Hell of a Party, Guys!

What does an evangelical judge accused of pedophilia have in common with a one-time anti-Apartheid hero who faces 783 counts of corruption? Both Roy Moore, the failed Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, and Jacob Zuma, freshly-ousted leader of South Africa’s ANC, are at the center of deep internal divisions within their respective political parties. Those parties aren’t the only ones in power that are suffering deep internal divisions right now…


The Republicans: Since the late 1960s the GOP (Grand Old Party, as it’s known in the US) has united social conservatives and economic liberals, but now the party is under fire from within as former Trump strategist Steven Bannon leads a “populist, nationalist, conservative revolt” against party leaders. Trump and Bannon, who runs the ultranationalist media “killing machine” Breitbart, endorsed Roy Moore, so his loss was a setback. But look for this GOP fissure to be a defining theme in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.

The ANC: The reformist union-leader-turned-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa has just won a hotly contested race to lead the ANC into the 2019 presidential election. As Willis wrote last Friday, this outcome leaves current President Jacob Zuma, who faces hundreds of corruption and racketeering charges, dangerously exposed to prosecution. Ramaphosa’s victory is a win for the more investor-friendly faction of the ANC. But Zuma’s faction won’t simply accept a defeat that leaves him in real legal jeopardy. The ANC infighting has only just begun.

The Tories: The UK’s traditional conservative party is deeply divided over Brexit — some members want the UK to keep close economic ties with the continent even after it leaves the EU, while others favor a sharper break that gives the UK greater economic flexibility. This divide is crippling Prime Minister Theresa May’s ability to reach any deal at all with Brussels before the clock runs out on Brexit talks…

Brazil’s PSDB: Brazil’s largest center-right party is split over support for scandal-wracked president Michel Temer’s market-friendly reforms. Younger members say steer clear, while older heads want to work with him so his PMDB party will support a PSDB candidate in next year’s presidential election. New PSDB leader Geraldo Alckmin has sided the party with Temer for now, but the deeper divisions will persist, weakening the party as the presidential campaign heats up.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.

3: The US has recruited Australia to join its nascent mission of protecting ships in the critical Strait of Hormuz. Along with Britain and Bahrain, Australia is now the third country to join the US-led maritime mission, as high seas brinksmanship with the Iranians continues.

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