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From 2004 to 2012, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped more than 80 percent, even as Brazil’s agricultural production continued to grow. But that progress in protecting a fragile and essential ecosystem reversed in recent years, before the outlook got even worse. First, U.S. President Donald Trump launched a trade war with China, shifting more Chinese demand for soybean products from the United States to Brazil, potentially leading to more deforestation to meet the demands of Brazilian agriculture. Then, last month Brazilians elected the far-right Jair Bolsonaro as president, a major supporter of agribusiness who has vowed […]

Sri Lankans protest outside sacked prime minister Ranil Wickeremesighe’s official residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Sri Lanka’s government was thrown into chaos last week when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. In his place, Sirisena appointed his once-bitter rival, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former president who narrowly lost his re-election bid to Sirisena in 2015. Wickremesinghe refused to yield, however, claiming majority support from his fellow lawmakers, prompting Sirisena to suspend the 225-member Parliament. The tense standoff appeared headed toward a denouement on Thursday, when Rajapaksa said Parliament would reconvene next week. But the president’s office has remained noncommittal, prompting a majority of lawmakers to submit a joint petition to the […]

A group of men identified by Nigerian police as Boko Haram extremist fighters and leaders are presented to the media, Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 18, 2018 (AP photo by Jossy Ola).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, discuss why Asia’s two main economic rivals, China and Japan, are now trying to improve their ties. For the Report, Obi Anyadike talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about his reporting from Nigeria, where in the past six months, an estimated 600 Nigerian soldiers have been killed in the fight against Boko Haram. Soldiers are poorly equipped and overstretched, and their morale is dangerously low. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, second left, and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin, left, with their opponents Prabowo Subianto, second right, and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, right, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

Already two months underway, Indonesia’s long presidential campaign is shaping up to be deceptively similar to its divisive race four years ago, which was marred by political smears and religious tensions. Incumbent President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, finds himself facing off for the second time against Prabowo Subianto, a former army general, but with identity politics and religion crowding other issues out of political debate in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Both candidates have secured themselves within Islamist camps, to be safe from accusations of impiety. But in doing so, they have aligned themselves with violators of […]

Sri Lanka’s newly appointed prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, center, prays with lawmakers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Oct. 29, 2018 (AP photo by Lahiru Harshana).

Last Friday, the people of Sri Lanka got shocking news. President Maithripala Sirisena had abruptly fired the country’s prime minister—a move explicitly banned by the constitution. Confusing matters even more, Sirisena named his most bitter rival as the new prime minister, to step in for the man who had been his key ally in winning the presidency. Sri Lankans watched as the sacked prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was replaced by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who appeared on television being sworn in as the head of the new government. But Wickremesinghe refused to accept Sirisena’s move amid cries that a constitutional […]

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