Thursday, December 07, 2006


From today. [Annotations by me]:

[NOTE: Please do keep in mind that the authorities routinely manipulate various elements of the compliant Brazilian news media to send up trial balloons to see if they can sway public opinion, especially when political tensions are high.]

Headline: "Prosecutor and Police Try Last-Minute Maneuvers to Keep Pilots in Brazil."

By Roberto Espinoza

"Brazil's Public Attorney Office and Federal Police are doing their best to prevent that American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, implicated in the collision with the Boeing 737 on Sept. 29, leave the country tomorrow as ordered by a Brazilian higher court of justice." (MY NOTE: Note the subtle shift here to using the word "implicated," in conformity with authories' mood. The pilots have not been charged with anything, and no evidence has been presented to charge them with anything.)

"Failing that, they will at least try to leave a strong impression on those following the news of the release and on the pilots themselves." (MY NOTE: Air traffic remains a mess in Brazil as controllers, fearful that releasing the pilots will impute blame to the controllers (where it squarely belongs), threaten to bring the system to a halt over the year-end holidays, when summer tourist season also begins in Brazil).

(My NOTE, continued): The air-traffic situation in Brazil has now become a full-blown political crisis for the government, which has allowed itself to be backed into a corner by controllers and their military bosses, whose greatest fear is losing their control of the ATC system and its honey-pot of a budget.)

The American pilots are allowed by a regional federal court order to pick up their passports after 6 p.m. Friday. The Federal Police have scheduled one more interrogation session with the pilots -- for Friday. Anyone thinking what I am: Hail Mary pass?

Meanwhile, as I said, Brazil's air-travel system remains in chaos, with long lines and people sleeping in terminals all night. Air traffic control computers broke down in Brasilia Tuesday as controllers intensified their protests. Two major airports were shut down and operations at a third, Sao Paulo, were severely curtailed.

In keeping with a current style in journalism, the Associated Press today obediently takes out its steno pad and merely reports what a Brazilian press agency has been assured by the authorities. "Federal police discounted the possibility of sabotage, saying the problem appeared to be technical and that they would only investigate if asked by Brazil's military, which runs the system ..."

It ain't often I'm speechless but, uh ...


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