THE BOLSONARO ERA BEGINS

THE BOLSONARO ERA BEGINS

Barring a shocking turn of events, voters in Brazil will elect Jair Bolsonaro president on Sunday. Press attention will focus on his charisma, provocative style, and an apparent ideological affinity with, if not imitation of, Donald Trump.


Bolsonaro has said many provocative things—about the military, crime-fighting, the left, women, and various minority groups. Like Trump, he’s made for the media, knows his crowd, and has attracted both intensely loyal supporters and loud critics.

But whatever the scale of his victory on Sunday, Bolsonaro will face a bewildering array of checks and balances on his plans for Brazil. Voters have made clear they want change, but a fiscal crisis and tight federal budget will leave Bolsonaro with little to spend on projects that might extend his presidential honeymoon.

He’ll also struggle to forge the alliances needed to pass legislation. 106 of 308 members of Brazil’s lower house of congress and eight of 54 senators are reliably aligned with the new president. He can cut deals with pragmatic members of both houses, but that won’t help his reputation as a political maverick. Brazil’s strong court system, which has brought down multiple former presidents and hundreds of other politicians and business leaders, will push back on any attempt Bolsonaro might make to move Brazil toward a more authoritarian political system.

Finally, Brazil, like many other countries in today’s world, is deeply polarized, and there are troubling stories from recent weeks that encourage Bolsonaro critics to claim the election wasn’t fair.

A tidal wave of disinformation has spread across social media channels, in particular via the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, which counts 120 million users in Brazil. Fact-checkers have uncovered tens of thousands of widely circulated images that contained false or misleading information about the leading candidates, including Bolsonaro. In response, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has shut down hundreds of thousands of accounts.

What’s more, a week before the presidential election first round on October 7, the daily Folha de Sao Paulo uncovered a conspiracy by pro-Bolsonaro businesses to spend millions of dollars on text message blasts supporting him. That’s a violation of Brazil’s strict campaign finance laws. Investigators are looking into whether Bolsonaro was directly involved.

In recent years, Brazil’s people have endured the worst economic and political crises of the country’s modern history. Violence has surged. Polarization is extreme. Just 18 percent of Brazilians trust their government.

After Sunday, Bolsonaro will face the monumental task of trying to restore faith in government. The task will be even tougher if millions of Brazilians doubt the legitimacy of his victory.

Iran was involved in two naval incidents in the Gulf of Oman in recent days. The US, UK, and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack that killed two European nationals. Iran has rejected the accusations. Iran is also suspected in the "potential hijack" of a tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

These provocations are happening just as Iran inaugurates a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and as talks continue over the possible US re-entry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. What's the connection between these events? We asked Henry Rome, Eurasia Group's deputy head of research and a director covering global macro politics and the Middle East.

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This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

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