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Former Presidents Behind Bars

Former Presidents Behind Bars

Last weekend was, on the face of it, a good one for anti-corruption crusaders and a bad one for former presidents.


South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years on corruption charges, Brazil’s former President Lula began serving 12 years for his own graft conviction, and ousted South African President Jacob Zuma appeared in court to face the first of what could be a long series of corruption charges.

So far so good. The high and mighty were held to account. A win for the rule of law at a time when corruption is an increasingly important focus for voters across the world. But rooting out corruption isn’t just about high-profile prosecutions. There are outstanding challenges that lie ahead in the battle against graft in each of these countries.

In Brazil, the country is deeply polarized over whether the conviction and jailing of the left-wing Lula represents a win for impunity (no one is above the law) or a hit to impartiality (his supporters note that plenty of centrist politicians are still free despite corruption allegations of their own.)

In South Korea, the culture of corruption that exists between the government and the powerful, family run conglomerates known as chaebol runs deep. (If you’re reading this on a Samsung and/or riding in a Hyundai, you are in direct contact with a chaebol.) After all, with Ms. Park’s conviction, all four of South Korea’s living former presidents — going back to the 1990s — are either being tried or punished for corruption. It’s not easy to slip the influence of these powerful companies, of which the 10 largest control more than 27 percent of all business assets in South Korea. Will Ms. Park’s fate change that?

In South Africa, Jacob Zuma’s being hauled into court is also, potentially, a win for the rule of law. But it remains to be seen how far his prosecution goes and whether, crucially, it sheds a broader light on the endemic corruption that has contributed to South Africa’s unenviable status as the world’s most unequal society. This is a critical question as the country heads for pivotal elections next fall, in which Mr. Zuma’s successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, has pledged to clean up the ANC.

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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