The World Today for April 19, 2016

April 19, 2016


Brazil's Enduring Battle

For Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the vote this weekend in Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against her is not the beginning of the end. It’s the end of the beginning of a political crisis that’s been playing out for months.

Both sides vow to fight on. And in between them, there is a small chance Brazil could turn the corner. Will it?

Now, the Brazilian Senate must decide whether to take up the lower house’s call for a trial against Rousseff, a member of the leftwing Worker’s Party that has dominated the South American country’s politics for 13 years. If senators agree, Rouseff must step down for 180 days to defend herself.

The president equated the impeachment with a coup, a common comparison that keeps coming up in recent days as observers start picking apart the charges against her.

She even evoked her torture under Brazil’s military junta when she was a Marxist guerilla in the early 1970s to show both her mettle as well as the forces that she blames as orchestrating the coup.

The impeachment allegations contend that Rousseff used state-owned banks to cover up the government’s finances as she was running for reelection. She believes she’s been unfairly singled out for monkeying with public funds in corrupt Brazil.

“The acts that they accuse me of, they were practiced by other presidents of the republic before me,” she said. “Therefore, when I feel injustice, it's because, with me, I was treated like no one else was treated.”

Others agree that far-right politicians have long been looking for a reason to oust Rousseff, a former aide to ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who unapologetically pursued a pro-worker, pro-poor agenda at the expense of big business and the country’s elites.

Brazilian newspaper columnist Laura Carvalho told the New York Times, for example, that the impeachment is payback for Rousseff allowing investigators to go after powerful lawmakers in a corruption scandal that has also implicated Lula. In fact, hundreds of lawmakers who cast a vote for impeachment are under investigation themselves – many have been tied to offshore accounts revealed in the Panama Papers.

Clearly some of the old guard elites relished the chance to help bring the president down.

Far-right Deputy Jair Bolsonaro dedicated his vote in favor of impeaching Rousseff to Colonel Carlos Brilhante Ustra. The colonel’s soldiers tortured Rouseff when she was in captivity many years ago.

The implication is clear: Wealthy corrupt interests are trying to bring down a powerful leader who stands up for the little guy.

It’s a nice story. Is it true? Nobody knows right now.

Unfortunately, what is clear is how the crisis highlights a flare up of Brazil's chronic disease: Its enduring and all-pervasive culture of corruption.

Unfortunately, this battle is not going away anytime soon – no matter what comes next. And in this fight, so far Brazil is losing. But it has an opportunity to change that.


Israel: A Dangerous Turn?

An explosion on a bus in Jerusalem has left many worried that the attack could represent a dangerous escalation in an already deteriorating situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The explosion injured at least 21 people, some critically. But the real reason the attack is foreboding is because it also harks back to Palestinian terror campaigns during an Intifada, or uprising, around 10 years ago.

For the past seven months, young Palestinians have been stabbing and throwing rocks at Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

This so-called Third Intifada has been troubling because Palestinian Authority officials have been trying to stop the children, teens and twenty-somethings from committing violence. The authority, after all, is trying to negotiate with Israel on a host of issues.

The stabbings and other attacks show that frustration with Israel that has trickled down to the youngest generation in Palestine. Now Israelis and Palestinian adults are asking themselves: Could those disgruntled kids have graduated from knives to bombs?

Brexit Backlash

The average British household will lose around $6,100 annually by 2030 if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, said Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

“Britain would be permanently poorer if it left the European Union,” said Osborne on Monday. “Under any alternative, we'd trade less, do less business and receive less investment.”

His comments were the latest in a string of warnings from government officials who have said that leaving the EU would reduce Britain’s diplomatic heft, hurt its military-industrial complex, and cause headaches for Brits living in sunny places like Spain, the south of France and the Greek islands as well as other problems.

Yet polls show that campaigns for and against the June 23 vote on “Brexit,” as the country’s proposed exit from the EU is called, are running neck and neck.

Maybe the politicians should stop talking.

The Philippines' Trump?

A front-running presidential candidate in the Philippines joking about how he wished he would have been able to join in a gang rape?

Unfortunately, for the struggling Asian country in need of serious leadership, it's true.

“I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing,” said Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, mayor of Davao City, according to a video of his comments released Sunday. “But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”

When he said “the mayor should have been first,” he was referring to himself, by the way.

Duterte was discussing a 1989 incident when inmates in a jail in his city overpowered their guards and took hostages, including Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill. The inmates raped her, then slit her throat. She later died when police stormed the prison and accidentally shot her.

The tough-on-crime Duterte is refusing to apologize. Analysts say many of his supporters are fanatics who won’t necessarily change their votes no matter what he says. Sound familiar?


Lava Prompts Change of Heart in Pyongyang

A volcano has managed to crack open the Hermit Kingdom.

American, British, Chinese and North Korean researchers are working together to study rumblings out of 9,000-foot-high Mount Paektu – a big volcano on the North Korean-Chinese border whose eruption around 1,000 years ago is considered one of the most violent in history.  

This is remarkable. North Korea is mostly closed off to international researchers. Yet there they are, putting aside politics and working together in the pursuit of knowledge. North Korea asked for help from the international team of volcanologists after the mountain started rumbling in the early 2000s, too.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Science Advances. They didn’t find magma close to the surface so they don’t foresee an eruption any time soon. But they’re also trying to figure out of if molten rock under the volcano might hold clues to other developments.

So far, those developments don’t appear to involve any invitations for talks with dissidents or critics of the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un.

Still, for the Hermit Kingdom, it's an opening.


The DailyChatter staff wishes you a great day. Write to us with tips, feedback and suggestions at

Compiled and written by Jabeen Bhatti


Tue, 04/19/2016 – 06:20

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