Peter Coy | Brazil’s President Lula Has No Easy Choices – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Brazil’s new president is hemmed in by protesters on one side and financial markets on the other. He needs to spend money to please the public, but he needs to demonstrate fiscal responsibility to keep investors from abandoning Brazilian assets, which could cause interest rates to soar and cripple the economy. Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to do both at once.

It’s a tough spot for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the leftist who served two terms from 2003 to 2010 and narrowly won election to a third term in October over the far-right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro. On Sunday, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters broke into government buildings in the capital, Brasília, to protest what they falsely believe was a stolen election.”

Has the Amazon Reached Its ‘Tipping Point’? – The New York Times

Listen to This Article  Audio Recording by Audm Listen 53:03

“One of the first times Luciana Vanni Gatti tried to collect Amazonian air she got so woozy that she couldn’t even operate the controls. An atmospheric chemist, she wanted to measure the concentration of carbon high above the rainforest. To obtain her samples she had to train bush pilots at obscure air-taxi businesses. The discomfort began as she waited on the tarmac, holding one door open against the wind to keep the tiny cockpit from turning into an oven in the equatorial sun. When at last they took off, they rose precipitously, and every time they plunged into a cloud, the plane seemed to be, in Gatti’s words, sambando — dancing the samba. Then the air temperature dipped below freezing, and her sweat turned cold.

Not that it was all bad. As the frenetic port of Manaus receded, the canopy spread out below like a shaggy carpet, immaculate green except for the pink and yellow blooms of ipê trees, and it was one of those moments — increasingly rare in Gatti’s experience — when you could pretend that nature had no final border, and the Amazon looked like what it somehow still was, the world’s largest rainforest.”

David Lindsay:  This undercuts the idea of a happy new year. Here are two of a number of comments I liked:

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC4h ago

1/2 We see the evidence that just like the organs of the human body the elements of the earth system are causally coupled together, and if you tip one you’re going to have consequences for others. Most notably we know that the Arctic is warming four times as fast as the global average, because of the retreat of the sea ice exposing a dark ocean that absorbs far more sunlight. We know that Arctic warming is accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the permafrost which locks up more than twice the carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. Arctic warming is also causing much more rainfall in the arctic that freshens up the surface of the North Atlantic ocean and contributes to an observed weakening of the great overturning circulation of the Atlantic ocean (AMOC) which kind of drags heat at the surface from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere and gives us a nice equable climate in Western Europe but also sets the position of a great band of rainfall all the way around the tropics.

2 Replies28 Recommended

Pablo Mas commented 4 hours ago

Pablo Mas
Chicago4h ago

Coalition of modern nations should seize the Amazon as a vital global resource to secure it before catastrophe. The Americans have the resources and fortitude to lead the initiative. It’s too important to leave solely in the hands of Brazilian politics; they’ve squandered their responsibility and privilege.

1 Reply27 Recommended

Brazil Ejects Bolsonaro and Brings Back Former Leftist Leader Lula – The New York Times

“His (da Silva’s) election, however, will most likely be good news for the health of the Amazon rainforest, which is vital to the fight against climate change. Mr. Bolsonaro championed industries that extract the forest’s resources while slashing funds and staffing for the agencies tasked with protecting it. As a result, deforestation soared during his administration.

Image

Voters lined up to cast their votes during the presidential runoff election in Brasília on Sunday.
Credit…Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

Mr. da Silva has a much better track record on protecting the forest, reducing deforestation while president. He campaigned on a promise to eradicate illegal mining and logging and said he would push farmers to use areas of the forest that had already been cleared.”

Bolsonaro Outperforms Polls and Forces Runoff Against Lula in Brazil’s Presidential Election – The New York Times

Jack Nicas, The Times’s Brazil bureau chief, has covered the country’s presidential race since last year.

“RIO DE JANEIRO — For months, pollsters and analysts had said that President Jair Bolsonaro was doomed. He faced a wide and unwavering deficit in Brazil’s high-stakes presidential race, and in recent weeks, the polls had suggested he could even lose in the first round, ending his presidency after just one term.

Instead, it was Mr. Bolsonaro who was celebrating. While the challenger, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former leftist president, finished the night ahead, Mr. Bolsonaro far outperformed forecasts and sent the race to a runoff.

Mr. da Silva received 48.4 percent of the votes, and Mr. Bolsonaro 43.23 percent, with 99.87 percent of the ballots counted, according to Brazil’s elections agency. Mr. da Silva needed to exceed 50 percent to be elected president in the first round.

They will face off on Oct. 30 in what is widely regarded as the most important vote in decades for Latin America’s largest nation.”

Opinion | Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is Preparing for a Revolution – The New York Times

Mr. Lago teaches at Columbia University and writes often about Brazil’s politics and society.

“RIO DE JANEIRO — It’s election season in Brazil, and the usual buzz of activity fills the air. The press is eagerly following the campaigns, running profiles of candidates and speculating about future coalitions. Supporters of the candidate in the lead, the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, are heatedly debating who the next cabinet ministers will be. And all involved are crisscrossing the country for rallies, in an energetic effort to get out the vote.

Yet Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s far-right president, stands apart. While his challengers have spent months looking forward to the election, he has sought to preemptively discredit it. He has questioned the role of the Supreme Court and cast doubt, volubly and often, on the electoral process. He speaks as if the election is an encumbrance, an irritation. He says he will not accept any result that is not a victory.

To some, this looks like the groundwork for a coup. In this view, Mr. Bolsonaro intends to refuse any election result that does not please him and, with the help of the military, install himself as president permanently. The reading is half right: Mr. Bolsonaro doesn’t intend to leave office, regardless of the election results. But it’s not a coup, with its need for elite consensus and eschewal of mass mobilization, he’s after. It’s a revolution.”

The Question Menacing Brazil’s Elections: Coup or No Coup? – The New York Times

Jack Nicas and 

Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, correspondents in Brazil, spoke to more than 35 judges, generals, diplomats and government officials to understand the risk to Brazil’s election.

“BRASÍLIA — A simple but alarming question is dominating political discourse in Brazil with just six weeks left until national elections: Will President Jair Bolsonaro accept the results?

For months, Mr. Bolsonaro has attacked Brazil’s electronic voting machines as rife with fraud — despite virtually no evidence — and Brazil’s election officials as aligned against him. He has suggested that he would dispute any loss unless changes are made in election procedures. He has enlisted Brazil’s military in his battle. And he has told his tens of millions of supporters to prepare for a fight.

“If need be,” he said in a recent speech, “we will go to war.”

With its vote on Oct. 2, Brazil is now at the forefront of the growing global threats to democracy, fueled by populist leaders, extremism, highly polarized electorates and internet disinformation. The world’s fourth-largest democracy is bracing for the possibility of its president refusing to step down because of fraud allegations that could be difficult to disprove.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I study the climate crisis, and I believe the scientists are right, it is an existential threat, and this decade is extremely important. It is of paramount importance that the democracy in Brazil remove Bolsonaro, a climate crisis denier, from office. David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

The Secret Airstrips Behind Brazil’s Illegal Mining Crisis – The New York Times

“Hundreds of  airstrips have been secretly built on protected lands in Brazil to fuel the illegal mining industry, a Times investigation found, including 61 in this Yanomami Indigenous territory.”

“BOA VISTA, Brazil — From 2,500 feet in the air, the dirt airstrip is just a crack in a seemingly endless ocean of rainforest, surrounded by muddy mining pits that bleed toxic chemicals into a riverbed.

The airstrip is owned by the Brazilian government — the only way for health care officials to reach the Indigenous people in the nearby village. But illegal miners have seized it, using small planes to ferry equipment and fuel into areas where roads don’t exist. And when a plane the miners don’t recognize approaches, they spread fuel canisters along the airstrip to make landing impossible.

“The airstrip now belongs to the miners,” said Junior Hekurari, an Indigenous health care official.

‌The miners ‌have also built four other airstrips nearby, all illegally, propelling such a rapid expansion of illegal mining on the supposedly protected land of the Yanomami people that crime has grown out of control and government workers are too scared to return.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
What an outstanding report of an absolutely horrible story. Thank you to Manuela Andreoni, Blacki Migliozzi, Pablo Robles, Denise Lu, photographer Victor Moriyama and the NYT. I am hopeful that Bolsonaro will lose the election that is looming, and the US helps Brazil to protect this mighty ecosystem and its native peoples, against criminal polluters.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Vanessa Barbara | Bolsonaro-Supporting Brazilian Telegram Channels Are Wild and Sinister – The New York Times

Ms. Barbara is a contributing Opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.

“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — When Elon Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter, right-wing Telegram groups in Brazil went wild. Here at last was a muscular champion of free speech. Even more, here was someone who — users rushed to confirm — wanted Carlos Bolsonaro, son of the president, to be Twitter’s managing director in Brazil.

That was, of course, not true. But I wasn’t surprised. I had been following these groups on the messaging app for weeks, to watch how misinformation was spread in real time. In Brazil, fake news seems to be something that the population at large seems to fall victim to — Telegram just offers the sort of deepest rabbit hole you can go down. So I knew — from horrible, eye-sapping experience — that for many right-wing activists, fake news has become an article of faith, a weapon of war, the surest way of muddling the public discussion.”

Vanessa Barbara | Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, Is Bringing Devastation to the World – The New York Times

Ms. Barbara is a contributing Opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.

“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — “I’m an army captain,” Jair Bolsonaro said in 2017. “My specialty is killing.”

He has been true to his word. In just over three years in office, Mr. Bolsonaro has overseen an administration notable for its disregard for human life. There are, most immediately, the country’s 660,000 deaths from Covid-19 — the second most in the world, after the United States. Throughout the pandemic, he obstructed social distancing, sabotaged mask wearing and undermined vaccination. He maintains that he “didn’t make a single mistake during the pandemic.” So we have to assume it all went to plan.

Then there are the guns. A series of presidential decrees loosening gun controls have opened the floodgates. Last year the federal police issued 204,300 new gun licenses, a 300 percent increase from 2018. Permits granted by the army to hunters and collectors rose 340 percent. The country, which recorded the most homicides in the world in 2021, is awash with firearms.

And then there’s the planet. Deforestation in the Amazon has reached its highest rate in 15 years, thanks in no small part to the president’s eager dismantling and defunding of environmental enforcement agencies. Not content with his efforts so far, Mr. Bolsonaro is now attempting to push through five bills that will strip away Indigenous rights, open up the Amazon to rampant profiteering and bring untold damage to the planet.”

Battling for Bolivia’s Lithium That’s Vital to Electric Cars – The New York Times

“SALAR DE UYUNI, Bolivia — The mission was quixotic for a small Texas energy start-up: Beat out Chinese and Russian industrial giants in unlocking mineral riches that could one day power tens of millions of electric vehicles.

A team traveled from Austin to Bolivia in late August to meet with local and national leaders at a government lithium complex and convince them that the company, EnergyX, had a technology that would fulfill Bolivia’s potential to be a global green-energy power. On arriving, they found that the conference they had planned to attend was canceled and that security guards blocked the location.

Still, the real attraction was in plain sight: a giant chalky sea of brine high in the Andes called the Salar de Uyuni, which is rich in lithium, among several minerals with growing value worldwide because they are needed in batteries used in electric cars and on the power grid.

Surrounded by rusty equipment, empty production ponds and pumps uncoupled from pipes, it seemed a forlorn spot. But to Teague Egan, EnergyX’s chief executive, it had nothing but promise.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
A light handed approach may be best, given how sensitive the Bolivians are about foreign encroachment. They will be looking for trustworthy, generous, and state of the art. It appears this Texan entrepreneur has a shot.