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Brazil sends Army to fight Amazon fires; Donald Trump tweets support

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said he’s sending troops to battle fires roaring through vast expanses of the Amazon as President Donald Trump offered U.S. support to combat the disaster.

Under growing domestic and international pressure, Bolsonaro on Friday promised “zero tolerance” for environmental crimes and pledged “strong action” to control fires — many of them set by loggers emboldened by his government’s disdain for environmental oversight.

“Forest fires exist everywhere in the world and that can’t be used as pretext for possible international sanctions,” he said in a rare televised speech, adding the flames have been spreading faster this year because of high temperatures, an extremely dry season, and strong winds.

Trump tweeted on Friday evening that that he had spoken with Bolsonaro about the fires and trade between the two countries. His tweet appeared hours after French President Emmanuel Macron — who’s about to host the Group of Seven summit — accused Bolsonaro of lying about his country’s commitments to fight climate change and threatened to block the European Union’s trade deal with the Mercosur countries of South America.

“Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before,” Trump said in the tweet. “I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!”

Macron vowed to make the burning of the Amazon jungle a priority at the summit, but the reactions of not only Trump, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel, suggested that the leaders about to gather in the French seaside resort of Biarritz were not in harmony on the crisis.

Merkel publicly disagreed with Macron. Her spokesman told Bloomberg News that she didn’t think upending the trade deal would achieve Macron’s aim of slowing deforestation in Brazil. Merkel’s spokesman, however, did back Macron’s decision to involve the international community, siding with him against Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro faces outrage abroad and at home, with protesters marching against him in Brazil’s main cities.

After a week in which the public outcry only grew louder — and as images of the flames and giant clouds of smoke continued to appear on screens around the world — he decided to deploy the Brazilian army to the Amazon. The president’s decree ordered the armed forces to carry out “preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes” and to combat fires in the region, including indigenous territories.

“I had today an excellent conversation with President @realDonaldTrump,” Bolsonaro tweeted on Friday night. “Relations between Brazil and the U.S. are better than ever. We have a mutual desire to launch a big trade negotiation soon, aimed at promoting our peoples’ prosperity.”

Earlier Friday, the French president’s office said that it had become clear that Bolsonaro wasn’t serious about his pledges to address climate change when he spoke to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka earlier this year.

“The president can only conclude that President Bolsonaro lied to him in Osaka,” the statement said. “Under these conditions, France is opposed to the Mercosur deal.”

The French president’s remarks provoked an angry response from Bolsonaro, who accused him of acting like a colonialist. Issues relating to Brazil should not be discussed without the country at the table, Bolsonaro added.

“The news is really worrisome, but we need to lower the temperature, there are fires in Brazil every year,” Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias told reporters in Brasilia. “There were fires in Portugal, in Siberia, there were fires all over the world and Brazil wasn’t questioning them.”

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Tika Utsav beginning of second major war against Corona: PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the ‘Tika Utsav’, vaccination festival, the beginning of the second big war against Corona and has emphasized a special focus on social hygiene along with personal hygiene. The Utsav started today on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and will continue till the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar on April 14th.

In a message on the occasion, the Prime Minister stressed four points with regard to the drive. First, Each One- Vaccinate,meaning those who can’t go themselves for vaccination, such as illiterate and old people, should be assisted.

Second, Each One- Treat One. This involves helping people in getting Corona treatment, who do not have resources or knowledge to get it.

Third, Each One- Save One, meaning I should wear a mask and save myself and others. This should be stressed.

Finally, society and people should lead in creating ‘micro containment zones’. Family members and community members should create ‘micro containment zone’, in case of even a single positive case. ‘Micro containment zones’ are a key component of the fight against Corona in a densely populated country like India, said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister emphasized the need for testing and awareness. He asked that every eligible person should get vaccinated. This should be the primary effort of both the society and the administration, he said.

The Prime Minister insisted that we have to move towards zero vaccine wastage. Optimum utilization of vaccination capacity is a way of increasing our capacity, said the Prime Minister

The Prime Minister said our success will be determined by awareness about ‘micro containment zones’, by not moving out of our homes unnecessarily, vaccination of all eligible persons and how we follow Covid appropriate behaviour like wearing masks and other protocols.

The Prime Minister asked to make targets at the personal, social and administration level for these four days of ‘Tika Utsav’ and diligently make effort to achieve them. He expressed the hope that with people’s participation, awareness and responsible behaviour we will succeed in containing Corona once again.

He ended by reminding – Dawai bhi, kadai bhi.

source: The Statesman

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US announces Freedom of Navigation Operation in Indian waters

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The US has announced that it conducted the Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in Indian waters in the Lakshadweep Islands, leaving the Indian security establishment in a surprise leading to an assessment to ascertain if an operational exercise was actually carried out or was it just an innocent passage.

The US Navy announced that it carried a Freedom of Navigation Operation inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without prior consent.

Reacting to it, a senior government official stated that if it was an innocent passage it’s not an issue.

“We don’t object to normal transiting but if there has been an operational exercise without informing then it needs to be taken up,” the official said.

The US Navy statement said: “On April 7, 2021, the USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s EEZ, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law.

“India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvers in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law.”

The statement further said the FONOP upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims.

US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis.

All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, the statement said.

“We conduct routine and regular FONOP), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

Indian government officials said it’s unusual for such a statement to be released.

Any activity within 200 km nautical miles, which falls under EEZ or Indian waters needs prior permission as per Indian laws.

Chinese vessels on the pretext of carrying out research activities in Indian waters have been tracked and sent back in the past.

source: The Statesman

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Delhi: Over 7400 new Covid cases reported, infection rate crosses 8%

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The unabated rise of Covid-19 continues to rattle the national capital as it reported 7,437 fresh cases on Thursday whereas 24 more people lost their life the viral pandemic, the health bulletin by the Delhi government showed.

The latest figures have pushed the infection tally to 6,98,005 while the death toll has risen to 11,157, the health bulletin stated.

Meanwhile, the infection rate in the national capital has surged to 8.1 per cent after the city conducted 91,770 tests in the last 24 hours. Of them, 52,696 were done through RTPCR while 39,074 samples accounted for the Rapid Antigen Test.

Close to half of the beds reserved for Covid care in hospitals have been occupied. Only 4601 of 8813 beds in the hospitals are vacant. Meanwhile, 11,367 patients of Covid-19 are under home isolation.

The containment zones in Delhi have risen to 4,226.

source: The Statesman

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