Tag Archives: brazil

Observations of an expat: Unlikely hero

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is on the cusp of being an unexpected champion of democracy – albeit an extremely reluctant one.

As of this writing he is yet to utter that nasty four letter word preceded by the first person pronoun – “I lost”.

Nor has he graciously offered best wishes to his opponent. But, most important of all, he has not claimed – as expected – a false victory, branded the results “fake” or called on his military friends to stage a coup.

He has privately told leading politicians that he accepts that he lost; ordered his staff to work with Lula’s transition team for a peaceful and efficient handover of power and asked his supporters who have been blocking roads to go home.

The Trump of the Tropics has done a thousand times more than his North American political namesake to protect the sanctity of the ballot box which is the foundation stone of any democratic system of government.

Meanwhile, in the United States, some 400 election deniers for state or federal office are on the ballot in the mid-term 8 November elections. Many of these Republicans (yes, they are all Republicans) follow the example set  by their leader Donald Trump and say that if they personally lose it will be because of a fraudulent voting system.

Let’s make it clear. Reports of fake American elections are fake news designed to undermine the democratic process so that a group of politicians can illegally grab power.

Furthermore, that the forthcoming mid-term elections are one of the most important in American history. Many of the 400-plus election deniers are standing for state offices which control the electoral machinery. They have made it clear that if elected they see their job as ensuring the election of like-minded candidates.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

Good news/bad news on the Ukraine front.

Good news is that Ukrainian military are now making progress. It is also good news that Vladimir Putin has declared martial law in the parts of Ukraine he recently annexed and imposed lesser but still severe restrictions on other parts of Russia. The crackdown is a sure sign of lack of public support.

Bad news that the Russians have started bombing Ukrainian power generating and water pumping stations. So far about a third of the country has lost power. It will be a dark, cold winter for Ukrainians who may also lose water supplies.

Good news on the economic front. The Ukrainian economy is actually growing. This is mainly due to a stable banking system backed up by $23 billion in Western loans to secure currency reserves. But the loans would have been ineffective if the Ukrainians had not cleaned up their banking system which a few years ago was one of the most corrupt in Europe.

European Union

Good and Bad News also on the EU front. They are having another summit as I write this and at the top of the agenda will be how Europe can weather the energy crisis. The bad news is that the European Council has to discuss this issue because the richer countries are bowing to domestic demands to outbid the poorer EU countries for gas and oil supplies. The good news is that they are at least discussing the problem.

Other bad news is that it appears that Iran is involving itself in Ukraine on the Russian side. The drones attacking Ukrainian power stations were made in Iran and there are reports that Tehran is also supplying Russia with trainers and surface to air missiles. The Iranians publicly disapprove of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but, more importantly, they hate America.

France

President Emmanuel Macron had developed a reputation for being more interested in locating Putin’s golden exit ramp than prosecuting the war. As such he was not Volodomyr Zelensky’s most popular Western leader. That perception is changing. This week France announced that they were sending a quarter of their high-tech Caesar cannon to Ukraine. They also announced training facilities for 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers and the dispatch of French anti-aircraft systems and radar. The French still lag well behind the British and Germans, but they are now committing themselves to increased military backing for Ukraine.

Italy

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

Tom Arms’ World Review

UK

The freshly minted British Conservative government of Liz Truss is on the ropes. They have only themselves to blame. The “mini-budget” of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has plunged the economy into a downward spiral. The pound is plummeting. Interest rates are rocketing. People are literally on the cusp of losing their homes, and the problems of the world’s fifth largest economy is having a knock-on effect around the world.

The Opposition Labour Party has soared to a 20-point lead in the opinion polls. The Truss-Kwarteng policy of borrowing billions to cut taxes in the middle of a recession has been totally rejected by the markets. One reason for the traders’ emphatic thumbs down is Kwarteng’s refusal to support his budget with an assessment by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). Such support is usually a pre-requisite for any budget announcement. The market has interpreted its absence as a sign that the chancellor knew that the OBR would refuse its seal of approval.

Well, now the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, has demanded that Kwarteng organise a retrospective OBR report by the end of October at the latest – and, if the OBR report is as scathing as the statements emitting from the corridors of the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund – amend the budget accordingly. In the meantime, the Truss-Kwarteng duo are doing what every politician does these days when caught in a mess of their own making – doubling down and blaming someone else. In this case Ms Truss has hummed and hahed through a series dramatically misjudged local radio interviews. Putin, Ukraine, covid and world energy prices – everything except Brexit – were blamed for the reaction to the budget. But the fact is every other developed country has the same problems (except self-inflicted Brexit) and they have succeeded in propping up their troubled economies. The markets, therefore, have decided that Britain’s problems can be ascribed to political competence.

Baltic

Who blew up the Baltic Sea gas pipe lines on Tuesday? And who is the legal victim? It is almost universally agreed that the explosions were sabotage that involved a state military operation. But which state? Officially neither the Russians nor NATO are pointing a finger, but both are implying that the other is responsible. Sweden said it detected Russian submarines and surface vessels in the sabotage area shortly before the explosions. Russia retorted with a claim that there were even more NATO naval forces in the neighbourhood. Furthermore, the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue has been called by Moscow.

The identity of the attacker is important because the attack occurred in Danish territorial waters which means that it can be construed as an attack on a NATO member. On the other hand, it was an attack on Russian property and so Moscow might be able to claim that it was a NATO attack against them. It is quite possible that we will never know who was responsible because revealing the identity would further escalate the Ukraine War.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Observations of an expat: Tropical Trump

They call him “The Trump of the Tropics.” The parallels between Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump are legion, with one big difference – Bolsonaro is better placed to overturn his country’s democracy.

Presidential elections are scheduled for 2 October and far-right Bolsonaro is trailing well behind his socialist rival Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. So what does he do? He pulls a Trump. The elections will be a fraud, Bolsonaro claims months before the polls open. The electronic voting machines, he says, have been hacked.

Rubbish, counters the electoral authority, who maintain that there have been no incidences of widespread fraud in any elections since the system was introduced in 1996, including the election which put Bolsonaro in office in 2018.

But Bolsonaro persists. This week, the Brazilian leader summoned diplomats to the presidential place to listen to an hour-long televised harangue in which he claimed – without evidence – that a military investigation into a voting system which the country has successfully used for 25 years was fraudulent. The investigators, by the way, were appointed by Bolsonaro.

The US embassy in Brazil immediately issued a statement describing Brazil’s election machinery “as a model for the world.” Last month, Joe Biden dispatched CIA Director William Burns to tell Bolsonaro to change his story. The US president is clearly worried that a successful Bolsonaro coup in October will give encouragement to the supporters of Trump’s “Big Lie.” Bolsonaro has gone on record to say that Biden’s election was “suspicious.”

Trump said: “Brazil is lucky to have a man such as Jair Bolsonaro working for them. He is a great president and will never let the people of his great country down.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

World Review: Troubles in Poland, Nigeria, Brazil & the US, and Colin Powell

In this weekend’s commentary on world affairs, LDV’s foreign correspondent Tom Arms reviews the conflict between Poland and the Commission over the primacy of EU law. Nigeria is in a bigger mess than usual as corruption is exacerbated by Jihadism, the pandemic, a rapid rise in gang violence and a resurgence of Biafran secessionism. Brazilian senators are investigating Bolsonaro’s responsibility for 600,000 Brazilian covid-19 deaths. In the States, Trump aide Steve Bannon will go to prison for a year for contempt of Congress. Colin Powell who died this week, was universally recognised as a decent and honest man.

Posted in Obituaries and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Policy responses to the Amazon fires – a longer read for the weekend

President Macron, the UN Secretary General, London mayor Sadiq Khan and even Cristiano Renaldo have all chipped in over the last 24 hours with concern about the situation where 1/5th of the Earth’s oxygen source is located and Sao Paulo is covered in a blanket of smoke and across half of Brazil. How big is the problem, what are the implications and how do we incentivise and assist Brazil?

The figure above, from the BBC website, shows the increasing trend which feeds into the wider global concern about global warming and the resultant thawing of the Arctic, melting of glaciers such as that in the Hindu Khush that feeds 1 in 3 of the global population and the extreme weather events from heavy rains that cause flooding (from England to the current woes affecting the Indian sub-continent) and intense summer heat and often more intense winters. And witness the spate of Artic fires this year from Alaska to the Russian far north.

The immediate impact of climate change is evident across much of the world – even if not accepted by naysayers – and most pressingly by the developing world, countries without either the budgetary resources or the institutional structures in place to put together cohesive long-term stabilisation strategies in place to deal with the immediate emergency and humanitarian crises following fires and floods.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Green Deal

Despite the fact that we are now well into March, it seems that there is no let up in the cold snowy weather and I know that at this time energy bills remain a major concern to my constituents. To help people reduce these bills and cut down their energy use, the Government has taken action and introduced a scheme called the Green Deal. This enables people to improve the energy efficiency of their …

Posted in Op-eds, Parliament and Scotland | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Martin
    Peter Martin: Each EU state decides for itself how it regulates trade from outside the EU, parcels sent from UK, Switzerland, America, Australia etc. to Belgiu...
  • Mick Taylor
    As a member of a small largely Christian sect, the Quakers, I have never been able to understand the reason for an established church somehow raised above other...
  • Nonconformistradical
    Declaring an interest - writing as an atheist @James Moore "Faith gives us moral guidance and a sense of duty to our fellow human beings." Why do you nee...
  • Michael Berridge
    William Wallace has made "a promise that the Lords would do everything it could to prevent the forthcoming Retained EU Law Bill from diverging too far from comm...
  • Peter Parsons
    Perhaps it might help friendly relations if some folks in the UK parliament were not so persistently antagonistic towards the EU. I still see regular anti-EU rh...