The Weight of Thought

Less than three months before the World Cup begins, more than 1,400 Brazilian police and military members have seized control of a network of Rio de Janeiro slums that are home to 130,000 Brazilians, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
As part of the takeover, the latest in the Brazil’s larger “pacification” program the government says will seize control of the favelas from drug gangs, police and military officials will set up “permanent posts” in the Mare slums near the Rio airport, just as they have in other slums across the country.
While slums like Mare have high rates of violence, favela residents and international organizations have raised questions about pacification because of the tactics of police and military members, who operate with little oversight in a country with extremely high rates of police brutality. 20 members of Brazil’s police force, for instance, are already under investigation amid allegations that they tortured and murdered Amarildo de Souza, a favela resident whose death became a rallying cry against police brutality and tactics during the protests that swept the country last summer.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly, accusing the NSA of violating international law by its indiscriminate collection of personal information of Brazilian citizens and economic espionage targeted on the country’s strategic industries.

Rousseff’s angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Rousseff had already put off a planned visit to Washington in protest at US spying, after NSA documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the US electronic eavesdropping agency had monitored the Brazilian president’s phone calls, as well as Brazilian embassies and spied on the state oil corporation, Petrobras.

Brazil plans to divorce itself from the U.S.-centric Internet over Washington’s widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

Brazil’s Congress Votes to Invest 100% of Oil Revenue into Education and Healthcare

For Brazilians and Brazil-watchers alike, the protests this week [and last] have either inspired alarm or inspired hope. On one hand, there are the conspiracy theorists, who think the protests are engineered to impact the presidential elections and are organized by nefarious elements from the extreme left. On the other, some hope this is finally it: a real, nationwide movement to hold the government responsible for security, corruption, and public services. Could it be an end to the usual apathy and complacency, to the shrug and “vai-fazer-o-que” [what can you do] … attitude? Are people finally going to take action? Is this the start of something big?

Those in favor of the protests want them to mean something more. A photo has been circulating on Facebook of a “future” book called “The 20 Cent Revolution: The Protest that Changed Brazil.” And it’s arguably the continuing violence to repress the protests that’s serving as fuel for a movement. But they could peter out after new protests planned for [this] week, or it could become like Occupy Wall Street – where a movement gains a lot of momentum and media attention, but fizzles out and doesn’t actually accomplish much or end in many concrete results.

Photojournalist creatively covers the ongoing protests in Brazil

Amazon Indians from Peru and Brazil have joined together to stop a Canadian oil company destroying their land and threatening the lives of uncontacted tribes.

The abundant resources of their forest home provide the Matsés with a rich and varied diet.

Hundreds of Matsés Indians gathered on the border of Peru and Brazil last Saturday and called on their governments to stop the exploration, warning that the work will devastate their forest home.

The oil giant Pacific Rubiales is headquartered in Canada and has already started oil exploration in ‘Block 135’ in Peru, which lies directly over an area proposed as an uncontacted tribes reserve.

In a rare interview with Survival, a Matsés woman said, ‘Oil will destroy the place where our rivers are born. What will happen to the fish? What will the animals drink?’

According to the Bible, right after God pooped out humanity, He told us, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground… I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth.” What He didn’t tell us was that all this shit is finite—that if we continued to fuck one another silly without contraceptives, eventually the planet wouldn’t be able to sustain the human race. This is yet another reason why God isn’t real, and He isn’t going to save us from anything. So get over it already.

Mother Nature, on the other hand, is one very real and very bad bitch who is capable of shaking Homo sapiens off her topsoil like a nasty case of dandruff. And pretty soon, if things keep going the way they are (and let’s just be honest, they will), the seed-bearing plants will rot, “meteorologist” will cease to be a job description, most everyone will freeze to death, and cannibals will roam free, feasting on any remaining stragglers.  

In recognition of this terrible—but inevitable—outcome, we asked our international offices to put their research caps on and find out which sorts of precious materials and resources their countries were running out of the fastest. We know you only flush for No. 2 and work in a green office or whatever, but the sort of problems detailed below are, at this point, pretty much unfixable. Not much else to do but sit back and watch the long, slow death of the floating rock we call home.

A massacre of up to 80 Yanomami Indians has taken place in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, according to claims emerging from the region, prompting the government to send in investigators.

Blame is being placed on illegal garimpeiro miners who cross the border from Brazil to prospect for gold and have clashed violently with Amazon tribes before. According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.

The claims were presented to local authorities in Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas state on Monday, asking for an immediate investigation of the site where the alleged killing took place, and for the expulsion of the garimpeiros. The event would have taken place during the first two weeks of July but due to the remoteness of the village it is only now been made public.

A spokeswoman at the public prosecutor’s office said the government could not yet confirm the attack nor how many people may have been killed.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development opened Wednesday, launching a new round of debate on the future of the planet, its resources and people, 20 years after the first Earth Summit.

Opening the so-called Rio+20 Summit, Dilma Rousseff, president of host nation Brazil, called on “all countries of the world to commit” to reaching an accord that addresses serious environmental and social woes.

The UN conference, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that declared the environment a priority, is the largest ever organized, with 50,000 delegates, the United Nations said.

Around 115 leaders are expected for the summit itself on June 20-22 but a series of business, environmental and nongovernmental organization conferences are being held in the runup.