BRASILIA, March 12 (Reuters) – Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro is likely to try to increase spending to shore up his popularity now that leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is back in the political fray, but Congress will rein in it, his deputy speaker said on Friday.
Congressman Marcelo Ramos is an ally of the government, but one who believes Congress has taken responsibility and will not allow any “fiscal adventures” ahead of next year’s elections, he told Reuters. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Maria Carolina Marcello)
BRASILIA (Reuters) – New COVID-19 cases continue to decline in North America, but in Latin America infections are still on the rise, especially in Brazil where the revival has led to record deaths every day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday. .
“We are concerned about the situation in Brazil. It provides a conscious reminder of the threat of resurrection, ”PAHO director Carissa Etienne said at a briefing. He said cases were increasing in nearly every Brazilian state.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Edited by Franklin Paul
GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Reuters) – A military plane leaving eastern Congo bound for Italy on Tuesday loaded the bodies of the Italian ambassador and bodyguards in coffins wrapped in the Italian flag, a day after they were shot dead in an ambush at the United Nations Convoy.
Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, and his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, died while traveling in a World Food Program convoy to visit a school feeding project. WFP driver Mustapha Milambo also died.
The two crates were loaded onto an Italian military cargo plane in the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Rwandan border. The plane then took off for Rome.
According to the Congolese presidency, a two-car convoy was stopped on the road north of Goma by six gunmen, who killed the Milambo driver and took the other six passengers away. Soldiers and park rangers tracked the group and a gun battle ensued, during which the kidnappers shot the two Italians.
RWANDAN REBELS DON’T BLUE
Congo’s interior ministry blamed Rwandan Hutu rebel militias called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attacks. The FDLR, one of about 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo, has denied responsibility for what it called the “cowardly killings”.
“The FDLR stated that they were not at all involved in the attack,” the group said in a statement.
The local governor said that the attackers spoke the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda.
The FDLR, set up by former Rwandan officers and militia blamed by the United Nations and others for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has been blamed for previous kidnappings, including two British tourists who were detained for several days in May 2018.
President Felix Tshisekedi sent his top diplomatic adviser to Goma to support an investigation by local authorities, and the Congolese envoy in Rome will hand over a letter from Tshisekedi to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the Congolese presidency said.
Dario Tedesco, an Italian volcanologist living in Goma, pays tribute to his friend Attanasio.
“He was able to talk to all of us, very differently because, he adapted to each of us, (made) us feel we were important,” said Tedesco. “He believes in what he is doing and this shouldn’t be his last trip.” (This story corrects the number of passengers to six, in paragraph 4)
Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; written by Hereward Holland; editing by Nellie Peyton, Philippa Fletcher, Giles Elgood and Peter Graff
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Researchers in southern Brazil say they have found patients infected with two strains of the new coronavirus simultaneously, reflecting concerns about the increasing number of variants in the country.
The researchers, who posted their findings Wednesday on the medical website medRxiv, said their study would be the first in the world to confirm co-infection with the two strains of the coronavirus. The study has not been published in a scientific journal and has not been peer reviewed.
The patients, both in their 30s, were infected in late November with the P.2 variant of the coronavirus identified in Rio, also known as the B.1.1.28 lineage, and simultaneously tested positive for both variants of the virus.
Their symptoms were reported to be mild, with a dry cough in one case, and cough, sore throat and headache in the second. They do not need hospitalization.
The cases underscore how many variants are already circulating in Brazil and raise concern among scientists that the presence of two strains in the same body could accelerate the mutation of a new variant of the coronavirus.
“This coinfection can produce combinations and produce new variants even faster than it has been,” said study lead researcher Fernando Spilki, a virologist at Feevale University in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
“This will be another evolutionary path for the virus,” added Spilki.
The new variant carries a greater risk of transmission and possible resistance to the vaccines currently being developed.
Mutations found in variants of the coronavirus in the UK and more recently in the Brazilian state of Amazonas appear to have made the virus more contagious.
These cases point to a significant viral load circulating in Brazil because co-infection can only occur when different viruses are transmitted in large quantities, Spilki said.
Reporting by Lisandra Paraguay; Written by Anthony Boadle; Edited by Brad Haynes and Aurora Ellis
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Food has become so expensive in Turkey that some people are spending what they have on rice and pasta supplies to avoid swallowing higher prices in the coming months.
Parents have turned to discounts on baby biscuits, the cost of eggs nearly doubling in a year, and a mock photo circulating on Twitter where a man on his knees offers a woman a can of cooking oil instead of an engagement ring.
“We only buy the absolute necessary and cheapest brands out there. All food prices went up but especially infant formula, ”said Huseyin Duran, 43, a father of three from Istanbul and a security guard who received part of the state salary for losing his job.
“I’m worried about my children,” he said. “We can only cover our rent, groceries and loan payments.”
In a world with near-zero inflation and the economic collapse due to the coronavirus, Turkey stands out with annual consumer prices up 15%, second only to Argentina among emerging markets and the highest by far in the OECD.
Rising oil and fertilizer prices and dry weather are part of the reason food inflation soars by more than 20% a year. But economists also pointed to a government policy decision that saw the lira plunge to a record low last year, driving up import costs by about $ 9 billion for food.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reluctantly accepts a sharp interest rate hike that will slow economic recovery right when the COVID-19 vaccine is launched.
With a survey showing kitchens running low, Erdogan may need to do more about the basic cost of living even after lifting the head of a new central bank that in November pledged to tame inflation.
A policymaker told Reuters the government expects inflation to be tough in 2021 and must be monitored.
Turkey is “mired in painful stagflation” even amid the curfew due to the coronavirus and high borrowing costs, said Yesenn El-Radhi, senior analyst at Capital Intelligence Ratings.
“Inflationary pressure continues to be high due to the recent increase in global commodity prices and the effects of the sharp depreciation of the lira,” he said.
LIGHTWEIGHT SHOPPING BAG
The trip to the market – where prices for eggplant, oranges and sunflower oil rose more than 50% last year – has become a serious burden for Turks besides the pandemic, which has stressed workers and incomes.
“Every time I fill the kitchen, the shopping bag gets lighter but the bill gets higher,” said Pinar, 31, who declined to give her last name. “I buy in bulk so I don’t have to shop again for three or four months.”
As a chef on leave, Pinar gets part of his salary under a temporary layoff ban which he says only covers rent and utilities. “I had many sleepless nights (and) in the end I thought I was going to be unemployed.”
Hyperinflation swept through Turkey in the 1990s and only ended with an International Monetary Fund program that tamed prices right when Erdogan came to power in 2003.
Inflation, led by food, surged again in the 2018 currency crisis and has remained mostly in double digits since. Economists blame chronic trade imbalances and the country’s costly FX interventions depleting reserves.
A Metropoll survey last month showed 80% believed inflation was higher than the official tally. A separate survey by the Deep Poverty Network showed more than half of respondents in Istanbul rely on food aid from the city government.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said the situation was getting worse. “There has never been a hunger in Turkey before. But hunger is a reality now. “
In a turnaround, Erdogan said in November that a “bitter pill” of such high prices was needed to cool prices. Lutfi Elvan, his new finance minister, said he would take structural steps to fight inflation, which is expected to rise until April.
The government has several levers it can pull out to relieve pressure on the public. Ankara has cut tobacco taxes, which weigh heavily on the consumer price index (CPI), even as it raised alcohol and toll duties with less impact on headline numbers.
State agencies also set prices for utilities such as natural gas and electricity. Last month the government raised the net minimum wage by 16% for 2021, to 2,825 liras ($ 377) per month, to encourage workers but also to the overall CPI.
“You can’t solve the food problem with interest rates,” Gizem Oztok Altinsac, chief economist at Turkey’s top business organization TUSIAD, told a conference last week.
“Our problem with inflation is too big, so we have to take more appropriate steps to solve it.”
Additional reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu, Orhan Coskun and Murad Sezer; Edited by Toby Chopra