Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Murder and Mayhem - A Fresh Look at the Newspaper - São Paulo

I have a love-hate relationship with the biggest local paper here in Brazil called Folha de São Paulo. I find them biased, frequently ridiculous and sometimes plain old wrong (like naming Columbus as a city of Oregon rather than Ohio might be incorrect. Scratch the "might"). But I cannot resist every single morning opening up what my mom would call the "Murder and Mayhem" section, here called Cotidiano, or Daily Life. Mom used the term referring to the Metro section in the New York Times which was the paper we got where I grew up.

Murder and Mayhem is completely accurate as a moniker. There is pretty much never good news in Cotidiano. It's all hold-ups and kids killing parents, and cops killing bad guys and bad guys killing cops and cops who are bad guys. Once in a while, the news seems to be so continuously bad for the day that I start to laugh. And this happened this past Saturday...

The first story that struck me was the news that the government is going to invest a billion or so to block cell phone calls into penitentiaries. They literally cannot stop the cell phones from getting in. And they show a photo of two cut-open roasted potatoes that have cell phones inside--two cell phones apprehended when the policemen thought...hmmmm....roast potatoes from a visitor? Not mandioca or beans? Suspicious."

Okay, so I've just about gotten over my giggle at the potatoes when I see that 16,600 prisoners are being released so they can celebrate Father's Day (Sunday, August 11) and then report back. Ummmm, they wish to release them because they are such good role models for their kids that they should head home? Because clearly the first thing these guys are going to do is NOT head to the Corinthians game, and NOT have a beer with their buddies at the bar but rather give hugs and sweet kisses to junior. Sigh. Okay, that one was harder to giggle.

Then we got to the part about the first university opening up in a penitentiary. I love the idea of this--rehabilitating prisoners through higher education. An education most of them were denied as poor street kids. Maybe giving them a chance. But, as they say, read on. There will be 80 openings for students...that's great! The penitentiary has 769 prisoners! 10%! Oh, wait, oops. Just noticed that only 13 of the 769 have completed high school. I am guessing they will not be ready to take ENEM, the SATs of Brazil. So they are doing remedial high school classes for a few months until they have some ready to take their exams to get in. Fortunately, I think the competition at that edition of ENEM will not be fierce--you take the exam, congratulations!! You're in! Freshman class of 2018!! Yay! Oh, and then they are going to take a poll and see what all the students would like to study. I am hoping the administration will decline advanced circuitry and criminal justice type stuff. Maybe Peace Studies would be nice. Or Negotiations.

The bad guys of Paraiba are getting educated!

So, that's all going well.  Needing comic relief from the comic relief makes me flip the page to this picture:

Cadê a Faixa que estava aqui? Where is the pedestrian walkway that was here?
Sorry about the bad photo--almost fell out of my lounge chair at the club pool. Greenpeace, being the rogues that they are, have painted words on the ground near a pedestrian walkway that is so faded that you cannot tell it is there. "Where is the pedestrian walkway that was here?" Instead of just painting the pedestrian walkway for the city...that would have been nice, no? Pedestrian walkway...by Greenpeace. It could be a new sponsorship venue for the city...all the pedestrian walkways could be sponsored...Pedestrian walkway by Brahma! By Tylenol! By Nike! I must write a letter to Mayor Haddad (AH-DAH-GEE) about this one. I may have just had the brainstorm to save this town.


  1. Great post! I was laughing out loud as I read it, I love your writing style!! By the way Folha de Sao Paulo bugs the hell out of me too, that is why I stick with "O Estado de Sao Paulo", called Estadao by the locals! Abracos

    1. I swear I can't give up Folha...it's like a train wreck. I can hardly wait to open Cotidiano. I'll check out Estadão but I prefer my news biased and silly so I don't know if that will work out...just kidding! :) Thanks for reading!

  2. And the goofiness never ends. I just read in today's Folha Murder & Mayhem section that the value for cellular blocking in prisons is actually $30 million reais (US$15 million), not $1.1 billion reais (US$550 million) as reported in Saturday's Folha. The article is so carefully worded that it is impossible to tell if Folha is saying that they screwed up the number or if the government did. Article (in Portuguese) here: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2013/08/1325560-governo-de-sp-afirma-que-bloqueio-de-celular-custara-ate-r-30-mi.shtml

  3. Did you see my post of an article about a group of prisoners who are very excellent knitters?

    1. Hmmm, I saw Virginia had emailed something about some crochet or something. Will head over now to check it out!

  4. Hooray! I can finally comment on your blog!