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Brazil prosecutors move to ban Bolsonaro’s son from ambassador job
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Brazil prosecutors move to ban Bolsonaro’s son from ambassador job

Brazilian prosecutors have moved to ban President Jair Bolsanaro's son from becoming ambassador to the US.

The public prosecutor's office filed an injunction on Monday asking a federal court to rule on the experience needed for anyone to serve as a diplomat.

Opposition lawmakers have also asked the Supreme Court to block the appointment, calling it nepotism.

It comes days after Mr Bolsonaro said US President Donald Trump had approved the appointment of his son, Eduardo.

However, the nomination still requires approval from Brazil's Senate.

According to Brazilian magazine Epoca, prosecutors asked a court in Brasilia to rule on the "merits and services" required for any non-diplomats serving as ambassadors.

The prosecutors added that there would be "danger of harm if a person is nominated without adequate preparation".

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Eduardo Bolsonaro, 35, is a congressman who heads the foreign affairs committee in the lower house.

He has no previous diplomatic experience, but has been dubbed Brazil's "shadow foreign minister" because of the strong influence he has on his father's foreign policy, BBC Americas editor Candace Piette reports.

Earlier this year, he joined his father in a private meeting with US President Trump during a diplomatic trip to Washington.

Both the president and his son have a pro-US stance, breaking with Brazil's traditionally more cautious position. Eduardo is openly pro-Israeli, whereas in the past Brazil has been careful not to offend Arab nations.

President Bolsonaro has defended Eduardo's nomination as ambassador, saying his son is a friend of the Trump family, which would help strengthen ties between the two countries.

Last week, the Brazilian president said he had received a handwrittenRead More – Source

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Jair Bolsonaro: ‘Poop every other day’ to protect the environment
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Jair Bolsonaro: ‘Poop every other day’ to protect the environment

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has suggested people should "poop every other day" as a way to save the planet.

His comment came in answer to a journalist who asked him how to combine agricultural development and protecting the environment.

Mr Bolsonaro recently came under fire after official data showed an increase in deforestation in the Amazon.

He then sacked the head of the agency that reported the increase, accusing it of lying about the problem's scale.

Mr Bolsonaro's comment came after the journalist quoted reports saying deforestation and agriculture were responsible for a quarter of the planet's greenhouse effect.

"It's enough to eat a little less. You talk about environmental pollution. It's enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world," he said.

Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Mr Bolsonaro took office in January, with policies that favour development over conservation.

Brazil's space agency data showed an 88% increase in deforestation in June compared with the same month a year ago.

As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

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Read More – Source

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Tour de France champion Egan Bernal given hero’s welcome in Colombia
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Tour de France champion Egan Bernal given hero’s welcome in Colombia

The Colombian city of Zipaquirá has welcomed home local hero Egan Bernal, 10 days after he won the Tour de France.

Last month the 22-year-old became the first Colombian to win cycling's most prestigious race – and its youngest champion in 110 years.

Thousands of people gathered in the town's central square as early as 05:00.

His return also coincided with a national holiday – the 200th anniversary of Colombia's victory against Spain in the Battle of Boyacá.

"I'll never forget seeing so many people gathered for me," Bernal told his fans.

"When I see you there, I'm only just starting to realise what this meant for Colombia.

"It makes me very proud to be able to give something to society and to give Colombia hope."

Bernal landed in the capital, Bogotá, on Monday. He had been competing in a series of shorter races in Europe that followed his Tour de France win.

He turned down the offer of a parade through Zipaquirá, opting instead for a more modest stage in the town's central square.

There, he paid tribute to his first coach Fabio Rodriguez, and showed his white jersey – won for being the best young rider in the Tour.

Bernal also held up his Read More – Source

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Brazil’s space agency chief out amid deforestation row
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Brazil’s space agency chief out amid deforestation row

The head of Brazil's National Space Research Institute says he will be sacked after a public row with President Jair Bolsonaro over the scale of deforestation in the Amazon.

Ricardo Galvão had accused the far-right president of "cowardice" for questioning the institute's data.

It showed an 88% increase in deforestation in June compared with the same month a year ago.

Mr Bolsonaro said the institute was smearing Brazil's reputation.

Brazil's ministry of science and technology has confirmed Mr Galvão's departure, although it is not clear whether he had quit or been fired.

Mr Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has accused Mr Galvão's organisation of trying to undermine the government.

However, the National Space Research Institute (Inpe) says its data is 95% accurate.

Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate under Mr Bolsonaro's government, with policies that favour development over conservation.

As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

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Official figures suggest that the biggest reason to fell trees there is to create new pastures for cattle.

Over the past decade, previous governments hadRead More – Source

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Brazil’s Altamira jail where 57 were killed ‘was understaffed’
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Brazil’s Altamira jail where 57 were killed ‘was understaffed’

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Conditions at a prison in Brazil where 57 inmates were killed in fighting on Monday have been described as "terrible" in an official report.

The National Justice Council said that Altamira jail in north-eastern Pará state contained more than double the number of inmates it was built for.

It also said that there were not enough guards to guarantee inmates' safety.

Deadly fights are not uncommon in Brazil, which has the world's third-largest prison population.

What happened?
The violence broke out at 07:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Monday when members of a criminal gang housed in Block A of the jail, invaded an annex where members of a rival gang were locked up.

Sixteen inmates were decapitated in the fight which followed. Many more died from smoke asphyxiation after the fighting prisoners set a cell on fire.

Video taken from outside the prison showed smoke billowing from the building and inmates walking around on rooftops.

The inmates also took two prison officers hostage but released them after negotiations with civil and military police.

The fighting lasted for about five hours.

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What did the report say?
The report published by the National Justice Council on Monday – the day the deadly fight occurred – was damning, describing conditions at Altamira as "terrible".

It said that the prison, which has a capacity of 163, held 343 male inmates.

It also pointed out that Altamira had only 33 guards, too low to guarantee safety inside the prison, and called for their number to be increased.

The report concluded that there was "an urgent need for a new prison unit" as Altamira prison was old and had to rely on containers to house the inmates.

Brazilian media say that a new prison which was started to be built in 2013 and meant to be completed in 2016 still has not been finished, putting additional strain on Altamira.

After Monday's deadly incident, prison officials in Pará said the new jail, which will be able to house 600 people, would be finished by the end of 2019.

Which gangs are involved?
Pará state officials said that the inmates who started the deadly fight belonged to a criminal gang known as Comando Classe A (CCA), which they say is one of the more than a dozen gangs affiliated with First Capital Command (PCC), believed to be Brazil's largest and most powerful drug gang.

Their target were members of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command).

The Rio de Janeiro-based Comando Vermelho and the São Paulo-based PCC have been at war since 2016 when they ended an uneasy working relationship after the PCC moved to infiltrate drug smuggling routes controlled by Comando Vermelho.

The feud has spread to prisons across the country where members of the rival gangs are held.

What has the reaction been?
The justice ministry said that ringleaders of the violence would be transferred to more secure units in federal jails. It said 46 of those who took partRead More – Source

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Brazil’s indigenous people: Miners kill one in invasion of protected reserve
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Brazil’s indigenous people: Miners kill one in invasion of protected reserve

Heavily armed gold miners have invaded a remote indigenous reserve in northern Brazil and stabbed to death one of its leaders, officials say.

Residents of the village in Amapá state fled in fear and there were concerns violent clashes could erupt if they tried to reclaim the gold-rich land.

Police have arrived in the area.

Tensions in the Amazon region are on the rise as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who is against the reserves, vows to open some of them to mining.

Mr Bolsonaro says the indigenous territories are too big given the number of people living there, and critics accuse him of encouraging illegal mining and invasions of reserves.

The group of 10 to 15 heavily armed miners overran the village Yvytotõ of the Wajãpi community and "tensions were high", according to Brazil's indigenous rights agency, Funai.

The residents fled to the Mariry village, some 40 minutes away by foot, and have been warned not to try to come into any contact with the invaders.

Based on accounts from the Wajãpi, Funai said the miners had killed 68-year-old Emyra Wajãpi, whose body was found with stab marks in a river near Mariry on Wednesday. It said, though, it had not been to the crime scene because of the difficulty of access.

Despite the rising tensions, killings of indigenous leaders in Brazil are rare.

The incident appears to confirm the worst fears for the fate of Brazil's protected indigenous territories, the BBC's Julia Carneiro in Rio reports.

Federal police and an elite force arrived in the area on Sunday, and both the federal police and the federal prosecutors' office said they will investigate the events, reported by a local leader on Saturday.

"This is the first violent invasion in 30 years since the demarcation of the indigenous reserves in Amapá," Senator Rodolfe Rodrigues told local newspaper Diário do Amapá (in Portuguese), warning of a "blood bath".

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The 1,200 members of the Wajãpi community live in dozens of villages in a 600,000-hectare reserve in Amapá, next to French Guiana.

Speaking earlier on Saturday, Mr Bolsonaro said some of the indigenous territories were on "very rich [mineral] land" and that he was "lookingRead More – Source

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Colombia’s Bernal set to win Tour de France
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Colombia’s Bernal set to win Tour de France

Egan Bernal is poised to become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France after finishing Saturday's penultimate stage in the yellow jersey.

Tradition dictates that the race leader is not challenged on Sunday's largely processional final stage to Paris.

Bernal, 22, will become the youngest Tour winner for 110 years, with Ineos team-mate Geraint Thomas in second.

Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk moved up to third as Julian Alaphilippe faded on an Alpine stage won by Vincenzo Nibali.

Italian Nibali, winner of the Tour de France in 2014, was in the day's break and attacked again on the climb to the finish at Val Thorens, winning by 10 seconds from Spain's Alejandro Valverde.

Bernal and Thomas, who won last year's Tour, finished stage 20 a few seconds later, crossing the line arm-in-arm, with huge grins on their faces. They came into the race as joint leaders for Ineos and, providing they both reach the finish in Paris on Sunday, will end it first and second in the general classification.

"We're now close to making it official," said Bernal. "There's one stage left but, normally, if everything goes well, I can say that I've won my first Tour.

"It's incredible. I just want to get to the finish line in Paris and after I'll be calmer.

"Colombia is on the verge of winning its first Tour, We already had won the Giro d'Italia and La Vuelta a Espana, but the Tour was missing and it's a great honour to think that I'm the one achieving this."

Welshman Thomas, who ended the stage trailing in the overall standings by one minute, 11 seconds, wrote on Twitter: "Congrats Egan Bernal. What a rider. The first of many."

Bernal, who will also collect the white jersey as the best young rider in the race, will put to an end a run of four successive British winners – Chris Froome winning three of his four titles from 2015 and Thomas triumphing last year.

Listen: BeSpoke at the Tour: Stage 20 – Bernal victorious
Tour 'night and day' compared to 2018 – Thomas
Joint team leadership 'worked to perfection'

The green points jersey classification will be won for a record seventh time by Slovakian Peter Sagan, who pulled a wheelie as he rode over the finish line several minutes after the stage winner, while the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey will go to Frenchman Romain Bardet.

That will be some consolation for the French supporters who had been hoping to see a home victory for the first time since Bernhard Hinault won his record-equalling fifth Tour in 1985.

Alaphilippe, the world's number one-ranked male cyclist, had led the race for 14 days, and after holding the yellow jersey through the Pyrenees in week two also retained it after the first day in the Alps.

However, he finally cracked on Friday's storm-shortened 19th stage and he again fell away on Saturday's final climb of the three-week race. He is set to finish fifth overall.

France's other big hope, Thibaut Pinot, had also looked strong in the Pyrenees, but a freak injury, caused when his thigh hit his handlebar on stage 17, saw him eventually abandon the race from fifth place during stage 19.

How stage 20 unfolded
Saturday's stage was reduced by 71km to just 59.5km, with one major climb – the 19.9km ascent of the Cormet de Roselend – chopped from the race because a landslide, caused by stormy weather in the Alps, had blocked the road.

That left the riders facing an unusual race along a dual carriageway across the valley from Albertville to the bottom of the day's solitary 33km climb to the ski resort of Val Thorens.

More than 20 broke clear and opened a lead of around two minutes, 30 seconds as they reached the ascent but with the race for the overall title happening in the peloton behind them, their lead was gradually eroded.

The Jumbo-Visma team of Kruijswijk, who started the stage in fourth, 88 seconds adrift of Bernal, set a furious pace from the bottom of the ascent.

Kruijswijk started the day just 12 seconds behind third-placed Thomas and 40 behind Alaphilippe and his team's efforts were rewarded when Alaphilippe cracked with around 13km of the race remaining.

However, Kruijswijk was unable to break the Ineos riders with Thomas and Bernal content to sit and ride tempo all the way to the finish line,

Dutch rider Kruijswijk eventually finished eight seconds behind Thomas to cement third place overall, one minute, 31 seconds behind Bernal.

Why the Bernal win will not be a surprise

The climbing specialist, who was born on 13 January, 1997 in Colombia's capital city Bogota at an altitude of 2,600m, showed his potential at last year's Tour, when he rode as a domestique to Thomas and four-time champion Chris Froome.

After pacing Thomas to victory on Alpe d'Huez and ultimately the overall title, Froome said: "He's got an amazing engine. You only have to look at what he did on Alpe d'Huez, for a 21-year-old, that's amazing.

"There is a lot in Egan that reminds me of myself when I was younger. It's great having him on the team and he brings a lot of young, new energy to the group."

He joined Team Sky for the 2018 season, after winning the prestigious Tour de l'Avenir – a stage race for under-23 riders that has seen manyRead More – Source

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Cuba dismisses findings of ‘sonic attack’ study
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Cuba dismisses findings of ‘sonic attack’ study

Cuba has dismissed the findings of a US academic study which found brain abnormalities in US diplomats who worked in Cuba.

The research follows accusations by the US that Cuba carried out "sonic attacks", after several diplomats complained of unexplained symptoms including dizziness and hearing loss.

The study's authors said brain scans showed the diplomats' symptoms were "not imagined".

But Cuba said the results were unclear.

What did the study reveal?
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was led by professors at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers took MRI scans of 44 US diplomats and family members who had been stationed in Cuba and compared them to a control group of healthy volunteers.

The authors said the diplomats showed less white matter which could affect the brain's ability to send messages as well as other changes affecting auditory and spatial functions.

Ragini Verma, one of the study's co-authors, said the scans had shown "something happened to the brains" of the diplomats.

"Whatever happened was not due to a pre-existing condition, because we test for that," Prof Verma added. "It's not imagined, all I can say is that there is truth to be found."

What brought it about?
Late in 2016, staff at the US embassy in Havana and some of their relatives started complaining about symptoms ranging from dizziness, loss of balance, hearing loss, anxiety and something they described as "cognitive fog".

The US said two dozen of its staff members plus some of their family members had been affected by "auditory sensations" in 2017. The US government recalled most of its diplomatic personnel from Cuba in response.

The US state department sent 44 of those who had reported symptoms to the University of Pennsylvania's brain trauma centre for MRI scans.

The study published on Tuesday is based on those scans.

What could be causing the symptoms?
The US government has never officially spoken about what they think the cause of the unusual symptoms could be.

US media have speculated they could be the result of an attack with a covert sonic weapon. But Canada, which also cut its embassy staff in Cuba after at least 14 of its citizens reported symptoms, has discounted the idea of a "sonic attack" being the cause.

The study published on Tuesday does not draw any conclusions about the cause of the symptoms either.

How has Cuba reacted?
Cuba has always denied being behind the incidents and has taken umbrage at the US calling them "attacks".

The BBC's Will Grant in Havana says that this particular study was quickly panned by Cuban scientists who have also been researching the possible cause.

Our correspondent reports that the Cuban lead scientist, Prof Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, was so frustrated by the study's methodology and "inconclusive results" that he and his fellow scientists took the unusual step of convening a news conference.

Prof Valdés-Sosa saRead More – Source

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US denounces Venezuela aircraft’s ‘unsafe approach’
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US denounces Venezuela aircraft’s ‘unsafe approach’

The United States military has accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of endangering the crew of a US navy plane in international airspace.

The Venezuelan plane made an "unsafe approach" and "aggressively shadowed" the US reconnaissance aircraft over the Caribbean Sea, US Southern Command said on Sunday.

Venezuela said the US plane had entered Venezuelan airspace without permission.

Relations between the two countries have been tense for years.

The incident happened on Friday, the same day the US treasury department imposed sanctions on four members of Venezuela's military counterintelligence directorate (DGCIM) for their alleged role in the physical abuse and death of a Venezuelan navy captain, Rafael Acosta.

Capt Acosta's death, which a leaked forensic report suggests occurred after he was severely beaten, asphyxiated and given electric shocks while in DGCIM custody, caused an international outcry earlier this month.

What does the US say happened?
US Southern Command took the unusual step of not only releasing their description of the incident but also publishing video of the Russian-made jet on Twitter.

In a further tweet, US Southern Command said the action demonstrated "Russia's irresponsible military support to Maduro's illegitimate regime and underscores Maduro's recklessness & irresponsible behaviour, which undermines international rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking".

The US is one of the more than 50 nations which does not recognise President Maduro and his government, arguing that the 2018 polls which saw him re-elected to a second term were neither free nor fair.

But Russia continues to support Mr Maduro and has in the past said it will do "everything required" to support him as Venezuela's "legitimate president".

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The reference to Russia's military support in the tweet posted by Southern Command shows their annoyance not just with the fact their plane was intercepted but also that it was a fighter aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation.

What does Venezuela say?
The Venezuelan armed forces' strategic operational command also took to Twitter [in Spanish] to reject the allegations made by the US military.

The US aircraft, it said, had entered Venezuelan airspace without complying with the protocols of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which "put the security of air traffic at risk".

It alleges the US aircraft acted "irresponsibly" by turning off its transponder to avoid being identified.

The Venezuelan military says two of its fighter jets intercepted the US plane and escorted it out of Venezuelan airspace.

What's the background?
This is the latest in a series of spats between the US and the Venezuelan militRead More – Source

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Amazon deforestation: Brazil’s Bolsonaro dismisses data as ‘lies’
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Amazon deforestation: Brazil’s Bolsonaro dismisses data as ‘lies’

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has accused his own country's national space institute of lying about the scale of deforestation in the Amazon.

He said the institute was smearing Brazil's reputation abroad by publishing data showing a dramatic increase in deforestation there.

The far-right president said he wanted to meet with the head of the agency to discuss the issue.

The National Space Research Institute (Inpe) says its data is 95% accurate.

Mr Bolsonaro's comments on Friday came a day after preliminary satellite data released by Inpe showed that more than 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles) of the rainforest had been cleared in the first 15 days of July – an increase of 68% from the entire month of July 2018.

Speaking in a meeting with foreign journalists, Mr Bolsonaro said the data "doesn't relate to the reality".

Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Mr Bolsonaro took office in January, with policies that favour development over conservation.

As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

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Official figures suggest that the biggest reason to fell trees there is to create new pastures for cattle.

Over the past decade, previous governments had managed to reduce deforestation with concerted action by federal agencies and a system of fines.

But Mr Bolsonaro and his ministers have criticised the penalties and overseen a dramatic fall in confiscations of timber and convictions for environmental crimRead More – Source

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