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sexta-feira, 23 de julho de 2010

High roller chips in when luck runs out

Tim Denzel screams into the phone: "I'm trying to help a guy who lost his home, what is so difficult to understand?"

Denzel's voice echoes about the 300sq m hotel suite, 50 floors above the mad street-level scene that is Las Vegas Boulevard.

Lanky and slim, Denzel, in his early 50s, has a deep stubble covering the lower half of his face while sunglasses and a Nike baseball hat cover the rest.

There is no hiding his anger as he yells into the phone, "You've got a million dollars of my money. I will gamble when I feel like gambling, right now I am going to help this guy."

Denzel radiates confidence as he rips into the senior vice-president of the casino; it appears he enjoys battling the titans of capitalism from his elite VIP suite, enjoys the knowledge that in less than 48 hours he expects to count his winnings in the tens of thousands and fly a jet back home.

But now he is still on the phone, fighting. "This is unbelievable. You are asking me when I am going to play? And how much I am going to bet? I never said anything about amounts, I just said I was bringing a million dollars and was ready to play."

As he argues, Denzel stretches his legs on to a glass table, nudges aside a plastic supermarket bag which holds US$125,000 cash ($172,500).

Downstairs, a further million in cash is ready to be gambled and now the casino's senior V-P screams at Denzel, orders him to stop lounging about the US$10,000-a-night hotel suite and start gambling.

Denzel announces he is changing hotels.

As a professional gambler, Denzel has a permanent love-hate relationship with the Las Vegas casinos. It's simple: they love it when he loses and hate it when he wins.

Denzel claims to take home as much as US$1 million in a single streak ("I have also lost a million in a day," he confides) and now he has come to Vegas not only to win a small fortune but to then hand over the cash to a stranger in need.

Denzel is not his real name - to me he is known as "RobinHood 702" or "RH702", the "702" being the telephone area code for Las Vegas and "RobinHood" his way of explaining that his mission is to redistribute wealth from casino blackjack tables into the hands of America's busted middle class.

It is a tale so simple it sounds like a storybook, only in this case the villains, heroes, heroines and saviours are all far more compelling - because they are real.

"People are suffering," says Denzel in reference to the estimated three million American families who have lost their homes in the current recession.

"RobinHood is a way for me to help."

The formula is simple. In 2008 Denzel set up www.robinhood702.com, a site where he invites families to upload a one-to-three-minute video explaining their plight and what they need to get back on their financial feet.

"Are you buried in bills? About to lose your home? On the brink of financial ruin? If so, this could be your big break" reads the introduction on the webpage.

The internet site explains how Denzel ("a self-made man and expert blackjack player [who] wants to use his skills to help you") will pick one family (every several months) and then offer what can be modestly described as "extreme financial makeover".

In a single weekend, Denzel will notify the family they have been chosen, put them up at Vegas' best hotels, provide limousine service, spa packages and dinners at the best Vegas restaurants, reservations at chic shows and, ultimately, dump his winnings into their grateful hands.

Cash flows into their pockets faster than even Vegas could suck it out.

Denzel has helped families from all over the United States, but for his July, 2010, mission, he chose a Las Vegas family.

If any city can claim to be Ground Zero for this new catastrophe it is Vegas, where in 2008, a two-decade-long housing boom collapsed as credit defaults and mortgagee sales sliced property values by up to 60 per cent.

This weekend, Denzel allows me to come along for the ride, a journey that feels rough as "RobinHood" screams at his assistants to fix last-minute details and jousts with powerful casino bosses.

"Looks like we are moving," Denzel announces as he slams down the phone and prepares to evacuate his massive suite.

But first Denzel grabs "Lady Gracie", his 20-year-old Brazilian wife, and gives her a long hug and a short kiss.

"It's always like this, we often change three or four times in a week," says Richard Schulze, a close friend of Denzel who has come along to accompany his buddy but also to donate part of his personal fortune (www.herbdoc.com) to the lucky family.

"This is a junk room. The other places have their own pools - are much bigger," says Schulze, pointing to the panoramic window in the suite, itself the size of highway billboard. "This is nothing."

Schulze (whom everyone calls "The Doctor") has made millions in herbal supplements, energy boosters and real estate.

He looks like a gregarious television host with his broad smile and a relaxed attitude.

Schulze and Denzel have a seemingly unquenchable desire to give away cash: US$400 tips to cocktail waitresses and US$100 bills to strangers in wheelchairs are so frequent it feels like the set for a reality-TV show where the host has gone mad and decided to give away the production budget.

WHERE does Denzel's money come from? How much has he given away to date? These questions can wait.

Right now RobinHood and The Doc are in a black stretch limo, headed to Henderson, a middle class city that borders Las Vegas in the heat and heart of the desert.

With temperatures pushing 44 degrees C, the windows are rolled up as they converge on the middle class condo of their next winner - an unsuspecting, hardworking Samoan-American named Jeff Martinez , 37, who recently lost his home to the bank after his family savings succumbed to an onslaught of medical bills - a result of his battle with colon and lung cancer.

Lady Gracie struts to the door, her voice an adorable mix of Brazilian Portuguese and recently-acquired English.

"Mr Jeff, RobinHood has picked you," she says to a bewildered, squat man who answers the door. "Mr Jeff, your money problems are over."

While a phalanx of film and TV crews jostle to capture the moment, Denzel strides in to announce that after long deliberation, hundreds of video entries and days of background checks and verification, Jeff Martinez has just won the RobinHood lottery.

His life will never be the same.

Amid tears, phone calls and a celebration with his wife, Marilou, and his two children, Martinez begins to cry. Then the whole family is crying. The TV reporters are crying.

With perfect sense of timing, Denzel takes Martinez aside and explains the gambling gambit.

For the next 24 hours, Denzel will take a huge stash of cash (estimate: $1 million) of his own money and gamble with the goal of making tens of thousands in profits.

If he hits that goal he will stop gambling and deposit the winning chips in Martinez's anorexic bank account.

"You usually need between five and 10 times the amount you want to win," says Denzel who describes himself as a professional gambler with enough cash to ride out the swings of bad luck and then quit when he is a mere 10 per cent ahead.

His strategy is to bring a wad of cash and then quit when he is up by a small percentage - thus turning US$200,000 into US$230,000.

"If you want to win US$10,000 you better bring US$100,000," he says.

"People who think they can double their money are crazy. I only try to get up by 10 to 20 per cent, then I walk out. The key is to know what your goal is and stop as soon as you get there."

With luck playing such a large role, he is particularly superstitious - "never gamble with a woman, with alcohol or drugs and I hate it when people touch me while I play, it feels like they are stealing my luck."

Asked about the reality of someone being a "professional gambler" and consistently beating the casinos, Denzel says, "I know 10 people, at least, who make their living as gamblers," he says.

"If you don't believe me, come out to Vegas and I will show you."

As Denzel tours Vegas, he is greeted with subtle deference and instant access to the VIP world reserved for celebrities and high-rollers.

These are private VIP areas where Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods can lose a million dollars in an evening, find some new girls and escape (at least temporarily) the scrutiny that comes with life as a celebrity.

"Michael Jordan is the casino's best friend," says Denzel, describing the NBA star as "a great guy but a terrible gambler".

When Vanity Fair magazine in New York wanted an inside guide to Tiger Woods' secret life in Las Vegas, it was "RobinHood 702" they quoted throughout their cover story.

When he gambles, Denzel is as superstitious as a Haitian Priest.

He does not like others to watch him. Nor touch him. Nor to play at the same table. He prefers to be alone, in a quiet locale - but this is Vegas and the crowds are sometimes impossible to avoid.

As Denzel plays blackjack, he runs two hands at the same time, often betting the maximum US$10,000 per hand.

He touches the cards in a certain way, spins them this way and that.

Denzel uses his mother's wedding ring for good luck and combines enough mysterious behaviour that it starts to look like a scene in a Harry Potter film.

While I watch, within minutes he triples his stash and his jerky movements and unorthodox winning style have casino officials lurking around the perimeter, aware this is a guy to be watched.

Though most casinos will deny it, successful gamblers like Denzel are routinely bounced out and sent home on fabricated evidence.

"He's been thrown out of half the casinos in this city," says Schulze with an air of authority. "They all know him."

Denzel refuses to provide even a skeletal accounting of his life history - revealing neither where in the US he grew up nor where his first career began.

Questions about Denzel's family background are met with more mystery: "Look, this is not about me. I do this all the time without the press around, I don't want the focus on me, this is about helping an underdog, a man [Martinez] who had no reason to smile, no reason to be positive."

In that regard, there is no mystery - just relief.

Just two days after being chosen as RobinHood's next mission, Martinez is summoned to Denzel's latest rock star suite inside a Las Vegas casino.

Martinez, with his wife and daughter Jemare, 17, and son Jarren, 12, are here to collect the rewards and winnings.

Schulze first explains that he is prescribing a new diet for the family - only healthy foods - and he spends five minutes lambasting the family for not drinking fresh juices daily.

Then the goodies and prizes are announced. It is like an American TV game show where the contestant receives a new life.

Schulze and Denzel announce they will pay two years' rent for the family apartment.

They have also leased a new Toyota for the family for two years and bought a computer and PlayStation for the children.

A complimentary spa treatment to the tune of US$5000 is presented to Marilou Martinez.

The family are crying and hugging one another, the occasional "thank you, thank you" between sobs.

Finally, Lady Gracie brings a white cloth sack filled with casino chips, which she hands to Denzel.

In a flash he dumps the chips on the table - some are worth US$1000, some US$5000 and together the chips are worth approximately US$25,000.

"I never announce a specific figure," says Denzel. "If I do, people will always want me to give more and more each time. The point is not about the money, the money, the money. The point is that this family now has an opportunity to rebuild their life."

That same evening, Martinez and 10 family and friends are invited by Denzel to be transported from his small, rented apartment in suburban Las Vegas to a 12-person VIP table at Pure Nightclub, one of the hottest venues in Vegas, inside Caesar's Palace.

Sitting on the edge of the balcony, Martinez has a different view on life - hundreds of dancing couples, party girls and wannabe Paris Hilton babes flounce by. Dom Perignon corks fly.

A staff of hyper-attentive waiters pour the champagne, bring trays of vodka, mixed drinks, juice, pretty much anything Martinez could order at a world class bar.

Except for his recent chemotherapy treatments, Martinez has never received such vigilant service.

Sitting in the shadows, a few metres from the celebration table, RobinHood nurses his one and only drink for the evening.

Few words come from him and he looks exhausted, worn down by the marathon gambling or the constant scrutiny of the press.

RobinHood goes to bed early; his assistants have been ordered to deliver toys and electronics to the Martinez family.

For now, his mission is over and he can go back to his anonymous life which, like the real Robin Hood, remains shrouded in mystery.

"I just want people around the world to start copying this idea," he explains.

"Imagine if we had 50 RobinHoods."

By Jonathan Franklin


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26/10/2008 free counters

Mystery Gambler Pays Cancer Patient's Rent for a Year


(July 22) -- Like his legendary namesake, Robin Hood 702 is gallant, fighting for the little guy. But where the mythical man relied on his archer's prowess and outlaw's guile, Robin Hood 702 banks on his remarkable gambler's skill and a smile from Lady Luck.
The mysterious do-gooder, whose 702 refers to the Las Vegas area code, has made a pseudonymous name for himself by donating his bounteous blackjack winnings to folks in dire straits.
In 2008 he helped the Kegler family, whose daughter Madison had a brain tumor, with $35,000 in winnings. He also gave $20,000 to Sandra Brown, who went into debt caring for her aging parents, and treated the crew of the Maersk Alabama to a Vegas weekend after they survived being taken captive by pirates.
Most recently he helped the Martinez family, who lost their Vegas home as dad Jeff battled Stage 4 cancer.
"He’s a really sweet man," said Robin Hood 702, who spoke with AOL News by phone.
Jeff Martinez, father of two, was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer in 2007. The cancer has spread to Martinez's lungs and adrenal glands.
He spends three days out of every 14 undergoing chemotherapy, but he still clocks 40 hours dispatching limousines at Ryan’s Express. Wife Marilou holds down two full-time jobs.
Three paychecks didn't cover the medical bills and $30,000 in back payments on the family home in Silverado Ranch, a planned community southeast of the city. The bank took the house in June, and the Martinezes moved into a small apartment.
The local Fox affiliate received a flood of viewer donations after covering the Martinezes' story. The station also tracked down Robin Hood 702 via one of his Merry Men, Dr. Richard Schulze, a retired herbalist.
Skip over this content
RobinHood 702
47 photos

RobinHood 702, an anonymous professional blackjack player who gives his winnings to others, has come to the rescue of another family in need. The mysterious do-gooder is paying the rent for a year, as well as providing a two-year car lease, for the Martinezes, a family whose father is battling stage 4 colon cancer.
Good Samaritans
RobinHood 702, an anonymous professional blackjack player who gives his winnings to others, has come to the rescue of another family in need. The mysterious do-gooder is paying the rent for a year, as well as providing a two-year car lease, for the Martinezes, a family whose father is battling stage 4 colon cancer.
RobinHood 702
RobinHood 702
"I got a call from Fox News Las Vegas and they said, 'If you’re ever going to help anybody, this is the guy to help,'" Schulze told AOL News. The Merry Men took up the gauntlet.
Sin City's blackjacking hero showed up at the Martinezes' apartment, shadowed by television cameras and accompanied by Schulze and Maid Marian, aka Robin Hood 702's wife, Lady Greice.
"I was flooded with so much emotion, my legs were shaking," Martinez told AOL News. He had to lean against a wall for support. "I was shocked, surprised and happy. I almost couldn't bear standing up."
When on TV, Robin Hood 702 wears a mask of mystery, in the form of television graphics that obscure his face. But he dresses like your favorite uncle, sporting a baseball hat and blue jeans. His voice is gruff, his manner warm. He tears up and hugs Martinez and the family.
"Robin Hood's a guy with a lot of guts and a big heart," Schulze said.
Jeff agreed. "He holds you. He touches you. He connects with you." And when the cameras turned away, he took Jeff aside and had a one-on-one, taking off his glasses and looking Jeff in the eye.
"He’s not doing this just for show."
After meeting the recipients of his hoped-for winnings last week, Robin Hood 702 hit the blackjack tables, first falling in the hole but eventually winning tens of thousands, enough to pay the Martinezes' rent for a year, plus a two-year car lease and $9,000 worth of spa treatments.
Schulze contributed as well, providing not only financial support but a new TV, a piano, a computer, gift certificates to Whole Foods, and advice on nutritional and herbal approaches to cancer.
Robin Hood 702 and Schulze are successful and want to give back, but they also hope to motivate.
"I do this … not only to help people but to inspire people to never give up," said Robin Hood 702. "Just when you think every door has closed on you … God throws something in your way."
"A lot of Americans are hurting because of the economic problems we’re having," Schulze said. "When we’re having times like this, I think it’s important that we take care of each other."
Robin Hood 702 credits his mother with inspiring his philanthropic moonlighting.
"She instilled these values in me," he said. After she died, "this was the reason to go on."
The Martinezes have received a boost, but their problems aren't solved. Jeff Martinez continues to fight the cancer invading his body, and he and his wife will keep working.
"We’re trying to save up a little money … while I still have strength and the opportunity to put some money away to put my kids through college."
What Robin Hood 702 has bought them is space to breathe.
"I'm trying to cut back on my hours so I can relax, and we're going to start slowing down," Martinez said. "We’re going to try and spend more time together."
He and Marilou will travel to California for an Aug. 30 fundraising dinner at Santa Monica's Via Veneto with their newfound hero, already an honorary Martinez.
"The way he treated my family was like he was part of my family," Martinez said. "I'm just happy and blessed that I was able to meet him."
To learn more about Robin Hood 702, visit robinhood702.com.



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26/10/2008 free counters

This week: Conrad Black, Nick Griffin and Keith Chegwin

Lucy Mangan on the people in the media limelight over the past seven days

The tale continues

Conrad Black

"Barbara drew her manticore fleece closely round her shoulders and threw another bundle of twenties on to the fire. How cold the Palm Beach mansion sometimes got these days! Perhaps she shouldn't have replaced the doors with phoenix feather panels. But no matter. For soon, soon her husband would be home!

"The newspaper tycoon had served nearly half of his prison sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice. Now he had been released on a $2m bond – she had almost had to sell her collection of Pegasus-foal-lined handbags to raise it – while the US courts decided whether to overturn his convictions on the grounds that the original judge really hadn't realised how very rich he was at the time.

"Now, a bright future beckoned. Yes, he still owed millions in unpaid taxes and faced an array of civil actions from creditors and investors, but Barbara was a woman of unyielding faith. She knew that somehow – somehow! – the Blacks would rise again."

Party political outcast

Nick Griffin

You'd think so proud a patriot as Griffin would know that it is simply not done to wave your invitation to a Buck House do under everyone's noses and promise to "bring a million nationalists to the party".

But he did and the Palace withdrew the invitation two hours before the shindig. I like to imagine it as a scene from Lethal Weapon 2 with the Queen in the Danny Glover role, pointing a pearl-handled letter opener at the fat Griffin head and announcing: "It's just been revoked". They said it was because he'd used the invitation for political purposes and not at all because they'd made a frightful bish by inviting a racist pig in the first place.

While obviously one is sorry for Prince Philip, who was probably looking forward to having the first good laugh with a guest since the Mitfords, the sight of Griffin (pictured) stuffed into morning dress and futilely attempting to gain entry did, nevertheless, lift the spirits considerably.

Cheggers plays innocent

Keith Chegwin

If you're one of his 36,000 followers, you already know that he posts jokes on Twitter. Now other comics have complained that they are not all necessarily his own, hand-tooled products and that by posting them he is breaking that unwritten agreement not to plagiarise working comics' material.

Cheggers – slightly disingenuously, given that while utterly delightful in his own way he hasn't been funny in any of his 53 years – claims he wrote all the jokes themselves. Maybe he means "wrote" as in "typed".

But either way, the complaints must end. Let Cheggers write/type what he wants. For when he is bored, we know what happens. The Naked Jungle happens. So tweet on freely, old chap – for the love of God, tweet on.

What they said

"'Refudiate, misunderestimate, wee-wee'd up. English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!" Sarah Palin. Lowering our IQ one tweet at a time.

"It had a very sweet taste, you could taste oak and it had a strong tobacco smell. And there were very small bubbles."

Diver Christian Ekström, who tasted one of the oldest bottles of champagne ever found, from a 1780s Baltic shipwreck

"Sweat. Sigh. Shower. Sing. Towel. Talcum. A grapefruity Eau de Cologne with vague mahogany basenotes. Emerge. Sweat." Martin Amis tweets. And how.

What we've learned

• New parents miss six months' worth of sleep by the time their child is two

• The South Bank Show is to be resurrected on the Sky Arts channel

• Selfridges is launching its Christmas season next Sunday

• The Coronation Street cat's ashes have fetched £844 at auction

… and what we haven't

• Who bought them. And why



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26/10/2008 free counters

U.S. calls for investigation into crisis between Venezuela, Colombia

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The Obama administration on Friday continued voicing its long-term concerns over Venezuela's link with Colombia's anti-government guerrillas, calling for an international investigation into the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

"It's an unfortunate response. It was a petulant response by Venezuela to cut off relations with Colombia," said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, referring to the crisis triggered by Colombia's accusation against Venezuela of harboring anti-government guerrillas.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday ordered to sever diplomatic relationship with neighboring Colombia after Bogota presented the Organization of American States (OAS) the evidence showing some 1,500 guerrilla members are now hiding in Venezuela.

Both Venezuela and Colombia have already recalled their ambassadors.

"We think that there should be an investigation. We think that Venezuela itself has responsibilities to be forthcoming in responding to the important information presented by Colombia," said Crowley, suggesting the investigation to be taken under the framework of the OAS and the Union of South American Nations.

"We would hope for a more constructive response by Venezuela, if Venezuela fails to cooperate in whatever follow-on steps are made, the United States and other countries will obviously take account of that," the spokesman said.

The United States has expressed its deep concerns over the link between Caracas and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the main anti-government guerrilla force in Colombia, which was labeled by U.S. State Department as a terror organization.

"Venezuela, among other states in the region, has very clear responsibilities to combat terrorism in the region and to support efforts within the OAS and within the United Nations to fight terrorism wherever it is," said Crowley.



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PT molda discurso para blindar Dilma

Autor(es): Malu Delgado
O Estado de S. Paulo - 23/07/2010

O PT unificou um discurso para tentar manter o caso da violação do sigilo fiscal do vice-presidente do PSDB o mais longe possível da campanha de Dilma Rousseff. Dirigentes sustentam que o caso não esbarra no partido e que cabe exclusivamente à Receita Federal conduzir a investigação. Petistas no entorno da campanha viram com alívio o fato de a servidora sob investigação não ter nenhuma vinculação com a sigla.

Nos bastidores, dirigentes veem com desconfiança a divulgação e exposição do nome de uma servidora que atuaria na região do ABC paulista, tradicional reduto eleitoral petista. "Isso é problema da Receita Federal, do Eduardo Jorge e da polícia. Tem de ver se ela de fato invadiu o sistema e, se o fez, foi a mando de quem?", indagou o líder do governo na Câmara, Cândido Vaccarezza (PT-SP).
"O fato não merece nossa preocupação", afirmou o coordenador de comunicação da campanha, o deputado estadual Rui Falcão.



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Raw Video: Deadly Gas Well Explosion



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House Panel Charges Rangel With Ethics Misdeeds



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INSS amplia as cobranças por acidentes de trabalho

INSS amplia as cobranças por acidentes de trabalho
Autor(es): Arthur Rosa, de São Paulo
Valor Econômico - 23/07/2010

O trabalho de cobrança, iniciado informalmente em 1999, foi intensificado em meados de 2008.

Com um placar extremamente favorável na Justiça, o Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social (INSS) decidiu ampliar o ataque às empresas que estariam desrespeitando normas de segurança e saúde no trabalho. Agora, o órgão está ingressando com ações regressivas para recuperar o que foi gasto com benefícios concedidos a trabalhadores com doenças ocupacionais - especialmente lesão por esforço repetitivo (LER). Até então, os alvos do INSS eram apenas os acidentes fatais e graves. No total, já foram ajuizados 1,4 mil processos, que buscam o ressarcimento de aproximadamente R$ 100 milhões. E 129 sentenças foram proferidas - 82% delas favoráveis à Previdência Social.

O trabalho de cobrança, iniciado informalmente em 1999, foi intensificado em meados de 2008, quando a Procuradoria-Geral Federal (PGF) - órgão subordinado à Advocacia-Geral da União - colocou em campo 140 procuradores para investigar acidentes de trabalho e tentar recuperar benefícios pagos em que há indícios de culpa do empregador. Só no ano passado, o INSS desembolsou cerca de R$ 14 bilhões com aposentadorias por invalidez, pensões por morte e auxílio-doença. "Só entramos com ação quando comprovamos a culpa da empresa", diz Carina Bellini Cancella, coordenadora-geral de cobrança e recuperação de créditos da PGF.

O trabalho de investigação reduz as chances de o INSS perder a batalha na Justiça, segundo a procuradora. Nas sentenças e em decisões de segunda instância, o principal argumento das empresas contra o direito de regresso da Previdência Social - previsto na Lei nº 8.213, de 1991- tem sido derrubado. Elas alegam que é ilegal exigir o ressarcimento de quem já paga um seguro - o Seguro Acidente de Trabalho (SAT) - criado justamente para cobrir as despesas da Previdência Social com benefícios. "É um absurdo. Para que serve o SAT, então?", questiona o advogado Rodrigo Arruda Campos, sócio da área previdenciária do escritório Demarest & Almeida, que defende dez clientes em ações regressivas ajuizadas pelo INSS.

Em recente decisão, o juiz José Jácomo Gimenes, da 1ª Vara Federal de Maringá (PR), entendeu, no entanto, que "a contribuição é apenas uma das diversas fontes de custeio da Previdência Social e não exime os empregadores de seu dever de ressarcimento aos cofres públicos dos prejuízos causados por sua negligência no cumprimento das normas de segurança e medicina do trabalho". Com esse entendimento, condenou uma indústria de alimentos a pagar R$ 300 mil para o custeio da pensão da viúva de um funcionário que morreu com a explosão de um forno em 2007. Com o crescente volume de ações regressivas, muitas empresas estão buscando a procuradoria para negociar.



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26/10/2008 free counters

#casobruno Advogado de Bruno diz que #Eliza foi vista em shopping do Rio

23 de julho de 2010

Advogado Ercio Quaresma concede entrevistas a jornalistas em frente ao Departamento de Investigações de Homicídios e Proteção à Pessoa (DIHPP)de Minas ... Foto: Ney Rubens/Especial para Terra

Ercio Quaresma defende a tese de que não houve crime e de que a estudante está viva
Foto: Ney Rubens/Especial para Terra

Em entrevista à Rádio Bandeirantes, na manhã desta sexta-feira, o advogado Ercio Quaresma afirmou que recebeu uma denúncia de que Eliza Samudio foi reconhecida com vida, em um shopping no Rio de Janeiro. Quaresma defende o goleiro Bruno e seu amigo Macarrão no caso do suposto sequestro da estudante.

O advogado disse que vai repassar um e-mail com fotos de Eliza quando receber a mensagem. Ele afirmou, contudo, que a princípio é apenas uma denúncia e que ele ainda não tem provas concretas de que a estudante está viva. Ele sustenta a tese de que Eliza não morreu e diz que quem tem que encontrá-la é a polícia.

O caso
Eliza desapareceu no dia 4 de junho, quando teria saído do Rio de Janeiro para Minas Gerais a convite de Bruno. No ano passado, a estudante paranaense já havia procurado a polícia para dizer que estava grávida do goleiro e que ele a agrediu para que ela tomasse remédios abortivos. Após o nascimento da criança, Eliza acionou a Justiça para pedir o reconhecimento da paternidade de Bruno.

No dia 24 de junho, a polícia recebeu denúncias anônimas dizendo que Eliza havia sido espancada por Bruno e dois amigos dele até a morte no sítio de propriedade do jogador, localizado em Esmeraldas, na Grande Belo Horizonte. Durante a investigação, testemunhas confirmaram à polícia que viram Eliza, o filho e Bruno na propriedade. Na noite do dia 25 de junho, a polícia foi ao local e recebeu a informação de que o bebê apontado como filho do atleta, de 4 meses, estava lá. A atual mulher do goleiro, Dayanne Rodrigues do Carmo Souza, negou a presença da criança na propriedade. No entanto, durante depoimento, um dos amigos de Bruno afirmou que havia entregado o menino na casa de uma adolescente no bairro Liberdade, em Ribeirão das Neves, onde foi encontrado. Por ter mentido à polícia, Dayanne Souza foi presa. Contudo, após conseguir um alvará, foi colocada em liberdade. O bebê foi entregue ao avô materno.

Enquanto a polícia fazia buscas ao corpo de Eliza seguindo denúncias anônimas, em entrevista a uma rádio no dia 6 de julho, um motorista de ônibus disse que seu sobrinho participou do crime e contou em detalhes como Eliza foi assassinada. O menor citado pelo motorista foi apreendido na casa de Bruno no Rio. Ele é primo do goleiro e, em depoimento, admitiu participação no crime. Segundo o delegado-geral do Departamento de Investigação de Homicídios e Proteção à Pessoa (DIHPP) de Minas Gerais, Edson Moreira, o menor apreendido relatou que o ex-policial civil Marcos Aparecido dos Santos, conhecido como Bola ou Neném, estrangulou Eliza até a morte e esquartejou seu corpo. Ainda segundo o relato, o ex-policial jogou os restos mortais para seus cães.

No dia seguinte, a mulher de Bruno foi presa. Após serem considerados foragidos, o goleiro e seu amigo Luiz Henrique Romão, o Macarrão, acusado de participar do crime, se entregaram à polícia. Os três negam participação no desaparecimento. A versão do goleiro e da mulher é de que Eliza abandonou o filho. No dia 8, a avó materna obteve a guarda judicial da criança.



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Venezuela breaks ties with US-allied Colombia

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Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks to the media at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday July 22, 2010. Chavez severed Venezuela's diplomatic relations with Colombia on Thursday over claims he harbors guerrillas. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's defense minister on Friday warned Colombia against provoking a conflict after President Hugo Chavez severed ties with the neighboring country and placed his military on alert.

Defense Minister Carlos Mata read a statement on state television promising "a strong response" if foreign forces cross into Venezuelan territory.

Chavez announced he was breaking off diplomatic relations with Colombia on Thursday, accusing its U.S.-allied government of fabricating evidence showing Colombian rebel bases inside Venezuela.

Despite the diplomatic dispute, cars and pedestrians were moving between the countries as usual at border crossings on Friday, officials on both sides said. Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua called the situation on the border normal.

The diplomatic dispute over the presence of Colombian rebels in Venezuela has worsened just as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe prepares to leave office.

Uribe has frequently feuded with the Venezuelan president, and Colombian officials have long complained, mostly in private, that Chavez has harbored leaders of its two main rebel groups.

President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, however, has stressed the importance of mending trade relations with Venezuela that overwhelmingly benefit Colombia's food producers. And Chavez has raised the possibility that relations could be restored under Santos.

Trade between Venezuela and Colombia has fallen 70 percent since Chavez froze relations a year ago in response to Colombia's decision to grant Washington expanded access to its military bases. The scaled back relations have also hurt Venezuelan consumers, as sporadic shortages of items like beef — once imported from Colombia — have worsened.

At a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington on Thursday, Colombian Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos presented photos, videos, witness testimony and maps of what he said were rebel camps inside Venezuela and challenged Venezuelan officials to let independent observers visit them.

He said that roughly 1,500 rebels are hiding out in Venezuela and he displayed aerial photographs of what he identified as rebel camps inside Venezuela. He also showed photos and video of rebel leaders he said were taken at the camps by guerrillas who recently surrendered to the government.

Chavez suggested that Uribe could be attempting to provoke a war, and he insisted that Venezuela does everything possible to prevent members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the smaller National Liberation Army from crossing into Venezuelan territory.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that Chavez's government had closed its embassy in Bogota and demanded that Colombia's ambassador in Caracas leave the country within 72 hours.

Chavez's envoy to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, said the photographs that Hoyos showed didn't provide any solid evidence of a guerrilla presence in Venezuela.

Chavez suggested the photographs could be bogus, saying Uribe "is capable of anything."

The Venezuelan leader contended Uribe could seek to spur an armed conflict with Venezuela before he leaves office next month. His successor Santos, who was visiting Mexico, declined to comment.

The socialist leader has argued in the past that U.S. officials are using Colombia to portray him as a supporter of terrorist groups to justify U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope the two countries will work out their differences in a peaceful manner.

Colombian opposition Sen. Piedad Cordoba said Friday at a news conference that "I really don't think there's any interest by any government in protecting groups that operate outside the law."

"This has to be fixed," she said.

Associated Press writers Christopher Toothaker in Caracas, and Vivian Sequera and Jessica Lleras, in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.



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Comic Con 2010 - Sylvester #Stallone target of #Twitter attack for The Expendables



While Sylvester Stallone's new movie The Expendables has many at Comic Con 2010 in the USA excited, the movie's unofficial debut at Comic Con created enough buzz to upset South Americans. As of this writing, Sylvester Stallone represents not one, but three trending topics on Twitter. In order, "CALA BOCA SYLVESTER STALLONE", "Stallone", and just plain old "SYLVESTER" appear on Twitter.

Why? Many tweets are like this "top tweet":


nataliagoficial - CALA BOCA SYLVESTER STALLONE is a brazilian campaign to protest the actor Sylvester Stallone, for trying to denigrate the Brazilian image. about 2 hours ago via web

But the problem is The Expendables isn't out yet, so the people launching the campaign haven't seen the movie. Plus, at Comic Con 2010, Stallone said to me that it wasn't a political message movie. OK, he was referring to mercenaries at the time, but if you think about it, mercenaries should take offense, too.

In developing a war story, which The Expendables is to a degree, it's almost impossible not to come up with a political message, even if the movie's not about delivering one. In writing The Expendables, Stallone's 63-years of World view has accidentally bumped up against the hypersensitive 21st Century consumers of Internet news.

I'm not calling Mr. Stallone old, just making a point that you have to remember, he played a man in John Rambo who embodies the American soldier's "us versus "them" view at a time, the early 80s, when America was sending hired killers to upend political revolutions in Central and South America.

Perhaps The Expendables would have had even more impact if the focus were North Korea and not a fictional country in South America. But it's too late for that now. The Expendables is set for release on August 13th, and will undoubtedly be helped by this buzz.

Stay tuned.



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Apple Stacks iPhone Dollars All The Way To $337

Trefis TeamBio |
Trefis analysis is produced by a team of analysts who build detailed models for each company on the platform Trefis.com.

Apple recently announced results for the second quarter of 2010. Headline news: Despite increasing competition in the smartphone sector, iPhone pricing remained strong at an average of $595 for the quarter. This compares well with the $593 average price for the whole of 2009.

We have revised our model to bring our iPhone pricing forecast for 2010 in line with the 2009 number. However, we still believe that competitive pressures will force Apple to lower iPhone prices over time. Our analysis follows below.

Potential upside to Apple’s stock if pricing remains resilient in the long term

Apple competes with Research in Motion, Motorola and Nokia in the mobile phone market. Although Apple has managed to keep average iPhone pricing between $550 and $650 for the past six quarters, we believe that Apple can’t sustain these high prices for long. We currently estimate that iPhone pricing will decline from $593 in 2009 to $413 by the end of the Trefis forecast period.

iPhone sales account for nearly half of Apple's stock value, according to our analysis. You can drag the line in the chart below to create your own estimate for the impact of changing iPhone prices on Apple's stock value.

In the unlikely event that the current average price holds over the long term, it would create a 20% upside to the $337 Trefis price estimate for Apple’s stock. Below we explain why we think Apple will be forced to reduce iPhone pricing.

1. Competitors are cutting prices and improving phones

RIM, Motorola and Nokia smartphones have much lower price points compared to the iPhone. Unlike Apple, RIM and Nokia have steadily cut their smartphone prices over the past few quarters, while introducing new features that make their phones increasingly competitive with the iPhone.

The table below compares average prices of Apple, Nokia, Motorola and RIM smartphones since the first quarter of 2009.

Price Apple RIM Motorola Nokia
Q1 2009 $580 $369
EUR 190
Q2 2009 $558 $356
EUR 182
Q3 2009 $608 $344
EUR 190
Q4 2009 $638 $319
EUR 186
Q1 2010 $600 $311 $357 EUR 155
Q2 2010 $595 $299 Result Awaited EUR 143

2. AT&T negotiates for lower subsidy

AT&T pays Apple a subsidy of around $400 per iPhone. In an earlier article, we noted that the wireless giant will likely press Apple to reduce this subsidy after AT&T's exclusive license to sell the iPhone expires next year. This would mitigate AT&T's risk of losing subscribers to rival Verizon if Apple decides to sell iPhones through Verizon’s network from 2011 onward.

A lower AT&T subsidy would put pressure on Apple to reduce iPhone pricing in order to make the device more competitive with other smartphones.

You can see the complete $337 Trefis Price estimate for Apple’s stock here.



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Record water levels test China's giant dam

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Heavy rain and flooding have exacted a high toll in China this year, and Friday the country faced a new threat from a swollen Yangtze River dam that was dangerously close to capacity.

The water level reached its peak at the huge Three Gorges Dam, built to tame the worst floods, reported state-run Xinhua news agency. Floodgates on the dam have been opened to control the flow, and pictures from the scene show massive volumes of water gushing out.

The water, steadily rising since Tuesday, rose to 159 meters (more than 520 feet), about 14 meters (46 feet) above the reservoir's water-releasing level, engineers in Yichang City told Xinhua.

Downstream from the dam, nervous residents on Mianchuan island nervously watched soldiers reinforce banks with rocks, the China Daily newspaper reported.

They recalled the massive floods of 1998 when the banks collapsed and water topped houses in Mianchuan. More than 4,000 people died in that disaster.

Floods this year have been the worst since then, affecting 120 million people in 28 provinces and claiming 742 human lives. They have caused $22 billion in economic losses, including the collapse of about 670,000 homes, Xinhua said.

A recent series of severe storms has exacerbated the situation.

The latest, Typhoon Chanthu, the third typhoon of the West Pacific season, weakened Thursday as it made its way over land but dumped more rain in an already inundated region.



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Greenpeace Warnings Over China Oil Spill

Greenpeace spoke out over concerns about the situation in Dalian, northeastern China, a week after the country's worst reported oil spill. First details emerged Friday about the cause of the pipeline explosion that triggered the spill. (July 23)



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Veteran journalist Daniel Schorr dies at 93

(Reuters) - Veteran journalist Daniel Schorr, whose career ranged from reporting on the building of the Berlin Wall to the Watergate scandal, died on Friday at the age of 93, National Public Radio said.

Schorr, who spent the past 25 years as a senior news analyst at NPR, died peacefully on Friday morning at a Washington hospital, surrounded by his family, after what NPR described in a statement as a short illness.

Schorr, who once described himself as a "living history book," started his career as a foreign correspondent in 1946. He later joined Edward R. Murrow's legendary radio and TV team at CBS, helped to create CNN in 1979, and then joined NPR becoming a senior news analyst in 1985.

His award-winning career included landing the first U.S. interview with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1957, covering the Sputnik space program, and reporting in the 1970s on secret CIA assassinations.

He counted his inclusion on the so-called enemies list drawn up by President Richard Nixon's White House during the Watergate scandal as his greatest achievement.

Schorr worked for NPR until a few days before his death. His last "Week In Review" commentary was aired on July 10.

NPR's Scott Simon, the host of "Weekend Edition", described Schorr as a "fierce journalist, and a tender friend and father."

"What other person was personally acquainted with both Richard Nixon and Frank Zappa? Dan was around for both the Russian Revolution and the Digital Revolution," Simon said in a statement.

"Nobody else in broadcast journalism -- or perhaps any field -- had as much experience and wisdom. I am just glad that, after being known for so many years as a tough and uncompromising journalist, NPR listeners also got to know the Dan Schorr that was playful, funny and kind. In a business that's known for burning out people, Dan Schorr shined for nearly a century," he added.

Schorr won three Emmys for his political reporting in the 1970s, and later a lifetime achievement Peabody award.

He was born in the Bronx in 1916, the son of Belorussian immigrants. He got his first scoop at age 12, when he saw the body of a woman who had jumped or fallen from the roof of his apartment building. He called the police and the Bronx Home News, which paid him $5 for the information.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Dan Whitcomb)



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Veteran Reporter Daniel Schorr Dead at Age 93



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Amazon Spends More to Kindle Its Sales

Now we know why Amazon.com Inc. announced a few days ago that sales of e-books now exceed sales of print volumes. The e-tailer didn't want the news to be overshadowed by its earnings miss.

Seattle-based Amazon has shrewdly positioned the Kindle--its e-book reader--as the story of its growth. Amazon shares surged on the promise that e-books would supplant old fashioned paperbacks and hardbacks.

It's a compelling story for this digital age. Since the Kindle first went on sale, Amazon has slyly dripped out news about the product and strategically cut prices, although it's never told investors how many devices it's actually sold.

The reality, however, is that Amazon isn't a book story anymore. Though books are still a big part of its business, Amazon has morphed into a retailer of consumer electronic products and general merchandise, and the costs of keeping up with those sales cut into earnings in the second quarter.

The company generated more than half of its revenue from electronics and other merchandise. Media--books, both digital and physical--plus music and DVDs made up 44%.

On Thursday, Amazon reported earning $207 million, or 45 cents a share, fully diluted, or about 9 cents a share below analysts' expectations. In after-hours trading Thursday, Amazon shares fell 14% to about $102 and shares are down another 3% on Friday to $116.43.

While Amazon's sales were up 41% over the prior year, marketing and advertising expense climbed by nearly two thirds. Amazon is facing off against brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as online upstarts, and marketing costs are rising to address the challenge. A large part of the increased spending was for advertising the Kindle, executives said on the earnings call.

All of that spending ate into Amazon's bottom line. Of course, there were other reasons Amazon's expenses rose. Capital spending more than doubled in the quarter. It is building 13 new facilities to fulfill orders and building more capacity for Web services.

Finance Chief Tom Szkutak told reporters the company had hired an additional 2,200 employees by the end of the second quarter, as well.

Income tax expense was $88 million, more than double the year-ago level, largely because of a tax agreement with Japan concerning Amazon's business there.

Combined, Amazon spent more than $1.2 billion, or more than 18 cents of every dollar of revenue on marketing and getting goods in the hands of customers.

An argument can be made that Amazon will benefit from all the investment, particularly in technology that lets customers download any of 630,000 books to Kindle readers. Once the infrastructure is paid for, downloads cost Amazon a lot less to deliver than a hardback book.

But Amazon's second-quarter earnings remind investors that for all its Kindle news, Amazon is a much broader retailer. It sells stuff. The cost of marketing, handling and shipping those orders is real. And it's growing.

The Kindle is a great story, but Amazon's other businesses are the ones investors need to keep an eye on.

Write to Steven D. Jones at steve-d.jones@dowjones.com



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iPhone 4 case to be given to all iPhone 4 users

iPhone 4 case will help with reception problems, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears on stage during a news conference at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, July 16, 2010. Apple Inc users a free iPhone 4 case to address a slew of complaints about reception problems that have hurt the company's image and shares.


By Jessica Mintz, Jordan Robertson, AP / July 23, 2010

Cupertino, Calif.

A perfect iPhone? There's no app for that.

Apple Inc. will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone to prevent reception problems that occur when people cover a certain spot on the phone with a bare hand.

CEO Steve Jobs apologized last Friday to people who are less than satisfied with the iPhone 4, even as he denied it has an antenna problem that needs fixing.

"We're not perfect," Jobs said at a news conference. "Phones aren't perfect."

The more than 3 million people who have already bought an iPhone 4 can go to Apple's website starting late next week and sign up for a free case, he said. Apple can't make enough of its $29 "Bumper" cases for everyone, so the company will let people chose from several case styles.

New buyers through Sept. 30 will also be eligible. Apple will send refunds to people who already bought a Bumper.

Jobs, expressing irritation with the critical coverage of the phone's reception problems, echoed an earlier statement from Apple that no cell phone gets perfect reception. He played a video showing competing phones, including a BlackBerry from Research in Motion Ltd., losing signal strength when held in certain ways. He talked for 45 minutes and took 45 minutes of questions with Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and Bob Mansfield, a senior Apple executive in charge of hardware engineering.

Phones usually have an antenna inside the body. In designing the iPhone 4, Apple took a gamble on a new design, using parts of the phone's outer casing as the antenna. That saved space inside the tightly packed body of the phone, but meant that covering a spot on the lower left edge blocked the wireless signal.

Consumer Reports magazine said covering the spot with a case or even a piece of duct tape alleviates the problem. It refused to give the iPhone 4 its "recommended" stamp of approval for that reason, and on Monday it urged Apple to compensate buyers and fix the problem. The company had been criticized about spottyiPhone service in the U.S. on AT&T Inc.'s network even before the newest model came out.

Last Friday, in the company's first remarks following the magazine's report, Jobs said Apple was "stunned and upset and embarrassed."

Jobs said the iPhone 4's antenna issue isn't widespread, with just over five out of every 1,000 complaining to Apple's warranty service and less than 2 percent returning the device. Jobs also said that while the iPhone 4 is dropping calls slightly more frequently than its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS, it's "less than one additional dropped call per 100."

"We're not feeling right now that we have a giant problem we need to fix," Jobs said. "This has been blown so out of proportion that it's incredible."

Analysts have criticized Apple's responses to reports of reception problems as dismissive, and cautioned that the company shouldn't come across as arrogant. A curt note attributed to Jobs told one early iPhone buyer to either hold the phone a different way or buy a case.

Apple has also said the main problem is actually with software, not antenna design. Apple said it recently discovered that iPhones display more cell phone signal "bars" than they should, leaving people who believed they had a strong signal frustrated by dropped calls. Apple issued a software update Thursday that it said would make the number of bars shown on the phone's face more accurate.

But Consumer Reports painted the problem as much broader. On Friday, the magazine said the free cases were "a good first step toward Apple identifying and finding a solution for the signal-loss problem of the iPhone4."

No phone owner wants a gadget that doesn't work. But many people who have bought an iPhone 4 or are considering one seem willing to forgive the antenna problem because they like its other features so much.

"It's not really my concern because I hardly make calls," said Ross Beck, a 22-year-old student in Seattle. "Honestly, it doesn't faze me. I know Apple and I know they fix their mistakes."

Helen Ferszt walked out of Apple's flagship store in New York City on Thursday after ordering the iPhone 4, her third model, despite having heard of the reception problems.

"I love the iPhone," said the 78-year-old psychotherapist from New York. But she added that Apple needs to do better than giving away a free case.

"No, I want it to be fixed," she said. "They can't just hang us out to dry."

Jobs apologized Friday to buyers who had less-than-perfect experiences with the new device.

"We're going to do whatever it takes to make them happy and if we can't make them happy we're going to give them a full refund and say we're really sorry we inconvenienced you, and we're going to do better next time," he said.

The refund applies even for those who have long-term contracts with AT&T Inc., the iPhone's exclusive U.S. wireless carrier.



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