Crazies and Craziers

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell is reputed, in a book written by the BBC's James Naughtie, to have called the key figures surrounding George W. Bush in the run-up to his invasion of Iraq "f***ing crazies". Mike Pence, Trump's Vice-President, certainly has a track record that places him squarely in the same camp … Continue reading Crazies and Craziers

Deepening crisis in Brazil

Yesterday afternoon a light plane carrying four passengers crashed into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. One of the bodies recovered was that of Teori Zavascki, the Supreme Court judge responsible for oversight of the Operation Carwash (Lava Jato) corruption investigations and judgement of cases against politicians who, by virtue of currently … Continue reading Deepening crisis in Brazil

Destroying Britain’s universities

If you believe the present UK government, everything is fine with our public university system, which continues to  achieve remarkable results in international league tables, something habitually described as "punching above our weight" as a relatively small country without much deeper reflection on how our public universities got to be as good as they are. … Continue reading Destroying Britain’s universities

Canalha! Canalha! Canalha!

Canalha is a Portuguese word that means "scoundrel" when applied to an individual and "rabble" or "riffraff" when applied to a group. Senator Tancredo Neves, the grandfather of Aécio Neves, shouted it thee times in the direction of Senator Auro Moura Andrade, after Andrade falsely claimed in the plenary session of April 2, 1964, that President … Continue reading Canalha! Canalha! Canalha!

Brazil’s uncertain future

The extended process of impeaching President Dilma Rousseff came to its inevitable end yesterday with her removal from office, by a majority of 61 votes for to 20 against, in the Senate, whose members act as the final jury in impeachment cases in a session presided over by the President of the Supreme Court. Minister … Continue reading Brazil’s uncertain future

Initial reflections on Brexit

I returned from Brazil to the UK to vote in the referendum, and now find myself observing another crisis. It may well eventually lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom, given the large majority in favour of remaining in Europe in Scotland and the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence. Ironically, to … Continue reading Initial reflections on Brexit

The Observer view on Brazil

Yesterday the British Observer newspaper (the Sunday version of The Guardian newspaper) published an editorial on the Brazilian crisis that reached the following conclusion: Democracy in Brazil, restored in 1985 after 20 years of military dictatorship, is not such a robust plant that it could not be uprooted afresh by a combination of wholesale political failure … Continue reading The Observer view on Brazil

Lawfare continues

Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes has suspended Lula's nomination as Chief of Staff and returned his case to the jurisdiction of Sergio Mora. Who is Gilmar Mendes? Appointed to the supreme court by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Mendes provoked controversy by apparently protecting the financier Daniel Dantas, under investigation by the Federal Police for money laundering. … Continue reading Lawfare continues

The Brazilian political crisis

The crisis provoked by the actions taken against ex-President Lula by the federal police and São Paulo Public Prosecutor's office earlier in the month is continuing to escalate. Yesterday Federal Judge Sérgio Moro, in charge of the Lava-Jato (Operation Carwash) cases, made public the transcripts of wire taps of phone conversations between President Dilma and … Continue reading The Brazilian political crisis

Europe’s crises

It is encouraging that what was generally portrayed by the British press as a crisis of "migrants flooding across borders" is now increasingly seen as a refugee crisis, evoking a strong tide of humanitarian sentiment, particularly in Germany but also in the UK, where the Cameron government has been forced to backtrack somewhat from its … Continue reading Europe’s crises