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Brazil President Pledges Solidarity with WikiLeaks

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  • Jon Louis Mann
    WALL STREET JOURNAL DECEMBER 10, 2010, 3:19 P.M. ET Brazil President Pledges Solidarity with WikiLeaks By JEFF FICK RIO DE JANEIRO--Brazilian President Luiz
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 20, 2010
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      DECEMBER 10, 2010, 3:19 P.M. ET

      Brazil President Pledges Solidarity with WikiLeaks
      By JEFF FICK

      RIO DE JANEIRO--Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva offered
      his support to embattled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on
      Thursday, pointing the finger of blame directly at the U.S.

      "The guy was arrested, and I haven't seen any protest against the
      siege on freedom of expression," Mr. da Silva said on Brazil's
      presidential blog, referring to the lack of outcry in Brazilian
      newspapers about the case. "It's funny, there's nothing."

      Mr. da Silva said that he wanted the first protest against the attack
      on freedom of expression on the Internet posted on his presidential
      blog "so that we can all protest together."

      Mr. Assange is in custody in London after being arrested on an
      international warrant issued by Sweden, where he is accused of rape,
      molestation and unlawful coercion by two women. The WikiLeaks
      founder, who for the past few months has hopped between countries,
      had sexual encounters with the women during a stint in Sweden last
      summer. Mr. Assange, who has confirmed the sexual encounters but
      denied the assault allegations, hasn't been charged in either case.

      The latest release by WikiLeaks of thousands of classified documents
      from the U.S., many containing embarrassing comments about foreign
      officials and details about State Department activities overseas, has
      elicited strong reactions from officials around the world. The U.S.
      considers the documents stolen.

      "The guy was only publishing that which he read. And if he read it,
      it's because someone else wrote it. The blame doesn't belong to who
      released it, the blame is with who wrote it," the former union
      firebrand said. "So, WikiLeaks, my solidarity for disclosing (the
      documents) and my protest against the siege against freedom of


      DECEMBER 17, 2010, 3:17 P.M. ET

      Brazil Joblessness Hits Record Low

      SAO PAULO?Brazil's unemployment rate fell below 6% in November,
      underscoring the strong recovery of the Brazilian economy from global
      crisis, but prompting fresh calls for higher interest rates to tame

      Unemployment was 5.7% last month, lower than October's 6.1%, the
      Brazilian Census Bureau, or IBGE, said Friday. October's rate was the
      previous low for unemployment recorded under the IBGE's current
      methodology. Unemployment in November 2009 was 7.4%.

      Official jobs data only measure part of the Brazilian economy,
      covering six metropolitan areas and just under 24 million
      "economically active" people, roughly a quarter of Brazil's total
      working population.

      Nonetheless, unemployment has fallen for six consecutive months, and
      the numbers present a clear picture of demand for labor outstripping
      supply. Brazil's economy is roaring, with gross domestic product
      likely to grow more than 7.5% this year, reversing last year's 0.6%

      Low unemployment, though a sign of a growing economy, is a
      "significant and growing risk" to the government's inflation target,
      said Luiza Rodrigues, an economist at Banco Santander, in a research
      note. Ms. Rodrigues sees the central bank raising its Selic base
      interest rate, currently 10.75%, "as early as January" to rein in

      Ms. Rodrigues said the falling unemployment numbers mean it's "likely
      that workers are going to ask for more salary adjustments, and given
      the tight labor market, they are likely to succeed; more inflation is

      Consumer price inflation is pushing toward 6%, above the government's
      2010 goal of 4.5%, and orthodox economists say the jobs numbers add
      to concerns about price pressures. But the central bank has been
      reluctant to raise interest rates and is now awaiting the impact of
      measures it took earlier this month to slow bank lending.

      RBS economist Zeina Latif said the jobs data "warrants fast reaction"
      from the government. This means cutting spending and refraining from
      raising the minimum wage faster than inflation, she said.

      Minutes from the central bank's latest rate-setting meeting,
      published Thursday, were ambiguous, leaving the field wide open for
      the incoming central bank president, Alexandre Tombini, to chart his
      own course. Mr. Tombini will take over from incumbent Henrique
      Meirelles in January.

      Not everyone believes interest rates will move higher. Some voices in
      both government and business argue that higher rates attract more
      speculative investments in Brazilian debt, exaggerating the strong
      appreciation of the Brazilian real. With rates in much of the
      developed world close to zero, Brazil's sky-high numbers are

      On Friday, the real lost ground against the dollar as worries about
      the state of Europe's finances outweighed inflation concerns in
      Brazil. The real was trading at BRL1.7135 per dollar, weaker than
      Thursday's close of BRL1.702.

      Much depends on whether President-elect Dilma Rousseff, who takes
      office Jan. 1, cuts spending, as she has suggested. If that is reined
      in, then some economists have argued there may be room for Brazil to
      steady or even cut interest rates.

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