Watching/Ignoring

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Brazil’s embattled presidential candidates  Think Washington had a crazy political week? Here’s your update from Brazil ahead of next month's presidential election. Former President Lula remains in jail. His likely replacement as Worker’s Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, and center-right candidate Geraldo Alckmin were both charged with corruption. Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed at a campaign rally and seriously injured.


Mauricio Macri – Elected in 2015 on the promise to restore Argentina’s economic health, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has imposed just enough austerity to inflict pain on the public without persuading investors the country can meet its financial obligations. A serious meltdown, provoked by conditions both inside and outside his country, has created a currency crisis. The peso has lost half its value against the dollar this year. This week, Macri took drastic action, sharply raising taxes and cutting the number of government ministries by half to reduce spending. The central bank has raised interest rates to 60 percent. Will it be enough? And can he remain a viable candidate for re-election next year while imposing more hardship on voters?

Iran’s oil customers  In anticipation of the return of sanctions on Iran’s oil in November, its exports fell by 18 percent from July to August. That’s in part because, surprisingly, China and India have sharply reduced purchases in line with Donald Trump’s demands. Neither will stop buying Iranian crude altogether, but the degree of compliance was unexpected. That’s not good news for Iran’s economy, or for those who hope Iran might continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal without US participation.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

North Korea at 70  China’s Xi Jinping is skipping North Korea’s 70th anniversary celebration this weekend, and we will too. If you’ve seen one goose-stepping military parade followed by a 3,000-person choreographed dance with a flashcard backdrop, you’ve seen them all. Maybe we’ll TIVO it.

Putin TV show – Nor are we likely to watch “Moscow Kremlin Putin,” a new TV show airing on Russian state television that aims to prove Vladimir Putin is even hunkier than we thought. Apparently, Putin remains in great shape, frightens wild animals, and has a “human, sincere attitude toward children.” We know that already.

The Austrian Kangaroo – Your Friday author was not amused when fellow Signalistas forwarded him a story about a kangaroo on the loose in Austria. Not Australia. Austria. “This is the kind of low-brow material you love to include on Fridays,” they seemed to suggest. Yes, I like stories about animals on the loose, but I’m not automatically going to write about a kangaroo hopping around Austria just because it includes great video, and the story is weird. Forget it.

As of this writing, the kangaroo remains at large.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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