforementioned issues.
  • We also asked users which news organizations have come closest to meeting their expectations on the iPad. Among the most popular responses: The New York Times, USA Today, The Associated Press, and The Wall Street Journal.

NOTES:

  • A deeper analysis of the initial survey data and open-ended questions will be published at a later date.
  • Of the 1,609 respondents, 1,122 indicated that they would be interested in participating in the follow-up panel surveys planned for 2011.
  • Based on the postal codes provided by respondents and the geodata attached to files, about 92% of respondents were located in the United States. All 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam are represented. The non-US respondents (8%) were located in at least 49 countries. 
  • Apple iPad users were recruited through stories and links posted on multiple websites. We are especially grateful to The Associated Press for putting a promo with a hyperlink to the survey on its iPad app in October and November.
  • This research project is headed by Roger Fidler, RJI Program Director for Digital Publishing and DPA coordinator. Adam Maksl, a Ph.D. student in the Missouri School of Journalism, is assisting with the data analysis and survey design. For more information, please contact Fidler at fidlerr@rjionline.org.
  • This survey was powered by SurveyGizmo.

Fonte: http://www.rjionline.org

Bailouts, Reframed as ‘Orderly Resolutions’

 By ROBERT J. SHILLER – New York Times

DISTASTEFUL as it may seem, we need to prepare for the next financial crisis, which, of course, will arrive eventually. Right now, though, people are so angry about the recent bailouts of Wall Street that the government may not be able to use the same playbook again.

The criticism has emphasized the trillions of taxpayer dollars that the bailouts put at risk. But, in fact, the realized losses were minuscule when compared with the widespread suffering they averted. The net losses of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, for example, which ran from October 2008 to October 2010, amounted to only $30 billion by the latest estimate. Yet TARP may have prevented many trillions of dollars of losses in gross domestic product.

Our principal hope for dealing with the next big crisis is the Dodd-Frank Act, signed by President Obama in July. It calls for bailouts of a sort, but has reframed them so they may look better to taxpayers. Now they will be called “orderly resolutions.”

Psychologists tell us that subtle changes in framing — in the names we call things, the context in which we observe them, and their superficial appearances — can bring major changes in perception. Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act, “Orderly Liquidation Authority,” stipulates that the next time a Bear Stearns or a Lehman Brothers heads toward crisis, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation can act swiftly to create a “bridge financial company” that can keep doing much of the company’s business — thereby bailing out many people who count on it, excluding its stockholders, to prevent a house-of-cards collapse of the financial system.

“Bridge financial company” is a new term, but there is a precedent, called a “bridge bank,” that the F.D.I.C. has used for many years. In essence, Dodd-Frank is asking the F.D.I.C. to do much the same thing for a wide spectrum of financial companies as it has done with traditional banks.

On a Friday in July 2008, for example, the F.D.I.C. kept IndyMac Bank alive when its survival was in doubt. The agency moved in swiftly to transform IndyMac into a bridge bank, called the IndyMac Federal Bank, and the changeover went so smoothly that many depositors might not have even noticed. The cash machines remained in operation over the weekend, and, on Monday, customers saw what seemed to be the same bank.

Later, OneWest Bank took over IndyMac accounts and mortgages — but only after the F.D.I.C. promised to share the losses on the bad mortgages being acquired, according to a complicated agreement.

When life is smooth, people tend to remain complacent, reflecting confidence in the economy. In times of crisis, such confidence is also vital, even if government can’t absolutely guarantee that it’s justified. In the future, extending such bridge operations to the likes of a Bear Stearns or a Lehman would hold risks as well as benefits for taxpayer money. That’s where the reframing comes in.

The Dodd-Frank Act acknowledges that when the F.D.I.C. moves into deals like this with financial companies, it may need some assistance. So the law creates an Orderly Liquidation Fund at the Treasury, which can issue debt for it as needed. Of course, that could be interpreted as a bailout that uses taxpayers’ money, since the debt has to be repaid somehow.

But here’s the reframing: The Dodd-Frank Act specifies that the F.D.I.C. will be paid back through “assessments” on financial companies. These assessments won’t be paid immediately — because such burdens on weakened financial institutions during a financial crisis would put the whole economy at risk. The Treasury can intervene first and be repaid later.

This is a classic and potentially effective reframing. Why? The payments are called “assessments,” not taxes. And the context has changed, with the burden appearing to fall squarely on Wall Street, and not on taxpayers.

Of course, reframing won’t convince everyone that the government’s interventions are benign. In fact, an assessment is much the same thing as a tax — but placed on businesses rather than on individuals. Ultimately, however, this tax is really paid by the public, because those financial companies are owned by thousands upon thousands of individuals, even though many may not know it. Many people of middle income hold their shares in pension plans or mutual fund accounts, or in the endowments of the churches or colleges to which they contribute.

The government has been carefully framing its actions for years. The corporate profits tax, for example, is framed as a tax on “them” rather than “us,” but, in fact, the public owns corporations. And a good part of that tax is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. (The same, of course, would happen with the Dodd-Frank assessments.)

In another example, Keynesian economic stimulus through government deficit spending might be ineffective if it were subjected to rational analysis by consumers, as Robert Barro of Harvard has eloquently argued. People might hesitate to spend their tax rebates today, for instance, if it were clear that future tax increases would be needed to offset the resulting national debt.

The general taxpaying public may never figure out the true effect of the corporate profits tax, or the present value of tax bills far in the future. But many people have acquired a sense of suspicion that anything that looks remotely like government largess will show up in higher taxes someday. That is part of the reason for the rise of the Tea Party movement, and was a factor in the recent midterm elections.

STILL, well-thought-out framing packages can work. They can help sell crucial intervention packages to people who don’t fully understand the financial system’s complexities or how government interventions prevent disasters.

Unemployment is near 10 percent, though it certainly would be much higher had the government not embarked on bailouts. We have to hope that the Dodd-Frank reframing succeeds — and that taxpayer anger doesn’t scare the government away from following the law’s intent aggressively. Such timidity could allow more Lehman-type failures.

The framing of the Orderly Liquidation Authority might be regarded as a form of diplomacy, needed to avoid unwanted anxieties that could prevent the Treasury and the F.D.I.C. from taking strong action to support our financial system.

This is vitally important. We avoided a depression in 2008 and 2009, and we need to do so again when the next crisis arrives.

Robert J. Shiller is professor of economics and finance at Yale and co-founder and chief economist of MacroMarkets LLC.

Brazilians wait for official results in presidential vote

 By Helena de Moura, CNN

(CNN) — Millions of voters lined up across Brazil’s vast territory on Sunday in a heated presidential runoff pitting Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla-fighter-turned-chief-of-staff against Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra.

Officials with Brazil’s supreme electoral tribunal (TSE) said 135 million registered voters are expected to choose Brazil’s next head of state.

While Brazil’s official IBOPE poll has declared Rousseff, who is running on the PT Worker’s Party ballot, the winner, a more cautious TSE has reported that with 85 percent of the votes counted, Rousseff is leading Serra 54.67 percent to 45.33 percent.

Rousseff — President Luiz Inacio da Silva’s right-hand woman — has served as his chief of staff. Previously, as energy minister, she claims to have helped turn Brazil into one of the world’s leading energy giants. A former left-wing guerrilla fighter during the military dictatorship rule in the 1960s, Rousseff said during a congressional hearing that she was “barbarically tortured” after she was charged with subversion by the military regime.

Her opponent, Jose Serra, also suffered persecution during Brazil’s military rule and was forced into exile during the 1960s.

A centrist politician, he served as health minister during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government. He recently left his job as governor of Brazil’s richest state, Sao Paulo, to run for presidency.

Voters living abroad correspond to about 0.15 percent of the Brazilian electorate, about 200,000.

In 60 Brazilian cities, voters are using their thumbs instead of ballots on a newly launched biometric system, where voters scan their fingers to log in and vote.

TSE officials said all regions, however remote, will have the ubiquitous electronic voting machine. In indigenous areas in the Amazon, these voting machines are delivered by boats and helicopters. It costs the state of Amazonas 5 million reais. (U.S. $3 million) to place the voting machines.

One of the most challenging trajectories, officials said, is the one to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, a densly-forested area in the Amazon.

“There, our electronic machines first leave Manaus by plane,” said Pedro Batista, TSE Director for the Amazon.

“It’s loaded onto a helicopter, and then travels by boat before being carried on some one’s back for a long walk to a remote village,” he said.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, voters faced heavy rains and threats of flooding.

EU leaders strive for deal on budget discipline

Fonte:  bbc.co.uk   – Crédito imagen: AP

European leaders have begun talks in Brussels amid pressure to rein in the EU budget and set up a mechanism to avert future debt crises.

While next year’s EU budget is not formally on the agenda, the UK has been pressing other states to reject a 5.9% rise voted for by MEPs.

Such a rise would be “completely unacceptable”, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on arrival.

There is also discord over a Franco-German plan for tackling debt.The plan includes a controversial proposal to temporarily strip repeat overspenders such as Greece of voting rights at EU ministerial meetings.

Mr Cameron argues that the EU should set an example of budget prudence at a time of austerity, as national budgets are cut back.

He wants a budget freeze, rather than a 5.9% increase, but EU leaders are more likely to agree on a rise of about 2.9%. A deal would still have to be hammered out with the European Parliament.

So far 10 leaders have backed Mr Cameron in rejecting the 5.9% rise, according to European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, who attended talks with them.

“But 10 people does not mean that this is the majority of the [EU] Council,” he added.

The Franco-German suggestion for a crisis resolution mechanism would mean rewriting part of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which was itself only adopted after eight years of tortuous negotiations.

The so-called Deauville deal (named after the venue for recent Franco-German talks) was reached independently of other EU leaders, who are formally due to discuss a report by a European Council task force on measures to strengthen economic governance in the EU.

The measures are intended to prevent contagion spreading among eurozone economies should there be another major debt crisis in one of the weaker members.

“There will be a hot discussion on treaty change,” one unnamed senior EU diplomat told Reuters news agency.

War of words

It has been announced that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit London on Tuesday for a summit with Mr Cameron on defence and the economy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to have talks with the British prime minister at his country retreat of Chequers on Saturday.

The UK says a mechanism to ensure stability in the eurozone is desirable – and that the planned sanctions would not apply to the UK. But all 27 member states’ budgets will come under close scrutiny in a “peer review” process.

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said: “Last spring we took courageous decisions, we won the battle of the euro.

“Today we show we can draw the lessons of the crisis.”

The Deauville deal envisages, on the one hand, a permanent financial rescue fund and, on the other, progressive sanctions on countries which overshoot the maximum debt level allowed under the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, which is 60% of GDP.

European Commission President Manuel Barroso said the idea of withdrawing voting rights was “unacceptable” and would never be accepted by all 27 EU governments.

In the German parliament on Wednesday Mrs Merkel insisted that the Deauville deal served the interests of the whole EU.

“We need a new, robust framework,” she said. “It must be legally watertight and this will happen only with a change of the treaty.”