Five things to know for the week ahead


It’s Monday, it’s a new week, and while we won’t pretend we know everything that’s going to happen over the next seven days, we have some sense of what’s coming up.

Here’s your briefing on some of the most important and interesting stories happening in the week ahead.

1) Brazil decides

What’s happening?

The world’s fifth most populous country will vote for its next president on Sunday.

Why is it important?

There’s a lot at stake in the race to head up the country of more than 200 million people.

There are two leading candidates – one of whom has been recuperating in hospital after a near-fatal stabbing a few weeks ago.

That man, Jair Bolsonaro, is a former army captain and is running for the far-right Social Liberal Party. He’s been condemned as sexist (he once said he wouldn’t employ a woman on the same salary as a man as she might get pregnant) and homophobic (he said he couldn’t love his son if he was gay).

But his tough-on-crime stance is appealing to many, and he’s leading the polls ahead of leftist Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. Neither is expected to win outright on Sunday, so the election will probably go to a second round.

2) Flying solo

What’s happening?

The US first lady begins a visit to Africa on Monday – she’ll go to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.

Why is it important?

It’s the first time Melania Trump has undertaken a major solo foreign trip (there was a brief trip to Canada, but we’ll ignore that) so there will be plenty of scrutiny as to how she represents the US.

There’s some important context too – her husband hasn’t visited Africa as president yet, and back in January it was reported that he had referred to some African countries in rather derogatory terms (he denied this).

Last December, the New York Times also reported that he made a sweeping comment about Nigerians living in “huts”, which the White House denied.

Mrs Trump will promote child welfare and education on her trip, and her husband made all the right noises in the build-up, saying: “We both love Africa. Africa is so beautiful.”


What’s happening?

Every American with a mobile phone will receive an emergency message from their president at 14:18 EDT (19:18 BST) on Wednesday.

Why is it important?

It’s just a test, but it’s still important. It’s to make sure that it is possible to send a nationwide alert to millions of citizens during a major emergency or catastrophe.

The text message, headlined ‘Presidential Alert’ will say: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” It will override whatever people are doing on their phones at that time.

Some people, not exactly thrilled that this particular president has the means to reach them directly by phone, have vowed to switch off their devices at that time.

4) Kim Jong-un, Nobel Prize winner?!

What’s happening?

The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Friday.

Why is it important?

The prize doesn’t always go to the most obvious candidates – last year, it went to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Bookmakers seem to think North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in could win it this year, as they work to resolve tensions on their peninsula. Bookmakers rarely predict Nobel Peace Prize winners correctly though.

President Moon thinks someone else should win – Donald Trump (him again), whom Moon credits with bringing about the peace talks because of his aggressive stance against North Korea.

You may notice that all the favourites mentioned were men. That would be in keeping with Nobels of years past: of the 98 Peace Prizes distributed so far, only 16 have gone to women.

5) An appointment with the Doctor

What’s happening?

While we’re on the subject of people who help bring about peace across the universe (and beyond), say hello again to Doctor Who.

Why is it important?

There have been more female Nobel Peace Prize winners than there have been female Doctor Whos in the show’s 54-year history.

Jodie Whittaker is the first, and she’ll make her debut as the Time Lord (Time Lady?) on Sunday, on BBC One and BBC America.

Whittaker was confirmed in the role last July, since when all the trolls have had plenty of time to do their trolling and the angry fanboys have done their ranting.

Now it’s time to enjoy how she takes to travelling through time and space – the critics have certainly warmed to her already.



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