Brazil’s COVID-19 situation gets critical
Protesters gather to accuse the president of botching the pandemic response
BRAZIL topped 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, second only to the United States, which surpassed 600,000 reported deaths this week. The “critical situation” in South America’s largest country is fueling street protests and a parliamentary inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. Only 11 percent of Brazilian adults are vaccinated, and more transmissible variants are spurring cases at the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
- At least 1,300 infants have died of COVID-19 in Brazil—a result, doctors believe, of the high infection rate overall and delays in testing and care.
- The pandemic has increased worldwide the vulnerability of children to abduction and sexual violence, a UN annual report has found.
- The World Health Organization plans to set up a technology transfer hub in South Africa to deliver treatment and vaccines faster to the region.
South Africa: New daily cases of COVID-19 are doubling, and South Africans are angry over a looming third wave many attribute to corruption scandals in a country they thought would be among the first to receive vaccines.
Ethiopia: The United States joined European countries in condemning Eritrea’s continued troop presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and calling for “the immediate and verifiable withdrawal” of Eritrean forces. Humanitarian groups differ over the extent of the crisis but warn that aid and reporting blockades in Tigray are leading to potential famine.
Guinea: An Ebola outbreak that emerged in February is over.
Scotland: Lawmakers are making a third attempt to legalize assisted suicide.
Belarus: EU countries and the United States are making a concerted sanctions effort against the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko following its forced landing of an international flight last month and ongoing police crackdown on dissent.
Hong Kong: The China-led government forced the closure of the popular newspaper Apple Daily after police froze its accounts, raided its offices, and arrested top editors. Owner Jimmy Lai is in prison, but on Monday the Committee to Protect Journalists awarded him its top press freedom prize.
Afghanistan: U.S. intelligence has reportedly revised its forecast, saying the Afghan government could collapse within six months of the completed U.S. withdrawal. Note the White House is now “urging the military to slow down the pace of withdrawal.” The money quote is from Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts. “Hope is not a plan, and the administration is putting a lot of weight into hope right now,” he said. “One of the things about Afghanistan is it’s clear by now that we’re not going to win the war, but there are still devastating ways we could lose.”
The Taliban is on the verge of taking Kunduz province, an area hard-fought by U.S. soldiers and the Afghan National Army up through 2015. The last American combat casualty in Afghanistan happened in Kunduz in December 2019 amid U.S. peace negotiations with the Taliban. (Reupping here my previous piece on how the losses affect folks on the ground.)
Iran: U.S. officials insist the election of a hard-liner as Iran’s president won’t affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal. But the former prosecutor is expected to raise Iran’s demands for sanctions relief in return for compliance.
- The rise to power of Ebrahim Raisi reopens charges by human rights groups that he was a member of the “Death Commission” that forcibly disappeared and executed thousands of opposition prisoners in 1988 while he served as Tehran’s deputy prosecutor.
- The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday seized 36 news website domains linked to Iran’s government for spreading disinformation.
Israel successfully tested a laser to intercept a drone, continuing its pioneering efforts in air defenses. In May during the war with Gaza, the Israeli government used its Iron Dome missile interceptor to shoot down a drone for the first time.
I’m reading the challenging and lyrical At Night All Blood Is Black, a new novel by David Diop about Africans (“the Chocolat soldiers”) fighting for France in the trenches of World War I. I finished my colleague Marvin Olasky’s Lament For a Father, a transatlantic account of his journey to rediscover his dad long after he has died. I found it a personalized culmination of Marvin’s other books on journalism, combining his zeal for even-when-it-hurts truth-telling and detail with the contrition and hope found in Christ. And because so much is tragic and hard …
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