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Hands Off The Judges, A Warning To Temer And Trump

Alexandre de Moraes in July 2016
Alexandre de Moraes in July 2016

It was always going to be a tricky nomination. Still, Brazilian President Michel Temer could hardly have made a more controversial choice for the vacant seat on the nation's Supreme Court. With anti-corruption investigation Lava Jato ("Car Wash") still very much at the center of national debate, giving the nod to his close ally and own justice minister Alexandre de Moraes was a brazen move.

Since the death of Judge Teori Zavascki in a plane crash last month, the Brazilian president had been facing calls to appoint someone politically independent. By blatantly ignoring those calls, Temer's choice would have a "strong impact" on the investigation's future, one of the lead Lava Jato prosecutors told Folha de S. Paulo.

Temer and Moraes in May 2016 — Photo: Beto Barata /PR

Moraes' appointment is, indeed, revealing of the current state of Brazilian politics. The far-reaching "Car Wash" operation, already responsible — albeit indirectly — for the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, is threatening to engulf more senior politicians, including some in Temer's current government. And, yes, Temer himself faces serious questions, as reporter Vicente Nunes reports in Correio Braziliense.

Naming someone so close to him "at such a delicate time for the country" is a "provocation," according to Nunes. "The feeling we're all left with is that Moraes was chosen by Temer, himself named in the investigation, to protect his friends from the claws of justice."

The perilous tension between the judicial and executive branches in Brazil comes as another unprecedented dynamic is playing out some 4,000 miles to the north. Even while he was generally praised for his own choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has now used Twitter to attack a federal judge for a ruling against the Administration's Muslim travel ban. The skittish leaders of two of the world's largest democracies are reminding us that democracy is only as strong as the controls it places on individual power. That starts and ends with an independent judiciary.

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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