A Brazilian in Bp

Paulo Rebêlo The Budapest Sun – 31/08/06 – [link original] WHEN I first decided to move to Budapest, I made up my mind that I wouldn’t try to discover anything about life in Hungary and wouldn’t use the Internet to make friendly contacts before arriving. The impression the average Latin America citizen has of Hungary is limited to its famous city Budapest where people breathe history, culture and beauty – and that was enough for me. By chance, someone also told me how most Hungarians seem to like the Brazilian culture. It has been only a week since my arrival and it was rather easy to figure out that, differently from most western European countries, Hungary has many more similarities with Brazil than the average Hungarian would think. However, the first resemblance as a first-time visitor wasn’t exactly a cultural one. It truly freaks me out how the Tourism Office of Budapest puts emphasis on how foreigners should protect themselves against pickpockets and burglars on the streets, including at public transportation spots. Although the orange-colored informative called Well-informed in Budapest states that the Hungarian capital does not belong in the same bad category of many other European cities, in terms

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Brazil Battles U.S. on AIDS, Again

Fight highlights worldwide struggle with social agendas, antiretroviral drugs and patents Paulo Rebêlo OhMyNews, 16.maio.2005 It will probably never end. Once again, world attention is focused on Brazil and the United States and their differences on how to fight AIDS. Earlier this month, Brazil refused $40 million in U.S. funding for AIDS, asserting that it would not bend to guidelines shaped by religious conservatives. The Bush administration’s program to combat AIDS is seen by many countries as extremely conservative and, worse yet, ineffective. The program promotes sexual abstinence and, with support from the U.S. religious right, supports the use of condoms only as a last resort. Brazil’s fight with AIDS includes providing help to sex workers, but U.S. officials demanded that, in order to receive financial support, Brazil must condemn prostitution. The Brazilian government and many AIDS organizations believe that ignoring sex workers would damage efforts to protect them and their clients from infection. The demand from the Bush administration has become known as the “global gag,” a ban on U.S. government funds to AIDS organizations worldwide that do not condemn abortion and or other morality issues. Pedro Chequer, the director of Brazil’s HIV/AIDS agenda in the government, told the

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Brazil Leads Drive to Biodiesel ‘Clean Fuel’

Efforts to reduce dependence on petroleum may set the standard for reductions in global CO2 Paulo Rebêlo email OhmyNews This year, when the Chamber of Deputies approved the decision to make the switch to biodiesel, private companies worldwide and clean-fuel advocates turned their attention to Brazil. The country’s aim is to become the largest supplier of this clean fuel made from renewable resources such as vegetable oil instead of petroleum. The project is backed by a new law that states that starting now it is mandatory to add 2 percent biodiesel to fuel sold countrywide. The act is a boost to clean fuel producers, but also a statement to the world that clean-fuel solutions are more than urgent nowadays, not to mention effective and lucrative. However, Brazil cannot rely on biodiesel production alone just yet. According to Brazilian government officials, only 2 percent will be added at first, with higher proportions in coming years. The market for biodiesel in Brazil is calculated as 800 million liters per year. Today, its production is only 20 million liters a year. What has yet to be decided is which plant will lead the biodiesel production — soy, sunflower or castor bean. Brazil has

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Brazilian PC scheme founders on Linux, MS politics

Plus you can buy a cheaper PC in a shop By Paulo Rebêlo in Brazil: Monday 21 February 2005, 09:18 The Inquirer, 21.fevereiro.2005 THE BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT is once again trying to push a cheap PC for lower income people who can’t afford a reasonable computer. It appears to be politics which is holding up implementation of the scheme. The only thing in common among all the digital inclusion projects supported by the government, until now, is that none of them have worked. Some didn’t even leave the desks of the bureaucrats, but did hit the Brazilian technology press with terrific reviews, as usual. Last year, government officials started a commotion about the cheap PC and planned to release it in December, for Christmas. The project halted and was rescheduled for March 2005. Now, they officially say it will be launched only in April. But we wonder if the papers will shuffle more than a few millimetres from the desks of the bureaucrats once more. The current project is now called ‘Connected PC’ and intends to put machines on shelves for US$520 (R$ 1.400 Brazilian reals), but people can split the payment over 24 months paying as little as US$18 per

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Is Freedows Linux a better Windows than Lindows?

In Brazil, the bird flies freely By Paulo Rebêlo in Brazil The Inquirer, Monday 22 November 2004, 07:30 KNOWN AS Lindows in the past, Linspire wouldn’t have many problems if it was based in Brazil. For those who remember, Microsoft sued Lindows over its name alleging something like “it could puzzle users”. In Brazil we have Freedows, a Linux-based operating system just like former Lindows. There are two interesting highlights, tough. It’s almost completely identical to Windows XP (Lindows wasn’t that similar) and it has sort of the government hand on it. Freedows is developed by Cobra Tecnologia and the Free Software company. The first one is the technology arm of Banco do Brasil, which is the largest federal bank in Brazil. There are five versions of the product: Standard, Professional, Thin Client, SMB and Lite. Funny thing is: the company describe Freedows’ interface – on the official site – as a “Windows XP default”. Even icons and backgrounds are similar. By using Freedows Professional, you also get full support for running Windows applications within Freedows, such as Microsoft Office, Photoshop etc. Which is very nice, by the way. Freedows isn’t free, except for its Lite version (tested by The

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Brazilian Google affiliates can’t get paid

Tax problem holds up wedges By Paulo Rebêlo The Inquirer, Thursday 21 October 2004, 14:08 GOOGLE’S ADSENSE programme is a big hit. Look well and you’ll notice that if everyone was kung fu fighting in the 70s, in the 21st century we’re all banner fu Googling. The reason is quite simple. It works. And it doesn’t pollute your website. Everyone seems to be paid reasonably quickly. Except in Brazil. For more than three months, Brazilian affiliates have been eager to get their hands on the money. The problem is that Brazil’s current laws prohibit sending money, or cheques, through the post, as Google does. Some users in Brazil, like Samuel Vignoli of Studio Sol company, did get the first cheque. “But the next ones didn’t arrive. FedEx called me, saying I wouldn’t be able to receive them because it was illegal to send money through the mail,” says Vignoli, who has tried to reach Google since July, along with plenty of other users. According to him and other affiliates contacted by us, Google’s answer is always the same: “We are aware of the situation and we’ll work around [the problem] to fix it”. “They have been throwing us this yada-yada

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Brazilian officials destroy rare fish specimens

Paulo Rebêlo 25 August 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] Inspectors from Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture have destroyed twelve specimens of marine rays that had been borrowed from an institute in Spain, alleging that they lacked the necessary paperwork to be brought into the country — and refusing to postpone their action to allow such paperwork to be prepared. Similar events have occurred in the past, leading to growing concern among Brazilian researchers that such actions will make it more difficult to borrow biological samples from foreign scientists and their institutions. The specimens were rare African rays belonging to the Spanish Institute of Oceanography that had been borrowed by Marcelo Carvalho, an evolutionary biologist from the São Paulo University (USP). Three belonged to uncatalogued species. Carvalho had been attending a workshop in Spain sponsored by the Spanish government and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, at which more than 50 specialists had gathered to put together a guide of marine fauna in the African west coast. Inspectors seized the fish on Carvalho’s re-entry into Brazil, claiming that they lacked the required paperwork from Brazil’s Sanitary Department. Carvalho and friends from State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) went to the Ministry of

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GM cow milk ‘could provide treatment for blood disease’

Paulo Rebêlo 15 July 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] Researchers in Brazil are attempting to create genetically modified cows whose milk could be used to produce drugs to treat blood disorders such as haemophilia, an inherited disease which results in blood not clotting properly. If successful, these would be the first transgenic animals with medical applications to have been created in Brazil. The scientists expect their first transgenic cow to be born within three years. It will carry a human gene for a protein that encourages blood clotting. This protein will then be extracted from the cow’s milk for use in drug development, a process that could take five years. “It’s much easier to extract this type of material from milk,” says project coordinator Rodolfo Rumpf. The entire process consists of three stages: embryo production, genetic modification of embryo cells, and transfer of modified embryos into cows that will act as ‘surrogate mothers’. Rumpf says he expects to obtain the transgenic embryos this year and transfer them to cows some time next year. According to José Manuel Cabral Dias, head of biotechnology and genetic resources at Embrapa, the ministry of agriculture’s research institution, the programme began eight months ago and is

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Brazil eases rules on scientific imports

Paulo Rebêlo 25 June 2004 Source: SciDev.Net Brazil has announced a programme that is intended to make it easier to import scientific equipment and materials into the country. Called ‘easy science import’ (importa fácil ciência), the programme will attempt to meet demands from researchers to reduce the amount of bureaucracy that is involved in bringing scientific equipment into the country (see Red tape on imports ‘is stifling Brazilian research’). Under the programme, scientists who register with the Council of Scientific and Technological Development will be able to take advantage of financial and administrative benefits — such as exemption from import fees and taxes — that are currently enjoyed by non-profit institutions. According to the council, any scientist attached to a research institution or centre will be eligible, and about 10,000 students holding scholarships from the council have been automatically registered. The maximum value of scientific equipment that can be imported has been raised from US$3,000 to US$10,000. And the process will be further streamlined by the fact that the postal authorities will handle the customs paperwork for imported goods, subsequently delivering equipment to the scientists who have ordered it. Brazil’s minister of science and technology, Eduardo Campos, believes that, as

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