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Nearly a dozen candidates are running in Brazil’s presidential election but only two stand a chance of reaching a runoff: former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. Eight of 10 Brazilians say they will vote for one of these two political titans on Sunday, leaving little space for challengers. The election could signal the return of the world’s fourth-largest democracy to a leftist government after four years of far-right politics, a pandemic that killed nearly 700,000 people and a poorly performing economy. Polls show da Silva with a commanding lead that could possibly even give him a first-round victory without any need for a runoff.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after games, there were predictions of dramatic consequences from across the ideological spectrum. But three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example. The Court ruled 6-3 for the coach on June 27, with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberals in dissent. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 54% of Americans approve of the decision, while 22% disapprove and 23% hold neither opinion.
A vast blanket of white sand overlooking the Brazilian city Salvador became a flashpoint after City Hall began building a plaza at the dune’s base with bathrooms and a welcome center, and soon will start on a staircase leading up the sand. Afro Brazilian religious groups have protested what they see as elected representatives wielding power to conquer and christen another physical space, and politics poisoning religion ahead of the Oct. 2 election. Defenders of the project say it’s necessary to protect the fragile dunes from the huge influx of people. The project reinforces some people’s concern that the constitutionally enshrined secularism of the world’s fourth largest democracy is in jeopardy.
Clergy in 33 states are exempt from laws requiring professionals such as teachers, physicians and psychotherapists to report information about alleged child abuse to police or child welfare officials. That loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials. An Associated Press review finds that over the past two decades, more than 130 bills have been proposed in state legislatures to create or amend child sex abuse reporting laws. After intense opposition from religious groups, the clergy privilege remained unchanged. Often, legislative efforts to close the loophole run up against lawmakers who are also church members.
Activists say Iran's current wave of protests are different from previous unrest. Unleashing their anger at the compulsory veil for women, protesters are targeting something central to the identity of Iran's Islamic cleric-led rule. The protests are drawing from a long history of resistance among Iranian women. During the 1979 revolution, the hijab was a sign of breaking with the secular monarchy. But when the new Islamic Republic then made wearing it mandatory, thousands of women marched in protests. Woman have been challenging the rule ever since. The death of a woman arrested for wearing too loose a headscarf has sparked an eruption of anger.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been waging an all-out campaign to shore up the crucial evangelical vote ahead of Oct. 2 elections. Evangelicals helped carry him to power in 2018, and he proceeded to tap members of their churches for important ministries and for a Supreme Court nomination. But in this electoral cycle, Bolsonaro initially found more difficulty winning their favor. The campaign involves the first lady and keyboard crusaders. Influential pastors and politicians are warning their followers, on Facebook and in pulpits, that the race’s front-runner, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, would close Christian churches. The campaign also involves associating da Silva with Afro Brazilian religions.
Cuba is holding a rare referendum on an unusually contentious law — a government-backed code that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt. It also outlines the rights of children and grandparents and tries to protect against gender violence. The code of more than 400 articles has been questioned by many members of the island’s increasingly vocal evangelical community. President Miguel Díaz-Canel has promoted the law but acknowledged Sunday that “it still has issues that our society as a whole does not understand,.”
For decades, millions of Egyptians have depended on the government to keep basic goods affordable. But a series of shocks to the global economy and Russia's invasion of Ukraine have endangered the social contract in the Middle East's most populous country, which is also the world's biggest importer of wheat. It is now grappling with double-digit inflation and a steep devaluation of its currency, prompting oil-rich Gulf Arab countries to once again step in with financial support as talks with the International Monetary Fund drag on. The possibility of food insecurity has raised concerns.
Iranian activist Masih Alinejad says the videos and messages she’s been receiving in recent days from women in Iran are showing how angry they are following a young woman’s death in police custody over a violation of the country’s strict religious dress code. The spur for this latest explosion of outrage was the death earlier this month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The young woman was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely in violation of strictures demanding women wear the Islamic headscarves in public. She died in custody. Protests have been going on around the country for days. Alinejad would love to see more support from those in the West, as well.
The Booker Prize-winning author of the acclaimed “Wolf Hall” trilogy has died. Hilary Mantel was 70. Publisher HarperCollins said she died “suddenly yet peacefully” on Thursday surrounded by close family and friends after suffering a stroke. Mantel turned Tudor power politics into page-turning historical novels with her trilogy about the 16th-century English powerbroker Thomas Cromwell, the right-hand man to King Henry VIII. She won the Booker Prize twice, for “Wolf Hall” in 2009 and its sequel “Bring Up the Bodies” in 2012. Both were adapted for the stage and television. The publisher on Friday called Mantel “one of the greatest English novelists of this century.”