James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, may be gone, but the Grey Lady’s man in Rio is the King of Comic-Book Infotainment.
19 Are Killed as Drug Gangs Conduct Attacks in Brazil (Larry Rohter, New York Times).
Not a single hint, in the base of the inverted pyramid, at (1) the potentially multilateral nature of the current conflict, (2) the potential and even likely post hoc ergo propter hoc factor, in view of recent highly public developments, or (3) the question marks that still hover over who exactly is fighting who here, or why.
Yes, I know, I know: (1) and (3) are basically ways of saying the same thing. One has the instinct to round out a Folkloric Three, but it sometimes does not work out right.
For one possible antecedent to the current situation, see my lazy little roundup of The Bobo-Globo Journalistic Messiah Sells Out to the One-Armed Bandit King Gangbusters incident.
No, no. In Mr. Rohter’s neighborhood, this is strictly Star Wars: The Evil Drug Empire Strikes Back.
Which sucks even harder than the recently released film Casino Royale, which at least does not pretend not to be a work of fiction.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 28 — Heavily armed drug gangs unleashed a wave of attacks on police stations and public roads here early on Thursday, and at least 19 people were killed in the confrontations.
If the CIA had invaded Afghanistan with the stupid idea that every evil bearded motherfucker with a couple of tanks and about a gazillion AK-47s must be on the same side, they would have never have been able to broker the 10th Mountain Division to within striking distance of Osama as efficiently as they did.
Only to fail on fourth and goal.
Seven died in a single incident, a predawn assault on an interstate bus bound for São Paulo. Survivors said that about eight armed men stopped and boarded the bus, robbed those aboard and then set fire to it before the 28 passengers could get off.
Which according to Maia was clearly not part of the plan, which must be viewed with lenses that correct for the usual fog of war, including stoned low-level employees and copycat attacks.
I am not saying Maia’s is the correct analysis, but to start with, the guy is mayor of the freaking city, and has given ample evidence in the past that he actually does show up to work every day.
Besides, Maia does actually show his work, as to how he arrived at the conclusion.
Which means you could do your job, as a “reporter,” Larry, and go check it out, at least.
As it is, all you get have here is the view from an outgoing state government that very likely fears that its sleazier dealings are going to be laid out for the public in the near future, and pointedly not from a city government whose leader has made plain that it is a bitter political enemy of the Garotinho Tag-Team State.
At least eight police stations and street posts were also reported to have been attacked by gangs with grenades and machine guns. The dead included not only criminals and police officers involved in the shootouts, but also street vendors, pedestrians and people filing complaints at police stations.
Again: What about the theory that this is actually a matter of the anti-Traffic protection rackets muscling in on the official protection rackets, i.e., the police? Does it hold water, or not?
Confrontations between the military police and gangs [how are we telling the difference again? In this game, which moves as you play it, please understand this, the color of the uniform does not tell you what side the players are on –Ed.] continued throughout the day. Police units sent [by whom? Or did they send themselves, as some reports are suggesting?] into at least a dozen of the squatter slums in the hills overlooking the city were met with armed resistance, and a shootout that disrupted car traffic on a main street in a working-class neighborhood was also reported.
And a lot of other troop movements shown on TV that I could not keep track of, but was hoping that the professional press would keep track of for me.
Like BOPE on foot in the Zona Sul tunnels, armed like LERP patrols on the Alien vs. Predator planet.
That is all I have time for at the moment, but this time I am really going to write a serious, detailed letter of complaint to the Times Public Editor — as I have in the past, with little effect.
Becaus here is where the Associated Press Stylebook states very clearly you have to give a reporter a red card for failure to commun’cate.
Brazilian news organizations said the wave of violence was meant as a warning to the new governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral. Elected in October after a hard-hitting campaign in which crime, drugs and public insecurity were the principal issues, Mr. Cabral takes office on Monday.
Which Brazilian “news organizations”?
Apparently, only the “news organizations” that attended the same press conference as Rohter and did nothing else to follow up other potential angles on the story. The Novo Lacerdas, in other words.
And as a warning from whom? To whom?
One of Mr. Cabral’s other platform planks, after all, was to get the freaking Military Police, elements of which are world-famous for their human rights abuses, corruption and extrajudicial executions of innocent people, under control.
So who is sending the warning here?
If you are merely going to crib from local coverage rather than go out and cover what is happening, after all, in your own back yard — Rohter has an apartment in Copacabana — you must at least say what those local press sources were.
Because some local press sources are more reliable than others.
But see also Flexibilizing Infodensity, on the Times Public Editor’s recent arguments in favor of “a more realistic” policy on sourcing of factual reporting.
Still, surely, if you merely read these analyses in publications available on your local newsstand, this is not an exceptional case in which you arguably have to grant those sources anonymity, is it?
I note that Rohter interviews almost the exact same set of sources as Reuters, by the way.
What, is he sleeping with that Reuters stringer now? Are they freaking Siamese twins?
My reading still has not given me enough information as to what teams are playing, and for what.
But the credible sources I read all seem to be betting that this is emphatically not The Plan Colombia New Year’s Day Rose Bowl.
With teams selected by committee rather than through single-elimination tournament play.
The more apt metaphor might well be that we are in a kind of Sweet Sixteen as a new political order gets ready to come down.
Speaking of which, the neighborhood lesbian soccer team is coming over shortly for our traditional holiday match.
I am volunteering to serve as the crooked Italian soccer ref.
I am openly announcing my bribability to both sides at the outset.
No money will change hands — this is just a penny-ante “friendly,” mind you — but I will accept beijinhos, flattery and running to get me another cold beer as I whistle the game from my hammock.
One beer=yellow card on opposing player of your choice. But it had better be stupefyingly chilled.
Two beers and a kiss or two acts of blatant flattery=red card on same.
Absent a better counteroffer, of course.
I will serve, in other words, as a kind of fat, carnavalesque Rei Momo, hated and loved, king today and churrasco tomorrow, for the shindig. Call it a warm-up for my first saida this year with the local escola de samba, the G.R.E.S. Pérola Negra, to which all praise and honor.
Eu saio chorando
mas sempre tambem dançado …