Saturday, February 26, 2011

Caminhada de hoje - Novo Apartamento!

Milton e Silvia na Rua Direita

no, not our future house, no...

our street / nossa rua

na porta da casa / the door of the house

na porta da casa / front door of the house

A casa dos magníficos a esquerda, com o apartamento de Rafael embaixo, e a nossa a direita!
M taking a break in our pracinha

In house with the triangle windows... our place will be the two ginormous windows below the first floor... it has a little garden... and is across a little green space from João e Silvia...  vai ser bom demais!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reagan Says Being In A Union Is A Basic Right

Captain’s Blog Stardate 25.02.2011

Another great Day, beginning with a morning power walk across Ouro Preto and back with Milton & Silvia. Then took the bus up to campus and worked – getting to know more software, passwords, etc… the mestrado em educação matemática students were being shown a cool new smart board technology, so we sat in and watched it. Then went to work on the plan I am forming for the Trilha das Matemáticas. Went to lunch, fixed my ATM card, worked until 5ish and when we got home we forgot about meeting Silva to look at an apartment… we bought a bottle of great Chilean wine in the supermarket and shared it with Heloísa. Nina the owner of Flomon, brought us a plate of cheese… we are bushed so we stayed in… Nina had the tv hooked up so M is delirious with being able to watch the novelas! Overall a great day in Minas!

Our room with a view

Organizing the Bookcase

Via CNN: Why I started Coffee Party USA

March 18, 2010|By Annabel Park, Special to CNN
"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

When I began the Facebook fan page "Join the Coffee Party Movement," I had no idea what would transpire. It was about 1:30 a.m. January 26, and I was very frustrated with the endless news coverage about the Tea Party and the growing narrative that it represented America.

Via Climate Progress: The Corn Ultimatum: How long can Americans keep burning one sixth the world’s corn supply in our cars? - Bill Clinton warns: Too much ethanol could lead to food riots

corn.jpgI am not a fan of our corn ethanol policy as I made clear made clear during the last food crisis (see “The Fuel on the Hill” and “Can words describe how bad corn ethanol is?” and “Let them eat biofuels!“).  In a world of blatantly increasing food insecurity — driven by population, dietary trends, rising oil prices, and growing climate instability — America’s  policy of burning one third of our corn crop in our engines (soon to be 37% or more) is becoming increasingly untenable, if not unconscionable.
I was glad to see former Pres. Bill Clinton start talking about this in a Washington Post piece  headlined, “Clinton: Too much ethanol could lead to food riots” — though I tend to see the world’s increasing use of crops for fuel as an underlying cause for growing food insecurity, something that makes the whole food system more brittle and thus more vulnerable to triggering events, like once in 1000 100 year droughts and once in 500 year floods, which is to say climate instability (see WashPost, Lester Brown explain how extreme weather, climate change drive record food prices).
If you want to understand why it will be politically difficult to roll back US ethanol production to saner levels, Reuters has a good article, “Analysis: In food vs fuel debate, U.S. resolute on ethanol.”  Yet it is that piece which notes, “U.S. ethanol production this year will consume 15 percent of the world’s corn supply, up from 10 percent in 2008.”
Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton, had an excellent piece in the WashPost explaining “How biofuels contribute to the food crisis,” which I excerpt below:
Each year, the world demands more grain, and this year the world’s farms will not produce it. World food prices have surged above the food crisis levels of 2008. Millions more people will be malnourished, and hundreds of millions who are already hungry will eat less or give up other necessities. Food riots have started again.
Nearly all assessments of the 2008 food crisis assigned biofuels a meaningful role, but much of academia and the media ultimately agreed that the scale of the crisis resulted from a “perfect storm” of causes. Yet this “perfect storm” has re-formed not three years later. We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it.
Demand for biofuels is almost doubling the challenge of producing more food. Since 2004, for every additional ton of grain needed to feed a growing world population, rising government requirements for ethanol from grain have demanded a matching ton. Brazil’s reliance on sugar ethanol and Europe’s on biodiesel have comparably increased growth rates in the demand for sugar and driven up demand for vegetable oil.
Agricultural production is keeping up in general with the growing demand for food — but it keeps up with the added demand for biofuels only if growing weather is good. A good growing year in 2008 helped end that year’s crisis, but average-to-poor weather since then has stressed inventories and confidence. Higher fuel costs for farmers and a weaker dollar contribute to higher prices, but prices soar only when large consumers, fearing that production will continue to fall short, bid up prices to secure their supplies.
Much of today’s discussion focuses only on the challenge of meeting rising food demand because of factors such as rising meat consumption in China and long-term underinvestment in agricultural research. Droughts in Russia and floods in Australia over the past year may be early harbingers of climate change. But if it is hard to meet rising food demands, it must be harder to meet demands for both food and biofuels.
… some studies evaluated the effect of biofuels on retail food prices in the United States rather than on wholesale crop prices worldwide. Not surprisingly, they found little impact. The price of corn in your corn flakes and other retail products is so small that even a tripling of crop prices has little effect at U.S. grocery stores. But the world’s poor do not eat processed, packaged corn flakes; they spend more than half of their incomes on staples such as corn meal.
Several reports tried to segregate the precise role of biofuels from weather and other factors. That’s not possible because the causes multiply each other. Just as a political tremor in the Middle East makes oil prices jump in tight markets, so drought in Russia sends wheat futures soaring once biofuels have stressed grain markets. In 2008 and again recently, some governments have responded by banning grain exports to keep domestic prices down. This has the effect of forcing prices higher for everyone else. You can blame national self-interest and the inevitable vagaries of weather, but the key is to avoid tight markets in the first place.
A broad misunderstanding has also arisen from economic models predicting price increases from biofuels that are still far lower than those of the past decade. In fact, these models do not estimate biofuel effects on prices today but those in a future market “equilibrium,” which will exist only after farmers have ample time to increase production to match demand. Today, the market is out of equilibrium. Biofuels have grown rapidly, from consuming 2 percent of world grain and virtually no vegetable oil in 2004 to more than 6.5 percent of grain and 8 percent of vegetable oil last year. Governments worldwide seek to triple production of biofuels by 2020, and that implies more moderately high prices after good growing years and soaring prices after bad ones.
The good news is that relief is possible. The same economic studies imply that food prices should come down if we can just limit biofuel growth. Corn ethanol is nearing Congress’s requirement for 15 billion gallons a year, and lawmakers need to hold it there. Similarly, Europe must rethink its mandates. For “advanced biofuels” required by Congress, the Obama administration needs to focus on fuel sources that do not compete with food, such as garbage and crop residues, and not grasses grown on good cropland. Otherwise, the sequel to the food crisis is likely to turn into a series.
Hear!  Hear!
As an aside, conservatives like to claim that it is environmentalists who gave us our current biofuels policy, but in fact I never have met an environmentalist who thought we should mandate anywhere near the current amount of corn ethanol.
The only reason environmentalists and clean energy advocates even tolerated energy deals with corn ethanol mandates is the hope that jumpstarting the infrastructure for corn ethanol would pave the way for next-generation cellulosic ethanol.  That turned out to be a mistake (see “Are biofuels a core climate solution?“).
We have gone far beyond what is tenable.  Yes, peak oil (and the energy-intensive nature of food production) means that oil prices will rise in tandem with food prices, thus increasing the profitability of biofuels.  And yes, we are a rich country, the  breadbasket of the world, politically far more impervious to higher food prices than higher oil prices.
But as population grows, developing countries’ diets change, and the extreme weather of the last year increasingly becomes the norm in a globally warmed world,  food insecurity will grow and our biofuels policy will, inevitably, collapse.  It must.
Related Post:

Dear Daniel,


The progressive movement is taking to the streets. Events have been organized in cities and state capitols across the nation to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and people in every state who will suffer as a result of the Right's slash-and-burn attacks on workers' rights and critical budget priorities.

The time is 12:00 NOON tomorrow, wherever you are ... it's going to be big, so please don't miss out on being a part of it.

Our friends at MoveOn have compiled the master list of events around the country. Find the event or events nearest you here >

We hope you can make it, and, as always, please help spread the word.

In Solidarity,


Original Message

Dear Daniel,

What's been going on in Wisconsin is electric, and it's spreading.

In states like Ohio, Florida and Indiana, right-wing governors and legislators are taking up similar measures to the one in Wisconsin to strip workers of their fundamental collective bargaining rights, and in those states, citizens have been taking to the streets to protest. In Indiana, Democratic lawmakers have repeated a move by the Democratic state senators in Wisconsin and have left the state to stop the legislature from moving forward with the proposal.

There are indeed rallies going on all around the country this week. (Here's the latest list we have.)

In addition, this Saturday, February 26, will be a NATIONAL day of rallies to stand up for the American Dream.

We are supporting calls for rallies in every state capitol and every major city nationwide at Noon (12:00pm) local time in each state.

We have THREE DAYS to pull these events together. That's why PFAW and our progressive allies are calling activists across the country just like you not only to attend these events, but to help organize them.

If you or a group you belong to can organize an even for Saturday, please let us know at Also use that address to let us know if you hear or read of similar events taking place this Saturday near you.

And please "like" the Facebook group "I Support the Call for Nationwide Rallies to Protect the American Dream."

You can check that page for more info on the events and the issue, as well as post info that you have about events there.

Public workers are being vilified and blamed by the Right for a fiscal crisis created by corporate special interests that have defied regulation and accountability. The public employees didn't create this mess, and they, along with their unions, are willing to make the concessions in pensions and benefits that will save states money. But stripping workers of their rights to organize and bargain collectively doesn't save money, it only weakens workers' ability to stand up for their own interests -- something that's been on the Far Right's wish list for decades.

The Right's unconscionable demonization of public workers is intended to turn the middle class against itself ... they want division -- union vs. non-union workers, private sector vs. public sector employees -- all while powerful corporate interests keep getting richer and are asked to share none of the sacrifice.

This Saturday, you can show your solidarity with Wisconsin and with working families in every state ... This Saturday, you can be part of a real grassroots movement to stop the Right's all-out effort to kill the American Dream.

Thanks for all you do.

-- Ben Betz, Online Communications Manager

P.S. Keep spreading the word about our statement of solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.
Sign On      Facebook big blue share button


Ladybug plays with sprinkles!

Not again!

Via UTNE: The Republicans' Radical Nihilism

Antigovernment conservatives cannot govern well, writes Alan Wolfe at Democracy Journal, and moreover they won't.

Read More>>

Via Utne: Fire the Rich

A radical fix for the economy that greed destroyed.

Read More >>

Shuttle Discovery Launches For Final Time

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Captain’s blog star date: 24.02.2011

What endears me to this place is the constant stream of silliness… last night Milton got a taxi at the rodoviaro on his way home and the driver could not understand what he was talking about. When he arrived at Flomon, we asked him to wait just a bit so M could take his stuff upstairs and to take us to campus… it cost a luxurious 30 reais for the whole trip -  vs the bus which is a shocking (and exciting!) R$1.90 per ride. The driver was called again after our meeting, and promised to be there in10 minutes, 40 minutes later as we waited out of the rain he came back, apologizing (we had missed three buses). He took us to a O Passo for us to celebrate his chegada with a chopp e pizza, and we walked home with the lights of the city and the nice streets gleaming in the light rain...

I got in, and Milton tried again to explain where we wanted to go, and guy couldn’t understand what he was saying… I explained, and the driver understood us. Now for those of you just tuning in, I am a Portuguese as a second (actually third) language speaker... and Milton, from another state is obviously a native speaker of the world’s most beautiful language. It is like a Californian traveling to Texas, and people not getting what he is talking about. When we came here for the concurso in November we had to go through customs between Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte (the flight was coming and going  to Buenos Aires (which if look on the map is no where near Belo Horizonte). So we have jokes about Minas being another country now... and it is as people are funny, very sweet, and great to be with here...

After work, we headed downtown to change his voting registration only to find out he has to live here 3 months to do so. Then we went to the bank to get my  ATM going, and I forgot my code, or it didn’t like the one I have been using… we stopped (not wanting to have a total fail of an afternoon – not that there is a total fail here in Ouro Preto when all you need do is walk about town. We decided to stop in and get him a cell phone… once again the girl at the counter couldn’t quite get what he was saying… I burst in to  laughter. M, getting frustrated and both of us laughing, as the place is a busy place  in the corner of a 200 year old building, music blaring, friends coming buy, three young ladies running the place… one of which from Rio wants to move home, another declared that she hates carnival...  He eventually got a cell phone and we walked on deciding we would get some ice cream on the way home. We stopped at O Chocolate, it being very hot, then we stopped at the hardware store to inquire about a estabilizador for our computers and stuff (the lighting here being of apocalyptic proportions, one is very wise to use some form of protection). And of course, they don’t have one, and they suggested that we go to another place we had just passed, we were both tired and hot and just went home only to find our apartment hand not just been cleaned but loved!  A basket on the table for our fruit, an new little  rug, the chairs arranged nicely, the sheets changed… and blessing above all the toilet had been unplugged (no need to go into details about it… let’s just say I forgot that you do not, ever put toilet paper in the toilet, only in the covered basket).  

 M went downstairs to the supermarket and bought some soup, and we are decompressing after a simple dinner… there are rumors of popcorn later.

via truthout:

Thursday 24 February 2011

Main Street Movement Erupts as Thousands Across Country Protest War on the Middle Class
Zaid Jilani, ThinkProgress: "Last week, 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats inspired the nation when they decided to flee the state rather than allow quorum for a vote on a bill that would have decimated the state's public employee unions and dealt a crippling blow to the state's hard-working teachers, sanitation employees, and other middle class union members. Since then, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites have taken to the streets in even greater number than before the walkout in support of the fleeing legislators and in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-middle class agenda."

Read the Article

via Democracy for America

Wisconsin Republicans' all-out assault on unions and middle-class families has nothing to do with fixing the budget deficit -- for them, it's just about winning. They pretty much admitted it this weekend. Check out this quote from Sunday's New York Times:
"Scott Walker and I and my brother [Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald] went into this session with the understanding that we had to deliver on campaign promises, that people wanted the Republicans to make change, that the more feathers you ruffle this time, the better you'll be."

- Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald
They think "ruffling feathers", like beating down unions and middle-class families, will make it easier to get reelected. It's not about what's best for America or Wisconsin. It's all about winning the next election for them.

For us, it's about protecting good-paying jobs. Unions and middle-class families are the backbone of the economy and we need to stand in solidarity with them -- that's why we're joining our friends at MoveOn, Service Employees International Union, and 29 other organizations in a national day of action. Together, we've organized rallies in most major cities and all 50 state capitals across the country this Saturday at noon.

Now it's time to get the word out and make sure every event is a success. Please sign up to attend the rally closest you right now, then spread the word to everyone you know.

Find a rally near you for this Saturday at noon and sign up to attend now.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment so don't stop with just signing up. We also need to get the word out and recruit others to attend.

The bigger each event is, the more press coverage we'll generate and the greater impact our message will have on the national narrative. So don't come to the rally alone. Bring a friend. Bring two friends. Heck, drive a car full of friends.

This fight in Wisconsin is bigger than just one state.

It's Ohio.
It's Indiana.
It's New Jersey.
It's all of us.

And don't for a second think Republicans in Congress aren't paying attention.

With a federal budget showdown looming as Republicans threaten to shutdown the Government, these rallies also serve to put them on notice. If Republicans try to cut the vital programs or the workers' rights people depend on to protect their middle-class families, America will stand up -- united -- and defeat them.

Join us this weekend at a rally in California.

Find a rally in California now.

Thank you for everything you do.


Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

Via DCC: "So be it."

"So be it."

That was Speaker Boehner’s response to the jobs that will be lost as a result of House Republicans’ disastrous spending bill. Everything from schools to public radio to reproductive health care to housing assistance for homeless veterans would face deep cuts. Job losses could top 800,000.

But when it came to Big Oil companies, Republicans refused to ask their special interest backers to pay their fair share. It’s just wrong. If the protests in Wisconsin teach us anything, it's that we must meet the Republicans’ push for an extreme right-wing agenda head on with the strength of Democrats standing united.

Time is short. If Republicans refuse to back down from their radical cuts by next week, the government could be forced to shut down.

Contribute $20 or more to our GOP Accountability Rapid Response Fund today. Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of House Democrats.
Contribute Now
Your dollars will be put to work immediately to hold Republicans accountable for asking families to sacrifice their jobs while Big Oil companies keep their tax breaks.

House Democrats have set a goal of raising $500,000 before Monday's February FEC deadline to make a powerful showing to the media, pundits, and most importantly, House Republicans that we will not sit silent as the tea party fringe and their special interest backers try to ram their radical agenda through Congress.

Contribute $20 or more to our GOP Accountability Rapid Response Fund today. Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of House Democrats.

Now more than ever, we must hold House Republicans accountable for choosing the wrong priorities – putting billion-dollar special interests ahead of struggling middle class families.

With your support, we will go district-by-district to make sure voters know exactly what the Republicans' tea party agenda means for their community. Stand with us.

Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

Contribute Now

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Dear Daniel,

A deputy attorney general in Indiana on Saturday suggested on Twitter to "use live ammunition" against protesters in Madison, Wisconsin. In a back-and-forth with a writer for Mother Jones magazine, he followed up, "You're damned right I advocate deadly force."

There's one word for this: Unacceptable.

Sign our petition calling for the immediate resignation of Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox.

The fact that a public official is comfortable calling for the shooting of peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights is terrifying.
Unfortunately, it's not surprising since the political Right has moved so far away from supporting democratic norms.

The right-wing movement -- from its politicians to its media outlets -- has taken sides against the working people of Wisconsin and is trying to paint peaceful protesters and unions as "thugs." In doing so, they are aligning themselves with some of American history's worst villains -- the politicians and robber barons of the late 1800's and early 1900s who would call in private security firms and militias to break union strikes and intimidate workers with outright violence, and sometimes mass murder.

We remember the violent actions and rhetoric of some of the Tea Party congressional candidates in 2010 -- Sharron Angle with her "Second Amendment remedies," Joe Miller with his private security guards who roughed up and illegally detained a reporter. Now we're faced with public officials who are falsely trying to portray public workers who are under attack and their supporters as violent ... and advocating real violence against them just for standing up for their basic rights!

Don't let it stand. Speak out now. Tell Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and AG Greg Zoeller to immediately demand Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox's resignation and address calls for violence within the AG's office.

We apologize for today's increased email traffic from us, but this is clearly an important and urgent matter, and we did not feel it should wait. Please speak out now.

-- Ben Betz, Online Communications Manager


Karl Pilkington: An Idiot Abroad in Brazil- The Best Bits

An Idiot Abroad: Brazil - Samba training

Karl Pilkington in Brazil: Speedo shopping-AIA

An Idiot Abroad: Brazil - Living with Celso

Via JMG: Lying Liars At Fox News Reverse Gallup Poll Result On Collective Bargaining

Media Matters quotes the actual poll:
Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws.
Don't expect Fox to issue a retraction.

UPDATE: Media Matters has updated their above-linked post to note that Fox DID retract the above graphic. I'm shocked, truly.

Morning Walk / Caminhada de hoje

On fundo da Rua Alvarenga

Largo do Rosario

Ouro Preto!!!!!!!!!!!!

janelas / windows
the guys fixing the water main and repaving the  street below our apartment...

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