China and Brazil won’t speak ‘American’ anymore

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 28, 2013

The days when the dollar was important seem to be long gone.

Every couple of months, bilateral relations between new global powerhouses seem to confirm what has been long announced: The U.S. dollar is no longer seen as the world’s reserve currency.

This week it was the time for China and Brazil to ditch the once mighty U.S. dollar as the base for their commercial relations. The rising Asian country and the former Portuguese enclave in Latin America will now use their own currencies to trade.

Both countries have signed an agreement to use their own currencies when buying and selling from and to each other. The deal will be valid for the next three years and will amount to what is now worth some 60 billion Brazilian reals. This agreement is the first between the two nations, but not new when it comes to getting rid of a debilitated, less valuable dollar. In the past few months, China and Russia, China and India and other so-called emerging powers closed similar deals.

The kind of agreement to trade in local currencies is supposed to set a new standard in the international dynamics that for many years supported the prevalence of the U.S. dollar as everything all other currencies wanted to be. “Our interest is not to establish new relations with China, but to expand relations to be used in the case of turbulence in financial markets,” said Brazilian Central Bank Governor Alexandre Tombini said.

Mr. Tombini has got it just right. Carefully crafted turbulence in the Western economic landscape mandates new ways to assess risk and more importantly, to prepare for and mitigate unknowns. While the Euro zone and the American economy slowly but surely walk towards financial Armageddon, countries that were once completely dependent on the American and European way of doing business are now looking elsewhere to guarantee their survival. The recent Chinese-Brazilian expansion in their commercial relations is another example of how developing countries are assuring their lifeline in the post-dollar future.

What China and Brazil have in mind with the latest agreement is to buffer their commercial ties should another financial bomb explode somewhere in the world. Many academics and experts agree that solid ties between China and Brazil are very important for the political alliance know as the BRICS. What these two countries along with Russia, South Africa and Indian intend to do, is to limit the impact of economic instability by allying themselves with nations that have equal goals and conditions.

Commercial ties and exchange between China and Brazil grew exponentially in the last few years. It went from about 14 billion to more than 150 billion Brazilian Real between 2003 and 2012. The effects of this commercial partnership has gone so far as to turn China into Brazil’s main trading partner. This fact has further isolated Brazil from the negative effects of a dollar collapse, or an American economic downfall which many experts agree, has been looming for a long time.

The question many people are asking is whether Brazil is closing a deal with the devil or simply changing one devil for another. The only way to know is to observe near future events. Perhaps, the coming of the new Development Bank that the BRICS have agreed to create will further commercial ties among partners and help solidify agreements such as the one signed by the two countries.

BRICS will create a bank to end hegemony of Europe and the U.S.

The bank will be the headquarters for trade in multiple currencies which do not include the dollar or the euro as references.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 27, 2013

The first day of the fifth annual summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was dedicated to the bilateral relations of its members, and it served to meet the intent of the five members on Wednesday who issued a joint statement on the commissioning of a bank, which would serve as a counterweight to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS consider both institutions excessively controlled by Europe and the United States.

Issues such as decision-making or the contribution of each member are yet to be decided, which will likely prevent the release of the specific plans for the bank today, ahead of the meeting of Finance Ministers.

The creation of a joint fund of foreign exchange reserves will be another issue on the table, and the establishment of a self-study center and a business council of the BRICS.

Furthermore, the investments that BRICS make in Africa will be one of the key issues to be addressed at the summit today. “The association of the BRICS and Africa for the development, integration and industrialization” will be the slogan used to bring everyone together during the discussion.

The South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, stressed the importance of economic relations between the five and the mainland during his speech to businessmen from all members in the Business Forum of the BRICS.

“The African continent is recognized as the second fastest growing after Asia,” Davies recalled, citing the need for infrastructure as one of the attractions for investing in Africa at this time of economic crisis in Europe and the U.S..

A study by the Standard Bank, the BRICS trade with Africa rose last year to 340,000 million dollars, far exceeding the number of exchanges between the five economies of the group.

Moreover, the currency swap agreement reached by Brazil and China has a value of 30,000 million dollars, said the president of the Brazilian Central Bank, Alexandre Tombini, in the South African city of Durban. “The objective is to facilitate trade between the two countries regardless of international financial conditions,” said Tombini.

The agreement is valid for three years and protects trade between the two economies against dollar fluctuations and international financial turmoil.

The Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters that, along with their counterparts from the BRICS, he proposed to the presidents of their countries to create an agreement of the same type in a multilateral way among all partners.

In the intense round of bilateral meetings which marked the first day of the summit, South African President and summit host, Jacob Zuma, met with colleagues from China, Xi Jinping, Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. For his part, the president of Brazil did the same with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Rousseff meets today with the president of China, the largest trading partner of Brazil, according to Brazilian sources who are part of the  country’s delegation in South Africa.

Moreover, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) today took an opportunity to urge the BRICS to stop the Syrian conflict and to require an “immediate cessation” of “indiscriminate” violence against civilians. In a statement, HRW called for India, Brazil and South Africa to “pressure” to Russia and China, which have good relations with Damascus to “suspend weapons sales and assisting the Syrian government.”

BRICS countries account for about 42 percent of the world’s population and nearly 45 percent of the labor force on the planet, according to the group’s own figures. In 2012, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa accounted for 21 percent of world’s GDP and trade between them reached a total of 282,000 million.

O direito de possuir e portar armas não tem tons de cinza

POR LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANEIRO 20, 2012

A vida é um carrossel, uma grande tela mostrando eventos, que por causa da natureza humana, se repetem ao longo da história. Você só deve olhar para trás 25, 50, 100 anos ou um milênio – dependendo de quanto você quer rever – para saber que o que está acontecendo agora já aconteceu.

O caso em questão, os governos desarmam os cidadãos “para sua própria segurança”. Por que as pessoas não percebem que o desarmamento é o primeiro passo que um governo eleito toma antes de esmagá-las para manter o monopólio da força?

Alguns exemplos:

China: 76.702.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
URSS: 61.911.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
Alemanha: 20.946.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
Camboja: 2.035.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
Turquia: 1.883.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
Polónia: 1.585.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;
Paquistão: 1.503.000 pessoas assassinadas nas mãos do governo;

Todas essas pessoas só tinham acesso limitado a armas de pequeno porte ou estavam completamente desarmadas em relação ao poder militar dos seus governos. Isto é muito importante. Estar armado só é útil se você pode igualar o poder de aquilo que representa uma ameaça.

Para aqueles que não estão familiarizados com a história do desarmamento, o assassinato pelo governo é chamado Democídio e todas as civilizações avançadas na história humana o têm experimentado.

No total, os governos mataram entre 262 e 350 milhões de pessoas em apenas o século  20. Se você acha que não pode acontecer de novo, dê uma olhada na história, o carrossel que se move continuamente, mas que todos ignoramos diariamente apesar de ser a melhor fonte de informação.

Quando se trata do direito de manter e portar armas, tenho que concordar com o juiz Andrew Napolitano: Não há tons de cinza. Você tem ou você não tem.

Não pode ser aplicado para permitir a possessão de uma arma de fogo, enquanto é proibido possuir um rifle semi-automático, especialmente se o direito constitucional foi escrito sem limitações. Os criadores da Declaração de Direitos dos Estados Unidos e documentos semelhantes em outras partes do mundo compreenderam que a sociedade evoluiria e que através desta evolução a liberdade das pessoas seria desafiada.

Não pode ser aplicado para caçar veados, enquanto é proibido para caçar tiranos. Na verdade, a caça de tiranos é o objetivo real por trás do direito constitucional de possuir armas de fogo. Não importa o quanto o governo diz que tem a ver com caçar coelhos.

Não pode ser aplicado para defender a nossa casa, enquanto é proibido para defender o nosso país. Em muitos estados dos EUA, uma casa é um castelo. Se um estranho entra em casa para roubar, ferir ou matar alguém, o proprietário tem o direito de matar o intruso, sem precisar perguntar qual é a sua intenção. Por que não podem as pessoas aplicar o mesmo critério para defender seu país contra ameaças internas e externas?

Uma questão ainda mais importante é, por que faria sentido roubar do cidadão que respeita as leis o seu direito de possuir e portar armas – progressivamente ou de uma vez – porque algumas pessoas são farmaceuticamente induzidas a agir violentamente? Não devem as autoridades agir para erradicar os produtos farmacêuticos que fazem as pessoas saudáveis ​​e não saudáveis ​​agir violentamente, em vez de tirar o nosso direito de nos defender?

Em relação ao direito de nos defender, o direito de possuir e portar armas não tem tons de cinza. Você tem ou você não tem. PONTO! Aqueles que não podem suportar que os seus vizinhos possuam armas de fogo para se defender contra qualquer ameaça, podem-se mudar para a Inglaterra, Coréia do Norte e México, onde a população está totalmente desarmada e à mercê de gangues terroristas e cartéis de drogas.

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Brazil Central Bank cuts GDP growth forecast

AFP | DECEMBER 20, 2012

Brazil’s Central Bank on Thursday cut its GDP growth forecast for 2012 from 1.6 percent to 1 per cent, confirming a marked slowdown in Latin America’s biggest economy.

In September, the Bank had already revised its forecast downward from 2.5 percent to 1.6 percent.

Thursday, the bank also revised its inflation estimate for 2012 to 5.7 percent, up from 5.2 percent. The new projection is well above the official target of 4.5 percent.

Market analysts have been predicting 1.5 percent GDP growth for Brazil this year, a projection similar to one by the International Monetary Fund in October.

The IMF also expects Brazil to fare worse than its partners in the BRICS bloc of emerging powers, predicting 7.8 percent growth for China, 4.9 percent for India, 3.7 percent for Russia and 2.6 percent for South Africa.

Brazil’s economy grew just 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the previous three months, signaling a weaker than anticipated recovery, the Brazilian statistics office said late last month.

The economy lost steam last year due to the global slowdown, with GDP growth at 2.7 percent, down from a sizzling 7.5 percent in 2010.

Lula’s right-hand man gets almost 11 years in prison in Mensalão case

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 13, 2012

The Federal Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) condemned former Lula’s right-hand man to almost 11 years in prison for his participation in the corruption scheme known as the Mensalão. Jose Dirceu, who many label as the strong man in Lula’s administration was convicted of bribery and criminal association to command a network of bribes to legislators. The Mensalão scheme operated from 2003 to 2005. Twenty other people were also found guilty along with Dirceu, who has challenged the outcome of the trial, labeling it of ‘political persecution’.

The other five Supreme Court judges who convicted Dirceu unanimously supported the proposal of the chief judge, Joaquim Barbosa, to impose a sentence of two years and eleven months for criminal association.

The approval of the sentence to seven years and eleven months in prison for the crime of bribery recommended by Barbosa, in turn, was decided by four votes in favor and one against. The opposing vote came from judge Carmen Lucia, who recommended a sentence of three years, nine months and 15 days in jail. Since the sentence adds to more than eight years in total, Jose Dirceu will have to remain in jail for at least two years. In addition, he will have to pay a fine of nearly $ 330,000.

The judge argued  that Dirceu played a “prominent role” in shaping the pattern of paying bribes to legislators in exchange for their support for the proposals submitted to Congress by the government of the Workers Party (PT ). According to Joaquim Barbosa, the position of power that Dirceu had in government “was politically essential to hide the actions of the gang.”

The so-called ‘trial of the century’ also condemned former PT president, Jose Genoíno to six years and eleven months’ imprisonment and eight years and eleven months were given to former party treasurer, Delubio Soares. Jose Dirceu’s attorney, José Luis Oliveira Lima, said the former minister will use “all resources” to overturn his conviction, and even seeks to raise an action to the International Court of Human Rights. In the last few days, the office of the Attorney General called for the confiscation of the passports from the convicted men in an attempt to prevent them from fleeing the country.

“The Supreme (Federal Court) did not analyze the evidence with due correction. The documents generated during the process proved the innocence of my client,” argued Dirceu’s attorney. Also, the lawyer for former PT president José Genoino, said his client “vigorously disagrees” with the judgment of the STF, but that he will respect it and face it “with the chest open and the head up.”

According to the Court, the penalties applied to the men convicted in the Mensalão case were defined throughout the trial that sentenced 25 people in total; including politicians, businessmen and bankers who had ties to the corruption scandal that threatened to bring down Lula’s government back in 2005. Other convicts of lesser political relevance, such as publicist Marcos Valerio de Souza, appointed as the operator of the illegal scheme, received larger convictions.

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