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Friday, June 21, 2013

Brazil’s World Cup Winners Support Protests

Video of protesters in Rio de Janeiro singing, “The people woke up,” at a rally on Thursday.

One day after peaceful protests in Rio de Janeiro and other cities descended into chaotic street battles between protesters and the police, and tensions boiled over between factions within the demonstrations as well, a congressman who once helped Brazil win a World Cup railed against the cost of staging next year’s tournament.

Speaking in a video posted on YouTube (not yet subtitled in English), the former soccer star Romário threw his support behind the demonstrations and criticized what he called waste and mismanagement on an epic scale in the preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

A statement on the protests in Brazil posted on YouTube by Romário, a former star of the national soccer team who is now a congressman.

Romário, a Socialist Party member who represents Rio de Janeiro in the federal congress, said that the more than $3 billion spent so far on building and renovating stadiums for the tournament could have paid instead for 8,000 new schools, 39,000 school buses and 28,000 sports facilities for the public. “The money spent in Mané Garrincha Stadium” in the ca! pital, Brasília, he added, “could have been used to build 150,000 homes for people of low income, medium income or no income.”

Romário, the hero of Brazil’s 1994 triumph, also criticized the role played by soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, which he called “a state inside of the state.” He said that after the Confederations Cup, a test run for next year’s tournament that is now under way, “some things that didn’t work will need to be redone, and some new things for the World Cup will need to be done. And who determines what needs to be done? The true president of Brazil today, named FIFA.”

Later in the video statement, he added: “Our country’s current president, named FIFA, will arrive, will collect a profit of four billion reais,” or nearly $2 billion. Normally, a profit like that would cost a business about $500 million, Romário said, but FIFA “won’t pay it. That is: it will come, it will mount its circus, won’t spend anything and will take everything.”

Romário, who grew up in poverty in one of Rio’s favelas, or slums, is not known for understatement. In 1995, after he scored three times in a triumphant return to his home city, he told reporters as he walked off the pitch: “There are many kings in the world, but only one God. I am Romário. I am God.”

His latest comments, however, seemed to channel widespread anger at lavish spending on the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio at a time when money for public services is in short supply. At least three other former stars of the national team have spoken in favor of the protests this week.

Just one day earlier, another legend of the Brazilian game, Pelé, was forced to retreat from comments in which he had called on his compatriots to focus on supporting the national team in the Confederations Cup and “forget all of this mayhem that’s happening in Brazil, all of these protests.”

After video of those remarks spread online this week, Pelé posted a message on Twitter expressing his support for the protest movement.

As The Financial Times reported, another legendary goal scorer, Ronaldo, added his voice to the chorus this week, writing on Twitter, “I feel pride when I see peaceful and democratic protests throughout the country.”

Earlier in the week, Ronaldo, too, was lambasted by protesters after old video of him defending the spending on stadiums and saying, “You can’t hold the World Cup with h! ospitals,! ” resurfaced online.

Video of Ronaldo defending Brazil’s spending on stadiums for the World Cup, posted online this week.

On Twitter, Ronaldo said that he had made those comments two years ago, before Brazil’s economy slowed, and complained that the video posted online had been edited so that his comments were presented out of context. He added, “I’m not responsible for the spending of public money, and I reject corruption.”

One of Ronaldo’s teammates on the Brazilian squad that won the 2002 World Cup, Rivaldo, also posted comments on Twitter this week calling the protests justified. “It’s shameful to spend so much money for this World Cup and leave the hospitals and schools in such a precarious state,” Rivaldo wrote. “At this moment we aren’t in shape to host the World Cup, we don’t need it, we need education and health.”

Flooding Inundates Part of Canadian Province

Footage posted on YouTube by a local resident of the flooding at Bragg Creek in southern Alberta.

Heavy rains have contributed to flooding in parts of the Canadian province of Alberta, where officials said Friday that about 75,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Swollen waterways burst banks, streets were flooded and in at least once instance the wreckage of a house was swept away by raging waters in the Bragg Creek area.

Heavy rain fell in the past 48 hours, in some places as much as normally falls in six months in the affected area in southern Alberta. In Calgary, the Bow River was described by the mayor, Naheed Nenshi, as looking “lik an ocean,” while the Elbow River is spilling over the top of a dam near the city.

There were power outages, road closings and mandatory evacuations, and officials said they have not even started to assess the extent of the damage to property owners.

A reporter on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said CBC staff members have been ordered to evacuate their Calgary studios.

Oracle And Salesforce: A Data-Sharing Deal

Some of the best trash-talking in tech may be over. The Oracle Corporation and Salesforce.com, two of the more contentious competitors in software, are about to announce a close alliance involving software delivered via cloud computing.

“Larry and I both agree we need to unite our clouds,” said Marc Benioff, the founder and chief executive of Salesforce. “Oracle is a very important part of our strategy.”

Next week, according to people familiar with the agreement who were not authorized to speak on the record, Oracle and Salesforce will announce that their products will be able to easily share data.

That way, customers can use things like customer contact and product details that they have on Salesforce with Oracle’s applications, which include similar sales and people-management software. The data sharing could make both products more attractive to buyers, because it will increase what companies can do with the software.

It is surprising, given the sometimes warring persnalities who run both companies. In October 2011, Oracle all but kicked Mr. Benioff out of a conference that Mr. Benioff had paid $1 million to speak to, after Mr. Benioff criticized the onstage performance of Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chief executive. Such payments to appear onstage at another company’s corporate event are common, but getting kicked off is not.

“Larry was not prepared,” Mr. Benioff said at the time. “You don’t have somebody over to your house to tell better jokes than you.”

Since the break between the two, Mr. Benioff said, “I’ve met with Larry a number of times, and I’ve never been more excited about our relationship with Oracle â€" he’s doing a great job.”

Mr. Benioff is a former Oracle executive, and Mr. Ellison is an early investor in Salesforce. Salesforce applications rely on Oracle’s database.

More importantly, in the last two years software delivered over the cloud h! as become a common part of business, forcing many companies to change. I.B.M., for example, recently said it would pay $2 billion to beef up its cloud offering, and has reorganized its applications to better address the managers of smaller corporate departments.

Salesforce, which once operated as something of an upstart, is feeling the increased competition, and has broadened from sales software to online marketing and advertising products.

“There’s a definite change of tone around here,” said a Salesforce executive, “It’s shocking; we’re growing up.”

For its part, Oracle is battling an image not of growing up, but of growing old. On Thursday the company announced lower than expected earnings, which it ascribed to a tough economy overseas. Cloud-based software grew well, but remains a small par of its overall revenue. The company also said it would raise its dividend and announced a big stock buyback, behaviors usually undertaken by tech companies when they begin to grow more slowly. Oracle officials declined to comment on the record about the Salesforce deal.

Oracle has been among the most solitary of tech companies, relentlessly acquiring others, trash-talking with the best of them, and scrapping in multiple high-profile court battles. In a call with analysts after Thursday’s earnings announcement, Mr. Ellison belittled both SAP, a longtime competitor, and Workday, a cloud company.

Like I.B.M., Oracle appears to be going after a much bigger market of smaller-sized deals by lining up with Salesforce and others. Like many companies, it has often struck alliances while competing, but rarely with such public vigor.

On Monday, Mark Hurd, Oracle’s co-president, will make a joint announcement with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, and Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft’s server and tools business, which also includes its substantial cloud computing business. That announcement is expected to include making Oracle’s products more broadly available in Microsoft’s cloud, but will probably not involve Oracle’s latest database.

Earlier this month, Oracle announced a partnership with Dell intended to give it access to more small and medium-size businesses. Mr. Hurd appeared in a video at a Dell event to announce that deal.

Yahoo Completes Tumblr Acquisition

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F.A.A. Set to Relax Rules for Devices on Planes

An industry working group assigned by the Federal Aviation Administration to research the use of electronics on airplanes is expected to recommend relaxing the ban on portable electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

One member of the group, who asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the panel is currently drafting a document that will recommend a wider use of devices, including tablets and smartphones used only for data like e-mail but not talking, during takeoff and landing.

One of the recommendations under consideration in the document would be to allow “gate-to-gate usage” of electronics, meaning that devces could be left on, in a limited “airplane mode,” from the moment the gate door closes on the tarmac until the plane arrives at the gate of its destination.

But the person who has seen a draft of the report said there are still concerns about the use of electronics during landing, where the use of flight instruments is paramount, indicating the recommendation could still change.

The advisory group was supposed to deliver its findings by July 31, but the source said the group, has asked for an extension until September.

The F.A.A. did not respond to a request for comment about the filing extension or the current draft of the working group document.

Last year, the F.A.A. announced the creation of the working group to study the use of electronics during takeoff and landing. The group, which first met in January, comprises people from various industries, including Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Federal Communications Commission and aircraft makers.

The group has several goals beyond determining the safety of electronics on planes, including ensuring that whatever rules the agency announces apply to devices that are not on the market today.

Last year, the F.A.A. began approving the use of iPads in the cockpit for pilots in lieu of paper navigation charts and manuals.