Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brazil's Bolsa Familia - The Economist Article

Brazil's Bolsa Familia has been a great success in reducing poverty in Brazil thru payments to poor families, based on whether their children stay in school. The Economist finds that it is a rousing success in rural areas, and succesful though slightly problematic in urban areas

Great Ayrton Senna Tribute From Top Gear

The excellent BBC Car Program Top Gear has a great tribute to Ayrton Senna.  What makes it stand out is how it focuses on Senna's technical abilities and talents as a driver, which sometimes gets overlooked in the mythology.   The Brazilian is presented warts and all. 


Friday, July 30, 2010

Evo's Witch Doctor Gets Busted!!!

The so-called Aymara "Priest" who presided over Evo Morales' Presidential Inauguration  in Bolivia was found red handed with many kilos of some sort of cocaine derivative at his house.  Allegedly he was wearing his ceremonial robes.  The sorcerer apparently was casting an ancient Chapare spell of purification over about 500 pounds of cocaine base, when the police rudely interrupted the Amauta..

Valentín Mejillones, 55 años, fue quien entregó el bastón de mando a Morales cuando éste juró a su segundo mandado en enero en un rito andino celebrado en el mayor templo arqueológico del país.
Ostenta el título de amauta que en la religiosidad andina es el máximo líder espiritual. El martes en la noche, la policía allanó su domicilio en una barriada de la ciudad de El Alto, vecina a La Paz y lo sorprendió elaborando cocaína.
Llevaba su poncho ceremonial el momento de la detención. Fue detenido junto a su hijo y a una pareja de colombianos que no fueron identificados por la policía, según el informe del director de la fuerza antidroga, coronel Félix Molina.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New York Times - Economies in Latin America Race Ahead

The New York Times, article discusses strong economic growth in several Latin American countries, despite the global recession. 

Strong demand in Asia for commodities like iron ore, tin and gold, combined with policies in several Latin American economies that help control deficits and keep inflation low, are encouraging investment and fueling much of the growth. The World Bank forecasts that the region’s economy will grow 4.5 percent this year.
Recent growth spurts around Latin America have surpassed the expectations of many governments themselves. Brazil, the region’s rising power, is leading the regional recovery from the downturn of 2009, growing 9 percent in the first quarter from the same period last year. Brazil’s central bank said Wednesday that growth for 2010 could reach 7.3 percent, the nation’s fastest expansion in 24 years.
After a sharp contraction last year, Mexico’s economy grew 4.3 percent in the first quarter and may reach 5 percent this year, the Mexican government has said, possibly outpacing the economy in the United States.
Smaller countries are also growing fast. Here in Peru, where memories are still raw of an economy in tatters from hyperinflation and a brutal, two-decade war against Maoist rebels that left almost 70,000 people dead, gross domestic product surged 9.3 percent in April from the same month of last year. 

And, then there is the obvious failure -
In Venezuela, electricity shortages and fears of expropriations caused gross domestic product to shrink 5.8 percent in the first quarter. But Venezuela, and to a lesser extent Ecuador, another oil-dependent country that lags behind its neighbors in growth, seem to be exceptions to a broader trend.