Thursday 30 September 2010

It is a "Big Fish"

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A Piraiba (119Kg) was photographed by Celivaldo Carneiro this morning at the market in Santarem and sold for r$700(about US$400). I Heard rumour of this species( Brachyplatystoma filamentosum)reaching 200Kg. Piraibas are considered the largest species of fish in South America.

Kwik Fix by Derek

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Myself holding Derek's new book. I am enjoying it a lot.

AIDA CRUISES /Nov. in Santarem

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AIDA Cruises, Germany's largest cruise line, can trace its history back to 1960's East Germany. In 1960, Deutsche Seereederei, East Germany's state-owned shipping company, purchased the Swedish-American liner Stockholm of Andrea Doria sinking fame, renamed it Volkerfreundschaft ("Friendship Between Peoples"), and put it into service as a cruise ship -- or "holidaymaker ship," as it was called -- for the East German market. Later, the ship was chartered by foreign tour operators for part of the year.

In 1985 the Volkerfreundschaft was retired (After several more owners and a massive refit, it now sails as Classic International Cruises. Athena.), and was replaced by the Arkona, which had been built only four years earlier as the Astor for an unsuccessful new West German cruise line. Like its predecessor, the Astor sailed part of the year as a "holidaymaker ship" for "well-deserved socialists" in East Germany, and the rest of the year on charter to Western tour operators. In 1991, after Germany's reunification, Deutsche Seereederei was privatized -- like many of East Germany's state-owned companies bought by West German investors -- and the Arkona was chartered year-round to the West German tour operator Seetours.

In 1994, the company placed an order for its first brand-new ship, from Kvaerner Masa-Yards (now known as STX Finland Cruise) in Finland. Named Aida and entering service in 1996, the ship introduced a totally new concept called "club cruising." Based on Germany's popular Robinson Club resorts (think of a German Club Med), Aida's "club ship" experience was radically different from traditional cruising. Except for a small a la carte alternative restaurant, all the dining was buffet-style; there were no dress codes, and a strong emphasis was put on wellness and fitness-related activities.

Meanwhile, the company also continued operating the traditional Arkona on charter to Seetours, which it later acquired from the huge German tour operator TUI in 1997. That same year, Aida was sold to NCL, but continued on charter to Deutsche Seereederei.

In 1999, DSR's cruise operation -- now renamed Seetours, and incorporating both Arkona and Aida, which was bought back from NCL -- was sold to P&O Princess Cruises, the world's third-largest cruise operator. Recognizing the huge success of the "club ship" product, P&O Princess immediately ordered two new ships for the Aida brand from Aker MTW Werft, not far from Seetours' headquarters in the former East Germany. In 2001, Aida was renamed AIDAcara in preparation for the brand's second ship, which entered service in 2002 as AIDAvita.

At the same time, Arkona was sold and replaced by a new brand, A'ROSA, a more upscale product loosely based on the AIDA concept. The A'ROSA fleet was made up of A'ROSA BLU, the former Crown Princess, and the newly built river cruise ships A'ROSA BELLA and A'ROSA DONNA. By now, Seetours was the largest cruise operator in Germany.

The AIDA concept was so successful that P&O Princess created Ocean Village for the U.K. market -- essentially a British version of AIDA, though billed as "the cruise for people who don't do cruises" rather than "club ship." Despite the different name, Ocean Village, whose eponymous first vessel was previously P&O's Arcadia, copied almost all the aspects of AIDA's groundbreaking product.

AIDAaura, the brand's third ship and an identical sister to AIDAvita, entered service in 2003. Shortly before the new ship's delivery, P&O Princess merged with Carnival, and AIDA became part of the world's largest cruise operator. Shortly after the merger, Carnival sold the A'ROSA name and the two river cruise ships back to Seetours' former parent company, Deutsche Seereederei, while A'ROSA BLU moved to AIDA as AIDAblu, the largest-yet AIDA ship. Seetours - still headquartered in Rostock in the former East Germany - was renamed AIDA Cruises and was now Carnival's sole German-market brand. Not long after the sale of A'ROSA, in 2004, Carnival announced an order for two new AIDA ships of a totally new design, to be built at Meyer Werft, the largest builder of cruise ships in Germany. Before the first of these ships was even delivered, two more were ordered -- one in 2005 and one in 2006 -- demonstrating the huge popularity of the brand and the amount of confidence Carnival has in it.

AIDA had one of its biggest years yet in 2007. The first of the new class of ships, AIDAdiva, entered service, while AIDAblu -- always purely a "stopgap" ship for AIDA, as it wasn't purpose-built for the company -- left the fleet, headed for that British AIDA copy Ocean Village. In early 2007, Carnival also announced the foundation of a new joint venture with TUI, Germany's largest tour operator. The venture is 25 percent owned by TUI and 75 percent by Carnival, and it encompasses AIDA and also in the future a new, more traditional German-market cruise brand called TUI Cruises. In a way, this joint venture has brought AIDA full circle -- it was TUI from which Deutsche Seereederei bought Seetours, and TUI founded and owns the Robinson Clubs on which the "club ship" concept itself was based.

AIDAdiva's sister ship, AIDAbella, followed in 2008, and two more ships will debut in 2009 (AIDAluna) and 2010 (unnamed), all cementing AIDA's position as by far the largest German cruise line.
Taken from Cruise Critic

Monday 27 September 2010

The Shadow of Lula over the Future of Brazil

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Next weekend, Brazilians will go to the polls to elect a successor to President Luis Ignácio da Silva, popularly known as Lula. He has been the dominant political figure of the last 20 years of Brazilian political life, contesting five elections, three of which he lost.

Two unattractive and uncharismatic candidates, Dilma Rouseff of the Wokers Party (PT) and José Serra representing the Social Democratic Party (PSDB), are struggling to fill this vacuum. A third candidate from the Green Party, Marina Silva, will likely attain 10-15% of the vote.

Dilma Roussef, Lula’s former chief of staff, and his hand-picked candidate, lacks Lula’s communicative abilities and has never been elected to any office. In case of Dilma’s victory, which all the polls are predicting, Lula is very unlikely to disengage.

José Serra, the former governor of São Paulo, the opposition candidate, is a bland yet competent technocrat whose résumé includes a plethora of executive positions he is generally deemed to have performed well. Yet his failure to ignite interest in anyone but the 30% of the Brazilians who dislike Lula with considerable vigor points to two things. His weakness as a candidate that easily empathizes with people, and the difficulty of convincing poorer Brazilians, still the majority here, to abandon Lula by voting against his candidate.

Such is Lula’s aura here that Serra hasn’t dared criticize him too vociferously nor defend Lula’s predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who many credit for Brazil’s path to political stability and progress. This has resulted in Lula assuming all the credit for Brazil’s recent achievements and convincing the majority of Brazilians of his side of the story. Lula’s speeches, especially the impromptu ones, can become messianic perorations about how Brazil is a role model to the world thanks to Papa Lula, the father of the poor. “Never before in the history of this country” is one of his main mantras.

Despite initial fears when first elected in 2002, Lula did not tinker with the essential economic model bequeathed to him, much to the relief of the domestic and international business interests. But in many ways, Lula also arrived at a fortuitous moment.

Brazil has benefitted greatly from China’s voracious appetite for raw materials and agricultural products, and remained largely unscathed from the global economic financial meltdown suffered by the developed countries because of this new trading relationship which totals over 8 billion dollars annually. Brazil’s massive mineral wealth and agricultural capacity seems as last to be wielding the benefits so long promised for the country of the future.

As a result, the middle class has expanded, creating a construction boom and increased consumption of almost everything. Poverty rates have been reduced, in large part due to direct cash transfers in the government program known as Bolsa Escola and Bolsa Familia, programs started by Lula’s predecessor but for which he claims as 100% his. Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, another sign of global preeminence and consideration.

So though it is indisputable that Brazil has advanced, huge problems persist that will continue to impede Brazil’s development into the kind of society to which its citizens and political leadership aspire.

Violence plagues the daily lives of most Brazilians, and criminality is brazen in its challenges to the state. Every year, according to United Nation’s figures, around 45,000 people are murdered (official and many believe undercounted figure) and around 30,000 more die in car accidents. Since 1980, over two million people have been violently killed. Huge income disparities explain some of the violence, but a lack of respect for the law is a persistent phenomenon of Brazilian society. The fact that a first degree murdered can be out of jail in less than 10 years illustrates a situation where impunity is the rule and crime can indeed pay.

Infrastructure development is lacerated by corruption, still widespread at all levels of society. Combined with an archaic bureaucracy, which strangles pragmatism and invites bribery, and law system in which the Supreme Court hears thousands of cases a year, (the US Supreme Court hears 100 or so), Brazil is burdened with massive challenges that are in need of profound reform.

Under Lula and the PT, the Brazilian state, already bloated, inefficient and corrupt, has expanded considerably. Party faithful have infiltrated the bureaucracy and thousands of jobs depend on Lula’s victory. Repeated scandals have plagued Lula’s administration, most of them swept under the carpet with little political consequence for Lula, despite people extremely close to him being tarnished and driven from office.

That Brazil shirked the global financial crisis is explained by Lula and his followers as proof that a state active in the economy prevents the kind of catastrophes that befell countries with more liberal economies. In a glib remark, Lula insisted the crisis was the fault of blue-eyed white men in the West, as if Brazil were some kind of paradise for brown and black people. A perfunctory examination of who has power in Brazil, i.e. captains of industry and political offices, reveals it to be almost entirely in the hands of white Brazilian men.

While the PT seems to be perfectly happy for its upper echelons and those that contribute to its coffers to enrich themselves, it still preaches a tired socialist rhetoric, with it at the helm of saving the ‘people’ form the pernicious elite. That it has embraced many in the once excoriated elite’ seems not to faze a party that formerly railed against injustice, impunity, and advocated clean and transparent government.

On the international front, Lula has lost a good deal of the admiration he once garnered (Barack Obama referred to him as ‘the man’) after his disastrous forays into the Iranian nuclear debate. Declaring friendship with Ahmadenijad has brought little benefit to Brazil and former admirers surely wondered what Lula really wants. He labeled a political dissident on a hunger striker in Cuba a common criminal, and forcibly sent back Cuban athletes who wanted to defect in Rio after the Pan American games there in 2007. He has great affection for the Castro brothers and Hugo Chavez’s efforts to silence his opponents fail to elicit any kind of indignation or indeed acknowledgement on Lula’s part.

Even though it looks very likely Dilma will become president, we can expect to see a whole lot more of Lula around. As he himself said if he feels she is straying from her (or his) mission, he will call her up and say, “My daughter, it’s not like that, you have to do this.”

Presidents tend to surround themselves with sycophants and Lula is no exception. Polls show an almost 80% approval rate of his performance in office, enough to go to anybody’s head. This success has made it impossible for right wing political parties to participate in any kind of debate about the direction Brazil should take. The suffocating tax burden, (especially felt by the middle class who despite paying high taxes, still have to resort to private medicine and education, the public ones being of poor quality), will likely not be reversed given how many people directly and indirectly benefit from the state.

If Lula is sensible and properly advised, he should stand back and let the country takes its course under new leadership. The danger, significant and one that has plagued Latin America in the past, is that Lula and the PT will mistake his overwhelming popularity as a sign that only they are capable of saving Brazil. And that could be disastrous.

Richard Hartley is a writer and translator who has lived in Brazil for the past fifteen years.

Monday 20 September 2010

About Saba's family (Part XI)

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Everybody except two plus me and the couple of the year.

About Saba's family (Part X)

Saba with Giovana and Lina

>A recently taken pix of Saba fixing his fish net damaged by piranhas and pink dolphins, Leandro on the back ground. Also Leandro holding a fish caught on the back of his home.

About Saba's family (Part IX)

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Luana at a shopping mall in Manaus

About Saba's family (Part VIII)

With Sandrine

With Lynn from Atlantic Rising
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Giovana enjoies best the visitors after me. She is a really nice little girl and already knows the name of most animals in the area.

About Saba's family (Part VII)

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Giovanni becomes a guide as well when he turns 17 years old. He had had the very same difficulties Junior had had at the English School and dropped it as well.

One year later he has a little daughter with his 16-year-old-girlfriend(who left them after breast feeding period) and names her Giovana. Not much room for guiding then he decides to get into construction business.

About Saba's family (Part VI)

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Leandro is born!!!!! Lina did tube ligation and the elderst(Junior) became just another kid. Leandro was supposed to be the most intelligent....

About Saba's family (Part V)

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Luana gets enthusiastic about playing football for the community's team. But she shortly gets tired of everything around and starts a 2-day-journey up 2 Manaus on a search of a wider horizon.

About Saba's family (Part IV)

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We decide to get Junior to learn English. He attended to English classes during one year period with little or no success. It is understandable: He had to paddle a canoe for 30 minutes, take a bus for 35 minutes and get to my family school. Before that he had helped his family farming and fishing. On the top of that he was always behind kids that live in town and are a lot more familiar to English terms either through their video games of tv programmes. Under these circumstances he was limited to the activities his dady was doing with me. But What about Luana and Giovanni?????

About Saba's family (part III)

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Time comes and time goes and Saba and I were doing guiding. During the trips we would drink and spot wildlife with the tourists. Time was great! Lots of happy smiles around and some dosh to help during the high water period when he had no land to farm.

About Saba's family (part II)

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Junior, Giovanni, Luana and Lina

A bit later junior learned some fishing technique; Before he joined school in town he got a little sister called Luana. She learned a lot about the activities carried at home by Lina and also farming vegetables. She learned how to clean the house, to clean and cook the fish and clean the table again. She had a doll that was most of the time ignored by her whose best fun was swimming in the river with her brother or have the attention and care of her family.

I disappeared for some four years and when visit him again Giovanni had been added to the scene.

About Saba's family (part I)

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This is the story of Saba’s family. He met his wife Lina at the village that he was born. One day they decided to live together and they also decided to move to a tiny little piece of land at Maica River at the floodplain east of Santarem.

They would be closer to Santarem giving them access to comercialize their produces and also to get limited schooling to his children-to-come.

I met him when I was taking some tourist to explore the floodplain by canoe, he was fishing. We became good friends and partners in many adventures that we shared in twenty-two year time.

One year after I met Saba his first son was born and named after him. Saba himself held his daddy’s name who was named after San Sebastian.

Saba and Lina had moved right across the river where the land was higher than his previous site(see picture). They took everything they had in no more than two canoe loads. It took then only fifteen minutes to go across. Paddling back with the empty canoe and down the river took him five minutes normally, excitement turn the sort trip even shorter.

Saba and Lina cleared the area where they were supposed to farm fast growing crops like vegetables and water-melon, a few years later his son was already playing with mommy and daddy in the garden.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Gil-Harpy eagle and Will's poem

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Hey gil,

So i have written a poem. it is about the moment when we saw the harpie eagle (when we had gone to the lookout point in the rainforest). The poem is meant to be a bit funny.
The way it is set out is that you have seen the harpie eagle and are describing it to us - so most of the poem is your voice. We are struggling to see it (our words are in italics) and so keep asking you stupid questions.

Here it is:

Stop. And for a moment let

Your busy mind forget

All other thoughts.

For up there is a harpie eagle.

Don’t blink. But stare with watering eyes

This noble hunter of the skies

Sat atop the highest tree

Untouched, untroubled, silent, free.

Where is it exactly?

Shining in your regal dress

Charcoal wings on ivory breast

Your scimitar beak… which one? The one with creepers?

Oh Artemis in your all your prime

You could conceive a bird so fine

Such wonder…. the brown thing on the big branch?

What rapture. What bliss.

Such perfection in creation’s myth

Will,move! Your giant head is in the way

And with one sudden whiplash crack

Your wings unfurl behind your back

Are you sure it’s not a buzzard?

And quiet as a starlit night

You leave your perch and into flight

The silence of this poetry

Arrests my breath…. are you OK? Tim, he’s choking.

Your silhouette will stain my mind

A precious memory left behind.

Oh Fate, you gift me such a treat

that two paths would deign to meet.

Oooh, I think it’s gone. Where did it go? Did you see it Lynn? Gil?

Friday 3 September 2010

Que haja mudança...

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...e que ela começe comigooooooooooooooooooo"