From Prison To President
September 29, 2022
The Name’s Lula, Not Loser
Brazil’s presidential election looks to be the backdrop for the redemption story of a lifetime. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (better known by his nickname, Lula), was trapped in a prison cell just three years ago on trumped-up corruption charges, but now looks poised to cleanly sweep this year’s election over President Bolsonaro.
Lula is currently polling at roughly 45% of the vote after Brazil’s first round of balloting Sunday, with Bolsonaro earning just 35%. This puts Lula 5% away from winning the election outright – in Brazilian presidential elections, the first candidate to win over 50% of the vote wins the whole thing instantly. If no candidate wins 50%, the top two will go into a runoff election on October 30.
While Bolsonaro gained the presidency on a wave of far-right populism, Lula turned the tides with left-leaning populism and nostalgia for the prosperity Brazil saw under his first two terms in office. During his presidency, 20 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty and the country jumped from the 13th- to the seventh-largest economy in the world. Under Bolsonaro, the economy is floundering thanks in part to the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response, with double-digit inflation and fuel costs hammering everyday people’s expenses. Lula hopes to drag the economy out of its funk using government redistribution programs as part of the “new pink tide,” a wave of left-leaning politicians coming to power in South America.
For his part, Bolsonaro looks to be playing a new classic right-wing Trump card: contesting the results of the election. Brazil’s own right-wing populist has begun questioning the integrity of Brazil’s voting system while also hinting at violence should he lose. In one statement, he foresaw three futures for himself post-election: “prison, being killed, or victory,” and it sure looks like victory is not in the cards. (LAT, $)
Some Good News
- Alzheimer’s drug slows progression of cognitive decline in clinical trial, drugmakers say (CNN)
- ‘Let’s Do It Legit’: Drug Arrestees Vie for First New York Pot Licenses (NYT, $)
No Man Is An Island, Not Even The President
- As the U.S. moves to exert its influence in the Pacific, one archipelago off the coast of Australia is acting as a speed bump – or rather, a collection of smaller, island-shaped speed bumps. This week, U.S. President Joe Biden is playing host to a summit of a dozen Pacific countries, including the Solomon Islands, a nation consisting of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific.
- Ahead of the summit, the country released a diplomatic note to its Pacific neighbors stating that it would not endorse a joint declaration that the U.S. plans to unveil at the summit. The islands said that there was no consensus on the declaration and that it would need “time to reflect” on the issues presented. The summit’s declaration mainly focuses on climate change, but more details will be revealed as the summit goes on.
- The Solomon Islands has (yes – “has,” not “have”) politically shifted closer to China over recent years. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare switched the country’s diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing shortly after his election in 2019, and the country recently signed a security pact with China. While their objection might be seen as Chinese-influenced obstructionism, other Pacific nations have voiced concerns about U.S. involvement in the region, stating that its push to grow its influence has felt rushed and poorly timed. (WaPo, $)
Passing The Smoking Gun…Errr, The Torch
- Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was named prime minister on Tuesday as Saudi King Salman broke with tradition, ceding his dual title as king and prime minister in order to pass more power to his son. The move will likely not change the current balance of power in the kingdom, as the prince is already seen as the country’s de facto ruler and is first in line for the throne.
- The early passing of power is likely a move to protect the Saudi crown prince, using sovereign immunity granted to a head of state, from a U.S. investigation into the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and critic of the Saudi government. A U.S. intelligence report from last year states that the new Saudi prime minister likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- N.Korea fires two ballistic missiles ahead of Harris visit to South (Reuters)
- US Embassy in Russia tells Americans to leave the country (The Hill)
- Japan says Russia ‘blindfolded and restrained’ its consul in Vladivostok (BBC)
- Haiti hospitals prepare to close as gangs blockade fuel supplies (Al Jazeera)
- Russia poised to annex occupied Ukraine after sham votes (NBC)
- To Calm Markets, Bank of England Will Buy Bonds on ‘Whatever Scale Is Necessary’ (NYT, $)
- Liz Truss’s premiership has got off to the worst start possible (CNN)
“This adoration of an artist as a lone genius is quite misled, I think, because they are very much part of their time and their community.” – Hannah Gadsby
- Kyle Young, 38, and his 16-year-old son were among the Capitol rioters who participated in the attack on Officer Michael Fanone in a tunnel under the Capitol. Fanone was electrocuted until he suffered a heart attack and lost consciousness. He later resigned from the D.C. police after fellow officers turned on him for speaking so publicly about the Capitol attack and former President Trump.
- On Tuesday, Young was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison. “You were a one-man wrecking ball that day,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said. “You were the violence.” Fanone was present for the sentencing, and told Young, “I hope you suffer.” He added, “The assault on me by Mr. Young cost me my career. It cost me my faith in law enforcement and many of the institutions I dedicated two decades of my life to serving.” (WaPo, $)
Court Is In Session
- After dropping bombs on the country and then taking a three-month break, the Supreme Court will have its first closed-door conference of the new term on Wednesday. After the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade (and ongoing concerns about Ginni Thomas’ role in the insurrection) many began to question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
- The nine judges will go around the table and speak in order of seniority, starting with Roberts and ending with Jackson. Another tradition says that if there is a knock on the door, Jackson must be the one to answer it. They plan to discuss the leak of the Roe decision and subsequent investigation before getting into any of the cases on the docket. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Self-proclaimed ‘incel’ charged with pepper spraying women in Southern California hate attacks (NBC)
- Deputies kill father and teen daughter in wild freeway shootout after alleged abduction (LAT, $)
- Why Manchin backed off on his top priority (Politico)
- Live Updates: Hurricane Ian’s “extremely dangerous” eyewall moves onshore in southwest Florida (CBS)
- Biogen Agrees to Pay $900 Million to Settle Lawsuit Over Kickbacks (NYT, $)
- DoJ pushes back on Trump’s claims it planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago (Guardian)
- Why the White House wants to put nutrition labels on the front of food packages (NPR)
A Rising Tide Floods All Sinking Cities
- Venice is home to roughly 120 islands, 177 canals, 391 bridges, and over 600,000 people. Unfortunately for all of the above, the floating city is at risk, with some predictions stating that the city might sink under the ocean as early as 2100. Other coastal cities face similar problems, but Venice is uniquely positioned as a rich but small destination city that may be able to act as a testing ground for futuristic anti-flooding technologies.
- The city has suffered two major flooding events in recent memory. In 1966, water levels rose 194cm (6.4ft) above sea level, causing serious infrastructural damage to an estimated three-quarters of the city’s businesses. A slightly smaller flood also occurred in 2019, with tides 187cm (6.1ft) above sea level flooding 80% of the city and causing an estimated €1 billion worth of damage.
- Currently, Venice employs multiple technologies to protect it from the seas, with its main defense being the Mose project, a series of mobile gates which can be raised and lowered to protect against flooding. However, the project has cost the city over €8 billion, and might cause long-term damage to the lagoon Venice sits in. Possible future projects to protect the city include a Dutch-style series of dams and barriers, as well as the banning of normal boats in favor of hydrofoil boats to reduce wake-related damage. One wrench in the works for the city’s future plans? It’s also sinking as sea levels rise, dropping 15 cm (5.9 in) into the mud over the last century. (BBC)
- Swiss glaciers see worst melt on record in back-to-back heat waves (CNN)
- Researchers reconstruct the genome of the common ancestor of all mammals (Phys.org)
- See the First Eerie NASA Images of DART’s Asteroid Crash Site (CNET)
- Prototype electric airplane takes first flight (AP)
- Trump climbs back onto the Forbes 400 richest Americans list (CBS)
- Uncovering Hidden Patterns: AI Reduces a 100,000-Equation Quantum Physics Problem to Only Four Equations (SciTechDaily)
- Little Amal: Why a giant puppet is walking the streets of New York (CNN)
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