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Give it your all Brazil

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In the previous post, ‘Jumping over the Bandwagon, I had mentioned that it is really crucial that the people of Brazil rose up now because the world is watching the country in anticipation of the World Cup.  Besides hosting the World Cup there are several reasons why we should be watching Brazil: it is the largest economy in Latin America, it takes the seventh position when it’s economy is compared to the rest of the world and it has arguably the best international soccer team in the world. If you look at the growth of Brazil in the recent years you will see that it has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world, according to Trading Economics, this is due to it’s export potential. The country benefits from its diversity in agriculture as well as manufacturing production. Not to forget the country has an enormous supply of natural resources, all these factors helps the country lure in foreign investors. But all this growth is worth nothing if the country is plagued by a weak infrastructure, a failing education system, corruption, greed, and inequality.

940783-130622-brazil-protestsThe Brazilian people know that the country is growing and changing; they currently have in office the first female president, Dilma Rousseff leading the country.  So it is only natural that the people want their livelihood to grow with the country; this is one of the reasons why they are protesting.

The World Cup is going to attract the attention of the public and potential investors, which means growth for Brazil. But who is going to benefit from the growth? According to the article, ‘Grumbling in the Terraces,’ found at The Economist, one of the biggest demands made by the Brazilian people, is that schools, hospitals, and other public service facilities, reach the same building standards that stadiums currently in Brazil are reaching.

Two months back the country hosted the Confederations Cup, during that time, FIFA, took over management of the stadiums. Bringing in money, volunteers and order, many would argue that this was a good thing. I would agree as well but the problem is that it does not last, when the show is over no one cares.  If you want to see how fast things change, here is a quotation from the same article mentioned above, found at The Economist:

The 52,825 people who watched Flamengo play Coritiba on July 6th were treated rather differently to the elites who paid top prices to attend the inaugural Confederations Cup match three weeks earlier. Gone were the neat concession stands, the hundreds of volunteers and the top-class facilities for media. Instead, fans and press had the kind of experience that is depressingly familiar at Brazil’s football grounds.

The internet didn’t work, the radio reporters were forced to narrate the game from the stands, and fans were tossed drinks from a big fridge rather than served from behind counters. Even getting to the stadium was difficult: whereas busy avenues were closed to traffic during the Confederations Cup to improve access to the venue, fans now have to run a gauntlet of cars in order to reach the turnstiles. The promised tramlines have yet to materialise.

Complaints are not aimed at FIFA, which during the Confederations Cup provided a level of service to match the ticket prices. Rather, it is aimed at the Brazilian stadium managers who seem to be incapable of providing the same treatment.

The quotation above shines light on one of the problems that surrounds competitions like the World Cup or the Olympics. These games/competitions bring money and build stadiums but they also have a dark side that negatively affects the poor people in the hosting country.

Housing-rights-workshop-300x275A Geneva-based advocate group, Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), publicized in 2007 that it had an on-going three year study that covered seven past and at that time future events hosted by the Olympics. These events took place Beijing, Atlanta, Seoul, Sydney, Athens, London, and Barcelona; the topics covered included homelessness, crime, and cost of housing.

The study included very credible information which would be crucial in bringing justice to events like these:

For the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, 720,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes and homeless people were rounded up and detained in facilities outside the city, the report said. Development and urbanization led to unaffordable housing.

Leading up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, more than 400 families were displaced to make room for the Olympic Village, 20 families were evicted from the site of the Olympic stadium and 200 other families were displaced for the construction of ring roads. Housing prices and rents increased 139 and 149 percent respectively during the six-year period before the games and the lack of affordable housing forced low-income earners out of the city.

For the 1996 Atlanta Games, some 30,000 poor residents were displaced due to gentrification. About 2,000 public housing units were demolished.

Legislation was introduced to criminalize homelessness, the report said.Legislative measures also were introduced ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics to simplify the expropriation of private property. Hundreds of Roma were evicted from their settlements.

 Because the main sporting complex for the 2000 Sydney Games was built on surplus government wasteland, no one was directly evicted or displaced for those games. But the city’s gentrification caused housing prices to more than double between 1996 and 2003. Rents soared 40 percent, forcing many to move to the city’s fringe.

The quotation is from COHRE’s study. You can see that the in justice is something that is not new. Erica Brazil protest 1 RTBulman (2007) wrote in an article for USA Today, that COHRE’s same study had details about 1.5 million people being displaced in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics. The media following this were few because we are talking about China (the countries censorship is ridiculous) this is why the upraising in Brazil is necessary; because the world is watching.

The world was watching South Africa but corruption being the blame for many problems in Africa discourages many from expecting any change in Africa. You know that excuse that some people use when the words change and Africa are put in the same sentence. But I will be the first to admit that corruption does run deep in the South African government but the same goes for the Olympics and World Cup organization.

In an article by Gary Anderson called, “South Africa to kick homeless off  streets before the World Cup (2010),” written for Global Research. Mr Anderson wrote this:

More than 800 tramps, beggars and street children have already been removed from Johannesburg and sent to remote settlements hundreds of miles away.

And in Cape Town, where England face Algeria on June 18, up to 300 have been moved to Blikkiesdorp camp where 1,450 families are crammed in a settlement of tin huts designed for just 650 people.

Johannesburg councillor Sipho Masigo was unrepentant. “Homelessness and begging are big problems in the city,” he said. “You have to clean your house before you have guests. There is nothing wrong with that.

You can see that the fault is on both sides, both are necessary for the system to continue. Some of these stadiums in South Africa, which cost at least 30 million US dollars, were only used four times throughout the whole competition. If Sipho Masigo was homeless he would have a problem with being relocated instead of being taken care of.

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Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, is kept up by 18 orange iron, ‘giraffes.’

The article, “Human cost of the World Cup (2010),” posted by Al Jazeera, provided more proof of the collaboration of local officials and the representatives of the Olympics and the World Cup. The article showed corruption in England, “In Britain, 400 people were forced out of the Clays Lane estate, which was demolished to make way for the 2012 Olympic Park in East London.” So far it seems like it does not matter where they go these people continue to prey on the vulnerable.

There was some positive news in the article posted by Al Jazeera (2010), the news is that Chicago ahead of the 2016 Olympic bid pledged to be the first city to disallow evictions. The city lost the bid of course but what a moment.

Give it all you got Brazil;Peace!

Reference:

Anderson, Gary. (2010, March 28). South Africa to kick Homeless off streets before World Cup. Global Research. http://www.globalresearch.ca/south-africa-to-kick-homeless-off-streets-before-world-cup/18401

Bulman, Erica. (2007, June 5). Rights group: 1.5 million people displaced by preparations for 2008 Beijing Olympics. USA Today. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2007-06-05-3431055449_x.htm

Smith, David. (2010, June 2). Nelspruit’s brutal inequalities test World Cup’s legacy. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2010/jun/03/nelspruit-world-cup

http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/2010/03/20103816395976656.html

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More than One Million Protesters Shake up Brazil

So, I do not know if you have heard but about 1.2 million people all over Brazil took to the streets. In protest of a number of things but we can just simply say economic inequality. I have been meaning to write something regarding the economic inequality in Brazil and its relationship to the World Cup but I couldn’t. This is because, ‘I have not been able to find this documentary,’ that I watched a couple of years ago; I have been looking for it for at least one month and fifteen days (I feel that it is really important). I know, I have said those words several times before, I wish I had anticipated that I was going to start this blog because I would have kept a record of information on how to find it. I am going to explain it a little bit of it, just in case someone reading this would know what documentary I am talking about; please share if you do.

So the documentary was about the what the government is doing to the poor people living in the flavelas. Which is locking up young black Brazilian males from the flavelas. One of the  worst parts of the situation was the prison conditions; they were unbelievable. The documentary stated that the young men and boys were being stuffed in these cells; it was at least 16 people in one small cell. The governments argument was that the boys and men were involved in violence, crime, drugs, etc. But really, the real reason is because they are poor. I am going to write another post when I have a little more time to think about this; for now this works.

With that said, I had hoped that the people in Brazil would take to the streets, anytime before the World Cup would have worked for me. I did not expect some action this early. The timing is perfect because the World Cup will help the story reach more people. This is a fight for all of humanity not just Brazilians. This is all I will say for now, below is a video and an article from Al Jazeera on the matter.

Notice the medical student, I personally am proud of the youth all over the world for rising up. If you look at all the uprisings that we have watched take place in the twenty first century, the youth have really been an important factor, even in Europe, just look at Greece. This is also a good time to point out how important education is because the youth are students. We also cannot forget the youth of the sixties for their courage as well because they are in the streets today; I have protested with them.

Article below!

Clashes with police mark biggest day of demonstrations as President Rousseff calls for emergency meeting amid pressure.

Last Modified: 21 Jun 2013 16:54
Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied across Brazil as part of a protest movement over the quality of public services and the high cost of staging the World Cup.President Dilma Rousseff called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday amid mounting pressure on her government in the face of the biggest street protests the South American country has seen in 20 yearsThe demonstrations have also prompted her to cancel a trip to Japan planned for next week.Local media reported that 1.2 million people took part in rallies across the country of 194 million people – an intensification of the movement which started two weeks ago to protest at bus fare increases.Police fired tear gas in Rio de Janeiro, scene of the biggest protest where 300,000 people demonstrated near City Hall, to disperse stone-throwing protesters. At least one person was injured in the clashes. Demonstrators also set ablaze a vehicle owned by the SBT television station.On Friday, CBN radio and the website of the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, both respected, mainstream media carried reports speculating on the suspension of the Confederations Cup, an eight-nation football tournament considered a dry run for next year’s World Cup.

Violence in Brasilia

In the capital Brasilia, security forces including military police blocked protesters trying to break into the foreign ministry building and throwing burning objects.

In Sao Paulo, an estimated 110,000 people flooded the main avenida Paulista to celebrate the fare rollback and keep the pressure on Rousseff’s leftist government to increase social spending.

Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez reports on the people behind the Brazil protests.

But clashes erupted between a group of ultra-leftists marching behind their red banners and a majority of demonstrators who objected to the presence of political parties.

One of the leftists was hit in the head by a projectile and blamed a member of the ruling Workers Party. Police were forced to intervene to put an end to the clashes.

The protests have escalated into a wider call for an end to government corruption in the world’s seventh largest economy, a call prompted by resentment over the $15bn cost of hosting the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

Those opposing the hosting of the World Cup are planning a march to Rio’s Maracana stadium on June 30, the day of the Confederations Cup final.

Protesters say they want higher funding for education and health and a cut in salaries of public officials. They are also protesting against what they viewed as rampant corruption within the political class.

About 15,000 people, most of them in their 20s, gathered just before dusk on Thursday the Alfonso Pena thoroughfare in Belo Horizonte, but a prompt police response of rubber bullets sent them scuttling for cover.

“Brazil, country of corruption,” “We want a serious economic policy,” “Enough, it’s time to speak” and “Brazil is waking up,” were just some of the slogans marchers held aloft as they wound their way through the city centre.

Recife and Salvador rallies

Thousands more marched in Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, and Recife.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Sao Paulo, said police in Recife said marches there attracted more than 100,000 people, while a small protest in the northeastern city of Salvador resulted in clashes between police and protesters.

Many marching against corruption and the cost of the 2014 World Cup are also angry at the media, including the influential Globo network, accused of belittling their movement.

In Sao Paulo, Globo TV crews have been jeered while covering protest rallies and on Tuesday demonstrators set the satellite van of another station ablaze.

Social media networks have been key to the organisation of the mass protests, with demonstrators using the slogan “It’s more than just 20 cents” – a reference to the bus fare rises – to rally people to their cause. The movement has no political hue and no clear leadership.

 

Peace!

Reference:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/06/201362022328194879.html

One of the Few Existing Gems of San Francisco has a Half-Life of 365 days

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During my cool down at Kimbell.

On Saturday mornings, I have the luxury of heading down to the local sports and activities field, called

Kimbell. There I spend a good two hours playing the beautiful game of football (soccer in America). It really is a privilege. But what makes my Saturdays even more special is what I get myself into after football. 2013-05-18 13.30.11

Almost six months ago, I came across (in my opinion) one of the coolest and brightest gems in the city of San Francisco. This Gem, is  The Free Farm Stand, located around Gough  and Eddy St. This farm which I would argue has its own ecosystem, dips down in the earth, can easily by overlooked; It took me two attempts to find it. And it is only about two minutes from where I play football.

This delicate piece of land is run by one the coolest people I have met in SF: Mr. Tree. Yes, his name is Tree and

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Meet: Mr. Tree. I just put my phone in his face, stopped him in his tracks and said, ‘smile.’

he spends a lot of his time gardening and providing Free food to people who need it. I remember one of the Saturdays, Tree had told me that the garden produces thousands of pounds of produce every year and the plot of land is not that big, it is about half a block, I would say. Imagine how much food would be produced if there was a local garden on every block. But the garden includes a greenhouse, a composting area, an office, a tool shed, a labyrinth and a huge variety of plants. The farm is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to around 2:30 pm. It is open to anyone who is willing to get their hands dirty. The farm provides free food, on site every Saturday between 1:00pm to 2:00pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Parque Ninos Unidos: 23rd St & Treat Ave.

I remember my first time there, I had the task of taking out old lettuce and plants so that something else could be planted in place, washing newly harvested produce and composting. While I was working, the sun was shining and I was surrounded by snails (I have never seen so many snails in SF), earwigs, earthworms, birds, etc. Remember I grew up interacting with nature so I felt right at home but at this time I am a more mature person who makes the effort of relocating a snail instead of throwing salt on it. Or trying not to smash and ant instead of forcing it into a battle with another ant. I can happily say I now care for animals instead of just trying to satisfy my urge for amusement, via their life.  The people there are really cool, a handful of people  consistently show up but throughout my time there I have met many nice people.

I am currently trying to spend as much time as I can there because it will only be there till the end of the year (about 196 days). I am so upset that there is nothing we can do. The city will probably build housing where the farm is now. Some people would say, ‘good,’ but I bet there will still be people on the streets. Nonetheless the rest of the time we have there means a great deal to us (gardeners and volunteers) and to the people on the receiving end of our work.

You can find Mr. Tree at this email: thefreefarm.sf@gmail.com and he has a website: http://thefreefarm.org.

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Welcoming Sign at The Free Farm Stand

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Nice place to chill

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Aerial View

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Path down to the greenhouse, office, shed, eating area and endless possibilities.

I hope that you have already or will found/find a gem like this in your life.

Peace!

Economic Inequality in America: The 1% of America has 40% of the Wealth

Over the past week, the topic of inequality has been floating around me. I have been thinking about inequality and its direct impact to the well being of, what I would argue the majority of the people on this planet. I started this thinking marathon last weekend when I was at a barbeque and I heard one of the other guests shout something similar to this, “I know, they just raise the prices and kick everyone out!”  I looked towards the source of this statement and we made eye contact, the source proceeded with a drawn-out head shake. That is all I heard him say and that was enough for me to know what he was talking about; gentrification. All over America cities are going through gentrification: getting rid of the old and bringing in new money.

Hearing a conversation regarding the topic of gentrification at a friendly barbeque was both a bad thing as well as a good thing. The bad thing is that gentrification exists at all and we have to deal with it, on the other hand it is a good thing because I see it as a sign that it might be becoming more of a concern to the common individual.

My first encounter with gentrification took place at least four years ago when I was at a local tea shop studying for an exam. During my stay there I met a man(I do not remember his name now) who made it clear to me that he was homeless. We talked for most of the day,we talked about life and the adventures that come with it. But one of the things that he said is that he noticed that a lot of people are leaving San Francisco, California. When I heard this I was shocked, “really,” I thought, because as far as I know everyone wants to live in San Francisco. But now I think about it he was probably referring to people who were more like him, people who did not have enough money to afford to live in San Francisco. Since that day I had kept my mind open to learning more about gentrification.

Fast forward one year and I am enrolled  in a class that provides me with the opportunity to learn more about gentrification. I had a final paper assignment and the topic that I chose to write on was “the history and impact of murals in San Francisco.” My professor really wanted me to focus on the, “weirdness and or the peculiar messages in the murals,” to this day I do not know what he was saying. But I knew what I wanted to learn about, I surrounded myself with everything regarding gentrification and absorbed as much as I could.

Now back to my marathon of thoughts regarding economic inequality. a couple of days ago I came across pictures(below) of  extravagant hotels/resorts in Dubai. I know that Dubai is one of the wealthiest cities but after seeing these pictures I think, “really,” people still have money.

I mean, because I recently started taking business courses, so it is all new to me. But I do  know that big corporation(s)/companies do their research before they open a business in a certain area. They find out how much they are going to make, how many people come each year, when they need to advertise, who are their main clients, etc; they find out everything before the invest their money. So basically it surprised me that this resort is doing so well(in this day and age), while others are suffering. One of main problems I find with the state of the world is that things do not have to be the way that they are. It is not necessary to produce or consume nice things in the expense of others; which is exactly the way the world functions today.

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Sky View

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People’s homes

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The smaller of the two palm trees

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There aquariums inside the buildings. It can be at least 90 degrees outside.

To sum it all up, I found a video that really puts the economic inequality in America and ultimately the world into perspective. This video is pretty impressive. This video is found on upworthy.com and it is called,”9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact,” posted by Adam Mordecai.

Most Americans want a more ideal and equal distribution of wealth.

The actual distribution is ridiculous

1% of America has 40% of the wealth.

Peace!

“Only my body is here because I am thinking about what is happening around the world.”-Mumia

References:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gentrification

http://www.upworthy.com/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind-blowing-fact-2?c=ufb1

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