sábado, 28 de fevereiro de 2015
quinta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2015
Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a holiday observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not a holiday in most of them.
St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Dia de São Valentim is recognized on June 12.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off Saint Valentine's Malady. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
quarta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2015
The solutions to the severe drought in Brazil must go deeper than water rationing and pressure changes, says the Alliance for Water network.
It should be the rainy season. Instead Sao Paulo state is experiencing a third consecutive year with soaring temperatures and rainfall patterns well below historic records.
The main water reservoirs are operating at their lowest capacity. The Cantareira reservoir system, which serves more than nine million people in the state, is only 5% full. At the Alto Tietê reservoir network, which supplies three million people in greater Sao Paulo, water levels are below 15%.
Simple calculations indicate that given the current level of consumption versus the predicted raining patterns there is only enough water on the system to last four to six months. That means the water could run out before the next rainy season starts in November. State officials recently announced a potential rationing program of five days without water and two days with, in case the February and March rains do not refill the reservoirs.
This extreme climate scenario, combined with a series of management flaws, political negligence and a culture of waste and pollution, is bringing the largest metropolitan region of Brazil to the brink of collapse.
Since 2013, after decades of warnings about misguided development policies and destructive land use practices, experts and civil society organisations have been calling for increasingly strong measures to reduce water consumption to keep the minimum secure levels for supply reservoirs. The calls have been ignored by the state government – the system’s main operator – and federal and municipal authorities turned a blind eye to the severity of the situation.
Desperately seeking solutions to worst drought in decades in Brazil
The government took a few small steps in early 2014, such as offering a discount on water bills for people who voluntarily reduced their consumption. It also increased supply from the Billings and Guarapiranga reservoirs, but as these sources receive most of the urban waste from Sao Paulo, the water needs to be carefully tested and treated to be adequate for human consumption, adding to the complexity of securing safe water supply during the drought.
The government’s main initiative has been to reduce pressure on the distribution network, so that it pumps less water through the system. As the measure was not officially recognised by leaders or the media, people were unprepared to live without drinkable water for a couple of days when the supply glitches started to happen. Taken by the population as a de facto rationing, the lack of transparency about the times and places affected by pressure reduction caused more problems and increased distrust among Sao Paulo’s citizens.
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The Cantareira reservoir system serving more than nine million people in Sau Paulo state is only 5% full. Photograph: Nacho Cubero/Reuters
The recovery measures adopted so far account for a 22% reduction on the water volume extracted from reservoirs. Experts, however, advise that the reduction should be around 50% to sustain the minimal conditions needed for the system.
Many might be surprised that such a scenario is happening in a tropical country famous for its abundance of natural resources, crossed by hundreds of rivers and with plenty of underground water. But for regional environmentalists and experts it comes as no surprise. They have been raising the alarm on water pollution and campaigning for watershed protection and safety standards since the 1980s. But scientific and technical reports, advocacy measures and pressures on companies were lost among the apparently unstoppable powers of real estate, agriculture and industry development. Urban land use, extensive monocultures and illegal occupation of watersheds have damaged and polluted the water production areas, jeopardising their capacity to survive and recover from extended dry seasons.
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National development policies strongly focus on macro-infrastructure plans such as large hydrodams, ports and roads, the expansion of agribusiness into the Amazon, and the predatory mining industry. These sustain the exports of soya, beef and pig iron while being responsible for the majority of Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions. More and more scientific studies show the link between deforestation in the north and the reduction of rainfall in the southeast, presenting further evidence of how the effects of climate change are already upon us.
Despite the relative gains in poverty reduction over the last decade, the imminent collapse of the water supply system of the richest region in Brazil shows that basic development structures have yet to be addressed and fundamental human rights have yet to be secured in this country. Millions of people from the poorest communities have entered the consumer market, but their access to housing, sanitation, clean water, citizen security and transport remain unguarded.
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A sign reading ‘Don’t jump in the water’ at the dried up part of the Guarapiranga reservoir in November 2014. Photograph: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters
This is where an old cliché becomes real: major opportunities lie within this crisis. The transcending effect of the water shortage creates a space for unity and coordination among Brazilian social movements. It offers the chance for environmental organisations to link deforestation with urban issues, to communicate that social justice will not be achieved as long as the priority is given to an unequal and unsustainable development model. Moreover, the urgency and scale of the water crisis is likely to bring NGOs and labour unions closer to the organic and youth protests that drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in 2013. The time and place for a solid narrative that links poverty reduction to ecological protection seems finally to have arrived.
In October 2014, more than 40 NGOs, experts, independent collectives and social movements joined forces to launch the Alliance for Water, a network that is monitoring the government’s response to the crisis and presenting positive solutions for surviving the probable collapse. The alliance aims to collaborate to build a new culture of water use and conservation in Sao Paulo and is producing a series of technical reports and events to qualify the debate among a wide range stakeholders, from specialists to politicians to social movements and grassroots groups.
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Today more than 13 million inhabitants of Sao Paulo state find themselves on the edge of an unprecedented public calamity. The absence of political leadership and government transparency fuels panic and fear. Until now, the government has not outlined a clear emergency plan to guarantee minimum water supplies for essential services such as hospitals, police stations and prisons, and for the poorest people who have no structure to store or buy mineral water. A chaotic scenario might take place where, faced with a severe and sustained lack of water, many communities will resort to polluted sources or even violence, raising significant concerns over safety and health.
Civil society has a pivotal role to play by challenging development models, establishing social control over emergency plans, securing human rights and promoting the values of ethics and solidarity. As is usual in calamity situations, the most vulnerable, poorest communities are likely to pay the highest price with their health and their dignity. These people need to know they can count on organised civil society to support them across the turbulent times that lie ahead.
Marussia Whately is the programme director and Rebeca Lerer is the communications coordinator for the Alliance for Water network.
A Brazilian football club has employed fans’ mothers to act as stewards in the hope it will discourage supporters from fighting.
Sport Club do Recife trained around 30 mothers for Sunday’s derby against Nautico and put them to work patrolling the pitch perimeter dressed in high visibility vests bearing the words Seguranca Mae – Security Mums in Portuguese.
Their presence was highlighted on big screens before and during the game in a bid to make fans aware of their presence.
The club said the mothers got the same training as all security officials and volunteers working at the game, one of the biggest derbies in Recife.
“The idea was to make the most fanatical supporters aware and help in some way to bring peace to stadiums,” Aricio Fortes, vice-president of Ogilvy, the PR company that dreamt up the idea, told Sport’s website.
“At the end of the day, no one wants to fight in front of a mother, especially his own.”
Sport won the match 1-0 and the club said there were no arrests. Recife is one of Brazil’s footballing hotbeds and fan violence there has been endemic in recent years.
This is not the first time Sport and Ogilvy have collaborated. In 2013, Ogilvy ran an award-winning campaign to encourage Sport fans to sign up for organ-donor cards.
terça-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2015
175 years ago, Queen Victoria introduced a new era of bridal standards
Wedding traditions may have relaxed in recent decades, but one thing stays the same: the bride wears white. Sure, there are plenty of options out there for the iconoclasts among us. But as of last year, colored gowns accounted for only 4 to 5% of sales at popular retailer David’s Bridal.
Like any number of traditions, the white wedding dress comes to us straight from the Victorian era—in fact, from Queen Victoria herself, who was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on this day, Feb. 10, 175 years ago. Yet when she chose white silk-satin for her wedding, the choice was almost as iconoclastic as it would have been for Catherine Middleton to walk down the aisle in scarlet.
Red was in fact a very popular color for brides in Victoria’s day, but the young queen broke with the status quo and insisted on a lacy white gown. Members of the court thought it much too restrained in color, and were mystified that she eschewed ermine and even a crown, opting instead for a simple orange blossom wreath.
Victoria was not the first royal to choose white for her nuptials—several others, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1558, preceded her—but she is the one widely credited with changing the norm. Just a few years after her wedding, a popular lady’s monthly called white “the most fitting hue” for a bride, “an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”
Alongside purity and simplicity, Victoria’s gown telegraphed two other important values. She supported domestic commerce by using only British-made materials (a tradition repeated, partially, by Catherine Middleton), and she showed economy by keeping pieces of her dress in her wardrobe for years to come (as most of her contemporaries would have done as well, often simply wearing their best dress on their wedding day, no matter the color or style). Victoria repurposed the lace from her dress again and again, even resurrecting it for her Diamond Jubilee 56 years later.
Today’s brides may not share this thriftiness, but they do take after Victoria in style. With its fitted bodice and full, floor-length skirt, the typical contemporary wedding gown looks a lot more like Victoria’s dress than it does like anything else in the bride’s wardrobe.
Could a modern-day celebrity set such a lasting precedent for bridal fashion? It’s possible, but hard to imagine where such influence would come from. Even Madonna wore white to both of her weddings.