Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Further to my comments yesterday about the man who invited the First Nations people of Canada to live rent free on “his” land, here is something I found yesterday about a ceremony in Brazil

 “It was a modest ceremony for such a significant victory: it is not every day that the descendants of enslaved people are given the title to their land. But there was no doubt of its importance at a time when the protection of Brazil’s traditional rural communities is threatened by a conservative government in league with powerful agribusiness interests.

This weekend, Simão Jatene, the governor of Pará state, signed a document giving land titles for more than 220,000 hectares of Amazon forest to an isolated community populated by descendants of enslaved people who escaped centuries ago. The 500 inhabitants of Cachoeira Porteira have spent 23 years trying to get legal rights to their territory.

“It has a very important meaning for us,” said Valterlane Souza, 34, who was born and raised in the community. “

There you go! Justice for all! Well, for some.

Here’s another justice related matter. As an occasional cyclist, I am often dismayed at the way some two-wheel users behave. It’s not just the riding on the pavement, often at speed, that annoys me, it’s often their attitude when they are actually on the road itself.

Now, I am aware that many four-wheel road users are blind to cyclists and, even if they do see them, regard them as some kind of lesser species, inferior beings who really should not be allowed on the road. But often cyclists do themselves no favours. Some of them disregard traffic lights, apparently thinking that red lights really apply only to car drivers and that they, the cyclists, can do a nifty turn rather than stop and wait. (Mind you, here in Galicia, there are car drivers who seem to have the same philosophy, especially at pedestrian crossings controlled by lights! But that is a different matter.)

And now it seems that in the UK they are considering bringing in new laws regarding cyclists. Well, one new law in particular. They want to introduce the offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. A woman died, last year I think, after being knocked over by a cyclist. Motorists who cause death by dangerous driving face 14 years in prison and the proponents of this new law think that death by dangerous cycling should carry the same penalty. 

Labour MP Ian Austin, the former head of the all-party parliamentary cycling group, suggested the government should focus on reducing deaths caused by drivers and said: “Ministers are wrong if they think this will make our roads safer.”

But it seems to me that as more and more frequently we come across people cycling at speed along pathways and pavements, then surely there has to be some legislation. Austin, however, said: “Each death is a tragedy but what I and others have been calling for is a proper review of road safety and how the law is enforced when people are killed or injured because many more pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by people driving cars. They are a much greater danger to pedestrians and should be the focus of government resources.”

We shall see!

In other areas of cycling, things are going on as well. The question of whether or Bradley Wiggins asthma treatment counts as a performance enhancing drug has come up again. A report has been released suggesting that his winning the Tour de France in 2012 was by foul means, not fair. Team Sky so badly wanted to win that they abused the anti-doping system to allow Wiggins, and possibly support riders, to take powerful corticosteroids to prepare them for the Tour de France.

Oh dear, there must be a fine line between deliberately doping and using legitimate medication, knowing that it might actually enhance performance. I suppose it becomes an ethical thing as well. Do you knowingly take that particular medication or not?

BradleyWiggins himself said: “I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.I hope to have my say in the next few days and put to my side across.”

 And, of course, he is right about the accusations problem. Mud tends to stick.

I am quite glad to be only an occasional cyclist.

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