Bolsonaro in Brazil; Kim Jong-un health speculation; COVID-19 in Africa

What is going on in Brazil? Is it at a tipping point?

I'm not sure it's tipping point for Brazil, but it's a tipping point for Bolsonaro. When he came in, it was after years of political scandal, Lava Jato. You had impeachments, ministers getting thrown out of office. Former President Lula in jail. Dilma Rousseff impeached. Finally, somebody clean who has the former federal justice who helped put away a lot of these ministers as the new minister of justice. Now, a president that mishandled coronavirus, attacked the governors as fake news, you can't have shut downs, and cases in Brazil are spiraling much higher per capita than in other major Latin American economies; now he's gotten rid of his minister of justice. He's resigned, said Bolsonaro is interfering with investigations, getting too close to his family. That is the opposite of what you want in the midst of the worst economic contraction, maybe in Brazil's democratic history. His approval ratings are dropping, down in the low 30s. He might end up getting impeached. He'd have to lose more support. But, the idea that he governs effectively in Congress with a reformist coalition is off the table. He is in a lot of trouble. This is the beginning of what I suspect will eventually be the end of Bolsonaro. It's much harder to imagine him getting another term. Even lasting the full term.


Why is speculation surrounding Kim Jong-un difficult to confirm or debunk?

It's the world's most closed totalitarian dictatorship. We haven't heard from Kim or anyone representing Kim saying how Kim is doing for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, President Trump said we're going to hear from him soon, which is the closest we've had to intelligence, believe it or not. It sounds like Trump has heard through US intelligence that Kim Jong-un is still alive. Probably vis the Chinese. Not from the North Koreans. We still haven't heard from him and that does imply, especially given rumors and a big national holiday just a few days ago, that he's not well, not able to appear publicly for mass consumption. Does that mean he's a vegetable? No, but it does mean he's hurting, there's a real problem. If he does die, if there needs to be a transition, it's dangerous. The potential that the Chinese might have to step in is real. They would if it looked like instability could shake the regime or lead to a dispute over control of nuclear weapons and conventional forces in North Korea. Until we find out Kim Jong-un is okay, there's a lot of concern.

Finally, has Africa been spared by coronavirus?

Numbers of cases in Africa are very low. The main reason is because they're not testing. Helps that there isn't as much travel to/from Africa, which is part of why it's economically underdeveloped, but also limits cases into African countries. Chinese from Wuhan went to Africa, working there. They were in China during the New Year's celebrations and left. That's different from spread from travel that you get in the US or Europe. Also, many cases are asymptomatic. We're finding that in New York, in Massachusetts, in Washington State, in California. These are very young populations in Africa. The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria, 18 years, I think, is the average age. The vast majority of people that get this disease won't have symptoms, never mind getting sick. If you're an African leader and don't have ventilators, adequate health care personnel, test kits - and your economy's in bad shape, you keep economies open. That doesn't mean that Africa is spared because we have economic slowdown globally, and people aren't going to be traveling there, you won't get tourism, supply chains will get disrupted, but you probably don't get the kind of closures of African economies as in other countries, even emerging market economies. Even where they do, so much of the economy is informal, not controlled by the government, so it doesn't shut down. You'll see a lot of people getting sick, people dying. Whether or not that's known publicly, or it's considered dying from some other comorbidity, is an open question. But some of the poorest countries in the world probably won't have the same impact from coronavirus. If there are silver linings, we'll take them.

Paper was originally made from rags until the introduction of cellulose in 1800. Since then, it has transformed into a "circular" industry, with 55% of paper produced in Italy recovered. It no longer just comes from trees, either. Some companies produce paper with scraps from the processing of other products like wool and walnuts.

Learn more about this rags to riches story in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

In late 2017, Zimbabwe's long-serving strongman Robert Mugabe was deposed by the army after 37 years in power. Amid huge popular celebrations, he handed over the reins to Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former spy chief. It was an extraordinary turn of history: Mugabe, one of Africa's last "Big Men" and a hero of the country's liberation war to end white minority rule, went out with barely a whimper, placing Zimbabwe — stricken by economic ruin and international isolation — in the hands of "The Crocodile."

Mugabe has since died, but almost three years after his departure, Zimbabwe's woes continue.

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As the world prepares to mark the 75th anniversary since American forces dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, global non-proliferation efforts, first codified in Cold War-era treaties, are in jeopardy. While the overall number of nuclear weapons continues to decrease — mainly because the US and Russia have set about dismantling retired weapons — both countries, which account for 90 percent of the world's total nuclear arsenal, continue to modernize their nuclear weapons programs. Meanwhile, the New START treaty, which limits the number of long-range nuclear weapons that each side can deploy to about 1,500 apiece, is at risk of collapsing. Here's a look at which countries have nuclear weapon stockpiles and who's ready to use them.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Happy Monday, we are in August, summer, should be taking it a little easier. Coronavirus not taking the stress levels off but hopefully giving people the excuse, if you're not traveling so much, be close with your families, your loved ones and all that. Look, this is not a philosophical conversation, this is a talk about what's happening in the world, a little Quick Take for you.

First of all, you know, I'm getting a little bit more optimistic about the news in the United States right now. Yes, honestly, I am. In part because the caseload is flattening across the country and it's reducing in some of the core states that have seen the greatest explosion in this continuation of the first wave. Yes, the deaths are going up and they should continue to for a couple of weeks because it is a lagging indicator in the United States. But the fact that deaths are going up does not say anything about what's coming in the next few weeks. That tells you what's happened in the last couple of weeks.

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TikTok, ya don't stop: The wildly popular video app TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American lawmakers for many months now. Why? Because the app is owned by a Chinese company, raising national security concerns that it could funnel personal data on its 100 million American users to the Chinese government. The plot thickened in recent days after President Trump abruptly threatened to ban the app altogether, risking a backlash among its users and imperiling US tech giant Microsoft's efforts to buy the company's North American operations. After a weekend conversation between Microsoft and the White House, the sale negotiations are back on but US lawmakers say any deal must strictly prevent American users' data from winding up in Chinese Communist Party servers. The broader fate of TikTok — which has now been banned in India, formerly its largest market, and may be broken up under US pressure — nicely illustrates the new "tech Cold War" that is emerging between China and the United States. A Microsoft/TikTok deal is expected by September 15. Tick..Tock.

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