News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Brazil, COVID-19, and South Korea

Candidate Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva speaks after being elected president of Brazil over incumbent Bolsonaro by a thin margin on the runoff at Intercontinental Hotel on October 30, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil
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October 31, 2022

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

The Story

Brazil’s new-ish president has everyone talking.


Yesterday’s presidential vote was between Brazil’s incumbent right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and the left’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro had unemployment rates going for him — which had reached their lowest levels since 2015. But he’d also alienated some with his deforestation of the Amazon and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. And with inflation and hunger on the rise, many were feeling nostalgia for the early 2000s. Enter: da Silva (aka Lula).

And he is…?

Brazil’s former president. From 2003 to 2010, Lula enacted social welfare programs credited with lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty. He left office with record-high approval ratings. But then came the discovery of a government kickback scheme. Lula got looped in and spent over a year and a half in prison on corruption charges. Those charges have since been tossed and his convictions have been annulled. Now, after a first round of voting weeks ago, he’s heading to the presidency.

What will that look like?

We’ll see when he’s sworn in on January 1st. In the meantime, everyone’s waiting to find out if Bolsonaro will concede defeat — something he’s threatened not to do after making disproved claims of election fraud. President Biden has already congratulated Lula and said he looks "forward to working together." Once in power, Lula’s promised to fight deforestation in the Amazon (which has lost an area bigger than the size of Maryland), bump up the minimum wage, and fix the economy overall. But he hasn’t provided a clear plan on how he’ll do it — especially with Bolsonaro’s allies holding sway in Congress. Stay tuned.


Yesterday marked the first time in over two decades that a Brazilian president lost reelection. But Lula’s victory is also the narrowest in that same time frame. So while this was yet another — and perhaps the most influential — Latin American country to move to the left in recent years, it also shows how polarized Brazil has gotten.

And Also...This

What’s got people talking about its origin story…

COVID-19. Last week, an interim report commissioned by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) says the pandemic was most likely the result of a “research-related incident” in Wuhan, China. Reminder: There are two leading theories that could explain the emergence of the virus in 2019. The first is that it was a zoonotic spread. Aka the transmission of pathogens from animals to humans. The second theory is that the virus infected humans as a result of a research-related incident. But now, after 15 months of research, the report found it “highly problematic” that there was no “critical corroborating evidence” of a natural zoonotic spillover. And says that theory “no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt,” but that more evidence is needed to reach a definitive conclusion.

  • Questions remain: COVID’s origins have been widely politicized. And Republicans are vowing hearings and probes on the issue in a potential GOP-controlled Senate.

What people are concerned about in the US...

Political violence. Over the weekend, Paul Pelosi — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband — began the road to recovery following what she called a "life-threatening attack." Last week, a man broke into their home in San Francisco demanding “where is Nancy?” before attacking the 82-year-old with a hammer. Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have condemned the assault. It comes after recent threats against figures like Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — as well as the 2017 attack on House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). And amid an uptick in threats against lawmakers. Last year alone, US Capitol Police said it investigated nearly 10,000 threats — up more than 100% since 2018.

Where people are mourning…

South Korea. Over the weekend, a stampede in the nation's capital left at least 154 people dead and more than 100 injured. The cause is under investigation, but eyewitnesses and officials say that about 100,00 people — mostly in their 20s — were at a Halloween festival when a large crowd surged into a narrow alley. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who called the tragedy “devastating,” has declared a one-week period of national mourning.

While people were bringing out the Viserys mask...

Liam Hemsworth is going for a witchier theme.

While Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady made things final…

So did Elon Musk and Twitter.

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