sábado, 31 de maio de 2014

Carteiristas do elétrico 28 ficam em prisão preventiva


segurança
Carteiristas do elétrico 28 ficam em prisão preventiva
Publicado ontem in JN online

Os cinco carteiristas do elétrico 28 de Lisboa detidos pela PSP na quarta-feira ficaram em prisão preventiva.

Segundo a Procuradoria-Geral Distrital de Lisboa (PGDL), os cinco arguidos são acusados da prática reiterada de crimes de furtos qualificados de bens transportados por passageiros de transportes públicos em Lisboa, designadamente no elétrico 28.

A PGDL adianta que foram recolhidos "fortes indícios" de que os cinco arguidos "agiam sistematicamente em grupo, visando subtrair carteiras e outros bens a passageiros de transportes públicos em zonas turísticas da cidade de Lisboa, com principal incidência nas carreiras dos elétricos 28 e 28-E da Carris".

Os arguidos dedicavam-se a esta atividade criminosa e viviam "exclusivamente" dos seus resultados, além de agirem em grupo com "técnicas especialmente ardilosas de forma a nunca serem surpreendidos em flagrante delito".

Segundo a PGDL, os arguidos praticaram cerca de 15 crimes de furto qualificado entre junho de 2013 e abril de 2014.


Os cinco carteiristas, que se encontram em prisão preventiva, foram detidos PSP na quarta-feira, em cumprimento dos mandados de detenção emitidos pelo Ministério Público.

sexta-feira, 30 de maio de 2014

TC decidiu que 600 mil funcionários públicos voltam aos salários pré-crise


TC decidiu que 600 mil funcionários públicos voltam aos salários pré-crise
Por Ana Suspiro e Susete Francisco
publicado em 30 Maio 2014 in (jornal) i online
Tempo é escasso para executar alternativas que compensem impacto

Afinal os trabalhadores do Estado não terão de esperar pela prometida reposição de 20% dos cortes salariais em 2015. Ao chumbar o artigo 33 do Orçamento do Estado, o Tribunal Constitucional chumba não só os cortes salariais adicionais introduzidos este ano, que apanham vencimentos acima de 675 euros brutos e vão até 12%, mas também a redução de remunerações aprovadas pelo governo de Sócrates no primeiro ano do ajustamento: 2011.

Em causa está um universo de cerca de 600 mil funcionários públicos que irá voltar a receber a remuneração pré-cortes a partir de Junho, excluindo o efeito da inflação e redução de pagamento da horas extraordinárias. Mesmo que a medida não tenha efeitos práticos já no próximo mês, por razões operacionais, quando for feita a reposição terá de ser a partir de Junho.

O Tribunal declarou ontem inconstitucionais três das quatro normas que estavam em análise, após os pedidos de fiscalização sucessiva do PS, pelo PCP, BE e PEV, e Provedor de Justiça. Para além dos cortes salariais, norma considerada "excessiva e por isso constitucionalmente ilícita perante o princípio da igualdade", foram inviabilizadas mais duas medidas.

Joaquim Sousa Ribeiro, presidente do TC, explicou que a decisão se fundou quer no facto de o limite inferior dos cortes ter passados dos anteriores 1500 euros de remuneração (brutos) para os 675 euros, quer no alargamento dos cortes (de 2,5% a 12%, quando anteriormente eram entre 3,5 e 10%). A decisão foi tomada por dez votos a favor e três contra. Mas os juízes decidiram, nesta norma, limitar os efeitos da declaração de inconstitucionalidade - que não terá efeitos retroactivos ao início do ano, entrando em vigor à data do acórdão. Ou seja, ontem. Uma limitação justificada por "razões de interesse público de excepcional relevo". Neste caso, a decisão foi mais renhida: oito votos a favor, cinco contra.

O TC declarou também inconstitucionais os cortes de 5 e 6% aplicados aos subsídios de doença e de desemprego. "Os fins orçamentais visados com esta norma não justificam que se sacrifique aqueles que auferem prestações de menor valor e cuja redução só deve constituir uma iniciativa extrema", refere o comunicado do TC. Foram ainda chumbados os cortes nas pensões de sobrevivência de viúvos com pensões de reforma superiores a 2000 euros. Pelo crivo do TC só passou a redução dos complementos de reforma nas empresas deficitárias do Estado

O governo fica agora com um rombo de cerca de 900 milhões de euros no orçamento em termos brutos, que baixará para 700 milhões em termos líquidos. Ontem, o primeiro-ministro não afastou o cenário de um novo aumento de impostos. "Não me posso comprometer com um não aumento de impostos na medida em que não sei se vai ser necessário", afirmou Passos Coelho, horas antes de ser conhecida a decisão do TC.

POUCO TEMPO Mas o executivo tem uma margem temporal muito reduzida para aplicar medidas compensatórias com a dimensão necessária. Qualquer aumento de impostos ou reposição dos cortes salariais mais moderados, para os quais o Tribunal mostrou abertura, têm de passar por um Orçamento Rectificativo. A experiência recente de outros chumbos mostra que este caminho demora três a quatro meses a produzir resultados. Foi o que aconteceu na reconfiguração da CES (Contribuição Extraordinária de Solidariedade) sobre as pensões e o aumento das contribuições para a ADSE. As medidas que responderam ao chumbo da convergência das pensões só entraram em vigor em Abril.

Na melhor das hipóteses, as alternativas podem estar no terreno em Setembro ou, mais provavelmente, Outubro. Mas estariam em vigor apenas três a quatro meses. No caso do aumento da taxa máxima do IVA, o cenário apontado como mais provável - uma subida de dois pontos para 25% - representa 1200 milhões de euros por ano, mas em três meses a cobrança seria de apenas 300 milhões de euros.

Também a reposição dos cortes salariais aprovados pelo governo de Sócrates teria um período de vigência curto, o que não permitiria compensar o buraco aberto pela decisão do TC. Antes de executar, o executivo terá ainda de acertar até Junho as alternativas com o FMI para fechar de vez o programa.

A FOLGA DE 910 MILHÕES Por outro lado, há hoje uma folga de 910 milhões de euros (ver texto do lado), que em tese permitirá absorver o choque das medidas chumbadas. Esta reserva orçamental serviu já no ano passado para compensar outro veto do Constitucional, que obrigou à reposição de um subsídio a funcionários e pensionistas. O impacto foi comparável e não houve medidas alternativas para além do corte adicional nas despesas e no investimento.


Só que em 2013 o governo teve ajuda da economia que permitiu um défice inferior ao previsto. Este ano, os dados do primeiro trimestre apontam no sentido contrário, o que poderá afectar a margem que hoje existe para acomodar a subida da despesa.

Cutting Back on Carbon by Paul Krugman / THE NEW YORK TIMES



Cutting Back on Carbon
Paul Krugman

Next week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules designed to limit global warming. Although we don’t know the details yet, anti-environmental groups are already predicting vast costs and economic doom. Don’t believe them. Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy.

Just ask the United States Chamber of Commerce.

O.K., that’s not the message the Chamber of Commerce was trying to deliver in the report it put out Wednesday. It clearly meant to convey the impression that the E.P.A.’s new rules would wreak havoc. But if you focus on the report’s content rather than its rhetoric, you discover that despite the chamber’s best efforts to spin things — as I’ll explain later, the report almost surely overstates the real cost of climate protection — the numbers are remarkably small.

Specifically, the report considers a carbon-reduction program that’s probably considerably more ambitious than we’re actually going to see, and it concludes that between now and 2030 the program would cost $50.2 billion in constant dollars per year. That’s supposed to sound like a big deal. Instead, if you know anything about the U.S. economy, it sounds like Dr. Evil intoning “one million dollars.” These days, it’s just not a lot of money.

Remember, we have a $17 trillion economy right now, and it’s going to grow over time. So what the Chamber of Commerce is actually saying is that we can take dramatic steps on climate — steps that would transform international negotiations, setting the stage for global action — while reducing our incomes by only one-fifth of 1 percent. That’s cheap!

Alternatively, consider the chamber’s estimate of costs per household: $200 per year. Since the average American household has an income of more than $70,000 a year, and that’s going to rise over time, we’re again looking at costs that amount to no more than a small fraction of 1 percent.

One more useful comparison: The Pentagon has warned that global warming and its consequences pose a significant threat to national security. (Republicans in the House responded with a legislative amendment that would forbid the military from even thinking about the issue.) Currently, we’re spending $600 billion a year on defense. Is it really extravagant to spend another 8 percent of that budget to reduce a serious threat?

And all of this is based on anti-environmentalists’ own numbers. The real costs would almost surely be smaller, for three reasons.

First, the Chamber of Commerce study assumes that economic growth, and the associated growth in emissions, will be at its historic norm of 2.5 percent a year. But we should expect slower growth in the future as baby boomers retire, making emissions targets easier to hit.

You might ask why the Chamber of Commerce is so fiercely opposed to action against global warming, if the cost of action is so small. The answer, of course, is that the chamber is serving special interests, notably the coal industry — what’s good for America isn’t good for the Koch brothers, and vice versa — and also catering to the ever more powerful anti-science sentiments of the Republican Party.

Finally, let me take on the anti-environmentalists’ last line of defense — the claim that whatever we do won’t matter, because other countries, China in particular, will just keep on burning ever more coal. This gets things exactly wrong. Yes, we need an international agreement to reduce emissions, including sanctions on countries that don’t sign on. But U.S. unwillingness to act has been the biggest obstacle to such an agreement. If we start taking serious steps against global warming, the stage will be set for Europe and Japan to follow suit, and for concerted pressure on the rest of the world as well.


Now, we haven’t yet seen the details of the new climate action proposal, and a full analysis — both economic and environmental — will have to wait. We can be reasonably sure, however, that the economic costs of the proposal will be small, because that’s what the research — even research paid for by anti-environmentalists, who clearly wanted to find the opposite — tells us. Saving the planet would be remarkably cheap.

Merkel backs Jean-Claude Juncker for European commission president


Merkel backs Jean-Claude Juncker for European commission president
Move deals blow to David Cameron's attempts to block Luxembourg's former prime minister from taking up the role
Philip Oltermann in Berlin

Angela Merkel has thrown her weight behind Jean-Claude Juncker for the next European commission leader, dealing a blow to David Cameron's attempts to block Luxembourg's former prime minister from taking up the role.

The German chancellor said at the National Catholic Congress in Regensburg: "I will now lead all negotiations in the spirit that Jean-Claude Juncker should become president of the European commission."

Both Merkel and Juncker's parties are members of the European People's party (EPP) bloc, the centre-right group that gained the most seats in Sunday's European parliament elections.

David Cameron, whose Conservative party left the EPP in 2009, as well as Hungary and Sweden's prime ministers have opposed Juncker, lobbying for a more reformist candidate.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, Merkel appeared to have cooled on Juncker as a candidate, failing to state her endorsement and saying that "anything is possible". That she has now had another change of heart may be down to the increasingly critical press coverage of her prevarication in Germany.

The influential tabloid Bild took the unusual step of publishing an op-ed by its publisher, Matthias Döpfner, which described Cameron's opposition to Juncker as a scandal.

"That much is certain: Europeans want Juncker as EU president. [The German candidate of the Party of European Socialists bloc, Martin] Schulz got the second best result. A third, who didn't stand for election, can't be allowed to get the job. That would turn democracy into a farce. You may get away with something like that in the GDR or in far-right banana republics. But not in the EU. Or otherwise it will abolish itself."

The philosopher Jürgen Habermas has also criticised the resistance against Juncker. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he said: "If this group [the European council] really were to suggest someone else as a leading candidate, it would be a bullet to the heart of the European project. In that case you couldn't expect any citizen to ever involve themselves in another European election again. From a legal and constitutional point of view, I consider such an act of wanton destructiveness out of the question."


Merkel's Social Democrat coalition partners had pressured her to state her endorsement of the leading candidate. The SPD's general secretary, Yasmin Fahimi, welcomed the endorsement, saying: "Anything else would have amounted to a deception of the electorate."

Europe’s Dangerous New Fault Line


The Opinion Pages | CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER

Europe’s Dangerous New Fault Line
Matthew D’Ancona

LONDON — The European Union is still reeling from the insurgency of this past week’s elections to its 751-member Parliament. But after a political “earthquake,” as the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, called it on Sunday, it is also worth sifting through the rubble of hyperbole in search of resilient continuities.

This Strasbourg assembly continues to be controlled by its center-right bloc; the euro is not on the brink of collapse; negotiations on the all-important free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States proceed. The 28-nation club still has a healthy list of aspirant members knocking on its door: Turkey, Macedonia, Iceland and, of course, Ukraine.

Yet an audit of this sort can readily spawn complacency, and it is decades of complacency that have helped far-right and other extremist parties to make their most conspicuous gains since direct elections to the European Parliament were first held, in 1979. Among the new members is Udo Voigt, the leader of Germany’s National Democratic Party, who has declared Hitler a “great man” and questioned the scale of the Holocaust. In Denmark, the far-right Danish People’s Party topped the poll, and doubled its number of members in the European Parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front also achieved the best results. Across the Channel, the United Kingdom Independence Party, known as UKIP, did the same, beating all the main parties.

This uprising — anti-European Union, anti-immigrant, anti-elites — is chemically powered by a tripartite compound. First, the founding fathers of what has become the European Union (principally, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman) dreamed of a Continent that had twice been scorched by world war at last embracing peace, but gave little thought to the cultivation of a European demos, a popular emotional identity with the new apparatus.

As euro-skeptics correctly observe, the European Union affects most aspects of day-to-day life. But it is a vast institutional structure without a soul. Occasional renditions of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the European Union anthem, scarcely compete with the deep loyalties of nationhood, region and neighborhood.

Second, this is more than a question of sentimental attachment. The chasm between citizen and Union never seemed wider than during the euro-zone crisis of 2010 and its aftermath. Youth unemployment reached 25 percent and higher in some regions.

One can argue about the deepest causes of this contagion and the best medicine. But the famously well-padded Brussels bureaucracy was and remains the object of much popular anger.

Third, Europeans are confronting the consequences of unprecedented population mobility and the loss of control over their national borders implicit in European Union membership. There may be no European demos, but there is certainly a rules-based European citizenship, which means that a young person from Bucharest, Sofia or Zagreb can go to London, Paris or Rome in search of work and a new life. The restrictions governing settlement in each destination differ, but the core liberty is clear.

There is, in fact, little evidence that immigrant labor displaces indigenous workers. But countries that attract immigrants need sufficient new housing and public services to keep pace. The problems are rarely insuperable, especially with the tax revenues that can be expected as a byproduct of immigration. Considered with a cool eye, mobility within Europe is an engine of future shared prosperity, not a threat to national traditions or public safety.

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Yet the cool eye has been alarmingly absent. The rise of immigration as a Pan-European issue more closely resembles a culture war than an economic controversy. The populist parties, mostly of the right, are shaking a fist at the pluralism, turbulence and heterogeneity of contemporary life. Precisely what some people most relish about Europe’s global cities, they most dislike.

This is visceral politics: the politics of the “other,” fearing and loathing of that which is different. If the 20th century has one certain lesson, it is that such emotions should never be ignored or lazily appeased.

Take Britain, where I live: There has been a long and agonized debate among politicians and commentators about the true nature of UKIP, and its alleged racism. While officially deploring extremism, the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, has churned up atavistic prejudices with reckless indifference to the consequences — a technique also deployed by Ms. Le Pen in France.

When Mr. Farage said that certain parts of Britain were becoming “unrecognizable” because of immigration, he was sending a barely coded message to the electorate. Ditto his appalling remarks in a recent radio interview: “I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be.”

In the sudden prominence of figures like Mr. Farage, Ms. Le Pen and Morten Messerschmidt of Denmark, the far right now has what it always wanted: a place at the table. Numerically, these parties account for fewer than 100 seats in the European Parliament, and it is doubtful that they will operate as a bloc. (Mr. Farage’s pinstriped reactionary politics, for instance, are very different from the theatrical style of Golden Dawn of Greece, whose logo is provocatively reminiscent of the Nazi swastika.) But coordination is less important than momentum, which is what they have.

For all the poise that they have mustered for the cameras, Europe’s heads of government are in varying degrees of shock, struggling to understand what has happened and how they should address it. They do know that a new treaty is needed, not least in response to the euro-zone crisis. David Cameron, the British prime minister, has the selective assistance of Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, in pressing the case for both a renegotiation of Britain’s membership and sweeping reform of European Union institutions to make them more accountable.

Brussels, Mr. Cameron said this week, has become “too big, too bossy, too interfering,” and though he did not say so explicitly, it will not mend its ways if Jean-Claude Juncker, the establishment candidate, is appointed president of the European Commission. The founding fathers of this union were peacemakers. Their successors should be radical democrats.

They must also be more courageous than they have been in the past week. These election results are partly the consequence of structural flaws in the European Union’s organization — failures that should be tackled. European voters have suffered grievously from the global downturn, and politicians cannot express contrition too often for the part they played in that.

But they must also be more forthright in acknowledging that extremism is no longer confined to the streets. The politics of hate, or fear, or both, is now a significant force in Europe’s assembly.

What separates statesmanship from the routine practice of politics is the courage to take the risks of plain speaking and decisive action when they have to be taken. Europe needs such statesmanship now.


Matthew d’Ancona is a political columnist for The Sunday Telegraph and The Evening Standard.

Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs


The Economist explains
Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs

 IT IS the economics book taking the world by storm. "Capital in the Twenty-First Century", written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, was published in French last year and in English in March of this year. The English version quickly became an unlikely bestseller, and it has prompted a broad and energetic debate on the book’s subject: the outlook for global inequality. Some reckon it heralds or may itself cause a pronounced shift in the focus of economic policy, toward distributional questions. This newspaper has hailed Mr Piketty as "the modern Marx" (Karl, that is). But what’s it all about?
"Capital" is built on more than a decade of research by Mr Piketty and a handful of other economists, detailing historical changes in the concentration of income and wealth. This pile of data allows Mr Piketty to sketch out the evolution of inequality since the beginning of the industrial revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries western European society was highly unequal. Private wealth dwarfed national income and was concentrated in the hands of the rich families who sat atop a relatively rigid class structure. This system persisted even as industrialisation slowly contributed to rising wages for workers. Only the chaos of the first and second world wars and the Depression disrupted this pattern. High taxes, inflation, bankruptcies, and the growth of sprawling welfare states caused wealth to shrink dramatically, and ushered in a period in which both income and wealth were distributed in relatively egalitarian fashion. But the shocks of the early 20th century have faded and wealth is now reasserting itself. On many measures, Mr Piketty reckons, the importance of wealth in modern economies is approaching levels last seen before the first world war.
From this history, Mr Piketty derives a grand theory of capital and inequality. As a general rule wealth grows faster than economic output, he explains, a concept he captures in the expression r > g (where r is the rate of return to wealth and g is the economic growth rate). Other things being equal, faster economic growth will diminish the importance of wealth in a society, whereas slower growth will increase it (and demographic change that slows global growth will make capital more dominant). But there are no natural forces pushing against the steady concentration of wealth. Only a burst of rapid growth (from technological progress or rising population) or government intervention can be counted on to keep economies from returning to the “patrimonial capitalism” that worried Karl Marx. Mr Piketty closes the book by recommending that governments step in now, by adopting a global tax on wealth, to prevent soaring inequality contributing to economic or political instability down the road.

The book has unsurprisingly attracted plenty of criticism. Some wonder whether Mr Piketty is right to think the future will look like the past. Theory argues that it should become ever harder to earn a good return on wealth the more there is of it. And today’s super-rich mostly come by their wealth through work, rather than via inheritance. Others argue that Mr Piketty’s policy recommendations are more ideologically than economically driven and could do more harm than good. But many of the sceptics nonetheless have kind words for the book’s contributions, in terms of data and analysis. Whether or not Mr Piketty succeeds in changing policy, he will have influenced the way thousands of readers and plenty of economists think about these issues.

"BODY LANGUAGE"

O “VOODOCORVO” considera perante a gravidade dos “sinais” Europeus e a sua respectiva urgência, as manobras da “política” nacional tão irresponsáveis, autistas e deprimentes, que estabelece uma “pausa” por um dia, dedicando a sua atenção, por hoje, exclusivamente às notícias Internacionais.
António Sérgio Rosa de Carvalho.


Foto de Luiz Carvalho

Carta a um irmão político

Tornar o evidente implícito ( código deontológico ) em sentimentalismo explícito, denota desnecessária ausência de discreção e é sinónimo de falta de profissionalismo através de exibicionismo lamecha ... indo, precisamente atingir o objectivo, supostamente, NÃO pretendido ... limitação de espaço de manobra e consequentemente, sombra na imagem de insenção.
António Sérgio Rosa de Carvalho.

Juncker en situation favorable, mais rien n’est acquis / LE MONDE.

← A moins d’un veto de Cameron, Juncker en pole position pour la Commission




Juncker en situation favorable, mais rien n’est acquis

Angela Merkel et ses homologues ont, sans surprise, convenu de garder la main. Comme prévu, chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement des Vingt-Huit ont mandaté Herman Van Rompuy, le président du Conseil européen, afin qu’il démine le terrain en vue de désigner le successeur de José Manuel Barroso. Mais avant de trancher sur les personnes, les Vingt-Huit veulent réfléchir aux priorités du prochain président de la Commission : croissance, intégration de la zone euro, énergie, et diplomatie-défense commune.

D’ici au prochain sommet, fin juin, les consultations pilotée par Van Rompuy devront être menées en « étroite concertation » avec Jean-Claude Juncker, chef de file du Parti populaire européen, arrivé en tête des élections, et les nouveaux responsables du Parlement européen, a souligné Angela Merkel. « Il n’y a pas d’automatisme », a répété la chancelière, tout en martelant que l’ancien premier ministre luxembourgeois était bien « le candidat » du PPE. Sans dire si l'intéressé figurerait, ou pas, dans le tableau final.
La mission confiée à Herman Van Rompuy cherche avant tout à éviter un « clash » entre Parlement et Conseil européen. Car plusieurs dirigeants, dont quelques-uns sont membres du Parti populaire européen, se sont appuyés sur la vague anti-UE constatée dimanche 25 mai pour contester le choix de M. Juncker, vétéran de la construction européenne, et cofondateur de l’euro. « L’Europe doit changer », et « nous n’avons pas besoin d’homme du passé », a lâché David Cameron. Le premier ministre populiste hongrois Viktor Orban, le Suédois Fredrik Reinfeldt, la Danoise Helle Thorning-Schmidt, le Néerlandais Mark Rutte et les dirigeants baltes ont renchéri. A eux tous, ces personnalités ne sont pas loin, pour diverses raisons, de former une minorité de blocage susceptible d’entraver la nomination de M. Juncker.

Paradoxe, l’ancien président de l’Eurogroupe s’est targué, avant le dîner, et devant les dirigeants de sa famille politique, dont Angela Merkel, d’être soutenu par l’ensemble des chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement… socialistes. Y compris François Hollande. « C’est à lui de mener les consultations, puisqu’il est arrivé en tête », dit-on dans l’entourage du président de la République. L’ancien premier ministre luxembourgeois espérait obtenir au plus vite un mandat pour former une large coalition entre droite et gauche du Parlement européen.

Lors du sommet du PPE, avant le dîner des Vingt-Huit, il a même insisté en ce sens, contre l'avis d'Angela Merkel et d'Herman Van Rompuy. Agacée, la chancelière s'est dite "très surprise" par sa détermination, selon un participant, même si plusieurs de ses homologues, dont le Polonais Donald Tusk, ont soutenu le candidat du PPE. Pour la chancelière, c'est au Conseil de désigner le successeur de M. Barroso, pas au Parlement européen. M. Juncker va donc devoir patienter. Mais il craint, non sans raison, que le débat sur les priorités, et le mandat donné à Herman Van Rompuy,ne soient une façon déguisée de lui barrer la route.


Philippe Ricard

Europe needs a bold reformer Juncker is not the right choice to head the commission.




May 29, 2014 6:42 pm
Europe needs a bold reformer
Juncker is not the right choice to head the commission

The results of last weekend’s elections to the European Parliament show the deep discontent that millions of voters feel towards the EU. The poll was far from a comprehensive rejection of the bloc and its political values. But the big gains for eurosceptic parties of left and right – especially in France, Britain and Greece – exposed the frustration many feel at the growing power of a remote EU elite.
Ideally, Europe’s leaders – both in national government and in Brussels – would lose no opportunity to respond to the voters’ message. Some, like Britain’s David Cameron, have said it can no longer be “business as usual” for the EU. Yet within days of the elections, the bloc is heading for a prolonged institutional deadlock that threatens to make Europeans even more frustrated that their leaders are failing to deliver the jobs and prosperity that are urgently sought.
The focus of this looming impasse is the appointment of a new president for the European Commission, the top job in the Brussels hierarchy. While it has been somewhat politically marginalised under José Manuel Barroso, its current president, the commission remains the key European institution, operating as the civil service for the EU, regulator of the single market and now also an eagle-eyed monitor of national budgets and economic policies. But thanks to an ambiguity in the 2009 Lisbon treaty, the right to appoint the commission president is being contested by the parliament and the 28 heads of government in the Council of Ministers.
The parliament argues that Jean-Claude Juncker, former prime minister of Luxembourg, should get the job. The main pan-European parties in the elections all chose leading candidates (or Spitzenkandidaten) who were their standard-bearers and nominees to be president. Mr Juncker, selected by the centre-right, which won most parliamentary seats, assumes the post is his by right.
Europe’s 28 national leaders should unite to rule out Mr Juncker’s appointment for two reasons. First, his candidacy amounts to a crude institutional power grab by the parliament. The appointment of Spitzenkandidaten was a tactic by leading MEPs aimed solely at bolstering their claim to choose the commission’s boss. It has no basis in the EU treaties. Given the 43 per cent turnout in the election, the parliament has a very questionable mandate to decide who leads the commission. Its attempt to do so is an affront to democratic accountability.
Second, the appointment of Mr Juncker would symbolise the dismissal by Europe’s leaders of the anti-EU protest at the polls. The Luxembourgeois may be a canny dealmaker in the back rooms of Brussels but he is an arch-federalist of the old school and represents everything that the protest voters distrust about the EU.
National leaders need to appoint a fresh face, a figure who can boast experience in government and who has popular appeal. However, they need to do more than find a recognised name. They must also ensure that the new president can give a better focus and balance to EU governance.
The new president needs to overhaul the structure and scope of the commission. There are 28 commissioners, one from each member state and each with their own policy competence. This is too many. The EU needs a smaller commission with half a dozen policy clusters based on issues such as the single market, trade and energy. There must be tighter limits on the amount of legislation the body can produce.
Europe’s leaders also need to begin to explore how the powers of the parliament can be significantly scaled back so as to give a much bigger role to legislatures in member states. National parliaments enjoy the democratic legitimacy that the European Parliament lacks. They need to have a far bigger say in Brussels, especially at the commission, which has the right to propose EU legislation.
A programme to reform the EU along these lines is now essential. Europe is at a turning point. It may have seen off the eurozone crisis and economic growth may be returning – if fitfully. But last week’s elections reflect the deepening popular resentment across the continent at political interference by Brussels in national affairs.

If Europe’s leaders are to confront this populist challenge, they need to ensure that the institutions in Brussels are more efficient, more nimble and show a confident new face to the EU’s 500m citizens. There is no time for endless institutional debates. And this is no time for yesterday’s men.

Obama to unveil historic climate change plan to cut US carbon pollution.Carbon pollution Q&A: why Obama's proposal could make climate history.


Obama to unveil historic climate change plan to cut US carbon pollution
• Proposed regulations could cut carbon pollution by up to 25%
• President still faces potential opposition from Republicans

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent

President Barack Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history.

The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan.

Power plants are the country's single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country's emissions.

The rules, which were drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and are under review by the White House, are expected to do more than Obama, or any other president, has done so far to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.

They will put America on course to meet its international climate goal, and put US diplomats in a better position to leverage climate commitments from big polluters such as China and India, Obama said in a speech to West Point graduates this week.

“I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet,” he said. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can not exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

It won't be without a fight. Obama went on in his remarks at West Point to take a shot at Republicans who deny climate change is occurring, and the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, on Thursday accused critics of making “doomsday claims” about the costs of cutting carbon.

But the White House still showed some signs of nervousness about a political backlash, releasing a report about expanded oil and gas production on Obama's watch and adding to the furious spinning by environmental and industry groups about the potential costs and benefits of the EPA regulations.

“We actually see this … as the Super Bowl of climate politics,” said Peter Altman, director of the climate and clean air campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which produced a model carbon-cutting plan that has helped guide the EPA regulations.

But if all unfolds according to plan, Obama will have succeeded in overcoming blanket opposition – and outright climate denial in many cases – from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, an industry-funded misinformation campaign, and a slew of anticipated lawsuits.

Obama had originally hoped to cut carbon pollution by moving a bill through Congress. Four years after that effort fell apart, campaigners say the EPA rules could deliver significant emissions cuts – near the 17% Obama proposed at the Copenhagen climate summit – and the cap-and-trade programmes that were so reviled by Republicans.

The EPA, using its authority under the Clean Air Act, proposed the first rule phase, covering future power plants, last September.

In this the more politically contentious phase of the plan, it is widely believed the EPA will depart from the “inside the fence-line” convention of earlier environmental regulations for mercury and other pollutants, which focused on emissions-scrubbing on specific power plants.

The EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is seeking steep reductions – as much as 25% – but she has hinted repeatedly that she will allow states latitude in how they reach those targets.

The plan would allow electricity companies to reduce pollution by shutting down the oldest and most polluting coal plants. They can install carbon-sucking retrofits. They can expand wind and solar energy, upgrade the electrical grid, encourage customers to update to more efficient heating and cooling systems, or more efficient appliances and lightbulbs.

“They have recognised huge emissions reductions opportunities are often cheaper than trying to do it all inside the plant,” said David Doniger, who heads the climate programme at the NRDC. “If you want to get substantial reductions and you want to get it economically, you have to take into account a system-wide approach.”

The EPA to expected to try to soften the impact of the regulations by coming out with a range of targets, taking account of the energy mix in different states, and by allowing a two-step phase-in of the targets, with steeper cuts delayed until 2030.

But campaigners and industry are bracing for a fight.

The Chamber of Commerce, one of the major opponents of the environmental regulations, said in a report on Wednesday the EPA regulations would cost $51bn a year in higher electricity prices and lost jobs and investment – but those figures were disputed.

Coal mining companies, power plant operators that are heavily dependent on coal, attorney generals in about a dozen Republican-controlled states, and conservative think tanks also argue the system-wide approach oversteps the EPA's authority, and are lining up for legal challenges.

“I suspect we will see more environmental litigation as it relates to CO2 emissions going forward from a variety of sources,” said Karen Harbert, who heads the Chamber's energy institute.

America's carbon dioxide emissions have been falling over the last few years to the lowest levels since the 1990s, because of a switch from coal to cheaper natural gas, and on a smaller scale increased investment in renewables. The economic downturn also reduced demand for electricity.

The White House said those changes – which were mainly market-driven – showed the EPA regulations would not hurt the economy as critics claim.

“We can transform our energy system to be less carbon intensive while still growing the economy,” Obama's counsellor, John Podesta, told a conference call.

The EPA rules would fix those reductions in place and – as several campaigners and energy analysts noted – be a relatively easy reach for a large number of states which have already moved to cut emissions and expand wind and solar power.

More than 30 states already have regulations promoting renewable energy. Minnesota and Colorado are pledged to get 30% of their power from renewables by 2020.

Meanwhile, nine north-eastern states and California are already rewarding power companies which cut carbon through operating cap-and-trade systems.

Those changes in the energy landscape – and an intense outreach campaign by McCarthy and other officials – could defuse of the opposition, said Paul Bledsoe, an energy consultant who served on Bill Clinton's climate change task force. “I think there is a divide between the companies,” he said. “Coal heavy companies are going to fight it tooth and nail, especially behind the scenes, legally. The more gas, nuclear and renewable-heavy companies are going to be more sanguine about it.”

The EPA rules could also end up vastly expanding regional cap-and-trade programmes. Kelly Speakes-Backman, who heads the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the north-east, said she had already had quiet approaches from a number of state officials.

She said the nine states in RGGI had already cut carbon dioxide emissions 40% from 2005 levels, and were aiming to halve carbon pollution by 2020. The new EPA rules would be a “game-changer” for cap-and-trade.

Once Obama makes his announcement on Monday, the clock starts ticking. The EPA will have one year to take public comment from anyone from Greenpeace to Peabody Coal before finalising the new standards in June 2015.

Once those rules are final, the states will have one year, or until June 2016, to submit their plans for meeting the new EPA targets.

With Obama's term ending in January 2017, those are tight deadlines – especially with the legal and political battles ahead. But it does put Obama in position to fulfill the promises he made on climate change when he was first elected in 2008.

“This whole suite of policies is getting us within shooting range of where we could have been with a cap-and-trade bill,” said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the climate centre at Georgetown University law school. “If the EPA is really restructuring programmes to take advantage of systems wide benefits … then that is just huge.”


Carbon pollution Q&A: why Obama's proposal could make climate history
EPA-drafted regulations could cut carbon emissions responsible for climate change. Here's everything you need to know
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent


Why is Obama doing this instead of Congress?

The House voted for cap and trade in 2009, but the bill died in the Senate. Congress has shown no interest in taking up the issue – and half of the Republican members deny climate change is occurring or oppose measures to cut emissions.

Obama said last year he would use his executive authority to deal with climate change, and now he is.

Why is this a big deal in terms of climate change?

Climate legislation would have imposed economy-wide limits on carbon pollution. With that option off the table, this is the next best thing. Power plants are the single biggest source of carbon pollution, responsible for up to 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. Much of that carbon pollution is produced by burning coal, especially in old plants.

Obama already cut emissions from the second biggest source – transport – with new rules for cars during his first term.

Will they still be able to keep the lights on without coal?

Yes. Cheap natural gas, now available because of fracking, was already squeezing out coal in power plants, and now accounts for about 30% of electricity generation, according to official figures. Hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal power are expanding and make up about 12%. Nuclear accounts for about 19%

Will this mean many more nuclear plants?

Unlikely – because of the multi-billion dollar price tags and long lead time in permitting and construction. Energy experts expect the emissions reductions to come from retrofits, expanding renewable power, and finding ways to reduce waste, such as modernising the electricity grid.

What should I look out for on Monday?


It's still not clear how tough the new regulations will be. Industry and environment groups will be looking at the emissions reductions target but just as much at the starting and finishing lines. Carbon pollution from power plants has been dropping since 2007, because of natural gas and the downturn. A 25% cut on 2005 levels would be much easier to reach than a 25% cut on the – already lower – 2012 levels. People will also be watching to see whether Obama sets even stricter targets farther out in time, for 2030 or 2040.

Putin backs moves to improve Russia’s investment climate.


May 29, 2014 3:53 pm
Putin backs moves to improve Russia’s investment climate

When Lanxess, the German chemicals maker, tried to get the Russian city of Dzerzhinsk to supply power to the industrial park where it planned to build a factory, nothing happened for five years. But after bringing the problem to the federal government’s attention in 2012, everything suddenly became very easy.
“Within two days, everyone from the vice-minister level down promised that they’d help, and within six months, the transformer was built,” says Georges Barbey, the company’s general director for Russia. “It is possible to get good conditions for investment in Russia – when the federal authorities come in like a deus ex machina.”
That pretty much sums up how Russia approaches its key macroeconomic problem: widespread complaints about its business climate which have kept companies from investing enough to boost ailing economic growth.
Investment, historically already low compared with other emerging markets at just 25 per cent of gross domestic product, contracted by 0.3 per cent last year and slid another 4 per cent in the first quarter as fears of potential systemic sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea have strangled foreign credit inflows and driven many businesses to put off expansion plans.
But the government of President Vladimir Putin is undeterred. Introducing a rating that ranks the investment environment for Russian regions last week, Mr Putin said the survey would become “a tool for real change”.
The survey is designed with the help of Boston Consulting Group and a number of Russian and foreign business associations and based on polls among companies across the country. It brought to light, for example, that while it is possible to get power for a factory within 60 days in some regions, it takes 288 days on average elsewhere. Equally, the availability of financial support for small companies, the number of documents required to register property rights and local authorities’ basic understanding of business processes varies vastly.
Andrei Belousov, Mr Putin’s economic adviser, says Moscow is trying to use businesses’ expertise to improve the regulatory framework. “The most important thing is not just that we receive information about how a particular region is ranked but that we are collecting best practices,” he says. “We are going to closely monitor the changes in the performance indicators, especially in the worst regions, in order to improve.”
Such efforts are being appreciated. Last year, Russia jumped by 19 places to rank 92 in the World Bank’s survey on doing business in 189 countries.
Still, some argue that such efforts only scratch the surface. Many Russian businesses continue to structure themselves under offshore holding companies in order not to fall under Russian law. “There is no real rule of law in Russia, and you can never be sure that your property rights will be protected,” says a senior executive at one of Russia’s largest conglomerates.
FT Video

Rock-bottom Russia?
Russian stock brokers work inside Russia's ruble-based MICEX stock market in Moscow
March 2014: Moscow’s stock market is valued at just five times its forward earnings, almost half that of other emerging markets.
Memories of the forced bankruptcy and sell-off of Yukos, once Russia’s largest oil company, after its main owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky fell foul of Mr Putin more than 10 years ago, are still vivid, although most investors concede that similar cases occur much less frequently.
The government argues that the difference between the focus of its efforts and the big rule of law issues is artificial, and that the devil is in the detail.
“No doubt problems [with rule of law and political interference in business] exist, but not on a massive scale,” says Mr Belousov. “If you look at the polls, especially those conducted among foreign companies, you can see that what they are concerned about most in Russia is bureaucracy, the very lengthy procedures of decision-making, corruption, the fact that inspections of businesses are unregulated, and the lack of efficiency in the judicial system.”
Moscow’s other response is a complete overhaul of the civil law system. “The government is trying to create a more balanced and business-oriented set of rules, which could regulate business relationships more flexibly and effectively protect their participants’ rights and interests,” says a lawyer at a foreign law firm in Moscow.
For example, the presumption of acting in good faith has been replaced by an obligation to do so – in line with many European jurisdictions. Escrow accounts will soon be recognised by law, and legislation regarding a host of financial and contractual activity was modernised.
Moscow is seeing some results to its push to improve the investment climate. In the industrial park in Dzerzhinsk, which was empty until 2012, 16 new companies set up shop within a year after Lanxess’s lobbying victory.

But it may take much more to build sustainable trust. Says a representative of a foreign business association: “In the end, it all boils down to how often and how much Putin can intervene, and when he intervenes, if he does the right thing.”

quinta-feira, 29 de maio de 2014

Bilderberg at 60: inside the world's most secretive conference Topics on the agenda for the three-day summit first held on 29 May 1954 will include: does privacy exist?





Bilderberg at 60: inside the world's most secretive conference
Topics on the agenda for the three-day summit first held on 29 May 1954 will include: does privacy exist?
Charlie Skelton

It's been a week of celebrations for Henry Kissinger. On Tuesday he turned 91, on Wednesday he broke his personal best in the 400m hurdles, and on Thursday in Copenhagen, he'll be clinking champagne flutes with the secretary general of Nato and the queen of Spain, as they celebrate 60 glorious years of Bilderberg. I just hope George Osborne remembered to pack a party hat.

Thursday is the opening day of the influential three-day summit and it's also the 60th anniversary of the Bilderberg Group's first meeting, which took place in Holland on 29 May 1954. So this year's event is a red-letter occasion, and the official participant list shows that the 2014 conference is a peculiarly high-powered affair.

The chancellor, at his seventh Bilderberg, is spending the next three days deep in conference with the heads of MI6, Nato, the International Monetary Fund, HSBC, Shell, BP and Goldman Sachs International, along with dozens of other chief executives, billionaires and high-ranking politicians from around Europe. This year also includes a visit from the supreme allied commander Europe, and a return of royalty – Queen Sofia of Spain and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the daughter of the Bilderberg founder Prince Bernhard.

Back in the 1950s, when Bernhard sent out the invitations, it was to discuss "a number of problems facing western civilization". These days, the Bilderberg Group prefers to call them "megatrends". The megatrends on this year's agenda include: "What next for Europe?", "Ukraine", "Intelligence sharing" and "Does privacy exist?"

That's an exquisite irony: the world's most secretive conference discussing whether privacy exists. Certainly for some it does. It's not just birthday bunting that's gone up in Copenhagen: there's also a double ring of three-metre (10ft) high security fencing. The hotel is teeming with security: lithe gentlemen in loose slacks and dark glasses, trying not to kill the birthday vibe. Or anyone else.

Already, two reporters have been arrested trying to interview the organisers of the conference in the Marriott hotel bar. It's easy enough to keep your privacy intact when you're employing so many people to guard it.

There's something distinctly chilling about the existence of privacy being debated, in extreme privacy, by people such as the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, and the board member of Facebook Peter Thiel: exactly the people who know how radically transparent the general public has become.

And to have them discussing it with the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, and Keith Alexander, the recently replaced head of the National Security Agency. And with people such as the head of AXA, the insurance and investment conglomerate – Henri de Castries. Perhaps no one is more interested in data collection and public surveillance than the insurance giants. For them, privacy is the enemy. Public transparency is a goldmine.

Back in 2010, Osborne proudly launched "the most radical transparency agenda the country has ever seen". However, this transparency agenda doesn't seem to extend to Osborne himself making a public statement about what he has discussed at this meeting. And with whom.

We know, from the agenda and list, that Osborne will be there with the foreign affairs ministers from Spain and Sweden, and the deputy secretary general of the French presidency. And from closer to home, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, and fellow Bilderberg veteran and shadow chancellor, Ed Balls.

We know that he's scheduled to discuss the situation in Ukraine with extremely interested parties, such as the chief executive of the European arms giant Airbus, Thomas Enders. Not to mention the chief executive and chairman of "the defence & security company" Saab: Håkan Buskhe and Marcus Wallenberg. And billionaire investors including Henry Kravis of KKR, who is "always looking to sharpen" what he calls "the KKR edge". Helping Kravis sharpen his edge is General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, now head of the KKR Global Institute – a massive investment operation.

The Bilderberg Group says the conference has no desired outcome. But for private equity giants, and the heads of banks, arms manufacturers and oil companies, there's always a desired outcome. Try telling the shareholders of Shell that there's "no desired outcome" of their chairman and chief executive spending three days in conference with politicians and policy makers.

Try telling that to the lobbyists who have been working so hard to push the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal that is being negotiated. Bilderberg is packed to the gills with senior members of powerful lobby groups. Will members of BritishAmerican Business's international advisory board, such as Douglas Flint and Peter Sutherland, express BAB's fervent support of TTIP when discussing "Is the economic recovery sustainable?" Or will they leave their lobbying hats at the door?

MP Michael Meacher describes Bilderberg as "the cabal of the rich and powerful" who are working "to consolidate and extend the grip of the markets". And they're doing so "beyond the reach of the media or the public". That said, every year, the press probes a little further behind the security fencing. Every year the questions for the politicians who attend, but remain silent, get harder.

They can try to laugh it off as a "talking shop" or a glorified knees-up, but these people haven't come to Bilderberg to drink fizzy wine and pull party poppers. It's possible that Reid Hoffman, the head of LinkedIn, has turned up for the birthday cake. But I doubt it. This is big business. And big politics. And big lobbying.


Bilderberg is big money, and they know how to spend it. From my spot outside, I've just seen three vans full of fish delicacies trundle into the hotel service entrance. I always thought there was something fishy about Bilderberg. Turns out that for tonight at least, it's the rollmops

Prince Charles: reform capitalism to save the planet.


Prince Charles: reform capitalism to save the planet.
A “fundamental transformation of global capitalism” is needed in order to tackle climate change, the Prince of Wales has said

Prince Charles has called for an end to capitalism as we know it in order to save the planet from global warming.
In a speech to business leaders in London, the Prince said that a “fundamental transformation of global capitalism” was necessary in order to halt “dangerously accelerating climate change” that would “bring us to our own destruction”.
He called for companies to focus on “approaches that achieve lasting and meaningful returns” by protecting the environment, improving their employment practices and helping the vulnerable to develop a new "inclusive capitalism".
The Prince was taking part in his first major UK public engagement since sparking a diplomatic row last week by likening the behaviour of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to Adolf Hitler.
In a politically-charged speech at the Inclusive Capitalism conference, the Prince said: “I remember when the Iron Curtain came down there was a certain amount of shouting about the triumph of capitalism over communism. Being somewhat contrary, I didn't think it was quite as simple as that. I felt that unless the business world considered the social, community and environmental dimensions, we might end up coming full circle.”
The Prince, who has long been outspoken about the need to tackle climate change, said the world now stood at “a pivotal moment in history” ahead of major UN summit in Paris next year on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Over the next eighteen months, and bearing in mind the urgency of the situation confronting us, the world faces what is probably the last effective window of opportunity to vacate the insidious lure of the ‘last chance saloon’ in order to agree an ambitious, equitable and far-sighted multilateral settlement in the context of the post-2015 sustainable development goals and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change,” he said.
“Either we continue along the path we seem collectively determined to follow, apparently at the mercy of those who so vociferously and aggressively deny that our current operating model has any effect upon dangerously accelerating climate change - which I fear will bring us to our own destruction - or we can choose to act now before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable and resilient society,” he said.
The Prince was addressing an audience of 200 business leaders including Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and chief executives of multinational companies such as UBS, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever.
He called on businesses to focus on the long-term and make “an authentic moral commitment to acting as true custodians of the Earth and architects of the well-being of current and future generations”.
“It is only by adopting a broader sense of value that our finances will be sustained and we can find new sources of profit,” he said.
His comments appear to align with those of Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, who has called for “responsible capitalism”.
The Prince suggested that companies must do more to put “young people properly at the heart of companies' employment practices and planning strategies, in order to tackle more effectively the world's growing youth unemployment crisis”.
Businesses must also “account properly for carbon dioxide emissions, the use of water and fertiliser, the pollution we produce and the biodiversity we lose”, he said.
The Prince said that businesses would be unpopular with their peers in the short term for going green but would reap “immense” rewards in the long term.

Eles coleccionam detalhes da arquitectura portuguesa


Eles coleccionam detalhes da arquitectura portuguesa
"Old Portuguese Stuff" é um blogue dos jovens arquitectos Catarina Santos e Alexandre Gamelas, que visam recolher detalhes arquitectónicos típicos da realidade portuguesa
Texto de Ricardo M. Alves • 27/05/2014 – PÚBLICO / P3

Do barroco ao moderno, do puxador à escadaria, do Norte ao Sul de Portugal. Catarina Santos e Alexandre Gamelas fotografam aqueles requintes dos edifícios que parecem desaparecer num cenário alargado, mas que quando vistos à lupa revelam segredos sobre a identidade de um país. Falamos com eles sobre o blogue Old Portuguese Stuff, onde aglomeram esses registos, e sobre a realidade da arquitectura portuguesa.



Para a reverência que vocês têm pelos materiais que catalogam, Old Portuguese Stuff parece um nome muito informal.
Catarina Santos — Sim, é um bocado [risos]. Mas o âmbito do blogue é demasiado amplo para fechar numa palavra que não seja genérica. Recolhemos detalhes arquitectónicos de todas as correntes e formatos, o critério é apenas que esteja bem construído e seja um retrato da realidade portuguesa.
Alexandre Gamelas — Sim, e o que acontece muito em Portugal é o discurso sobre arquitectura ser muito formal, muito académico. Enquanto estivemos a trabalhar nos Estados Unidos havia um diálogo muito mais relaxado com a arquitectura.

Vocês começaram o Old Portuguese Stuff quando ainda estavam a trabalhar em Nova Iorque — foi por causa da saudade?
CS — Sim, foi isso [risos].
AG — Também foi isso, mas também foi uma ideia que nos surgiu naquele momento e naquele lugar porque nos escritórios onde trabalhávamos havia uns cadernos que não se encontram em Portugal. São pequenos compêndios de pormenores arquitecturais como caixilhos, portas, corrimões. Como o trabalho que fazíamos lá era uma arquitectura bastante tradicional, usávamos estas pequenas revistas como ferramentas de trabalho, como referência. Claro que a nostalgia por Portugal foi um grande motivador, mas a ideia para o blogue foi também construir uma base de dados semelhante, que nos fosse útil a nós mas também a outros arquitectos.



Isso explica um pouco a transversalidade do blogue — vocês cobrem desde estruturas como escadarias a detalhes como puxadores. Mas também cobrem muita área, com fotografias do Norte ao Sul do país. As fotografias são todas recolhidas só por vocês?
CS — Sim, todas as fotografias são nossas. Temos alguma facilidade nessas viagens porque eu sou da Batalha, e o Alexandre é da Guarda — acabamos por circular bastante. E nessas viagens aproveitamos sempre para recolher algumas fotografias — algumas viagens fazemos de propósito para recolher material, noutros casos são só oportunidades que surgem durante passeios.
AG — Quando começamos o blogue já tínhamos um arquivo enorme, porque sempre tivemos esse gosto por tirar fotografias de detalhe em viagens.

Há algo de missão aqui?
AG — Um pouco, talvez. Acho que ainda temos muito material à espera de ser encontrado, há um trabalho de memória que seria interessante fazer com o património que temos que está abandonado ou até a ser destruído.



Vocês já voltaram a Portugal há cerca de três anos. Como vêem a acção de recuperação que está a ser feita — como por exemplo no caso dos projectos da Sociedade de Reabilitação Urbana, aqui no Porto?
AG — Pois, por onde começar...
CS — É assim, é bom que se esteja a recuperar, porque durante muitos anos não se fez nada. Pelo menos há um movimento de regresso à baixa e os agentes estão interessados em recuperar. Só que muitas vezes essa recuperação não é a melhor.

Falta algum respeito pelos materiais que se recupera?
CS — Sim, a recuperação muitas vezes não respeita a arquitectura antiga. Muitas vezes se destrói o que já lá estava para substituír por coisas novas que não estão muito de acordo com o contexto.
AG — Como a Catarina diz, essa onda de regresso à Baixa é uma coisa objectivamente boa. Mas em relação às intervenções públicas, houve coisas muito graves que aconteceram. Muitas vezes quando o estado intervém parece que apenas piora a situação. Mas isto não é uma coisa recente, já tem alguns anos. Temos nesta cidade o caso da Avenida dos Aliados, ou do empreendimento das Cardosas. As coisas estão mais limpas, mais arranjadas, mas perdem a identidade que tinham.

A acção típica de levantar a calçada portuguesa e substituí-la por blocos de granito.
AG — Sim, as intervenções do estado são muito agressivas. Casos assim mereciam uma acção mais conservadora, algo que se limitasse a uma limpeza de imagem. Desta maneira os espaços ficam com uma cara lavada, é certo, mas é uma cara que já não é a deles. Corremos o risco de, repetindo-se demasiadas vezes essa acção, a cidade perder o seu tom característico. Isto é uma situação que não se verifica quando a intervenção é feita a título indivdual pelos proprietários, aí há menos perigo de se perder património. As más acções aqui são minoritárias, o efeito nocivo dilui-se.

As fachadas azulejares são outro exemplo de algo que não é propriamente preservado.
AG — Sem dúvida. Nesses casos até se faz algo ainda pior — pelo menos para nós que somos puristas — que é produzir industrialmente réplicas dos azulejos pintados à mão que lá estavam. Mas nota-se logo a diferença na técnica estandardizada, o efeito final é quase uma coisa irónica, grotesca. O edifício parece uma casa de banho.
CS — É um pouco o valor que achamos que o blogue tem, o de preservar esse tipo de detalhes que aos poucos vão desaparecendo e sendo adulterados. E isso acaba por chamar a atenção a essas falhas na recuperação.

O que é que acham que contribuiu para essas especificidades da arquitectura portuguesa? Foi o isolamento do período do Estado Novo?
AG — Essa é uma boa questão. Eu acho que sim, que essa especificidade na história do nosso país nos deu algo de único, que não se encontra em cidades espanholas, francesas ou britânicas. É também por isso que nos damos ao trabalho de captar esses pormenores, porque temos tendências actuais de recuperação que são substituír as janelas por caixilhos para vidro duplo em PVC, encher o interior de pladur e está feita a recuperação. É algo económico por ser massificado. Nós tentamos desenvolver um trabalho diferente, desenhamos janelas como elas eram desenhadas há um século.

O que também caracteriza a arquitectura tradicional portuguesa é a cultura artesã — acham que é algo que se está a perder?
CS — Agora já está a haver mais procura outra vez. Mas há uma ou duas décadas atrás não era de todo o que se fazia, por isso muito conhecimento entretanto desapareceu. Mas ainda vamos a tempo de recuperar, de dinamizar de novo a produção artesã — ela ainda não desapareceu completamente.
AG — Sim, já começa a haver uma procura generalizada. Mas a título de exemplo, nós no ano passado estávamos a recuperar um apartamento e procuramos peças de substituição fabricadas através do mesmo processo. Ainda encontramos algumas, mas noutros casos a frase que mais ouvíamos era "esse senhor já morreu". A gente chegava à loja de ferragens, escolhíamos determinado tipo de puxador, e quando tentávamos encomendar em grande número diziam-nos sempre "o senhor que fazia isso já morreu, não se arranja mais". As fábricas fecham, os moldes vendem-se, não deixaram aprendizes.


Sendo que zonas como este centro histórico do Porto são classificadas pela UNESCO como património da humanidade, a recuperação das práticas artesanais não deve também caber às entidades públicas ou mesmo comunitárias?
CS — Acho que se houver procura isso vai reaparecer novamente. Aquele período nos anos 90 em que se perdeu mais dessa arte deveu-se a falta de procura. Se a procura aumentar, acho que ainda vamos a tempo de ver o ressurgimento das práticas artesanais.

O mercado livre também pode funcionar para o bem, então.
AG — Exacto! Mas sobretudo acho que deve haver da parte das entidades públicas menos preocupação em construir e mais preocupação em regular. Dentro dos limites do razoável, obrigar os proprietários à recuperação criteriosa dos edifícios. Acho que aí teríamos uma acção mais natural em que o património estaria protegido.


Texto editado por Andréia Azevedo Soares