The Canadian Press
RIO DE JANEIRO — In a time of so much loss, it is rare for an individual death to stir a country. And it is extraordinary for national grief to be triggered by the passing of a puppet.
But so it was in Brazil on Monday, as an outpouring of emotion followed news that the puppeteer behind Louro José – a 2-foot tall parrot that is a fixture on the country’s most popular morning show – had died.
Puppeteer Tom Veiga suffered a stroke caused by an aneurysm at his home in Rio de Janeiro, at age 47. For more than two decades, his green-and-yellow bird was comic relief on the program “Mais Voce,” somewhere between sidekick and co-host to Ana Maria Braga. The program was a welcome source of levity in a country accustomed to news of violence, inequality, plus political and economic turbulence.
“I woke up today and kept thinking how I was going to manage to get here and say ‘Good morning’ to you, because it hurts a lot,” Braga, 71, told viewers, barely holding herself together while standing in front of a drawing of Louro José with a halo. “It’s really like a mom who loses a son, a companion.”
Her homage reflects in part why “Mais Voce” became so popular. While featuring standard morning show fare – an upbeat mix of recipes, celebrities and the like – Braga didn’t shy from disclosing personal struggles, according to Mauricio Stycer, a prominent television critic and columnist. And Louro José complemented her with his carefree mocking and sarcastic jokes.
“The commotion it’s causing is because it’s a doll that, together with a person, came into your home Monday to Friday for two decades,” Stycer said. “As strange as it may seem, it became natural. The character became part of people’s lives. It’s perhaps the only show in the world hosted by a woman and a parrot.”
Louro José often wore costumes, and even travelled for reports. Veiga had previously described his character as “a troublemaker, grumpy, a flirt, a charmer, but very funny, intelligent,” and also as a “big kid.”
The program drew 13 million daily viewers on average in 2020, the most in Brazil for its time slot, according to Globo, the channel that airs it. Brazilians wrote condolence messages on social media; some even posted fan art. Celebrities including singers Ivete Sangalo and Luan Santana, as well as YouTube influencer Felipe Neto, shared their sorrow with their tens of millions of followers.
“Louro José was one of the greatest creations in the history of Brazilian television,” wrote Neto, who TIME magazine recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Louro José was initially conceived of to entertain a young audience — and that he did — but his jokes were hardly infantile, according to Lígia Mesquita, a former newspaper columnist focused on television production and now a producer herself. The parrot’s wit and double entendres went right over kids’ heads, she said.
“That puppet-character was the representation on TV, in a program primarily directed toward housewives, of that Brazilian characteristic to laugh at oneself even in the worst moments,” Mesquita added. “They transmitted a message of optimism and inspiration even after laughing at themselves. And that brought to the program a male audience, which wasn’t interested in the culinary arts.”
Also unique about Lauro José was how adults interacted with the puppet as though it were sentient. That reflects the “genius and creativity of Tom Veiga,” J.B. Oliveira, who previously directed “Mais Voce” at Globo, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“The colorful little animal gained humanity and was seen by all, viewers and guests, as a real person,” Oliveira said.
On Monday’s broadcast, “Mais Voce” shared tear-filled tributes to Veiga from about two dozen of his friends and colleagues at the network. People on set dressed all in black, with photos of Veiga upon their chests. Globo said the day’s ratings were the highest in 20 years.
Veiga’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, with a burial the following day.
Globo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it plans to find a new actor to bring Louro José to life.
The network shared a video with some of Louro José’s many appearances, including one in which he fainted upon receiving a kiss from model Gisele Bünchen. In another, he dressed up like Michael Jackson, dancing on the countertop to the King of Pop’s song “Bad” as Braga bopped along beside him.
“Thank you for everything Louro José, Tom Veiga,” one Twitter user identifying as Lia Carioca said. “Your work was happy, inspiring, cute and cheered the mornings of many Brazilians who were down.”
David Biller, The Associated Press
As economy struggles, Fed weighs boosting bond purchases – Investment Executive
The Fed since June has been buying $120 billion in bonds each month to keep downward pressure on long-term interest rates as a way of giving the economy a boost as it struggles to emerge from a deep recession.
The purchases have included $80 billion a month in Treasury bonds and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.
With the economy showing signs of slowing in the face a resurgence in coronavirus cases and a return to shutdowns in some areas, there has been market speculation that the Fed could decide to boost the size of its monthly purchases.
The minutes show that while no decision was taken on what to do or when, Fed officials were keeping their options open. Some analysts believe the Fed will make an announcement on boosting the bond purchase program at its next meeting on Dec. 15-16, especially if there has been no movement by Congress to provide more economic relief to individuals and businesses.
The minutes said that many Fed officials “judged that asset purchases helped provide insurance against risks that might reemerge in financial markets in an environment of high uncertainty.”
Concern has been growing among economists that the economy is slowing after an initial rebound this summer and could even topple into a double-dip recession in the early part of 2021 if Congress does not replenish expiring support programs.
At the White House Wednesday, Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump’s economic advisers, told reporters that a “sober” reading of the economic recovery shows “we are facing … a chasm ahead for millions of Americans unless there can be a bipartisan” deal to provide further economic relief.
The minutes released Wednesday covered the Fed’s Nov. 4-5 meeting, held just after the November elections, and were released with the customary lag of three weeks.
At the meeting, the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero and signalled that it was prepared to do more if needed to support the economy.
A multitrillion-dollar stimulus effort enacted in the spring has helped support millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work and provided further assistance to struggling individuals and businesses.
But many of those programs have expired and jobless benefits are due to run out for millions of Americans by the end of this year.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had said at a news conference following the two-day meeting that Fed officials had discussed whether and how a bond buying program might be altered to provide more economic support.
In addition to increasing the size of the program, the Fed could decide to alter the composition of the bonds purchases to focus on buying long-term securities as a way of putting added downward pressure on long-term rates.
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Chicco Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals (2020): Best Nextfit Car Seat, Bravo Travel System & More Deals Reviewed by Saver Trends
Review of the latest Chicco deals for Black Friday & Cyber Monday, featuring offers on Keyfit 30 car seat, Bravo Travel System & more Here’s a comparison of the latest Chicco deals for Black Friday & Cyber Monday, including the best sales on convertible car seats, car seat and bases and more. Links to the top deals are listed below.Best Chicco Deals: * Save up to 43% on Chicco travel systems, carriers, sterilizers, and more at Walmart – see the latest discounts on a wide variety of Chicco infant car seats, strollers, food warmers, and modular sterilizers * Save on Chicco travel systems, portable bassinets, hook-on chairs, and more at Amazon – click the link to see live prices on top-rated baby safety car seats, travel gear, and more * Save on top-rated Chicco baby safety car seats, travel systems at buybuyBABY.com – check live prices on Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat, Chicco Fit 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, and more * Save up to 32% on top-rated Chicco travel systems at Walmart – check the latest deals on travel system models, including Chicco Mini Bravo, Chicco Activ3 Jogging, Chicco Bravo Trio, and more * Save on best-selling Chicco KeyFit series car seats at Walmart – click the link for the latest deals on Chicco KeyFit series car seats, including the Onyx, Regatta, Q Collection, and more * Save up to $90 on car seats from the Chicco NextFit series at Walmart – check the latest savings on top-rated Chicco NextFit convertible car seats Best Baby Deals: * Save up to 40% off on a wide selection of baby gear at Walmart – find the latest deals on car seats, strollers, bassinets, activity centers, bouncers & rockers, carriers, playmats, and more * Save up to 40% on Graco baby strollers, car seats & more baby gear at GracoBaby.com – click the link to see updated prices on best Pack ‘n Play® playards and other top-rated Graco cribs, strollers, and car seats * Save up to 49% on baby gear including car seats, strollers, clothing & essentials at Amazon – check live prices on clothing, bedding, baby care items and accessories * Save up to $105 on baby strollers, car seats, cribs & more at buybuyBABY.com – including deals on Fisher Price, Carter’s and Disney * Save on a wide range of Burt’s Bees baby items at BurtsBees.com – click the link for latest deals on baby ointment, lotion, creams, and bath bundles from Burt’s Bees * Shop baby swings, bassinets, playards & more at 4moms.com – click the link to see the latest prices on baby stuff like the mamaRoo4, rockaRoo, mamaRoo sleep bassinet, and more Searching for more deals? We recommend checking Walmart’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday sale and Amazon’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals for thousands more live discounts. Saver Trends earns commissions from purchases made using the links provided.About Saver Trends: Saver Trends research and share online sales news. As an Amazon Associate and affiliate Saver Trends earns from qualifying purchases.Contact: Andy Mathews (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Iran economy could rebound to 4.4% growth if U.S. sanctions lifted: IIF – TheChronicleHerald.ca
By Davide Barbuscia
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s economy could grow 4.4% next year if U.S. President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions that have contributed to a deep three-year recession, although the COVID-19 crisis could limit foreign investment, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said.
Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 U.S. election has raised chances that the United States could rejoin a deal Iran reached with world powers in 2015, under which sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme.
This is unlikely to happen overnight, however, and the prospects remain uncertain as the adversaries would both want additional commitments.
Iran’s rial currency has lost about 50% of its value against the U.S. dollar in 2020, reflecting economic damage from sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, although it strengthened in late October in anticipation Biden would unseat U.S. President Donald Trump.
Iran has the highest COVID-19 death toll in the Middle East.
Trump abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018, and Tehran responded by scaling down its compliance.
The IIF, a trade body for the global financial industry, said that if United States lifted most of the economic sanctions on Iran by the end of 2021, the economy could expand 4.4% next year after an expected 6.1% contraction in 2020.
It would then grow by 6.9% in 2022 and 6% in 2023, the IIF said, adding that if oil exports increase, Iran could see its foreign reserves rise to $109.4 billion by the end of 2023.
Tehran has spoken optimistically about the return of foreign companies under a new U.S. administration, but lack of financial transparency could still curb interest from firms who had made tentative moves to invest after the 2015 deal was struck.
Garbis Iradian, IIF’s chief economist for the MENA region, told Reuters foreign direct investment inflows would increase progressively from this year’s $890 million to over $6.4 billion in 2025.
Assuming most sanctions could be lifted by late next year, FDI is likely to remain below $2 billion in 2021, with most of the money coming from China, Iradian said, adding: “Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic will limit FDI inflows in 2021.”
The Iranian economy would remain fragile, though “not to the brink of collapse” if most of the sanctions remain in place, the IIF said.
Under such a “pessimistic” scenario, Iran would post 1.8% growth next year and its foreign reserves would steadily decrease from about $80 billion this year to $46.9 billion by the end of 2023.
About 90% of Iran’s official reserves are frozen abroad due to U.S. sanctions.
(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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