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Geopolitics

Spotlight: Brazil 2016, Worst Of Years

A factory worker in Sorocaba, Brazil
Police ready for protests Tuesday in Sao Paulo

The "looking back" on the past 12 months has begun. In Brazil's case, 2016 may be the worst year in recent memory — and perhaps wins last place for good news of all countries at peace. Sadly, it's hard to imagine how 2017 could be much better.

In southeastern Brazil, 2016 started in toxic mud, weeks after the rupture of a mining dam that provoked the worst ecological disaster in the country's history, leaving entire towns, lives and the environment destroyed. Despite a year of hard work, there's still much to be done and the consequences on both locals' health and the economy will be felt for years to come.

Three mosquito-borne viruses spread on a massive scale: dengue fever, zika and chikungunya. The latest figures, released earlier this week, showed that a record-high 1.47 million people had been infected with the dengue virus in 2016. The authorities also registered close to 260,000 of chikungunya and more than 210,000 cases of zika, which has affected black and mixed race families the most.

Even the Olympics did a poor job at concealing the terrible state Brazil finds itself in. Worse, the many reports of widespread violence confirmed what many already knew, despite Ryan Lochte's fake mugging.

And of course, the year was marked most of all by a spiraling series of political scandals, as the anti-graft probe "Lava Jato" continued to expose a vastly corrupt political class. At the top was the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Though her legacy is far from brilliant, her political demise has marked a new particularly bitter era in Brazil.

Now, Rousseff's successor, the unelected president Michel Temer, has decided to face down the country's dismal economic situation with a harsh austerity policy. By amending the Constitution to enforce a two-decade freeze on public spending, Temer has made a clear statement: Brazil's welfare state is a thing of the past. But this policy risks deepening the country's growing wealth divide in both the short and long term. No doubt, more tough years to come.

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Geopolitics

Limits Of Convenience: Why Russia-China Cooperation Won't Last

Moscow and Beijing may seem like strategic partners, but it's revealing itself clearly as a marriage of convenience. And ultimately they are naturally competitors, wary if the other grows stronger.

Limits Of Convenience: Why Russia-China Cooperation Won't Last

February 2022. Vladimir Putin attending the remony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin Pool / Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire
Petro Shevchenko

-Analysis-

Long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were growing closer. China’s goal? To revamp the current world order, significantly weaken the West and its leaders, and to become the world-dominating figurehead over and above the United States.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has become an essential element of this plan to destabilize the global situation.

When the West began imposing stringent sanctions on Russia, China instead chose to economically support Putin and left its markets open to accept raw materials from Russia. But don’t think this means China is Putin’s lapdog. Quite the contrary: Beijing has never helped Moscow to its own detriment, not wishing to fall under the punitive measures of the US and Europe.

At the same time, the Russian-Chinese alliance stirred dissatisfaction amongst the elite in both Beijing and Moscow. China was not expecting Russia’s plans to occupy Ukraine in a matter of days to fail and as a result, China’s aim to destabilize the West alongside its Russian partner failed.

Add to this the various alliances in the West emerging against Beijing and fears for China’s economy on home turf is beginning to grow.

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