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What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s next move, China’s forever zero-COVID, Iran’s public trials

Brazil's outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro votes during the election runoff in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro votes during the election runoff in Rio de Janeiro.

Bruna Prado/Pool via REUTERS

What’s Bolsonaro gonna do?

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro will speak publicly on Tuesday for the first time about the presidential election, which he officially lost on Sunday to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by just under two points. Unlike in some other countries — ahem — Brazil’s unified electronic system counts all the votes at once, on the day of the election, and that’s that. But the right-wing Bolsonaro has spent months casting doubt on the credibility of that system itself, repeatedly hinting that he might not accept the result if he loses. Meanwhile, his supporters have cried foul at heavy-handed efforts by courts and electoral authorities to police fake news in the run-up to the vote. Truckers who support him have already blocked roads in 20 of Brazil’s 26 states. Some analysts fear a January 6 insurrection or worse, given Bolsonaro’s cozy ties to the military. Does he really think he can overturn the result? Probably not. Is he crazy enough to try a coup? Doubtful (really). But can he create an awful lot of chaos as a way of bolstering his political capital ahead of his upcoming role as leader of a powerful opposition that now controls congress? Surely. The results are in, but the streets are waiting: your move, Jair.

China's COVID curbs hit Disney, iPhones

Xi Jinping won't let zero-COVID go, no matter how much damage it does to China’s sputtering economy — or to people just having fun. Disney Shanghai shut its gates Monday after the city of 26 million reported a measly 10 infections, leaving visitors stuck inside. The park’s rides are still operating, which is a small bonus for visitors trapped until they test negative three times (this happened last November, with 30,000 people inside the park). Even more troubling, over the weekend employees began sneaking out of Foxconn's largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, after being locked down for days in their dormitories with dwindling food supplies amid a COVID outbreak. If a significant chunk of the 200,000-strong workforce vanishes, the factory's output of iPhones could plummet by as much as 30%. It's not just Apple devices – before the pandemic, the plant was China's third-largest exporter, shipping $32 billion worth of electronics per year. As “forever” zero-COVID threatens to further snarl global supply chains ahead of the holiday season, Xi might take over Joe Biden as this year’s Grinch.

Iran to publicly try 1,000 protesters

Tehran said Monday it’ll hold public trials for 1,000 demonstrators arrested during the ongoing protests over the in-custody death of Mahsa Amini, who was reportedly beaten by the morality police for “improperly” wearing her hijab. Authorities say the defendants played an “active role” in the largest protests the country has seen in a decade. But there are no figureheads for the movement, and the women of Iran have been joined in the streets by students, labor unions, and oil workers. The public trials intend to signal that Iran’s leaders will not tolerate dissent against the theocratic republic that has called the shots since 1979. What's more, some of the protesters have been charged with crimes that carry the death penalty; if found guilty, they could be publicly executed. Iran usually hangs death row inmates inside prisons, but perhaps this time the ayatollahs think mass public executions might show protesters — and the world — that they won't give up an inch of power. Will this spark fear, as intended, or revolution?


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