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International Events IX: I feel like a mushroom

Which Tyler

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7 hours ago, Loge said:

I think you have used the wrong gallons. That's why we have the metric system. Everybody had their own versions of the old units. With 1 gallon =3.785 litres, it's $1.69 /l. And probably not nearly as heavily taxed, if at all. 

Gas is rather heavily taxed in California.  I paid $6.39 per gal and bought $20.00 for just over 3 gallons.  From what I was told yesterday the pipeline issue was contributing to the price hike, which was why I mentioned it here since the pipe is under the Baltic Sea.   If this is accurate, it's an international issue.      

I converted gallons to liters; one gallon is 3.785 liters.   

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There's been a military coup in Burkina Faso; this coup overthrew the military government that had been in place since a prior coup in January. It doesn't sound like this was on behalf of the prior civilian government, but available details are very light. The new leader is only a Captain, which is awfully far down the ranks to be able to organize a coup (though not unprecedented). In his statement of the takeover, Captain Ibrahim Traore, blamed the previous military government for being able to deal with Islamist militant groups operating in the country.

I have no idea if this military leader will be better or worse than the last one, but it seems like it'll be a long time before there's a legitimately elected government again.

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Burkino Faso's capital used to host such a good African Film Festival.  


Power got restored in Cuba. But the 'government' shut down internet access.  They've done that before, but the thing is, even Cuba in the failed mess it is now, can't function w/o it.

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On 9/29/2022 at 1:50 PM, LongRider said:

Price of a gallon of gas in my little slice of California paradise went up $0.30 a gallon yesterday.  It has been rising daily for the past week.  I talked to the man running the registrar when I bought gas this afternoon, he said his margin of profit had dropped to one cent on each sale, and the store only brought in $15.30 net on gas yesterday.  He mentioned something about a pipeline and some issue in a refinery in the Bay Area.  $6.39 is what I paid; glad I'm not commuting anymore.

Weeellll shit. Here I was thinking we would have the worst petrol price, because that's the usual situation. But last time I filled up I paid USD equiv $5.72/g. That is excluding the usual fuel tax which the govt reduced (or removed I can't remember which) earlier this year, but it is due to go back on at the end of the year, though we'll see. There is an election next year and the last thing the govt wants to do is hit people in the wallet.

On 9/29/2022 at 10:43 PM, Darzin said:

The Chinese coup rumors appear to have been spread by Falun Gong for their own inscrutable reasons and picked up by Indian tabliods. No one here had heard of them. 

Y'know, if one wants to stop being persecuted with the CCP using the excuse that you are a political organisation but claiming that you are merely a spiritual movement, perhaps you should stop being a political organisation. Assuming of course that allegation of spreading coup rumours is true.

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NYT has a good article about Brazil's Supreme Court increasingly authoritarian stance.

One of the many, many negative impacts of Bolsonaro's presidency is that his authoritarian actions and rants allow other players who are not really democratic to justify their actions saying we're "protecting our freedoms and our democracy".

As the article points out, the very first act of this newly expanded Supreme Court was to censor a magazine that discovered a corruption scandal involving it's then president (basically, the Chief Justice) claiming it was fake news, even though it wasn't.

The fact that this wasn't by no means the first corruption allegations uncovered against him or other members is also an indication why after years, they did a complete reversal in their previous positions, annulled nearly all the investigations and evidence in the Car Wash and other corruption investigations on technicalities, and allowed most of convicted criminals, including Lula, free: many of it's members, the majority of them previously worked for governments (for the 11 current members, only 2 are career judges, 4 former cabinet ministers) begun to realize they too could be reached by them- similarly, the political establishment, both on the right and left, united when they saw this wasn't going to end  like it usually happened with only a few minor politicians in jail or paying fines.

One thing the article doesn't point out though is that these expanded powers are no basis in the 1988 Constitution, and they used to support this decision a law approved in... the period of military dictatorship.

If Bolsonaro wins reelection, you can be sure that a big factor will be the rejection of the SC, which is massive even among people that hate him. The fact they let Lula walk even after billions of dollars were stolen during his government and multiple people confessed their crimes and his involvement will be another one, because they killed the possibility of a new leader in the left with a smaller rejection rate and less baggage to rise and take his place.

And if Lula indeed wins, well, he's already pushing an idea he's been trying to get off the ground for 20 years: social control of the press. Now, he's using fake news and excuse...

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Subscriber paywalled, I'm afraid, so I've c&p the piece in entirety.

Lula Returns

This provides a different viewpoint on Lula than the above comment does.




In spite of a recent drug-related shooting – and mounting violence against PT supporters nationwide – the excitement and ebullience on the beach at Porto da Barra in Salvador are palpable, and barely contained. An older man dressed in yellow who sells cashews took a break for a beer late on Sunday morning, and said he could hardly wait; like many precarious baianos, he is at the end of his rope. The other day, a man who lives on the streets was dressed in a felt hat, rope sandals and an orange jumpsuit with red Lula stickers plastered all over it.

In the final days before the general election, Lula is hitting his stride: there is a real chance he will win in the first round (though of course he may not). It will come down to what the 2 or 3 per cent of undecided voters do on 2 October, and Lula has pivoted towards them, while Bolsonaro is paralysed in a sort of rigor mortis. Simone Tebet (of the centre-right) is polling at 5 per cent, Ciro Gomes (centre-left) at 6 per cent, but half these voters say they may change their mind. Gomes appears to have been losing votes to Lula recently.

Ninety per cent say they want the election decided in the first round, and polls have Lula hovering around 50 per cent though Bolsonaro still claims he is going to win on Sunday, using venues like the UN General Assembly and the queen’s funeral to campaign. His son Eduardo recently tried to censor a story about the family’s purchase of 51 properties in cash – an attempt which backfired, making headlines again. As for Lula, even the TV news anchor William Bonner has admitted his innocence. In the final presidential debate in Rio last night, Gomes and Tebet went after Bolsonaro, not Lula.

In the north-east (and perhaps elsewhere), where popular religion has a millenarian component, Lula’s return plays for many people as a story of redemption and resurrection. In the south-east, where demographic, political, economic and cultural power are located, artists and celebrities such as the Afro-Brazilian actor-director Lázaro Ramos and rapper Emecida take selfies with Lula; they represent a new, anti-racist cultural elite. Musicians and singers have made videos for his campaign. A catchy tune with a good chorus is one of the best ways to reach people, especially in Brazil. Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil led crowds in Rio singing ‘Olé, olé olé olá, Lula, Lula’. This has been going on for months: in Bahia, the Lula song breaks out at concerts and rodas de samba. Following his interview with Bonner on TV Globo, the windows of Salvador were filled with people cheering (‘Fora Bolsonaroooooooo!’; ‘É o Lula, porra!’), and drumming and dancing in the streets.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Lula’s running mate, Geraldo Alckmin, key figures in the south-east in the business community, law, media, politics, universities, the arts – including a number of people who helped railroad Lula 2017 – have come out publicly in favour of him as the representative of democracy. High-level defections include two former heads of the Supreme Court, Celso de Mello and Joaquim Barbosa. In terms of building broad legitimacy and consensus with the people who run Brazil, such as the businessmen who assembled to speak with him in São Paulo, Lula’s campaign has been a resounding success. The US State Department met with him last week. Thomas Shannon, a former US ambassador to Brazil, says that Washington would prefer Lula, and expects Bolsonaro to respect the results on Sunday.

Campaign videos attacking Bolsonaro’s record in office have gone viral on TikTok, as Lula holds his own on social media, with a commanding lead among young voters, the elderly, women, the poor and and Afro-Brazilians (these categories overlap).

The feared or expected show of military, police and paramilitary force in support of Bolsonaro has not so far materialised; nothing indicates the military is with him, though there are doubts about the police. Independence Day on 7 September is usually marked by civic-military parades for primary and secondary school students, the police and armed forces, religious authorities, lay people and the faithful. For Brazil’s bicentennial celebrations, however, grotesque spectacle was the order of the day: in his effort to speak to women – and attempt to win their votes – Bolsonaro declared his love for his wife with reference to his penis and his ability to use it, and forced a kiss on her lips. A leading journalist called it a ‘chanchada criminosa’. Bolsonaro spent the rest of the week jet-skiing, riding motorcycles and insulting women journalists.

Perhaps in anticipation of defeat, his followers are threatening, humiliating and murdering Lula’s supporters: no previous campaign season – not even 2018, when the composer and capoeira master Moa do Katendê was stabbed to death in Brotas – has seen such a high level of violence and tension. Every day a petista is murdered by a bolsonarista. Cars and motorcycles with Brazilian flags, signalling support for Bolsonaro, circulate at high speed. Some of the occupants are armed and dangerous: arms imports are at an all-time high and weapons, including machine guns, are easy to buy. Bolsonaro and his sons are enthusiasts for the gun trade.

The far right is on a war footing, even though Bolsonaro, as a man of faith, believes he is going to win the elections – or did. He doesn’t trust the polls, which show him more than 10 per cent behind, but has already cried fraud and asked aloud: ‘What did I do wrong?’ To the extent that magic factors into electoral equations, it is all on Lula’s side, and the dark arts of fascist street violence cannot stop a democratic wave that has yet to reach its crest. Although people are alert, and on guard for more violence against PT supporters, especially once the result is announced on 2 October – my graduate students have advised each other to stay home – in Salvador they are also gearing up to party in the streets of Rio Vermelho (a PT stronghold) and Porto da Barra.

If Lula wins, it will be the second major festa democrática in South America this year, following Colombia, as winter turns to spring. And if not on the night of 2 October, then after the run-off on 30 October. As Lula told Bolsonaro in Rio last night, ‘the people are about to send you packing.’ In Porto da Barra, everyone who works on the beach – selling grilled cheese, nuts, açaí, picolé, bikinis, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, caipirinhas-caipiroskas, beer, soft drinks, water, coconut water, dried shrimp, acarajé – is ready and waiting. The time to celebrate has finally come, they hope. If they have to wait an extra month, so be it. Then the question becomes whether Bolsonaro and his sons are tried in a court of law, or head off into the sunset in one of the Gulf monarchies, presumably on motorcycles, and mostly alone.



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As for Lula, even the TV news anchor William Bonner has admitted his innocence

He wasn't found not guilty, no matter how much his party and supporters tries to spin in like it was. The case against him and dozens of others had evidence annulled on technicalities (as it happened with pretty much every major corruption case in Brazil); the consequence of being annulled also included many other politicians, some of them conservative, walking fee.

And again, this only happened after a few Supreme Court members begun to themselves be caught in scandals- a SC composition that includes, mind you, one guy who was Lula's party lawyer and failed the exam to be a judge twice and another that was appointed because his mother was friends with Lula's first lady.

It doesn't change the fact there's more than a hundred executives, politicians, etc, that confessed their crimes that happened all directly in his or Dilma Rousseff's administration. Billions of dollars were returned, and the estimated damaged in the Petrobras alone is, in today's numbers, of 18 billion reais (around 3.5 billion dollars), let alone the other ones. A lot of this was repaid in campaign funds and outright bribes for Lula and his allies (the opposition was implicated in the scandal as well, so the idea it's a big anti-left plot is pathetic).

He also used hundreds of billions to give loans to mega corporations that were friendly- a 2017 study indicated that between his and Rousseff's administration, Brazil gave in loans via it's development bank an amount equivalent than the US spent on the Marshall Plan, nearly all of them to big corporations that paid the government back mostly with campaign contributions.

Moreover, the only reason Bolsonaro managed to gain popularity was imitating Lula's tactics in the first place- attacks on the press (besides the social control of the press non-sense, he infamously tried to deport a NYT reporter after he reported on Lula's booze habits), fake news (among other things, many in the left circulated the theory the accusations against Lula were a CIA plot- Lula's candidate in 2018 also falsely accused Bolsonaro's VP of torturing someone), support of dictatorships (he still supports Maduro, Noriega, Cuba and blamed Zelensky for the war in Ukraine, etc), populist "us vs them" mentality, etc.

There's a problem with many Americans specially (but Europeans do it to) to try to see everything that happens in the world as a reproduction to what happens in their own country. If Bolsonaro is a Trump like figure, then it's opposition it's made of center-left people that are honestly trying to stop it's abuses. But it's not. Brazil's politics is more like a gang war with two sides interested in making money and gaining power and using mostly similar tactics, and usually even the same people- most people in Bolsonaro's government also worked or supported Lula at some point (Bolsonaro himself campaigned for him before), and a decent part of his own support base in Congress and government will join Lula if he wins too.




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Besieged and ignored, Brazil’s Indigenous women are running for office




RIO DE JANEIRO — For more than two years, Vanda Ortega Witoto watched from her village in the Amazon as Brazil’s chaotic response to the coronavirus brought catastrophe to her people.

“I saw my leader die without oxygen,” said the 35-year-old nursing technician, a member of the Witoto people. “I saw my relatives being buried after no ambulance took them to the hospital.”

Now Witoto, who lives in the remote Aldeia Colônia in Amazonas state, is running for Brazil’s congress.

“We can’t ask for help from the state when we don’t have our representatives, because those who are there are not sensitive to our cause,” she said. “They don’t even know about our existence and have no reason to defend it.”

They sat on the sidelines and watched others — mostly non-Indigenous men — make the decisions and pass laws that have threatened their land and impacted their lives. Now Indigenous women are fighting back.

A record number of Indigenous women are running for office in Sunday’s election — for state legislatures, for congress, for the vice presidency — as part of a concerted effort to increase Indigenous representation in government.

They come from different states, speak different languages and are running with different parties. But many share a common goal: to undo policies of President Jair Bolsonaro that they say have removed protections, undermined their rights and encouraged record deforestation in the Amazon.

The costs of campaigning, a lack of access to information about the electoral process — sometimes even the absence of ballot boxes in their remote villages across the vast Amazon — can make political participation for these communities particularly challenging. Many of the candidacies this year are long shots. But the effort is seen as a necessary step toward eventual representation.

“Under Bolsonaro, Indigenous rights have been totally dismantled,” said Sônia Guajajara, from the Guajajara people of the Arariboia Indigenous lands in Maranhão state.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist, is running Sunday for a second term as president. Guajajara, 48, who made Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022 for her Indigenous rights activism, is running for a seat in congress with the Socialism and Liberty Party.

In 2018, Guajajara became the first Indigenous candidate to run for vice president as running mate to Socialism and Liberty nominee Guilherme Boulos. She said mounting attacks on Indigenous leaders and territories and accelerating environmental destruction have led communities to understand that “the Indigenous movement alone was not enough to stop all the setbacks and put an end to this violence.”

Bolsonaro, campaigning for president that year, promised not to expand protected Indigenous land by “an inch” (and has made good on the vow in office).

“In that moment we also understood that he called for a fight,” said Guajajara, one of the candidates seen as competitive

Witoto’s Indigenous name, Derequine, means “angry ant” in the Witotoan language. Asked if the meaning of her name reflects her current feelings, she laughed. “Yes, we are angry!” she said.

If she wins, she would be the first Indigenous person to represent Amazonas in Congress. The state in the center of the rainforest is home to Brazil’s largest Indigenous population.

Bolsonaro vs. Lula: A referendum on Brazil’s young democracy

Indigenous organizations have put forward 185 federal and state candidates in this year’s election. They call it the “headdress lobby.” That’s the most since Brazil started reporting candidates’ races in 2014.

Brazil is home to more than 896,000 Indigenous people of 305 different ethnicities. But Latin America’s largest country didn’t elect its first Indigenous person to office until 1969, when Manoel dos Santos of the Karipuna people became a city councilman in Oiapoque in the northern state of Amapá.

It would take another half century for the first Indigenous woman to win a seat in Congress. Joênia Wapichana was elected a federal deputy in 2018.

Witoto remembers the day she visited Wapichana’s office in Congress.

“It is a place that seems not to be our place. But it needs to be our place,” she said. “It was not built for us, but we need to get there.”

In April, Witoto joined thousands of Indigenous people to protest a bill that would allow large-scale mining in Indigenous land, which scientists warn would bring environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

She camped in front of congress for five days. No matter how many protesters were present or how loud they chanted, she said, no one seemed to listen.

“We were talking to ourselves,” she said. “There was not a single representative who would let us in to listen to our demands. I said: ‘No, I can’t do this anymore.’ I was tired.”

Adriana Ramos, coordinator of policy programs at the nongovernmental Social Environmental Institute, said the number of Indigenous women running for office this year is in part a result of more women climbing ranks within local and national Indigenous groups and gaining influence among their own people.

“It is a product of a process of empowering women,” Ramos said. “Once they had opportunities to lead these organizations, they showed the capacity to lead and to manage politics, while it also gave them the organizational tools to build the strategy of launching more female candidacies.”

As Brazil’s election day approaches, fear of violence grows

Maial Kaiapó, 34, running for congress from Pará state — one of the Amazon’s most deforested — said the rising threat from land grabbers and illegal loggers added to her sense of urgency.

“It is time for us, Indigenous women, to move and enter the political field,” she added. “Because we are really in the middle of a war.”

She is the granddaughter of Raoni Metuktire, 92, chief of the Kaiapó people and one of Brazil’s most prominent Indigenous leaders. He has fought for the preservation of the Amazon for decades.

In a video posted on Kaiapó’s Instagram account, Metuktire endorsed his granddaughter in their native Kaiapó language.

“May she speak for us,” he said.



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24 minutes ago, Winterfell is Burning said:

There's a problem with many Americans specially (but Europeans do it to) to try to see everything that happens in the world as a reproduction to what happens in their own country. If Bolsonaro is a Trump like figure, then it's opposition it's made of center-left people that are honestly trying to stop it's abuses. But it's not. Brazil's politics is more like a gang war with two sides interested in making money and gaining power and using mostly similar tactics, and usually even the same people- most people in Bolsonaro's government also worked or supported Lula at some point (Bolsonaro himself campaigned for him before), and a decent part of his own support base in Congress and government will join Lula if he wins too.

I can see that.  While I really hope Bolsonaro loses, I would have wished for a much better candidate than Lula (and all the baggage he brings).  This is not a Trump v Biden election moment (for example).

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53 minutes ago, Padraig said:

I can see that.  While I really hope Bolsonaro loses, I would have wished for a much better candidate than Lula (and all the baggage he brings).  This is not a Trump v Biden election moment (for example).

Isn’t Lula offering apologia for Putin like a good Tankie?

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1 minute ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

So… apologia for Putin.



54 minutes ago, Conflicting Thought said:

it kind of is


Biden isn't notoriously crooked, or guilty of many of the things he criticized Trump for.

The worst part of this election  is that there are better choices, at least in the first round, but they don't have the same media attention (as we saw with Trump, outrageous behavior attracts more of it) or support of the political establishment (most of the mainstream politicians support either one, whether is to get votes of their base or because they just don't want to rock the boat too much and run the risk of elect an honest president for a change).

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Listening to live broadcasts in the streets of Brasil --" Balsonaro has got to go!" the crowds chant.

Tropical Trump' Jair Bolsonaro gets boost from the former president after Michigan rally




'For half a decade, we have drawn comparisons between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former president Donald Trump. In many ways, the two right-wing ultranationalists are birds of a feather: They both surged to power on a tide of anti-establishment anger; they counted on the enduring support of evangelical voters and certain business elites; they gained politically by the spread of misinformation on social media; they stymied collective global action on climate change; they raged at the strictures imposed by (and the science behind) pandemic-era lockdowns; they waged a relentless culture war against supposed enemies in media, state institutions and schools.

Throughout, Bolsonaro and Trump have referred to each other as allies and fellow travelers, locked in the same battles against the Western liberal establishment. Earlier this month, in his typically self-regarding style, Trump offered Bolsonaro an endorsement ahead of upcoming national elections: “‘Tropical Trump’ as he is affectionately called, has done a GREAT job for the wonderful people of Brazil,” Trump wrote on his social media site, Truth Social. “When I was President of the U.S., there was no other country leader who called me more than Jair.” ....



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Corruption and scandals aside, Lula is rather objectively more leftist than Biden - particularly his current campaign.  A better analogy, if we have to make one, would be Trump v Sanders.

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50 minutes ago, DMC said:

Corruption and scandals aside, Lula is rather objectively more leftist than Biden - particularly his current campaign.  A better analogy, if we have to make one, would be Trump v Sanders.

But Sanders isn’t a Tankie offering apologia for the Russian dictator like Lula.

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