Opinion

The Great Debate

from Breakingviews:

Brazil’s companies need soccer team’s global clout

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s corporate squad pales beside its soccer stars. The country’s national football side has unquestioned world-class quality in almost every position on the pitch. Yet if there were a World Cup for businesses, Brazil would struggle to get past the group stage.

“A Seleção”, as Brazil’s soccer team is known, has won the sport’s biggest prize a record five times. Its skill on the ball is described by the exhortation “joga bonito” - “play beautifully”. Brazil has some corporate champions that are both skilled and strong. But it’s doubtful the world’s seventh-largest economy could field a world-beating team of corporate stars.

Several Brazilian companies can hold their own against the world’s best. That’s especially true in finance. In a soccer team, lender Itaú, buyout specialist 3G Capital, and investment bank BTG Pactual could comprise a menacing front line.

Brazil would surely place Ambev, its largest listed company, at the heart of its midfield. Though the $115 billion brewer is technically a subsidiary of Belgium-listed Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company’s management is dominated by Brazilians. So is AB InBev’s board. It includes two of the three principals at 3G, who together with Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man, created Ambev in 1999.

What does Eric Cantor’s loss mean? Gridlock until 2023

Cantor and Boehner hold a news conference after a Republican Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington

Gridlock is likely to rule the federal government until at least 2023.  Why 2023?  Because it may not be until after the 2020 Census that the Democrats have a good chance of regaining control of the House of Representatives.

As long as Republicans rule the House, compromise with Democrats is out of the question.  Look at what happened to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in Tuesday’s GOP primary.  Cantor is nobody’s idea of a compromiser. But because he did the minimum necessary to keep government operating — like voting to raise the debt ceiling and to end the government shutdown — Cantor was branded a traitor to the conservative cause.  Cantor’s ultimate transgression?  His Tea Party opponent displayed a photo of the House majority leader standing next to President Barack Obama.   Oh, the horror!

The 2010 Republican landslide gave the party control of most state governments. The GOP-controlled state governments, which reconfigured congressional district boundaries after the 2010 census, drew lines that would protect and expand GOP control of the House. The next census is in 2020. That’s two presidential elections away.

Why Hillary Clinton needs to follow a California dream

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Syria during an event at the White House in Washington

Given the historic enmity between California Governor Jerry Brown and former President Bill Clinton, it is ironic that Brown may have written the political playbook for Hillary Clinton in her possible 2016 presidential bid.

During the Democrats’ nasty 1992 presidential primaries, Clinton and Brown clashed –and clashed over Hillary Clinton — in increasingly heated exchanges. In a one fiery Illinois primary debate, Brown jabbed his finger at Clinton and accused the Arkansas governor  of “funneling money to his wife’s law firm for state business.”

Clinton jabbed back and angrily responded, “I don’t care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumpin’ on my wife. You’re not worth bein’ on the same platform as my wife.”

How to recruit more primary care physicians — for the VA and nationwide

A patient has her knee examined by Dr. Narang at University of Chicago Medicine Urgent Care Clinic in Chicago

“Can I give you a hug?” a patient recently asked me, just before breaking into tears and wrapping her arms around me in gratitude.

Hugs weren’t on my list of pros and cons when I chose to become a primary care physician, but they sustained me through some tough years. I am devoted to my patients and my profession. But, like many colleagues, I wonder whether I would choose primary care now if I had to choose again.

Primary care physicians have a high risk of burnout. My colleagues continually announce early retirement, conversion to part-time, and changes of profession.

Excuse me, is that snake oil gluten-free?

Store worker Sam Issa walks past rows of herbal, vitamin and mineral pill products at a suburban pha..

As consumers, we like to think of ourselves as savvy and rational. But marketers have always known better. The health food and dietary supplement industries, in particular, have long made a mockery of the rational consumer.

They delve into our wounded hearts with evangelical calls to detox and purify. They bend our minds with pseudoscientific drivel and armies of so-called experts who tell us that instead of fresh, nourishing food, we need supplements and specially treated products.

Never mind that mounting evidence suggests the contrary. Our self-control is subverted by clever ads and our rationality crumbles when everything from upscale health stores to 7-Elevens stock pills, powders and products that would make a snake oil salesman blush.

from Breakingviews:

Investors cheer for Brazil World Cup rout

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event - or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço - may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.

With each dip in Rousseff’s poll numbers, the Bovespa Index kicks up a notch. Investors are hoping her experimental economic policies will come to an end at the ballot this fall.

Election laws that prevent elections

spivak -- conyers

After a half-century in the House of Representatives, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), now the second longest serving member of Congress, may be an unsympathetic victim to show how election laws can be unfairly used to keep potential challengers off the ballot.

But recent court rulings on Conyers as well as a New Jersey recall attempt highlight how election laws are frequently designed to benefit those in power — and block potential challengers.

Due to its mix of an embarrassing level of incompetence and Conyers’ long service, his failure to get enough signatures got attention. Conyers needed 1,000 valid registered voters in his district to sign his petition in order to get on the ballot. His supporters collected enough raw signatures, but many people either didn’t live in the district or weren’t registered voters. After striking these and other nonconforming signatures, Conyers only had 455 valid signatures. The county clerk struck Conyers from the ballot.

Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent

bush-obama

Agreement is not enough.  Performance matters more.

That’s why the outlook for Democrats this November looks bleak.  More and more Americans now agree with Democrats on the issues.  But they are increasingly dismayed by President Barack Obama’s inability to get results.

The Gallup poll reports that, ideologically, Americans are moving to the left on both social and economic issues. Though more Americans continue to identify as conservatives than as liberals, the conservative advantage is shrinking.

In 2010, for example, which saw a huge backlash against Obama, self-described economic conservatives outnumbered economic liberals by 36 points. Every year since, the conservative lead has gotten smaller. It’s now 21 points.

Net neutrality: A web of deceit

Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on oversight of the FCC on Capitol Hill in Washington

Special-interest groups are calling for public-utility regulations to be placed on the Internet — the most innovative and society-shaping deregulatory success story of our time. These people are trying to exert control over the Internet through “net neutrality” regulations that will likely benefit only a few huge Internet companies and the top 1 percent of Internet users.

Net neutrality was developed to ensure that Internet users had the freedom to view all the legal content they wanted. Recently, however, there has been a shift in focus:  Some of the largest Internet companies are citing “net neutrality” as a reason to enshrine specific privileges that largely benefit them.

If these content companies get their way — and the Federal Communications Commission is now deliberating this — Americans will be forced to shoulder the costs for the high-speed networks and infrastructure upgrades needed to support high-volume Internet traffic generators, such as Netflix.

Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl waits in a pick-up truck before he is freed at the Afghan border

The furor surrounding the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl this week has exposed the murky world — and impossible choices — of the families of Americans taken captive by militants.

Demands for vast ransoms or for prisoner releases put these families in the excruciating position of seeming to be able to save a loved one’s life. Meet demands and your beloved lives. Hesitate and carry responsibility for their death to your grave.

Yet few families have access to the sums of money that militants demand. Nor can they free prisoners held by the United States or a local government. Despite the fact that the families feel primary responsibility, they have no real control.

  •