World’s Largest Air Purifier Transforms Chinese Smog into Actual Diamonds

This shimmering park tower isn’t just a glamorous piece of architecture: it is the largest air purifier in the world, and it is turning China’s smog into diamonds.

The tower is a 23-foot tall metal structure that is capable of filtering 75% of harmful PM2.5 and PM10 particles from the surrounding air, thus producing 30,000 cubic meters of clean air per hour. This creates a bubble of air around the tower, offering smog-free solace to urban dwellers.

According to the tower’s creator Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, the Chinese smog that is accumulated by the air filter is the equivalent of smoking 17 cigarettes per day.

The air filter, which was built as a part of Roosegaarde‘s Smog Free Project, sucks up the tiny particles of carbon from the air and turns the substance into diamonds. The diamonds are then used to make jewelry that is sold to help finance the construction of new towers and filtration products.

The tower was originally installed in Rotterdam, before being transferred to Beijing last year, followed by Tianjin, and then the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China last month. Soon, Roosegaarde hopes to move the tower to more polluted cities in India.

In addition to the tower, the Smog Free Project has started developing the Smog Free Bicycle: a contraption that circulates the air in front of the user so that they can travel in a relatively smog-free bubble of clean air.

“Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city,” said Roosegaarde. “Together with Chinese and Dutch expertise we will bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.”

“True beauty is clean air and it should not be taken for granted,” he continues. “Smog Free Project is a series of urban innovation to reduce pollution on the city scale, a package deal for Mayors for an immediate impact and lasting effect towards smog free cities.”


Good news from Brazil

Brazil’s G.D.P. increased by 1% in the first quarter of 2017 in comparison with the three last months of last year.

Naturally, the result was celebrated by the government and, technically, the country is out of recession. However, economists warn that the performance in the past three months isn’t a guarantee the country overcame its ongoing recession for various factors.

The gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country’s economy. It represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. And, for the circumstances the country is going through, Brazil’s GDP registered a quite impressive growth. In fact it was the first positive figure since the last quarter of 2014.

Information disclosed by the government is a relief with the wave of bad news for Brazil. The most important factor behind this growth lays on the agriculture. The country had the biggest harvest of the past 20 years and it’s one of the most efficient agriculture’s in the world. At the same time, the data shows it’s unlikely for agriculture to keep this growth rate and all other economy sectors are still stagnated.

Furthermore, the new data doesn’t reflect the turbulence of the latest plead bargaining. The consequence of the plea bargain deal of the meat exporter JBS to be more specific. The company’s CEO actually taped a conversation with Mr. Temer’s where the JBS representative is encouraged to keep paying for some key congressman to keep their mouth shut on corruption issues. This occurred in the second trimester of 2017, after the positive numbers were consolidated.


Como é o pagamento de tributos nos EUA

Muitos lojistas do Brasil venderão hoje produtos com preço sem imposto na tentativa de criar consciência para o tamanho da carga tributária do Brasil. A ideia é que o cidadão tem um conhecimento mais preciso da arrecadação do governo e pode ser mais – ou menos – exigente com a qualidade dos serviços públicos. Para entender melhor a eficiência desse tipo de ação podemos comparar com o praticado em outro país.

De acordo com o site da Câmara de Dirigentes Lojistas (CDL), o dia da liberdade de impostos é uma ação do comércio para conscientização sobre a alta carga tributária brasileira que incide em produtos e serviços e é onerosa para a população. Neste dia, comerciantes dos mais variados segmentos comercializam produtos com o desconto referente ao valor dos impostos incidentes. O problema é que ações que duram apenas um dia tem eficiência questionável.

Outros países

Nos Estados Unidos e alguns países europeus, por exemplo, além do imposto ser impresso na nota fiscal, a maioria dos tributos é adicionada ao preço final na boca do caixa. Essa prática pode ser confusa para quem não está acostumado porque há uma diferença de preço entre o exibido na gôndola e o registrado no caixa para o pagamento dos produtos, mas isso ocorre em absolutamente todas as transações, logo gera consumidores mais conscientes. No Brasil, o valor dos impostos está registrado na nota fiscal, mas está impresso em local disperso, até a fonte e o tamanho da letra são diferentes, foi feito para pouquíssima gente efetivamente prestar atenção.


David Beckham vai construir estádio de futebol em Miami

O ex-jogador de futebol David Beckham conseguiu a última autorização necessária para construir seu estádio em Miami.  O que faltava era a autorização do condado (algo semelhante a prefeitura). A prefeitura era proprietária de alguns galpões na área que será erguido o estádio, logo, no mesmo ato ocorreu a permissão de construção e a venda dos terrenos que pertenciam a prefeitura. O próximo passo é comprar os terrenos particulares da região.

Um dos entraves para Beckham é o estacionamento. Miami é conhecida por um sistema de transporte público pouco eficiente e não há espaço suficiente no terreno para a construção de estacionamento para a capacidade de público no estádio, de 25 mil pessoas.  Para suprir o problema o Beckham group já estuda parceria com a empresa de ônibus que circula na cidade para atender a demanda em dias de jogo. Além de contar com a tradição da liga de futebol dos Estados Unidos que incentiva a torcida a caminhar até o estádio.

O terreno é de seis acres. A prefeitura era proprietária de uma parte minoritária da área e vendeu por cerca de R$32 milhões, outras partes eram da iniciativa privada e foram vendidos por um total de aproximadamente R$63 milhões.

A maioria dos detalhes já eram de conhecimento público. O acordo do grupo de investidores com a cidade prevê, por exemplo, que o Beckham group criará ao menos 50 empregos diretos em tempo integral por um período de cinco anos após a conclusão do estádio.

Os próximos passos agora envolvem o pagamento do sinal para a compra do terreno da prefeitura e a autorização da Liga de Futebol dos Estados Unidos (MLS sigla em inglês) para o projeto final.


The aftermath of Rio Olympics

In an interview this week to O Globo, Carlos Arthur Nuzmann, President of the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee pitched: “We made the commitment to holding the Games without public funding and we are fulfilling it”. But facts seem to go against Mr. Nuzmann.

There was public money, and depending on the angle you analyse, lots of it. Of the R$ 39 billion spent on the Olympics, roughly 43% came directly from the Brazilian taxpayers, the number is bigger if you consider additional state expenses, like security, as the Folha has shown. This represents 14 year’s-worth of Federal incentives and subsidies related to culture related activities.

To say the Games happened without public funding, Nuzmann is limiting to the budget for the Organizing Committee. This R$ 7,4 billion fund is a share, coming mostly from sponsors, ticket sales, licensing and the IOC (International Olympic Committee). But even this number is incorrect because it ignores tax breaks and sponsorship by the Federal Government’s companies.

The creative accounting by the top official for the Olympics contains a convenient logic. Nuzmann affirmed in a conference: “The Olympics have nothing to do with the problems of the State [Rio de Janeiro]”. But the government of Rio de Janeiro says exactly the opposite: “Therefore a state of public calamity is declared, due to the severe financial crisis in the State of RJ, that prevents it from carrying out obligations it has assumed as a result of the Olympic Games”.

While Rio was preparing for the Games, other cities were evaluating potential candidacies, weighing the use of public funding. Stockholm and Boston gave up. Munich and Hamburg took the question to their voters and were turned down.

Brazilians didn’t have the same opportunity to vote as the Germans did. It is time to evaluate from various angles whether or not this kind of public investment is worth the cost. The conclusion may be “yes”, it is worth. But the debate should be carried out using arguments that aren’t so bias.

With information from O Globo, Folha and UOL.


Brazilian deputies are free to spit on their peers

The Ethics Committee of the Lower House waives Congressman’s action after he spits on his peer.

There is virtually nothing funnier than the work of a few Deputies in the Brazilian Parliament. But the Rio de Janeiro Representative Jean Wyllys took the code of conduct to a new level. Because of his actions spitting on a peer is now, technically, an accepted behavior.

The Congressman Jean Wyllys is the only openly gay representative in the Brazilian lower house. According to his biography available online, he was a fairly successful college professor when he joined a reality TV show called Big Brother Brazil (BBB). For reasons that overcome one’s ability to understand viewer’s voting choices for the winner of a reality show, Mr. Wyllys won the competition, he was awarded R$1 million and earned great popularity. Enjoying the recent fame, the then a mere “BBB winner” saw a window of opportunity to make his way to Congress. The gay congressman is educated and does a relatively good job positioning himself as an intellectual that fights for the LGBT rights, this elements granted him a very good national projection as a politician.

The action
During the voting session that decided the ousting of Former President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Wyllys spit on another Congressman. A few minutes later, a post on his Facebook page admitted his actions and explained he was grabbed by the arm and heard homophobic insults. However, the representative’s problems began when a video of what really happened went viral just a few minutes after spitting, the material shows another Congressman just waiving and saying “good buy, my dear”. Wyllys had no choice but deleting his post on social media.

The Congressman accused of making homophobic insults is Jair Bolsonaro, another Deputy with a funny background. Bolsonaro is a former Officer in the Brazilian Army and every time he has a chance he denies the undeniable fact Brazil lived years under military dictatorship and oppression. Both Representatives became strong adversaries against the other when the gay representative tried to pass bills to grant the LGBT community special rights. Now, both enjoy the popularity of their positions on this issue.

The code of conduct

The Congress bylaws has a behavior code of conduct and obviously spitting isn’t covered. A few deputies filed formal complaint against Mr. Wyllys and, to make sure it was a fair analysis, Congress dedicated a few days to study – step by step – the process the human body needs to producing enough saliva and spit. Everything was taken to the point where the parliament invited specialists to know how intentional Wyllys was about spitting before actually releasing his saliva.

Part of the body of deputies judging the behavior wanted to suspend Wyllys’ mandate for a few months. But the gay Representative managed to convince the body of representatives by saying. “Looking back to what happened I actually feel obligated to do it again if the context repeated itself because the gay community has to fight prejudice”, and the body of representatives decided to send Congressman Wyllys an official written warning. Funny enough, after receiving the warning officially saying a Deputy can’t spit on a peer, he repeated he would do the same if Bolsonaro repeated his actions.

The picture shows Bolsonaro waiving and Wyllys spiting


Brazil in a murder spree

Brazil can’t catch a break. Problems in politics, corruption, zika are current and a new report the Center for Public Security And Criminal Justice out this month shows plenty of Brazilian cities dominating a list of the 50 murder capitals of the world.

The report by Mexico City based Center for Public Security And Criminal Justice shows that no country in the world has more cities plagued by violent crime than Brazil. Yes, the country is large. But the U.S. is just as big and has just four cities on the list, including some like St. Louis that are more violent than Rio de Janeiro in terms of homicide rates. Mexico, the second largest country in Latin America, has five cities on the list, down from last year’s 12.

In violent crimes Brazil is among the most violent. But there is no competition when it comes to mortal gunshot. Out of the 50 cities with high per capita homicide rates, Brazil has 22 cities on the list. Even clean-and-green Curitiba and homogenous Porto Alegre, both in the South of the country, are on it. The zika virus is well ranked in the World Health Organization warnings list on the run-for-your-life pandemics. And violent crimes in Brazil have a higher rank in the list. And specialists say it’s harder to eradicate violence because it won’t go away with pesticides and booster shots. Reducing homicide rates require a better police force, a stronger public health system equipped to deal with drug addiction, and a better economy. Seeing how most Brazil economists are forecasting the country to get marginally worse this year, rising unemployment and sinking incomes suggest this rates aren’t improving any time soon.

The South America giant statistics put war zones in shame. Local authorities in Mato Grosso, a state famous for being an agriculture and meat production power, reported a rate of 212 daily murders. On the bright side, famous cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro did not make the list. The Research Center’s president, José Antonio Ortega, said Sao Paulo’s homicide rate was a low, 9.8 per 100,000, which makes it like New York City. Rio was 18.6, which makes it better than Compton, in California.

To make matters worse, the Brazilian police doesn’t tackle the problem properly. Abuse of power and excessive use of force are regular complaints. The unemployed Henrique Mendes lives in Belo Horizonte, southwest of the country, manages to find good humor of the situation. “Probably Ryan Lochte knew about the inefficiency of our police, but he didn’t count the only moment law enforcement would actually work was during the Olympics because everyone was paying attention” Mendes said. And, laughing, he mentioned an interview with the chief of police saying Lochte reported the robber took some money but didn’t steal his iPhone or his watch. “That was just lack of experience, what thieve in the world would let that kind of valuables go unnoticed?”.

The Center for Public Security’s report did not give reasons for the Brazilian crime spree. Most foreigners in attendance for the Olympics already had two popular perceptions of Rio. First, that it is a 24-hours a day Carnaval party. And second, that it is dangerous. The first perception doesn’t meet reality, but statistics show the second is real.

With information from Forbes