The election of Jair Bolsonaro

With almost all of the vote reported, Jair Messias Bolsonaro from The Social Liberal Party will almost certainly be Brazil’s next president.

But who is this new world leader? And why has the gaze of the entire world (particularly western nations) fallen upon Brazil?

The man himself

Jair Messias Bolsonaro born in 1955 is a politician and former military officer. Overtly conservative and controversial, Bolsonaro has drawn both criticism and praise nationally and internationally.

As a campaign, he promoted pro-market and liberal economic policy which would allow individuals more say in decisions rather than having them made by the government and other organisations. As well as calling for greater relationships with the United States and Israel.

However, Bolsonaro has not escaped controversy. In the #MeToo era Bolsonaro once told congresswomen Maria do Rosario “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it,” going on to call her ugly. Bolsonaro has also made controversial negative comments regarding homosexuality (which is now accepted in over 70 countries worldwide), as well as both the treatment of political opponents and suspected criminals.

The country 

Brazil recently endured an economic crisis from 2014 to 2016 which resulted in the loss of 72,000 truckers’ jobs and the impeachment of their president at the time. Since then Brazil has struggled with petrol shortages having a domino effect upon the production and exports industries.

This has left a stain of political mistrust within Brazil, visible as the out-going Brazilian president (Michel Temer) produced an approval rating of 5%.

To a country emerging from crisis, national-minded Bolsonaro may appear as a light in the darkness.

The Western world

The 2018 Brazilian election and Bolsonaro as a candidate have not escaped the eye of the western world. His ideology and behaviour have drawn comparisons to United States President, Donald Trump,  labels of ‘far-right’ given, and fears of fascism voiced.

For the Western world, the election of Jair Bolsonaro may develop feelings of fear and uncertainty for the future as right-wing ideology and conservatism appears to be on the rise in western nations. However, in contrast, over 50% of Brazil hopes that Jair Bolsonaro will lead them out of the lingering uncertainty and crisis.

 

Useful sources: 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/27/gay-relationships-still-criminalised-countries-report

https://theslot.jezebel.com/far-right-candidate-who-once-said-a-congresswoman-was-t-1830060394

https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2017/10/1925458-bolsonaro-diz-que-e-liberal-e-adota-discurso-que-agrada-investidores.shtml

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12065391

https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/brazils-crisis-two-sentences-or-less

 

Image labeled for reuse from Wikimedia Commons

‘My life matters more than a piece of paper.’

On any given day many students may try to avoid going to class. But on April the 20th this year bunking will correspond with a youth movement aiming to draw attention to gun law reforms.

On the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in 1999, a number of both teachers and students plan to boycott the classrooms hoping to send a clear message to Congress.

Social media such as Twitter has helped to develop and coordinate the movement by connecting like-minded individuals and draw national and international attention.

On Change.org a petition started has had over 56,000 signatures (as of this piece being written) calling for legal change from Congress to prevent further school shooting deaths.

“There has been too much complacency on the part of politicians when it comes to gun violence. The time to act is now!” –  Lane Murdock (petition starter)

In regard to the movement itself, the origin is unclear. A separate school walkout is planned for the 14th of March in honour of the students lost in the Parkland shooting supported by Women’s March on Twitter.

Taking matters into their own hands as well, government inactiveness and fear has driven a number of parents to invest in bulletproof backpacks for their children. American company Bullet Blocker reported a 30% sales increase since the Wednesday shooting.

When put to the test, the backpack managed to stop pellets and rounds from handguns but still was not able to stop full metal jacket bullets from the AR-15 used last week.

 

With warming political relations, is Korean reunification possible?

As North Korean athletes arrive in South Korea for the winter Olympics, discussion about co-operation and reunification has been prompted.

North Korea appears supportive and positive about such discussions, urging “all Koreans at home and abroad” to “promote contact (and) cooperation between North and South Korea”

In the South, however, protests met the North Korean hockey team as they arrived and a poll suggested that 70% of South Koreans were opposed to the joint hockey team, concerned that their players would, in consequence, get less playing time.

Across the sea, reports have come out suggesting that China would support a unified Korea if it meant peace in the region.

The Chinese ambassador to the United States stated: “China would support reunification if it is the will of the Korean people. “As long as it’s peaceful, it’s independent (and) by the Korean people, China will support it,”

The big question though remains, Is reunification ultimately possible? And how? 

According to Statistics by Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies in 2017 (and reported by Smithsonian.com), just under 25% of respondents did not believe reunification was possible. However, the same poll found that almost 54% of South Koreas felt it was necessary.

And discussions about what sort of system a reunified Korea would adopt is also a point of disagreement.  Whilst just under half would like to keep the same democratic system, other suggestions include a hybrid of the two or the continuation of both systems.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s saw some positive discussion and progress between the two nations, however, that appeared to stall when North Korea began nuclear and missile tests, as well as provoking behaviour.

And whilst communication and dialogue have improved between the two Koreas in recent months, the idea of reunification is still abstract. However, with both countries appearing to take steps in the right direction, only time will tell.

“The two Koreas fundamental ideological difference make it difficult to conceive a credible reunification strategy,”  – Anwita Basu, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (CNN)

 

 

Uk forewarns aid cuts

The United Kingdom has announced they will begin to cut foreign aid to developing countries failing to invest in their own citizens.

The country who now provides £13 billion each year overseas is calling for governments to take more responsibility and step up. Failing to do so would influence the UK’s economic support.

This new approach was developed after fears that foreign aid provides no incentive for countries to invest their own money and resources into things such as healthcare.

However, some have raised concerns of suddenly stripping aid from countries who really need it, and believe that even with taking self-supporting steps, there still a significant need for aid.

As reported by the BBC,  the UK government is legally required to spend 0.7% of their gross national income on overseas aid.

The announcement coincides with the United States decision to withhold 65 million dollars in aid to Palestine

Alabama Senate election results

Today marks the first day in over 25 years that Alabama has elected a Democrat.

In a close election, Doug Jones has beaten Roy Moore to claim the state’s Senate seat.

According to statistics from the New York Times, Jones claimed 49.9% of the vote compared to Moore’s 48.4%.

Prior to the election, Trump gave the Republican candidate shrowded in sexual misconduct accusations his undoubted support. Shortly after the election, Trump tweeted his response:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 7.26.58 PM

The victory helps to tighten the Senate seat gap between the two parties going into 2018 and will shorten the Republican’s majority which may have an impact on future decisions.

Breaking down: Australia’s same-sex marriage referendum

Australia is currently undertaking an important vote regarding the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The result of this referendum will then be taken into government where they will make a decision.

So why is this important for people pro-gay marriage and what is their viewpoint?

Having this initial referendum support them would give their cause an edge when the government looks into the case.

Australia would also make moves forward towards many English speaking countries that have also already legalised gay marriage such as their neighbour New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and America. With many nations (particularly Western and some South American) legalising or at recognising same-sex marriage, more acceptance has developed across the western world and it has become less abnormal. Legalisation would give gay couples the same rights other countries have permitted for years.

In this referendum, the “yes” campaign has had to remind people what they are voting for. There has been confusion developed from the “No” campaign and their suggestion that legalisation would lead to a “sliperly slope” (discussed later). Those who are pro-same-sex marriage, have had to re-emphasise that this vote is about marriage equality and not other things.

Why is this important for people anti-gay marriage and what is their viewpoint?

Similar to before, being able to say the public does not support the legalisation of gay marriage would give their viewpoint an edge in parliament.

Many arguments opposing gay marriage have religious roots, suggesting it is unbiblical and against the will of God. Australia originally colonised by England has a Christian heritage and this would go against this. Some scientific arguments suggest the fact homosexuality does not lead to reproduction is an indication that it is therefore unnatural.

A key argument that has surfaced during this referendum is that the legalisation of same-sex marriage will lead develop a “slippery slope”. This has been linked to the safe schools program being introduced around the country, to aid schools and staff in making their campuses a safer and more friendly environment for those in the LBGTQ community.  There are concerns that gender education will become compulsory like it has become in some areas of Canada and parents will no say over their child’s participation.

What way do the votes appear to be heading?

According to news.com.au, a poll conducted predicts the vote will be a solid “yes” (61.5%) in support opposed to 17.5% against. Special Minister of State Scott Ryan believes the result will reflect something similar with two-thirds of votes also saying yes.

The same poll interestingly found that younger voters (18-24) were more likely to vote yes (80+%) with the percentage dropping as age increased.