Socialism is Never Cool

by: Brent Smith at the Common Constitutionalist

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Socialism never works. Look at a country like Brazil. Brazilian journalist Felipe Moura Brasil explained all about the rise and fall of his country in a segment at Pragar-U online.

In the early 2000s Brazil was a burgeoning capitalist nation. Inflation, something that plaques all socialist paradises was drastically reduced and the government had decided to give up or at least pare down its hold over many “state-run” companies. They were moving toward a free market – toward capitalism. Things were looking pretty good for Brazil.

In 2006 Brazil became one the famous BRIC nations, and American and other private investors poured their investment dollars into Brazil, looking to get in on this new free-market boom. BRIC was a group of four “emerging market” nations ripe for private investment. BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China. Not so much any more.

But they made one big mistake. You see, in a truly free society, while most succeed, some will be left behind. It’s just the way it is and has always been. Not everyone has equal talents, nor is everyone equally industrious. Politicians love to focus on these free-market inequities. They prey on the guilt of the more industrious and convince the rest that through a transfer of wealth, all can share in the bounty. Sound familiar. Are you “Feelin the Bern?” read more

More Light on the Company Obama Keeps

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Okay, so Obama finally called Prime Minister Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory. Well, no he actually didn’t. In an insolent and petty fashion Obama phoned Netanyahu to congratulate “his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats,” according to a White House statement. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t even muster the statesmanship to do the right thing.

Yet, as many have reported, Obama was one of the first, if not the first to pick up the phone and give a congratulatory shout out to thugs, dictators,

Dilma Rousseff

Dilma Rousseff

radical Islamists and strong men – dignitaries such as Soviet Premier want-to-be Putin, Communist Chinese leaders, deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi and Iran’s Rouhani.

And still there is one even the conservative press leaves off Obama’s list of ne’er-do-well legionnaires – that of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who won reelection about 6 months ago.

President Obama was quick to ring up this so called moderate on the narrow victory she and her “Workers Party,” the PT won.

After the election in October, Fox News  reported that Obama “emphasized the strategic value of our bilateral partnership and reinforced his commitment to deepening our cooperation in areas such as commerce, energy, and other priority bilateral issues through our existing strategic dialogues.” Rousseff replied “that strengthening ties with the United States is a priority for Brazil.” read more

Fordlandia

Deep in the Brazilian rainforest is a relic  of the Ford empire from the 1920s, left over from when the entrepreneur Henry  Ford tried to create his own rubber plant to feed his Michigan factories.

As the popularity of the car increased, so  too did demand for rubber, which at the time was being mainly supplied by  British companies working in Southeast Asia.

Seeing a way to make his own production line  more self-sufficient, and convinced of the merits of the working environments he  had created, Ford decided to replicate his Michigan plants in  Brazil.

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Fordlandia: In the 1920s Henry Ford tried to create a community of workers in the Brazilian rainforest
In the 1920s Henry Ford tried to create a  community of workers in the Brazilian rainforest

 

Abandoned: Complaints from workers, poor growing conditions and the invention of synthetic rubber led to the plant's closure
 Complaints from workers, poor growing  conditions and the invention of synthetic rubber led to the plant’s  closure

 

Vision: All that remains of Henry Ford's dream is a group of decaying buildings in a forest clearing
 All that remains of Henry Ford’s dream is a  group of decaying buildings in a forest clearing
Inside Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s failed jungle  city

In 1928, Ford sent an envoy of supplies  and  Ford workers to a 6,000-square mile plot of land in Brazil, according to  Gizmodo

The idea was to recreate American suburbia  and so the team quickly built modern homes, a hospital, shops and set up a mess  hall serving traditional American fare. Workers even had a swimming  pool.

When it was complete, the founder of the  Model T Ford, who was born 150 years ago, decided to name it Fordlandia.

The workers were paid 35c an hour, which was  10c more than workers were paid at the Southeast Asian rubber plants. By 1940  the plant had 400 workers, although turnover was said to be high.

Staff also had access to free housing, food,  and healthcare, and doctors were able to introduce sanitation measures that  eradicated some of the more common ailments, including hookworm and malaria,  according to henryford.org.

However, Ford’s attempts to impose his  American ideals on the Brazilian workforce did not go down well.

Recreation: Ford modeled the community on Michigan suburbs, and workers all had free housing
 Ford modeled the community on Michigan  suburbs, and workers all had free housing

 

Abandoned: The workers' houses still remain, but the families they used to house have long since gone
The workers’ houses still remain, but the  families they used to house have long since gone

 

Abandoned: The workers' houses still remain, but the families they used to house have long since gone

 

Americana: The trappings of American life remain, but plant workers were at odds with the lifestyle
 The trappings of American life remain, but  plant workers were at odds with the lifestyle

 

Workers complained that the food served in  the mess hall gave then indigestion and a small protest was made about the  strict rules on women and alcohol. They also protested about being forced to  attend square dances.

They complained about the housing, which was  different from their traditional raised homes that were built off  the forest  floor to keep out insects and animals. And employees also objected to  the  working hours, complaining that they would have preferred to not  work during  daylight hours.

Soil where the plantation was built was also  found to be unsuitable for growing rubber trees and, in the mid-1930s, Ford  decided to start over with a new plant about eight miles away.

Not suitable: The new houses were not built on stilts like traditional homes, which meant insects and animals could get in
 The new houses were not built on stilts  like traditional homes, which meant insects and animals could get in

 

Human life: The abandoned plant is still home to some Brazilians
 The abandoned plant is still home to some  Brazilians

 

Reflection: The deserted factories and rusting water towers are an exotic echo to the Michigan's deserted industrial areas
 The deserted factories and rusting water  towers are an exotic echo to the Michigan’s deserted industrial areas

 

Reflection: The deserted factories and rusting water towers are an exotic echo to the Michigan's deserted industrial areas

 

Debris: The machinery in the rubber plant is still housed in the decaying buildings
 The machinery in the rubber plant is still  housed in the decaying buildings

 

Debris: The machinery in the rubber plant is still housed in the decaying buildings

 

This one, named Belterra, went on to become a  huge operation, with 2,000 workers and a community of 7,000 who had schools, a  church and golf course.

However, with the introduction of synthetic  rubber the plants went into decline and now Fordlandia stands an exotic  reflection of parts of Michigan that have also been deserted and left to decay  after the business that led to their creation dried up.

In Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s  Forgotten Jungle City, Greg Grandin writes: ‘There  is in fact an uncanny resemblance between Fordlandia’s rusting  water tower,  broken-glasses sawmill, and empty power plant, and the  husks of the same  structures in Iron Mountain, a depressed industrial  city in Michigan’s Upper  Peninsula that also used to be a Ford town.’

Back to nature: Amazon plants are slowly creeping over the remains of this industrial hub
 Amazon plants are slowly creeping over  the remains of this industrial hub

 

Leisure time: Workers complained about the imported American culture, which included dances
Workers complained about the imported  American culture, which included dances

 

Empire: Henry Ford, fourth from left, and his son, Edsel, second left, with other Ford executives
 Henry Ford, fourth from left, and his son,  Edsel, second left, with other Ford executives

 

Stamina test: American-made cars struggled to cope with the rainforest environment
 American-made cars struggled to cope with  the rainforest environment

 

Disease: Ford introduced sanitation measures and free healthcare for workers who were at risk from malaria and snake bites
 Ford introduced sanitation measures and free  healthcare for workers who were at risk from malaria and snake bites

 

Experiment: Fordlandia was created as a way to provide American produced rubber to the car factories
 Fordlandia was created as a way to provide  American produced rubber to the car factories

 

Mod cons: The homes and buildings were fitted with electricity and running water
 The homes and buildings were fitted with  electricity and running water

Attribution: Mail Online

Island for Rent

 

Wealthy football (soccer) fans are being offered the ultimate World Cup digs – a tropical island paradise costing a whopping $324,000 to rent for the duration of the event.

The stunning property near Rio de Janeiro features an incredible solar-powered mansion, four luxury bungalows and its own dock and helipad.

At 65,000 sq/m it is nine times the size of the famous Maracana pitch and comes with its own team of butlers, chefs, beauticians and bodyguards.

 
Breathtaking: The luxurious retreat on the private Island of Mana off the coast of Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro, which is up for rent as the ultimate World Cup digs for the princely sum of £210,000
The luxurious retreat on the private Island of Mana off the coast of Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro, which is up for rent as the ultimate World Cup digs for the princely sum of $324,000
 
Height of luxury: The well-appointed living room overlooking the sea, with the Brazilian mainland visible in the distance. The centre of Rio is just 20 minutes away - by helicopter
The well-appointed living room overlooking the sea, with the Brazilian mainland visible in the distance. The centre of Rio is just 20 minutes away – by helicopter

 

 
Sitting on the dock of the bay: But if you've got time on your hands you can travel to the mainland in around two hours by speed boat
 But if you’ve got time on your hands you can travel to the mainland in around two hours by speed boat
 
Look at that lawn! The garden (which has obviously been well cared for) where guests can go to soak up the warm tropical sun
The garden (which has obviously been well cared for) where guests can go to soak up the warm tropical sun

 

 
Far cry from the favelas: Palm trees provide shade behind some of the beachfront bungalows where guests can luxuriate
 Palm trees provide shade behind some of the beachfront bungalows where guests can luxuriate

 

 
'From your bed it seems you are floating above the water': The bedrooms overhanging the shore and looking out to the clear emerald waters
The bedrooms overhanging the shore and looking out to the clear emerald waters

 

 
Perfect spot for breakfast al fresco: Orange juice and fresh sea air are the perfect combination for first thing in the morning at the end of the island's dock
 Orange juice and fresh sea air are the perfect combination for first thing in the morning at the end of the island’s dock

 

 
Private idyll: The estate agents handling the let say those who usually stay on the island include actors, international singers, heads of state and royalty
 The estate agents handling the let say those who usually stay on the island include actors, international singers, heads of state and royalty

And if the Three Lions do manage the impossible and lift the World Cup, gourmet treats such as fresh lobster and caviar are available – as well as vintage champagnes costing up to $39,000 a pop.

Known as the Island of Mana, it is surrounded by warm, emerald waters and is favoured by A-listers for its luxury and privacy.

Frederic Cockenpot, managing director and founder of real estate firm Where In Rio, said: ‘The people who stay in our properties are usually actors, international singers, heads of state and royalty.

‘All of them are looking for privacy as a priority. It can be jet-setters, families or people who have both.

‘I can’t give names due to privacy but from the UK we had a top-10 charts singer, movie star and a TV host.’

 
Plush: A view of one of the bungalows shows how its large sliding doors and light decor invites the outside inside
 A view of one of the bungalows shows how its large sliding doors and light decor invites the outside inside

 

 
Fully furnished: But guests can ask for rooms to be redecorated however they desire
 But guests can ask for rooms to be redecorated however they desire
 
Well-heeled clientèle: The agent would not be drawn on names, but said a British pop star, movie actor and TV host had all stayed on the island
 The agent would not be drawn on names, but said a British pop star, movie actor and TV host had all stayed on the island

 

 
Whatever you desire: The exclusive holiday island comes with its own team of butlers, chefs, beauticians and bodyguards
The exclusive holiday island comes with its own team of butlers, chefs, beauticians and bodyguards

 

 
Well located: The island is located two miles off the mainland in the fashionable area of Angra Dos Reis, which translates as the anchor of the kings
The island is located two miles off the mainland in the fashionable area of Angra Dos Reis, which translates as the anchor of the kings

He added: ‘The decor of the island is made to be as close to nature as possible. All the rooms are on top of the water and from your bed it seems you are floating above the water.

‘Upon request, you can actually have the house furnished as you want.

‘We already had a guest who wanted a silver atmosphere – everything had to be grey and white and we had to provide silver plates and repaint the rooms.’

The island is located two miles off the mainland in the fashionable area of Angra Dos Reis, which translates as the anchor of the kings.

Rio de Janeiro, which will host a string of World Cup matches in 2014, including the final, is just two hours away by car and private speedboat.

However, most wealthy guests choose to fly by helicopter, which will sweep them from the palm-tree littered paradise into the heart of Rio in just 20 minutes.

 
Dive in: The waters off the island are clear and inviting
The waters off the island are clear and inviting

 

 
Meet the locals: A turtle pops his head out of the sea around the island
A turtle pops his head out of the sea around the island

 

 
Enchanting: A view of the sunset over the sea on the Island of Mana
 A view of the sunset over the sea on the Island of Mana

 

 
Now it's party time: A view of the dock at night
 A view of the dock at night

 

 
Bye bye!: At 65,000 sq/m the Island of Mana is nine times the size of the famous Maracana pitch
 At 65,000 sq/m the Island of Mana is nine times the size of the famous Maracana pitch

 

 

Other extravagant extras include a personal translator, beautician, on-call doctor, a fleet of cars and a private speedboat to explore the 365 islands nearby.

Some visitors have more tailored requests, including exotic flowers and to even to have their towels and linen conditioned with a specific fragrance.

For the gourmets, fresh lobster, caviar and Italian white truffles are just a click of the fingers away, while pricey drinks include bottles of vintage Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer Cristal champagnes costing up to $39,000.

Need tickets to a big game? No problem. The well-connected concierge will find guests the best seats as well as tickets to any other events that catches their eye.

But while the island, which sleeps eight, is undoubtedly luxurious it is also environmentally friendly and has its own natural, freshwater supply and electricity supplied by solar panels.

And just in case you never want to leave, the island can be yours forever for the princely sum of $4.3million.

 
This map shows the relative locations of Angra dos Reis and the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro

 Attribution: Daily Mail

The Old Brazilian Fake Finger Scam

Brazilian doctor used ‘fake fingers’ made of silicone to sign in absent colleagues in ‘ghost worker’ scam

 

A Brazilian hospital doctor used ‘fake  fingers’ made of silicone to record the attendance of fellow medics when they  were not at work.

Officers seized six ‘fingers’ from doctor Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 29, when they arrested her on Sunday following a  tip-off.

The ensuing scandal has led to investigations  in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, near Sao Paulo, into the number of ‘ghost workers’ in the town.

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Digital deception: Nunes Ferreira used 'fake fingers' made of silicon to sign in absent colleagues at work
Nunes Ferreira used these ‘fake  fingers’ made of silicon to sign in absent colleagues at work
The mayor Acir Fillo said as many as 300 civil servants claimed their salary without going to work, according to Brazilian website G1.He told a news conference: ‘We have an army of ghosts.’He added: ‘This case is a huge disappointment. Let’s put cameras to monitor the clocks to not let that happen again.’

Mr Fillo said they believe ‘ghost workers’  around found in public offices including health, security and education.

Thauane Nunes Ferreira was arrested after signing colleagues into work at a hospita
Thauane Nunes Ferreira was arrested after signing  colleagues into work at a hospital when they were not there by tricking a  biometric scanner using ‘fake fingers’ made of silicone (file picture)

Ferreira, who had been under surveillance, confessed to falsifying a public document after she was caught using the fingers to fool the biometric machine into recording colleague’s attendance.

Police arrested the doctor on Sunday following an anonymous tip-off
Police arrested the doctor on Sunday following an  anonymous tip-off

Medics at the Office of Mobile Emergency Care  (Samu) have to sign in using their hands to record their attendance.

Eleven doctors and 20 nurses are believed to  be involved in the scam, reported The Telegraph.

Ferreira told police that signing in absent colleagues was a condition of her employment and that the system was organized  by Samu coordinator Jorge Cury.

However he told the G1 website that he had been called by the health secretary and had to speak to police.

He said: ‘This is absurd! I’ve been a city official for 25 years and I’ve never known of this happening.’

The Brazilian website reported that five doctors suspended after the arrest are still receiving their wages until an inquiry has concluded.

The number of doctors at the hospital has now dropped from 15 to 10, meaning that shifts that used to have two doctors now have just one.

Brazil’s Health Ministry has started an audit of Samu and staff are working their way through documents to discover who was  involved in the scam and how it worked.

It is not yet clear whether the doctor used specific finger prints to trick the machine or how they were made.

Attribution: Becky Evans, Daily Mail

Now That’s a Snake

It lurks just inches below the surface coiled and ready to strike – and yet you wouldn’t know it was there.

These remarkable images show the enormous  26-foot (eight meter) anacondas of Mato Grosso in Brazil searching for prey in the murky depths.

They were captured by brave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi, 53, who joined the beasts in their natural habitat armed only with a camera.

Ready to strike: Brave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi captured this image of an enormous anaconda snake lurking beneath the surface of a river in Mato Grosso do Sul, BrazilBrave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi captured this image of an enormous anaconda snake lurking beneath the surface of a river in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
Hunting: This anaconda scans the surface of the water looking for prey such as mice, fish or birdsThis anaconda scans the surface of the water looking for prey such as mice, fish or birds
Enormous: This coiled anaconda was about eight metres in length. Swiss diver Franco Banfi captured the photographs on a ten-day visit to the Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil This coiled anaconda was about eight meters (26 ft) in length. Swiss diver Franco Banfi captured the photographs on a ten-day visit to the Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil

In another shot, Banfi gets up close to a huge anaconda that is lying on the riverbank and glistening in the ferocious tropical heat.

Thankfully for the photographer, it had just  gobbled up a capybara rodent and wasn’t interested in devouring him as a second course.

Banfi, a father-of-two from Switzerland,  said: ‘As the snake had just eaten it didn’t take much interest in us.’

‘Everything is possible but I don’t think it would have eaten us. I was very close, I could have touched it if I wanted to.’

Time for your close-up: Banfi was able to reach out and touch this massive anaconda sunbathing on the riverbank having devoured a capybara rodent Banfi was able to reach out and  touch this massive anaconda sunbathing on the riverbank having devoured a capybara rodent

He saw six different female anaconda snakes on his ten-day trip to the Mato Grosso do Sul region, right in the heart of South America.

The region is known for its diverse natural beauty and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The name literally means ‘Thick Forest of the South’ and it’s easy to see why.

Banfi added: ‘At the first moment it’s scary because you don’t know the animal and everybody says it’s dangerous.’

‘But after a while you understand that nothing happens if you respect the snake.’

‘I have never been so close to a snake like this before. But I think a small poisonous snake is more scary than a big one. At least you can see the anacondas clearly and know what they’re doing.’

Say cheese! Banfi, 53, goes up close to take an underwater shot of one of the anacondas. He saw six huge female snakes during his time in BrazilBanfi, 53, goes up close to take an underwater shot of one of the anacondas. He saw six huge female snakes during  his time in Brazil
On the prowl: The bright sunlight suggests this anaconda is close to the surface and about the attack The bright sunlight suggests this anaconda is close to the surface and about the attack

Attribution: Mail Online

Modified Mosquitoes

Huge numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes are to be breed by scientists in Brazil to help stop the spread of dengue fever, an illness that has already struck nearly 500,000 people this year nationwide.

Dengue effects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, causing fever, muscle and joint ache as well as potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

The disease is caused by four strains of virus that are spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. There is no vaccine, which is why scientists are focusing so intensely on mosquito control.

The initiative in Brazil will produce large quantities of genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which will be released into nature to mate with females, the health ministry said.

“Their offspring will not reach adulthood, which should reduce the population,” it said in a statement.

The new mosquitoes will be produced in a factory inaugurated on Saturday in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Four million insects will be churned out per week.

The experiment has already been attempted in two mosquito-infested towns in Bahia, each with about 3,000 inhabitants.

“Using this technique, we reduced the mosquito population by 90 per cent in six months,” the ministry said.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

What a Looker

For suspected drug trafficker Ronaldo Silva, prison was a real drag… so he decided to escape in what he thought was the perfect disguise.

When his wife came to visit him at Penedo prison in Brazil , he popped on her bra, threw on a wig and poured his curves into her pretty blue dress.

He even shaved his arms and legs for good measure, and squeezed into a pair of killer heels.

But his plan to sashay through the prison gates went awry after he forgot one thing: it can take a woman years to master how to glide naturally in high heels.

Half an hour into his daring bid for freedom, one eagle-eyed guard noticed that, despite looking like a woman, he didn’t walk like one.

He was followed as far as the bus station before police picked him up and dragged him back to jail.

The jail’s director Carlos Welber said Silva had swapped clothes with his wife during her weekly visit.

She left the prison wearing his bermuda shorts and another top she had brought in her bag.

He told Brazil’s Globo G1 website: ‘He left the prison shortly after her, along with other inmates’ wives. He was wearing a wig, painted false nails and a long dress. He’d spent a long time shaving his legs and arms. There was a lot of preparation and premeditation involved in this.’

Silva managed to get past prison guards, but a policeman patrolling the street outside became suspicious and decided to follow him.

Mr Welber said: ‘He noticed that the woman was walking funny and looked strange. He followed him to the bus station, where two men were waiting on motorbikes to pick him up.

‘The policeman approached him and managed to arrest him and bring him back, still dressed as a woman.’

Silva had been awaiting trial for drug trafficking.

He was transferred to the prison last month after another escape attempt, when armed men tried to invade another jail to release him.

According to Mr Welber, Silva’s wife admitted changing clothes with her husband but claimed she had no idea why he wanted them.

He said: ‘He was the one who demanded her clothes, at least that’s what she’s telling us. Of course we don’t believe her, but that’s her story.

‘At the time it was visiting hour and there were more than 150 family members inside the prison. But we’re taking measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’

Attribution: Matt Blake