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Brazil’s most-voted lawmaker suspended from Twitter

Photo: Douglas Magno / AFP

| By AFP |

An ultra-conservative who was the most-voted lawmaker in Brazil’s elections said Saturday his social media accounts had been suspended after he called for an investigation of alleged irregularities in President Jair Bolsonaro’s loss at the polls.

Nikolas Ferreira, 26, a social media star and fervent supporter of the far-right president, had posted a series of messages on Twitter Friday calling on electoral authorities to investigate accusations that some of Brazil’s electronic voting machines gave unusually large scores to leftist president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in the October elections.

“I’m asking the (Superior Electoral Tribunal) to verify revelations made today of possible fraud in the Brazilian elections. Valid doubts have emerged,” wrote Ferreira, a devout Christian with more than two million followers on Twitter and Instagram.

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He said the information came from a video on a  pro-Bolsonaro YouTube channel about supposed irregularities in “unauditable” voting machines manufactured before 2020.

Bolsonaro and his supporters have regularly alleged Brazil’s voting system is plagued by fraud, with scant evidence.

The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has moved aggressively to counter disinformation around the elections, including by ordering false claims be blocked on social media — drawing accusations of bias from Bolsonaro.

Ferreira’s Twitter account was inaccessible in Brazil, displaying a message that said it had been “withheld in response to a legal demand.” 

Ferreira accused the authorities of censorship in a message on Instagram, saying he “never alleged anything, just asked for an investigation.”

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He posted a picture of himself with black tape over his mouth, with the message: “Share this information… The truth will prevail.”

The TSE did not confirm it had ordered Ferreira’s accounts suspended. A spokeswoman for the electoral authority told AFP such rulings are confidential court documents.

Ferreira, who says he is at “war” with the “silent threat of communism” in Brazil, was elected to Congress for the southeastern state of Minas Gerais with 1.5 million votes in the country’s October 2 elections.

Lula went on to defeat Bolsonaro in a polarizing presidential runoff election on October 30, with 50.9 percent of the vote to 49.1 percent for the incumbent.

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International

Biden, Trump campaigns set rules for first pre-election debate on CNN

Campaign committees for U.S. President Joe Biden and businessman Donald Trump agreed on Saturday to the rules for their first debate ahead of the November elections, scheduled for June 27 and hosted by CNN: it will last ninety minutes, be audience-free, and feature muteable microphones.

CNN had indicated since its announcement in May that the debate would proceed without an audience, which is Biden’s preferred format.

It was also disclosed that both candidates’ campaign teams accepted a series of other provisions, including the use of identical podiums and the implementation of muteable microphones to enforce speaking times.

“The microphones will be silenced throughout the debate, except for the candidate who has the speaking turn,” CNN specified, adding that hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash “will use all available tools” to “enforce the timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

The debate will feature 90 minutes of discussion with just two commercial breaks during which campaign teams cannot interact with the candidates, as specified.

Pre-written notes on the set will also be prohibited, but “the candidates will receive a pen, notepad, and a water bottle” for the event.

Biden and former President Trump (2017-2021) agreed to debate twice before the presidential elections on November 5, on June 27 and September 10. The second debate will be organized by ABC News.

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International

Florida declares a state of emergency due to severe floods in five southern counties

The Government of Florida declared a state of emergency on Thursday in five southern counties where severe floods have occurred due to the torrential rains that began last Tuesday.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, today issued the order covering Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties, where for now there have been no victims but mainly road flooding, putting drivers and their families at risk.

The state government stressed that tropical humidity will continue to cause heavy scattered rains in southern Florida and that the flood alert will remain in effect throughout this region and the Keys of Florida, a succession of islets in the extreme south of the state.

These storms have also caused tornadoes, highway cuts, suspension of classes and flight cancellations, about 200 this Thursday, at the airports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, according to the Flightaware platform.

Several areas in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale airport were impacted, as well as Hallandale Beach, Dania Beach and Lauderdale Lakes, where floods forced the cancellation of transport services.

Although the storm subsided this Thursday, several sectors remained underwater, including Hallandale Beach, whose residents today asked for more pumps to evacuate it. In addition, several vehicles remained stranded and some were even submerged.

Meanwhile, the Brightline train had to temporarily close its stations in Miami and Aventura, the two further south, and several universities and schools have suspended classes.

The mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, declared a local state of emergency on Wednesday night, with immediate effect.

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International

The IMF approves the disbursement of another 800 million dollars for Argentina

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the eighth revision of the agreement with Argentina, which allows an immediate disbursement of approximately 800 million dollars for the country.

The financial agency indicated in a statement that this disbursement “will support the efforts of the authorities to restore stability and strengthen Argentina’s external viability.”

The total disbursements made under the Fund’s agreement with Argentina amounts to about 41.4 billion dollars.

The IMF stressed that, when completing the review, “the Executive Board considered that the program was firmly on track, with all the quantitative performance criteria until the end of March 2024 met with margins.”

“Non-compliance exementions for a new exchange rate restriction and multiple exchange practices were also approved in the context of some relaxation of the restrictions on the payment of dividends.”

To maintain solid progress, according to the IMF, “it is necessary to improve the quality of fiscal adjustment, to initiate steps towards an improved monetary and exchange policy framework, implement the structural agenda.”

Likewise, “continue efforts to support the most vulnerable, expand political support and ensure agility in the formulation of policies.”

In March 2022, the then Government of the Peronist Alberto Fernández (2019-2023) signed an agreement with the IMF to refinance loans for about 45 billion dollars that the agency had granted to Argentina in 2018, during the presidency of the conservative Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

The pact includes quarterly revisions such as the one now surpassed on the level of compliance with demanding goals in terms of fiscal discipline, accumulation of monetary reserves and limits on monetary issuance.

The approval for new disbursements to Argentina by the agency depends on the fulfillment of those goals and the approval of each review, funds that, in turn, the South American country uses to cancel its debt to the entity, which amounted to 40,899 million dollars at the end of 2023.

On Tuesday, the Argentine Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo, said that he will negotiate a new program with the IMF after the eighth review of the organization: “From there we will begin to negotiate a new program with them,” he said.

The IMF had highlighted in a statement last May that Argentina reached this eighth review with a “stabilization plan” where it could reach “the first quarterly fiscal surplus in sixteen years,” a “rapid fall in inflation” and “a strong reduction in sovereign risk.”

Argentina had passed this last review in May, but that step had to go through a formal procedure and be approved by the Executive Board of the IMF, something that took place this Thursday, to receive the 800 million.

This eighth review corresponds to the first quarter of 2024, a period marked by the drastic change in economic policy in Argentina after the arrival of Javier Milei to the presidency in December and the implementation of a severe adjustment plan to recover the fiscal surplus this year.

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