FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2013

Brazilian police brutality

One of several journalist the brazilian police shot in the face with rubber bullets during June 2013 protest.

Brazilian journalist shot in the eye by police during June protests in Sao Paulo.Since then several other journalists have  also been targeted by the police.

A journalist’s ability to shape public opinion is a fearsome thing. This came home to me with particular force when I asked a friend in the south of the United States if she had heard about the political situation in Brazil
“O, the riots,” she said.
My friend is a highly intelligent, well read, well informed person. That she failed to question how the global media has chosen to represent Brazilian protesters is, in my opinion, typical of the trust we place in the media. True, we liberals might  question Fox News and extreme Rightists ascribe all sorts of evil motives to the so-called liberal press. Bottom line, a huge number of Americans trust the press to tell them the truth. The problem with the coverage of events in Brazil  the disconnect between the First World and a country that does not yet command sufficient respect in the global arena. I mean, would American journalists characterise the events in Tianmen Squareas a riot? I seriously doubt it.But Brazil is a country the global press fails to take seriously. It is a country  burdened with an image shaped  long ago by the American press. It is the image of dolce far niente,  of  people who do little more than play samba, wear tiny bikinis and play soccer. While a  portion of Brazilian reality might correspond to this depiction, it is a tiny fraction of  a greater painful reality. That  reality includes powerful social upheavals–states of siege, banditry, revolutions,  a brutal military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 198. It is a reality that encompasses  political corruption, an infrastructure that failed to keep pace with population growth, an atmosphere of police brutality, a vast gap between the haves and have-nots.

Throughout  history, Brazilians have shouldered heavy burdens, one of which is the weight of American influence on the political life of the average citizen. Nearly every Brazilian knows who trained the torturers of the military regime. Every Brazilian suspects that some American corporations would find it easier to do business in a country  ruled by an oppressive dictatorship than in a democracy where people are free to participate in decision making. One would think that being aware of the somber role their government plays,  Americans journalists would feel more inclined to use some objectivity when they write about current protests in approximately 80 Brazilian cities.
The current movement in Brazil is a national movement. It is a legitimate expression of dissatisfaction with a status quo. It is an attempt to change a system no American would tolerate for long. Journalists have a huge responsibility. They  can make an intelligent woman in North Carolina assume that what is going on in Brazil is nothing but rioting by a bunch of hooligans.Brazilians begged for understanding during the dictatorship. It did not come from abroad. Today, Brazilians are not begging, they are demanding accountability, transparency, a participatory democracy, a free press, freedom of expression and a better quality of life. To fail to show the world what is really happening, to rely on second hand news from newspapers that answer to advertisers is to betray the trust that comes with the obligation to report the truth.Brazilians want to know who bene

fits from the World Cup. They want to know why billions were spent on stadiums when the country needs schools, hospitals and adequate public transportation. These are legitimate questions. Those asking them have the constitutional right to assemble, to protest, to make their voices heard. It is the media’s responsibility to listen and to get the word out.






Center. You are going to need balance, cuca fria–cool head–as we say in Portuguese. Do whatever it takes to clear your mind–meditate, take a walk, listen to inspiring music. I like to go outdoors and reassure myself that the trees are still there, the birds still sing, the turtles still hide under the berry bushes. Sounds simple, right? It is, simple, but when you are super stressed, when you are going from adrenaline highs to lows, the chemical flow does a job on your body and the state of your body affects your mind. Breathe in, breath out, like babies do. Simplest thing to do, but have you tried it when your are tense? So, center.
Remember that it is usually not about you.If society is going through convulsions, it is a collective convulsion. You are important, but you are not the  center of the universe. Gazillions of people all over the world are going through all manner of difficulties every day. How would you like to be a little girl trying to go to school in Pakistan? How would you like to be a Jewish woman who wants to pray at the Kotel? The old, old truths are very real–you are not alone. Whatever you experience might be new to you but you have the collective wisdom of many others who preceded you. Rely on it.
Be kind. Do something for others. The smallest gesture I make is to put out slices of fruit for butterflies.  The hardest thing I do is to maintain a garden that grows consistently messier. It is however, of great importance for the local fauna–pollinators, birds, turtles, raccoons. It is important for the little children on my block because growing up in a green space with lots of birdsong and flowers makes them happy. I don’t need to say that kids should be happy, do I? You can make them happy with other gestures–bake a healthy cake and share it with children and their parents. Offer to take a kid for a walk.Write a real letter to an older person living alone.  Surprise someone with produce from your garden. Offer to do the shopping for a busy mom or a busy father. Do something you do not expected to be reciprocated. If is, why, that’s a bonus.
Be gentle with yourself. Last time I went to see my doctor I complained about this ache, lamented my lack of energy and the impact at had on my writing, my housekeeping and gardening. What she told me is so obvious we overlook it all the time, “We can only do so much.”That is something I should make into my mantra whenever I demand the impossible from myself.
Have some fun. Read a funny cartoon. Watch the Muppets on Youtube. Talk to a baby. Dance with your cat. Dance by yourself. Wear something outrageous. Spritz on your best perfume. Have an ice cream cone.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. I am saying this to myself but I have a brilliant friend with whom I commiserated just the other because we  both have scads of interest and we are both  driven to multitasking By all means do something creative–draw, paint, make a song, sew a dress, but refer to number 4 on this list. Yup, we can only do so much. Choose a task and stop fretting.
Seek support. When the market crashes, the government does something stupid, the authorities exceed their brief, gather loving people around you. You don’t have to ignore reality, you only have to remember that governments fall. Good friends remain.
Be open to good suggestions.
Indulge yourself. Don’t, for heavens sakes,  rush to buy a Maserati. I’m talking little indulgences, guilt free indulgences. I happen to love good chocolate, Lapsong Souchong tea with fresh lemon, good books, flowers, fountain pens and all manner of very pleasing things that do not cost the earth.
Have faith. Trust your strength. Have faith in your resilience. Imagine what humanity has gone through. We humans are still here, doing some good, making mistakes, correcting them, looking for answers, stating the obvious. Draw strength from that.


Chico Alencar reports from the from the barricades in Fortaleza, Brazil,
“1-Movimento pacifico, lindo e emocionante, tudo tranquilo, muita gente subindo a barão, tudo tranquilo, sem vandalismo, e nenhuma tv pra mostrar Peaceful demonstration, beautiful and moving, everything cool, no vandalism no tv crews to show what was going on..
2 – Todos cantando, dançando e gritando palavras de ordem no palácio, enquanto se tentava negociar uma entrada pacifica.Everyone singing, dancing, shouting watchwords (slogans) at the Palace while other tried to gain access peacefully.
3 – Policiais com go pro amarrada na farda, filmando de dentro do palácio.3. Policemen in the palace had Go Pro strapped to their uniforms. They filmed the demonstrators.
4 – Surge das ruas do entorno do palácio um monte de cara encapuzado, empurrando todo mundo. A group of masked people shows up from the streets around the palace.A bunch of masked people shows up suddenly from the streets around the mansion (palace). They push everyone around.
5 – esses vândalos começam a jogar pedras nos pms e a derrubar as barricadas. These vandals start to throw rocks at the police and to demolish barricades.
6 – os manifestantes tentam conter os vândalos e tentam colocar as coisas no lugar, mas são agredidas pelos vândalos que surgiram do nada.Demonstrators try to stop the vandals, try to replace the (barricades, but the vandals, who appeared from nowhere, attack them.
7 – os pms não reagem e vão pra parte de trás do monumento e ficam conversando, escorados na barricada que ainda estava de pé. Policemen do not react to the vandals. They keep talking, leaning on barricades that were still up.
8 – as pessoas do movimento contem os vândalos que tentam quebrar a agencia da caixa e o hospital que fica la em frente, mas acaba desistindo e saindo de la, e recuando pro outro lado da rua Tenente Benévolo.People from the movement try to stop the vandals when those attempedt to smash a savings and loans and the hospital that faces it, but give up and leave, moving back to Tenente Benevolo Street

9 – os caras ficam meia hora jogando pedra no vento pq n tinha mais ninguém pra impedir a entrada, mas não invadiam. These guys did not invade (the palace, buildings.). They spent half an hour throwing rocks because there was no one to deny them access (to the demonstration.)
10 – 30 minutos depois dessa babaquice soltaram algumas bombas de gás e acabaram com a brincadeira, saí de la, já não tinha mais quase ngm, só os vândalos.After thirty minutes of this nonsense the vandals detonated some (tear?) gas bombs and quit playing . I left. There was no one there anymore, just the vandals.
11 – exatamente na hora que isso tudo começa a acontecer logo a VERDES MARES, a mesma que tinha dito que n tinha mais protesto, aparece pra filmar…Exactly when this s was happening VERDES MARES–radio-tv–the same that announced the protests were over, showed up to film.
Tirem suas próprias conclusões.Draw your own conclusions.
assim que eu puder, eu posto os vídeos…I will post videos ASAP.” Clara’s Note: This is a rough translation. Governor’ mansion is called palace in Portuguese. The Itaramaty, the Brasilia equivalent of the White House is called Palacio do Itamaraty.


Protests continue to gain impulse in Brazil. Sources in the Brazilian media  estimate that over a million people took part in demonstrations take took place in 80 Brazilian city. Although the government of some cities–Rio and Sao Paulo, for example–agreed to forego the increase in bus and boat fares, the gesture was too little too late, especially in view of many reasons  that prompted Brazilians to take  to the streets. Today, these reasons– against corruption, excessive expenditures for World Cup facilities, police brutality, the proposed PEC37 law, high crime, an infrastructure that has not kept pace with population growth, coalesced into a single cause, quality of life.

As popular dissatisfaction with the status quo finds expression in marches that were initially pacific, police violence increases with shock troops of the Military Police firing rubber bullets, detonation tear gas canisters and flash-bang bombs at demonstrators and members of the press. There has been an increase in vandalism. According to police reports a high percentage of vandals had a prior criminal record. Today, a popular Brazilian cartoonist implied that the movement has been infiltrated by the political Right but so far there is no hard evidence to support his claim. As it is usually the case, the Left blames the Right and vice-versa. The Vinegar Revolution–a reference to the bottles of vinegar protesters carry to neutralise the effect of tear gas–is not a cohesive movement. It rejects a central leadership and participants  fear that it will be hijacked by the very  political parties that caused Brazil’s problems in the first place.

Amid the uproar, President Dilma Rousseff cancelled her scheduled trip to Japan. Rousseff, a protegee of former President Lula da Silva, has yet to condemn police brutality though she has said that peaceful protests are part of the democratic process. Lula voiced a similar sentiment, but members of the presidential Cabinet insist that the demonstrations took them by surprise.That seems to indicate a major  disconnect between Brasilia and the masses. The same disconnect is evident in pronouncement by former World Cup stars Pele and Ronaldo. The former appealed to the public asking that it “forget this confusion. Let us think about the national soccer team as our country and our blood.” The latter said, in response to comments about the billions of dollars spent on World Cup facilities when the entire country desperately needs more hospitals, “World Cups are not held in hospitals.” This so enrage protesters they made a poster featuring photos of  both footballers under the caption, “Once they were heroes.”
According to the latest news,  300 thousand people gathered in downtown Rio where protesters invaded the National Congress. Figures on gatherings across the country are not yet in. I will update as they become available. My take is this, things are going to get worse before they get better. The dollar is up–2,22 to the Real and the effect this will  have on inflation will not make life easier for Brazilians. It is possible that the Vinegar Revolution will fizzle as the Occupy movement in the USA did. It is a movement fueled by social media, it has no leaders to negotiate with the government–it does not wish to negotiate with the government–and it has no system in place to keep out infiltrators. Repression by the police will be a factor to consider. There are rumors that yesterday the government blocked cell phone signals in Fortaleza, in northeast Brazil. Cell phones and the internet are the life lines of the Vinegar Revolution. Armed with a cell phone and a laptop, the average citizen becomes an e-journalist and the last thing the Brazilian government wants right now is a global image tarnished by images and film clips of patients lying in the hallways of overcrowded hospitals, of multitudes of commuters awaiting broken down buses, and worse yet for a Leftist regime, the picture of police beating up members of  the citizenry and the press.


This is account of what happened during today’s protest in Fortaleza, Brazil. The author is Nathalia Catarina Forte, a young talented  artist and illustrator.

Amigos, cheguei dos protestos nos arredores do Makro e do castelão, estou em casa e bem, mesmo que esteja com o gostinho estranho do gás na boca (desculpe mamãe). Eu nunca havia ido há um protesto antes, e sempre me perguntei da eficácia deles. Sou filha de uma família de classe média que veio da pobreza, nós aprendemos na cartilha de que o silêncio nos mantém seguros. Quando a inquietação dos protestos chegou em mim, eu decidi ir. Há muita gente insatisfeita para ser vazio, e se o fosse, eu poderia pelo menos julgar pelo que vi e pelo que vivi, não pelo que me contaram. E é claro, que tomada a decisão eu tive medo. Medo de levar uma bala; de ser pisoteada; medo de todo tipo de coisa. Mas eu estava com um medo maior: medo da passividade. Então eu fui, acompanhando um amigo fotografo, uma outra fotografa (Manu) que conhecemos lá e infelizmente não sei onde ela foi parar depois da confusão, mais duas meninas, amigas do fotografo. Chegamos por volta das 10 e 30, tudo muito tranquilo, uma festa, uma lindeza de se ver. Cartazes e pessoas criativas, a população na calçada, os motoristas liberando parte das passagens e buzinando junto, fazendo V de vitória, famílias de todas as classes, senhoras e senhores, crianças com seus pais sendo abrigados do sol e recebendo água dos moradores, palavras de ordem, protestos coletivos, individuais, punks, branquinhos de all star, meninos de chinelo…. Fizemos várias fotos belíssimas, conhecemos muitas gentes e suas causas, como por exemplo, a da moça ainda muito jovem com o cartaz que dizia “meu pai morreu esperando atendimento num hospital público e você ainda está pensando em futebol?” as pessoas a fotografavam e depois a abraçavam enquanto ela chorava. (Eu sei que sou sentimentalóide e em alguns momentos é assim mesmo que meu relato vai soar, aceito de ante mão essa crítica, não me nego minha capacidade de me emocionar) Seguimos então a manifestação que caminhou por apenas DOIS QUARTEIRÕES até parar num triplo cerco policial preparado especialmente para ela.
subimos pelas laterais, fotografando e tentando entender o que estava acontecendo até chegar ha mais ou menos 3 pessoas da primeira fila de cabeças de capacete. Lá havia uma rua lateral e acreditamos ser uma boa possível rota de fuga. Ai notamos a tensão instaurada ali. Os manifestantes pediam passagem, a polícia negava, mesmo que a passeata só tenha andado dois quarteirões. Ou seja, a força policial não estava lá para “controlar” os manifestantes, ela estava para PROIBIR A MANIFESTAÇÃO DE ACONTECER. Vimos que havia uma construção, muitos fotografos, incluindo nosso amigo, subiram em um barranco que havia nela para fotografar. Vimos que alguns manifestantes na linha de frente sentavam no chão, e outros entravam no terreno da construção, tentando “fazer o balão”na força policial. A partir daí muitas coisas aconteceram ao mesmo tempo. Segundo um colega na linha de frente, a policia anunciou a eles que eles tinham 5 MINUTOS PARA DISPERSAR. E foi quando eles se sentaram. Vi algumas pessoas recolhendo pedras no chão, na eminencia do confronto, subimos a rua lateral, eu tirei a garrafinha de vinagre da mochila. Daí não deu tempo guardar, antes do meio da quadra chegou o gás e a confusão, eu tossia e meus olhos ardiam e lacrimejavam muito, o nariz escorre demais. Fizemos um cordão pela parede, nosso amigo segurou a minha mão e me puxou, eu não conseguia manter os olhos abertos muito tempo, só segurei a mão de uma das meninas e subimos a rua rente ao muro, passando a garrafinha de vinagre de uns pros outros, pros nossos amigos, pra quem pedisse. Gente passando mal, uns sendo carregados pelos amigos e tudo isso só em meio quarteirão. Nos recuperamos no fim da rua, ajudamos algumas pessoas, uns intoxicados com o gás (santo vinagre q não nos deixou vomitar, se for placebo funciona muito bem), uma senhora colocava a mangueira derrubando água pra fora da casa pra aliviar quem pudesse, outros chegavam feridos de bala de borracha, no peito, no rosto, na cabeça, e usamos nosso pequeno e muito modesto kit de assepsia pra ajudar. Quando parecia que estava tudo bem, a passeata começou a avançar ( acredito que aqui houve a sabotagem em questão e nós tentamos voltar pra via principal, mas novamente vieram os tiros e o gás e com eles MUITAAA revolta. Como é que eu posso dizer há um homem ferido no peito, que diz que o policial olhou pra ele que estava parado com um cartaz e atirou, que pensar em ” tem que partir mesmo pra cima desses caras! Se ficar passífico eles vão matar a gente!” está errado? Eu não disse nada. Ouvi muitos reclamarem e incitarem a revanche. Decidimos voltar ao ponto de encontro pra descobrir se a manifestação tomaria outro rumo. Foi quando vimos no fim da rua uma viatura começar a ser apedrejada por rapazes com os rostos cobertos por camisetas. Um grupo pediu “sem violência! sem vandalismo!” e foi apedrejado de volta. Meu amigo tentou fotografar a cena e foi ameaçado ” fotografa não que tu vai ficar queimado nas área!”. Depois da ameaça, evidentemente saímos, e seguimos pro ponto de encontro, a tempo de ver um rapaz carregar uma das grades de contenção da polícia no ombro, uma espécie de suvenir. ( Uma outra situação a relatar é que antes mesmo do confronto com a polícia, no começo da manifestação, um menininho de uns seis anos veio de bicicleta e jogou uma bomba, tipo rasga-lata, daquelas maiores, nos manifestantes). Quando voltamos ao ponto de encontro, e estavam todos muito dispersos, uma de nossas amigas já apavorada pediu pra ir embora. Procurávamos uma saída quando vimos a fumaça da viatura, e os caras de rosto coberto fugindo correndo. Não sei se eles são infiltrados, acredito mais que sejam criminosos da própria comunidade aproveitando a oportunidade catártica – não tiro a culpa de ninguém, só observo que também são eles frutos da realidade que queremos mudar. Então surgiu o rapaz ensanguentado, camisa canarinho pintada de vermelho, um tiro de borracha na nuca, e do nada uma câmera de uma grande emissora de tv. Ele contou seu caso, exibiu sua relíquia de guerra, muitos se agregaram e gritaram suas palavras de ordem. Ele defendeu mais uma vez que a polícia veio primeiro. Seguimos para a BR, e vimos acontecer o que eu acreditava já devia ter acontecido: os manifestantes que conseguiam se aglomerar, fecharam a BR nos dois sentidos, em dois pontos distintos. No meio, alguns ônibus com adesivos oficiais da FIFA não podiam ir nem vir. do alto do viaduto o grito “DEITA NA BR!!!”. As ambulâncias passavam e eram aplaudidas. Nós já não somos tão jovens, meus amigos queriam ir pra casa, postar fotos, se recuperar – do gás, da desidratação, da insolação, do cansaço das horas de pé e da longa caminhada. Eu queria ficar, enquanto o corpo está quente, beleza. Eu queria muito estar ali, testemunhar e fazer parte daquilo. Eu queria fazer isso pra vir aqui, e pra contar a todo mundo o que eu vi e ouvi, e ninguém me contou, EU ESTAVA LÁ E ATESTO TODOS OS FATOS QUE DECLARO. Voltei pra casa, ouvi os sermões preocupados da minha mãe, conferi se alguns colegas estão bem, e estou feliz de ter estado lá. Pretendo voltar as manifestações. Sim, elas são inseguras e tem todo tipo de gente, MAS TODO TIPO DE GENTE TEM NO MUNDO, E MAIS INSEGURA E INCERTA DO QUE NOSSA VIDA É HOJE? Prefiro me arriscar, há viver mais vinte anos com medo, de assalto, de morte, de recessão econômica, de falta de emprego e especialmente, medo da imobilidade, essa coisa terrível que nos impede de viver, a a impunidade, o “você não pode fazer nada, as coisas sempre foram assim. Prefiro ao medo de ver ótimos profissionais, artistas, politicos sérios, educadores de primeira qualidade e de primeira necessidade, batalharem e serem impedidos de viver e trabalhar por um sistema engessado, corrupto, todo errado. De ver pais e mães terem que trabalhar na maior parte do seu tempo, se ausentando da presença parental tão importante na formação da psiquê e do caráter das pessoas, para darem ao filho aquilo que ele devia ter fornecido pelo estado em troca do que já contribuimos todos os dias. Mudar a presidência não é mais uma esperança, é o sistema que está todo falido e tem que ser todo reformado, investigado, transparente, participativo. Se não se muda a massa do bolo, não adianta trocar a cereja. Esse é meu relato, eu estive lá, e estarei outras vezes. Se nada mudar, acho que eu me mudo, vou ser uma exilada politico-economico-social. #fortalezaapavorando #ProtestoCE #vemprarua #OGiganteAcordou


The face of Brazil

What do you know about Brazil? Perhaps you see through the lens of a media that persists in typecasting it as a country of samba soccer and teeny bikinis. Perhaps you associate it with Spanish speaking Latin America, Carmen Miranda, macho men, and bikini waxes. Perhaps you do not think of it at all when you get up in the morning and drink a glass of orange juice imported from Brazil, have a cup of coffee with soy milk made from soybeans grown in Brazil, put on a pair of shoes made in Brazil.  Brazilians understand. They  know that your economy has tanked, that you are struggling to keep a roof over your head, put food on the table, help the kid pay off student loans. They  are used to being ignored, caricatured and ridiculed. But they are running out of patience with a number of distorted perceptions. I  think that so  should you.
Here are a few facts about Brazil: It is a Portuguese speaking country that occupies approximately half of South America. It is the sixth growing economy in the world. You can get more facts and figures from, say, the Brazilian Embassy or the CIA websites, but the essential fact is that  Brazil is a democracy after having endured a brutally repressive military dictatorship that lasted from  1964 to 85. Here are some of the good things that happened in democratic Brazil: initially–that is, post-dictatorship– poverty declined dramatically, programs such as Zero Hunger benefited millions of people,   laws banning hate speech,  permitting gay marriages and granting rights to workers came into effect.  Generally speaking,  a new perception of the rights of women began to take shape. Laws governing property rights, equal pay for equal work, were put in place, as well as a domestic violence code. According to some  studies, “Brazil is first in women’s participation in the knowledge economy and science, technology and innovation, as well as in women’s agency.” In the northeast of Brazil, where my my family lives, there is more governmental support available  to writers and artists than in many states in the eastern United States where I live.
But it is not all roses for Brazilians, at the moment. Although  “During his presidency, Lula da Silva halved the Brazilian proportion of hungry people and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty, from 12 percent in 2003 to 4.8 percent in 2009.”* the current government, headed president, former technocrat Dilma Rousseff , failed to meet the raised expectations of most Brazilians.  Worse yet, Brazil’s infrastructure is broken. Education, health and transportation systems are woefully inadequate.Corruption is rampant and  lately,  the government chose to invest billions of reais–Brazil’s currency–into enormous sports facilities where the World Cup and Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to take place in 2014 and 1916, respectively.Brazilians ask–and rightly so–who benefits from the World Cup and the Olympics. They ask why the billions of reais spent on stadium were not used to fund new schools, new hospitals, a better transportation system.
Last week, the increase in bus fares, approved by  when the municipal government of Sao Paulo became the spark that ignited massive demonstrations throughout the country.At first, the global media ignored what was happening in Brazil, prompting young Brazilians to make dozens of videos telling the world what the demonstrations were about. Subsequently, American news outlets picked up the story of police brutality against protesters, but it failed to make it clear that the police assaulted peaceful, unarmed protesters with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Yiu can see the videos on Youtube and on Facebook pages such as #change brazil. Much of the traditional media is buying the Brazilian government’s spin of the demonstrations.  CNN called the protests riots even the statistically, the percentage of vandalism was negligible. Speaking from Paris, the governor of Sao Paulo called the protesters vandals. Members of the Cabinet have said that they do not understand the protests. They also said that they will not allow anything to interfere with the World Cup and Olympics.Popular dissatisfaction is bound to grow and logically, protest will take place when the global media is present, such as in July when the Pope plans to visit Brazil.
Whether this matters to you or not depends on whether you understand the role the US played in propping up the generals under whose regimes thousands of Brazilians were tortured by people trained by CIA agents paid for tax dollar. I don’t have the figures on  murders and extraordinary rendition, but you might want to look them up. It is possible that you you have enough on plate and you don’t care about the Third World. If so, I  urge to rethink your position.  You might believe that democracy is a privilege of First World citizens. It all depends on whether or not you have a social conscience.Brazil will go on regardless of how you think and how you act. But if your children and mine are to live in world that is more just, safer, and more  democratic world depends on each one of us.






The human heart is a place of wonder. It has room for mineral vegetable and animal life. There is ample evidence of that on the Facebook wall of writer Joseph Finder, just below the photo of a  golden  Labrador retriever. Finders caption for the photo was,
“Unconditional live is so rare. “
Judging from the responses he got, the consensus is that dogs can be relied upon to love unconditionally. I know from experience that such is not always the case and I have the scars to prove it. Nevertheless,healthy dogs–the Chowchow that bit me was truly dysfunctional– people are equally of living  love that  is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Another writer, Louanne Rice, posted about her love of cloud watching, something many of us share I proposed that we form a club. Ideally, we would  fluffy lamb, that fierce dragon, that length of unravelling silk will travel. Ideally, painter Alfred Sisley would be part of that club. Many of his landscapes include fleecy clouds perhaps for that simple reason that that clouds were often present  present in French skies beneath which he worked.  Then again, it may be that clouds are an integral part of work of painters he  admired, such as Turner and Constable . The latter, in turn, was influenced by  cloud-loving Claude Lorrain.No matter. Sisley’s death in 1899 might make it difficult to include him in the cloud watching club. The best I can do is look at his painting when the weather is inclement.