Will Bolsonaro go quietly?

Jair Bolsonaro has still not conceded the election, more than 12 hours after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. was declared the winner of Brazil’s presidential election. While the election was fairly close, with Lula getting 50.9% of the vote (60.3 million) to Bolsonaro’s 49.10% (58.2 million), the margin is large enough to be conclusive. Bolsonaro had earlier vowed not to concede and he and his three sons remained silent in the presidential residence.

Meanwhile, many of his prominent supporters have conceded that he lost and many world leaders (including Joe Biden) were quick to congratulate Lula on his victory, suggesting that they were trying to send a message discouraging Bolsonaro from harboring any hopes of staying in power using the military. Biden’s words are especially important given that Brazil’s military in 1946 staged a US-backed coup and then ruled the country until 1985. Bolsonaro is a former member of the military and has close ties to them.

Another factor is how quickly the results were known, by close to midnight on election night, giving little time for conspiracy theories about the election being stolen to grow, the way that they did in the US where the final results were declared after some days.

Lula beats Bolsonaro in Brazil’s run-off election

In a close election, Lula defeated the right-wing extremist Trump ally by a margin of 50.8% to 49.1% with 99% of the votes counted.

Ecstatic and tearful supporters of Lula – who secured more than 59m votes to Bolsonaro’s 57m – hugged and threw cans of beer in the air.

“This means we are going to have someone in power who cares about those at the bottom. Right now we have a person who doesn’t care about the majority, about us, about LGBT people,” Soares said. “Bolsonaro … is a bad person. He doesn’t show a drop of empathy or solidarity for others. There is no way he can continue as president.”

There was celebration around the region too as leftist allies tweeted their congratulations. “Viva Lula,” said Colombia’s leader, Gustavo Petro.

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández celebrated “a new era in Latin American history”. “An era of hope and of a future that starts right now.”

Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador commemorated what he called a victory for “equality and humanism.”.

There is no word as yet if Bolsonaro has accepted the result and conceded. Like Trump, he had been warning that he might not accept a loss because the election was ‘stolen’. Some of his followers are indeed making that claim in ways that should sound familiar to us in the US.

Outside Bolsonaro’s home in west Rio there was dejection and anger as the news sunk in. “I’m angry,” said Monique Almeido, a 36-year-old beautician. “I don’t even know what to say.”

João Reis, a 50-year-old electrician, said he was convinced the vote had been rigged.

“It’s fraud without a doubt, they manipulated the count. The Armed Forces must intervene,” demanded

And if they didn’t? “The population must take to the streets to demand military intervention so that we don’t hand power over to the communists.”

Things are going to be quite tense in the days to come.

Elon Musk and Twitter

I try to avoid reading anything about Elon Musk, even though my news sources constantly bombard me with headlines about something he has said or done. I find people who constantly promote themselves, and Musk is a particularly extreme example of this, to be really annoying. For some reason, the media seem to think that his pronouncements on anything, even world affairs, are to be taken seriously enough as to be relayed to us. Such is the power of money to bestow credibility to people on topics on which they have no expertise whatsoever.

But I was vaguely interested in the saga of his on-again, off-again effort to buy Twitter and the deal was finally completed on Friday. Musk uses Twitter as his main vehicle for drawing attention to himself and may have thought that owning Twitter would enable him to get even more exposure by being his own personal platform. He has plans to take the company private by buying up all its shares.
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Midsomer Murders takes on atheism

As long time readers know, I am a fan of TV detective stories, especially the genteel type of story set in quiet settings where the villain is unmasked at the end. The British police procedurals are a significant sub-genre and one of the most venerable is the series Midsomer Murders that began in 1997 and is now in its 24th season. Set in a fictitious rural county in England, it follows a set formula and that very familiarity is part of its appeal.

I have seen all 22 seasons and noticed that over time it has developed a certain campy quality as the writers seem to be trying to introduce ever more bizarre ways of having the murderer kill their victims. You would think that any reasonably competent murderer would try to make it quick and clean in order to avoid getting caught. But these murderers seems to be artists who want to make a statement and thus seem to spend a lot of time creating increasingly exotic ways of staging victims, even in places where they are likely to be found doing so. The campiness has reached a point where the discovery of the victims makes me laugh out loud.
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Liz Truss and Jacob Rees-Mogg: Two useless people in high places

Liz Truss gave her farewell speech and seemed as clueless as ever. She advised her replacement Rishi Sunak of the need to ‘be bold’ although it was her very own boldness that led to one of the most spectacular downfalls in recent UK political history. She is is most likely to be remembered as the answer to two future trivia questions: Who had the shortest tenure as UK prime minister? And who was prime minister when Elizabeth Windsor died?

It is unlikely that Sunak will take her advice to be bold. He has probably learned that he needs to take things slow and at least give the appearance of being deliberative so as to remove the image that the Conservatives have now acquired for being reckless, even as he pushes the same right-wing policies that the Conservatives always push. Although he is cut from the same cloth as other Conservative leaders, coming from a wealthy and privileged background and went to the ‘right’ schools, I am sure that he is mindful that he is different in being an ethnic South Asian and Hindu. Being the first in any major category (gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion) to occupy a high position means that people are closely watching you. Failure will cause many to whisper that ‘people like them’ are simply not cut out to hold such positions. So Sunak’s first goal will be to not mess things up as much as Truss did and thus cautions is called for.
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Trump is unlikely to testify publicly to the January 6th committee

When the January 6th congressional committee voted to subpoena Trump to testify before it, I thought that there was a real possibility that he would because, despite the risks that he will say something incriminating, Trump loves to be on TV so much and the ratings for such a hearing, the only measure that he seems to really care about, would go through the roof. He could use the event to ignore the questions and instead rant about all his pet peeves.

It seems like the committee was well aware of this possibility and vice-chair Liz Cheney said that Trump’s testimony would not be live, in order to avoid the hearings becoming a circus.
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Anthony Bourdain behind the scenes in fancy restaurants

The late Anthony Bourdain shot to fame as a celebrity chef following publication of his book Kitchen Confidential that went behind the scenes in the kitchens of fancy restaurants. That book grew out of a 1999 article Don’t Eat Before Reading This that he published in The New Yorker. It is a wildly entertaining account. Here are some excerpts.

Good food, good eating, is all about blood and organs, cruelty and decay. It’s about sodium-loaded pork fat, stinky triple-cream cheeses, the tender thymus glands and distended livers of young animals. It’s about danger—risking the dark, bacterial forces of beef, chicken, cheese, and shellfish.

When a kitchen is in full swing, proper refrigeration is almost nonexistent, what with the many openings of the refrigerator door as the cooks rummage frantically during the rush, mingling your tuna with the chicken, the lamb, or the beef.
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