18 November 2013

Reading the Sunday Papers

I usually get through reading the Sunday edition of O Globo, Rio’s version of The New York Times, in about an hour. There are lots of sections, but I can never find more than two or three stories of any compelling interest. The rest are just regurgitations of what’s been going on all week. But this week I’ve spent an amazing three-and-a-half hours poring over nearly every story, in every section, including Sports! The paper was literally bursting:

he thinks he just won the lottery . . .
The biggest story was about the arrest and imprisonment — listen carefully, the ar-rest and im-pri-son-ment — of 11 defendants, all convicted to varying sentences, in Brazil’s Biggest Political Corruption Scandal Ever, the Mensalão (big monthly allowance). There’s no room here to explain this scandal in detail. Just know that it began in 2005 at the highest levels of government under the prior administration and only just now have any defendants begun to taste their just desserts. These defendants — I suppose I should call them convicted felons now — really and truly considered themselves way above the law. How banal to see them skulk into the police precincts under escort, two of them still defiant, with raised fists, another hiding his face under his jacket. All of them, that is, except  . . .

he thinks he's up for an Oscar . . . 
at least he's embarrassed . . .

a very happy Cesare Battisti
 . . . Henrique Pizzolato, who fled to Italy 45 days ago, unbeknownst to the Supreme Court, the Federal Police, the border patrol, and everyone else who was supposed to have been watching out for such an obvious maneuver. Pizzolato, an ex-director of the Bank of Brazil, has dual citizenship (Italo-Brazilian). Since all of the convicted felons were to have surrendered their passports as soon as they were convicted, there is much speculation as to how this guy got away. Maybe he kept one passport, maybe he didn’t, maybe he got a new passport in Paraguay (his departure point from Brazil), maybe . . . who knows. Brazil is both embarrassed and indignant, and is preparing to demand that Italy extradite him. Ha! That’s a good one. Italy has for the last nine years demanded the extradition of Cesare Battisti, an Italian national convicted of murder who fled to Brazil in 2004, where he is currently writing his memoirs and enjoying a nice life. Quid pro quo, Brazil. You won’t be seeing Mr. Pizzolato for a good long time. La vita è bella!

Then I loved this one. We’re just finishing up a long holiday weekend (Proclamation of the Republic), in which hundreds of thousands of Rio residents left their city, in their cars, to celebrate out here in Búzios and the various other resort towns of the Região dos Lagos. The mayor of Rio is begging them to return to Rio early, today instead of tomorrow, because the elevated highway leading into Rio (akin to the West Side Highway) is going to be imploded in a week, and the crucial avenue underneath it will be closed early tomorrow morning. This avenue closing would cause unimaginable traffic tie-ups even under normal circumstances. If everyone were to return to the city at the same time tomorrow . . . Seems to me the city authorities have known about the Proclamation of the Republic since it was proclaimed on November 15, 1889. Could they not have scheduled the implosion for, um, some other time?

On the you-heard-it-here-first theory, has the American press reported what I just read, which is that various countries in the European Union have stopped exporting the substances used in lethal injections to the 32 American states that have the death penalty? Can’t get any more Sodium Pentothal from the United Kingdom, no more Pentobarbital from Denmark and not a drop of Propofol from Germany. The states are in a panic. Missouri has opted for a moratorium until they decide what to do, but Ohio has decided to try a never-before-used cocktail of toxic substances (good old Yankee ingenuity!) and Arkansas wants to return to the electric chair. Or at least that’s what O Globo reported.

And the news went on and on . . . Chile has a fascinating presidential election today between two women — two women, U.S.A., get with the times! — who are the daughters of two Air Force generals on opposite sides of the 1973 Pinochet coup . . . An amazing battle is going on in Rio between monkeys and birds, as more and more birds move their nests inside people’s apartments and houses to protect their eggs from the hungry, and wily, monkeys . . . Many Brazilian food companies have been caught with their pants down, selling obviously smaller containers of foodstuffs for the same price as before, despite a law saying the companies have to advise consumers in advance. It’s only a matter of time before the huge fines start being imposed . . . Another men’s volley ball championship is underway, this one in Japan, and the Brazilian team is expected to do their usual spectacular job. Now I have to see what times the games will be shown here, and organize my upcoming week accordingly . . . It’s late now, but there are still a few sections to read, and miles to go before I sleep.

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