The best of Prog rock

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brazil's Military Dictatorship: 21 Years of Interrupted Democracy

The period of the military dictatorship in Brazil often referred to as "Brazil's years of lead," which lasted from 1964 to 1985, was a somber time when Brazilian politicians lost their mandates for political reasons, the media was censured and public demonstrations of opposition were repressed violently.
There was also an ugly underground where opponents of the military were tortured and killed.
Professor Octaviano Nogueira, who teaches history and political science at the University of Brasília, says the roughest period of military intervention was between 1964 and the beginning of the 1970s. "The repression was harsh at that time," he says.
Nogueira points out that the problems that led to the 1964 coup actually began in 1961 when a right-wing president, Jânio Quadros, suddenly resigned after only six months in office and was succeeded by a left-wing vice president, João Goulart, who was distrusted by the military.
The distrust was so deep that he only took office after an institutional crisis was averted by a populist movement led by his brother-in-law, Leonel Brizola, the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
"The truth is that Goulart was a stopgap president. Besides, in reality, he was a big landowner and a conservative politician who found himself in a political party (PTB) with a leftist inheritance from Getúlio Vargas.
"The contradiction made him an inefficient president, under pressure from all sides and unable to implement policy," explains professor Nogueira.
Goulart´s administration faced constant workers´ strikes, fierce opposition in the press and had little support in most of the population.
The Army marched on Rio de Janeiro on March 31, 1964. Goulart and Brizola fled the country and the military ruled for the next 21 years.
Under the second military "president," marshal Artur da Costa e Silva, the regime undertook a radical crackdown on any opposition. So-called "institutional acts," were issued.
The most infamous was Ato Institutional #5 - AI-5, which gave the executive (the general-president) the power to close Congress and legalized the harsh repression of any social movements or public demonstrations contrary to the dictatorship.
By the late 1970s, the fourth general-president, Ernest Geisel, began what came to be known as the "slow and gradual political opening" process.
In 1979, the last of the general-presidents, João Figueiredo, sanctioned the Amnesty Law that restored the political rights of those who opposed the military, but also exempted military agents who arrested, killed and/or tortured during the dictatorship from prosecution.
Right-wing hardliners in the military were not happy with Figueiredo´s administration "opening," or the Amnesty Law. There were bomb attacks on newsstands and the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB). There was also an attempt to explode a bomb at a show in Rio de Janeiro commemorating Labor Day in 1981.
By 1984, even the military was weary of military rule. Massive demonstrations were taking place all over the country in favor of direct elections for president. But Congress refused to bow to the popular will and instead obeyed the military and voted for an indirect election.
Tancredo Neves was elected in an indirect election in 1985, but died of natural causes before taking office. His vice president, José Sarney, served for five years and was succeeded, in 1989, by the first really popularly elected president since 1964, Fernando Collar.
Ironically, Collor was impeached for corruption. He was succeeded by his vice president, Itamar Franco. In 1994, Fernando Henrique was elected and then reelected. In 2002, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began his two-term presidency.
Professor Nogueira says that with the election of a person like Lula - a worker from a low-income family with little formal education - democracy has really been consolidated in Brazil.

from - adapted by Milton França

Monday, May 9, 2011


These are some photographs where you can notice the use of broken English in most of them. They are from a Chinese website:


Saturday, May 7, 2011


1. In France, there's a place called Y.
2. In 2002, there were no billionaires in China. In 2011, there are 115 billionaires.
3. Niger (Africa) has the world's highest fertility rate - 7.1 children per mother.
4. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.
5. Almost half the newspapers in the world are published in the United States and Canada!
6. Organized crime is estimated to account for 10% of the United States' national income.
7. Suicide is the leading cause of death among South Koreans in their 20s and 30s.
8. The United States consumes 25% of all the world's energy.
9. Iceland has the most Internet users per capita of any country in the world with over 86 percent of people using the Web, compared with only 69 percent of Americans.
10. Wyoming was the first American state to allow women to vote.
11. Until 1796, there was a state in the United States called Franklin. Today it's known as Tennessee!
12. Three Mile Island is only 2 1/2 miles long.
13. There is a town called Paradise and a town called Hell in Michigan!
14. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
15. There are 10 towns named Hollywood in the United States.
16. The Zip Code 12345 is assigned to General Electric in Schenectady, New York.
17. The United States has the highest minimum drinking age in the world.
18. The three wealthiest families in the world have more assets than the combined wealth of the forty-eight poorest nations.
19. The state of Florida is bigger than England.
20. The Pacific island of Nauru's economy is almost entirely based on bird droppings.
21. The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado!
22. The Greek National anthem has 158 verses.
23. The city of Las Vegas has the most hotel rooms in the world.
24. The Canary Islands were not named after a bird called canary. They were named after a breed of dogs.
25. Streets in Japan do not have names.
26. Istanbul, in Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents: Asia and Europe.
27. In what country will you find the most Universities? India.
28. In Tibet it is considered good manners to stick out your tongue at someone.
29. In India, people are legally allowed to marry a dog.
30. Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.


1. bass
2. turnstile
3. blunt
4. parsley and spring onion
5. cribbing
6. fare
7. drumstick
8. cartoon
9. flying saucer
10. scorpio
11. bank statement
12. pedestrian crossing - sash
13. fancy dress
14. bump
15. gemini
16. AC/DC
17. G-string
18. referee
19. Leo
20. lyrics
21. laurel
22. jack
23. sleeve
24. cheapskate
25. literally
26. pisces
27. feel sorry for
28. plan
29. to break down
30. taurus