3 – 2 – 1 and we are off

So we are one week into the circus.

Primeiro Fora Temer.

Apart from queues caused by poor planning I think the tourists are probably having a good time.
The event localities are very spread out so it is a marathon on its own to get around to them.
Then there is Praça Maua and the Olympic Boulevard which is Party central and packed every evening.
Meanwhile it is the continuing story of the tale of Two Cities.
Part of the favela of Mare which lies along the highway to the Airport is in a state of Civil War with shock troops going in big time after one of their own made a bad turn off the major road and ended up in the favela. He was shot and died in hospital. The Força National was quick to avenge their comrade.
Nothing subtle, straight warfare with the bandits.
The app Fogo Cruzado (Hat tip Catherine Osborn) indicates that during the first week of these Olympics, there were at least 59 shootings and shootouts in the greater Rio area.
That’s an average of 8.4 per day, almost double that of the previous week. 34 people were wounded, of which 14 died: 11 civilians and 3 security agents.
An average 4.8 people were wounded per day.

So while Zona Sul is relatively crime free the low level intensity war goes on in the suburbs.
Assaults continue with the US swimmer Ryan Lochte having his taxi stopped leaving a party at the French House in Lagoa, by two policeman or people in police uniform and robbed at gunpoint. The idiot Minister of Sport Leonardo Picciani showing how au fait he is with the situation stated that it was the swimmers own fault and that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time Lagoa is supposed to be one of the upmarket safe parts of the City.
This also shows the total calibre or lack of it in the cabinet of the Temer ascendency.

Felipe Dana a local Carioca photographer made this short video showing the other side of Rio life.

Mario Tama of Getty Images took this iconic picture of the opening ceremony fireworks from the top of the Mangueira favela.

which clearly shows the divide between those who can afford and those who cannot.
“The world needs to know — I am here watching this spectacle from a slum right next to where they are opening the Olympics, and my life has not improved at all,” said Jose Carmo, a 23-year-old construction worker who lives in Mangueira. “It is frustrating to be so close to this spectacle and yet so far away, living in a place were we have no security, not even sewage”.
Ticket prices for the opening ceremony ranged from about US$63 to US$1,400.
A minimum-wage worker in Brazil takes home about US$55 a week.

And the average Carioca? How is their life.?
Whilest Praça Maua and the Olympic Boulevard are Party Central and are free; well entry and entertainment are free. Refreshment not so much. Skol owned by Ambev and thus by Brazil´s forbes list Billionaires of Carlos Alberto Sicupira, Jorge Paulo Lemann, and Marcel Herrmann Telles, together with Coca Cola share the monopoly of drink supplies which are being sold at least at twice or maybe three times the normal street vendor value.
The street vendors of course are barred.

“The poor, we don’t really get to experience the Olympics. We are close in distance, but far away,” said Luiz Alberto Araujo, a 30-year-old doorman who works in Ipanema but lives in the slums. “We still have fun, but this party is for foreigners, for the rich.”

Meanwhile in the Favelas, Hoped-For Benefits From Olympics Have Yet To Materialize.

Welcome to Rio ?

So we are now into countdown. Welcome to Rio?

In 30 days one of the worlds most corrupt organizations the Olympic Games comes to one of the most corrupt countries in the world and in particular Rio de Janeiro – Cidade Maravilhosa where I have the good fortune to live in the residential area of Botafogo, away from the beaches but still in the privileged Zona Sul.
I say away from the Beaches; by that I mean the Atlantic beaches which are over the hill or through the tunnel which is faster and easier and definitely safer.
Botafogo has a beach or praia as does our neighbour Flamengo, which has just been zoned out of Zona Sul and into Centro. Minutae. The water off these beaches are toxic so even the most diehard locals don´t indulge. The new Olympic sport of sailing in shit will take place in this sewer.

So you might wonder how´s it all going? The Olympic torch is being trotted around the country; someone tried chucking a bucket of water at it without success.
The Army in Manaus completely disgraced themselves by shooting and killing Juma a Jaguar which was paraded at the Olympic Torch Ceremony.
A smiling jaguar known as Ginga is the mascot for the Brazilian Olympic team so this might well be prescient seeing the state of politics here.

Brazilian Jaguar

Photo Credit: the reknowned wildlife photographer Araquém Alcântara who is so disgusted that he has started a petition to protest this.
In many ways this shameful incident sums a lot of things up. Lots of show. No responsibilty and no fucks given.

So what really goes down in Rio de Janeiro? Is it as bad as all these things I read? Short answer Yes probably No. Unless you are poor and black in which case the answer is neither, it´s probably worse. As the city is being taken over an 85,000 strong secutity force the chances are that the gringoes won´t feel much pain apart from the inflated prices which they won´t notice and the traffic gridlock which is a feature not a bug. The holes in the road are an extra. Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon are all being sanitized. The tourists probably won´t even see a street dweller let alone his dog. (Greenwald wrote a very poignent article about How Dogs Forge a Bond with Rio’s Homeless That Is Life-Saving for Both)

Zona Norte and Zona Oeste are a whole different city.
This is Mare yesterday, a favela consisting of 17 communities which lies along the main drag to the Airport.
Mare at War

Photo Credit: Carlos Cout, war photographer. That´s right Rio de Janeiro has war photographers.

Brazil has the world’s ninth largest economy by nominal GDP, and the seventh largest by purchasing power parity. The city of Rio de Janeiro, has the second largest municipal GDP in the country with a population around 6,000,000 but has huge contrasts between the over 1000 favelas and the gated communities of Barra.
The police are part of the problem and not part of the solution. They are poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly equipped apart from weaponry.
According to many experts the Rio Olympics are going to be a complete disaster for human rights.

And what are the politicians and administrators up to? This story from a couple of years ago sums it up: –
The statue of the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade on Copacabana beach was vandalized with spray-paint. The government asked for bids to clean it. The lowest came in at 25,000 Reals (then about $11,000). This was accepted, but before the experts arrived to do the job, a man came along with a can of paint-thinner and a rag and cleaned it in under an hour, for nothing.

But for now I would not live anywhere else.

Be careful about what you wish for….

Be careful about what you wish for….

That the little Engerlanders have won has left me reeling. But why am I surprised? It is this narrow minded, xenophobic, racist arrogant superiority which encouraged me to leave in the first place. Having said that I am sure that not all the Brexiters are not vile xenophobic racists but those who have serious problems with the way the EU operates, but the electioneering was that of Fear.
I think I am most saddened for the young. ….the younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages, and experiences we will be denied.
This video from a young woman who voted to remain sums up her fear and frustration and disgust (Lots of background noise) with great clarity. Her figure of over 75 was a little off. Here is the data.
The over 44´s scuppered the chances of their juniors. The spoilt, have it all baby boomer generation and their parents have decided to relegate Engerland to being a theme park on the North West corner of Europe fronted up by the aging Brenda and shortly to be suceeded by Big Ears.
I say England because Nicola Stugeon, first minister of Scotland has made it abundantly clear that the she will press to action the mandate given to her by the Scottish people who voted by a clear majority to stay with Europe.
So in one swoop the isolated and privileged Bullingdon Bullies together with the help of the British Fascist-lite and racist society have managed not only to implode the United Kingdom but severely shaken the pillars of a community which has ensured 70 years of peace in our times.
What is more frightening is that there is no plan and nature as has oft been said abhors a Vacuum. Dangerous times indeed.
Are we arriving at Weimar Britain? With the OUTS shouting their freedom messages backed up with lies and half truths when the reality is that they have in store isolation and the withdrawal from all international attachments so that they can pursue nationalistic and racist social and immigration policies.
The financial fallout is already Spectacular. Will the financial sector now leave the City of London
The area breakdown of IN vs OUT tells it´s own story.
De Spiegel summed it up thus: A relatively small, relatively unknown group of activists, gamblers and egocentrics managed to incite and drive a country out of Europe against the will of the prime minister and against the advice of economists, friends and allies around the world.
Yanis Varoufakis knows probably more about the sharp end of exits than most.
Leave won because too many British voters identified the EU with authoritarianism, irrationality and contempt for parliamentary democracy while too few believed those of us who claimed that another EU was possible.
whilest others think that as Brexit wins an illusion dies. The people of Britain are very ill served by their political leaders accross the spectrum.
Meanwhile the harsh reality. Wolfgang Schäuble has already stated that there will be no free market access for Britain or what remains of it. As might be expected Euroipe is not exactly happy.
As to the future who knows. There is no map. I can´t see the European leaders having anything to do with the Engineers of this disaster. Cameron is as good as gone and Osborne his lickspittle will soon follow, and I can´t see them playing nice with Boris so hopefully that ultimate shit will also be history together with his awful chum Mr Grove.
Unfortunately however much they wish to ignore him it is the chancer Nigel Farage leader of UKIP the fascist-lite party who is the only winner in this fiasco.
What marches to the same tune are a frightening coalition of the European hard right.
Weimar, dark days indeed, or are we just watching a very nasty episode of Diplomacy in action.

Country of the Future, Always the Future

So it´s been a while but I am still in this glorious chaos of a country called Brazil now ruled by a bunch of Gangsters and their buddies.

The quickest way to get up to speed about the Dilma impeachment and the Temer ascendancy is probably
this Metafilter thread, Country of the Future, Always the Future. The whole impeachment game is now seen for what it is; which was not so much as to oust Dilma but to shut down Lava Jato.

Temer has now lost three ministers in 36 days and the little externally reported HeliCoca affair has resulted with the principal suspect Gustavo Perrella being awarded a position in the Ministry of Sport as the Secretário Nacional de Futebol. You could not make this all up.

Meanwhile in a Cidade Maravilhosa otherwise known as Rio de Janeiro we are preparing or not preparing for the ultimate circus which is now 50 days away
The 2016 Olympic Games which will feature the new Olympic sports of Sailing and distance swimming in shit.
As guilty as the organizers and local authorities (well no-one is really as guilty as them) are the worlds sailing and endurance swimming associations who long ago should have said Clean it up or we don´t play.

Fancy swimming in this credit: Gawker Media

Super bacteria contaminates Olympic venues in Rio de Janiero, not only in the infamously disgusting Guananabara Bay where the sailing will happen, but also off the famed beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

As for Olympic legacies there won´t be many as the state has declared a financial emergency.
There was zero attempt to clean up Guanabara Bay.
The Ciclovia fell down.
The Metro extension to the major Olympic venue isn´t finished and neither is the downtown light rail system.
Salaries aren´t being paid, Schools are occupied, Public transport is collapsing and 85,000 police and military are being draughted in to keep the citizens under control and the tourists safe.

Whose safety credit: Independent Newspaper, UK

It for You Mr. Tax Inspector

Selminha para voce: –

Selminha likes for me to tell her stories and suggested that I write some of them down because she , although I am not sure why, finds them of interest, or at least she says she does.

Why the hole?

I think this was told to me many years ago by Alston over a beer as we sat outside Grenada Yacht Club overlooking the then still beautiful but rather delapidated natural harbour of St George’s.

He was from Petit Martinique so it was local folklore.

Between the wars a new young tax inspector was posted to St. Georges and being a keen sort of chappie he decided to tour his new territory, to the outmost reaches.

This meant heading to Petit Martinique and so one day he boarded a trader heading to Carriacou and slowly sailed up the peaceful Caribbean coast probably stopping at Gouyave and Crayfish bay before leaving the lee of the land and heading across to Carriacou.

The calm Caribbean gave way to a lively chop and possibly more as the boat had to cross Kick ‘em Jenny
an undersea semi dormant Volcano, before heading into the lee again across Tyrell Bay and rounding Cistern point, and past Sandy Island to arrive at Hillsborough.

Our inspector probably stayed the night in the sleepy little town of Hillsborough before setting out the next morning to climb the steep hill and then walk down to the village of Windward on Watering bay. There he would have negotiated a passage on a locally built fishing boat to carry him through the reefs and across to Petite Martinique with its collection of houses called Sanchez.

On arriving at Sanchez he found most of the islands inhabitants gathered on the beach standing next to a large and deep hole in the strand. Introducing himself and asking who was the head man of the village he also asked what the large hole signified and for what purpose it served.

The reply came immediately: –

Why Mr. Tax Inspector, it for you.

And so the tax inspector reboarded his little fishing boat and was steered out through the reefs and back to Windward and then he had the long hot climb up the hill and down to Hillsborough and onto a trading boat and across the turbulent waters of Kick ‘em  Jenny and slowly down the Caribbean shore and back to St Georges, never to return.

Carriacou traditional boats

Living in the Past

My Passion for Genealogy

Really kicked off one day in Dominica about 15 years ago
It came about at the very good little museum in Roseau where there was a copy of the
Byres map of land ownership dated 1776 which surveyed after the french ceded the island to the British
in 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Land was sold off to raise funds for the Crown and among the names listed on the accompaniying index was one John Tarleton of Liverpool with a couple of plots, one known as Belfied, on what was named on the map as the Ouanery River, on the Atlantic seaboard.

I asked about a bit of detail and was referred to the Island historian who, as luck would have it, popped into the museum some 20 minutes later.
Lennox Honeychurch was kind, patient, erudite and charming and helped me understand the time period.
It was only later that I found out more about his life, but I purchased his books the next day as a small way to thank him and also to educate myself a bit more.

Later I was to find out that John Tarleton was a shipowner, merchant and slave trader and had also purchased land in St Georges, Grenada, and what became the Mount Pleasant Estate in Carriacou.


Dominica 1776

A slightly depressing afternoon

So this afternoon I wandered off to the newly opened Casa Daros in Botafogo.

A magnificent building which for it’s opening has hosted an exhibition of  work by ten Colombian Artists.

That is where the depression starts, right at the start in the entrance hall with it’s  Colombian  Coffin by  Fernando Arias

Colombian Coffin

Colombian Coffin

And on through the Songs of the displaced people from Choco and the heartbreaking video of a double amputee washing himself.

As my ex  (una Colombiana)  so rightly says ”Es un pais de la mierda”.

The only joy is that of  Nadin Ospina and his highly original and irreverent take on Pre – Colombian art.

In fact this exhibition disturbed me so much that it has  been the impetus to restart  this blog again after nearly eighteen months.

I shall now cook  a pile of ratatouille and gambas to cheer myself up.



Wall Street Protests or Eat The Rich

Is this finally the spark that is going to kick off the new protest movement?

Brutal bank crackdown but crooks go free.
The police proved once again who they work for and who pays ther wages as this succinct cartoon shows.
Lamestream media does it’s best to ignore a Police officer; officer mind you not a patrolman; mace a group of women.
And it’s left to a citizen journalist to tell the story.

The people are getting angry.
The mob is getting restless.
“What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?”>What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?

It’s beginning to get ugly.
As the placard says
The Corrupt fear us.
The Honest Support us.
The Heroic join us.

Remember the Revolution will be tumbled

Further reading

The One Percent Nation    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.


Getting Stiched up.

Or how to get some embroidery into your Art.

Mr friend Dobbs over at Metafilter posted The Embroidered Secrets of Maurizio Anzeri

I really liked this; so I dug around a bit and came up with some more
and also found an interview from October last year.

Maybe Anzeri  was an inspiration for these works by the Lithuanian photographer
Ausra Osipaviciute which are then embroidered by Gintare Pasakarnyte.

In a further move on the theme;  artist Danielle Mysliwiec makes pieces that are built up with
ribbons of paint, woven in, out and under to create a three-dimensional, textured surface.
So there we have it; full circle, embroidery acting as paint, and paint acting as embroidery.
Thank Dobbs

Just a Fantasy

A Boston Globe editorial writes that the disclosure that the  Bush Administration asked the CIA to help discredit a blogger who was critical of the Iraq war should be treated as the possible relapse of a
bad disease.
This is not just any blogger but the greatly admired (from the left)  Professor Juan Cole;  Professor of History at the University of Michigan.
On his blog Informed Comment Cole states that Mike Rogers (R-MI) refuses to have the House intelligence committee look into it, trying to kick it to Eric Holder at the Department of Justice.
Salon has put together a reading list 2005 to 2006 a collection of his pieces from the time he was reportedly under the CIA’s watch.
There is concern that Feinstein may try to shut the investigation down.
Any investigation of the Bush administration investigating and trying to discredit Cole would be welcome as it would continue to pull at the thread
that is the Obama protection of the  crimes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, David Addington, John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith to name but a few.
I have this fantasy that as Obama is sworn in for his second term where all the great and the good of the recent past are in attendance
that suddenly a few are surrounded by the the boys in blue who take them away to be judged by their peers preferably in the ICC.
As I say it’s a fantasy, and it’s just a fantasy because we seem to be having to live with Post-legal America.


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