Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic

Inspired by “Share Your Story” Now I know why the Caged Bird sings.

It’s only a “Gripezinha” declared our totally irresponsible President to his 212,000,000,00 citizens.
Luckily some had other ideas.
I had alreay started working from home by the time an official pandemic was announced by WHO.
Mainly this was to avoided crouded commuting on the Metro and the packed 20 storey elevators at an office building full of Medical consultants.
For the first week there were empty supermarket shelves and it was a bit trial and error for deliveries.
Then there was the relevation forced more to the front of the brain of what was happening.
I´m 69 so right on the edge of a danger segment, luckily my health is OK though I weigh more than I should.
My long term girlfriend moved in leaving her adult daughters in her apartment, and we decided to sit it out in our small but pleasant space.
I have been out once in the last 2 months, about a week into this for a flu shot. I was nearly the only person wearing a mask on the not so crowded streets.
I´m privileged. I speak / read a couple of languages and I am a news junkie. I know how to find information

Working from home is no problem to me. Not being able to walk the streets of my neighbourhood is.
As for Zoom – No. 95% of meetings I attended previously were a waste oftime and any meeting with over half a dozen people about a specific project or item is a complete waste of time.
I use it sans video when I have to. I actually find Skype more easy to deal with and more productive.
Those I work with are not my friends. We disn´t use to congregate after hours so I feel no loss at not seeing them.
What I miss is live music, walking the beach, galleries and museums and street fairs where there is such a myriad of humanity on display up close, unachievable on the small screen.
This is probably why I have no TV and watch few movies.
I can more or less understand zoom for family or friends but it’s totally plastic. I want to look people in the eye, hold their arm, hug them, not see them as if in a zoo.

I am enraged at the sheep like selfish mentality of so many who deride the warnings and gathered in their hundreds on the beaches and hot spots at sunset.
Social life must go on for these rather shallow peopleirregardless of the harm they may inflict on others.
I have always been a bit of a stranger in a strange land but now I see a much harder polarization in society.
It’s a bit wierd as everyone I know and care about is hunkered down for the duration.
But some acquaintances are in a strange denial and then I see them more allied with antivaxers and conspiracy theories and hard right wing lunacy.
I am aware of a death cult out there and have no wish to become part of their experiment.
75% of this country is in the informal sector if they work at all. I try to understand the hardship. No crowds going to / from work equals no clients for all those street vendors.
Shops are always greatly overstaffed by western standards minimum wage and a percentage is the rule. All no longer.
Very few have savings. So on one side the open the economy argument is somethg I can understand but it can only be done if the people are looked after and that I realize isn’t going to happen.
At midday the local church plays hymns over its speakers, I guess that keeps some of the people reassured.
It helps me remember that populations have been through times of Plague and hardship before and survived.
THe favelas are having to fend for themselves. They always have had to. Santa Marta , just a block away, has organized it’s own sanitation and cleaning. I assist by contribution to my local residents association who provide much needed food parcels. I feel inadequate as I cannot physically give assistance to these efforts.

I am now quasi resigned to not leaving my apartment for the rest of this year.
As I said earlier, I am privileged. I have a small area at the back about 15 Sqm for laundry and sitting out and a pretty varanda about 5 sqM with plants and
with a slight view and the landladies small garden with a tree.
THe city is quieter, gloriously so, it was never noisy here as I am off the road but there was always the hum of traffic and buses and trucks occasionally schreeching and the odd shout of people on the street. Because of it’s nature Rio and especially Botafogo was never really polluted so the clear skies are still clear.
My rhythm of life is very different. I don’t feel anxious for myself but more for those I love. I am on the edge of entering the closing stages of my life with my three score years and ten
and so I have the memories of people and places. I now realize that I will possibly never see these people again; My son, my grandson, my unborn grandaughter, my buddies and my lovers from days past.
I shall miss the falling into conversations as if I had never been away, the cameradie, the reminiscing of shared adventure.
My loathing of the system increases. #CapitalismKills. Bankers and political fixers, lobbysts and brokers were never essential workers but the nurses and cleaners and security and transport workers, and delivery boys and shelf stackers and bakers – all these “little” people – where would we be without them.
This is a time of great humanitarianism and the people are beginning to see through the Politicians and hopefully the Religious frauds as well.
But then they will become hungry and then they will become angry and then all bets are off.

The future? Is there one? Should we move to a small village away from everywhere? Will the government / military / whoever is in chage have enough clout to protect the inhabitants from
strife and Plague bearers entering. I must think how to move this forward. I believe in staying put for the moment but the not so distant future must be considered.
The first wave is striking and we have about a month I think to get to peak, but that of course depends on my fellow humans.
It was Lenin who said: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

The psychological ups and downs were / are interesting.
Tiredness became an issue and S found it difficult to sleep.
I think we both had periods of depression especially as we both had to adjust to living together 24/7
Much harder for her as she has family and very many friends that she used to see quite regularily.
Not such an issue with myself who has always been more of a loner in many ways.
However civil unrest and complete government breakdown, Military intervention or even Civil War does keep me thinking some nights.
The complete Brazilian descent into political madness will be well documented so I won’t dwell on it here.

I’m all go in the mornings and get quite a bit done and then I procrastinate.
Then I realize that at my age I can procrastinate about whatever I like and pretty much whenever I like!
My work deadlines as such are few.
We have to let go of everything we fear to lose.
A routine has aways helped and as some General said; if you want to change the world start off by making your bed every morning and taking pride in a task accomplished!
Getting dressed is something I do to go to the gate and collect a delivery or let the filha in for their take away of mums cooking.
They dutifully stay on the Varanda.
The cowardly cat appears occasionally from under the bed for food or a prowl in the middle of the night, though he is slowly getting less freaked and more adventurous.
So the three of us head into the unknown. Interesting times as the so called chinese expression goes.
Will the people finally rise up against the oppressor oligarch and capitalist class I wonder or will we have Orwell’s future of a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
I know which I want and I fear for what might happen.

Caged Bird
BY MAYA ANGELOU
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Weimer Brazil in the time of Plague

Today has been the most insane day in Brazilian politics since yesterday.

Everybody knew that Brazil was not going into this optimally prepared.
Optimally prepared is not something Brazil really does.
Its more of a rolling chaos out of which, if we are lucky, some sort of cognitave occurance happens.

But this, this is pushing the envelope to more extremes.
Just as an aside the US dollar exchange BR$2.35 at the time of the Olympics is now BR$5.5
First our President is Mad, not barking like Trump, though he sometimes gets close, but still Mad, Bad and Dangerous.

The leader and therefore figurehead of some 212,000,000 people over half of which are not very well educated have been told that Covid-19 is but a sniffle – a gripezinha something that real men don’t get. No need to social distance, all a panic, now man up and get businesses back to work and go shopping.
The classic Economy before Lives propaganda.
Taking about the economy, General Braga Netto seen now by many to be the puppetmeister, bypassed Guedes the Minister of economy last week and produced his own “Marshall Plan”.

This seems to have been highly under-reported in the international press.
Braga Netto who was appointed Chief of Staff in February is defacto head of state according to many in the know.
He is a serving General, Chief of Staff of the Army and Brazil’s second highest officer.

The Bolsonazi then proceded to sack his health minister for publically disagreeing with him about the
need for social distancing.
Mandatta was far from perfect, no one in this shit show of an administration really gets close, but at least some
have an inkling of reality.

Not so much is known about Nelson Teich his sucessor except that he has medical qualifications, a degree in health administration and is also an entrepreneur, so we know which way this will go.
He also looks like a zombie. But at least he believes in social distancing across the board and not vertically. Phew!

So you may think that was all pretty disruptive but that the runaway car managed to career back onto the track.

Hold my fucking Caipirinha !

Lot of balls in the air; the biggest global health crisis the world has known, Economy collapsing, currency plunging,
health care unable to cope, and 75% of the population wondering where next weeks lunch is coming from.

The Captain, note captain this time not Corporal; anyway Captain fuckwit then decided to fire the head of his Federal Police, Brazils number one law enforcement agency over the advise of his minister of justice Sergio Moro – Mr Lava Jato, who then quit.

BOOM
Why, what’s going on?
Firstly two of the Bolsonazi sons are under active investigation; all three are elected politicians.
Flavio is being investigated for corruption and a kick back scheme and is also, like the rest of this nefarious family, very close to Rio de Janeiro’s milicias.
Carlos who is more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic is being investigated for leading the “Cabinet of Hate” an extreme right wing group spreading fake news and outright lies on whatsapp groups and twitter and harrassing en masse journalists especially women who disagree with them and who point out the bullshit.
Eduardo, the third son has recently called for a reintroduction of A15.
As explained by award winning Film Maker Petra Costa:
AI-5, among other things, allowed the closure of Congress, censorship of the press, television, theater, music and cinema; political meetings were outlawed;
habeas corpus and constitutional guarantees were suspended and torture allowed.
By AI-5, you could be arrested without committing any crime, without the right to a lawyer, and you could be brutally tortured by Brilhante Ustra,
the president’s idol, who stuffed mice into women’s vaginas. The newspapers could not report, because they would be censored.
There would be no Congress, no opposition, no right to demonstrate and peaceful assembly of people.
You could only read books authorized by the government, listen to music and watch movies that the president wanted and read the news that he authorized.
You could be kidnapped by Bolsonaro’s militias, stuck in a basement, tortured with electric shocks and executed by government order.
And your family couldn’t do anything. That’s what we’re talking about.

Just as an extra, 12 other politicians close to the Bolsonazi and his despicable sons are also under investigation.

BOOM BOOM
The Intercept revealed this morning that Flavio Bolsonaro was being investigated for financing & profiting from the illegal construction of buildings erected by Rio’s paramilitaries using public money

As often suspected this National crisis all comes back to Rio de Janeiro where the Captain lazed in the local assembleia doing very little for 20 years except gather a little bit here and a little bit there.
Then there are all those purely coincidental tieups re the murder of Marielle Franco and the Bolosnazi family and local milicias.
Carnaval with all it’s colorful excesses seems lives ago. The State is incapable of helping so the people turn to their own resources.
The Samba schools are sewing PPE, The favalas are self sanitizing.
Food banks and local associations are feeding as many as possible.
Meanwhile the Covid-19 deaths, let alone the internecine militia killings, are beginning to appear on the street.
The health services are collapsing.
The State Governors; most of them are going their own way and doing their best, even the appalling Mr Witzel here in Rio.
Unfortunately it will get grim before it gets better.
However Selminha is here, her daughters are at home and the scared cat is under the bed.
We will survive this storm. We have to.
Stay Safe.


Caetano Veloso

Day by Day and Night by Night

The reality of self isolation is that you are never alone on your own.

17 – 29 March 2020 – Hippy House – Botafogo

2020.03.17 – Tues
Hot day / hot night
No one yet has data yet about this virus and heat which might slow it a bit.
This mornings figures show 301 infections nationwide with 40 in RJ state
Today is partial sadness as I collected the ashes of the dear little cat last night.
Tomorrow I will find the strength to dig them around the base of the tree in the garden
Memories…such good memories.
Meanwhile 15 of the Bolsonazi’s entourage have now proved positive.
Hopefully we are nearing the end of this sociopathic authoritarian in power.

2020.03.18 – Wed
RJ is in state of Emergency
The city is entering into semi lockdown with public transport stopped into and out of the rest of the state.
Witzel seems to have stepped up to the mark, we will see as days go on.
Sigh of Relief as Lela has home office at last.
The arrogance of the fucking French to have lockdown in their home country and refuse home office in their overseas office.
Brazil has not closed borders as yet but that is pretty irrelevant as all neighbours barring Venezuela and the Guianas have closed theirs.
The initial big challenge will be in the 2 major cities SP + RJ
On the home front S. is organising her condominio by phone and the ever important Açai and Banana vitimina arrives by delivery boy for the grand
charge of BR$2 which is now under US 50c
G. popped round for a visit and sat on the varanda for half an hour and scored a half bottle of pink champagne from the back of the fridge.
Good to have girls laughing together.

2020.03.19 – Thur
One week in.
National 529 cases Rio 63 cases. As expected the curve is rising sharply
Here is a quote from Lenin
There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen
The Good news is that China is coming out of the curve.
The not so good news is that the Bolsonazi’s idiot son has picked a big fight with China.
The China which is now helping other countries.
So now we know that the virus will kill a lot of people and we also know that the Bolsonazis will make it easier.
I wonder if there will ever be any sort of war crime tribunal for any of these global arseholes.
Last night there was a “Panelaço” in fact two; the first a spontaneous one when the Bolsonazi appeared on TV and the second as planned an hour later.
It. was. huge and went on on for about 15 minutes not only in all the major (and minor) bairros of RJ but across the nation.
The people want the idiot to go back to his village.
Then half an hour later there was a rather feeble banging for a couple of minutes by the supporters who were roundly shouted at.
S. went all Guerreira and took on one of the sheep in the nearby apartment block. A youngish guy whose only slogan was “Lula Ladrão”
or Lula Thief. So thisis the mentatily of the sheep or Gado as they are known (herd of cows~ mooooo). The country is becoming rapidly disfunctional
overtaken by an authoritarian, fascist ideology headed by a self-interested socio-psycopath and his criminal family as the worlds largest health disaster hurtles towards us like an asteroid.
And all the fuckwits can shout is “Lula Ladrão”. Talk about heads up arses.
I could rant for a long time but won’t.
On the ground things seem to be slowing down. But S, who goes out, tells me that there seems to be plenty of older people wandering around the supermarkets,
smaller shops seem more empty. Moradores de Rua, those who live on the street and are therefore most vulnerable to anything adverse are pleading with passers by for food.
I need something to eat” I dont want money …I want to eat. And this is just the beginning.
I fully expect local lockdowns and troops on the street within a couple of weeks. And it seems to make sense.
The authorities are talking about taking over cruise ships as isolation for centres for those from the communities who can’t self isolate because of lack of space.
That in itself has problems and I think they have grossly underestimated what is required
Its estimated that 1.5 million people live in favelas in the city so at an infection rate of 10% (ridiculously low ) that equals 150,000 people
An average cruise ship will hold 3,000 people. The sums don’t add up. Let alone the requirement for staff equipment etc and how to stop them becoming giant petri dishes.
Meanwhile the Evangelist lobby in Congress is demanding that that their temples are allowed to reopen again
All they want is their $$$$

There are no masks.
Get proactive
This pattern, when lined with a sandwiched layer of cotton flannel thin enough to breathe through, has been OK’d for use by French public hospitals for non-ER and non-coronavirus medical personnel. Do check that your public health authority also OK’d it and whether they have construction preferences (just two layers of cotton with a pocket for filters, or with that third sandwiched flannel layer). Cotton is best as it’s easily washed; other fabrics tend to be harder to breathe through and don’t filter as well (unless you have access to silk!).

2020.03.20 Friday
The end of a long week where an awful lot changed.
As of 0900 there were 647 infected in RJ state and 7 dead; with 69 in the city and 56 dead
I have been busy correlating info for Captains worldwide as updated posts on an AYSS page
The speed of lockdown has been pretty intense.
Tomorrow the city is supposed to stop. We will see.
I somehow doubt it. Delivery boys are going full tilt though. Our home logistics are changing. Corner bar closed so no more breakfast delivery.
Hortifruiti deliver and so does the supermarket though the girls are doing our big shopping which is very kind of them.
Brazil closed its borders today and restricted which nationals can arrive on international flights
No word about the number of ventilators available.
The political classes continue to repulse any normal human being
The Bolsonazi son who insulted the Chinese was roundly rebuked by them very publically.
Vice President General Hamiltom Marão appeared and delivered a zinger on twitter
“O Eduardo Bolsonaro é um deputado. Se o sobrenome dele fosse Eduardo Bananinha não era problema nenhum. Só por causa do sobrenome. Ele não representa o governo. Não é a opinião do governo. Ele tem algum cargo no governo?”
“Eduardo Bolsonaro is a congressman. If his surname was Eduardo Bananinha it would not be a problem. Just because of his surname. He does not represent the government. Isn’t it the government’s opinion. Does he have any government positions?”
Bananinha means little dick in the vernacular
Nice one General.

2020.03.29 Sunday
Has another week really flown by?
The world slowly shuts down – the politicians prevaricate.
At the end there must be a reckoning and retribution for those who sacrificed their people in favour of Mammon #CapitalismKills is no longer just an ideological slogan.
The destruction is plainly visible with its proponents stepping up to state their warped bile.
Most organized religion, mainstream or evangelical is adding to the deathpyre by insisting on their mass gatherings.
The story of South Korean “Patient 31” is a sobering reality.
Here in Brazil we are waiting for the Tempest.
The virus has just started to be noticed in the favelas, all of which suffer from overcrowding and many of which had no running water for over two weeks.
Social isolation thus becomes a privilege.
What applies to India applies here to Brazil and especially Rio with over 1.5 million people living in favelas.

So in the end I think that what frightens me most; and yes like all logical people I am frightened; anyway what frightens me possibly more than the virus
is the totally justifiable havoc that the populace may well wreck on the survivors.
The world order will, must, change but in which direction. It is very hard to forecast.
The cracks are just beginning to appear
Yesterday in Sicily after just under 3 weeks lock down Supermarkets were looted.

S. fetched her professionially scared kitty from the condominium. Zeus has been tormented for life by the Chico monster. Here he lives in his basket under the bed and appears occasionally. Bit by bit he is becoming less afraid. Then S used the vacuum cleaner this morning and he hid under the bathroom cupboard for 6 hours.
Any way his presence helps keep S happy which is very important. This is tougher for her than for me. She lived with her daughters, hugs and kisses were a norm and now its two meters and bum shaking. They are very Brave.
The long haul is looking longer. The Pit of the Abyss is deep and nearing.

Stay Safe. Stay Home. Stay Strong.

Om Sarva Swarupe Sarveshe, Sarva Shakti Samanvite
Bhaye Bhyastraahi No Devi, Durge Devi Namostute

The Renaissance took place in chaos and plague

In this year of the Plague….as seen from Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro

On 11th. March WHO declared Covid-19 more commonly called Corona Virus, to be a Pandemic.
From this mornings O Dia
Rio closes Schools and prohibits Cinemas, Theatres and Shows
Governor Witzel states that beaches can be forbidden.
Today is Saturday and its partly cloudy 27°C / 81°F – an ideal day for the beach as seen by Copacabana live cam
Tomorrow is forecast full sun and hotter

At least O Dia had the decency to record that this evening will be the 2nd anniversay of the as yet unsolved death of the Marielle Franco

I think the streets are quieter than usual for Saturday shopping. Selminha disagrees.
Shelves of pasta and rice and soft drinks are more than half empty in my local Rio Sul supermercado

The traficantes who control Rocinha favela of approx 100,000 people have announced that Favela tourism is banned.
No virus in any of the communities noted as yet but I fear it will be devastating when it starts.

Meanwhile the Bolsonazi does or does not have Coronanavirus?
In the surreal world that is Brazil the following is noted as fact
Last weekend he travelled to Florida to meet / grovel at the feet of the orange Emperor at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago
These people have tested positive and shared his 8 hour plane ride there and back
– Nestor Foster, possible Brazilian ambassador to Washington
– Nelsinho Trad – Senator for Campo Grande
– Fabio Wajngarten – Secretary of Communication
– Karina Kufa – lawyer to Bolsonaro and Party treasurer for the newly formed Aliança pelo Brasil

Eduardo Bolsonsaro confirmed to Fox news as per John Roberts FoxNews Chief White House Correspondent

that his father had a preliminary POSITIVE test for coronavirus.
Eduardo Bolsonaro now tells @FoxNews that the test was NEGATIVE.
Theis was reported in the Brazilian Press as it happened and then the Bolsonaro proceded to attack the press for publishing “Fake News” a game they frequently play here but which the International Press will not take kindly to especially as FoxNews is the US President’s mouthpiece.
Bolsonaro is now having a second test and is in isolation in Brasilia.
The military must be straining at the bit as VP General Hamilton Mourão is next in line.

In a further twist for the conspiracy theorists Bolsonaro’s ex minister Gustavo Bebianno, died of a heart attack yesterday aged 56
He was head of PSL; Bolsonaro’s original very nasty political party. He had also announced as a pre candidate for Mayor of Rio in the upcoming municipal elections.
Bebianno had received threats and had written a couple of as yet unseen letters outlining this.

I must reread Pepys 1965 – 66

Pepys, March 13th 1666
The plague encreased this week 29 from 28, though the total fallen from 238 to 207, which do never a whit please me.
Here are his plague references

Then there is Defoe’s more fictional Journal of the Plague Year.
Free download
– he was 6 years old in 1665 and wrote this in 1721 when the Black Death again threatened the European Continent.
Rules for social distancing in London in 1665 and His description of the fortune-tellers, astrologists and quack-doctors preying on the public’s fear has a strangely reassuring contemporary resonance.

For those of non nervous disposition here are some other Plague reading as recommended to me:
Plague of Justinian (academic)
Boccaccio – Decameron
Camus – The Plague, a review
Florence under Siege

The states of insanity

Authoritarianism / quase and outright fascism is sweeping the world.

There is the Trump disaster show in N. America. See what the fuck happened today
There are some highly unpleasant political actors in Europe.
There is egoistical clown show of Brexit and Britain
And here in Brazil we have a postmodern hyper-realistic shit show which is causing death and misery.
From Brazil the fallout is global because if the Amazon rainforest is destroyed we all go.
Today Dom Phillips in the Guardian reports on Amazon gold miners invading an indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed.
The related stories on that page are worth a read as well.
There is nothing accidental about this devastation that is happening; it is policy.
and Sam Cowrie reporting for Al-Jazeera has being doing some excellent work
Remember this horrific quote from the Bolsonazi:
It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”

Trumpism with its heavy messonaic undertones is destroying what was good about America.
Brexit will let millionaires become billionaires, and deprive young people of the opportunity of living in Europe in a greature culture.
England, because Scotland and probaby N. Ireland will depart, will become a wasteland for the exploitation by the city of London as the country becomes more of a fiscal offshore paradise for the looters of other nations.

Brazil is becoming willingly isolationalist and very divided along political ideology with less and less common ground.
Agribiziness and Mining fill the coffers of the ruling cliques as long as any restraints are lifted.
Hence destruction of the Amazon is to the benefit of both interests.
Education for the masses is being eradicated thus ensuing a slave class for exploitation in the future.
New minister of education Abraham Weintraub, who has slashed budgets to Universities by 30% achieved a 0 in his overall school grades.
Weintraub is an economist and conspiracy theorist with no experiance of education administration.
The military, quite vocal pre elections and still with a heavy hand in government have recently been very quiet. This is un-nerving and we can only assume that they are in accordance with the ongoing shit show.
Bolsonaro like Trump lies incessantly and has a new inanity every day; the frighting bit being that they are often highly vicious.
He has nominated his not very intelçligent son as Ambassador to the USA, with zero diplomatic training; luckily he has no horse to my knowledge otherwise it would be given a ministry.
Which on second thoughts would probably be better than some of the present incumbents.
The aim of the Bolsonazi administration, Like Trump in the North , is to gut the ministries and turn everything into a profit centre.
Forget about safety nets. Forget about the poor.
This is an experiment in pure red and raw capitalism the like of which has not been seen in the modern age. In fact the far right yearns for a mythical Medieval age and Deus Veult.

Stupid Rules OK !
I mean really what is it with these authoritarian fascists that they loathe education?
Intellect is something to demean?
Science is wrong if it shows crazed belief is in error. What kind of populace wants to be run by such backward looking neanderthals?
The answer unfortunately is quite a few.
The masses in their ignorance listen to the demagogues and pastors and completely ignore what is good for themselves.
The thinking is that If I associate with the rich even if they are totally corrupt it will rub off on me – is it this thinking driving some of the worlds largest and some of the oldest “democracies” back to the middle ages, and the middle ages is definitely where a certain segment of Brazilian society wishes to be in their fantasy land.
The state is supposedly there to serve the people not enrich these miserable human beings who are ruled by bigotry, hate and greed and miss the legality of outright slavery.

Todays politics seems to be driven by hate and profit. A hatred of the poor, the non white, the not strictly gendered, any form of compassion.
The wealth gap in all these societies is greater than ever before and growing. Acute poverty is growing again in Brazil.
This is the country it is to be remembered where the new public enemy Number One Lula Ignacio da Silva, who was the spearhead for bringing 12 million out of poverty is still behind bars.
The prime mover of his conviction and sentence Justice now Minister Moro achieved this at the insistance of, and aid of the Americans.
Many suspect that Moro works directly with the CIA to further american business interests in Brazil.
He is now threatening Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept by publishing a Decree Authorizing Summary Deportation of “Dangerous” Foreigners.
The Intercept has lead the reporting on leaked messages which show Moro to have been anything but impartial in the conviction of Lula.
He has also been discovered to be protecting Bolsonaros milicia involved son.
Then just today Bolsonaro threatens to jail Greenwald for the crime of being a journalist

Yesterday 27 July would have been Marielle Franco’s 40th birthday. Instead it was 500 days since her unsolved execution.
Quem matar e quem mandou matar Marielle? Who killed Marielle is now probably known, who sent the killer is not, but the suspects are very close to power.

Marielle Franco is now bigger than Marielle Franco but Justice is still required.
Who sent the killers of Mariele is the cry on the streets. Brazil may have (fraudulently) elected a fascist, but we resist.
The cover up and obfuscation runs high in both the police forces and political organisations and at the back of everyones mind is the burning question
is the President of Brazil and / or his family directly or indirectly involved in the assassination of an elected black femaile gay politician who stood up vocally for the rights of minoroties

Meanwhile if you like or are interested in samba and have Spotify; here you are.
And here is a wonderful Twitter thread on Mangueira’s deconstruction of History and in Praise of Marielle and other black heroes.

 

         Marielle – Sempre Presente

100 Days of Chaos

100 Days of Chaos or Welcome to “Politics the New Way”.

It’s an accepted practice to give an incoming administration 100 days “of grace” but where to begin with this clown show of a clusterfuck that is the new Brazilian government.
The consensus for what it is worth is that this was a protest election in that the majority vote was against PT and the left, rather than pro the Bolsonazi.
So where does it all stand after 100 days.
Hardly standing is one answer.
There are more military involved in this government than in the dictatorship.
Hang on we have been told that there was no dictatorship, History is being rewritten, in public and in the schools.
Spokesman, and leading the cult of personality is the revisionist, misogynistic, homophobic, racist president whose personal and family life is now shown to have extremely close ties to an alternative and powerful
form of government, especially in homebase Rio de Janeiro; and namely the Milicias who are not just a parallel power; they are the government.

Behind this clown show there is some serious deconstruction going on to appease the business backers.
Pesticides, some of extreme toxicity and previously banned are now legitimate.
The Amazon is now ripe for exploitation by agricultural and mining interests and violence and death is on the rise.
Again of course militias and private pistoleros are involved.
Gun ownership laws have been relaxed.

Many people more than suspect the assistance and appeasment of both American big business and government in this destruction.
Notably Bolsonaro and his justice Minister Sergio Moro made an unprecedented visit to CIA headquaters on his recent US trip, an event largely ignored the mainstream media.
Moro has stayed very quiet during these first three months not commenting on obvious corruption and human rights abuses
As usual it is Rio de Janeiro in the spotlight.
The army recently killed a (black) driver of a family car, which they mistakenly identified, by firing 80 round into it. The word fusilade has been banned from official reports.
The army investigates the army.
Not one government official either local or national commented.
5 days later the Bolsonazi announced the Military killed no-one, and that the military are part of the people, and the people do not kill each other
Governor Witzel has snipers firing into favelas but denies knowledge of how many have been killed, either by them or from gunfire from the close overhead helicopters.

Just so that we are 100% sure of what is going on the President’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro, Federal Police officer, Evangelist and Federal Deputy is now formally allied with Steve Bannon as the representative
in South America for his fascist group “The Movement”.

The fight back has begun and probably warrants a post of it’s own
However just a taster:
RESISTÉNCIA
is definitely coming from the people ignored and prejudiced against by the ruling elitist white ruling class.

It is now more than a year after the assassination of Marielle Franco and her driver Alexander Gomes.

There are as yet there are no clear answers but inquiries are leading extremely close to the President’s family and associates.

Of course it’s all just coincidence.

Beyond Magic Realism

If this was a novel people would shake there heads and say nah..Not Really.
But this is beyond Magic Realism, this is Brazil.

The only reason I repeat the following is because it is already out there.
I have no idea any longer about what is fact, what is alternative fact, what is misundestood to be true and what is undeniably false.

Jair Bolsonariro has stomach cancer. The Bolsonazi stabbing was theatre serving to get him off the stage because of his incompetance in any public appearance.
He has recently undergone chemotherapy at the Einstein hospital.
Adelio his assailant has not been heard from, and as to who is paying the lawyers this is unknown.
So is there a plot to remove the leading candidate and boost his possibilities thus allowing the military to creep back into power? Many consider it only a matter of time before General Hamilton Mourãu assumes the Presidency as the present regime implodes with infighting and corruption charges.
Meanwhile the sons are clinging to the reins of power like shit to a shoe.
And a very nasty bunch they are.

I know some people read this so I thought I would try and look at a bit of background.

Brazil is complicated at the best of times and finding clear intelligent journalism even in Portuguese is difficult and to find intelligent, different fact filled reporting and analysis in English is a challenge.
Why is this important you may well ask.
Brazil with its vast agriculural and mineral resources is a major world economic player. In the political field not so much, but what happens in Brazil will have repercussions elsewhere.
Politically the country was / is a corrupt and sordid mess and clarity and transparency is not exactly a mainstay of government. In the 2017 rankings of Transparency International Brazil ranked 96 out of 180. Reaching its best level in 2012 just after the Lula years.
Reporters without Borders ranks Brazil 102nd out of 180 a country where 42 journalists have been murdered in the last 28 years and where 57 enviromental activists were killed in 2017.

Brazil is now entering dark days as the population, revolted by the blatent corruption of the Temer years, and virulent hatred of the left stoked by the USA and MSM has resulted in the Bolsonazi clown show which could well self implode before too long. The forest fire this will ignite will probably be extinguished by the military.
Hence dark days.
For those wanting more depth I suggest Perry Anderson in the LRB.
In order to try and find some clarity among english writing journalists I offer the following.
I am lucky in that I have to rise to no standards in my writing conforming only to my own rather low ones and conform to no editorial judgement and I and have no deadlines except those imposed by myself.
Apart from a few notable publications I find that in this day and age that it is often better to follow the writers rather than the outlets.
Unfortunately the best move on, so I am constantly looking for others who will fill the gap with some indepth reckoning and explanation.
This is especially so here as bureaus sent their best or most promising journalists to cover the country during World Cup and the Olympics and then moved them on. Twitter plays an important part. It is a fire hose of information both true and false, true and misleading or outright propaganda.
Some international publications are notorious for this although there is still interest in their content.
Firewalls are another problem not only for the fact that they bar me from their content but also that they then end up preaching to the converted.
Until such time as a micropayment system is introduced so that individuals can read what they want rather than read what the the publishers wish them to, I will be abstaining or waiting for outclips from others.

I have to be very careful about drawing simularities or parallels between Brazil and other nations because cultures are so different.
There are now 3 power lobbies in Brazil coaligned under the Bolsonazi.
The Military who have 7 ministries are hugely influential and have already exercised veto over American military bases on Brazilian soil.
It should be noted that the Bolsonazi idolizes the Trumpian mannikin.
There are over 49 high ranking military individuals in this government and in some areas the military can be effectively said to be in power.

The Evangelicals who are completely unhinged also pay a large part.
This has parallels with the USA and the rise of the Dominionist beliefs held by Pence and Pompeo.

We are almost 50 days into the new government which has been characterized by the President being mostly in hospital and his VP General Hamilton Morau though not officially in power frequently calling the shots to neutralize otherwise radical decisions.

Some ministerial scandals from a bunch that would make mediocrity shine:-
Damares Alves The Evangelical preacher and minister for Minister of Human Rights, Family and Women has had ridicule heaped upon her criticizing the Church for “letting the theory of evolution enter schools”
She has stated boys wear blue and girls wear pink and is obsessed with pedophiia stating that in Holland they masturbate babies 7 months old.
On top of this there is The Gay Kit and now the Macumba kit inventions
There is also a brewing scandal about an native Indian child she adopted., some say absconded where the paperwork is not in order.
Even more worrying is that She is also involved in impeding an investigation into torture.

Ricardo Sallas is minister for the Environment
He is accused of altering the management plan for a protected area in the Tietê River with the “clear intention of benefiting economic sectors”.
Sallas went to Amazonia for thr first time only last week.
Whilest there he declared Chico Mendes to be “unimportant”.
A reminder about Chico Mendez, assassinated environmental activist (twitter thread unroll)

Ernesto Araújo Foreign Minister had a father who was a former Attorney General and during his term actively avoided extraditing Gustav Franz Wagner, a Nazi officer responsible for 250,000 deaths between 1942 and 1943, and who was living in Brazil during the military dictatorship.

Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, minister of Education and himself a Colombian,
has been reported to the Supreme court Brazilian tourists “Canibals” who steal from hotels and rob life saving equipment from aircraft

It is very strange then when I can only cheer for
VP General Hamilton Mourao who is referred to as being the only adult in the room as the Bolsonazi catches up with his cabinet.

But by far the most intriguing and dangerous scandal involves the oldest son Flavio and brings it all back to this complicated city Rio de Janeiro.
Flavio Bolsonaro is involved in a corrupt lickback scheme involving a family retainer and is also accused of employing the mother and daughter of a Milicia leader. There are many documented sympathies of the Bolsonazi clan with the militias in Rio.
The Militias executed an elected Parlimentarian, Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson 11 months ago and no one has yet been found responsible.
There is very obviously extreme obfuscation at high levels. In Rio de Janeiro the militia is not a parallel power. It is the State

The unspoken question is did the now President of Brazil have knowledge about this assassination.?
The hate towards PSOL – Marielle’s party from the Bolsonazi factions was never hidden. Marieele Franco was an outspoken, courageous, black , gay Politically elected woman from the Favelas who worked tirelessly to try and better the lives of those less fortunate in society.
Jean Wyllys, a gay congessman has fled Brazil in fear of his life following death threats towards him and his family. He was also a member of PSOL

This is not normal; but many fear that this is just the beginning

In Rio the police have been given approval of a shoot to kill policy by the Newly elected Bolsonazi supporting governor Wilson Witzel; as has been shown by the recent execution of 13 not entirely innocent youths in the Fallet/Fogueteiro favela in central Rio a week ago.
Summary justice with governeral approval is not good democracy
They were only no good poor people goes the thinking much the same as that of the arrogant Fábio Schvartsman, President of Vale, the owner and operator of the mine and tailings dam in Brumidinho that collapsed and where deaths now number 166.
He is the only person who remained seated during a minutes silent to the dead. What a complete arsehole.

It is in this tense atmosphere that the Brazilian film Marighella
premiered in Berlin yesterday with the producers worried about possible censorship in the movie being shown at home in Brazil.

Meanwhile let’s get real it’s Carnaval time again and Mangueira and their Samba honouring Marielle.

The Lull Before the Storm.

Send in the Clowns

Christmas is sort of over but the Magic Reality continues in the lead up to the new Regime.
This year it was sort of the Christmas that never was. Very few houses were decorated and not many lights. Normally Cariocas go ape shit and there are multiple strings of flashing lights in every apartment block. This yeah Meh!
They know what is coming. This could well be the lull before a particularily virulent storm.
Amid the chaos Eduardo Bolsonazi calls for the death penalty for traficantes as his father president elect Bolsonazi snr says in his Twitter account that the death penalty issue will not be debated in his government. Well I suppose it’s one way to try and faze the opposition if you support the militias, but wait aren’t they one and the same now?
Just more bullshit populist politicing.

I’m just off into speculation here; but there are many rumours about the association of the Bolsonazis together with Rio governor elect Wilson Witzel with the Milicias.
Bolsonazi definitely doesn’t think badly of them;
And there is this from the Camera dos diputados. (scroll to translation)

The Zona Oeste of Rio is under Militia control and it was the Milicias who assassinated Marielle Franco.
This version given out by the military is disputed by Marcelo Freixo
himself the target of a newly discovered assassination plot.
All this is in the lead up to what we have to look forward to:
License-to-Kill Policing to Get a Trial Run in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2018 so far in Rio state 100 Police have been killed and they in turn have killed over 900 people.

In april The Intercept published (only in Portuguese unfortunately) a thorough investigation into the Milicias assuming control of Rio de Janeiro.
and has just run a very informative investigation project on the end of the notorious Amigos dos Amigos cartel in Rio de Janeiros and the over sixty of favelas affected.
A highly visual presentation which takes a while to load but is worth the wait.

Last week was also the 50th anniversary of the Institutional Act 5, the 1968 “coup within the coup” which ushered in an even more brutal and repressive phase of the Military dictatorship
The ghost of this repression still looms large. Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in the Brazilian presidential election marks the triumph of a new, digital form of totalitarian movement in which the masses are the driver of their own manipulation. But this doesn’t make it less harmful than traditional fascist models. Bolsonaro has been explicit that he will only grant rights, be they political or to life itself, to those who will fall in line.

The hard right supportors of the Bolsonazi all have little Brazilian and Israeli flags on their twitter handles – very strange.
He idolizes Trump whose star is about to go underwater, and also the soon to be convicted criminal Netanyahu who is selling weapons and technology to the new regime to be.
Like Trump they use Twitter as an official form of communication. To get an idea of the transparency of this the Bolsonazi and his sons have just blocked Leandro Demori executive editor of the Intercept Brazil, and several of his reporting staff for questioning deliberate lies.

Meanwhile the Rapist João de Deus withdrew 35 million from his accounts and ran away before he could be arrested only to give himself up a day later. This internationaly known, celebrity visited healer / medium / scammer enticed one of his victims back by telling her if she didn’t return for his “ministrations” her cancer would come back.
An all round shyster as told by swedish journalist Henrik Brandão who interviewed him a few years ago.
The number of his accusers for rape and sexual violation now exceeds 300.

Lastly some local news from Dona Marta – half a km from where I live and which used to be a calm and peaceful favela much visited by tourists.
Many of the community, located in Botafogo, ran out of electricity for three days after cables were shot down during a gun battle with the security forces. The heat has been in the 30’s during the day.

@RioTimes




Policy? What Policy?

Guess who is going to rule us now?   

Jair Messias Bolsonaro;  the Messiah for Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics.

It’s all been moving quite fast as usual but not in a totally coherent way. Such is Brazil.
The actual answer to who rules in January is actually an unknown as there is a lot of infighting going on already and Policy is only something a real government does.
Apart from turning back the clock to 1964 and enrichinging their friends at the benefit of everyone else; which they all seem to agree with; a Policy as a whole for Brazil, one of the world’s largest economies just doesn’t exist.

As The Intercept rightly points out, with some detail; Jair Bolsonaro Promised to End Corruption in Brazil — Then He Appointed an Extremely Corrupt Cabinet.

Back on 29 October The Independent announced that Fascism has arrived in Brazil – Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency will be worse than you think.

The incoming Bolsonazi government will be composed it seems of three factions with the Bolsonazi and his nasty offspring making a lot of distracting noise.
It will be fractious so some of those presently in power might not last long and include the outing of the Bolsonazi himself.

There is certainly plenty of opposing Ideology

Reinaldo Azevedo writing in Folha de S.Paulo (translated) describes the main thrust of government to be Police, Chicago and the Barracks

Judicary – Sergio Moro who could turn out to be the golpista extraordinaire 
the real test of his power will come if and when government figures stand accused of breaking the law, for corruption or human rights abuses

Chicago
Finance – Paulo Guedes – who I wrote about earlier

The Barracks ( Presently 7 ) – 
VP – General Hamilton Mourao –
Defense – General Fernando Azevedo e Silva
Internal Security – General Augusto Heleno – was convicted in 2013 by Brazilian’s federal accountability office for authorizing illegal grant agreements for the 2011 Military Games.
Secretary of State – General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz ex controversal UN commander in Haiti 
Science and Technology  – Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Marcos Pontes – operated a business whilest still serving in the Military.
Mines and Energy – Admiral Bento Costa Lima Leite
Infrastructure & Transport – Tarcisio Freitas – former Army captain

Then there are the Evangelicals who are completely lunatical together with Foreign Minister Ernesto Aruajo

Women’s Issues and Human Rights – Damares Alves – a prolife women belong in the kitchen pastor.
Education – Ricardo Velez Rodriguez   cuckoo ultraconservative philosopher. 

Foreign Minister – Ernesto Araujo who is more than slightly cuckoo and very evangelical.and anti globalist who believes climate change is a Marxist plot and calling it ‘dogma’ and bemoaning the ‘criminalisation’ of red meat, oil and heterosexual sex.

The rest: Chief of Staff – Onyx Lorenzoni who  confessed to using slush funds on his campaign, in November.

Minister of Citizenship – Osmar Terra – 

Agricultural Minister  – Tereza Cristina the poison muse and friend to big agriculture and pharmaceutical companies.

Environment – Ricardo de Aquino Salles

Of The Bolsonazi siblings Flavio is already fingered as having dirty hands
and then there is the question of all those apartments.
What will Mr Moro do then?
and Carlos, the social media manipulater tweeted that the death of his father was of interest to persons close by .    Roughly translated:
The death of Jair Bolsonaro concerns not only the declared enemies, but also those who are very close. Mainly after your tenure!
It is easy to map a transparent and willful person. I have always done my part exhaustively. Think and understand the whole storyline!

Can I really find myself cheering for the Military ?
Well not really but they seem halfway sane compared to what else has been let out of the cage.

The only answer is Resistência.

It has now been 269 days since Marielle Franco and her driver were assassinated and justice is no closer. The Bolsonazis are Rio de janeiro politicians. We can see where their interests lie.

Marielle Franco – siempre presente.


We are already in the “Bad Times”

The political hangover. Its been a rough week.

The state of immediate shock seems to be wearing off and everyone seems to have a sort of grin and bear it look about them.
Six weeks to go to Regime change.
Just to help the gloom and doom it’s rainy season here in Rio prior to the heat of summer. Damp everything and wet shoes.
Walking home is a bit of an assault course of avoiding the puddles as you are never quite sure how deep they are when manoevering out of the way as the traffic throws up waves of water over the narrow pavements where the battle of passing umbrellas is going on.
This morning the sun is sort of out and it’s warm and I remember why I enjoy living here.
I shall go to a concert at the foot of the Moro a bit later. Local kids all good musicians all from the “wrong side of the tracks”.
There is a lot of fortitude and grit there. I hope their lot doesn´t get worse but I fear it will.
In Bolsonaro’s 81-page Plan of Government, “the word ‘culture’ appears only once.”
The Ministry is threatened to be absorbed into that of Education for which in turn he has announced plans to merge the Higher Education Ministry with the Ministry for Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication, a cost-saving measure that could undermine Brazil’s current role as Latin America’s scientific powerhouse.
Before plunging into economic recession in 2015, Brazil spent 1.3% of its gross domestic product on science and technology research – by far the largest share in the region.
With the rabid puritanical evangelists demanding a say in policy this is all shaping up to be straight out of the Handmaid´s Tale.

For those wanting the inside baseball of how the Brazilian Political system works I can recommend this Spotify podcast.
I don´t wholly agree with it, and find the take by Muni Jensen slightly elitist.
However I fully agree with the statement that
It’s the bark that summons all the other rabid dogs to the yard. Even in the absence of policy.
The idea that this government will end up being just right of Centre is, to me laughable but then American Centralists are right wingers in most other places and not a vestige of socialism is permitted.

From May 2017
Temer’s interim government worked hard to roll back thirteen years of reform by instilling policies which “represent a shift toward a neoliberal economic policy
by the old elite that ousted elected president Dilma Rousseff.”
As Jonathan Watts at The Guardian then noted, the interim government has made moves to “soften the definition of slavery, roll back the demarcation of indigenous land, trim house building programs and sell off state assets in airports, utilities and the post office. Newly appointed ministers also are talking of cutting healthcare spending and reducing the cost of the bolsa familia poverty relief system.”
According to Greenwald, these moves serve as an effort to “impose a right-wing, oligarch-serving agenda that the Brazilian population would never accept.”

Well we have moved even more right since then which with hindsight was probably the plan all along.
First remove Dilma and then jail Lula the only creditable opposition leader.
Neo Liberalism marches on and Paõlo Guedes of Chicago school infamy and who taught at the University of Chile during the Pinochet terror heads up the new financial superministry and is here to lead the charge.
The fact that he is facing a fraud investigation is very normal for a Brazilian Politician.

It should be noted that in spite of all the hype the Chigago Boys did not save the Chilean economy with repression for the majorities and “economic freedom” for small privileged groups being two sides of the same coin.

Just an aside that last week was the 3rd anniversary of the worst enviromental disaster in Brazils history.
Samarco knew of and predicted the dangers and yet no one has yet been held responsible. As a result a class action has been opened in Liverpool for about UKL 5 billion against The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton.

The transitional Bolsonaro regime is not really sure what it’s up to as yet there have been more than a few hiccups.
The head of Brazil’s Senate, criticizing the incoming Bolsonaro team: “These guys don’t come from politics, they come from social media.” (Twitter).
The promises of political renewal, leaving behind “old-school” politicians and pursuing national sovereignty, now sound like ideals that are far away from the group that will take office in January.

First the Agricultural ministry was going to be merged with the enviromental ministry. That was short lived as agribiz saw its bottom line being hit.
The new agricultural minister Tereza Cristina the first woman in the Cabinet is commonly know as “Musa do Veneno” for her heavy support o the pesticide industry.
This will speed up the loosening of Pesticide laws with the expected dire consequences.
Her predecessor under the usurper Temer was Blairo Maggi the soya king who has the previous distinction of being awarded the Greenpeace Golden chainsaw award. So it’s all signs of businness as usual but with fewer restraints.

Bolsonazi has alienated China which looking at Brazil’s export map seems to be a self inflicted wound.
And in Trumpian style he is attacking the press with specific ire for Folha de São Paulo. Before too long we will have a government fully run on facist twitter.
To his credit he has now included 3 more women in his transition team. The fact that they are all military personel is just something else to loose sleep about.

The next ongoing shock to social order beside pension reform will probably be his insistence on liberating gun laws, another failed policy in the making but his hard core storm trooper base will love it.

Finally from this morning’s news a newly elected Congressman taunts human rights groups as police drag blood-splattered bodies into pick-up trucks in Rio. The Congressman was elected on the pro-guns ticket of Brazil’s fascist president-elect and is a former porn star; pro-life but asked his ex girlfriend to have an abortion because they just had “casual sex” and he didn’t register the kid that is now a grown man.

How do the people stop this shit?

Resistência

(I shall continue to refer to Jair Bolsonaro as the Bolsonazi because according to his own stated views this is exactly what he is as are so many of his despicable base).


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