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Brazil’s toxic politics stain a soccer icon: The national team jersey

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Omar Monteiro Jr.’s hillside bar in Rio de Janeiro, a ten-minute drive from Maracana Stadium — the cathedral of global soccer — is a haunt for Brazilian progressives. You’ll find a flattering mural of the country’s leftist president-elect painted on a wall. What you won’t find — at least not on Monteiro’s back — is what might be the most recognizable uniform in sport: The yellow and green jersey of Brazil’s national team.

As Brazil begins World Cup play Thursday favored to win a record sixth title, what would normally be a moment of joyful anticipation in Latin America’s largest nation is being dampened by lingering division in the aftermath of last month’s ugly presidential election. The divide is ripping at the seams of the canarinho, the once-sacred “little canary” shirt, which was co-opted as campaign wear before, during and after the vote by supporters of the “Trump of the Tropics” — election loser Jair Bolsonaro.

Camps set up across the country by the outgoing president’s backers to protest the election victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are seas of yellow and green. For many Brazilians, the adoption of the colors by Bolsonaristas is tainting a jersey made famous by generations of graceful greats of the Beautiful Game, from Pelé to Ronaldinho.

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“I have a yellow shirt. I used to wear it,” Monteiro said, but “man, it’s very difficult [now]. The way they appropriated the shirt. It’s embarrassing to wear it. It’s become the symbol of the Brazilian extreme right.”

Bolsonaro has drawn criticism for his dismissal of the coronavirus pandemic, his support for the commercial development of the Amazon rainforest and his insults against women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. He narrowly lost the second and final round of the election on Oct. 30; supporters have swarmed military bases to complain, without evidence, of voter fraud.

For a continent-sized, soccer-crazed country that would normally be sharing a collective dream for the hexa — a historic sixth title — the bid for the global championship is raising a deeply personal question. Will the team’s run this year serve as a time of national healing? Or will it crystallize the way the era of toxic politics — overheated personal attacks, violence between voters, the unfounded accusations of a stolen election — can leave lasting wounds on a nation?

The national team, typically a beacon of national pride, is already a microcosm of the country’s polarized politics. Several players at least tacitly backed Bolsonaro, with the clearest support coming from the biggest star: Neymar. The selection’s celebrity forward posted a TikTok video of himself singing a campaign tune and joined the incumbent in a live broadcast. He has promised to dedicate a goal at the World Cup to the president.

Tite, the national coach, meanwhile, has publicly lamented the injection of politics into team affairs. Should Brazil, the winningest nation in World Cup history, again take the crown, he has pledged to break with a tradition since the 1950s by refusing to join any team visit to the capital to meet with the sitting president, whether Bolsonaro in December or Lula in January.

Asked about the public tug of war over the national soccer shirt last month, he told the newspaper O Globo that he wanted no part in the ideological war: “I say to them, ‘that battle stays with you.’”

The current national mood stands in sharp contrast to the electrifying carnival that swept the nation in 2002, when Brazilians cheered as one as their team roared to a record-breaking fifth World Cup title. In the aftermath of the vote that Bolsonaro backers claim without evidence was stolen, some have called for boycotts of leftist businesses. A few Bolsonaristas have suggested progressives should adorn their businesses with the red star of Lula’s Workers’ Party so shoppers can identify their political allegiance — an idea some on the left say harks back to the yellow Stars of David painted on Jewish businesses during the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany.

A cafe owner in the Brazilian city of Goiânia said her business was added to one boycott list. The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution, said her customers skew progressive, which limits the financial damage. But she’s grown fearful as Bolsonaro supporters have targeted her online, reposting her political views with private family photos taken from her Instagram account and penning negative reviews of her cafe on Google.

“Maybe these attacks have worked,” she said, “because I am thinking about not talking so much about politics anymore.”

The yellow and green shirt is omnipresent among the thousands of Bolsonaro supporters rallying against the election results at Brazil’s Southeast Military Command Center in São Paulo, one of several ongoing protests since election night. Some demonstrators have demanded military intervention to keep Bolsonaro in office. Vendors in the crowd have sold popcorn in green and yellow paper bags bearing the logo of the World Cup in Qatar.

Luiz Cláudio Pereira, a retired small-business man, was one of many last week who donned the national shirt outside the São Paulo military base. The Bolsonaro supporter said it’s more a symbol of nationalism than of sports. “For me, the shirt represents Brazil, not the national team.”

He said Lula backers were shunning the jersey out of lack of national pride.

“I think it’s a lack of patriotism,” he said. “That’s why they don’t want to wear it. I don’t think it’s a symbol of Bolsonaro.”

Nike, which produces the official shirt, did not reply to a request for sales figures. Reports in the Brazilian press suggest a surge in domestic sales ahead of Brazil’s elections — in part driven by Bolsonaro supporters. But Brazil’s alternate jersey, a shade of deep blue, has also gained popularity, especially among those bothered by the yellow and green shirt’s association with the political right.

“The division in Brazilian society is here to stay. It won’t go away because of a World Cup,” said Marcos Nobre, a political analyst and author. “There is also a battle by the left to reclaim the national shirt for progressives. Maybe it will succeed, but people will still see the national shirt as different after all this.”

 

In a nation where poor children dream of rising out of the favelas on soccer talent, and where religious shrines are dedicated to the sport, the yellow-and-green shirt has a surprisingly fraught political history. It was born of humiliating defeat — the 1950 World Cup loss by Brazil to tiny neighbor Uruguay — and unabashed patriotism. A 1953 contest to replace what was then a mostly white uniform had one requirement: That it use the yellow, green, blue and white of the Brazilian flag.

The winner, designed by 19-year-old newspaper illustrator Aldyr Schlee, was a shirt with a field of yellow — hence canarinho, or little canary — lined with Kelly green trim and worn with blue shorts and white socks. Years later, Schlee would be imprisoned for writings that ran afoul of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985.

In 1970, when the dictatorship identified a World Cup victory as a domestic propaganda goal and appointed a brigadier general to head its tournament delegation, many leftist Brazilians eschewed the shirt and vowed not to support the team. Some — including future president Dilma Rousseff, then in prison as a dissident — have described cheering Brazil on anyway.

Polarization around the shirt faded in the era of democracy, but came roaring back in 2013, when protesters against Rousseff’s leftist government seized the symbol. Over the past four years, the jersey became a trademark of die-hard Bolsonaristas, with the president’s encouragement.

Bolsonaro asked his supporters to wear it on election day.

“More and more Brazil is painted green and yellow,” he said in an August podcast. “It’s not for the cup; it’s for patriotism. Part of it because of me? Yes.”

Some on the Brazilian left are trying to reclaim the shirt. Some, including Lula’s wife, are posting selfies in the jersey and making an L sign with their hands for the president-elect. Some are wearing versions emblazoned with a red star, the symbol of Lula’s Workers’ Party, or the number 13, a designation assigned to the party on election ballots.

Other say it’s too late.

“The yellow shirt is on the street calling for military intervention, calling for a coup d’etat, calling for the return of the dictatorship,” the writer Milly Lacombe said on a podcast last week. “I may be wrong, but I think that the yellow shirt is irredeemable. I don’t see how … we can recover this shirt.”

Lula said this month he would proudly wear the jersey during the World Cup.

“We don’t have to be ashamed of wearing our green and yellow shirt,” he said. “The green and yellow does not belong to a candidate. It does not belong to a party. The green and yellow are the colors of 213 million people who love this country.”

Some here are hopeful that the World Cup can begin to heal a divided nation.

Juca Kfouri, one of the country’s most celebrated sports journalists, said even the left would forgive Neymar if he soars in the coming days. “If he has a brilliant cup, people will return. Even those who deeply dislike him will have him as their idol.”

With Lula’s victory, Kfouri said, “the climate of hate” has begun to fade.

“I think that the World Cup will have this character, of people going to the streets together, and not asking who they voted for,” he said. “Maybe there will be a higher percentage of blue jerseys than yellow ones. Maybe there will still be people who are reluctant to wear the yellow jersey. But the people who don’t have the blue will wear the yellow one anyway. Because it is the color of Brazil.”

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Two Liberal MLAs depart New Brunswick politics – New Brunswick | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Two Liberal MLAs are leaving provincial politics.

Daniel Guitard and Denis Landry are trading in their trips to Fredericton for a spot closer to home, as mayors of their prospective municipalities. The two of them have put in three and half decades in provincial politics.

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Landry one of the longest-serving MLAs

Denis Landry is one of the longest serving MLAs left, and the only remaining one to have served under former Liberal premier Frank McKenna.

He was first elected in 1995 and was most recently representing Bathurst East-Nepisiguit-Saint-Isidore.

During his 27 years, he’s been minister of Natural Resource and Human Resource, minister of Justice and Public Safety, and acting minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Over the years, he’s seen many changes, but mostly changing faces, he said in an interview on Nov. 25.

Read more:

N.B. Liberal MLA Denis Landry looks to make jump to municipal politics

“All of the faces I started with are no longer here,” he said. “There are not many young people entering politics.”

Landry was quick to point out it is very difficult for young people, especially women to enter politics. There are many reasons for it, he said, including childcare while they would be in Fredericton.

“It depends what support you have home or what support you can have here,” he said. “But for (a) young person who wants to get involved in politics, men or women, it’s not easy.”

He credited his wife Johanne for playing a key role during his time as a politician, taking care of their children.

Reflecting on the big moments

“I remember one day, 1999, I got home,” he said. “My son was leaving with the car, my youngest son, I said to my wife, where is he going … he’s going to register at UNB. And I said, ‘holy jeez, like those four years, I didn’t (see) them. I mean work, work, work and my reason to be in politics then, is the same today, is to help as many people as I can, but not maybe watching my family as I should have.

There was also that quick trip to jail.

Landry, who described himself as a social activist, spent about two weeks in jail during his time as Justice and Public Safety minister under Frank McKenna.

He was protesting changes to the forestry industry, mainly the introduction of technology that was causing people to lose their jobs.

Read more:

Denis Landry chosen interim leader of New Brunswick Liberal party

“I decided to defend my colleagues and workers at that time,” he said. “The demonstrations were in the woods, sometimes at night time.”

He demonstrated with large groups along the New Brunswick-Quebec border. He said the police did an inquiry and he was identified as a leader of a group.

“Then the RCMP pressed some charges against me,” he said. “Public mischief. I had to go to trial and defend myself and I won.”

Through all it though, including serving under eight different premiers, he has one singular piece of advice:“patience.”

Historical speak of the house

Daniel Guitard was first elected in 2014 and represented Restigouche-Chaluer.

He’s served as deputy government whip during his first term, and as the speaker of the house during the first minority government since 1920.

It’s one of his favorite moments of his time in the legislative assembly.

“When I was a speaker (there were) no questions. It was historical because it was the first minority government in 100 years.”

He said he was grateful for how all the parties agreed to give him the wiggle room to learn on the fly.

“We proved over those two years that we could make it work,” he said on Nov. 25.

Guitard said there are different ways to make changes, and certain things went his way.

Read more:

Stage set for showdown in New Brunswick’s closely divided legislature

“At the end of the day, you have to adopt a strategy that fits your personality,” he said. “Stay within the team. You win some, you lose some.

He said he feels confident leaving the party in its current form and under the leadership of newly-elected leader Susan Holt.

Members of the opposition parties spoke highly of Guitard and Landry, setting aside the sometimes partisan rhetoric. Premier Blaine Higgs was one of those politicians.

“He (Landry) just has a balance about him. I guess I would have met with him more than anyone else, so that’s why I can speak to Denis a little more. I think both of them are fine gentlemen.”

Kevin Arsenault, who is a Green MLA, said he shares a common background with Landry, who has ties to the forestry industry and union leadership.

“He told me, ‘I wish you’re here as long as me,’” Arsenault said Friday. “That was pretty cool …coming from Denis, you know, I don’t know if I’ll have his patience but it was touching.”

Denis Landry has been acclaimed mayor in Hautes-Terres and Daniel Guitard is in a three-way race for mayor of Belle-Baie. Election results are expected Nov. 28.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fauci says ‘we need to keep the politics out of’ investigating COVID origins – The Hill

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Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s outgoing chief medical adviser, on Sunday urged officials to “keep the politics out of” investigating the origins of COVID-19 in China.

Speaking with moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci said he is keeping an open mind, but he reiterated that the evidence is “quite strong” that the virus occurred naturally.

“They’re very suspicious of anybody trying to accuse them,” Fauci said of the Chinese government. “We need to have an open dialogue with their scientists and our scientists, keep the politics out of it.”

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Republicans have indicated they plan to investigate the origins of the pandemic upon taking the House majority in January as well as Fauci himself, suggesting COVID-19 instead originated from a laboratory.


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“All of my colleagues, keep an absolutely open mind,” Fauci said on CBS. “We’ve got to investigate every possibility because this is too important not to do that. That’s not incompatible with saying the scientific evidence still weighs much more strongly that this is a natural occurrence. You must keep your mind open that it’s something other than that.”

But Fauci pushed back on the notion that the Chinese Communist Party covered up the pandemic’s origins. 

“Not necessarily the scientists that we know and we have dealt with and collaborated with productively for decades, but the whole establishment — a political and other establishment in China, even when there’s nothing at all to hide — they act secretive, which absolutely triggers an appropriate suspicion,” Fauci said.

He went on to criticize former President Trump’s accusatory comments against China during the early months of the pandemic, although Fauci acknowledged a need for more data.

“What happens is that if you look at the anti-China approach, that clearly the Trump administration had right from the very beginning, and the accusatory nature, the Chinese are going to flinch back and say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, we’re not going to talk to you about it,’ which is not correct. They should be,” Fauci told Brennan.

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Twitter's time in Canadian politics began with an apology — and then it got worse – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Minority Report, a weekly newsletter on federal politics. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

The first reference to “tweeting” in the House of Commons came during an apology.

Shortly after question period on the afternoon of October 20, 2009, then-Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh stood on a point of order.

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“I wish to inform you and the House that I inadvertently tweeted about matters that I ought not to have tweeted about, that is, the in-camera proceedings of the defence committee,” Dosanjh told the Speaker. “That was an error on my part and that entry will be deleted at the earliest possible opportunity, which is right after I get out of here.”

This, apparently, was before MPs realized they could have their staff manage their Twitter accounts.

Ujjal Dosanjh in the House of Commons. The then-Liberal MP apologized to the House in 2009 for tweeting out details of in-camera committee proceedings. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“I thank the honourable member,” responded Peter Milliken, Speaker at the time. “I assume that ‘tweeting’ means it went on Twitter.”

Dosanjh’s point of order marked the arrival in Canada of a social media platform that promoted both dialogue and excess — a tool that both enriched debate and created new ways to do things we would later regret.

Thirteen years later, Twitter seems to be teetering on the brink of collapse. Even if it carries on in some shape or form, its time as one of the predominant forums in public life may be nearing an end. Many users have already withdrawn from the platform or reduced their presence.

Whenever and however the Twitter era comes to an end, its impact on Canadians politics will have been great — but not entirely good.

Small audience, big impact

There is a decent chance that you’re not a regular user of Twitter. Most Canadians aren’t. But the platform has an outsized impact on the political life of this country because most Canadian politicians, journalists, pundits, political strategists, pollsters, lobbyists and partisans do use Twitter — along with a significant number of academics, policy wonks and subject matter experts.

Canada is hardly the only country with this dynamic, of course. Consider, for instance, the United States — Twitter played an integral role in Donald Trump’s rise.

Nothing so seismic has happened here (at least not yet) but the impact has not been small.

It also hasn’t been all bad. It gave politicians a new way to communicate with voters and it created a new way for voters to hold politicians to account. It facilitated the spread of news and information with incredible speed and breadth.

It elevated new and underrepresented voices and those voices enriched the wider dialogue. In certain ways, Twitter helped bring more nuance to the political debate. Think of every academic or historian who has used a Twitter thread to illuminate a complicated topic.

That, sadly, isn’t all that might be said about Twitter’s performance as a modern public square.

Amping up the extremes

As much as it has helped expose users to important information and valuable voices, it also has spread misinformation, disinformation, harassment and general nastiness. It prizes and rewards snap judgments, hot takes, outrage, condemnation, mockery, doomsaying and disagreement.

It sped up the news cycle to a dizzying degree. It elevates the most extreme opinions, offers ample opportunity for bad-faith actors and it is a terrible proxy for actual public opinion.

If previous media eras reduced politics to sound bites, Twitter reduced it even further — to hashtags. At times, the House of Commons seemed to be little more than a fancy studio for recording video clips to be pushed out on MPs’ Twitter feeds.

For all these reasons, it might be tempting to think Canadian politics would be better off without Twitter. But even if Twitter were to disappear tomorrow, there is no going back to a time before social media — just as there is no going back to a time before television or radio or newspapers.

If Twitter ceases to be a significant forum, some new platform (or platforms) will take its place. The era of social media is far from over.

There is something to be said for the argument that the problem with Twitter is not the platform itself but the way it is used, and the ways in which it is allowed to be used. In that sense, Twitter offers valuable lessons in how social media can work and how it can go wildly wrong.

Whether those lessons will be heeded is another matter entirely. The question of government regulation still looms on the horizon.

The indisputable truth is that, 13 years after Ujjal Dosanjh found a novel way to betray the confidence of in-camera committee discussions, everyone is still trying to figure out how to make the social media era work out for the best — or to at least minimize the harm it does.

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