Thursday Night News

It started as a secret protest, a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down. The indiscipline of kicking back and having a drink during the week made it easier to swallow the week’s collection of poisonous news and information for which there was no time when trying to live a life of discipline.  Personally, I would much prefer a life dedicated to reading fiction rather than non-fiction, yet I find it irresponsible not only to run from the information at hand in such a complicating world, but also to hide and not share a take on it. To make it easier, I casually curate until (not every) Thursday, when my mind and body are already tired of the week’s rigor of being a good boy.
Because I’m not good; I’m bad.

So in winter it is a glass of wine; spring and autumn, beer; and vodka for the heat of a tropical summer to swallow the ails of this world, weeding out a garden of journalists pining for attention in an effort to grasp where we are going and where we’ve been. Considering there is no longer even a consensus about the past, divination of the future is none the easier, but it is certainly, shall we say, more ‘palatable’ with some poison.
The investigation has not always been toxic, actually. I’ve come across some nutritious reads, whether em português, other times en español, or in the English language that dominates world news.  I sometimes decipher just enough French or Hindi to get another perspective.
It has been the way I get around the incessant and annoying media all week, separating articles of interest for just one night, passing on what I learned – or didn’t learn – because having an opinion is hard work.

June 1, 2023

I was born WEIRD. But my life took some unexpected turns, whereby I acquired more non-WEIRD culture than I had ever thought possible, once I realized that most of the world was not White, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. I had always suspected intuitively that culture was much more powerful than science had ever cared to prescribe. And that is why I cannot tell you how important it was for me to hear Dr. Joseph Henrich, who not only had the discernment, but also found the words to describe how one’s culture affects one’s psychology, ethics, and even DNA. It determines whether you are more inclined to guilt or to shame, and all that is triggered from that premise for a person, people and nation. It also determines how you finish the sentence: “I am_____.”  Do the test with him. You’ll learn so much in one hour!

I think my grammatical pet peeve is grammatical pet peeves, but I couldn’t resist this article about “Bad Things”: appositives at the beginning of sentences that are awkward and unnatural to spoken English. It made me think, and I looked over my writing. I found many, of course. Thankfully not as clumsy as some of the examples the author cited from published works. As he correctly states, the simplicity of English makes the language awkward, the cases and declinations have disappeared; we have to learn to punctuate (I hope you are impressed with the semi-colon). I’ve found that fighting split infinitives just makes an even bigger mess, and as he poignantly points out, there is a big difference between grammar rules and fashions. I have something to add about this topic, however, because I speak other languages. Spoken and written Spanish mirror each other in a way that would give him an orgasm. Brazilian Portuguese is quite the opposite, but that is what makes reading and writing it so beautiful: it is like playing a game of chess. More importantly, I think he is not considering how English is being (he hates ‘is being’!) changed by writers who speak other languages: the initial appositive is in fact natural speech in many Romance languages – and maybe these writers who speak with their bodies, hands and volume, like me, have found their way into the printed word. I suspect that is where the grammar styles he dislikes are coming from – if not from the grueling demands of editors with their draconian word limits (ahem!) that compress writing into appositives, and the clickbait economy that is compelling all these headlines I have to read three times before I can decipher the verb.

¡No! Bueno no exactamente. Vedanta nos enseña que la felicidad es en realidad nuestra naturaleza. Nada nos falta, a pesar del inmenso sentimiento de añoranza, debido a nuestra ignorancia sobre el ser pleno. Por lo tanto, no hay nada que pueda ser consumido, obtenido, poseído que traiga satisfacción. La felicidad de uno tiene que ser revelada, no adquirida.

El artículo es un maravilloso panorama de los estudios sobre la felicidad, pero siempre he estado en completo desacuerdo con la idea de que la felicidad se puede medir y de la idea que hay culturas más felices que otras. Es precisamente por el conocimiento de los Vedas que encuentro tales índices de felicidad risibles. Una vez que la felicidad, que es la verdad, que es la conciencia, es lo único que existe, que no hay ningún lugar donde no esté, el infinito no se puede medir.

She didn’t answer the question as to why the Global South should care (more) about Ukraine. I understand the foreign minister of Ukraine has to give the “right” answer. She is intelligent, competent and caring. But she danced with all the elegance expected of a diplomat around a gaping truth: China, India and Brazil – or Asia, Africa and Latin America, most of humanity, if you will –– have to deal with much more violence and death than Ukraine. I would have been much blunter than the journalist about pointing out that the South has plenty of examples of the Global North’s hypocrisy about democracy, sovereignty, and human rights. My follow up question would have been about the companies/governments making a lot of money with this war: Why shouldn’t the South?

Make that a roll and not a wedge of either Stilton or Cheddar you bring me from England, Mr. Watson. We are going to partay!

May 25, 2023

I put my bias aside to read/listen to the Economist’s special interview with none other than the warmonger Henry Kissinger. On his 100th birthday, I found his view of potential warfare with China and AI quite sober, and his opinions on the kind of leadership the world needs textbook academia. I was surprised to agree with him on the urgency of deescalating tensions with China due to US saber-rattling, and also on US blame in the war of Ukraine.  His citing of India as a new model for diplomacy was curious. He says we are in a new world order, yet optimistic that this new world can create rules everyone can agree on. I wanted him to say that the US will no longer be at the top of that order. I wanted to be furious with him or at least see him own some of his past – very much a part of the conundrum the world is in right now. He disappointed a bit, sounding like he has learned from his mistakes and his contemporaries.

I don’t believe in coincidence, so the Intercept’s exposé this week about the coverup of the mass killings of Cambodians ordered by Kissinger was, well, timely:

Creating difficulties in order to sell solutions is what all mafias do – and the education mafia in the US is now completely out of control! This latest racket is just sick:

The importance of Chicago history to understand the predicaments of contemporary America never cease to amaze me:

Every time I take a rickshaw here in Paquetá I’m transported to Chandni Chowk. I know exactly what it means to be divided, to have more than one home. How I would love to see this artist’s exhibition:

“El renombre de sor Juana Inés de la Cruz continuó adquiriendo peso entre los círculos sociales de la Nueva España gracias a sus logros intelectuales como convertirse en la primera mujer de América en publicar su obra en Europa. Para el momento de su muerte en la Ciudad de México, el 17 de abril de 1695, supuestamente a causa de tifus, sor Juana ya era un mito que ni siquiera la propia escritora lograba reconocer:”

 “She doesn’t normally drink, but when Lillian’s car got stuck in the mud after making a wrong turn on a remote road, she downed the bottle. Police say it may have helped her survive.”

 Well, I mean, what would you do?

May 11, 2023

Some years ago, I had a conversation with an engineer who made me realize how I have spent my entire life surrounded by sand. The glass, the walls, the floor, the roof. The crystal goblet with which I drink a pinot noir while writing my silly verses with computer technology that is also made possible by silica. Our human world – all that has been constructed, all that we know – has been lifted out of the Earth into utilities molded into shapes even before the potter’s wheel. That conversation has sent me into a deep think ever since I realized the world’s sand is running out, and it is provoking an even deeper think when understanding how all these new rare earths will be mined in order to get us off fossil fuels and throwing carbon into the air. Ironic, no? The problem is that there is nothing green about mining. Often it is red with blood. The paradox of mining has been expertly covered by Foreign Policy:

Falando de paradoxos, eu aposto que a corda bamba entre desenvolvimento econômico e preservação do meio ambiente será a chave ou do sucesso ou do fracasso do Lula. Infelizmente os dois objetivos são antagônicos:

Se voce nao para tudo para ouvir Radio Novelo, para tudo para ouvir Radio Novelo, em vez das polêmicas chatas do noticiário – como o seguinte item sobre a corrupção do supremo americano – e ouça a história do cara que sobreviveu sua perdição na Floresta amazônica, e como as casas tradicionais da Av. Paulista foram derrubadas numa noite só… SENSACIONAL!

Do you know who Justice Abe Fortas was? I didn’t. But I do now, as you had better know if you dare have an opinion (in favor) of Justice Clarence Thomas. That we’ve gotten to this point where there are those defending a Supreme Court Justice taking bribes is all one needs to know about the state of the union. This article makes the best of the excruciating work of deconstructing the silly allegations of court “delegitimization” or “super-legislating”:

“A hotel guest in Tennessee told police he woke to find the night manager sucking his toes.”

I’ll just drop this one here with no further comment than my lungs are still sore from the hissing, paralyzed fit of laughter – and that this is the kind of story that we call in Brazil mal contada, a story badly told. In other words, a story with something missing, something doesn’t add up…

April 27, 2023

I would be lying if I said I didn’t smile upon the news that Tucker Carlson was fired, but I wouldn’t be lying nearly as much as Tucker did – when alleging election fraud that not even he believed – which I am sure makes the $800m Fox now has to pay all the more sour. Believe it or not, I did the exercise of watching him once in a while, stomaching the smugness that had sparked so many rows. For the record, I ignore smug journalism on the Left too. Tucker’s brand will be harder to replace than I originally thought – especially if he pursues the obvious political career – because they will have to find someone who doesn’t just report on what the Right believes, they’ll have to find someone who has the capaci to dictate what they believe:

lndia might not be the next China for three specific reasons, according to the specialist, not the least of which is that India cannot be the next China because China is still China, and India arrived at the development party thirty years too late. New times, new challenges, new opportunities:

Not to say that I told you so, but I told you so: Brazil is more important on the world stage than you might realize. That is why Lula’s recent remarks about the war in Ukraine were more effective than the media might have you believe:

April 20, 2023

As the son of an immigrant, this remarkable essay on the most heinous of recent shootings resonated with me when he said “[Losing ‘anonymous trust’] is a betrayal and a degradation of one of the things America once most had going for it, something that people have often noticed when they come here from other places.”

Eu não acho as palavras do Lula tão ‘infelizes’ ao cutucar os EUA sobre a Guerra na Ucrania. Podia ter medida as palavras melhor? Creio que sim, mas eu sabia que a mídia estava fazendo todo um melodrama daquilo. Agora, Lula é ‘inepto na política externa’? kkkkkk Acho que não, porque os EUA respondeu hoje:

La Mexicana reconocida como major chef del mundo:

I can’t believe I didn’t know who this man was! Not only is Vivek Murthy Doctor Number 1 of the USA, he has to be one of the most incredible human beings ever! Don’t miss this interview. Actually, never miss On Being:

April 13, 2023

Who ate my olives was much more surprising than this week’s news selection, since the rest was awfully predictable – whether it be school shootings in Brazil; the policing of Chicago; the Right’s love affair with the crackdown against violence in El Salvador; the opening of water and ice theme parks in parched India; the fake nation of Kailasa by a fake guru who even bamboozled the UN; the Rich countries bashing Lula for taking more care of Brazil’s interests than theirs; or the leak of Pentagon documents on war in the Ukraine – because the stories revealed nothing that was unforeseeable, nothing that hadn’t actually been forewarned.

Brazil: After the former government had done everything possible to import the very worst of the US to Brazil, trying to shape the country into its northern neighbor, including the discord replete with swastikas, the school massacres should come as no surprise. At the same time, the media is on the bandwagon bashing the new government for wanting peace over Ukraine. Apparently, Brazil is not supposed to look after its own interests, it is supposed to support the US and the UK.

India: it amazes even when it doesn’t surprise the way that the land that brought ahmisa (non-violence) to the world has, at times, the capacity to be anything but. I suggest everyone follow to tell us that little detail that explains what is really happening all over the planet:

This is just another of what we call a ‘wrong-number’ religious phony in India. The story is side-splittingly hilarious until, of course, it isn’t:

The US: of course more police, guns and jails won’t save Chicago or El Salvador—the very same way that safeguarded, classified information that doesn’t leak won’t make us believe that the US has any idea of what it is doing on the war front.

But the Thursday Night News Award goes to the best of the week: the cat that interrupted his best friend’s Rammadan prayers:

March 30, 2023

In a democracy, shouldn’t the people have a voice in foreign policy decisions? I mean, shouldn’t they?

If so, you might find it hard to stomach the recent cost of American foreign policy (that the people didn’t choose):

India’s oldest and most esteemed policy research institutes has recently been raided by the government. Why? Unfortunately, it seems to be part of a pattern of silencing dissidents. The CPR is particularly worrying.  Over the past the five decades, it has served as a vital and resolutely non-partisan centre of knowledge and research on key public policy questions and challenges confronting India and the world.

No, I am not happy with Biden, and this is one of the reasons why:

Eu paro tudo para ler o olhar ludico de Ondjaki:

¿Por qué una cultura se dejaría morir?

March 23, 2023

The irony in US giddiness over the International Criminal Court’s decision to condemn Putin upon the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq was really a spectacular flying bellyflop if I have ever seen one. Just as criminal was the invasion of Iraq, yet the US is not a state-party to the ICC, and will never be brought to justice. What is more, in recent years, the US has even threatened ICC judges with prosecution if they dared investigate US citizens for war crimes in Afghanistan.

The fallacy of US benevolence is so indoctrinated that I feel policy decisions – such as what to do about the invasion of Ukraine and economic turmoil in the US – have reached the point that they are mere reflex actions based on unquestioned assumptions, or selective values that have been applied in the past, only when convenient. Take the values for democracy and the value for capitalism: Indeed, both are about freedom, but one aims for the common good while the other aims for profit. They are often conflicting values, and the reflex action of the US for the past fifty years has been that capitalism is more important than democracy.  Why? There are those who profit from wars and from inflation. And, well, they can’t be very interested in the common good, now, can they? You’d think someone should have told the Emperor about his New Clothes by now. But when the hypocrisy draping the Empire gets questioned, the hubris of the establishment can get very, very testy. That is why I gave Jon Stewart a standing ovation this week when he disrobed Larry Summers. The importance of capitalism over democracy is also why the US has manufactured poverty, as explained so well in the work of Matthew Desmond, which it also explains the similar debates this week in both the US and Brazil regarding interest rates.   Don’t miss out on this week’s cocktail if you, like me, are getting really tired of the Emperor’s New Clothes!

March 9, 2023

When ” God is dead” and the moral order that had shaped Western society collapsed in the light of science, Nietzsche predicted the political crisis that would ensue when that vacuum would be filled with new religions (socialism, communism, democracy, etc.), replacing the profoundly Christian ethic of egalitarianism. Nietzsche despised egalitarianism, whether religious or secular. In a spectacular academic plot twist, Matt McManus goes over the philosopher’s work, explaining how he has been interpreted – and misinterpreted – to get to the point where Nietzsche has become the guru of some sinister people:

There have been years of evidence as to why “We shouldn’t need an earthquake to know that sanctions don’t work”. I would just add to the article that I am quite certain that prohibitions tend to make a few people rich:

Do you know what ‘fascism’ actually means? I realize that I didn’t, but now I do. I had always poured the term generously over unbecoming political behavior, uselessly:

Speaking of the “fascism”, not sure Mehdi Hasan is accurately using the term correctly either, but anyway…Ay, ay, ay…. Fox News and Mr. Murdoch, we’ve been waiting for you to come out of the closet:

Doctors still treat pain as a purely biomechanical phenomenon rooted solely in the body despite all the evidence to the contrary. I am quite pleased to see all the different lines of research converging on what we should already know: there is no separation between mind and body and environment.

February 16, 2023

What about the US operations in the Sahel? The conflict in Niger? Oh, you didn’t know about it? No worries, neither did I. It is difficult to report on, but Caitlin L. Chandler was daring to venture to Niger. It is fascinating even after giving you the obvious spoiler: the US military operations are probably killing more people than they are trying to save from the War on Terror, and they are just exacerbating the colonial problem:

To Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s credit, they never promised to unify their nations. Their projects were the opposite of unity and they had always said so. The point is that the Republicans are prepared to destroy the institutions of democracy and draw a new social pact without the Constitution. There can be no compromise or negotiation with such projects, so unfortunately battlelines must be drawn. That is what Lula might have to teach the US:

I don’t think many have fathomed the damage that has been done by the great, pedigreed consulting firms of this world. They rubber-stamp decision that affect people’s lives and considering how wrong they have often been (despite the pedigrees!), leave it Mariana Mazzucato to be brave enough to do the cost-benefit analysis the consultants had always feared:

Historiadores e cientistas só recentemente se tornaram obcecados pela felicidade. Uma cultura é mais feliz que outra? A busca moderna do amor romântico é a busca da felicidade? Sempre foi assim? Os nômades eram mais felizes? Do ponto de vista do yoga, é engraçado ver como cientistas e historiadores olham para a felicidade como se fosse algo novo. Independentemente disso, é fascinante ver a convergência do questionamento no tempo e no espaço:

Well, speaking of happiness, naturally I am suspect, but it does seem to appear that human civilization owes its existence to, um, alcohol… no, really! Seriously! There is a lot of evidence to support the supposition:

February 9, 2023

If his report is true, one of America’s greatest investigative journalists will have uncovered what had been suspected: the US sabotaged the Nord Stream Pipeline. Although the implications are massive, the fact would hardly be surprising. It would even corroborate the recent the about-face opinion of the NYT, so surprising I did a double-take: “Russia and the Ukraine have incentives to negotiate. The US has other plans”. That is what I had suspected from the start. As any self-respecting Latin American, I think life is more important than injustice and dignity, being right or winning a fight. When held at gunpoint, one surrenders honorably, because life is paramount and everything else can be sorted out later. A year into the war, there are thousands of dead on both sides; there is no end in sight; and US corporations profit.

That is also why it should come as no surprise that Latin America (and most of the world) have refused to bend to US pressure to send armaments to support Ukraine. I will never tire of asking people to look up violence statistics before choosing one’s conflict media fetish. Violence in Latin America in any given recent year can give the war in Syria, Yemen or the Ukraine a run for its money. There has even been a genocide right here in Brazil, which sparked yet another op-ed, I also found shocking, because I expected more from its renowned authors when they say “ To stop Amazon plunder, Brazil must change hearts and minds” – they are right – but they lost an opportunity on stage to tell Americans how they might be connected to the plunder by propagating a world where the only logic to organize society is profit – not life.

That is also something that Russel Brand has been saying for a long time, although I do not watch him regularly. I find him unfunny because I do not think people are educated or changed by sarcasm and insult – which just have the opposite effect. But I gave him some attention when interviewed by Jacobin, where I could agree with him quietly behind the filter of the printed word.

Yes, I know: I have already seen the leopard that attacked five people in the courthouse in Ghaziabad, UP, India. It might seem amazing but there have been many such incidents as their habits dwindle and they are highly adaptable to the urban environment:

February 2, 2023

I think everyone agrees that America is broken. That means there is something both Left and Right can agree upon. One thinker, however, has found it much more productive to think of our division as one over our institutions: one side thinks they can be fixed; the other wants to slash and burn them. The shift in vision just might help us talk:

Jornalismo bom tem como regra ”follow the money”, siga o dinheiro, para investigar aquilo que é inexplicável. Absolutamente nada como a apuração jornalística da revista Piauí para tirar nada menos do que uma radiografia do grande problema que são os militares do Brasil e do genocidio contra o povo Yanomami. Galera, têm nomes, datas e cifras para compreender quão criminoso foi este governo. Indispensável é o último episódio do Foro de Teresina. Deu uma aula de jornalismo!

January 26, 2023

Current and recent leaders of India, Brazil and the US are in the news this week, accused of wrongdoing – some with much more evidence than others. It is indeed hard to pin evidence at the top, because leaders often don’t actually implement much, and in liberal democracies with the rule of law, one needs solid evidence to put a case forward.

Modi had already been acquitted for his (non)involvement in the 2002 Gujarat Riots, when the Hindu community rose up against Muslims after a train of Hindu pilgrims had been attacked under his watch as Chief Minister of Gujarat. That is why I find this week’s kerfuffle regarding his use of emergency powers to ban a BBC documentary on the Riot a little silly, producing the opposite effect of the one intended. More interesting was how free-speech absolutist Elon Musk seems to have curved before Modi and removed the documentary.

There is no lack of evidence for what both Biden and Trump did with top secret documents – regardless of how differently the two leaders have dealt with their respective scandals. I wished to pay no attention to Biden’s recent scandal, but I can now see that that will be impossible. This story will dominate US politics until the end of his term and then some – as if there weren’t an immigration crisis to be dealt with; a health, education, and welfare crisis; a geopolitical crisis… By the way, why the hell does the US have so many secrets anyway?

There is more evidence than I had imagined for what Bolsonaro and cronies did to the Yanomami people of Amazonia. It is called genocide – a word that has been so abused that now when we really need it, its banalization seems to be producing more Twitter outrage than action. I hope that impression is just my impatience because people need to be held accountable for the well-documented negligence and rape of the great forest and the murder of its peoples. Unfortunately, this shocking news is anything but news. It has been happening for a long time, and it happens all around Brazil and around the world where indigenous peoples are sitting on gold mines – both literally and figuratively.

January 12, 2023

Life has recently led me to contemplate the meaning of the word ATTENTION, as in how we pay — and don’t pay — attention to others. There are philosophers that have considered  attention as a moral question, the crux of our humanity, equating the word  to “love” and to “generosity”. They have cited how transformational the consequences can be when we lend ourselves to others for experience without distraction, as well as how destructive we are when unable to focus on others, trapped inside our heads– that place  prone to imprisonment in this era of entertainment, distraction and devices that promise false escapes from ourselves. Days later I am still savoring the ideas, and I would just add that attention is also the ability to find meaning, to find beauty, in others, ourselves and in the world around us. This is yet another podcast I listened to twice and took notes, amazed by the philosophy of Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch as introduced by Michael Sacasas, interviewed by Sean Illing.  I strongly recommend you do the same:

I’m starting off the year lightly…

How swear words sound alike around the world:

¿Se dice ‘español’ o ‘castellano’?

A única coisa que tenho a dizer sobre os ataques terroristas em Brasília:

December 29, 2022

These socks might have been the best things that happened to me in 2022 – you can thank my personal stylist, Robby Toledano, for the flair – if it weren’t for three other finds in 2022 that really made the difference for me. One was in the pursuit of knowledge; the other two, of wisdom:

On Thursday Night News I do not post ON BEING, Krista Tippet’s podcast of wisdom, which I listen to regularly at a more serious hour that deserves the attention of a notebook and pen and not a martini. I sit down on the floor to take notes. I listened three times to her interview with Rachel Naomi Remen – a doctor of doctor’s, who has suffered with severe, debilitating disease all her life. When answering the question of How we live with loss, I shook.  I wrote down her quote and I read it every single day:  “The way we deal with loss shapes our capacity to be present in life more than anything else; the way we protect ourselves from loss may be the way we distance ourselves from life.” Do not, under any circumstances, enter 2023 without this:

Imagine your boat. Over time, you replace the boards, the rutter, the paint. It gets reconstructed, no longer the same one, yet you still identify it as your boat. What makes it your boat then? That is the starting point with Sean Illing’s interview with neuroscientist Gregory Berns, author of The Self Delusion, in Your identity is a story you tell yourself.  Berns claims that the idea of a unified, persistent self is a kind of illusion, and that we are better understood as multiple selves at different moments in time, tied together by a story — which is what we call our identity. For students of Vedanta, this interview is particularly interesting, the way they discuss the hardware (body) and software (mind) of consciousness, yet avoid speculation on the user of this great computer:

Empire Burlesque: What comes after the American Century? by Daniel Bessner was one of the most well-written essays I’ve encountered on geopolitics. Its seven pages are expertly crafted to give the reader the context for taking one of two paths for the future for the US: “Defending the status quo are the liberal internationalists, who insist that the United States should retain its position of global armed primacy. Against them stand the restrainers, who urge a fundamental rethinking of the U.S. approach to foreign policy, away from militarism and toward peaceful forms of international engagement. The outcome of this debate will determine whether the United States remains committed to an atavistic foreign policy ill-suited to the twenty-first century, or whether the nation will take seriously the disasters of the past decades, abandon the hubris that has caused so much suffering worldwide, and, finally, embrace a grand strategy of restraint…The fundamental disagreement between the two schools of thought is this: liberal internationalists believe that the United States can manage and predict foreign affairs. Restrainers do not. For those of us in the latter camp, the withering away of the American Century cannot be reversed; it can only be accommodated.”

Harper’s is a wonderful magazine; its podcast is not. The interview with the author supplements but does not substitute the essay:

December 15, 2022

“So, did you feel India was really growing, Ricky?” I put together my recent observations with what’s in the economic news: everything indicates that, yes, it might indeed be India’s time under the sun. But that has been predicted before, just as it had been for Brazil. In a discussion with an Indian businessman, I gathered he was proud of India’s famous industrialist who have “made a business of nation building”, driving the Indian economy to success. I almost choked on my chai. I don’t believe in businesses doing good for society and I don’t want them to. They should concentrate on profits and be regulated and taxed by government that is really in the business of nation-building.  I was polite when responding that “We have seen that film in Brazil, and it didn’t not end well. I hope I am wrong.” I ask myself if the promiscuous relationship between business and government is worth some corruption to bring development to society – think the chaebols of South Korea or the Gilded Age in the US. Ouch! I hope India gets it right:

Recently, Brazilian professor and politician Fernando Haddad was heckled by a businessman at a dinner, asked about his defense of the ideas of Karl Marx. He replied with a question: About which of the works of Karl Marx are you referring? An embarrassing silence ensued. I have become so exasperated by the “communist” label that I no longer respond, because it is impossible to have a serious discussion about solutions for human society with people who slap around labels with no meaning. Not that I have really read Marx – you might not have to either with this podcast:

So smoking was a societal habit that was transformed at great pains and now it is time to do the same with social media? Although the text is an interesting history of the rise of social media, I do not agree that we are witnessing its end. There might be a transformation underway, for better and worse, but I have always been loth to give the Musks or Zuckerbergs of this world too much credit for all the ugliness and inconsistencies of human nature. You decide:

That this cannot be put into the hands of a private, for-profit entity should go without saying, but the fact that we have succumbed even this far to the undisputed logic of capital, I do so worry:

Undeniable is the premeditated crime and impunity of the exiting government of Brazil that has devastated the Amazon. Saying, however, that the forest’s future rests with the new president was a painful stretch. Of course, Brazil must return to preservation, but I do not believe in supply-side enforcement and regulation, be it drugs, timber, gold, diamonds, cocoa or palm oil. As long as Northern hemisphere consumers demand profits and pleasure, they will get it, and nothing will change:

Please tell me that nobody still believes that the Ukraine War will be solved with muscle, money and might:

¿Yo lo entendí bien? ¿El congreso peruano destituyó el presidente que disolvería el congreso?  ¿El golpe vino de dónde, entonces? ¡Que lío la situacíon de democracía en el mundo!

None other than Branko Milanovich with a gift other than economics for our World Cup:

October 20, 2022

There is a needle lost in this haystack story about ex-boyfriend grief. It should be the real headline, and it should be headlines around the world: If Saudi Arabia joins BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and structures the movement already underway to buy and sell oil without the US dollar, it will be Game Over for the US empire. Most of world wants to do business and doesn’t give a rat’s ass if a trading partner is democratic, autocratic, dictatorial, disobedient or thuggish; they are uninterested in who is sleeping with who. What is more, they have tired of US hypocrisy when conveniently fingerpicking who has been naughty and nice. Without the dollar, the US will no longer be able to forbid others from doing business with others.

It is hard to accept how Norma Desmond the US has become; how delusional is its grandstanding, dreaming of a return to past stardom, unaware that times have changed and there is no turning back; that there are other kids on the block now, that they they’ve got their own ball now and don’t need yours.

Case in point: do you really think China will not respond to the US for this ‘economic terrorism’?

The funny thing is that the US really thinks it can go back to mercantilism and trade blocs: “Now, the West that was the principal ideological champion of free trade has soured on it because it no longer works in its favor”.

And now, caught with its pants down:

October 13, 2022

I don’t use the term “Latinx”. Actually, I am not a fan of the language police. I find such interventions futile, or often having the opposite effect of the one intended, when, that is, the wokeness is not conspicuously standing in for real policy. So I agreed with the author’s analysis, until he suggested the case for using “Latine”:

No, no, no! Mexicans were not ‘incensed’ by the sloppiness of a British cooking show. We would have to be mocked by much [much!] better. For however carelessly they handled Mexican culture, the brouhaha about ‘cultural appropriation’ smacks of wokeness. I can’t think of a culture that casts a bigger shadow than Mexico, which made the clumsy attempt all the more amusing and its superciliousness all the more embarrassing.  I have a little secret for you: Mexicans already know their culinary traditions are superior to all others, so we really do not care what anyone thinks. [Don’t tell anyone! It’s a secret! We wouldn’t want anyone to investigate it – especially someone like Diana Kennedy! RIP]

I’d already noticed the overtones in the only cinema I watch nowadays. It is indeed disheartening to see India falling to the logic of divide and conquer:

If you missed his speech at the UN General Assembly, here it is. Don’t miss it! It is the only thing that makes sense:

Which means it is time to legalize cocaine:

Do you know what the significance of a nuclear power that is submerged under water and submerged in debt is? Adam Tooze does. Few have his acumen, which has already caught wind of the polycrisis in South Asia:

There is hope for bridging the divide between left and right when we understand that “[w]hen it comes to big issues and policies, moderates are confused, torn, not sure which pole is their pole. Which is different from saying they prefer the mean between the two poles. One way to think of this is, if I offer you a choice between a pizza and a burger, and you can’t pick—you’re an undecided voter!—it doesn’t follow that you want a pizzaburger.”

September 15, 2022

It is the best essay I’ve read about America and the future, especially about the dangers of looking to the past for solutions for the future. It is an unapologetic diagnostic of where the US is right now and why. Don’t miss “Empire Burlesque: What comes after the American Century?” by Daniel Bessner. I’ve even included the podcast interview with the author about his piece in Harper’s:

Speaking of empire burlesque, do you how many military interventions the US has conducted since the end of the Cold War in 1991? What about since 1798? The Congressional Research Service certainly does, and they have recently compiled the complete list. If you are surprised by the number, wait till you discover that “The list does not include covert actions or numerous occurrences in which U.S. forces have been stationed abroad since World War II in occupation forces or for participation in mutual security organizations, base agreements, or routine military assistance or training operations.”

September 1, 2022

The professor who has studied how countries slide in civil war for the CIA realizes that the criteria her group developed fit quite well close to home: “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.”

I also “do not believe that President Jair Bolsonaro will ever willingly hand over power to his rival in this October’s election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. If Lula wins, as polls currently suggest he will, there will be an institutional crisis in Brazil in coming months. The only question is what it will look like—and who will ultimately prevail.”

Queria saber se também vão espalhar ‘desinformação’ sobre os imóveis pagos em dinheiro vivo:

La noticia no debería sorprender a nadie, pero sigue siendo impactante de todos modos:

August 25, 2022

Despite the many friends who rave about Russel Brand, I am not a fan, and it is not because I don’t agree with him. On the contrary, I find myself agreeing with him when I’ve check him out – as many friends certainly do – but I simply cannot deal with shouted, sarcastic opinions, and I do not share his sense of humor. What the world does not need is more wit and cynicism, if not for the fact that no one has ever been insulted into enlightenment; it just further polarizes the planet. What is more, I often find “independent” outlets as nothing more than opinion columns repackaging work I’ve already found in “mainstream” journalism anyway—when, that is, the “independents” aren’t throwing stones from their comfy chairs at the journalists who actually do footwork, having investigated issues with people who have dedicated their lives to studying a given topic and having withstood the trials of real editors. Starting analysis with the assumption that media are “bought” (as if they should work for free) or “biased” (as if someone in the world isn’t) smacks of laziness. That said, are “independents” helpful?  Of course they are, especially when the print the likes of Jeffrey Sachs, who, I had been thinking, was unusually quiet considering the global turmoil – or has he been ostracized by the “mainstream”?  Another missing-in-action, I thought, was Noam Chomsky, who delivered the rare disappointment with an unnecessary exaggeration with – surprise! – Russel Brand, according to the criticism of the critics in an interesting pushback from the “mainstream”, from none other than Newsweek (Newsweek!) Anyway, please remember that knowledge is a construct that nobody does alone, and everybody needs to turn a buck.  Ay, ay… onward with the very hard work of having an opinion:

Siempre me impresiona como um pequeño detalle – apeans una luciérnaga – puede anunciar una calamidad:

I do so hope Colombia decriminalizes cocaine and teaches the world a lesson:

Os meus ‘feeds’ só ficam me sugerindo una infindável tripa de videos de bichos. Gatos, cachorros, tigres, onças, sucuris, jacarés. Procurando assuntos mais leves, o algoritmo deve ter me pegado num momento desconcentrado e agora o meu mundo ‘instafeice’ só da nisso. Já tinha duvidado como essas pessoas tem animais silvestres como bichos de estimação, mas cada vez mais estou achando uma questão de ética nem sequer postar e repassar mídias de animais, por mais interessantes que sejam:

August 18, 2022

Sentencing a woman to a 34-year prison term for her Twitter dissent may sadly be the least of the Kingdom’s cruelty. And the US’s silence is, unfortunately, the least of its hypocrisy—which is even more poignant during the one-year anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The country is on the brink of starvation because the US has frozen their 7bn foreign exchange reserves, paralyzing their economy by stealing half of the reserves to pay 9/11 litigants and the other half to muscle the Taliban into treating women humanely and not to harbor terrorists. The US and the Taliban holding the Afghani people hostage, thinking the other actually cares about them. The King of Saudi Arabia proving that he is, in fact, the King of the World, exempt from human rights and democracy

In the remarkable plot twists of the past year, the US also seems to think it can muscle Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran into obedience, because, apparently, the US still thinks that it is the US. Considering the current geopolitical snafu, even the likes of Henry Kissinger – the mastermind of the American Empire – is so alarmed that he has spoken out. I choked, almost spitting my wine before I guffawed – KISSINGER!

As coincidence would have it, I ran into a series on the original scene of the crime, the original sin, from where American has been losing and unfinishing wars since 1945.  It is often called the ‘Forgotten War’ the one most Americans don’t know much about – and for good reason. I can’t stress how important it is to revisit, if anything is ever to be corrected.

August 11, 2022

The significance of Pelosi’s epic myopia is hard to underestimate. The fact that her misadventure resulted in China so visually giving up on hope that the US will grow up is cause for great concern:

Why did CBS do a recall of a documentary on corrupted military aid to Ukrainian?

Será que estas minhas castanhas são coletadas por moradores de rua, escravizados por CV em Bolivia? Agora tenho essa dúvida e outras:

On the plight of a world much closer to your than you had imagined:

I think there is a difference between food insecurity and economic fallout—but that is beside the point. What is happening to Brazil is vile:

Can you please just give up eating beef? If not, even switching to other animals is a great contribution to the future of the planet, according to the science:

It is an amazing piece of investigation and a large investment in time—about three hours—but it is paramount to anyone who wants to have an opinion about the US immigration debacle. The story of how child separation became policy is much more complex and sinister than can be imagined. There is a movie here, a Gestapo story, one about Absurdistan:

July 28, 2022

Are you the kind of person that has a problem with trust? You can’t trust the media, institutions, the government, science & technology, people unlike you and otherness? Or are you the kind that can relax and give the benefit of the doubt? If you belong to the former, you are probably a very lonely person. And it is loneliness—once again—that I have stumbled upon as that root sticking out of the ground that trips societies, splitting them in two.  Hannah Arendt saw it long before I ever did when describing “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, but it required a deep understanding of how loneliness radically cuts people off from human connection. Curiously, science is converging in thought when listening to “A Top Mental Health Expert On Where America Went Wrong”, which resonated when further listening to the reasons “Why Are People Acting So Weird?” I’ve stumbled upon this explanation of loneliness a couple of times, but unforgettable was the interview with the young man behind BIRDS AREN’T REAL, who was asked candidly why he thought people from his conversative family and community were so susceptible to conspiracy theories. His answer still echoes: “Loneliness”. (I repeat the link herein)

I’m reminded of the subsequent analysis after the withdrawal from Afghanistan that highlighted the enormous role corruption played in the collapse of a war, of a project for a nation. In the Ukraine, notes like these are like the canary in the coal mine:

Speaking of the canary, if you are sitting far from the coal mine and you think you’ll go unscathed from the collapse in Sri Lanka, Argentina, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Ecuador, Belarus and El Salvador… you had better think again. A looming global crisis requires immediate attention:

July 14, 2022

What is the cause and cost of this perpetual volley of the Left that promises the future and the Right that promises the past? According to the data of these two economists, the costs of Populism are quite clear. I wasn’t so convinced about the cause, which I suspect has much more to do with democracies that aren’t exactly democracies, when, say, an executive leader has the majority of the legislature and the majority of voters but can’t seem to get anything done…democratically. But what do I know anyway?

Claudia Sahm’s simple and insightful explanation of inflation and the limits of the only tool the Federal Reserve Bank has to fight inflation (interest rates) leads to suggesting the many things Congress could do to reduce the demand and increase the supply that would bring prices down.  It made me not only think about where the legislators are in the fight against inflation, it also made their omission on the plethora of human rights issues (women’s rights, immigration and foreign policy, etc.) even more gaping.  The issues of our times are used to do nothing but pose:

I might fall for the fable that the War in Ukraine is another superhero story of good guy v. bad guy if I only listened to the mainstream media. Of course I find Putin the villain, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t those who have profited from antagonizing a villain. There is much more complexity to this story, including the fact that “From 2015 to early this year, American Special Forces and National Guard instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine, near the city of Lviv, according to Pentagon officials”:

Eis a questão: Quem mandou matar a Dom Phillips e Bruno Perreira?

Too little, too late. China has already financed most of the developing world, and it doesn’t demand allegiances or compliance with embargos:

This article doesn’t analyze the important point the Latino community is hardly homogenous. Until politicians wake up and realize they are as diverse as Americans are diverse, we are going to be hit with some disturbing electoral surprises:

May 26, 2022

Democracy, for what? If a Democratic President and a Democratic majority Congress cannot make the changes that the vast majority of Americans agree with in order to guarantee that women have the same right to their bodies that I enjoy, or to control guns in the US to end the carnage, where exactly did the democracy go?

After all the hypocrisies so eloquently pinpointed this week—not the least of which was citing those that want to ban abortion because “life is more important than liberty” are the same who this week claim “liberty is more important than life” to condone the slaughter of children— naturally I won’t expect coherency from the likes of Governor Abbot and Senator Cruz. You know when you look into someone’s eyes and there is no light? There is something missing? There is something wrong? That’s them. I won’t venture to diagnose anyone, but it is very clear that such people are fighting for the right to exact cruelty, the right to harm people, at the very least, they are fighting for the right to sell their services. And there lies the answer to where the democracy has gone. I don’t see any other explanation than oligarchy, not unlike that of Russia, which makes the President calling for the US to stand up to the same gun lobby he has heaped billions on in order to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian, or to slaughter Yemeni children, all the more revolting. That is the US: the same one hosting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in two weeks’ time, but not inviting Nicaragua, Venezuela or Cuba, because of their human rights record.

[THEIR human rights record!!]

Now the US is scrambling to beg Mexico and other nations to attend the summit, since Latin America sees no point in the meeting without ALL the Americas. They are flexing their muscles, because, actually, Latin America doesn’t really care what the US thinks anymore. China has been silently filling the gap, and China covets no “human rights records”. Furthermore, Latin America has a long history with its neighbor, and knows EXACTLY the hypocrisy the US is capable of in the name of “democracy” and “human rights” in the region, as well as what it is NOT capable of doing with its friends, like Saudi Arabia. 

The tragedy of the school shooting was magnified for me this week by more executions conducted by the police here in Brazil, part of another farce called the “war on drugs”, a lucrative activity exported by the US to the whole world in an unending wave of violence, which is also pushed by the very same NRA and their legion of lobbyists.

There is no escape from promoting democracy and human rights in the world other than by leading by example. Anything less is going to get us all killed.

May 12, 2022

When the only logic for organizing human society under capitalism is profit, democracy cannot survive as corruption inevitably ensues. That is why I shouldn’t be surprised when the likes of the Marcos Dynasty (remember Imelda’s shoes?) returns to power in the Philippines—IN AN ELECTION—but it was shocking and depressing all the same. Analysts say the return of the Marcos clan is due to the pernicous power of social media, whereby Marcos Jr. was able rewrite and own a nostalgic story of his father. I still have my doubts about the power of social media: I think such lies can only be seeded in the soil of discontent, and not in a land of prosperity. Capitalism has to be regulated, checked, or it will concentrate in a direction opposite of the common good, thereby disenchanting and then disengaging people from democracy. It is no wonder we have the Trumps and Putins and Bolsonaros of this world: we’ve let this happen.  There used to be regulation to prevent market concentrations; there used to be values for human health and welfare. Now, the brainwashing is so deep we are more concerned about “the market” than about “the people”.  Points to ponder:

Is the US really less corrupt than China and Russia? I hope you have a better handle of what “corruption” means than political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang. This interview is not only mind-blowing but timely:

“It starts with rearmament. It goes from capitalism and transgresses into criminal behavior. But you’re right: there isn’t this notion of criminality within capitalism. It’s just capitalism. It’s just making money. It’s profiting and benefiting by any means possible. In the end, it transgresses into war crimes and crimes against humanity”:

Branko Milanovich on the real state of capitalism, democracy and inequality:

On the (undemocratic) overregulation of the unnecessary and the deregulation of the essential:

The collapse of democracies before our very eyes:

There is a very curious difference I have noticed between media investigation in Mexico and in Brazil. In Brazil, once in a while we get this very surprising story, like the one below about yet another sinister gold heist, but one without much information and for which we will later be expected to believe fluke culprits acted alone—just like the cocaine shipment that left the airstrip of one of the most powerful politicians in the country or the other one in the President’s plane to Spain—and then the story magically disappears. It is never followed up with any concerted investigative reporting. In Mexico, on the other hand, investigative journalists get slaughtered. Eleven have been killed in the year to May alone.

March 31, 2022

Yanis Varoufakis says President Biden’s approach to Ukraine doesn’t seem to have a clear end goal: “If [Biden] is not leaving any room for a compromise then he’s effectively jeopardizing the interest of Ukrainians.” That observation made Biden’s call for ‘regime change’ just a few days later all the more foreboding, because, as history has already shown, the US has always made a mess when it tries ‘regime change’:

Brasil tem uma oportunidade interessante nesta nova onda de ‘desglobalização’ (mas não com o atual governo!):

Margret Atwood is more than a great writer, she is a great visionary. That makes for her take on the ‘armwrestling for the soul of America’ all the more poignant:

If only all refugees were treated the way White refugees are treated:

Fascinating conversation that covers the span and significance of our energy options for the future:

Albert Camus was not all despair. Relieved to discover his turn-around at the end of his life:

March 17, 2022

In the flurry of experts rushing to be the smartest kid in the class with the most clicks, I saw that they actually didn’t disagree as much as they say they did about how much blame to place on “The West” for the Ukraine crisis. In fact, they seemed unanimous on Putin’s measure and then politely bickered about the weight of their favorite facts on “the West”.  While some were more educational than others, I wasn’t expecting to hear something as mindblowing as Timothy Snyder, interviewed by Ezra Klein, on the “politics of inevitability” that has blinded us:

“Because Americans fetishize the use of force, they often treat war as the only true way to ‘do something.’ Everything else doesn’t count.” The people and institutions that brought you past failed U.S. military interventions are not the ideal guides to Ukraine now, writes Anand Giridharadas:

If you don’t know how American ethanol subsidies subsidize Putin, you should read this, but I would just add that if you don’t know what your country subsidizes, you should check before arguing about anything–ever–about economics (you might be surprised by what you find):

I repeat that Ukraine is hardly the worst humanitarian crisis in the world:

Do you know what is the difference between a refugee and a migrant? I didn’t. (Becasue there isn’t any!)

The media bias in the coverage of the Ukraine crisis is so alarming that even CNN felt compelled to point it out:

Speaking of the Media, if you are just as soured as I am at the binges, bias and clickbait as I am, you can just do like me and pour yourself something special to help the poison go down, but even better would be to understand whatever happened to your local media (if you are old enough to remember it) and just how dangerous it is to live in a world without local media:

March 10, 2022

I was robbed, once, with a large steak knife held to my chest while my arms were immobilized behind my back. Reacting the way anyone does here in what I call the Edge of the World—the places that are the result of brutal story of Colonization where people routinely lose their lives for much less than a mobile phone and the few bucks in their pocket—I remained serene when they shouted, “You lose!”. Calmy affirming “I lost”, I didn’t move a muscle of resistance and let them take what they wanted, because it is the only way to save one’s life in a place where there is no Super Man, Spider Man, or Wonder Woman to save you and bring the Bad Guys to justice. What is more: the very last thing I wanted was the police to appear on the scene—for reasons that are very difficult to explain to people who come from the binary Center of the World, where things are simply Right or Wrong, and there are only Good Guys and Bad Guys, and where the Map is simply the Map. 

It should be so simple.

Unfortunately, there are places in this world where the map is not really the map. There are all these invisible lines that must be respected, because when crossing into invisible territories you run the risk of relinquishing your goods in order to save something much more valuable—even more valuable than justice.

Thankfully I remained intact when I crossed a line, only a scratch from the chain pulled from my neck and also one in my mind, a scar that resurfaced when I saw Ukraine held at gunpoint by a thug, who very clearly stated that if he wasn’t handed the guarantee that NATO would not be allowed in “his territory”, he’d pull the trigger.

I’d like to say that it was to my amazement that the West’s reaction to the hostage situation was to let the thug go ahead and pull the trigger. But of course we’ve seen both the vanity of the US when insisting on their unipolar world, where they still think they make the rules while cynically pretending that they don’t negotiate with thugs, as well as their cowardice in coaxing others on the Edge to fight their proxy wars.

That is why it is obvious here on the Edge that nobody actually cares about Ukrainian lives, or NATO would have simply handed over the petty goods and dealt with the thug once the hostages were safe. Naturally, the thug could then pull the trigger anyway, but then the West would have the glory of a righteous war, the very best kind. But apparently there are much bigger stakes at hand than the lives of Ukrainians. I can only speculate that the stakes are in favor of West’s defense and oil oligarchs who are now due for record profits, without considering that the big winner seems to be China. Although “follow the money” is always a fine starting point to investigate, I think there is something going on that is much more complex.

For however Putin’s actions might seem irrational, I find the US’s just as bizarre. I suspect that being out maneuvered in a game of chess and then Putin holding up mirror for the US to see itself— bejeweled with all its hypocrisy of solidarity, democracy and sovereignty while upholding Saudi Arabia to slaughter Yemenis or attacking Iraq on a lie—was scathingly insupportable, as Dr. Cornel West indicates in his interview for the New Yorker.

What is clear is that the Losers will always remain on the Edge, who will not have the money to pay for food and energy that will be blocked by the West’s embargo against Russia, some countries may even go hungry—but of course they are places of Black or Brown people, who nobody cares about anyway, as so vividly proven by the way the West mobilizes to welcome White refugees, while letting Dark people drown.

I think the West is placing a dangerous bet that an economic embargo will oust Putin. History has proven that such a measure often has the opposite effect of the one intended. Moreover, it is clear that Putin will pull the trigger and annihilate a multipolar world before he allows the unipolar to continue one more day.

I think the sooner the US ditches the superhero fairytales and realizes how, when and where it has also been the Joker and the Penguin, the safer the world would be. Asia, Africa and Latin America have a very different story of the Colonizers and together they represent the majority of humanity.  That is why I am finding all the End-of-History and Restart-of-History op-eds cloying, although I always appreciate the priceless reflection of Ezra Klein.

Here on the Edge, nothing has changed in history. It is the same ol´story of mugging, looting, pillaging and raping one’s way to power in a world with few angels. Gandhi would be one of them, and a much better example for Zelensky than Churchill.

Of course, that is all very easy for me to say, sitting comfortable on Edge of the World with a cocktail.

As true today as it was in 2015:

It is always better to lead by example:

February 24, 2022

If Russia must respect the rights of countries to choose their own path, I ask whether the same rule should apply to the United States. Of course my question is cynical, but it is also serious. The US has left a trail of destruction around the globe with “regime changes”, interventions, lucrative wars for fallacious reasons—the effects of which still reverberate as further political, economic, humanitarian and immigration crises today. That made it all the more excruciating to hear Biden say at his UN address last year, that, for the first time in twenty years, the US is not at war—as if the War on Drugs has neither the effects nor casualties of war; as if the War on Terror doesn’t include the US’s Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) for lethally botched ‘surgeries’ in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan until today; as if there is nothing bellicose in the United States supporting states like Saudi Arabia; as if Yemen isn’t the greatest human tragedy on the planet, one which may yet be surpassed by another calamity, the economic terrorism of the US when stealing half of the money of the Afghan people, after having withheld the rest, plunging a destroyed nation into starvation in the winter. 

As I watched Putin’s unprecedented address to his people, I thought about how wars are fought just as much on the battlefield as they are in history books. Putin spoke for an hour, apparently without reading, giving a class in Russian history, contextualizing his decisions, framing  a Russian perspective of how NATO has been expanded *despite* the collapse of the USSR. Its revisionism was as amazing as it was shocking, but I think the US and NATO should have taken it seriously. They didn’t, letting a hostage crisis spin completely out of control. It may indeed be that Putin is a madman who would have invaded anyway, but I agree with Friedman that “This is Putin’s War. But America and NATO are not innocent bystanders”.

What a tragedy today!

February 17, 2022

Yuval Noah Harari, you claim humanity’s greatest political achievement has been the decline of war, and now that achievement is in jeopardy in Ukraine. You seem to have forgotten the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. As always, your analysis is thoughtful, but I don’t think that a return to old-school border conflicts or not is a measure of the advancement of peace in the world. We don’t need border conflicts to sell more arms or to kill more than ever. Lobbies, cartels and militia of all sorts are doing a fine job in a globalized world. You should really spend some time down here in Latin America.  The conflict over Ukraine might be the most important issue for Europe; I am not convinced that it is for humanity. As we say here in Brazil, menos!

I’ll go pour myself something nice to say that I am once again disappointed with the geopolitical analysis of the Economist, but it is still a beloved magazine, as is the mind of Harari:

What is all the stink about if the US actually has no intention of rescuing Ukraine if push comes to shove? Eye-opening interview:

I’d say there was no point in withdrawing from Afghanistan without giving back their frozen assets so that their people won’t starve, but now I see the point: the US has stolen the money to give it to the victims of 9/11 and a few lawyers to make a lot—a lot—of money. This is yet another example in the long list of hypocrisy and immorality of the US. This could also go on Mr. Harari’s war calculations too.  Do you think Putin or Xi Jinping would do something so vile? I’ll just get me another vodka while you have a think….

Simplesmente não entendo por que o Brasil não parou, por que o povo não foi pra rua, por que o presidente não foi para Pernambuco imediatamente. Aquela notícia revoltante, inacreditável que virou normal, aceita, tudo bem…

“If everything you don’t like is fascism or socialism, if you think democracy is always getting your way, then you will think every democracy is a failure—or worse”. Sidesplitting and profound, a dictionary for all those who use the vocabulary of political science and think they know the terms:

February 10, 2022

Of course birds aren’t real!!! Anyone with a brain cell already knows that the government has exterminated swathes, replacing them with perfect replicas spying on our every move!! 


(Sheer brilliance!!😂😂😂👆)

I’ve had box seats to the unfolding of this investigation that has yet managed to surprise me with all its connections. This is amazing investigative journalsim of the who-what-where and why Amazionian wood might have been bought by you. It is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with this world, because I am most certain it involves other markets as well:

Em português:

February 3, 2022

At least 60 people in a refugee camp were killed today in the Ituri Province of Congo by militiamen on the same day that 25 people died after they were electrocuted when a high-voltage cable collapsed and fell at a market in the capital of Kinshasa. This is probably not a headline for you – especially on the same day that US is playing such dramatic war games in Iraq and with the situation with Ukraine—but it was the news today that completely arrested me. Why?

It is because of another headline that you probably missed this week: 24-year-old Moïse Kabagambe from the same province—a refugee who had arrived in Brazil at the age of 14 from Congo where much of his family had been killed—was savagely beaten to death at the beach stand where he worked on one of Rio de Janeiro’s most upscale waterfronts. He had been demanding back pay was probably when the altercation broke out that resulted in his murder, right there at the beach.

The journalism that immediately ensued inevitably leap-frogged to conclusions, because—let’s just say that for however shocking the incident was, in fact it wasn’t—which always makes for the most revolting of news stories. Everything about it was suspicious: apparently, a Barra da Tijuca beach kiosk owned by a policeman that hired an African refugee to work, and didn’t pay him? Racism, slavery, lynching, impunity, and the paramilitary cartel were just some of the smells of something very rotten in our little Denmark—none of which, lamentably, were surprising.

But upon hearing the news today about Congo, exactly the day after I was still digesting the death of Moïse, I was sent into a deep contemplation of the world, when considering the Congo is among the poorest countries of the world, from where there are almost 1m refugees in Africa, yet, shockingly, the country also receives refugees from neighboring countries in even more dire straits. Moïse had lost much family in the civil strife of Congo, managed to flee to Brazil with his mother, who so sadly told us yesterday that her family in Congo had been killed exactly the way her son had been murdered.

Meanwhile, the US still can’t seem to envisage an economic plan that doesn’t include war—for which it always has money even when it says that there is no money for the health, education and welfare of its people—insisting that the US must defend democracy, freedom, sovereignty, human rights, and friends (especially Saudi Arabia, that bastion of liberalism!) My favorite context:

“Something else is going on” with the global economy—and it is very sinister. This article from the Atlantic brings a unique vision to the inflation rattling the world, and it may even explain why the geopolitics of energy markets are at it again:

This is maddening! It is a microcosm of everything that is wrong in India today:

¡Al enterarme del número de periodistas asesinados em México… no lo puedo creer!

Morando no meio da Baia de Guanabara, reparo como é um tesouro! Como transformaria a cidade se a Baía fosse cuidada:

Naturally, I’ll just go ahead and believe a Wine Spectator article on a Chinese study that indicates that subjects who drank one to two glasses of red wine a day had a 10 to 17 percent lower risk of contracting COVID than non-drinkers, won’t you?

January 6, 2022

Jordan B. Petersen had to be the last person I thought the renowned physicist and intellectual Lawrence Krauss would interview for his Origins podcast. Therefore, I decided it was time to have an opinion about the guy that keeps appearing on my feeds for two reasons: (1) several friends have made him into a guru and keep posting him, and (2) my media newsfeeds wouldn’t stop lambasting him. That divergence naturally sparked my curiosity, and on a couple of occasions I clicked to see what was up. The famous psychologist posed some interesting questions with surprising answers. Nothing that was for me, but I could see how several friends might be enchanted. His books are also not for me, more for the fact that I read fiction than any judgment passed, but I did find his voice suspicious: I could hear this underlying anger, a breathy petulance, which I have often encountered in those with what I call a compulsive need to dissent. That voice grew even more when I saw a clip of an interview in which he was under fire, taken neither seriously nor respectfully in the way the media today feels obliged to condemn. I couldn’t blame him.

So I gave him a chance with someone I trust. The first part of the interview was revealing to hear about his origins and what had shaped him. He stuck to the realm of psychology and I picked up a few good kernels about family and power structures. The second part was a mess. It revealed a monkey-brain, jumping from branch to branch about diverse subjects (mythology, physics, psychology, history, literature), someone who was thinking and speaking rapidly at the same time—but with authority—often starting from his conclusions, which were ‘truth’, things that ‘had to be understood’, things that Lawrence naturally questioned and which Petersen avoided by answering questions with questions and changing the subject with analogies that weren’t analogies, expounding on everything and always having an answer. Lawrence is a brilliant mind but an unorganized interviewer who couldn’t conduct the dialogue while sincerely trying to understand what the hell Petersen was talking about, especially while debating the meaning of terms—especially words like ‘reality’, ‘values’ and ‘consciousness’.

My conclusion remains with my intuition: to the same degree a person might be intelligent, there is a propensity to being unwise. It’s the undisciplined mind that is so brilliant it that can’t see itself at work.  A mind that tolerates neither silence nor slowness. A noisy mind that demands the noise of other minds to affirm itself by dissenting. It may be that such people have an important role to play in making us question man and the universe—or in taking us on a journey to the East to shut up, sit on the floor, close our eyes and watch the mind work between reason and emotion and that which is independent of either.

It is often what you don’t say that matters: “Although a majority of liberals opposed censorship, their reluctance to criticize it openly might have led conservatives to think that most on the left favored it.”

The world must learn to live with COVID this year:

I think China already has. Undermining its own ideals of liberalism by not practicing what it preaches, the US is no longer a reference:

“The atheists are usually more human than those who claim to be Christians. Those who say ‘God above all’ are the same who put humans below everything,” said the priest fighting Bolsonaro by rolling up his sleeves and helping those in need:

Agreed. But at some point, the demand side is going to have to be seriously discussed. We want governments to do something. We want the enforcement of laws, but we want only the supply side curbed, not what we buy, what we want, what we demand, what we won’t give up. We want others to change. Those over there, across the ocean causing the problems—not us consumers:

Brace yourself to pay a lot more for many things:

A gramática universal da música atravessa tempo e culturas…. fascinante este estudo!

November 24, 2021

 I learned to walk the streets with a mask years before the pandemic. Spending some winters in Delhi, I’d chosen to face the worst of the city between November and January, because my love for the city is like that of Rio de Janeiro: they are more than just cities in this world; they are ways of life, a state of mind, a showcase of humanity that is indescribable. Unfortunately, that humanity comes, as all things, with disadvantages of equal measure. In Delhi, it means that the air pollution spikes to such insanely poisonous levels that a mask must be worn in the winter season. The mask should probably remain throughout the year, considering off-season pollution already significantly reduces the life expectancy of its more than 30m residents in the greater metropolitan area. Then there is the legendary Yamuna River, the great tributary of the Ganges, which has become a spongy chemical cesspool. In Rio de Janeiro, a city of frightening beauty—as well as its opposite—we subscribe to ever increasing levels of violence and neglect that are numbing. We just get used to it and keep going.

How we keep hitting a trap door when sinking to ever lower levels of the unbelievable is part of the fascinating irrationality of our species. That is why I was not surprised by the recent headlines about the lockdowns in Delhi due to the air pollution levels. They’ve had all year to prepare for it, to try to do something to mitigate the stubble burning, the coal firing, the industries, the cars, the waste management, but it is the same story every year: the national government points the finger at local government, which slams state governments, which lambasts industries. They put on the same show every year, because it is cheaper, easier and more practical that actually taking actions to solve the problem(s). So in Delhi, residents put on a mask; those with more money stay home; those with even more install air filters in their homes; the wealthiest take a vacation to go somewhere else.  In Rio de Janeiro, we grow eyes on the back of heads; we take cabs for walkable distances; we pay outrageous prices to live in ‘better’ areas; we adhere to unconscious curfews and to parallel governments; and when something bad happens to us, it is our own fault for being stupid.

Such irrationality is why I expected no greatness from COP26. Fear of a vaccine is ripping nations apart while 10m people die every year of air pollution. Rich nations just want to kind-of-pay more to pollute, throwing money at a problem that cannot be solved with money. No one is really prepared to actually give anything up. We’ll all die while waiting to hit the rock bottom from which someone will get up and do something.

Why I don’t believe in COP26:

Security is the No.1 issue of any community. Without it, everything breaks down. Considering last year saw the highest spike in murder in the US since it has been recorded, what to do about violence is the question, and no has looked at it better than Patrick Sharkey. He presents the data on the false choices between urban violence or police violence, or defunding the police or putting more police. He has a real proposal:

As I have already mentioned here before, the violence in Latin America outperforms even many of the worst armed conflicts around the world, as per indicators such as homicide, rape, etc. But we’ve simply accepted the absence of state and the social dynamics of how youth without horizons get inducted into a life of crime:

They are missing the point: this isn’t about “gun culture”. When political leaders advocate for an industry, you need to follow the MONEY. The data is already in on guns and violence from many countries, just like it is with vaccines. I don’t believe this “culture” spiel. I believe leaders get remunerated for promoting guns, just as they might for promoting—or not promoting—one pharmaceutical therapy over another:

November 4, 2021

This is the most brilliant essay I’ve read on the issue of climate, remorselessly talking about the elephant in the room:

What can the history of a corrupt liberal government collapsing into radical conservative theocracy teach us about the future of a divided US? This frank conservation from this Republican pundit, who happens to be from Iran, is fascinating:

Do you think the US is less corrupt than China? You might be surprised by what this scholar concludes, especially when saying that the rivalry between the two giants is not a “clash of civilizations, but a clash of gilded ages”. Don’t miss this analysis on the US’s “legal corruption”:

Speaking of corruption, guess why so many Iraqis didn’t vote in their recent elections– despite the long, expensive and bloody investment in democracy?

Physical, manual labor teaches how to prioritize, how to optimize. It is the deployment of knowledge and decision-making on the fly:

October 28, 2021

“Chicago Police is hereby FORBIDDEN from taking the covid vaccine”—that is what Mayor Lori Lightfoot should have ordered if she wanted the police to vaccinate, because, as the journalist clearly indicated, the controversy is not actually about vaccines:

COP começa a semana que vem e o governo brasileiro montou um programa de economia verde [para inglês ver]. Acha que vai enganar alguém?

Desgraciadamente, veo la situación de narcotráfico en México como el futuro de Brasil—si ya no lo es:

Mexico sues US gunmakers over the unending violence. It is a start…

“México espera una disculpa de España. Eso generaría sosiego” dijo Clyo Mendoza. Si yo fuera el periodista, le preguntaría a la escritora, en seguida: “¿…Espera una disculpa para hacer qué exactamente?”

Sikhs have my undying admiration. While many religions of this world—including mine—preach and pose and do nothing, I’ve seen Sikhs roll up their sleeves and get to work. I’m curious to see this history. I can’t wait to see this series! Jai Guru Nanak!

October 21, 2021

Of course I agree with him. His views on our division, nation, vaccination and democracy reflect mine. So I might pass the click candy with a “like” and forward it, but upon a more objective analysis, looking at it with a little more distance, I ask the most important question to posit when weighing the words of others: what does he want?  I see he crafted his arguments carefully in order to convince others, but I also see he made a strategic decision to argue together with his emotions. I’d call the methodology ‘frankness’ – a kind of transparency when words are not disconnected from one’s person – and while it might be savory and delicious for me, I can see it will be bitter for others. So will it be successful? I do not think it so, unfortunately, because I’ve never seen anyone educated by insult. Thus, it made me reflect on the some of the most recent podcasts from Freakonomics, asking conservatives/libertarians about our nation’s addiction to ‘contempt’ and also analyzing the negativity bias of American media. Well worth the time:

I’d never heard of Madisonian epistemology, but it is as old as the US and just as wonderful a solution for division—and derision—as ever:

Ezra Klein on “unpopularism”:

October 14, 2021

I find a curious parallel between the recent kerfuffle surrounding Facebook and the Pandora Papers. In both cases, it seems the press and public were ‘shocked—SHOCKED— to find there is gambling going on in here!’ As if no one imagined that Facebook had known they were bad for your teen-age daughters’ mental health, and that the rich and powerful around the world have offshore accounts and pay no taxes. Imagine that!

Since technology always evolves faster than regulation, I get that there are specific issues about data protection and speech that need to be addressed, although I don’t have an opinion of how exactly to do so. Regardless, I cannot see why social media industry should protect your teenage daughters’ mental health without giving the food and fashion industries a good seeing-to for their various public health consequences.

Interestingly, both the social media and banking industries have a similar problem: anonymity. Whereas the former has arguments for and against anonymity, the latter is clearly plagued, and abolishing fiscal paradises and anonymous accounts would be one of the swiftest ways to justice in this world, since they finance all sorts of illicit activities, social division, violence, wars, environmental destruction, etc.

Nothing is stopping regulators and legislators from doing so. They grandstand. They call, together with the public, to do something. But when the bill arrives at the table, they always seem to get up and go to the bathroom– either because they have vested interests or they are overwhelmed by where to begin.

It is ridiculous to expect these industries to be “better” and police themselves. Governments are going to have to come together to regulate. I believe Yuval Harari said that global problems require global solutions. While international agreement is looking as far-fetched as ever, the recent investigative reporting has been brilliant; we have never had such a clear picture of the problems, so it seems it is now or never.

Yet another declaration of rights in this world is exactly the kind of thing that drives me to drink on Thursday nights. Rights are easy: they can be declared; they can be taken away; they can be unfunded; they can be unenforced; they can be ignored. More importantly, they can trick people into thinking that something is actually getting done, so you can have another nightcap and then sleep tight because all is well: you have rights!  For all my disagreement with the Trump administration, I confess I chuckled when he insulted and threatened the UN. It may be that my qualms about the organization don’t fall far from his.

That said, in the words of Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 21 is “all we got”. It is our last chance, so all hands on deck next month, because the world cannot only declare something really big, it will have to do something really big for the planet:

Como si las escenas de las crisis migratorias a Europa y Estados Unidos no fueran lo suficientemente deplorables, ver esto en Sudamérica es impactante. Esa pelea eterna– lucrativa– entre derecho e izquierda siempre termina con el pueblo que paga el pato. Latinoamérica no necesitaba repercutir las estupideces ajenas. ¡Nadie en el mundo es ilegal!

De um modo geral, nas tradições orientais, a religião e a ciência são compatíveis. Não há essa polarização toda que tem na tradição ocidental, na qual há uma necessidade de uma negar a outra. Por isso achei muito interessante ver essa briga entre a busca de Deus e a busca de ciência se amenizar nesta entrevista com o astrofísico Eduardo Battaner, sobre seu livro “Los físicos y Dios”:

September 23, 2021

Só tenho dois cenários no meu imaginário: impeachment ou golpe. Não vejo Bolsonaro chegando à eleição. Primeiro porque já deixou claro que não lhe interessa a democracia, muito menos quando há fortes indícios de que ele não ganha uma eleição. Segundo porque ele insiste que as grandes crises do país – o imbróglio econômico que engloba saúde pública, energia, inflação, desemprego, desinvestimento e o meio-ambiente – não são crises: o que importa é acabar com o voto eletrônico (com o qual ganhou as eleições), a liberdade absoluta (até para disseminar mentiras) e o armamento do povo. Conforme prometido e com o orgulho da própria ignorância, navegar mesmo o mar dos problemas do Brasil foi terceirizado para o seu “fiador”, o Paulo Guedes, que se provou inútil diante do quadro crítico. Ambos se recusam a assumir qualquer responsabilidade para enfrentar os desafios. O plano é não ter plano. Mais fácil é dar ataques, culpar os outros e cultuar inverdades e inimizade. Diante os problemas agudos, não vejo como o país (ou ele) pode esperar mais um ano até a eleição. 

Bem que já falei isso, né? Os íntimos sabem dos meus erros de cálculos, folclóricos, mas muitos me ligaram no dia 6 de janeiro, quando o Capitólio americano foi atacado. Alguns amigos ficaram impressionados que eu tivesse previsto que o fim do Trump acabaria em violência; acharam que tinha sido mais uma das minhas previsões exageradas. Para mim, aquela aposta foi fácil: é que não se pode ser revolucionário e governo ao mesmo tempo. Uma hora ou outra, vai ter que deixar de bancar o impedido e responder pelas próprias palavras, cruzadas, de prometer nunca ser do governo, mas ameaçar governar de verdade. Covarde, Trump tinha jogado um verde para ver se colhia uma revolução em 6 de janeiro—coisa que Bolsonaro ensaiou a semana passada. Então, prevejo que ele tentará futuramente, se não foi retirado do campo antes, tal vez pela mesma equipe ao redor da mesa no jantar do Temer—quando lhes convém.

Mas acho que um golpe de estado será mais uma barrigada, até porque, como Trump, ele nem precisa do sucesso de se tornar ditador, apenas tentar é suficiente para continuar como “o mito” e manter a narrativa – a mesma ficção desta semana, na qual alegou na frente da ONU que a corrupção acabou no Brasil; que é cloroquina sim; que a Amazônia nunca foi tão protegida; e que a economia brasileira agora está pronta para decolar. (!) Contudo, às vezes colhem-se maduros ao jogar verdes. Posso estar errado para variar. O tempo dirá. Pronto, falei.

If any justice is to come out of the end of the US occupation in Afghanistan, these questions regarding accountability for the “War on Terror” have to be addressed:

On the intricate geopolitical chessboard of Asia, I think of Pakistan as the queen, the dangerous piece taken for granted until it suddenly flies across the board:

Ezra Klein’s weekly podcast has become my favorite. I wouldn’t have thought that his discussion with a conservative libertarian, even as thoughtful and sincere as Professor Tyler Cowen, would be so productive:

I’m glad the Washington Consensus is dead and proven as fallacious as I always thought it was. Moreover, it appears that Keynes was right: we really can afford anything that we can actually do. That doesn’t mean economics as we had known it is dead quite yet:

…Which is why we need to return to “industrial policy”:

This is a horror story, and the reason why politics in Brazil affects you:

Do you think you are entitled to more than your share of the world’s resources?

The Independent published a subsequent, copy-cat article, highlighting that she became famous for eating larvae on Tik-Tok. I found that rude. She is often one of my more insightful and pleasant moments on something as unproductive as Instagram. Follow her:

September 2, 2021

Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has largely been a success. You’re welcome to prove the contrary, but of course that means you’ll actually have to read beyond the headline:

But if that’s true, why all the media lambasting?

Still dwelling on the moral dilemma that the US has in this tragedy: not only the constant military interventions but also the evil behind economic interventions has to be assessed:

The long-look at the US reign of terror:

August 19, 2021

Recognizing the moral dilemma, the Sophie’s Choice in withdrawing from Afghanistan, I thought that his great mind would adamantly concur with what I see as the lesser of two evils: ending a war of 20 years, 2 trillion dollars and +125,000 mounting casualties, but more importantly, aiming for justice and peace in the world, despite its tragic and humiliating cost. Yet, after weighing heavily the gruesome consequences, Noam Chomsky surprised once again when responding “We should ask the Afghani people”. I halted my tea (ok, it might have been wine) in midair as the famous scholar quickly admitted that there was no plausible way of conducting such a poll.

For me, however, the poll seemed to be answered just a few days ago when the Taliban simply walked right into Kandahar and Kabul without any friction—apparently even the Taliban were surprised. It was intriguing: In my storytelling head, something was amiss; what was unfolding was another story, one I wasn’t aware of. I think I found it; but first, as far as the stories had gone until then, I decided to go snooping because I was never much convinced by the Hollywoodian fetish with the Taliban, ‘the Greatest Evil on Earth’, despite all the unspeakable atrocities I know they have committed—not the least of which was exacted against Malala Yousafzai. The world would be a very easy and “American” place to live in if every story was one of the good cop v. the bad cop. Unfortunately, the human dilemma is choosing between two wrongs or two rights. I always wary of that story of good v. evil for three reasons: (1) For as much as the US poses as the bastion of freedom and democracy in world, the facts show otherwise, and it has been losing wars – professionally – and bumbling since 1945; the nation has always maintained enemies as part of a murderous economic model that kills both Americans and people around the globe, both directly and indirectly; (2) The ideal and real US are divided by this fundamental hypocrisy, whereby democracy is but a half-value, and who has but a half-value doesn’t actually have one: democracy for some but not others—whether in domestic voter suppression or in its promiscuous relationship with Saudi Arabia—will always be the nation’s moral Achilles heel; (3) If numbers are in fact a measure of violence of all sorts (homicide, genocide, feminicide, rape, religious intolerance, racism, etc.), Latin America is plagued by much, much more professional terrorists than the Taliban. We have to deal with them every day, in many ways we no longer notice—like frogs in the pot slowly brought to a boil – just as long as we have enough money to exempt ourselves from the violence and suffering around us. Then, expand the ‘whataboutism’ to Africa and South Asia and the priorities start to get really diluted before you even remember to go back to Haiti.

So I started with the usual suspects: the Washington Post, the Economist, the New York Times, the Guardian—all of whom seem unanimously in favor of withdrawal, but railing against Biden for a botched and negligent exit. I found much of the criticism cloying:  Why would anyone expect more than a disgraceful exit from the gut-wrenching Sophie’s choice of abandoning those whose only hope was the US? However, could there really have been a better exit? As anyone who like literature or football knows, the unexpected does happen, even to the greatest of powers. So I am still giving Biden the benefit of the doubt, but after the Chris Hayes podcast this week interviewing with Sarah Chayes, I’ve been sent reeling. What the reporter and scholar who had spent more than a decade in Afghanistan before working with the Pentagon explains, not only about Afghanistan but about the world, is what CORRUPTION is, how it works, what it does, how it is overcome—and how it is not—and more importantly what people are willing to do and to accept in order to get out of its system. It is the reason that failure was doomed in Afghanistan from its beginning. I cannot tell you how important it is to listen to this podcast. Even Ms. Chayes made a surprising reversal on her opinion of the exit. I thought I knew what ‘corruption’ meant and I didn’t. I listened twice and took notes, because it is simply a master class not only on what happened in Afghanistan, but what is happening in the country you are sitting in right now:

There is an article in my file for a long time that I couldn’t bring myself to read. I finally took a deep breath to learn about one-year-old Malian refugee who died of cardiac arrest after washing up in Spain. The article was timely: it is related to another article I still refuse to read—one about the charred animals in one of the many raging forest fires around the world.  You might think there is not a connection, but there is. I realized this last month on the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee convention. Needless to say, there is a lot of criticism of the Convention because it is simply not working anymore. It had envisioned ‘political refugees’, not ‘economic refugees’—as if there were a difference. And I criticize the criticism because it didn’t include ‘climate refugees’, which is also inseparable from the aforementioned. People on the planet are on the move, and I would further say they are on the move from CORRUPTION, which always affects the environment. Corruption is killing the planet, its animals and people, sending them on walks across continents and to swim for their lives in order to survive:

Since this week was a doozy, I leave you with classic cocktail from Chicago. One of my hometown’s finest commercials:

July 15, 2021

This past week, a friend and fellow yogini said ‘It doesn’t matter what you put in you mouth; what matters is what comes out’. I burst out laughing for her ingenuity when assessing the hypocrisy of many sanctimonious, vegetarian, purist, “traditional” religionaires when discriminating against others. ‘Divide and conquer’ is nothing new to India, which makes the current trend all the more disappointing, especially when the architect of the Constitution, B. R. Ambedkar, knew all too well that political democracy was meaningless without social democracy:

The Amazon rainforest ‘will collapse if Bolsonaro remains President’ might seem like hyperbole. It’s not. There are many reasons why:

Hats off to the Macron Commission, the international panel of economists who came up with policy proposals that could make the world a fairer place:

I’m going to have a fit if I see another ferris wheel project in this world! They are monuments to everything that is wrong:

No podía dejar de ver las “bardas sonideras” de México:

July 8, 2021

Rather than desegregate a huge infrastructure program built with public money, communities all over the US decided to drain their public pools rather than share them with the undesired. It was shooting oneself in the foot. I found that image of the drained pool powerful, a compelling explanation as to how that same attitude was a detriment to all Americans when extended to health care, welfare, and education, derailing the US. I can’t recommend enough listening to Ezra Klein’s interview with Heather McGhee on just how much racism has cost you:

In the age of wokeism, I am paying much more attention to words than I ever have. I have my own definitions of “racism” and “genocide”. Some might not agree with them for similar reasons that I do not agree with the way many people use them. And yes, as The Economist points out, I find a lot of the catchphrases today curious when not grating:

I am awaiting the imminent lack of water in my world. Taking the elements for granted is highly dangerous. Things are about to get really uglly:

Se este manchete te surpreende, recomendo muito a leitura, uma tabela didática — até o momento — do que está em jogo:

Lo siento, Richard Watson:

May 27, 2021

For a couple of personal reasons, I’ve been contemplating Death more than usual recently. That is not such a bad thing, for Death is the greatest of teachers: It transforms the way you use your resources of words, actions, time, and money when there is not much time left, stripping away your pettiness in preparation for a good-bye. The way you speak to others changes; the way you speak to yourself changes as you are forced to extract a meaning from your life. That is something very hard to do in our modern, capitalist society in which the pursuit of wisdom has no material value, especially in cultures when it is so uncomfortable to speak of Death. And that is why I am very proud of this project of young Americans talking to their eldest. Stop everything to hear their podcast:

Podcast: “The Gift of Getting Old”

A chacina da Jacarezinho é inaceitável. Um governo de milicianos é inaceitável. Que situação desesperadora!

Beautifully written essay on where we are  right now when looking at our recent past — especially if you are a Chicagoan 😉

Descobrimos na pandemia que temos apenas 5 amigos:

Sebastião Salgado strikes again!

México strikes again! 😉

April 29, 2021

Once the dust settled enough to see what the hell was going on, I was happy that football fans revolted against an oligopoly trying to steal their game. But it leaves a very interesting question, asked by Yanis Varoufakis, as to why we tolerate so many other demons of capitalism, say, slave labor, wars, the trashing of health, education and social support mechanisms, corporate tax evasion — yet football? Don’t even think about it!


And, yes, the US helped ruin football:

Increíble y asustador el reportaje (con audio) de la mafia del aguacate en Michoacán! Es un mero microcosmo de todo lo que está mal en el mundo: una historia de campesinos, de ganancia, del desarrollo descontrolado,  de la mudanza climática, de la ciencia, y los rumos de democracia. Uau!

I also don’t agree with the way people use terms like “racism” and “genocide”. I keep my definitions kind of secret. Here is why:

Do not miss Ezra Klein’s podcast interview of Chomsky. He asks one of the greatest minds of our times about: 

  • Why Chomsky is an anarchist, and how he defines anarchism
  • How his work on language informs his idea of what human beings want
  • The role of advertising in capitalism
  • Whether we should understand job contracts as the free market at work or a form of constant coercion
  • How Chomsky’s ideal vision of society differs from Nordic social democracy
  • How Chomsky’s class-based theory of politics holds up in an era where college-educated suburbanites are moving left on economics
  • Chomsky’s view of the climate crisis and why he thinks the “degrowth” movement is misguided
  • Whether job automation could actually be a good thing for human flourishing
  • Chomsky’s views on US-China policy, and why he doesn’t think China is a major geopolitical threat
  • The likelihood of nuclear war in the next decade

A new species of coffee discovered, just in the nick of time to save my chemical dependency:

March 25, 2021

Tem que QUERER socorrer o povo do vírus. Tem que QUERER frear o desmatamento da Amazônia. Pode fingir muita coisa nessa vida, mas o desejo não. O mentiroso se delata não pelas palavras, mas pelas ações – ou a falta delas!

Para o preguiçoso que não quer entender nada, era só não mexer e apoiar aquilo que sempre dava certo. Era só copiar o exemplo. Não! O caminho mais curto é pela vaidade e preconceito, aquilo que nem sei se tem fundamento ou não, nem quero saber! Tá…..

Preparándome para vivir la crisis perpetua:

Wow! This girl has talent:

March 18, 2021

Is China a “threat”? What does threat mean? A threat to whom? A scholar reframes China v. USA in a surprising slap. It was an eye-opening explanation I think everyone should watch, because it splashes far beyond the Pacific divide. It involves Latin America, the Middle East, coronavirus, economic development, and the integrity of any country that looks after its interests. Amazing!

Chomsky siendo Chomsky para explicar el estado del mundo:

You thought you were free and had so many rights as an American? Think again:

I can never express enough how important it is to listen to her and to aspire to something greater than we have now:

Bolsonaro is a threat to the world for much more than coronavirus! His denialism extends in many directions, not the least of which is in the Amazon, but he is doing a fine job of destruction in all arenas:

Call Mitch McConnell’s bluff and leave him sucking his thumb:

March 4, 2021

Let me get this straight: the king of Saudi Arabia is responsible for slaughtering an American journalist (among many other crimes), yet it is Putin who gets a slap on the wrist for poisoning a dissident, and Iran that gets bombed in Iraq? Yet everyone is ruffled about the Dr. Suess and Governor Cuomo?

Did I miss something?

I looked for answers to the disappointments from the new administration, but I couldn’t find much buried under all the latest cancel culture urgencies. If anyone has a take to get me around the new foreign policy chessboard, it will be greatly appreciated.

That said, I did read other things this week…

The lucidity of Yuval Noah Harari is always a pleasure, especially when it brings surprising optimism when assessing humanity after one year of the pandemic:

Uma opinião que nem Bolsominion nem petista vai gostar:

“But many Brazilians have little faith in a government led by a president who has sabotaged lockdowns, repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus and promoted untested remedies long after scientists said they clearly did not work.”

A população brasileira se tornou —e grande parte se submeteu— a ser cobaia de um experimento de perversão inédito na história:

Of course, this news isn’t really news and it shouldn’t hurt a bit if one actually values the truth:

“Be it Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Muslims, Dalits and other minorities in India… Palestinians, Rohingya refugees. It is not religion, it is the exploitation of power, it is just elites vs the poor and minorities.”

I can’t believe how close yet so far México:

Conclusiones nada sorprendentes pero interesantes:

It is hard with pigeons, but I certainly agree about birds. Beautiful interview!

February 25, 2021

I think I would do anything to get out of a republic and into a democracy! Anything! It would require radical thinking and Hélène Landemore has got this:

No meu mundinho maluco, vejo uma ligação direta entre os fiascos do Texas e da Petrobras na semana passada. A raiz está em uma guerra entre visões partidárias sobre se deveria haver mais ou menos estado nas vidas dos cidadãos — sem uma discussão honesta sobre o valor do investimento do estado na economia e nas vidas dos cidadãos. Dito isso, tirar o financiamento público da BBC seria um crime. Por mais difícil que seja calcular o valor público de tal investimento estatal, não pode haver dúvida de que ele move a economia, da mesma forma que o investimento estatal na criação, digamos, do GPS ou da internet promoveu a tecnologia que revolucionou a economia. Mais uma vez conosco para explicar, Mariana Mazzucato:

In my little crazy world, I see a direct link between the fiascos of Texas and Petrobras this past week. The root lies in a war between partisan visions of whether there should be more or less state in the lives of citizens — without an honest discussion about the value of state investment in the economy and the lives of citizens. That said, defunding the BBC would be criminal. For however difficult it is to calculate the public value of such state investment, there can be no question that it moves the economy, in much the same way that state’s investment in creating, say, the GPS or the internet have promoted the kind of technology that revolutionizes the economy. Once again with us to explain, Mariana Mazzucato:

Considering the Great Midwestern topsoil is waving good-bye, I am so glad that Mexico has had the good sense to protect its native species in its native soil:

I find the Texas energy fiasco fascinating. “It is not just our energy infrastructure that is unprepared for climate change. It is our political infrastructure. It is our social infrastructure. It is our psyches”, write Ezra Klein:

Now that was S-E-N-S-A-C-I-O-N-A-L!

February 18, 2021

O que mais me revolta é que a lista inclui muitos proponentes do “estado mínimo”, aqueles que muito apoiam o corte de “privilégios” de funcionários públicos e do povo, mas não os “privilégios” que lhes permitiram acumular tais fortunas:

Não importa o quanto busquemos justiça, acho que o melhor que fazemos como humanos é nos vingar. Como simples mortal, confesso que fiquei alegre com a prisão de Daniel Silveira por motivos óbvios; no entanto, isso não quer dizer que eu não veja como a Suprema Corte pode ser tão mortal quanto eu:

Eu apenas deixaria claro que as armas e o desmatamento não são apenas fetiches do Bolsonaro, tenho certeza que lobbies, até estrangeiros, pagam bem por sessão de sadomasoquismo:

Sempre disse que a melhor forma de combater o tal de fake news é lendo ficção – “ficção de verdade” – porque só a arte conduz à autorreflexão que é a maturidade.

O livro dele deve ser muito bom, viu?

Does size matter when it comes to State? After 40 years of neoliberalism that has even deregulated democracy, globalized markets but not labor, and that failed the tests of natural/climate disasters and COVID, I can’t believe this is still a question. This eternal struggle between ‘big state v. small state’ was already a political imbroglio without those who do not understand the difference between government and state—throw in fake news from Fox on, say, the power outage in Texas, and it is an issue that drives me to drink!

The big, fat lie of Fox:

Please hear Mariana out:

Progressives have to put money where their mouth is:

The history of NYC’s Penn Station is Homeric tale that is a portrait of how Progressives often undermine themselves:

On the Endless Borders of the American Empire:

Speaking of borders:

February 4, 2021

Do you know what FASCISM means? I thought I did, but actually I didn’t. Now I do– after listening to this phenomenal interview that just opened my eyes about what Trumpism really means and how in fact it happened. I cannot recommend it enough:

The power of storytelling to clarify the gravity of the Capitol riot:

Her predictions are always right because she has a brilliant mind! This academic has incredible insight as to how a sociologist was able to see the pandemic evolving by the analysis of “systems”, which includes media:–yVYiIVBCag

Do you think money is just money? In other words, it doesn’t matter if it is made from capital or the value of your labour? If so, you had better think again. I think Branko Milanovich is one of the most brilliant minds in economics today:

Foram duas opiniões esta semana me lembraram como é importante prestar atenção não nas palavras daqueles de quem você espera uma atitude, mas em suas ações, como eles agem– ou não:

January 28, 2021

Sitting on the other side of the world or not, it might seem like a battle that is not related to you, but that’s very wrong. The deregulation of the Indian agricultural industry– one of the world’s largest and which represents the livelihoods of over half a billion people– will most certainly affect you, because it will affect the planet. Since we’ve already seen the mess that “Chicago-school”, free-market capitalism has done to the world by deregulating everything (including democracy itself!), concentrating money and power in the hands of a few and leaving everyone else to fend for themselves, I encourage you to understand why the great protest continues:

Watching that infamous group of white men ransacking the US Capitol seemed like the culmination of many things I am still processing, but it immediately remitted this brilliant essay on the psychological predicament of men:

¿Cómo hacen estos reporteros de Sinaloa para escribir sobre tráfico de drogas, señalar la corrupción de las autoridades y seguir sonriendo? (Uno de los mejores relatos que he leído! El arte de escribir, puro!):

January 21, 2021

For many of you, the nightmare of the last four years might have ended yesterday, but unfortunately it will (potentially) continue for me for another two. That is because two years after Trump’s election I witnessed the nightmare repeat itself here in Brazil with the election of the “Trump of the Tropics”, Jair Bolsonaro.  I say ‘potentially’ because Bolsonaro is doing a much better job of getting himself impeached than Trump; however, Brazilian institutions are much weaker than the American ones that seemed to have (barely) weathered all the bullying.

That said, the vision of Jeffrey Sachs on how important the fall of Trump is for the world is not to be underestimated, neither is his novel pinpointing of “ethnic chauvinism”:

Not just the Trump era, but all such regimes were always going to end in violence, which is why I humbly say I was hardly clairvoyant in predicting the Trump era would end with a violent clash. Historian Rick Perlstein explains much better than I ever could, putting into context how violent we have always been:

It has been said that it is this account of the Insurrection that will go down in history. It is truly an incredible piece of narration (audio available):

The story of how one man went from attending President Barack Obama’s inauguration to dying in the mob protesting Donald Trump’s election loss during the Capitol insurrection is a portrait of what happened to America:

This passage in history is hurting so much because we are aspiring to something much greater in embracing plurality, multiculturalism—everything that is difficult—which explains the ‘revolt against the future’, according to Anand Giridharadas:

In my estimation, Biden’s government has two years to deliver the love, or much worse than Trump can happen. It is a tall order and it requires a New Deal. Biden’s first one hundred days will be telling:

Lúcido foi o “Vacinação de compadrio: Imunização à brasileira será marcada pela desigualdade e pelos antigos vícios da nossa vida política” por Monica Baumgarten de Bolle:

December 31, 2020

The best podcast I listened to this year was actually from last, but Ezra Klein reposted his interview with Alison Gopnik, declaring it might be his own, all-time favorite, because it changed the way he thought about love. Why? It’s because the philosopher and child development specialist’s parable for how there are two kinds of parents trying to construct the future of their children— “carpenters” and “gardeners”— served in a much broader discussion on current economic, cultural, linguistic, interpersonal and political challenges, as well as an inquiry into our very existence. It is 90 minutes and I listened twice, taking notes, as if studying once again. Wow, what a woman! You won’t regret the time investment!

I get Glenn Greenwald’s contempt for the media and the Democratic Party, but I not only disagree with the famous journalist I admire, I see where this master of calling out hypocrisy fails to see his own bias. Let’s assume he’s right: the media colluded to elect Biden and stifle the investigation of Biden & Son: under the circumstances, wouldn’t you? I mean, why insist on holding Biden to a higher bar of ethics than Trump right before the election? Does he really think there is more indications of corruption from Biden than from Trump? Really? Forget the so-called “Russiagate”, even without it there is a plethora Trump has to answer for. I read Greenwald’s “censored” story: I found it a poorly written ramble about himself. I thought at the end he would at least reveal the facts about the Biden investigation—the least I would expect from the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. There were none. There was just a list of (legitimate) questions to be answered. I also didn’t see a story, and that is probably (one of) the reasons why the editor of the Intercept threw it out. Why NPR threw it out. Why everyone threw it out. And now an outlet of his choice for a TV interview—anchorpersons cooing and coddling him in agreement—calls NPR “disgusting”: Is that ethical media behavior? He has always said journalists should be adversarial. Is there more evidence of media collusion than evidence of Trump’s corruption, Glenn? Or does media simply rejecting you suffice for evidence? His hatred of Biden and the Democrats is palpable. After everything they did to Snowden and to perpetuate the Forever War, his perspective is comprehensible. I get it. I just wonder if he gets that for however important Snowden and US press independence might be, these times are so unbelievably trying that those priorities might not be mine or yours. Everyone has their “favorite fights”, which might require Sophie’s choices. He calls out ‘wokeism’ but can’t seem to see his own. Regardless, his wrap up of year’s media recklessness is important:

Has Modi and his government completely lost their minds? Rebuild the capital—the seat of government of India—why?? Is Delhi not polluted enough? Is it not chaotic enough? Who will get the contracts? And how? And why should the people of India pay for it? Is there an excess of money, of resources? Is there not any priority more important? Everything is ok: people have health, education, security? Do Indians have clean water and sanitation? Weren’t toilets for everyone promised? Has the holy Gangā been cleaned, its water pure once again? Does everyone have access to electricity? Rebuild the capital? Really??? How is the air quality in Delhi these days?

Do you know anything about Sudan? South Sudan? Neither did I. And that is why I always take the time to read stories from the places I know nothing about. It never ceases to amaze me how much you learn about your own world when exploring others. Please take this trip to discover: “If the development strategy for South Sudan read something like a fading mission statement found in an abandoned space colony, whose occupants had all been killed in an alien attack, this was partly a reflection of how little we knew.”

I’m at a lack of words at the end of the year to describe how brilliant is this eye-opening essay from one of America’s finest, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. It is a state-of-the-union address from the incomparable eye of literature when answering the question about what writers will do in the post-Trump future.

O caso de Belo Monte é (e será ainda estudado como) um dos maiores crimes na história do Brasil. Se você não sabe porquê, nem mesmo como aquilo te afeta e se conecta ao TUDO—com suas muitas consequências ainda por vir—por favor leia uma das melhores jornalistas do planeta!

December 17, 2020

The title arrested me as I scrolled: “Afghanistan needs truth before it can have reconciliation”. I found it arresting because it applies to much more than just one broken world. It applies to worlds much closer to me, ones that are also torn, dilacerated, divided. It resonated because it is something I have been thinking about for some time: nothing can be fixed without a value for the truth. We’ve become a world where winning is more important than the truth, where being right is more important than the truth. Before the US can heal, before the world can heal, we’re going to have to go back and take a look at the ugly things that happened, the things we refuse to admit. Take a few moments to travel to another world to get on the outside in order to look in through the window:

Bolsonaro saiu do armário? Como assim? Em algum momento ele estava? Para mim, ele sempre foi uma das personagens mais sinceras. Até Trump tem esperteza suficiente para mentir, mas Bolsonaro? Não. Ele não te responde e te xinga, mas mentir, não. Nada dele me surpreende porque ele sempre foi autentico. Eu sempre acreditei nas palavras todas dele, desde antes da sua eleição. Quando falou que não entendia nada de economia, eu o acreditei. Quando falou que preferia o filho morto do que gay, eu o acreditei. Quando xingou a jovem repórter que apurou o duvidoso patrimônio dele antes da eleição, eu também o acreditei, e desde então, ele continua xingando e não respondendo nenhuma investigação. Nunca entendi como uma pessoa ‘anticorrupção’ podia acreditar nele, do mesmo jeito que não compreendia como economistas neoliberais podiam achar que Paulo Guedes ia conseguir “vender tudo” (como se fosse a única cura para o país!) A corrupção dele, a inépcia, a ignorância, tudo foi anunciado! Agora esta matéria mixuruca, insinuar a falsidade dele como ‘estatista no armário’? É demais! Estatista, neste momento, seria bom. Ele nunca tinha um plano para Brasil.  Nunca pretendia governar para todos os brasileiros. Ele mandou tudo avisado. No meu ver, não é para ninguém ficar decepcionado com ele.

¿Por qué los pueblos indígenas siempre están en el mero camino del “desarrollo”? Se puede encontrar la misma historia y polémica en los EEUU, Brasil, India, por todas partes. Que coincidencia, ¿no? ¿Crees tú en la coincidencia? Mejor pregunto si crees en el “desarrollo”, uno que nomás sucede con contractos millonarios en tierras de pueblos sin voz, sin poder:

December 10, 2020

At first, I agreed with Obama. He was talking strictly about language and not policy. When you use catch phrases like “defund the police”—or even “Black lives matter”— you lose people. He’s not wrong. But then there was the swift response from Progressives that is no less wrong: there is no difference between language and policy—using nice, soft, insipid language on the fallacious pretext that it’ll bring people to the Center (that doesn’t exist) will only help them to ignore you the way they always have. If life were just a choice between right and wrong, it would be easy. Choosing between two rights or two wrongs is prickly:

Another thing I still can’t get my head around is the all the vicious infighting among Progressives on another use of language: hyberole. Is it correct to say, is it strategic to say, is it unethical to say, Trump opened “concentration camps” and is attempting a “coup”? All of that is beside the point in this brilliant essay:

The nonagenarian lucidity of Chomsky: “Trump might set up what he claims is an authentic government in Mar-a-Lago, with Mitch McConnell’s Senate in his pocket and a furious popular base. The next step would be to make the country ungovernable, a specialty that McConnell has been perfecting for a decade and that an accomplished demagogue like Trump can manage reflexively. Everything that goes wrong can be blamed on the treacherous “elites”:

Eye-opening interview into the world of journalism from the award-wining British journalist who always turned in the opposite direction of power to get the story:

Meritocracy is a fallacy and it entrenches inequality, investigates the brilliant Anand Giridharadas when interviewing one of the greatest political philosophers of our time, Michael Sandel.  Don’t miss this interview!

Hasta los físicos y filósofos más adeptos, por favor, ponte un trago antes de leer este ensayo sobre la sincronicidad. Heavy! Prepárense para contemplar por que ‘nada es por acaso’.

I remember the Lake. So sad to hear how it is being transformed:

November 19, 2020

Do you know the story of the Frog and the Scorpion? It follows that a scorpion cannot swim and asks a frog to carry it on its back across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog sees the point and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.” That is why it is so important to hold the outgoing administration accountable for its misconduct, in order not to raise any more scorpions:

With the election safely won and the necessary gloating waning, it is time for some surgical analysis, because the Right and the Left side of the Body Politic hadn’t actually so clear, and curiously, neither was the polarizing media that has been covering it. Now, both writers and readers seek more independent venues:

“Nunca desperdice uma boa crise”, escreve Mariana Mazzucato. Para mim, ela é a mais lúcida economista da sua geração:

If one country spends trillions on wars and another trillions on itself, who would you wager wins in the end?

November 12, 2020

Machiavelli was right: destroy your enemy; don’t wound them, or they will come back. That is why I say forget the post-election “unity” cliché. The American people aren’t coming together. By the time Obama realized this, his wounded enemies abounded, and it was too late. They regrouped under Trump…and here is where we are.

Annihilate the enemy by spending money on them, just like they have always spent countless cash on fighting all their imaginary enemies—both internal and external—for which, Lord knows, there has never been a lack of resources. The only shot at uniting the American people is by delivering the chance of equity through health, education, and jobs via a green infrastructure program. Four years is not a lot of time, but that is all there is, because Trump and/or Sons will be back shortly, meaner than ever, and no I will not be coerced into voting for an “experienced moderate” again because it is a “moral duty” or “the end of the world”. If the time will have been wasted practicing nothing more than being ‘nice’ while keeping the lucrative hypocrisy machine running, I’ll sit out the next election, thanks.  I mean it. I know: you don’t like “radicals”, but now it is your turn not to have a choice. You are warned:

That said, this is the path, laid out by one the world’s finest:

Quero que vocês saibam que os meus irmãos indianos me avisaram que o filho do presidente do Brasil é corrupto, tá? Só passando o recado, caso você o perdeu:

“No U.S. presidential election in living memory has been so closely watched in Brazil as this one. Through social media meltdowns and televised debates, countless Brazilians came away from the coverage bewildered … Brazilians were rapt by the electoral contest because its outcome is likely to have significant consequences for domestic politics in Latin America’s largest country”

The following article was published in Harper’s Magazine in 1964, but it has never been more poignant than it is today. It explains the history of the Radical Right, which I found surprisingly older and deeper than I had imagined:

Não li o livro, mas muitos já me disseram que nada publicado até agora dá uma visão igual de nítida daquilo que sempre foi tão opaca: Rio de Janeiro.

With this last journalist, there is a total of three that have been killed in the last two weeks, joining the dozens over the years, since the War on Drugs was declared in 2006, which has killed around 250,000 Mexicans. Stop and think about what that means, and then find the numbers from Iraq or Afghanistan: you will be floored, and wondering why Latin America is the last of US foreign policy concerns:

I confess that the Pandemic has not been that hard for me, but it has been difficult to see what is happening to friends and colleagues with small children. It is really not easy:

¡Que ganas de ver esta película!

October 29, 2020

As a pessimist prepared for everything, I won’t be shocked by an Election Night without a Concession Speech, but that won’t make the lack of one any less disturbing. So then what? This explanation was quite eye-opening, looking into a system that is even more arcane than I had ever imagined:

Yes, that’s true: Latin America is usually the least of US foreign policy concerns, yet ironically it is the one that most affects Americans. So a “reset” would be welcome, but I really do not want to see a return to the past along the lines of Obama/Biden. Besides, I cheer for a progressive movement in which the US would lead by example, purging its own “embezzlement, price-gouging and graft”, ending the inanity of the war on drugs, and pursuing the most equitable society possible at home.

“The abuses we’ve seen in US policing have deep, homegrown roots, but I am convinced that they are also partly a result of the militarization of law enforcement born of the Iraq War and America’s other overseas interventions” (This essay was astounding!)

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An incredible saga of a brave Iranian scientist who faced the very worst of America:

October 8, 2020

If nature is “free”, how to make a living tree more valuable than a dead one?

Sometimes, democracy must be defended in the streets. Are you ready?

Chomsky says it is not too late (yet):

Capitalism after the Pandemic requires a new social contract and “Collective Value Creation”, according to the brilliant Mariana Mazzucato:

Trees worth more dead than alive are the major reason why the Amazon is disappearing faster than ever, but there is another reason, and he has a name:

Whatever you do this week, don’t miss this one: “As actions common to all classes, eating, drinking, defecation, and fornication find their lowly record in graffiti-like form”

September 17, 2020

What happens if Trump loses but refuses to concede? The Financial Times studies the scenarios:

Do You Speak Fox? How Donald Trump’s favorite news source became a language:

Is America a myth?

El lítio em México: ¿qué futuro tiene en un país que apuesta tanto por el viejo petróleo?

Prefiero a mis pozoles vegetarianos, pero yo no juzgo a nadie:

September 3, 2020

“Fascism is cured by reading and racism is cured by travelling” — Unamuno

I’d say Unamuno got it the wrong way around: Fascism is cured by travelling and racism by reading. I think have to get around a bit to truly see how “the law is for you and not for me” in some places more than others, and how reading provokes the kind of inward look that locates the inevitable prejudices within every individual. That internal search doesn’t take intelligence; it takes wisdom. But I couldn’t agree with Unamuno more when saying that “above all things, intelligence is despised by fascists”, because it really does not take much to see the hypocrisy in clamoring for “law and order” while respecting nothing of the kind.

Take a moment for the Steve Inskeep’s short essay on how Trump cannot support the rule of law while ignoring it:

Você votou em Bolsonaro, mas nunca parou para entender a lista de laranjas, fantasmas e rachadinhas do clã? Tudo bem. Agência Publica compilou uma lista didática e completa:

Either way, I do not think the country will tolerate a President delivered by Supreme Court this time. I don’t want to even think about it:

Fascinating path of COVID research:

Ezra Klein with a very raw look as to why Trumps approval rates remain solid:

It is amazing how one single product can tell you so much about the world we live in:

August 20, 2020

This might have been the delightful hypocrisy of the week, if it weren’t for Bannon:

Bannon e Bolsonarismo 😉:

What if Trump won’t leave?

How COVID-19 signals the end of the American Era:

It is better to study a bit about anti-trust law before having an opinion about Big Tech:

Time is up for the planet that won’t wait for the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro:

I repeat: time is up for the planet and you are next…

No, many of us don’t like the term “Latinx”. For me, it is the cultural imposition of English on Spanish that is insupportable:

August 6, 2020

Você não gosta de ONGs por quê? Porque são de pessoas, assim, ‘diferentonas’, fazendo o bem só para causas, digamos, ‘especificas’? Bom, o meu problema com os ONGS é outro—até porque eu realmente acredito que é para julgar uma sociedade pela forma como trata os seus membros mais fracos. Minha dúvida é como apoiá-los. Tem que ser um ONG? Cadê o Estado? Por que o Estado falta tanto na saúde, educação e meio-ambiente do seu povo que precisa delegá-los a terceiros? E agora que não pode ser ONG, tem que ser igreja?  Por que o Estado precisa conceder contratos às igrejas, heim?

Pain is a sign that something is not aligned, we say in yoga, which is an analysis that reaches far beyond merely working through breath and body. When your thoughts, actions and words are not aligned it will cause a painful division in you, because nothing hurts more than our little hypocrisies, especially when treating others in ways we do not wish to be treated. And just like individuals, when nations don’t walk their talk, it causes an agonizing division in society like the one underway in the US. What’s the solution? Reconstruction! There are simply some times when we have to stop and try again, and again, until we get it right:

Chicago artist’s tackle of urban segregation is genius! (Miss you Chi-Town! 😉):

Os problemas da polícia dos EUA vai muito além das fronteiras:

I don’t not mean to tell you that I told you so, but actually I do—your hygiene theatrics are stagey and unconvincing:

He postado bastante sobre la economista Mariana Mazzucato y su visión de como aprovechar este momento para reconstruir el capitalismo…. que jamás iba a incluir un proyecto catastrófico como lo de Xochimilco ☹

Stop everything for the best dressed man in Africa:

July 23, 2020

Portland, Afghanistan and El Salvador have something very sinister in common. They are just some of the many stages where something called a ‘half-value’ is being played, whereby the US professes, for example, values for freedom, equality, self-determination and the pursuit of happiness—in theory—yet in practice they are values for some people, but not for others. The problem with a half-value is that it is worthless; it leaves you with no value whatsoever, because a value, in order to be a value, has to pass the test of reciprocity, which means, for example, if I do not want to be told lies, I cannot tell them. If I do not wish to suffer violence, I cannot inflict it. Otherwise, I’m left with a worthless half-value. And if I’m particularly stubborn, I’ll try to uphold it, forcing myself into heinous, disgraceful and dangerous gymnastics to disguise my hypocrisy by blaming, gaslighting and even eliminating others.  But, in the end, the truth is always revealed, as all history and all literature have only ever taught us.

That said, and since the US Congress is once again passing a YUGE increase of its military budget (whereas there is, apparently, a negotiable need for health, education and social services—in the middle of the pandemic!), please read “America’s Policing Problem doesn’t stop at the US Border” and “The American Police Should Know Where Rome Went Wrong”, because violence is not power—it is its opposite:

Eu te digo mais: o Brasil não só “precisa de um SUS no transporte público”, precisa urgentemente tutelar um certo ministro que os colegas dele, os Chicago Boys, já tinha compreendidos—bem antes da pandemia—que o venerado ‘mercado’ e o glorificado ‘setor privado’ deles não serve para resolver as questões mais importante para um povo: Saúde & Educação…. e Transporte. (Não esqueça que em Chicago nosso transporte é público-público e não público-JacoboBarata!)

If you have a value for free speech, know its limits:

If you haven’t seen AOC’s speech in response to the unapology after being called a “fucking bitch”, stop everything to witness the beauty of not being a victim and finding the opportunity to make your enemy better. It will be historic. It is amazing!

I still don’t like dhokla, but I’m always rethinking food for the future of the planet:

Sin pecado concebido:

July16, 2020

“Já estávamos de quarentena!” respondi ao amigo que me perguntou o que eu achava dessa pandemia toda. Foi o meu jeito cínico de falar o que o recolhimento me fez refletir: ficar em casa não é difícil para mim não, até porque eu já tinha deixado de fazer muito programa nesta cidade, ou por medo ou pelos preços, ou até pela preguiça de fazer aqueles cálculos todos de horário, transporte, etc., nesta cidade violenta. Chama-se DESIGUALDADE—maior praga que existe! Rio de Janeiro está entre as 10 mais desiguais do mundo:

The strategy is the same as Trump’s: you stop testing, the numbers disappear, and “POOF!” the problem magically disappears—except it doesn’t. So Bolsonaro’s government firing the scientist responsible for reporting that total Amazonian deforestation was up 25% on last year’s monstrous figures was hardly surprising:

If you have a strong opinion about the police, I will assume you already know the history of how the police were invented, where the idea came from:

Incredibly eloquent article on the blindness to India’s human tragedy in the middle of the pandemic:

Since farmers and animal rights activists are coming together to fight big factory farms, there is no better time for you to study about how this evil is connected to much more than animal cruelty. It is connected to human cruelty in many more ways than you can imagine:

Although it is impossible not to react to all the racism and ineptitude from such asinine leaders, do not lose sight of the corruption past the smoke screen, because they know exactly what they are doing—whether it be giving loans to their friends or hiring them:

Physics and Philosophy catching up with Vedanta 😉:

July 9, 2020

Does free speech include the right to tell lies, spew hatred and incite violence? The answer seemed obvious to me, but I confess I’m in a tailspin. Who decides what can be said and what cannot? I understand that free speech has never been absolute; there has always been censorship. I understand that there are laws on libel and defamation. I know that if I do not want to be censored, I cannot wish censorship on others.  I know that everyone keeps dirty things inside, opinions they should keep to themselves, but the electronic world is unforgivingly fast and enticing.  I know that journalists need clicks, so they often cross the line of reporting, concluding that something is “racist”, “misogynist”, “genocidal” or “bigoted” as early as the headline, before I have a chance to digest what happened and judge for myself. I often agree with them, but I also know that such premature ejaculations give the opposing team reason behind their rejection of “mainstream news”, their accusation of “fake news”—their creation of fake news—in a bonfire of vanities among people fighting to be right (or to get clicks), which is apparently more important than the pursuit of knowledge.

What a mess! I’m glad I discovered that Brazilian cabernet franc is marvilhoso (don’t tell anyone!) because I need quite a bit after swallowing Politico’s defense of Mark Zuckerberg,  and sorting through the kerfuffle caused by Harper’s surprising letter endorsed by some the world’s most famous intelligentsia against “cancel culture” and the “wokeism” (don’t worry: I didn’t know what the word meant till now).

What is more: the debate has taken such a center-stage that it eclipsed the US biparitsan approval of a massive military budget for the Forever War and the imminent destruction of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples, as well as other serious calamities at hand.

I’ll just get myself another glass, but if you have any light on free speech, I’m all ears. I’m lost.

It made me rethink my conclusion:

Yet Facebook felt the need to do this:

The surprising letter:

I found this convincing:

The counter-argument (I did not find so convincing):

Please help to put pressure:

June 25, 2020

This brilliant history of Fascism in the US has added to my hunch that, come November, Trump will give the country its ultimate challenge. All indications are that he cannot win the election, and I am quite certain he will not accept the results… and the ground has been prepared:

Quando os “bancos”, o “mercado” ou “investidores” não gostam dum certo candidato, É NELE QUE VOCÊ TEM QUE VOTAR! Taokey? Não esquece disso. Nunca!

It is hardly the only overlooked role in police-reform debate, but according to this well researched essay, it is the pernicious trigger-happiness of the US that makes a huge difference in the way the nation polices itself:

Stiglitz on exactly what kind of economic stimulus we need to get us through the pandemic:

June 18, 2020

Queiroz preso no Brasil! 😊 DACA & LGBT rights protected in the US! 😊

This week has seen the uncanny binge of good news, which is all the more reason not to let your guard down. The destruction of Amazonia is largely underway and we still may have great disappointment over Trump v. Deutsche Bank.

Do not miss this amazingly masterful essay on this “unpresidented” moment in history:

I know. It’s dinner time and you’re hungry and just don’t care, but you really can do something to stop unspeakable destruction in Amazonia and it starts with what not to eat:

Quiero que sepan una vez y por todas que no existe “discriminación inversa”:

It is not about how and when to REOPEN; it is unfortunately about how and when to RECLOSE:

Here’s to more Dolly Parton and less Confederates!

June 11, 2020

Every time I see ANTIFA, I just can’t help it. I immediately remember KAOS (anyone old enough to remember “Get Smart”?) and I snort ‘n chuckle. I mean… there is nothing funny about this constant fabrication of an enemy to keep the gears grinding, but these bully boys sniveling that there might be other bullies on the playground is marvelously pathetic. ‘I decide who plays in the street! There is a rebel amongst us!’ They delate themselves hilariously.  Why the hell would anybody want to be anything but antifascist?

Not only is “An Open Letter to All the Future Mayors of Chicago” the most eye-opening class on racism and policing I have encountered, it is a lesson in beautifully carved writing. Facts, number and prose meet in an unwavering argument. If you read one thing this week:

Uau! Uau! Não há democracia com racismo: Pode parar tudo para contemplar o que significa esta onda mundial de combate ao racismo para o Brasil. A arte de Eliane Brum:

Could you imagine if the Civil Rights Act of 1965 were getting revoked, black people were getting evicted in masses when their property wasn’t expropriated, their religions prohibited, and they were being mass murdered when not infected with coronavirus and the gov’t was lying to world trying to mask the numbers? You’d call that genocide, wouldn’t you? It would be analogous to what is happening in Brazil with the peoples of Amazonia at this very moment, while the world is preoccupied with “other issues”—which is why this NYT article on the calamity of Brazil seemed to overlook a genocide. I lack words to describe the meltdown happening around me:

Why are stocks soaring in the middle of a pandemic?

Believe me: Trump and the Republicans will pull all the levers and push all the buttons to “postpone”, stymie, bamboozle, if not stop the election in November:

Please, please, please find 30 minutes for The Economist asks: Jeffrey Sachs to gather a vision of the whether globalization is still worth the risks, as well as of the structure for the next steps of the future:

June 4, 2020

Over the last forty years, the police have been overburdened with managing the ills of society, says Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, in an NPR interview: “Part of our misunderstanding about the nature of policing is we keep imagining that we can turn police into social workers. That we can make them nice, friendly community outreach workers. But police are violence workers. That’s what distinguishes them from all other government functions … They have the legal capacity to use violence […] That’s what really is at the root of policing. So if we don’t want violence, we should try to figure out how to not get the police involved.”

Agência Pública compilou, didaticamente, todos os pedidos de impeachment de Bolsonaro:

Were I the editor of the New Yorker, I would change the title to the present perfect tense: Has America become a banana republic?

Do you know the history of infiltrators and provocateurs in protest and riots in America? If not, I suggest reading the Intercept. It explains a lot about what happened this week:

Judging by the swift accusation against Antifa, I knew the White House was lying, but nothing from Trump or his government surprises me:

May 21, 2020

  • I burst into tears again for Thursday Night News. It was because of this story of Jyoti—the 13-year-old Indian girl who carried her injured father on the back of her bicycle for more than 1200km—that I cried tears of joy. This is the India I know and love and miss so much! It is the India that taught the world dharma, that most elusive of words, roughly meaning to do one’s duty, to fulfill one’s role in life, to do what is right, to serve this universe in the project that is humanity—unwavering and fearlessly—like my beloved Lord Hanuman, whose leap to do what must be done cannot be stopped. Ever! I wish Mr. Modi understood what dharma means, because he would have thought about his role when leaving millions of migrant workers, like Jyoti’s father, stranded without food and transport when he put a nation under lockdown with just a four-hour notice. If he doesn’t, he can sit at the feet of Jyoti, she has so much to teach us all:
  • Creo que el coronavirus ha llegado para revelar y corregir, a duras penas, muchas cosas erradas en el mundo, incluso el individualismo descontrolado de la mente occidental. La mejor periodista de Brasil con su visión lúcida en “Hay que superar el pensamiento occidental: No se puede crear otro mundo con la misma matriz que nos ha llevado al abismo”:
  • So you have an economic religion, whereby you thought government spending was like household spending: either you have money or you don’t, or you surpass your credit limit or you don’t. It should be so simple. No need to be confused about the path forward for a country that’s broke. The Daily’s podcast breaks it down in twenty minutes with “Can Government Spending Save the Economy?” :

May 14, 2020

Would Trump be so stupid as to shirk US debt to China as punishment for COVID-19? Unfortunately, he might be stupid not to if he is to have any shot at re-election other than usurping the vote. If you are still on Team Trump, I suggest you brush up on your economics, because China had already spotted this stroke several moves ago, and is already structuring a new global currency based on—believe it or not—confidence in the Chinese government to replace the US “dollar dominance” over the global economy. As far as I am concerned, China has already won the game, but if you care to watch until the check-mate, be my guest, I’ll just get myself another drink:

Impressionado com o intelecto e o comando lindo da língua portuguesa, eu já era fã da Elaine Brum quando começou a insistir que o Brasil precisava voltar ao passado, para fechar o capítulo da ditadura para não cair de novo no mesmo erro. Achei apelativo, tal receita emotivo demais. Vi ao redor problemas presentes, mais agudos, e um futuro sem horizonte. Como eu estava enganado! Aqui estamos tropeçando nas mesmas pedras no mesmo caminho.  O artigo dela de hoje é também puxado nas emoções, mas, como sempre, lúcido. Ainda mais chocantes são os incríveis histórias de Bolsonarismo por Fernando de Barros, “Dentro do pasadelo” na revista Piauí, e por Ivan Carlos Lago “O Jair em todos nós”, um soco no estómago que é preciso:

When young, we had to declare our favorite popstars, sports teams, etc. Today, for however unfortunate it might seem, I believe we have to declare our favorite economist. For me it would be hard to choose, but I guess I must declare my admiration of Mariana Mazzucato, who was making a lot of noise this week about how to seize the moment offered by coronavirus to structure all the inevitable bailouts at hand to create a more equitable society and free ourselves from all the little hypocrisies in our twisted version of capitalism:

Among the little hypocrisies unveiled by coronavirus has been the true cost of this brief moment in human history in which a percentage of humanity has been able to eat what they want, where they want, when they want and how ever they want. It seems to be coming to an end, which will be painful for some, but will be celebrated by people like me.  If you think you already know the true cost of industrialized farming, you think it is not related to coronavirus and you think eating animals every day is a right, DO NOT read the incredible article of New York Review of Books “The Sickness in Our Society”. On the other hand, if knowledge is more important to you than taste, please proceed:

Mexican lucha libre wrestler sews masks to fight coronavirus:

April 30, 2020

Like moths, we go directly to the flame in front of us, oblivious to everything else happening around us in the dark. It might indeed be impossible to do otherwise when a raging fire like coronavirus is in front of us, but in an effort not to lose sight of the other imminent dangers lurking in the dark, I peeked at what the looters are doing while we are hypnotized.  This week’s prowl included sighting another fire, one that is raging hotter than ever while no one is looking at the Amazon Forest, the destruction of which will most certainly release the next pandemic (I assume that you do know that there will be others, don’t you?); and it also included some thugs I found in the shadows—the usual suspects—conducting business as usual when not raiding everything they can before making a dash for the door, leaving us to choke to death. Unsurprised by the thugs’ insistence that their profits gets privatized and their losses get socialized in this moment of tragedy, I am growing ever more concerned how such hypocrisy and myopia will play out in the large and complicated democracies of this world, especially with inept and divisive “leadership” of countries like the US, Brazil and India.:

My reading over the last two weeks involved some apologies. Arundhati Roy was on my secret list of greatly admired writers who fell from grace when they opened their fat mouths. Her opinions of India and of Hinduism had been so nasty and disrespectfully imbalanced… but now I see she was right about many things:

I had been up to here with numbers (!), having long since observed how it doesn’t matter how many die as long as it is not in one’s household. Shannon Pufahl’s brilliant essay on the etymology of numbers in the New York Review of Books, “Numbering the Dead” was an awakening! Don’t miss it:

I repeat that quarantine is a good time to practice fasting. Not needing so much energy from food and health permitting, skip a meal, preferably dinner, and you will start to learn the invaluable knowledge of identifying the differences between hunger, thirst and anxiety. The effort may lead you to contemplate the connection between body an mind, which might even lead you to meditate on the connection between oneself and All That There Is. Kaveh Akbar’s meditation on her Ramadan fast in the Paris Review was sweet:

Almost twenty-five years in a country where the only cocktail is a caipirinha, I’m on the outside looking in on this bizarre revival of the cocktail, but not on the human need for ritual:

April 9, 2020

“I put them in the refrigerator” is my translation of the Brazilian expression to describe what you do to people you are angry at but cannot openly fight. You put them in a place to chill where no one can see them – especially you. It is a great place to forget them, so they can shrivel and mold away into something unrecognizable. Of course, you can also take them out again once you’ve cooled off. That’s what I had done to the Economist and the Atlantic. Although publications I have always admired, let’s just say they ticked me off for some frivolous opinions regarding the “feasibility” of a social state. The upheaval of COVID-19 is doing a brilliant job of punishing such opinion-makers for their hubris, unearthing the skeletons of hypocrisy.  

That said, the Economist’s frigid callousness was once again as refreshing as it was insightful when covering the pandemic without pandering to emotion:

I’ll never forget what he did to Bernie Sanders, but David Frum wrote an excellent summary of incompetence and bad faith:

¡De acuerdo, Ken Loach! “Solo lo público nos sacará adelante”:

I’m wondering how long it will take for people and for nations to realize that only cooperation and not competition will get anyone or any nation through this test of cornoavirus:

Oi? Federal money to pay pastor salaries and church utility bills?

Every cloud has a silver lining:

April 2, 2020

My face when reading how we have leaders that still haven’t quite understood the magnitude of this moment in history. It took world wars to create societies based on cooperation that reigned for some fifty years until competition returned for a forty-year gig, exacerbating the mess we are in. Only cooperation will do now and nothing else. The minimum state is gone and nothing less than the welfare state will do. You would think this would not be so difficult for the so-called intellectuals, the so-called leaders, to understand. But there are those whose contempt is blaring. They don’t want to help people. They think this crisis is just another item to throw into the ideological arena. They hate poor people. They hate them. And they still think money and power will protect them from a microbe in a world without nurses and doctors; transport and those responsible for producing and distributing food. Let’s see next Thursday Night and the Thursday Night after that!

I stand with Yuval Noah Harari: Coronavirus does not mean humanity must choose between health or privacy. And global problems can only be solved globally, by the solidarity of humanity, with honesty and dedication to the Truth—not to individual agendas. Such smallness will only make things worse:

Why does the truth need to be censored? Why? Why can’t someone say  what is true, what is happening? Someone please explain this to me; it is something I have never been able to understand. Why fear the truth? Why can’t we speak what is fact? Why is doing so punishable—often more so than lying? It is something I have always wondered, whether it be all the “classified information” held by people we pay to decide what we “cannot know” or whistleblowers like these brave doctors and nurses:

Estupefato, eu fico, ao ver pessoas que ainda acham que pandemia pode ser amenizado — ou não — conforme as linhagens ideológicas prediletas. Bravo, Monica de Bolle, f***-se o estado mínimo!

I think all Americans should read this article without prejudice and regardless of whether or not you like Bernie Sanders. It is a brilliant essay on how the truth of America has been revealed in just two weeks:

And on the global level, “viral inequality” is about to reveal much more about what we’ve become:

Worse than Trump seemed unimaginable until Bolsonaro arrived on the scene. How to even begin to illustrate the ineptitude, the laziness, the delusion, the lack of intellect, the hate of intellect, the pitifulness, the bareness, the bankruptcy, the depravity…

Falando do Bolsonaro, o discurso de que ‘acabou a corrupção no governo’ sob análise:

“Os desmatadores ilegais, contudo, não estão em isolamento como recomendam os governos, e tendem a aproveitar o eclipse institucional provocado pela Covid-19 para agir”:

Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic” Why am I not shocked? Are you?

They survived the Spanish flu, the Depression, the Holocaust and they having something beautiful to share with you:

March 26, 2020

An man collapses in the street. You run to him in a show of good faith. You feign holding him, but actually you pickpocket his wallet and his phone in a flash before you scream for others to guard him while you run off for help. Yes, there are those that low — and they are running our country:

I was hoping for a plan like Denmark’s complete freeze of the economy. The one annouced by the US government is a far cry and it was mired in the incessant battle between those who want to help people and those who are ideologically opposed to helping people; they are committed to helping (their) companies:

I was wondering how long it would take for those always wanting to privatize profits to want to socialize losses. I’d say that took about a New York minute:

“Se usamos a palavra guerra, precisamos olhar cuidadosamente para o inimigo. É o vírus, essa criatura que parece uma bolinha microscópica cheia de pelos, quase fofa? É o vírus, esse organismo que só segue o imperativo de se reproduzir? Penso que não. O vírus não tem consciência, não tem moral, não tem escolha.” Vai, Eliane Brum! Fala tudo! Manda ver:

As if the violence and destruction in Amazonia weren’t enough, not only will coronavirus be reaching indigenous peoples, but the world will be looking the other way while the pillaging continues:

I had heard of but never paid much attention to the science of loneliness. Its potential role during the coronavirus quarantine is as frightening as it is fascinating:

The last thing the world needs this week is another wannabe epidemologist pitch, but I am really questioning the efficay of quarantine:

It is hard to imagine a culture more beautiful than that of Iran! Stay strong, you’ll get through this!

I would probably call this one “Chronicle of a Death Foretold“. Don’t miss this one:

March 19, 2020

I am crying as I write these words, because at this very moment the four boys are being hanged in a Delhi jail. Everything came back to me from eight years ago. I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I didn’t understand why traffic had stopped in Chandni Chowk and why there was a candlelight vigil walking up and down the street. The police were everywhere. The military had been deployed to control the crowds that had come to central Delhi to lynch them. I remember the faces of hurt and disgust and of rage. At home, no one could eat. It was then that they explained to me what happened: it was more than just another rape; it was an unspeakably violent gang rape on a bus. I cannot bring myself to repeat what they did to her and how she died from the mutilation. It became to be known as the Nirbhaya case. It was the day India changed forever, because it was the day that Indian women had had enough and they started to find their voice. It was also the day that changed my vision of what Justice means; it was the day I started to truly contemplate what I had thought was the easiest to understand of the 20 values that Krishna teaches us in the Bhagavadgītā. I want them dead; I want them spared; I want their families not to suffer; I want Nirbhaya’s family to no longer suffer. AHIMSA, non-violence, the refusal to harm others, is not even remotely as simple as it sounds:

The Nirbhaya case briefly took my mind in the direction of the past and the present in a way that this week’s most significant event could never, because it is one that impounds futures both imminent and distant momentously. The coronavirus has completely upended my life and that of millions of people around the world in just a week. There is no longer a horizon; there is just uncertainty. I confess that it is just as fascinating to me as is it alarming and uncomfortable.  So now what? Dunno. But I do know that every cloud has a silver lining. In my unwavering belief that “no hay mal que por bien no venga” – that there is always something good to come from any evil – I cannot help but to appreciate how this limit has arrived to make us question everything, to topple what we had taken for granted and what we thought was true. Watching, for example all the neocons, neoliberals, libertarians, Republicans and conservatives scramble to try to save a religion of competition to remedy the ails of the world has almost brought me to giggles. When everyone is the same boat, it is now clear that only cooperation – not competition – will get us out of this mess. How poignant. That is why they no longer have any choice but to sit down and listen to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and sincerely consider the importance of the Green New Deal, because – in light of all the trillion dollar bailout pledges swooping around like eagles – there is no longer anything too unrealistic, too expensive, or too “radical” when you ass is on the line:

More on the advantages of coronavirus:

This just might be the answer we have been looking for, not only to heal racism, but a lot of the other -isms of this world. I liken it to what we call in Brazil “sincericide”, a kind of brutal truth-telling of what is really inside you. I think it has the potential to be much more productive than that reckless, feckless experiment at neurolinguistic reprogramming that we call “politically correctness”, which is so draconian in its insincerity that it has divided us:

¿Por qué me reí tanto esta semana a pesar de los pesares?

Caracas! Pegaram o Dinossauro! Coitado!

March 12, 2020

Neither coronavirus nor the stock market crash signal the end of the world to me, but ATLÉTICO MADRID BEAT LIVERPOOL IN LIVERPOOL! Now that is reason enough to believe the end is near, so this Thursday Night News has gone cold turkey—or should I say hot turkey? Hot ginger, lemon & honey to keep lungs warm and hydrated, ready for the attack. A little ayurveda won’t harm you, but Diego Simone most certainly will.

What will also harm you is ignorance. That is why I really did try to control myself; I really did try not to chuckle and snort—really I did—when I saw the pictures of Fábio Wajngarten, the top communications aid of the Brazilian President (whose communications company had windfall profits after he hired himself!), who is now diagnosed with coronavirus, standing happily next to Messrs. Trump, Pence and Bolsonaro. The latter who just did a live tiny desk concert to speak to the nation donning a face mask and the former who childishly refuses to get tested. Please be good; never wish ill of anyone; please do as I say, not as I do; and please don’t laugh:

Brazilians are much safer and protected than Americans from the coronavirus pandemic—a fact which has been the most poignant takeaway for me this week. There is still a national public health system that, for as precarious as it may be, is still there. It has real information, in real time, and it has a plan. They have already calculated when and where the peak will be and what they will need, and they are on the move. Yet there are other places in the world I also know well, places where people feel that is safer NOT to vote for a national public health system, or that it is somehow safer if a central bank unloads trillions for prop up the financial sector on a bad market day or that we’ll be safer with an unlimited military budget. Ok… I hope they are right and I am wrong; however, I don’t believe in coincidence: the Universe is delivering this limit at a political crossroad, in which the world is divided into teams of economic religions, complete with all the little hypocrisies that can be found in any religion. That is why I encourage you to listen to professor Jeffrey Sachs with Medhi Hasan on Deconstructed with “Capitalism v. Coronavirus” and the cited article in the Atlantic, because “There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic”:

Lembra dos 39kg de cocaína que viajava no avião da comitiva presidencial? Bom, eu também:,995a8dfbd93a2df61fb439ab93e2b77d5eyec6ya.html

March 5, 2020

If “radicals” have to prove how they are going to pay for “free things”, why don’t “non-radicals” have to answer how they are to pay for “free” wars. Feel “free” to sit down:

Some news is so horrible that it is good. Funny how that works when crooks get caught: you learn about a horrendous crime, such thousands of illegal shipments of Amazonian wood reaching American and European ports, yet it brings to light a corrupt regime that is breaking, subverting and undermining a nation’s own legal framework for protecting the world’s greatest forest and its indigenous peoples. I doubt the government will punish them, because they were appointed by our leaders to conduct this business. That is why I beg you to discover where your meat comes from, where your food comes from, where your gold comes from, where your wood comes from, because these thugs will be more than happy to tear up the entire forest to supply the manufacturing of the many things you consume. As the failed war on drugs has proven, there will always be a supply for a demand. Call your congressman, check the origin of the things you buy, see if your investment portfolio includes companies in commodities (mining, shipping, lumber, meat, oil, chemicals/pesticides) and tell your broker you care:

Cá entre nós: é pra deixar o Homem trabalhar, eh?

Repito: é pra deixar o Homem trabalhar, eh?

Jamais poderia compilar uma lista melhor de informação sobre o desgoverno ambiental do que AROEIRA. Favor o segue no Twitter para saber tudo que está acontecendo, inacreditávelmente:

If you think they are a problem in the West, you have no idea what they are doing in Brazil:

Arundhati Roy’s essay is not only a call-to-arms for all Indians, it is a plea to humanity, everywhere, in this divided world. Stop everything to read “We are sick” by one of the world’s great writers. It is bone-chilling:

Confesso que já fui Bolsominion—na Índia. Ou seja, eu apoiava muito o primeiro ministro lá, até a reeleição dele, quando enxerguei no grande engano. A pesar de alguns errinhos de contextualização que não atrapalham a análise, Rosana Pinheiro Machado fez uma incrível investigação da grande semelhança política dos dois países que não são nada parecidos:

Do you want your needs dependent upon a global supply chain that your country does not control? In the forty years of globalization, no one cared. In light of pandemics – and I would add climate crisis – both Trump’s and Sander’s argument for local productive capacity is on the menu:

Con la frente marchita
Las nieves del tiempo
Platearon mi sien.
Que es un soplo la vida
Que veinte años no es nada
Que febril la mirada
Errante en las sombras
Te busca y te nombra.
Con el alma aferrada
A un dulce recuerdo
Que lloro otra vez:

This is an outrage! No, no, no! There is no reason to look for meat substitutes. Learn to cook beans correctly and with the right vegetables for flavor. No you won’t grate onion and garlic: Chop them with a knife! No you won’t use canned beans: you will soak red kidney beans for two days and boil them like your ancestors! No you will not put soy sauce in your beans: you will use celery, double the cumin, and few karipata leaves and/of bay leaf! For God’s sake!

February 27, 2020

Say what?? What Bernie Sanders should have said about socialism and totalitarianism was to reply with a question: “And what about Saudia Arabia? Let’s talk about state ownership of the means of production supported with US money and arms to exterminate dissidents!” I’m mad at Bernie Sanders for falling for this cheap, pathetic red-baiting on Cuba; I’m proud of him this past week to go forward with the courage to confront the American fairy tale, calling the US, as a possible candidate, “imperialist” and “corrupt”. It is. It always has been. And that doesn’t cancel out all the wonderful things about the nation and its people; the same way the atrocities of the socialist revolutions of China, Cuba and Russia do not cancel out their efforts to create more equitable societies. All men, all nations have their hypocrisies. They do not have to be “cancelled” for their past follies. As for socialism? I’m perplexed that the New Yorker and much of established media are actively undermining the difference between socialism and the social democracy promoted by Bernie Sanders, which has proven itself in many a nation, whereas all the data is in – along with the published mea culpas of the world’s most famous economists – on the adverse effects of neoliberalism over the forty years it has reigned.  Bernie Sanders is by no means radical: he is not questioning capitalism; he is asking for the regulation we once had to protect markets and citizens that made a nation thrive. He is not promising “free things”: he is exposing the very neoliberal hypocrisy of trillion-dollar subsidies and unlimited budgets for oil, arms, corporations and the wealthiest amongst us, whereas health and education are somehow negotiable. Oi? That’s radical? If this red-baiting is the best argument they can come up with to cancel Sanders, I invite you to support him (and/or Elizabeth Warren) along with me.

The author made just one little mistake of context about Carnaval: Samba has always meant resistance, ever since samba was invented. Actually, the various forms of Brazilian music and merriment have always meant resistance. But, yes, the last couple years have inevitably evoked the tradition of taking revenge for a week on, shall we say, our unscrupulous leaders:

Me había fijado, hace muchos años, como no se ve mujeres em México. No sé como explicarlo. Ando por las calles de mi Puebla y ellas están, pero no están. Es como se estuvieran escondiéndose a cada paso; no me miran; evitan todo contacto con extraños; miran al suelo; sus movimientos en público son una mezcla de vergüenza y miedo, acorraladas. No andan con la alegría y seguranza que tienen en unas otras tierras que conozco. Después reconocí el mismo aspecto amedrentado en la India, donde recientemente una chica fue quemada viva por el grupo de chicos que la había violada porque ella tenía la audacia de denunciarlos. Fue de ella quien me recordaba al enterarme de Ingrid. Espero que el paro sea eficaz:

Eso dedico a mis muchas protegidas allá em México, la más absoluta y mejor definición de feminismo. (Link en español):

More than yet another reason for the Green New Deal, this news changes so many things about the world energy matrix:

Para insultar, é preciso vocabulário!

February 20, 2020

Trump fans: although correlation doesn’t imply causation, you could probably, safely, celebrate that the drop in immigration has resulted in significant wage increases across the US. Happy? I wouldn’t start clapping your hands just yet, because results produce other results. Of course, that means you’d have to do some studying – without memes. Ready? The Economist will give you a few articles a month for free:

Achei a reportagem um grande exemplo. Embora breve e simples, o autor não foi desviado pelas últimas pérolas do Bolsonaro. Recusou-se de ficar remoendo o repúdio e a indignação. Colocou o contexto certo: e os celulares do Adriano?

The commercial relations between Brazil and China might seem far from you, but actually they are on your dinner plate every damn night and it effects the cost of most everything you buy—and that such a transaction is related to the burning of the Amazon forest should be of no surprise to you.  At some point everyone is going to have to understand this relationship; I suggest you begin now:

I almost cried. There is still a little Chicago boy in me, still sitting on the ‘L’, maybe sitting across from these people. It was a city for all of us, yet we were (are) so divided:

I repeat: he will either fraud the election or claim fraud. And it is already happening:

Nothing like data to show how inequality is rotting human society. I didn’t read Capital, so I most probably won’t read his new book, but I will most certainly get the summary of it:

Of course, if data and science cannot help you believe in the climate crisis or gun control laws, yet you are able to see causation between an outbreak of skin rashes from a new skin cream, there is a reason for your delusion:

WOW! Something I finally agree with Trump on:

February 13, 2020

Já pensou que horrível seria se o teu pai morresse envenenado e logo a tua mãe, viúva, fosse casar com o teu tio, irmão dele? Coisa horrenda, né? Seria tão horrenda que você não encararia sequer as dúvidas óbvias: ‘Não, não! Impossível! Não pode ser!’ Pois é… só que é por isso que existem sim os fantasmas e eles são extremamente poderosos porque não morrem. Ficam na sala, inconvenientes, apontando para aquele ÓBVIO por horrendo que seja – bem como o Hamlet descobriu, logo no primeiro ato, quando o fantasma do pai aparece.
Na verdade, os fantasmas são apenas frutos daquela sujeira que cada um de nós leva lá dentro, feitos das nossas mentiras e preconceitos. Quem tiver um compromisso com a verdade, vai se limpando lá no fundo e jamais temerá um fantasma. Quem não tiver compromisso com a verdade, fará tudo para apagá-la – a qualquer custo – como vimos esta semana com a morte do Adriano, uma pessoa que podia ter esclarecida MUITA coisa e agora não pode mais. Então, para aquelas pessoas que muito querem que a morte da Marielle fique apenas um homicídio entre os muitos esquecidos do Brasil: estou vendo vocês vendo um fantasma, tá? Tá com medo? Então, NÃO LEIA a melhor jornalista/escritora do Brasil, porque ela vai te fazer umas perguntas difíceis sobre a tua mãe, o teu tio e o reino da Dinamarca:

About the same curious assassination in the English language media:

And to think I ran from Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup and the Olympics fleeing to India in order not to get slapped in the face with this sickening, cosmetic solution for the poverty! I have so much to say about Trump and Modi that I’m almost speechless. I will just say what I learned in that very same city, Ahmedabad, the city of Gandhi, just six months ago, in the Mahatma’s own words: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it – always.”  In the meantime, get me something stronger! This is an outrage:

No sabía que México también se sumaba a los números espantosos de ambientalista asesinadas por defender la ecología de Latinoamérica. ¿Que le pasa a AMLO? Ya no le entiendo nada:

4. It can’t ever be reiterated enough that the guns go the México and the drugs go to the US, ok? That is why walls are so lucrative:

I am fascinated by hypocrisy and all that involves the art of moral gymnastics:

So does that mean one day we can subpoena your taxes and your hairline?

I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! If I cut coffee, I would have a splitting headache; I would vomit and quite possibly have an attack of herpes (it’s on my forehead, ok?) Never go cold turkey!

February 6, 2020

Milwaukee! This essay is so brilliant that I’ve concluded that one must understand Milwaukee in order to understand what happened to America:

Neither! Discrimnation is a hypocrisy in every world; it is just called caste in India:

When you’ve concluded that the economy is doing great, that things are good, you are so sure you understand the current economic situation in the world and you don’t like to be challenged, do not read this:

Repito: não são os pobres que desmatam Amazônia; são os amigos dos amigos:

Are you sure you know the difference between “illegal” and “refugee”?

This is just silly. Just stop the perversity of (arms) lobby and create a real democracy. You’d stop the economic distortions and war:

When debate is futile:

Y “chiquititito” es de Puebla:

January 30, 2020

Now, here’s a test for you. Should ICE: a) destroy records of abuse, sexual assault and death of immigrants under their custody, or b) not destroy them? If you answered A, you are probably part of the many Americans who would like (to regain) the right to discrimiate, the right NOT to treat others the way you wish to be treated. You probably also don’t see any reason that the Impeachment should hear evidence or witnesses. That means you probably only have situational value for the Truth, for non-violence, for human rights, for the Constitution, for human dignity. And having only half-values — by which you can inflict harm on others while remaining unscathed — is having no values at all.
If that is the case, I don’t see how this division among us will be solved intellectually, by merely revealing truth for enlightenment. It hasn’t for the past four years:

“Preposterous” is what I initially thought when hearing the idea of a world without prisons. Considering unique experience and life stories of these two guests on New Yorker Radio, it is hard to argue with them, because, as they demonstrate, prisons do not and have never even passed the test of their own merit. They are an extension of slavery. They are an extension of everything that is wrong with this world. Indeed, it is hard to think outside the paradigm, but please consider “prison abolition” and “restorative justice”. I’m still reeling from this podcast:

Vale tem 236 pedidos para abrir terras protegidas na Amazônia. Uma ministra quer controlar gravidez na adolescência e HIV com “abstinência sexual”. Até pouco tempo atrás, Brasil tinha sido uma referência mundial pelas politicas públicas, bem-sucedidas, para o controle de desmatamento e até tratamento de HIV. O atual governo desmontou tudo aquilo, plagiando o pior dos EUA. Podia ter copiado o melhor dos EUA — o desenvolvimento de tecnologia — mas resolveu desmontar aquilo também: Sobre o que realmente desmata, Paulo Guedes, e não são os pobres, tá: Sobre o que nunca funcionou: Sobre o que é uma grande pena:

I was at a stoplight in the car in Delhi’s suburban NCR area when I was pamphileted an ad through the car window for yet another upscale housing development. When I saw the units included “fresh air”: clean air filters for indoors and outdoor gardens, I almost spit bile. We’re doomed, I thought, We’ll cut the last tree on Easter Island. You can run, but you cannot hide; there are problems we cannot buy our way out of:

It is probably the longest articles I have ever read — even if only diagonally. Parallel, however, was my conclusion: I hope to be voting for Bernie Sanders, because this and other corporate lobby plots have got to stop! For those of you against the Left’s promising “free things”, you are not including in your calculations the many “free things” the wealthy have always received, which includes — but is hardly limited to — all the subsudies for military, arms, fossil fuel, and these chemical industries that are poisoning you:

“I prefer to look at the numbers, Ricky” is the maddening rebutal I get during the weekly debates I have with neoliberal economists. For them, (hateful) words and lies don’t seem to matter much as long as the economy is ok. But, is it? I can’t seem to get a consensus, but if Stiglitz is right, even the US numbers will be against them soon enough:

The point is your consumption will always be cruel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make it less so: That includes your clothes:

 Why does President Bolsonaro want to make them legal? Obviously he has something to gain in all this destruction. You just have the follow the money. That is why the lie of Paulo Guedes, Minister of Finance, in Davos was even more pathetic: poor people are destroying the forest for food. Really? Poor people don’t have money to transport expensive and heavy equipment into the middle of nowhere. They don’t sign export contracts. They can’t pay for lobby campaigns:

Confused is how I feel on this issue. Like many, I just assumed Facebook is wrong and should be held responsible. However, even the ACLU agrees with Facebook. I’m lost:

Football, real estate, government contracts: that is how you launder money — big money — in this world …and this kid cracked their code:

No he is not! Péle is the best! How dare you! Pelo amor de Deus! Don’t even go there with Maradona:

Quero que você saiba que tinha um bode no ônibus, tá?

January 24, 2020

I wonder if they are actually aware that they don’t want democracy, that they don’t actually want majority rule. I wonder if they are aware that their politicians are handsomely paid by the arms industry that not only sells the guns, but also sells them abroad, wreaking havoc in places for which the very same industry is also ready to sign lucrative contracts to build walls and prisons, to supply military equipment, and to keep out those people suffering in those many places. That is why I am watching closely what is happening in Virginia, because as Gandhi well pointed out, those who hide behind guns are cowards; those who resort to violence are weak; they succumb to fear, and they will always lose to the fearless in the end. Always. And that is why I always remember Gandhi this week we celebrate the true American hero: Martin Luther King. But I also wonder if Gandhi or Luther King knew how much money the people behind the guns make 🤔: and

Orgullo de la mexicana, académica, que se ha dedicado a estudiar los porqués de la violencia en México y Latinoamérica. Aunque tengo mis dudas hasta donde se aplica el discurso “morir es un alivio” para explicar la delincuencia, la investigación de ella es fascinante: Em português:

We are having a water crisis in Rio de Janeiro, whereby the municipal water supply is, arguably, no longer potable. I think I’m inoculated after so much time in India, but not against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I hate to add another bedbug to keep you up at night, but although you may reside far from the Ganges, you will most certainly have a date coming soon, in the same place where you both drink water and shit—and you won’t be able to buy yourself out of it with a filter:

Why destroy the apartment complex that families had bought? It is already built, right? Why waste the resources? Isn’t it too late? Might as well leave it! …That is what authorities all around the world want you to think when they often illegally and always very quickly approve construction projects on the sly. Never mind about land occupation or whether they have a sewage system. A few profit and the environmental damage devastates many more. I see no other choice but to start demolish more construction projects until people learn:

Although I can’t stand the stuff, I suppose I’ll make it a gin tonic for Brexit day: