Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro as president

Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro as president
Pension reform will be Jair Bolsonaro’s biggest challenge since he has yet to build a base in Congress. (AFP)
Updated 01 January 2019

Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro as president

Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro as president
  • Jair Bolsonaro plans to realign Brazil internationally, moving away from developing nation allies and closer to the policies of Western leaders
  • Pension reform will be Bolsonaro’s biggest challenge since he has yet to build a base in Congress

BRASILIA: Right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro, who has vowed to crack down on political corruption, violent crime and ignite a moribund economy with deregulation and fiscal discipline, will be sworn in as Brazil’s president on Tuesday.
The former Army captain and seven-term fringe congressman rode a wave of anti-establishment anger to became Brazil’s first far-right president since a military dictatorship gave way to civilian rule three decades ago.
Bolsonaro plans to realign Brazil internationally, moving away from developing nation allies and closer to the policies of Western leaders, particularly US President Donald Trump, who sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to his inauguration.
As a clear sign of that diplomatic shift, Bolsonaro plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking with Brazil’s traditional support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.
Backed massively by conservative sectors of Brazil, including Christian evangelical churches, Bolsonaro would block moves to legalize abortion beyond even the current limited exceptions and remove sex education from public schools, opposing what he calls “cultural Marxism” introduced by recent leftist governments.
One- of his cabinet are former army officers, mostly fellow cadets at the Black Needles academy, Brazil’s West Point, all outspoken backers of the country’s 1964-1985 military regime.
Bolsonaro, 63, has faced charges of inciting rape and for hate crimes because of comments about women, gays and racial minorities. Yet his law-and-order rhetoric and plans to ease gun controls have resonated with many voters, especially in Brazil’s booming farm country.
His vow to follow Trump’s example and pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreement on climate change has worried environmentalists. So have his plans to build hydroelectric dams in the Amazon and open up to mining the reservations of indigenous peoples who are seen as the last custodians of the world’s biggest forest.
Brazilian businesses are eager to see Bolsonaro take office and install a team of orthodox economists led by investment banker Paulo Guedes, who has promised quick action in bringing Brazil’s unsustainable budget deficit under control.
Guedes plans to sell as many state companies as possible in a privatization drive that he forecasts could eventually bring in up to 1 trillion reals ($257 billion).
That would help restore order to government finances. The key measure, however, for reducing the deficit and stopping a dangerous rise of Brazil’s public debt will be the overhaul of the country’s costly social security pension system.
Pension reform will be Bolsonaro’s biggest challenge since he has yet to build a base in Congress, where he has eschewed the political horse-trading that has traditionally helped Brazilian presidents govern the nation of nearly 210 million people.
Bolsonaro may find that lax protection of the environment and human rights could have negative economic effects, more so than those faced by other far-right leaders, given the spotlight on Brazil’s Amazon jungle as a protection against global warming and because the country has more murders than any other nation.
“I think they will be good on the economy and they will probably be bad for human rights and the environment,” said Brian Winter, vice president for policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York.
“The key question is whether those things can be separated. Most of Wall Street says ‘Yes.’ I have my doubts.”


China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners
Updated 19 January 2021

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners
  • Twenty-two workers have been stuck 540 meters underground near Yantai in east China’s Shandong province

BEIJING: Chinese rescuers drilled several fresh holes Tuesday to reach at least 12 gold miners trapped underground for nine days, as dwindling food supplies and rising waters threatened their survival.
Twenty-two workers have been stuck 540 meters (1,750 feet) underground at the Hushan mine near Yantai in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance.
After days without any signs of life, some of the trapped miners managed to send up a note attached to a metal wire which rescuers had dropped into the mine on Sunday.
Pleading for help, the handwritten message said a dozen of them were alive but surrounded by water and in need of urgent medical supplies.
Several of the miners were injured, the note said.
A subsequent phone call with the miners revealed 11 were in one location 540 meters below the surface with another – apparently alone – trapped a further 100 meters down.
The whereabouts and condition of the other 10 miners is still unknown.
Rescuers have already dug three channels and sent food, medicine, paper and pencils down thin shafts – lifelines to the miners cut into the earth.
But progress was slow, according to Chen Fei, a top city official.
“The surrounding rock near the ore body is mostly granite... that is very hard, resulting in slow progress of rescue,” Chen told reporters on Monday evening.
“There is a lot of water in the shaft that may flow into the manway and pose a danger to the trapped workers.”
Chen said the current food supply was only enough for two days.
Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday, according to a rescue map published on the Yantai government’s official twitter-like Weibo account.
A telephone connection has also been set up.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed dozens of rescuers clearing the main return shaft, while cranes and a massive bore-hole drill was used to dig new rescue channels to reach the trapped miners.
Rescue teams lost precious time since it took more than a day for the accident to be reported, China Youth daily reported citing provincial authorities.
Both the local Communist Party secretary and mayor have been sacked over the 30-hour delay and an official investigation is under way to determine the cause of the explosion.
Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often weakly enforced.
In December, 23 workers died after being stuck underground in the southwestern city of Chongqing, just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped underground at another coal mine in the city.