Published On: November 18, 2016

Politics Everywhere

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It’s too early to tell what fate awaits the US and Brazil in the aftermath of the US presidential election last week. No one will dispute that having Donald Trump leading the world’s largest economy is going to affect the entire world.

For now, all that we know is Trump is considering some very poor choices for his Cabinet, such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former NYC major Rudy Giuliani. Also, Trump is determined to include his sons and son-in-law in his closest circle of advisors, although they have no more political experience than he does.

Jared Kushner, age 35, is married to Ivanka Trump. Kushner has already made an executive decision, pushing out Governor Chris Christie from Trump’s inner circle. News sources report the reason for Jared’s immediate dislike for the current governor of New Jersey, a close ally of Trump’s, is that Governor Christie sent Jared’s father to prison several years ago on charges of income tax evasion.

Jared Kushner with Ivanka Trump and her father Donald Trump

Jared Kushner with Ivanka Trump and her father Donald Trump

In a further insult to comprehension, Hillary Clinton has now posted almost a two million vote lead in the total vote count for the US election; however, this will not alter the results of the Electoral College. Votes are still being counted in the US because of absentee ballots that are sent in by mail, such as from Americans living in foreign countries.

In an analysis of the news coverage of the US presidential campaign over the past three months, it was determined that the 20 most shared false news stories on Facebook enjoyed more media traffic than the 20 most shared true news stories. One popular false story that circulated on social media was that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump.

One Trump supporter, Paul Horner, admits he has placed hundreds of false news stories on social media including one where he claimed anti-Trump protestors were being paid by the Democrats. “Trump’s campaign manager picked up this story and spread it everywhere like it was true,” Horner said. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, says his company is looking into the role social media played in the unexpected election outcome.

Sérgio Cabral with ally Dilma Rousseff

Ex-Governor Sérgio Cabral with ally Dilma Rousseff

Meanwhile in Brazil, the dollar rallied following Trump’s election, forcing the Central Bank to sell off dollars to keep the Brazilian real from sinking in value even further. And that’s only the beginning of Brazil’s financial worries. The federal government has frozen the assets of Rio de Janeiro state because of the state’s huge debts. No doubt financing new stadiums for the World Cup and Olympics, not to mention the additional security required to protect tourists added to Rio’s debt.

The governor of Rio is attempting to cut the salaries of state employees as a way of closing the debt, but he’s facing opposition from the workers’ union, as well as numerous street protests by the employees themselves.

Not surprisingly, Rio state lost at least U$64 million (225 million reais) in federal funds that were aimed for construction projects in the state. The money appears to have been stolen, and federal police have arrested a former governor of Rio, Sérgio Cabral. Federal prosecutors say they suspect that the former governor led an organized crime ring that diverted at least 225 million reais in bribes for the renovation of Maracanã Stadium before the 2014 World Cup and two other construction projects.

Sérgio Cabral greets the International Olympic Committee

Sérgio Cabral greets International Olympic Committee representatives

Mr. Cabral insisted on a 5 percent payoff per construction project, in addition to another 1 percent for one of his aides, according to Lauro Coelho Jr., a federal prosecutor in Rio de Janeiro. Cabral received monthly payments between 2007 and 2014.

One construction company, Andrade Gutierrez, agreed to make payments of more than U$100,000 a month for at least a year. Carioca Engenharia, another company, made monthly payments of some U$60,000 during Mr. Cabral’s first term, and in his second term the monthly bribes jumped to about U$150,000.

Cabral served two terms as Rio governor, from 2007-2014 and is from the PMDB. He quit as governor amid suspicions of corruption and growing street demonstrations against him. This is the second ex-governor of Rio arrested. Just last week, another former Rio governor, Anthony Garotinho, was arrested for alleged voter fraud.

Sérgio Cabral arrived at the rough Bangu prison complex on Thursday night, November 17, where more than two dozen Brazilians waited outside to cheer his imprisonment. Many sang songs and seemed festive upon his arrival, which was shown live on Brazilian television. Among the crowd were numerous firefighters. One of them held a sign that read, “Justice is being done.”

Right-wing protestors take over Congress in Brasília

Right-wing protestors take over congress in Brasília

In Brasília, dozens of protestors entered the lower house (Deputados) by overwhelming security guards. The chamber was mostly empty when about 40 protestors took over the podium to protest the country’s weak economy and to demand the resignation of President Temer. News of the protest spread immediately and the local media rushed into the chamber. The protestors represent the far right-wing who are hoping for a military coup to take overe Brazil.

In local news, a strike is being waged in many public schools across Paraná and São Paulo states. The college entrance exam had to be postponed because of the strike with no new exam date yet scheduled. In some high schools, the students have occupied the buildings. The strike is now spreading to some of the federal universities in protest of the government’s proposed 20-year fiscal austerity measure, known as PAC 241. Interestingly, in South Korea, the government grounded all planes for 30 minutes to reduce distractions while students took their college entrance exam.

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