Things That Matter

A Tough On Drugs President Just Had 86 Pounds Of Cocaine Found In One Of His Presidential Airplanes

Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, has been a very vocal and extreme anti-drug politician. So it was pretty shocking to hear that his presidential plane ended up carrying 86 pounds of cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean during an official trip. 

The cocaine was found aboard his plane while on a layover in Seville, Spain on its way to Japan for the G20 summit.

Credit: @telesurenglish / Twitter

A Brazilian airman on that aircraft was caught with the shipment on Tuesday during a brief stop in Spain en route to the Group of 20 summit in Japan.

The cocaine bust was bad enough. But it was an extraordinary embarrassment for Mr. Bolsonaro, who has exalted the integrity and professionalism of Brazil’s military.

The president called the incident “unacceptable” and said he had demanded, “severe punishment” for the service member. “We won’t tolerate this type of disrespect to our nation!” he said in a message posted on Twitter.

The drugs were found in the luggage of the service member.

Credit: @business / Twitter

Authorities in Spain said they had intercepted the cocaine when the airman, Sgt. Manoel Silva Rodrigues, stopped in the city of Seville along with an advance team supporting Mr. Bolsonaro’s trip.

Mr. Bolsonaro traveled on a separate plane that made a stop in Lisbon en route to Osaka, where G-20 leaders are convening.

Sergeant Rodrigues walked off the plane carrying a garment bag and a carry-on suitcase, law enforcement officials in Spain told the newspaper El País. When airport screeners inspected the bag, they found 37 bundles of cocaine and nothing else in the bag, according to the report.

All of this was made all the more scandalous given the President’s harsh anti-drug rhetoric.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro enacted drug policy designed to toughen penalties for traffickers and require users to undergo rehabilitation at private or religious centers.

The new rules raise the minimum prison sentence for traffickers who lead criminal organizations from five to eight years. In addition, they reinforce the role of therapeutic communities.

Drug users in the country previously had to agree to hospital admission, but the law now allows involuntary rehabilitation upon the recommendation of a relative or public health official.

Reactions on Twitter ranged from the humorous…

I mean a tough on drugs president having to explain away drugs found on a presidential aircraft.

To, well, more humor.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

I mean stranger things have happened.

And many Brazilians reacted with anger at the news.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Many feel that their government is full of hypocrisy when it comes to so many issues and this drug bust was just the latest in a string of corruption.

While many questioned whether or not the airman was actually working alone.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

If it’s true that the street value of the drugs was more than USD $2.75 million then maybe there was some kind of organized plan.

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Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Things That Matter

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo via Getty Images

Currently, Brazil is one of the world’s epicenters of the coronavirus. In March 2021, Brazil saw 66,573 COVID-19-related deaths. That means 1 in every 3 COVID-related deaths worldwide are occuring in Brazil.

And it doesn’t appear that the numbers will be slowing down anytime soon. While the United States is making strides in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Brazil is lagging far behind. And things are about to get a lot more complicated.

On Tuesday, Brazil passed a bill that would allow corporations to buy up as many vaccines as they can get their hands on, and privately distribute them to their employees first.

Elected officials in Brazil are arguing that the country has become so desperate to vaccinate its citizens, that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccines first at this point.

The country, once renowned for having one of the most robust and efficient public vaccine-distribution programs in the world, has failed to make strides towards getting their citizens vaccinated.

“We are at war,” said the leader of the chamber, Arthur Lira. “And in war, anything goes to save lives.” We don’t know about you, but usually when it comes to war, we’ve heard that soldiers prioritize the health and safety of young, the weak, and the elderly before their own? We digress…

Brazil’s plan to privatize the vaccine rollout has brought up moral and ethical questions.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization has asked countries to first prioritize essential health workers and then high-risk populations when distributing the vaccine.

Anything other than that would promote a pay-to-play schemes in which the rich could protect their lives before poor people could. And poor people are more likely to die from COVID-19 in the first place.

As Alison Buttenheim, behavioral scientist and expert on the equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine said, vaccine distribution should not “exacerbate disparities and inequities in health care,” but instead address them. Brazil’s vaccine rollout plan would fail to do any of the above.

If countries begin to allow the rich to prioritize their own interests during the vaccine rollout, the consequences could be disastrous.

In a time when the world is stoked by fear and uncertainty, the worst thing that can happen is for rich companies to exacerbate inequalities by effectively choosing who lives or dies.

As the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization said at the beginning of the global vaccine rollout: “any distribution of vaccines should advance human well-being and honor global equity, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy.”

Poor Brazilians should not be left to fend for themselves against COVID-19 simply because they are poor.

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Brazil is Fining Apple $2 Million For Selling the iPhone 12 Without A Charger, And We’re Not Mad About It

Things That Matter

Brazil is Fining Apple $2 Million For Selling the iPhone 12 Without A Charger, And We’re Not Mad About It

Photo via Getty Images

It seems like every new product rollout, Apple gets stingier and stingier with what they include with each purchase. And while Brazil has recently been in the headlines for controversial news, this time, they have the public opinion on their side. Standing up for consumers, Brazil is fining Apple for alleged “false advertising”.

On Friday, a consumer watchdog agency announced that Brazil is fining Apple for $2 million. The reason? Not including a charger with the iPhone 12.

According to Procon, the São Paulo-based consumer protection agency, Apple’s decision not to include a charger with the iPhone 12 amounts to “false advertising”. Procon also accused Apple of selling “defective products”, creating unfair contracts for consumers, and failing to repair products that are still under warranty.

Per Brazilian media, Procon contacted Apple last year to ask them why they were now excluding chargers and earbuds. However, the company “never offered a convincing explanation” to the Brazilian agency.

“Apple needs to understand that in Brazil there are solid laws and institutions for consumer protection,” said Procon executive Fernando Capez, explaining why Brazil is fining Apple. “It needs to respect these laws and these institutions.” 

In October of 2020, Apple announced that it would no longer include chargers or earbuds in their iPhone boxes. The company cited “environmental concerns”.

But savvy consumers couldn’t help but be skeptical of Apple’s explanation. Some people thought that Apple’s “environmental decision” was simply a pretense. In reality, they thought it might be a gimmick to take more money from customers under the pretense of environmentalism.

For one, we fail to see how including chargers and earbuds in an iPhone package would help the environment. Wouldn’t individual boxes for each product simply contribute to more waste? We digress….

In general, consumers across the globe can’t help but…agree with Procon.

Anyone who is an Apple devotee (read: prisoner) knows that you can end up feeling trapped as a customer. You become roped into an endless cycle of buying products that seem to be diminishing in quality every year. Not only that, but every year, the iPhone becomes more expensive while customers get less bang for their buck.

But at some point, you feel like you have to buy Apple products. Because of how Apple designs their products, all of the technology you own (laptops, tablets, chargers, etc.) only works with Apple products.

Starting to buy a different brand would be akin to throwing away hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars you’ve already invested in Apple tech. To be an Apple customer is to be stuck in a vicious cycle.

Hopefully, other governments will follow suit. After all, big tech has been taking advantage of consumers for too long.

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