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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Guria in Excelsis

John hated being called a salesman. He was a "biz dev" guy or better yet, an entrepreneur, maybe even a visionary. Most of all, though, he was a showman, someone who wanted to live in the limelight. His student days as "ents officer" were always close at hand. And there was that glint in his eye when name-dropping celebrity chums or clients, like the band Massive Attack. Yes, the world has definitely lost more than just a salesman.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Word Cup pain

In the long run, tonight's anguish in Brazil (losing 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals) will turn out to be more good than bad. Brazil's self-esteem, as this blog has often noted, needs to rest on firmer foundations than sport and samba. Combined with the street protests preceding the world cup, tonight's humiliation will force Brazilians to confront everyday realities with a new vigour and candour.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


"The most welcome legacy of the tournament should go beyond new constructions and services. I want Brazil to be seen no longer as the place where everything is great or dreadful: a bit of normality wouldn't hurt." Letter in yesterday's London Evening Standard.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Hope & hype

Wall Street Journal, June 2014: "But Brazil's rise stalled. After notching 7.5% growth in 2010, the economy is now in its fourth year of a slump, partly sapped by the steep fall in commodity prices.

My first blog post, February, 2011: "'Booming BRIC Brazil' is a red herring, as far as I can see. Relying on raw materials and commodities is no way to secure the country's future."

Friday, 30 May 2014

Common cents ?

The English economy was once controlled by barons. Nineteenth-century America was run by robber barons. Historically, capitalism has grown from unpretty beginnings - might is right - and its growth spurts are often accompanied by ugly land grabs. But with the evolution of kinder capitalism, involving checks and balances as well as democratic institutions, these massive wealth disparities generally give way to a more level playing field.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Maid in Brazil

"Reading the Twitter feed was like "a slap in the face", says Thiego Piruka, a journalist in Brasilia. "I didn't feel good. I was like, 'Wow, I say that a lot,'" he says. "I felt a little bit ashamed. But at the same time, I thought, 'I can do better, I can stop saying these things.'"

"Brazil has around seven million maids - more than any other country in the world."

Friday, 9 May 2014


"London has been secretly asked if it would be able to take over the 2016 Olympics because Brazil is so far behind on preparations, the Evening Standard has learned. An informal approach was made by Olympics bosses to discover whether enough venues from the triumphant 2012 London Games could be brought back into use. The disclosure follows growing panic at the International Olympic Committee over the shambles in Rio, where organisers are badly behind schedule. IOC vice-president John Coates has called Brazil’s preparations “the worst I’ve experienced”. He told a Sydney conference last month that construction had not begun on some venues, infrastructure was significantly delayed and water quality was a major concern with just two years to go."