Brazil political crisis escalates as party pulls out of coalition. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has come closer to being impeached by the Congress as her allies have left the coalition. The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party(PMDB) has announced that they are no longer cooperating with Pres. Rousseff.
The PMDB has pulled their six government ministers and informed their party members that they must leave all government appointments or face ethics charges.
There are a series of incidents that have brought the country and more particularly Rousseff to this point. The biggest scandal is that surrounding the government owned petroleum corporation –Petroleo Brasileiro – which has nearly two billion dollars unaccounted for. Many believe it is in the pockets of Rousseff and friends.
The former president was able to name the board members sitting on the petroleum company. Pres. Roussoff was on the board. The investigation into the missing money had the former president in for questioning. Roussoff tried to have him appointed to a government position so that he would be immune from prosecution, but was thwarted in that move.
Now the congress may impeach her. If they don’t the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) filed a request to impeach on Monday on the grounds that she obstructed justice and used fiscal accounting tricks. If that request doesn’t fly, they OAB has filed a second request regarding Rousoff’s granting of tax exempt status to FIFA during the 2014 World Cup.
If it comes to a parliamentary vote, with the departure of the PMDB from the coalition, it is unlikely that Rousseff can garner enough votes to thwart the ouster. The vote to impeach is likely to be held in April and if successful, will be before the Senate by May.
If the president is ousted, the VP will take over the office.
The political turmoil comes as a particularly bad time for Brazil which is slated to hold the 2016 Olympics in August. Controversy has swirled around the filthy conditions of the water sports venues. Because of the recession budgets have been slashed. The country is mired in the worst recession in a generation due to the low petroleum prices(and the disappearance of billions of dollars). The Zika virus has also created a nation wide health crisis.
A huge fire in the city of Ajman broke out Monday evening and raged through one tower and quickly spread to another high rise residential tower. A complex of 12 towers lost both towers eight and six to the fire.
The fire gutted apartments in the buildings. While many fled the flames with only what they could grab, there was no reports of casualties.
Residents in neighbouring towers were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
The fire continued well past midnight local time.
There have been several fires in the ultra-modern high rise buildings in the Gulf States. In December 2015 a luxury hotel in Dubai was destroyed. The 63 story building was successfully evacuated. Some of the survivors reported that there were no operating fire alarms and no sprinklers.
The cause of that fire has was deemed to be an electrical short, but suspicions are focussing on the exterior cladding of the building because of the speed of the fire. The cladding was added to the building’s exterior to provide insulation.
Unfortunately the insulation is made up of polyurethane foam which is flammable.
The insulating material was used extensively on buildings erected before 2013 when building codes were changed to prohibit that style of cladding. But as much as 70% of the buildings in Dubai have that dangerous insulation.
The insulation is not unique to the Gulf States. It was used in the UK but discontinued in the 1980s. Price is no guarantee of safety. The Address five-star hotel was in the ultra-expensive class.
In an incident unrelated to the violence in Brussels, Canadian police have detained a man on suspicion that his use of social media alerted them to the possibility of planned violence. Kevin Omar Mohamed has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Canada’s anti-terror laws, passed by the previous government, allow for the imposition of a peace bond as a preventative measure. If the courts deem that a person is likely to commit a terrorist act or travel abroad to receive training or to commit a terrorist act, that person may be placed on a peace bond. They would be required to surrender their passport and report regularly to police.
The 23 year old was arrested in the Ontario town of Waterloo when security police determined that there was a strong possibility that he was planning to leave the country to engage in terrorism overseas.
While the police were quick to point out that this arrest has no connection to the attacks in Brussels, the leaving of people from Canada to commit terrorist acts is of growing concern.
But violent extremism is a growing problem in Canada. About 180 people “with a nexus to Canada” are active in overseas terrorism — including 100 in Syria and Iraq alone, according to the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. National Post
The intelligence service estimates that there are about 60 people who are suspected of engaging in terrorist acts that have returned to this country.
It is believed that the arrested used the moniker Abu Jayyid on social media and showed himself to be sometimes a supporter of ISIL and sometimes anti-ISIL. The tweets of Abu Jayyid ceased on Friday, about the same time that Kevin Mohamed was arrested.
Scandals, corruption, money laundering, the worst recession in 25 years in Brazil threaten to put a damper on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Brazil depends heavily on its oil revenues for much of its economy. The world price for petroleum has plummeted and Brazil is suffering. Added to that a two year investigation of the state owned Petrobras corporation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, has uncovered suspicion that over one billion dollars in revenue has been siphoned off by corrupt officials. The timeline starts when the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was chair of the corporation.
Many of Rousseff’s inner circle are under suspicion. The president is facing impeachment and may be out of office before August. Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been taken into custody for questioning. He was released after a short period. Rousseff’s gambit to make him a member of the current government to shield him from court has failed as the country’s judges have ruled the move illegal.
The economic recession has hit the preparations for the Olympic venues hard. Some venues have been hit with budget cuts and the contracts for the equestrian and tennis venues were recinded. The police chief for Rio made a statement that his budget has just been cut by $600 million US. It is difficult to imagine that security will not be affected by such a massive cut.
Some of the sailing and water sports facilities have already been modified. The concern over the heavily polluted water around Rio de Janeiro has some athletes taking extreme measures to avoid contamination. While Rio has a modern face, many of the home and apartment buildings lack basic sewer connections or treatment and raw sewage flows into most of the waterways. One of the promises made when competing to hold this year’s games was the promise to clean up the waterways. It didn’t happen.
It seems unbelievable that on top of all the scandal and uproar in Brazilian politics that anything more could be added to the mix, but the epidemic of the mosquito borne Zika virus has prompted WHO to declare a health emergency. Coupled with what might be a mild viral infection is the real possibility that the virus causes profound damage to the unborn. It has also been implicated in an increase in Guillain Barre Syndrome which can cause paralysis and/or death. Women who might be pregnant or who might become pregnant have been warned of the dangers of travelling to Brazil or other affected countries.
This last week, about 2 million people marched in the streets of Rio to announce their displeasure with their government’s handling of affairs.
By the same author:
Brazil in crisis
Rotten fish float in Rio Olympic lagoon
Rio holds junior world championships in dirty water
Brazil 2016 Olympics if you go be very very careful
It seems that some top athletes will cheat to maintain their careers and to stay in the lime light. Recently a new performance enhancing drug has been added to the long list of banned substances. It is a Latvian prescription only drug used to treat heart problems. The drug, meldonium, has proved useful for heat patients to help increase ability to exercise. It is usually prescribed for a course of six weeks.
The World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) warned athletes of the ban effective January 1 of this year. Elite athletes, whether professional or amateur, are responsible for ensuring that they are ‘clean’ when they compete.
The drug burst into the public consciousness when top seeded tennis player Maria Sharipova tested positive for the banned substance in early March. Many more athletes have also tested for the banned substance, many from Russia and eastern European countries. The count is currently up to 100 positive tests.
Russia is currently under scrutiny for its doping of athletes. It is alleged that the doping is state sponsored. WADA is debating whether to ban all the Russian athletes from the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Strange things have happened since the scandal broke in Russia. The head of the lab in charge of testing athletes for banned substances met an early death. His successor quickly followed when he suffered what was an apparent heart attack after an afternoon of cross country skiing. The lab has had its certification suspended due to irregularities.
The Russian sports minister assured the public in an interview that he was confident than no Russians were taking the banned substance. Shortly afterwards it was announced that four more athletes had tested positive.
August is coming up quickly for these athletes. Some may have openly consumed the drug before the ban and are slow to eliminate it from their bodies, but positive tests may keep them out of the Olympics.
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