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From the NSA to Dogs

I recently watched Citizenfour, a fantastic documentary about Edward Snowden and the NSA. Everyone should see it. It’s a heavy dose of realism that’s painful to take in, but an absolute requisite that we do so, especially in this new year. 

The filmmaker, Laura Poitras, meets up with reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill in Hong Kong to cover the unfolding of the NSA surveillance scandal. It’s intense, and shocking, to say the least, and I think everyone involved is a hero. Yet, halfway through the movie, my ears perked up for a whole separate reason: Glenn Greenwald was speaking Portuguese.

I’d seen his name, but didn’t know much about him. It’s not that common, or, at least, so I think, for people to speak Portuguese if they or their families are not from a Portuguese-speaking country which, for Greenwald, is the case. So I did what any internet user would do: I looked him up on Wikipedia and found out that he’s, basically, my new hero.

He’s an American journalist and author who also lives in Rio de Janeiro. (From what I read, he moved because of marriage restrictions in the US that prevented his Brazilian-born husband from acquiring legal residency.) He’s also a co-founder of The Intercept, which is an amazing online news source, in English and Brazilian Portuguese, that is dedicated to truth in journalism. (Who can’t get behind that?)

In following The Intercept, I came across this heart-wrenching article about the relationship between the homeless and their pets, “Como a amizade entre um morador de rua e seu cachorro pode salvar a vida de ambos” (How the Bond Between the Homeless and Their Dogs Can Save Both Their Lives). This quote about how one man, Birdie, is often ignored by people, but with his dogs, people suddenly take an interest:

Passarinho descreve sua experiência da seguinte forma: “Se me deitar ali na calçada, ninguém fala comigo. Passam, cortam até caminho. Mas se os cachorros estiverem brincando como estão aqui, eles dizem: ‘nossa, tão bonitinho!’”. Mesmo sabendo que foram os cachorros, e não ele, que motivaram a interação, a importância de ser visto não é ignorada. Essa relação com seus cachorros permite a satisfação de uma necessidade humana fundamental: ser reconhecido por outros seres humanos.

The article comes from a series of films by Heloisa Passos that documents the lives of two homeless people in Rio de Janeiro and the dogs they care for. The movies are in Portuguese, but subtitled in English and are an absolute must watch. In particular, Karollyne, a transwoman who cares for multiple dogs, cats, animals, and an adoptive family, is just amazing.

You can see them both here:
Birdie
Karollyne

First, watch these two short documentaries. Then, go watch Citizenfour. You’re welcome.

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