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Italian Mayor’s Facebook Page Shames Lazy Public Workers

The mayor of the Italian city of Bari, an ex-prosecutor, posts pictures of public employees allegedly slacking on the job.

Emiliano's Facebook page

BARI - Michele Emiliano, a former magistrate and the mayor of Bari, has been using a new phrase on the stump lately: "I govern with Facebook."

It's not just a reference to the social network's ability to break down the distance between him and his constituents, or as a tool to liven up the dialogue with the people. The second-term mayor of this southern city has come up with another application. Emiliano has discovered that with Facebook – either on his own or with the help of his fellow citizens – he can publicly shame municipal employees wasting time while on the clock. How? By posting photos of them slacking on the job.

The first to be immortalized in their alleged slothfulness were several drivers of the municipal transport company. Now it's the garbage collectors' turn. Recently someone passed on to Emiliano photos of three uniformed employees of Bari's municipal waste-disposal agency hanging out while they should have been working. The center-left mayor, who received the photos from a Bari resident complaining about his neighborhood's lack of cleanliness, then posted them on Facebook with the question: "Why aren't these three people working?"

The "media pillorying" of public employees has sparked a citywide debate in Bari, the capital of the Puglia region. The heads of the municipal companies whose employees wound up on the mayor's Facebook page are under increasing pressure. Antonio Di Matteo, who heads the transport agency AMTAB, has launched an internal investigation to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. AMIU, the trash collection outfit, is following suit.

But the photographs also prompted debate about Emiliano's methods. The mayor posts the pics on Facebook, and then adds notes inviting the citizens of Bari to file other reports. The goal: improving control over the quality of services provided to tax-paying residents who want their buses to run on time and live in clean neighborhoods.

But the mayor - an investigating magistrate for two decades before being elected - has gone further. After showing garbage collectors shooting the breeze rather than sweeping the streets, he requested the help of other AMIU employees In his Facebook post, Emiliano wrote: "If anyone recognizes someone in this picture, they could help us understand why their colleagues were talking to each other instead of working, as we all expect them to do."

The garbage collectors have not yet responded to the mayor's accusations. But if they remain silent, they may see a rising number of messages and photographs showing that the city isn't functioning. This is what happens when a born prosecutor gets elected mayor and discovers social media. Yet another chapter in the Facebook revolution.

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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