Deforestation In Brazil’s Amazon Up 85 Percent In 2019

 

Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil soared 85 per cent in 2019, compared with the previous year, official data showed Tuesday.

The 9,166 square kilometers (3,539 square miles) cleared was the highest number in at least five years, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

In 2018, the deforested area was 4,946 square kilometers.

The sharp increase overlapped the first year in office of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon’s vast riches.

The data was collected by the satellite-based DETER system, which monitors deforestation in real-time.

It comes after fires ravaged swaths of the Amazon basin last year, igniting a global outcry and diplomatic feud between Bolsonaro and European leaders.

The number of fires in the rainforest rose 30 per cent to 89,178 in 2019, compared with the previous year, the latest official data show.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Bolsonaro to reverse his environmental policy, which the campaign group says has accelerated land clearing and encouraged attacks on forest defenders.

In recent months, three indigenous people have been killed in two separate incidents in the northeastern state of Maranhao.

One of them died after being ambushed by loggers. The others were killed in a drive-by shooting.

Brazilian President Loses Memory Temporarily After Falling

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro gestures while attending a Christmas event, at the Federal District public school in Brasilia on December 19, 2019. BETO BARATA / AFP

 

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro temporarily lost his memory after hitting his head in a fall at his official residence, he said in an interview on Tuesday.

The 64-year-old slipped Monday night in a bathroom at the Alvorada Palace, the latest health scare for the Brazilian leader who was wounded in a knife attack in September 2018 while campaigning for the presidency.

“At that moment I lost memory,” he said of the fall.

“The following day, this morning, I managed to get back a lot of things and now I am fine,” Bolsonaro said in a telephone interview with Band television.

“I didn’t know, for example, what I did yesterday.”

Bolsonaro spent the night at the Armed Forces Hospital in Brasilia under observation and was released Tuesday “with the recommendation that he rest,” his office said in a statement.

A cranial CT scan detected no anomalies, the statement said.

“I slipped and fell on my back. It was a nasty enough blow but I’m going to take care of myself,” Bolsonaro said in the interview.

His health has been a subject of concern ever since he became president on January 1.

He has undergone four surgeries to treat the stab wound to his abdomen, most recently in September.

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro said he had been examined for skin cancer.

“My health is fine,” he told Band TV, but added “there are some consequences” of the stabbing.

“One adapts to this new reality. The knife wound together with age is a dangerous mixture,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro tweeted passages from the Bible: “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.

“But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up,” he said, quoting Ecclesiastes.

AFP

Brazilian Grandmother Turned Lingerie Model Shines Light On Older Women

 

Wearing nothing but a lacy bra and matching panties, Brazilian grandmother Helena Schargel strikes a seductive pose during a photoshoot featuring her latest lingerie designs for women over 60.

“Wonderful, marvelous,” the photographer gushes as Schargel, 79, stares confidently into the camera in a converted warehouse in Sao Paulo.

After decades working for a fabric company, the lithe and energetic Schargel emerged from retirement more than two years ago on a mission to drag older women out of obscurity.

Her tactic? Sexy fashion designed especially for them — and modelled by her.

“This project has a clear goal: to make women visible,” Schargel told AFP at her elegantly furnished apartment in Brazil’s biggest city.

Schargel has launched several underwear collections with Brazil’s Recco Lingerie. An activewear line with the company Alto Giro was unveiled this year and more are in the works, she says.

Schargel, who helps with the designs, says Brazilian women over 60 have long been overlooked by fashion companies, society — and even themselves.

 

She shares words of encouragement on her Instagram account, where she has nearly 18,000 mainly women followers, of all ages.

Messages such as “take a risk” and “you can do anything” pepper her feed, which receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of likes and comments.

“I never thought about how old I was, never — this never worried me,” says Schargel, describing the popularity of plastic surgery in Brazil as “madness.”

“It was only a few years ago that I realized I was no longer 33.”

No Gym Trips

The daughter of Polish immigrants, Schargel began making clothes as a teenager and selling them in her parents’ store.

It was the beginning of a lifelong career in fashion.

Along the way, she got married twice and had two children. She now has five grandchildren, some of whom wear her designs.

Retirement did not suit the soon-to-be octogenarian, who moves with the ease of someone decades younger.

“I thank God that I don’t need to go to the gym,” she says, lolling in a lounge chair in black and white leggings and matching loose-fitting top and sneakers.

“I do pilates three times a week, which is good for me and my spirit.”

‘Absurdly Comfortable’

Schargel’s decision to model lingerie was daring in a macho country where older women are treated as if they “are not alive anymore,” says Vogue Brazil editor-in-chief Paula Merlo.

“She reminds you that there is a life after 60, 70 and it can be sexy, it can be fun and it can also be profitable.”

After some initial butterflies, Schargel says she feels comfortable stripping to her underwear in public.

Determined to appear as natural as possible, she insists on no photoshopping.

“I always say, ‘Please, leave all my little wrinkles just as they are’,” she says.

“They are very important. They show that I have arrived here.”

At the hours-long photo shoot, a barefoot Schargel drifts between the dressing room and photo studio, showing off lingerie and pieces from her new bed-to-street line.

She moves easily in front of the camera as fashion photographer Pablo Saborido clicks away.

“I really like working with people outside… the model profile,” says Saborido, 39.

Schargel says her lingerie is “absurdly comfortable.” Some pieces even “help lift the butt,” she adds cheekily.

As the global population ages, Schargel says the world needs to get ready for an explosion in elderly women in the coming decades.

“Twenty, 30 years from now, there will be many more grannies than young people,” she says.

“We need to prepare for this — companies need to prepare for this.”

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Rejects Trump’s Claim Of Currency Manipulation

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during the International Youth Day celebration at Planalto Palace in Brasilia on August 16, 2019. AFP

 

President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday rejected US accusations that Brazil has weakened its currency against the dollar, instead blaming global factors, after Washington announced plans to reimpose tariffs on Brazilian steel and aluminum.

Bolsonaro’s remarks come after he was blindsided by President Donald Trump’s announcement Monday about tariffs, which also would affect Argentina.

Trump charged the Latin American countries with “presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies.”

“We are not artificially increasing the price of the dollar,” said Bolsonaro, who considers himself an ideological ally of Trump, outside his residence in the capital Brasilia.

“The world is globalizing — even the fight between the United States and China impacts the price of the dollar here.”

The Brazilian currency slid to a historic low of 4.27 reais to the dollar toward the end of November, prompting the central bank to intervene to prop it up.

Bolsonaro denied he was disappointed by Trump’s announcement, saying the case was “not closed.”

“For now, no tariff has been imposed — there’s only Trump’s promise on Twitter.”

He added: “I believe in Trump… we have an agreement, very cordial contact.”

Bolsonaro’s remarks come a day after official data showed Brazil’s economy — Latin America’s biggest — picked up pace in the third quarter, growing a better-than-expected 0.6 percent from the previous three-month period.

Brazil Approves Sale Of Medical Cannabis In Pharmacies

AFP Photo

 

Brazil’s health watchdog on Tuesday approved the sale of cannabis-based products for medical use in pharmacies to people with a prescription.

The regulation, which takes effect in the coming months, also allows for the manufacture of such products in a laboratory, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) said in a statement.

Anvisa is analyzing the possibility of permitting the cultivation of medical cannabis.

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In recent years, several countries in Latin America have legalized cannabis for medical use, including Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru.

President Jair Bolsonaro has previously expressed support for medical cannabis. But the ultraconservative leader would “not permit loopholes in the law to be used for the planting and consumption of marijuana,” his spokesman Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in August.

Since 2015, Anvisa has allowed people with a medical prescription to import cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive marijuana derivative, for the treatment of epilepsy and chronic illnesses.

The new regulation allows for the sale of products with a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the main psychoactive constituent responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effects — of more than 0.2 percent to terminally ill patients or those who have exhausted alternative treatment options.

Others will be allowed to buy medical cannabis products with a THC concentration of less than 0.2 percent.

AFP

Messi Scores On Argentina Return To Sink Brazil

 

Lionel Messi struck on his return to international duty Friday following a three-month ban as Argentina defeated fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in a friendly in Riyadh.

The Barcelona forward was suspended by CONMEBOL for accusing South American football’s ruling body of “corruption” after he was sent off in July’s third-place play-off with Chile at the Copa America.

Messi netted the only goal of the game at the King Saud University Stadium on 13 minutes, tapping home the rebound after his penalty was saved by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.

His effort came shortly after Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus rolled a spot-kick wide for Brazil, who were playing without the injured Neymar.

Messi, who scored with a pair of free-kicks in his last game with Barcelona, twice threatened from set pieces in the second half before Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson beat away a powerful drive from Paredes.

Rodrygo, the 18-year-old who scored a sensational Champions League hat-trick with Real Madrid this month, made his Brazil debut as he replaced Willian for the final 20 minutes.

However, Brazil were unable to find an equaliser as their winless run since capturing the Copa America title extended to five matches.

The meeting between the two South American giants was the second in Saudi Arabia in little over a year. Brazil beat Argentina 1-0 in Jeddah in October 2018.

Brazil also defeated Argentina 2-0 at home in the semi-finals of this year’s Copa America, a controversial match that left Messi complaining the hosts had benefited from favouritism.

Brazil will play a friendly against South Korea in Abu Dhabi on November 19, in their final game before South American qualifying starts for the 2022 World Cup in March.

In Brazil, Dentists Give Battered Women A New Life

 

Ana Claudia Rocha Ferreira suffered domestic abuse at the hands of multiple partners, dating back to when she was just 15 years old. The violence took a mental and physical toll.

“I only had four teeth left in the front. I was ashamed to go out,” she explains.

Rocha is one of millions of women who are victimized by their partners in Brazil.

In nearly all of the cases, men target the women’s faces and teeth, in order to diminish their femininity and feelings of self-worth.

Rocha was one of the lucky ones.

She got new confidence — and a new smile — thanks to Rio de Janeiro dentist Armando Piva, who is part of a non-governmental network of volunteers rebuilding the teeth, and the lives, of battered women.

Rocha says the dental work was like a “dream” and changed her life.

But before her brilliant white grin — emphasized by bright red lipstick — was restored, Rocha went through some grim times.

“The assaults began when I was just 15 years old, and I was pregnant with my first daughter,” explains the young black woman, who works at a graphic design firm — and already has four grandchildren at age 39.

“He started punching me. I left him. But afterwards, the father of my second daughter also started hitting me. My teeth fell out one after another,” she recalls.

Rocha, who lives in a slum in Rio’s vast Sao Cristovao area, says that in the favelas, “men say they like to beat up their woman so no one else wants her. They leave their mark on her face.”

She didn’t leave her second abusive partner because she didn’t have the money to do so. She also couldn’t go home to her mother, who kicked her out at a young age.

Her mom’s history was similar — she was beaten all of her life and did not have one tooth left, Rocha recounts.

“Since I was 18 until now, I have not smiled,” she laments. “I was constantly mortified.”

One day, she sent a message on Instagram to an actress who she admired — a bit of a shot in the dark. She didn’t ask for any money but asked for help, saying she wanted beautiful teeth like the actress had.

The actress responded, putting Rocha in touch with the volunteer dentists.

The treatment by Piva lasted nearly a year at his ultra-modern office in Rio’s chic Barra da Tijuca neighborhood — a stark contrast to Rocha’s bleak slum.

He used dental implants to restore Rocha’s confidence and smile.

With giant hoop earrings swinging from her ears, and drawing attention to her face, she says she is very happy: “Never again will I accept being hit.”

– ‘Punches, kicks, elbow jabs’ –
Brazil is rough on its women: 27 per cent, or 16 million women, say they suffered some kind of physical or mental abuse last year, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Security (FBSP).

Of those incidents, 42 per cent were cases of domestic violence. Black women are the most often affected.

And the country overall is one of the most violent in the world, with 57,000 murders last year alone. A lingering economic crisis las left 12 million people without jobs, and such hopelessness can be a breeding ground for violence against women.

“We realized that the number of women who were victims of domestic violence was huge,” explains Piva, who Rocha calls her “angel.”

In 2012, dentist Fabio Bibancos founded the NGO Apolonias do Bem, named for Saint Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists. Her teeth were pulled out or smashed, according to Christian tradition.

Piva says that more than 1,000 women have received treatment so far.

The network of volunteer dentists extends beyond Brazil to 12 other Latin American countries and Portugal. In all, there are 1,700 participating doctors working with battered women of limited means.

Only one condition: they must no longer live with their attacker.

In Brazil, where dental practices are state-of-the-art, each woman is receiving on average five or six implants.

Such treatment typically would cost about 30,000 reais, or $7,300. For these women, it is financed by private donations, companies and the dentists themselves. There are no public funds.

“In Brazil, these women have a right to mental health care and legal aid, but no help with dental care,” says Piva.

“However, in a majority of cases, if not all cases, physical abuse starts with the mouth: punches, kicks, elbow jabs, or even attacks with kitchen utensils,” he notes.

“The attackers’ wish is to destroy the woman’s desire to smile. And we see that the majority of these women have lost more than half of their upper teeth.”

These disfigurements can prevent the women from finding jobs.

“No one is going to hire a nanny without front teeth. No store is going to hire a salesperson without front teeth,” says Piva. “Hiring managers won’t even interview a person missing teeth.”

If the women cannot find work, smile or even laugh, they cannot eat correctly, as chewing becomes difficult. Kissing is also out of the question.

The Wonder of Eating An Apple

“You have no idea what it’s like to live without teeth,” Thais de Azevedo tells AFP in Sao Paulo.

“When I got my new teeth, it was amazing just to eat an apple,” says the 70-year-old transgender woman who received implants two years ago, when Apolonias do Bem extended its services to the trans community.

Azevedo said she has been attacked repeatedly since going public as a transgender woman, which prompted her family to shun her. She says she felt condemned to a life on the margins of society.

In Brazil, the life expectancy for transgender people is only 35, as compared with 75 for the overall population.

Azevedo says she lost her teeth “fighting for her life,” without further explanation. She “became an expert” on using chewing gum to make fake teeth.

Then, at age 68, she got implants.

“What they have given me is deeper and more meaningful than I could have imagined,” she says.

Bolsonaro Asks Brazilians ‘Not To Give Ammunition’ To Freed Lula

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the changing of the guard ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on July 31, 2019./AFP

 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro asked his supporters Saturday “not to give ammunition to the scoundrel,” the day after popular leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free from jail.

Breaking his silence on the release of his arch-nemesis, Bolsonaro told his Twitter followers: “Lovers of freedom and good, we are a majority. We cannot make mistakes.”

He added Lula was “momentarily free, but guilty.”

Lula’s dramatic exit from jail in the southern city of Curitiba on Friday came a day after a controversial Supreme Court ruling that could release thousands of convicts and undermine a sprawling corruption investigation called Car Wash.

A 6-5 decision overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal.

Those convicts would remain free until they had exhausted their rights to appeal — a process critics say could take years in cases involving people able to afford expensive lawyers.

In an impassioned address to hundreds of supporters who greeted him as he walked out of the federal police headquarters, Lula, 74, vowed to keep fighting for poor people.

The former union leader who helped found the Workers Party (PT) also denounced the economic policies of Bolsonaro, who was swept to power in 2018 in an election Lula had been widely tipped to win.

Cheers and Fireworks

“People are hungrier, they have no jobs, people work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike,” Lula said in remarks sometimes drowned out by cheers from the crowd and fireworks overhead.

Lula’s release is likely to spur the divided and rudderless left and, paradoxically, could also help Bolsonaro, who capitalized in last year’s vote on widespread anti-PT sentiment after a massive corruption scandal.

Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty, was serving eight years and 10 months for corruption.

He was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

Lula has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to keep him out of the 2018 presidential election that was won by Bolsonaro.

Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who convicted Lula when he was a judge in 2017, said the Supreme Court’s decision must be respected, but he noted “Congress can modify the Constitution or the law” to allow the jailing of convicted criminals after their first appeal.

Left-wing leaders from around the world, including Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and US liberal presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders have cheered Lula’s release.

“I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.

Even though he has been freed, Lula’s criminal record will prevent him from resuming his political career. He was the founder of the Workers Party (PT).

That could change, however, if the Supreme Court were to decide in a separate case that Moro had been biased.

Lula has so far indicated he is not going to use his freedom to sit on the political sidelines.

On Saturday, he will visit he metalworkers’ union he once led near Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.

“Afterward the doors of Brazil will be open so that I can travel around this country,” he said.

Brazil Judge Authorises Lula’s Release From Jail

Brazilian ex-president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures after attending a Catholic Mass in memory of his late wife Marisa Leticia,/ AFP

 

A judge in Brazil on Friday authorized the release of jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, after a Supreme Court ruling paved the way for thousands of convicts to be freed.

The order came hours after Lula’s lawyers requested the immediate release of the 74-year-old leftist icon, who has been serving a nearly nine-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Late Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says ‘Worst Is Yet To Come’ On Oil Spill

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the changing of the guard ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on July 31, 2019./AFP

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Sunday that “the worst is yet to come” with an oil spill that has affected more than 200 beaches on the country’s coast.

“What came so far and what was collected is a small amount of what was spilled,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with Record television.

He said he did not know if additional oil would impact his country’s coastline, but that “everything indicates that the currents went to the coast of Brazil.”

Oil slicks have been appearing for three months off the coast of northeast Brazil and fouling beaches along a 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) area of Brazil’s most celebrated shoreline.

Crews and volunteers have cleaned up tons of oil on the beaches.

Officials say it not yet possible to quantify the environmental and economic damage from the oil slicks.

The government on Friday named a Greek-flagged tanker as the prime suspect behind the oil slicks.

The ship Bouboulina took on oil in Venezuela and was headed for Singapore, it said.

The space agency Inpe said Friday there might still be oil at sea being pushed by currents and it could reach the states of Espiritu Santo and Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil.

Injured Neymar Misses Brazil Friendlies

Brazil’s Neymar warms up before a friendly football match against Qatar at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia ahead of Brazil 2019 Copa America.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s injury-hit striker Neymar was left out of the Brazil squad announced Friday for friendlies next month against Argentina and South Korea.

Neymar was ruled out for four weeks in mid-October with a hamstring injury he suffered playing for his country in a 1-1 friendly draw against Nigeria.

A day after that October 13 outing in Singapore PSG reported that an MRI scan showed that their star player had suffered “a grade two lesion” in his left hamstring.

Brazil face Argentina on November 15 and South Korea four days later.

In Neymar’s place Brazil coach Tite has called on Real Madrid’s 18-year-old Rodrygo for the friendlies in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The latest in a catalogue of injuries since joining PSG in 2017 halted a prolific period for Neymar, who had scored four goals in five Ligue 1 games.

Brazil squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool/ENG), Ederson (Manchester City/ENG), Daniel Fuzato (Roma/ITA)

Defenders: Danilo (Juventus/ITA), Emerson (Real Betis/ESP), Alex Sandro (Juventus/ITA), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Thiago Silva (PSG/FRA), Marquinhos (PSG/FRA), Éder Militao (Real Madrid/ESP), Felipe (Atletico Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid/ESP), Arthur (Barcelona/ESP), Fabinho (Liverpool/ENG), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa/ENG), Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich/GER), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan/ITA)

Forwards: David Neres (Ajax/NED), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool/ENG), Richarlison (Everton/ENG), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City/ENG), Rodrygo (Real Madrid/ESP), Willian (Chelsea/ENG).

AFP

Draw With Brazil Is Huge Boost For Super Eagles, Says Rohr

Brazil’s forward Gabriel Jesus fights for the ball during an international friendly football match between Brazil and Nigeria at the National Stadium in Singapore on October 13, 2019. Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

 

Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has praised his team for putting up a good performance in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Brazil in a friendly match in Singapore.

Five-time world champions Brazil had to dig deep before securing the equalizer as the Super Eagles had them chasing the ball in the first half following Joseph Ayodele-Aribo’s 35th-minute goal.

“This result is a good confidence booster for the team. We now have to prepare for the more competitive games next month.

“I am happy we stayed organized even when the Brazilians mounted a lot of pressure on us in the second half. The only negative thing is the injury to Francis Uzoho,” the Franco-German said.

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Aribo’s goal, his second in a second appearance for the Super Eagles, was a clinical finish as he received a pass from Moses Simon and then maneuvered his way through a number of Brazilian legs to shoot past goalkeeper Ederson.

Brazil drew level three minutes into the second half through Casemiro. And despite several attacks from the Samba Boys, the three-time African champions stayed strong and could have won it if Aribo and Samuel Chukwueze had converted late chances.

The team doctor, Ibrahim Gyaran has confirmed that goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who horribly twisted his leg as he went for the ball from a corner kick, will be out for about six months,

Nigeria host Benin Republic on 14th November in the opening day of the 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign. On 19th November, they will take Lesotho for a matchday two action.