Tag Archives: government policy

Brazil’s death toll stands at 250,000, the virus is still rampant | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the second highest in the world for the same reason, the second wave has not faded: Prevention has never been a priority, experts say.

Since the start of the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the “little flu” and criticized local leaders for imposing restrictions on activity; He said the economy had to keep going to prevent worse hardships.

Even when he approved pandemic welfare payments for the poor, it wasn’t announced as a way to keep people at home. And Brazilians stay out and about vaccinations have started – but launches are proving to be much slower than anticipated.

“Brazil has absolutely no response plan. We have been through this for the past year and we still don’t have a clear plan, a national plan, ”Miguel Lago, executive director of the Brazilian Institute of Health Policy Studies, advising public health officials, told the Associated Press. “There are no plans at all. And the same is true for vaccinations. “

While other countries’ daily cases and deaths have declined, Latin America’s largest country is parked on the plateau – a grim repeat in mid-2020. In the past five weeks, Brazil has averaged more than 1,000 deaths every day. Official data showed the total death toll was 251,498 as of Thursday.

At least 12 Brazilian states are in the midst of a second wave that is even worse than the one faced in 2020, said Domingos Alves, an epidemiologist who has been tracking COVID-19 data.

“This scenario is going to get worse,” Alves told AP, adding that the virus is spreading more rapidly among populations. In Amazonas state, where the capital, Manaus, saw hospitals run out of oxygen last month, there have been more than 5,000 deaths in the first two months of this year, nearly as many as in 2020.

“This is the most difficult time we have experienced since the confirmation of the first case,” Carlos Lula, chairman of the National Council of Health Secretaries, was quoted as saying by the newspaper O Globo, Thursday. “We’ve never had so many states.” with so many difficulties at the same time. “

Alves and other public health experts said the spread was exacerbated by authorities’ reluctance to follow recommendations from international health organizations to impose stricter restrictions.

It’s up to governors and mayors to impose lockdowns or other restrictions to contain the virus. The states of Sao Paulo and Bahia have recently imposed curfews, but experts say the move is too late and insufficient.

“Those are not containment measures; it is palliative action, always taken after the fact, ”said Alves, who is also a professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo. “‘Lockdown’ has become a curse word in Brazil.”

Miguel Nicolelis, a leading Brazilian neurologist, warned in January that Brazil had to go into lockdown or “we will not be able to bury the dead in 2021.” He has been advising the northeastern states on how to fight COVID-19, but has recently left his position, dissatisfied with their refusal to be isolated, reports the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

There were a few exceptions, but they remained marginal and failed to inspire a wider movement.

Sao Luis, the capital of the northeastern state of Maranhao, was the first Brazilian city to go into total lockdown last May. It worked, despite Bolsonaro’s attempts to break the restrictions and sow doubts about its efficacy, according to the state’s governor, Flávio Dino.

“It is very difficult to set distances and preventive measures,” said Dino, adding that the first hurdles were economic and social, especially after the federal government’s emergency pandemic assistance program ended last year.

Lago noted that Bolsonaro rarely even comments on the pandemic anymore, and has effectively shifted to other priorities, including gaining support in Congress to relax arms control laws and pass economic reforms. His administration is trying to recover some of the COVID-19 welfare payments, but for a small group of needy Brazilians.

The only preventive measure Bolsonaro has consistently supported is the use of treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, which have shown no benefit in rigorous studies.

The Bolsonaro administration has also adopted a hands-off approach to the vaccination campaign. That depends in large part on a deal to buy one vaccine, AstraZeneca, which is arriving late. National immunization efforts to date have relied mostly on Chinese-made CoronaVac injections secured by the state of Sao Paulo, even though the federal government is now trying to buy another.

Brazil’s decades of experience with successful vaccination programs and its large national public health care network lead many experts to believe immunization – even if it starts with a delay – will be a relatively fast-paced affair. In the previous campaign, the country of 210 million people was able to vaccinate as many as 10 million people in one day, health experts said.

Five weeks after the first injection, Brazil vaccinated only 3.6% of its population. That’s more than double that of Argentina and Mexico, but less than a quarter of Chile, according to Our World in Data, an online research site that compares official government statistics.

“There’s no way to fast with a vaccine shortage; That’s a crucial point, “said Carla Domingues, who for eight years coordinated Brazil’s national vaccination program, until leaving her position in 2019.” Until there is more supply, the pace will be slower, because you have to keep choosing who gets vaccinated. “

Meanwhile, the virus continues to run rampant across Brazil, and takes its toll.

In the city of São Paulo state, Araraquara, there have been more deaths so far this year than last year and the number of intensive care units is exceeding full capacity, with people on a waiting list to enter ICU and get treatment. Local authorities responded on Sunday by declaring a complete lockdown – making Araraquara only the second city to impose the restrictions.

“We never imagined we would reach this point,” said Fabiana Araújo, a nurse and coordinator of the city committee to fight COVID-19. “It’s the only option.”

—— AP author David Biller contributed from Rio and Mauricio Savarese from Sao Paulo.


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Rates for Wine, Food from Europe for the Current Stay, said the US | Instant News

WASHINGTON – The Biden government has said it will not end tariffs on European wine, cheese and other food imports any time soon – upsetting industry groups who say the levy is hurting US restaurants and consumers.

The US Trade Representative’s Office said on Friday that there was no need for now to suspend levies, which the Trump administration imposed as part of a long-running dispute with the European Union over subsidies for commercial aircraft.

In a regulatory filing, the USTR said it would “continue to consider the actions taken in the investigation,” referring to a 17-year-old dispute about how the government is subsidizing Boeing Co. and Airbus SE. The Biden administration said it was reviewing tariffs and other major trade policy measures adopted by the previous administration.

Under the Trump administration, the dispute has turned into a tariff fight that has ensnared a food and beverage industry unrelated to aircraft manufacturing. Washington imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of European wine and food such as cheese and olives by the end of 2019.

The European Union retaliated with levies on US whiskey, nuts and tobacco worth an estimated $ 4.5 billion. The US increased sanctions on December 31 with additional tariffs, putting nearly all wine imports from France and Germany below 25%.


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Brazil presents a disputed nature conservation scheme for the Amazon region | National | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO – Following harsh criticism of its environmental and climate policies, the Brazilian government on Wednesday presented a controversial program for the preservation of nature reserves in the Amazon region.

The scheme dubbed “Park Adoption” allows individuals or companies to sponsor national parks in the Amazon region for a fee of 50 reais (9 dollars) per hectare per year, according to a government statement.

The area of ​​the reserve varies between 2,574 and 3,865,172 hectares. However, it is only possible to “adopt” the entire garden.

French company Carrefour was the first to declare sponsoring a 75,000-hectare “Reserva Extrativista do Lago do Cunia” reserve in the northern state of Rondonia.

Carrefour is currently trying to improve his image in Brazil after the cruel death of a black man in one of his supermarkets in Rio de Janeiro in November.

Greenpeace Brazil has criticized the park initiative as an attempt to disguise reality, accusing the government of shifting responsibility for funding part of the country’s environmental protection to companies.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao, chairman of the Amazon Council, told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the country would have no funds left for spending in the Amazon region after the pandemic.

Greenpeace, however, is referring to the Amazon Fund, a private fund that aims to fight deforestation and for the conservation of the Amazon rainforest, and which has been paralyzed since disagreements over its use.

Brazil has faced growing criticism for its management of the Amazon, especially under hardline President Jair Bolsonaro.

Rainforest deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region has reached its highest point in 12 years, said space agency Inpe, which is responsible for monitoring rainforests, as recently as December.

Between August 2019 and July 2020, 11,088 square kilometers of forest were cut in the area, according to Inpe, which represents the largest area displaced since 2008.

This is equivalent to about 4,340 football fields per day or three soccer fields per minute and compared to the same period last year, deforestation increased by 9.5%.

Bolsonaro sees the region primarily as untapped economic potential and wants to develop more land for agriculture, mining and energy production. He has dismissed international criticism of his environmental policies as meddling in domestic affairs.

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EU expels Russian diplomats in Navalny dispute | Top-ap news | Instant News

BERLIN (AP) – Germany, Poland and Sweden on Monday each declared a Russian diplomat in their country “persona non grata,” retaliating to Moscow’s decision last week to expel diplomats from three EU countries over the opposition leader’s case. Alexei Navalny.

Russia accuses diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany of attending demonstrations in support of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most notorious political enemy.

“We have informed the Russian Ambassador that someone from the Russian embassy was asked to leave Sweden,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter. “This is a clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only doing his previous job.”

The German foreign ministry said Russia’s decision to expel European diplomats was “not justified in any way,” insisting that German embassy staff had acted within their rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to “be aware of developments on site.”

The ministry added that the decision was taken in close coordination with Poland, Sweden and the EU diplomatic service. The Polish foreign ministry tweeted that “according to the principle of reciprocity” it considers “diplomats working at the Consulate General in Poznan to be persona non grata.”

In a statement, EU lawmakers also appealed to “all EU Member States to show maximum solidarity with Germany, Poland and Sweden and take all appropriate steps to demonstrate the cohesiveness and strength of our Unity.”

The lawmakers are calling for “a new strategy for EU relations with Russia, centered on support for civil society, which promotes the values ​​of democracy, rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights.”

The tit-for-tat expulsion comes as EU officials contemplate the future of the 27-nation bloc’s troubled relationship with Moscow amid deep concern that their big eastern neighbors see democracy as a threat and want to distance itself from the EU.

Moscow’s decision on Friday was an extra slap for Europeans because it happened when the bloc’s top diplomat – foreign policy chief Josep Borrell – met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Borrell said he found out about the expulsions on social media.

“The messages sent by Russian authorities during this visit confirm that Europe and Russia are separating,” Borrell wrote in a blog on his return to Brussels. “It seems that Russia is increasingly separating itself from Europe and viewing democratic values ​​as an existential threat.”

He said the trip left him “with deep concern over the perspective of the development of Russian society and Russia’s geostrategic choices,” and the expulsion, which he asked to be canceled, “shows that Russian authorities do not want to take advantage of this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue.”

Some EU lawmakers have criticized Borrell for leaving, or for not insisting on visiting Navalny, who was arrested in January when he returned to Moscow after spending months in Germany recovering from poisoning in Russia with what experts say was a Soviet-era nerve agent. Novichok. On February 2, a Moscow court ordered Navalny to be jailed for more than 2 1/2 years for violating the terms of his probation while in Germany.

Borrell tries to arrange a prison meeting through Lavrov but is told to take him to court.

“If you are familiar with court procedures in Russia you will know that it will take much longer than the duration of the visit,” Borrell spokesman Peter Stano said Monday.

Ultimately, the ride was never unique about Navalny. Russia is a major trading partner and the EU depends on it for natural gas. It is also a key player in talks to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has a central role in conflicts that impact European interests, such as those in Syria and Ukraine.

Borrell’s goal is to “convey a strong message” about the broad state of EU-Russia relations as well as about Navalny’s imprisonment, Stano said. EU foreign ministers will debate the issue of February 22 in preparation for bloc leaders to consider Russia’s European strategy at a summit on March 25-26.

But the real challenge is overcoming the major divisions between countries on how to approach Russia.

EU heavyweight Germany has strong economic interests there, particularly the NordStream 2 submarine pipeline project, and Germany and other ambassadors are reluctant to quickly engage in a sanctions battle over Navalny.

Despite calls for such punitive action, particularly among some of Russia’s close but small neighbors in the European Union such as Lithuania, Borrell said on Friday that no country had officially submitted a proposal on who or what organization would be subject to sanctions.


Cook reported from Brussels. Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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