Lula’s comeback upends Brazilian politics; Senegal's dicey situation

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

We'll start in Brazil. Will Lula run for president and seriously challenge Bolsonaro?

And the answer is, it increasingly looks that way. The Supreme Court threw out former President Lula's former conviction, saying they didn't have jurisdiction. And the court that he was actually charged, court members were surprised by this. Lula's own PT party surprised by this. It means a couple of things. One, he's much more likely to run. He's extremely popular on the left. His PT party has about 20% approval in the country. And that means that between Bolsonaro, the president, and Lula on the left, there's very little room in the center. This is going to be an incredibly contentious and polarized election, much more so than in the United States, even this past November.


What is happening in Senegal?

Well, it's one of the more democratic countries in Africa and in West Africa. And you have a former presidential candidate who didn't do very well, but nonetheless, young guy, quite popular, particularly on anti-corruption issues. This guy, Ousmane Sonko, he's all of in his 40s right now and he has been arrested for and charged with rape. I have literally no idea the merit of the charges, but what we know is that previously around presidential elections and opposition candidates, they've often found trumped up charges to get rid of them in contestation of the sitting president. That together with the fact there is a lot of corruption in Senegal right now and the economy's not doing so well, led to big demonstrations and a number of people, it looks like eight so far, that have been killed and that has the potential. He's been released. But this is a dicey situation. Senegal could be in a lot of trouble going forward.

And did I watch the Harry and Meghan interview?

No, no, I did not. Why? Because it's the Royals and because I don't care about the Royals. The Royals are basically a tourist mechanism in the United Kingdom and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with having something that attracts some money and some eyeballs. But we have that in the United States. It's called Disneyland. And I don't watch interviews with Mickey Mouse, either. So, it's okay. Some people will be annoyed that this is my position, but it is my position. I don't care about the Royals, I don't really want to talk about them and we'll move on to other geopolitical issues that matter next week.

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

A Green Party-led government for the world's fourth largest economy? That's no longer far-fetched. As Signal's Gabrielle Debinski wrote last month, most current polls now show Germany's Greens in first place in federal elections set for September 26. And for the first time, the Greens have a candidate for chancellor. Annalena Baerbock is vying to replace Angela Merkel, who has led Germany for the past 16 years.

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India and Brazil are currently the world's top two COVID hotspots. But while India's crisis is — at least according to official statistics — a relatively recent one, Brazil's COVID disaster has been an ongoing train wreck. Where India seemed to have kept the pandemic under control until some bad missteps about two months ago, COVID has been wreaking havoc in Brazil almost constantly for over a year now. And President Jair Bolsonaro's macho-posturing and COVID denialism has clearly not helped. We take a look at average daily new cases and deaths in both countries since the pandemic began.

US reverses course on vaccine patents: In a surprise move, the Biden administration will now support waiving international property rights for COVID vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Until now the US had firmly opposed waiving those patents, despite demands from developing countries led by India and South Africa to do so. Biden's about face comes just a week after he moved to free up 60 million of American-bought AstraZeneca jabs — still not approved by US regulators — for nations in need. It's not clear how fast an IP waiver would really help other countries, as the major impediments to ramping up vaccine manufacturing have more to do with logistics and supply chains than with patent protections alone. But if patent waivers do accelerate production over time, then that could accelerate a global return to normal — potentially winning the US a ton of goodwill.

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28: Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's opposition Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, has 28 days to form a new government. President Reuven Rivlin tapped Lapid after incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to cobble together a governing coalition by Tuesday's midnight deadline, further prolonging Israel's political stalemate.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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India’s COVID crisis hits home

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