Many pictures dispense interpretation. Most tragedies could do without another opinion. The nation is transfixed with the unforgivable string of killings of unarmed black youth by those assigned to protect them. Grief has boiled over, calls for justice are once again being heard.
Will the death of Freddie Gray Jr. suffice for us to go from indignation to effective legislative action? Or is Baltimore only the last stop in this tragic journey of blood through the streets of America? Are we really ready to forget this one too? Are we really ready to go on?
It’s too much sorrow, too many mothers and relatives mourning the violence that seems directed at one particularly underprivileged, and often ignored, segment of the population. Thus, this picture and how we may choose to interpret it, so we can get some sleep tonight.
Not another young black man being chased by a platoon of armed, and armored, policemen, but an unsuspected leader of a new charge for change, and a new day for racial equality in the U.S. (more)
* Curtain Raiser
Smiling while preaching against the ‘heavy hand of government,’ Chairman Ajit Pai’s just fulfilled exactly what he’d been put in charge to do: to kick the teeth of the Federal Communications Commission, and yank the Internet from everybody but those who can pay to access it.
By a vote of 3 to 2, the FCC all but allowed big broadband providers to create Web lanes. It’s the Rule of the Mighty: to corporate ou social media giants, access online remains the same. To billions of small, independent sites, though, it’ll take forever. Unless you pay extra.
By betraying the its own mission, to protect everyone’s rights to a free Internet, Pai did a huge favor to both the Trump administration, and to his pals at Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other big providers that stand to profit from his decision. While, of course, ignoring the people’s will.
For the majority – who know what Net Neutrality is – the Web is a utility, as vital as your water service, and should be left alone by those that had no part nurturing it to become what it is today. Ironically, some of them wouldn’t even exist if Pai headed the FCC, circa 2000.
Thousands expressed support to keep the Internet as it were, through the commission’s public hearing phase. But the game was rigged, and many saw it coming on Pai’s public statements. They sounded a lot like Scott Pruitt’s words and actions running the EPA (into the ground).
But it won’t happen without a fight. Activist groups and individuals, including N.Y. Eric Schnedierman and other Attorneys General, filed suit to prevent the FCC from destroying what’s not up to it to destroy. Eventually, one hopes, even those who still have no idea what they’ve just lost will join in too. Trump supporters, are you listening?
Meanwhile, here are the Republicans who voted to end a free and democratic Internet, and how much they’ve got from telecoms since 1989, according to The Center for Responsive Politics and The Verge. Keep it in a safe place and be sure to remember their names next time you’re in the voting booth. As for Colltales, we’re taking it down either.
THE DIRTY, INFAMOUS HUNDRED MINUS
Mo Brooks, AL ($26,000), Ron Estes, KS ($13,807), Thomas Massie, KY ($25,000), Ralph Norman, SC ($15,050), John Moolenaar, MI ($25,000), Neal Dunn, FL ($18,500), Mike Bishop, MI ($68,250), Alex Mooney, WV ($17,750), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, PA ($70,500), Blaine Luetkemeyer, MO ($105,000), Paul Gosar, AZ ($12,250), Richard W. Allen, GA ($24,250), Kevin Cramer, ND ($168,500), Greg Walden, OR ($1,605,986), Marsha Blackburn, TN ($600,999), Billy Long, MO ($221,500), Gregg Harper, MS ($245,200), (more)
* The Deep End
* It Blogs the Mind
A Few Notes On the Solitary
Art of Independent Blogging
People often ask me, where does the inspiration for Colltales come from? How does its worldwide audience react to its stories, and why do readers come back for more? Or do I have any tips to share? In reality, these are hardly ever asked questions; I just wish they were.
Instead, they want to know, what’s the blog about? Or why it isn’t about something else? Or why do I even blog? To say, ‘a few things,’ ‘it is,’ and ‘I don’t know,’ never seems to please anyone, so I’m done trying it. So how do I do it? boy, am I glad you have finally asked.
Few things are more complicated to explain than the reasons behind publishing a weekly online report in a world already littered with billions of them. Specially when such effort involves hours of research and agonizing about depth and accuracy, and rarely pays a single utility bill.
Then, to make things interesting, to pick subjects like someone shops for a coffin. Should I go for broke and delve into the DeLuxe line, or be humble, or rather, cheap, and choose the pine, with a little varnish on the corners, because, well, it’s late and we all need to get some sleep?
For sure, there are few constants: family and friends are usually non subscribers. In holiday gatherings, to mention online proclivities may actually lead to appalling arguments over better uses of wasted time. An ‘aren’t you searching for a better job?’ may bury you on the spot.
Also, if it the blog’s not about love, or life advice, celebrity quirks, or things to do at 9am, while waiting for the F Train, at West 4th station, it isn’t easy to get anyone to type its name on the address bar. For once they pick, say, the day when L’Origine du Monde was the cover picture, you must prepare to hear about it from years to come.
THE HELL YOU CAN
Which brings us to theme choice, and how escape branding (yes, we hate that too). Colltales has close to 2,000 stories on file, ranging from multicolored herds to menstruation, obituaries to crop circles. Things we like, such as Beatles and futebol, and others that enrage us, like racial profiling.
It used to sport a fresh new post every single day, until it became clear that the world didn’t care one way or another. So, it turned into that something else mentioned above. They all had a similar ignition key, though: a news story. Once we get hooked on a gem, we run with it like robbers on a getaway car.
Speaking of stealing, it’s indeed common online. Mostly text lifting, and none is too small to count, just as the most edifying sermon is downright immoral if made up of words by an unattributed author. And so is placing a picture without credit. Any is worth the same thousand words: theft. (By the way, hovering on the pics tells you their author; clicking, gives you a story.)
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
Go tell the Greek, the Angolan, the Mongolian, about earth, wind, water and fire. It gets through. Now speak of the Palisades to the Palestinian, or Thanksgiving to a Kurd, and the rest of your post will remain as untouched, and deeply misunderstood, as the Mariana Trench.
But gorges can be bridged and canyons reached across. A post about a ciphered message, found a few years ago in pocket of a con man, killed in a Midwest cornfield, found resonance with a reader, who, while struggling with English, did his own probing into the matter. We cherished our newfound common taste for ciphers.
And really, a typical Colltale, if there’s such, is about how we’re more alike than not, closer rather than apart. Yeah, we wrote about (more)
* It Blogs the Mind
* Ghost Writer
* Raise Your Voice
In the end, it was all just a matter of time. After a few pro forma procedures, which paralyzed the country for most of the year, the Brazilian Congress voted today to oust President Dilma Rousseff.
For a 61 to 20 count, 81 Senators ignored calls inside and abroad against the measure, and impeached a leader who, less than two years ago, had been re-elected with over 54 million votes.
It was the end of a serendipitous and embarrassing process, which produced no recognized proof to justify such radical step, and wound up exposing the shameful underbelly of Brazil’s politics.
Accused on a technicality by a group of legislators with a particularly long rap sheet of law-breaking and misconduct, Rousseff goes down along a political project led by her Workers’ Party, that momentarily placed Brazil among the world’s most progressive nations.
Before being itself completely overwhelmed by its own misconduct and abuse of power, the party, known as PT, managed what many thought was impossible, and now more than ever, is unlikely to be repeated: lift an estimated 30 million out of extreme poverty.
BACK TO THE PAST, PART TWO
As that was happening, though, it’s now obvious that an influential segment of the upper classes was not about to give up what it had consistently lost in the polls: government access. All it took was to channel popular dissatisfaction with PT to get it all neatly done.
It was, by all accounts, a coup, orchestrated by a coalition of parties that share one trait: none have convinced the electoral majority that they should be entrusted the reins of Brazil, (more)
* New Continuity Leader
* An Overturned Cup
A Day for Brazil to Count
Its Democratic Blessings
There are two wrenching, overlapping moments hitting Brazil right now: one punctual, threatening to postpone the future for another 40 years. The other is a permanent state been of self-doubt, of insular auto-sabotage that betrays a profound fear of realizing the dreams that it has been dreaming for so long.
Thus, if Brazil were a person, March 31th would feel like having a screwdriver making turns while deeply encased in the gut. Any other year, it’d be a day to be quickly forgotten, as it’s been for over half a century. But this year, the pain’s different and the bleeding, worse.
When the tanks took the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, and other Brazilian capitals, on that March of 1964, they were not just aborting democratically elected President João Goulart. They were strangling a nation trying to come on to its own.
For the 1950s had been Brazil’s rebirth, and the promise of a time unlike anything that had come before. It was the decade the nation discovered its blackness, its youth exploding with possibilities, and most people started moving to live in modern cities, with an emerging industry to boot.
Suddenly, Brazilian popular culture, music, cinema, fine arts, architecture, even its passion for football, acquired an exuberance, a gusto for living that surpassed that of all ethnicities that had been thrown in the mix since the founding of the nation in 1500.
WHEN BOOTS HIT THE GROUND
That’s what the truculent military coup hoped to squashed like tropical cockroaches. The country’s powerful oligarchy, and the always unsecured middle class, readily embraced the muscular support from the U.S., who couldn’t bear seeing Brazil fall into the Soviet Union lure.
The military showed a unified front, swiftly consolidating power, even as they were at each other’s throats behind the scenes. Their single-file determination drove great Brazilian minds to exile, or to an early grave, but also had a tenacious resistance to fight from day one.
While tirany indebted the nation, and mercilessly punished dissent and free expression, Brazil grew around and despite it. It took 21 years to restore democracy. It may take many more (more)
* John & João
* Dead Presidents
* 50 Summers
Katrina or When Climate Change
Collided Against the Racial Divide
They called for help but it never came. As the nation witnessed entire counties drown on TV, the president refused to cut down his vacations. The storm turned the Big Easy into one of the hardest places on Earth to survive. And a compromised recovery would be short and flawed and unequal.
They promised to rebuild but more than lives, personal belongings, and memorabilia got lost in the flood. Gone was also both New Orleans’ patina of a supposedly racial democracy, and yet another national lame excuse to deny climate change.
As it goes, both were currency during the Bush administration in the immediate post 9/11 era, when his government acquired immense powers to avenge, in a phony cowboy way, the open wounds of American society. Katrina, thus, was far from a ‘natural’ disaster.
The government that sent to the U.N. an honored but misguided black Secretary of State, to justify the Iraq invasion with manufactured evidence, had also promoted an energy policy based on fossil fuels that’s now directly linked to the climate deterioration of the planet.
A policy that, while lining government officials’ pockets, from the VIP down to close allies in the industry and oil-producing countries, has been instrumental for an explosive growth in the destructive power of storms such as Karina, and the wild fires now raging in the West Coast.
WHY THEY WERE LEFT BEHIND
Despite our first black president‘s usual brand of shinning rhetoric and optimism about the future, the state of race relations in this (more)
* New Orleans Remembers