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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Imran Khan's threat, a looming global recession, Bolsonaro-Biden meeting

Imran Khan issues dangerous ultimatum

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan – booted from the top job last month by a parliamentary no-confidence vote – has called on the country’s nascent government to hold new elections within six days or risk full-blown social upheaval. For weeks, Khan has been whipping supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party into a frenzy, saying his ouster was perniciously orchestrated by Washington in conjunction with the newly minted PM Shehbaz Sharif. (Khan, of course, fails to acknowledge that his removal was in large part a reflection of dissatisfaction with the country’s imploding economy and dwindling foreign reserves.) Things got really bad this week when Khan led his supporters in a march from his home turf of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province toward Islamabad. As throngs of angry PTI supporters tried to reach the capital, violent clashes with police ensued in multiple cities. The Supreme Court ordered police to remove barriers on highways that were preventing pro-Khan protesters from reaching Islamabad but said that protests in the capital needed to be confined to a specific area. That didn’t happen, and police responded to the violence and disorder with tear gas. This turmoil comes as Sharif is trying to convince the International Monetary Fund that Pakistan has gotten its act together to get funding back on track. Khan isn’t backing down, and the next week could be deadly.

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Lula attends a news conference after meeting with the Rede Sustentabilidade party in Brasilia.

REUTERS/Andressa Anholete

Can Bolsonaro win re-election after all?

With just six months left before Brazil’s presidential election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva officially launched his campaign Saturday for the country’s top job. A highly celebrated politician, Lula seeks to lead Latin America’s largest democracy at a tumultuous time amid fears over authoritarianism and a rising cost of living.

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A tractor applies nitrogen-based fertilizer to a wheat field in Germany.

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Fertil(izer) ground for a global crisis

We've written about how the war between sunflower superpowers and major grain exporters Russia and Ukraine is already fueling a global food price crisis.

But there's a related catastrophe in the works for not only farmers but everyone around the world: a war-linked shortage of fertilizer from Russia and its top ally Belarus.

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Macron shakes hands with Putin, at the French president's summer retreat.

REUTERS/Gerard Julien

Putin invades the year’s big elections

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is shifting politics inside every major country in the world. Here are four countries holding big elections this year — with details on how Vladimir Putin’s war is making a difference in Hungary, France, Brazil, and the United States.

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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

REUTERS/Adriano Machado

What We're Watching: Bolsonaro heads to Moscow, Biden moves on frozen Afghan funds, Tunisia's dwindling democracy

Bolsonaro’s bold move. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is heading to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin despite objections from the US and his own aides about the timing, given the Ukraine crisis. But “Tropical Trump” may think the time is just right to try and boost his domestic popularity with some time on the international stage. He’s currently trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the run-up to Brazil’s October election. With over 600,000 COVID deaths since the panbdemic started and a battered economy, Bolsonaro also needs to bring home some bacon. Moscow recently issued a two-month ban on exports, and since Brazil is the biggest buyer of Russia’s nitrate fertilizer, Brazilian farmers are worried about their crops. Bolsonaro is expected to ask Putin to revoke the ban. If he secures the deal overseas, will it give him a boost back home?

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Illustrative photo of medical syringes and small figurines of people waiting in line for the Covid-19 vaccine booster, in front of the European flag displayed on a computer screen.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto

What We’re Watching: European omicron wave, Bolsonaro on Telegram, Chinese blind date

Omicron to sweep Europe. The World Health Organization reports that Europe will soon be the latest region to face a “west-to-east tidal wave” of the omicron COVID variant, on top of continuing infections with the delta variant. A senior WHO official predicts that “more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with omicron in the next six to eight weeks.” Beyond the public health and subsequent economic impact of this event, governments across Europe must manage the political fallout. The most impactful example will come in France, where President Emmanuel Macron faces center-right and further-right challengers in his bid for re-election in April. The latest pandemic wave will also create challenges for Germany’s brand-new coalition government and maybe for Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who’s expecting an especially tough fight for re-election this spring.

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Annie Gugliotta

Five choices

We have lots of big elections on deck in 2022. Today we’ll preview five that will feature high international stakes and especially colorful candidates.

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