Hopefully the Pen is mightier than the Sword

Where Are Don & Bruno?

The worrying disappearance of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira.

(Please note that the links in this post, themselves contain many further links all of which are well worth perusing).

The sad and worrying disappearance and possible execution of Dom Phillips, Guardian Journalist, and Bruno Pereira a former FUNAI official, is another Brazilian tragedy.
Dom is collateral damage in what is really a war to protect the Indigenous peoples from encroachment, illegal fishing, mining, logging and drug trafficking in the Western Amazon region, which is pretty much a ”Terra sem Ley”.

An Explainer: Crime, impunity surge in Amazon’s Javari Valley

Bruno Pereira is an Indigenous rights defender described as caring, dedicated and totally committed to the traditional peoples of the Amazon.
He was removed from his position as FUNAI’s point man for uncontacted tribes in what was seen as a politically motivated move soon after far-right president Jair Bolsonaro came to power. His firing in late 2019 came shortly after his team had helped make one of the biggest illegal mines in the Amazon region inoperable. Pereira went on to work with the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recent Contact Indigenous Peoples (OPI), an umbrella organisation of the 26 Indigenous groups in the Vale do Javari, a remote area on Brazil’s western border with Peru.
“The atmosphere has got so much worse in recent years because you have a president who foments violence,” said Fábio Ribeiro, OPI’s executive coordinator.

His friend Dom Phillips is a 15 year veteran of reporting on Brazil for The Guardian, The Intercept, Financial Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Time, Bloomberg among others.

The Bolsonaro appointed head of Funai, (his second choice, the first was a crusading Evangelical) Marcelo Xavier da Silva, is a federal police officer with strong connections to agribusiness, According to the forner FUNAI president Gen Franklimberg de Freitas: Garcia “froths hate” for indigenous people and that he sees Funai as “an obstacle to national development”

Andrew Fishman writes on Twitter: in Jan 2021, @domphillips announced he won the prestigious Alicia Patterson fellowship  to write a book about the Amazon & was stepping away from daily reporting. It seems he deleted the thread, so I’m going to post a draft version of his selection of his favorite reporting.

Jill Langlois  has also compiled a list of Dom’s wonderful reporting.

The disgraceful initial reaction from the authorities was disinterest. Amazon Command stated they were on stand by but were waiting for further instructions from higher up their pyramid.
They then sent an an armed launch to search for a couple of hours. A helicopter was confirmed and then cancelled.
as Chrisopher Harig points out: So, it apparently took days until Brazilian authorities sent a helicopter to the Amazon for searching the missing @tuyu_bruno and @domphillips ?
An army helicopter once delivered a Playboy magazine to a coronel who was stuck in the jungle for a military exercise.
It should be noted that this is same armed forces which recently spent US$700,000 on Viagra and penis implants.
It’s as if the authorities don’t want them found. No coordinated Search and Rescue, No helicopter. No drones, no thermal imaging, no heat sensors, no satellite phone tracking.
Satellite imagery is being coordinated, not by the authorities but by Tasso Azevedo, from MapBiomas & SEEG initiatives who is the former Chief of the Brazilian Forest Service.

The major search operations until today, some 5 days on has been coordinated by highly concerned Indigineous leaders.
A government that has done little to protect Indigenous lands is now doing even less to assist the search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, who’ve been missing since Sunday.
AmazoniaReal reports that the Brazilian indigenist and British journalist documented, with images, locations of invasions of the Vale do Javari Territory, which thwarted criminals linked to drug trafficking. (Original Portuguese)

As Lucy Jordan, Brazilian correspondent for Greenpeace Investigative journalism  writing in the Guardian says:
The disappearance of journalist Dom Phillips in Brazil should leave you incandescent with rage.

2022.06.11 Andrew Downie profiles a friend and fellow journalist Dom Phillips as a selfless, stylish writer at home in rave culture and the Amazon.

Dom Phillips article from August 2018 about his first visit to the Javari Valley with Bruno Pereira and photographer Gary Carlton (gallery)

Translated BBC interview with Dom’s wife Alessandra Sampaio.
“Dom understood the complexity of the Amazon and did not see prospectors simply as villains……The problem is not exactly who is there destroying it, but who is providing all these structures for this destruction to happen. He said that there was no point in ending the mining without offering any option”. (Portuguese)

Old beliefs die hard.

A wonderful transnational, transcontinental folk memory.

Tomorrow 24 May is the celebration day of a saint not recognized by the Catholic church but venerated in her own way on each side of the Atlantic.
Sarah Kali – Saint Sarah – Sarah is the black patron saint of the Romani peoples; the patrona of gypsies, travelers, and refugees.
Over the centuries these beliefs have gradually been intertwined with images of the Black Madonna and the Hindu goddess, Kali, to embody ideas of the sacred feminine, a primal understanding semi submerged and long supressed by the male dominated religions of Christianity and Islam.

To the Romani Gypsies, she is Santa Sara la Kali, the Patron Saint of the Gypsies. To Gnostics, Essenes & Nazoreans she was actually the daughter of Jesus & Mary MagdalenThere are many answers to the questions who is this Saint Sarah? The black feminine at the heart of the white Church holds the place of unlabeled mystery, and of course the various Roma branches have their own answers and traditions; and as the Roma are traditionally regarded as having Indian origins it is hardly surprising that some part of early belief systems is still present.

There is a powerful folklore linking the idea of the sacred femine from Egypt intertwined with Hinduism through christianity to Umbanda and the Orisha pantheon in Brazil.

Roma or Ciganos as they were known, were transported from Portugal from the mid 16th century. The first Portuguese law to impose banishment dates from August 28, 1592.
Men should integrate into society or abandon the Kingdom within four months, otherwise they would be subject to the death penalty and their wives would be exiled in perpetuity to Brazil. Like displaced people everywhere their rituals and traditions travelled with them, some of which continue to this day.

Umbanda has absorbed much of this and intermeshed it with more Afrocentric beliefs. As nearly all teaching is oral there are few written records and the traditions are not rigid.
May 24 is now officially recognized in Brazil.

For those who care a bit more about the Cigana belief system as expressed in Umbada togeter with Pomba-Gira I suggest here for further reading.
Umbanda tereiros or places of worship are being destroyed by neo pentecostal evangelical traficantes and militias and followers of the religion are being expelled from favaleas.

I leave the last word to Professor Chireau‘s Academic Hoodoo:

I do think that these pictures speak boldly about self-representation by women of color, and about gender, and religion, and about beauty.
But what I like most about them is that they simply reflect back what is there.
Look closely, and you might detect something there, too: a harbinger of the Spirit, a different form of divinity, a feminine image of God in woman’s body.


photo credit: sven dreesbach

The Blood and the Gore

Sometimes I despair.
But then I have the proverbial cup of tea and move on.

Brazil has suffered more death in the past 3 months from Plague than in all of last year.
There was supposed to be a moratorium in Rio about police action in favelas during the pandemic.
I say supposed because death by police is on the increase and two days ago 28 people were killed in a Police action in Jacarazinho in the Zona Norte of the city.
There are plenty of videos out there which I am not going to link to. Suffice to say blood and entrail smeared all around a kids room is not pleasant viewing.

The rather lame excuse given by the authorities was that juveniles were being coerced into the drug trade.
As kids the city over act as lookouts and runners for the gangs, this is is nothing new.
More interesting is that Jacarazino is considereed one of the heartlands of the Commando Vermelho.

Ok so this was a city hall / government intervention to sort out this out.
Not quite.

More cynical and perhaps correct observers are pointing out that this is a continuation of gang warfare for territory and thus for power and profit.
There are two major groupings in the city. Milicia and Traficantes, though the line between them is increasingly blurred.
However the milicia is heavily composed of Police, serving and retired, together with ex military and firemen.
The Milicia strongolds are in the Zona Oeste, though the Milicia are now thought to control up to 60% of the city.
Some say the Milicia is no longer a shadow state; but it is the state. This definitely rings true in Rio.
It is common knowledge that milicia associate Fabricio Queiroz an ex military policeman is a very close friend and associate of the Bolsonazi and his family and that he went into hiding in Rio das Piedras in Zona Oeste. It is there in Zona Oeste that the president is registered to vote and family ties are strong. Bolsonaro’s senator son Flavio owned a chocolate shop there which was suspected of being nothing more than a money laundry operation. It is also suspected that the contract to kill Marielle Franco was organized through these Milicias.

One of the main West Zone Milicias is The ‘Escitorio de Crime‘ or crime office whose leader Adriano Nobrega in 2005 received Rio de Janeiro’s highest honour, the Tiradentes Medal, from Bolsonaro’s son, senator Flavio Bolsonaro, while he (Nobrega) was in jail on a homicide conviction.
Nobrega was implicated in the assassination of Marielle Franco and was killed in a Police shootout.

As Benjamin Lessing a political scientist and Carnegie Fellow points out on Twitter police conduct 4 times more operations in areas held by the Commando Vermelho and other prison/drug gangs than in milicia areas. Milícias charge residents for “protection” from drug gangs. Partly that’s just euphemism for extortion; drug trafficking still goes on. But residents of milicia-controlled neighborhoods really are protected from a terrifying form of violence: police operations. The fact that the police rarely invade milícia territory, and frequently invade CV territory, gives the milícias a very real advantage, one that–anecdotally anyway–residents of milícia areas recognize. Deliberately or not, this favors milícia expansion.

It is of course purely coincidental that the President, a Milicia defender, had a meeting with the acting governor (Witzel has been removed for suspected corruption) the day before the Jacarazinho police action and resulting massacre.
The special forces involved lived up to their terrifing and bloodthirsty reputation, executing whom they wished plus a few that got in the way.
In no way do I exonerate the gun toting trafficantes.
At least one person was killed and another injured by stray gunfire whilest innocently travelling in a train passing through the area. What the Americans so quaintly call collateral damage.

So in very simple terms what we seem to have is Gang A, the traficantes protecting their turf where they give largesse to the local populace as well as all the normal extortion, petty and not so petty,, and an invading force acting quite possibly on behalf of, but definitely to the advantage of Gang B the Milicia.
A horrible situation, no justice, innocents caught in crossfire. Trauma and blood. Lots of blood.

Lost in the spray of carnage is the bigger picture of who is gaining the Money and Power.
Rio is rotten to the core. This is not news.
The spiders web of crime and corruption is vast and extremely complex.
The big fish are above it all and anyway within the drugs trade Brazil is now regarded as more of an international supplier than as a domestic market.

The rule of law is a very thin curtain.
Here are some facts not neccessarily connected:

The Police action in the favela resulted in the capture of 6 fuzis (machine guns) and 28 dead

An apprehension of 117 fuzis in the predominantly white area of Barra de Tijuca resulted in zero dead. The suspected owner lived in the same gated community as the Bolsonazi and his family.

39 kg of cocaine apprehended on a supporting presidential flight plane in 2019. Who I wonder got the other 1 kg?

2018 Oct. Election won by Bolsonaro. By June the presidency was reeling from Cocaine, leaks and opposition.

Jan 2017 Teori Zavascki a Brazilian Supreme Court judge handling graft probe killed in an unexplained plane crash.

2016 Temer Presidency after the impeachment of Dilma on a technicality.

2014 Heli-coca 445 kg cocaine apprehended in a heliciopter owned by the family of Senator José Perrella of Espirito Santo the next state to RJ.
Perrella unsucessfully sued google to remove any mention of his name with ‘Helicoca’.

I haven’t even begun to get into the abject racism or the rise of the Evangelical Milicias who rose without hinderance during the term of the last Mayor Marcelo Crivella, an evangelist bishop licensed by his uncle Bishop Edir Macedo whose empire extends to ownership of Brazil’s second largest media corporation Grupo Record.

Removing the criminilization of drugs could help unwind this vicious spiral of death and destruction largely aimed at minorities; but there is no profit in that is there?

Meanwhile I do my part when I can by supporting a Samba School as others support football clubs.
The financing of the Samba schools is interesting to say the least however they do voice a much needed #Resistencia against the creeping fascism and authoritarianism.

Where have all the Flowers gone?

Carnaval in the time of Plague.

The lights are out in the Sambodromo.

The temperature is ideal for playing in the street, which today are empty of music,
Empty of laughter,
Empty of revellers coming or going or just stopped and gathering strength to continue.
All are nowhere to be seen.
Street vendors offering masks, ribbons, hats, confetti, streamers; nowhere to be seen.
People in cosume or half costume, on the bus, on the metro, on the street – nowhere to be seen.
Infants in costume, young and old in full costume or part and full or semi clothed – nowhere to be seen.

Its as if the city has lost its soul.

A sad, sad time to be in Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Maravilhosa where Carnival is an essence, a lifestyle and for so many the most important event in the Calendar.
Not bound by family, friends or convention. Just do it, whatever floats your boat.
The fleet has not been launched this year.
Just another weekend.
Just another weekend at home.
Just another weekend looking out of the window at the view that is no longer there.

Selminha and her Coral got inventive,
and blessed by Dona Onete put together Banzeiro

Te mete
Te joga
E vem, vem, vem, vem, vem, vem, vem com a gente
Tomar banho de chuva
Tomar banho de cheiro
Depois se jogar no banzeiro.

Yes there will be live streaming virtual events by some blocos and the Samba schools but emptiness will be the only echo.

I’m Sad.




Cross Quarter days are a thing.

And the Wheel of the Year keeps on turning.

My little pagan soul is happy.
We have just passed the first cross quarter day of the year.
That day midway between Midwinter and the Spring equinox.
In the Celtic extremities of Europe and among neo paganists Imbolc is still celebrated with a distant rememberance of the mother goddess Danu.
The Christans not to be out done then transmutated this, as they did with all the other pagan festivals, into St Brigid’s Day or Candlemas
And as nicely explained by John Anthony Brennan in his post Festival of Imbolc and the Two Brigids.

Meanwhile in the Afro Brazilian sector of the southern hemisphere we celebrate Iemanja which is probably the most observed feast in the pantheon of Afro Brazilian deities and calender celebrated by the up to two million followers of Candomble, especially women.

Both of these dieties Iemanja and Danu stretch far back to the dawn of time and both are celebrations of the great mother, symbolizing fertility and protection.

That James Joyce was also born on 02 February just helps delightfully square this circle.


Out with the Old & In with the New

2020 Was the Year We Found Out That Our Societies are Largely Made of Remorseless, Malicious Idiots

Harvard business review blogger Umair Haque puts it in a nutshell.

I doubt that any one will not be glad to see the back of 2020, though many like myself are probably in trepidation of what yet might come in 2021.

In spite of so many people warning that we cannot return to the old normal, those who wield power seem as usual to be taking no notice.
America moves from far right to centre right but basic red raw capitalism will still be the driving power and then there is so much Trumpiam damage to be repaired.
Brazil keeps burning and destroying the lungs of the planet.
UK has spun off into its own little frenzy, probably to become insignificant; the result of a civil war withing the right wing of conservative thinking as George Monbiot so elequently pointed out previously.
Capitalism is the driver here and Capitalism kills.

Now throw in some Covid.
Yes please say the richest people on the planet.

Wealthy Brits are already trying to buy vaccine.
And with US businessmen alone increasing their wealth by $1 Trillion I am sure they too will be at the head of the queue.
Meanwhile in UK the Nurses have to pay to park in hospital car parks where they work, and rather than pay them a suitable recompense the government urges the public to clap them instead.
Covidiots roam the streets in UK, Brazil and USA. This is indeed a sick society and we pander to their ignorance and remorseless stupidity.
Meanwhile in Jakarta they Make Covidiots dig graves .
But in the end Plague is a profitable business.

And now….now we have  a
White House coup and Social media counter revolution
A dangerous unhinged voice is now silenced and banned from Twitter, facebook etc.
Hopefully this will also be applied to many of his enablelers and those others on the fringe of sanity.
It finally strikes home to priviliged and mainly white and insulated America just how much damage these unregulated platforms can do.

Minorities, black, brown, non Christian, or non binary were already well aware of this
This thoroughly opens another can of worms, and the larger question as put succintly by Zeynep Tufekci:
Besides the obvious: Thinking how friends in Sri Lanka had told me how they begged Twitter & Facebook to act on accounts
instigating ethnic cleansing but often couldn’t even get any response and what a coincidence everyone acts one day after Democrats get a legislative trifecta.

This is not just a USA problem it is a global problem.
Headed by the smarmy Zuckerburg with his enormous social media Empire of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp.
But these are just brown people far away from Menlo Park so it doesn’t really matter it seems, as they took no action.
A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military.
Facebook helped foment anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka.
WhatsApp and political instability in Brazil: targeted messages and political radicalisation.
Google owned YouTube hate probably everywhere.
Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube found recently hosting racist music.
The slime and lies in the UK Brexit leave campaign.
Etc. etc. but hey Capitalism is just fine. And as for the mass media, well Infotainment is a moneyspinner and now the BBC is now headed by a former banker and Brexiter who donated over 400K to the conservatives.
Where am I going with this you may well ask.
If you thow enough paint at the wall the dots start joining themselves up.
Whilest our overloads fight over who controls us minions Climate Change will probably make it all a moot point.
See: The function of apocalyptic myths

Happy New Year
I hope we all get through it.


70 – an update

Let there be cake

And of course there was thanks to the wonderful Selminha.

70 years ago today I had the privilege of of being born in this house, now a guest house and restaurant in one of the prettier and unspoiled parts of an England of which I now not unsurprisingly feel little or no part of.
Unique from past generations my life has not been marked except periphally by warfare. The European Union was part of this reason.

I have seen many norms challenged and defeated – mostly for the better, but the authoritarian,  privileged and mainly male dinosaurs continue to expound their unreason and bile and are allowed or encouraged by the outlets of infotainment as news has now become.
Todays wars are cultural and as important as geographical territory if not more so as they are fought for the territory of the mind.
I’m right you’re wrong. To many, dissent is the most heinous crime and to this extent if in power they attempt to limit education, thought and speech while vilifying any so called deviation from their far right, racist, homophobic and misogynistic and frequently priviliged agenda.
Beware the lure of the Soft Fascism within.

Plague was not on my Bingo card. Nor it seems was it in the foresight of so many that it should have been.
Disimulation, obfuscation and outright denial and lying seem to be the accepted ‘modus operandi’ for many of those in power.
Hopefully in democratic regions however sketchy the people will not forget and punish the offenders accordingly, removing them from power when their mandate is over and never letting the populaces forget that these people decided that theirs (the populaces) lives did not matter. I can but dream.

The insectionalism of the Evangelists, Trumpism, Brexidiots and Covid denialists is a frightening reminder that however modern we pretend to be with our technologies,that beneath it all we are still the apes around the monolith.
Which in a rather round and about way brings me to Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Maravilhosa and my home.
Last Sunday’s municipal election has seen the back of Crivella the Evangelical mayor of the city, defeated in every single district and whose only interest seems to have been the pursuit of his evangelical mindset. He is a bishop in the Universal Church of God and nephew to the billionaire Edir Macedo, a despicable snake oil salesman of the highest order.

Now we have Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Paes, the populist Man of the People. Not really the best choice for voters, but the left and just about everyone else is unanimous in getting rid of the puritanical, homophobical, misogynistec dominionist Crivella who made Rio de Janeiro into a miserable city.

However Rio de Janeiro’s politics are more than complicated as a recent article by Damian Platt explains, and even more so in his most recently published book Nothing by Accident: Brazil on the Edge.
Crime and Milicias and illegal gambling money being are all intertwined in this difficult city. Many Milicias are openly evangelical and intolerant of Umbanda or Afro-Brazilian religions. Meanwhile the samba schools are financed by the vast illegal gambling operations. Complicated.

“Zé Pelintra” – Whoever drinks from my glass, sits at my table and takes shelter under my panama, helpless will never stay.

As for the bigger picture, the political climate is possibly changing.
The fascists lost in Bolivia but promise to return, Chile has voted to reform it’s constitution away from the Pinochet era and The Bolsonazi’s hero in north is gone, even though he has yet to admit it although he is now busy distancing himself from the loser.

Meanwhile one of the Bolsonazi sons continues to upset Brazils largest trading partner which is China, this was after he blamed the Covid-19 virus on Beijing earlier in the year.
I can’t see the agribiz and mining backers being very pleased with that.
Then there are background rumours that the Disenvironment Minister Ricardo Sallas, he who lies about his degree, is possibly leaving, but we have heard that rumour before. Behind the curtain the Military stay quiet for the moment.

Europe is taking note of the ravishing of the Amazon with a fifth of its Soy import linked to deforestation which is heading to a 12 year high.
and UKs largest supermarket groups Tesco, Lidl, Asda, McDonald’s and Nando’s all source chicken fed on soya from the Cerrado tropical biome region.
The countries, which are part of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership group, sent an open letter to Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao expressing concern that the country was backsliding on a previous strong record on environmental protection and it is warned that Brazil must reverse deforestation trends before EU finalises Mercosur trade deal. Money talks.
May be Biden can help
Apart from deforestation for agriculture there is another environmental problem of illegal mining situated close to the Venezuelan border and the devestating pollution caused to the rivers by mercury pollution and also where slavery is still rife.

But meanwhile in Rio de Janeiro we wait to  continue to Samba again (Spotify) when the plague allows.

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
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.

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.

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

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