FROM Paulo Sotero
Will Rio be Ready? Four weeks until Brazil lights its Olympic cauldron in Rio, and the country is in a shambles. A month ago Rio’s state government declared a “State of Calamity” to access extra funding to pay for the Games. Almost all venues are still under construction. In April, a newly built bike path along Rio’s seashore collapsed, killing two people, on the same day that the Olympic torch was lit in Greece. Drug traffickers are involved in territorial disputes in at least 20 Rio neighborhoods, a crime wave is sweeping the city and body parts recently washed up on the beach where the volleyball competitions will be held. And we haven’t even gotten to the mosquito-born Zika epidemic or Russian athletes banned because of a doping scandal.
Massive Economic Protests as Brazil Readies for World Cup Another wave of protests snarled traffic today in São Paulo, and federal police have been sent to five cities hosting international soccer games. It all started less than two weeks ago with protests against a 10¢ increase in bus fares in São Paulo, Brazil's biggest city. Brutal police repression was shared on social media, and protests spread to other cities, where tens of thousands have turned out in outrage over a whole range of issues, becoming Brazil's biggest upheaval since democracy replaced military dictatorship in 1985. Middle-class professionals are in the streets alongside radicals and university students, to the apparent surprise of elected leaders. We hear about political corruption, the high cost of living and huge public spending for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games .
Rio Wins 2016 Olympic Games As with the Academy Awards, first came the set-up of contenders, followed by the opening of the envelope. Then, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced that the 2016 Summer Olympic Games would be held in… Rio de Janeiro . Brazil's victory marks the first time in history that the games have been awarded to the South American continent. Rio bested Madrid , Tokyo and Chicago . Shockingly, the Windy City was the first to be eliminated, despite a personal pitch from President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle. What happened? Did public opinion polls against the games sink the Chicago bid? Is this a blow to the President, who was criticized for making the trip in the first place?
A New President Goes South of the Border On a trip to Chile, Vice President Biden met with the leaders of several Latin American countries. But on his way to the Summit of the Americas , President Barack Obama will visit just one. Today the President defended his tax policies . Tomorrow, he'll head for Mexico before continuing on to the Caribbean for the summit. After six years of growth, Latin America is hard hit by the recession, and leaders are looking for help from a new US president who's popular in their countries. Will Obama seize the chance to re-engage? Will he be upstaged by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez? What about Cuba? In addition to supporting President Calderon's war on drugs, will Obama push for reforms in Mexico's justice system?
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.
'Do-or-die' time on healthcare bill President Trump has demanded a House vote today on replacing Obamacare…whatever the details might be. Despite his campaign promise that nobody would lose health insurance, that's possible for 24 million people if he were finally to sign this bill into law.