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Human Rights Watch accuses Brazil’s Bolsonaro of giving a ‘green light’ to illegal loggers to destroy the Amazon

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Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro of giving a “green light” to illegal loggers to destroy the Amazon and failing to protect those defending the world’s largest rain forest.

Bolsonaro, whose anti-environment rhetoric and policies have been widely blamed for a spike in fires and land clearing in the Amazon this year, has promised to open up the remote region to more development even as he faces growing international criticism.

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Official figures show Amazon deforestation nearly doubled in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018, to 6,404 square kilometers (2,472 square miles) — more than twice the size of Luxembourg.

The acceleration in deforestation has been blamed for the sharp increase in fires this year, which official figures show have reached nearly 124,000, as land is cleared and burned to make way for cattle grazing or crops.

A decrease in precipitation and a recent heat wave together with strong winds are also factors in the blazes.

“Through his words and actions, President Jair Bolsonaro has effectively given a green light to criminal groups that are destroying the Amazon and he has put defenders of the forest at serious risk,” said Daniel Wilkinson, managing director of HRW’s Americas division, at the Sao Paulo launch of a report on illegal logging in the Amazon.

Criminal networks are able to coordinate the extraction, processing and sale of timber “on a large scale,” and employ gunmen to intimidate or even execute those trying to stop them, the report said.

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Brazil is one of the deadliest countries in the world for land and environmental activists.

It ranked fourth in 2018 with 20 deaths, Global Witness said in July.

“Those responsible for the violence are rarely brought to justice,” said the HRW report. In many cases, reports of death threats are not even investigated by police.

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Far-right Bolsonaro, who was released from hospital Monday after another operation on his stomach following his stabbing at a campaign rally last year, has rejected Europe-led criticism of his environmental policies.

He is expected to address the UN General Assembly next week on the huge fires in the Amazon.

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Colbert names Trump’s siege on DC the ‘Tinyman Square’ incident

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It wasn't quite Tiananmen Square, where a still-unknown number of Chinese protesters were murdered by the government in 1989, but it was the closest thing President Donald Trump managed to score this week.

After watching the footage of the military tear gas, beat and shoot at protesters so Trump could march from the presidential bunker to St. John's Church for the cameras.

"It was like Tiananmen Square," Colbert deemed. "Except, in Trump's case, Tinyman Square."

Trump claimed on "The Fox & Friends" that no one was tear-gassed, so it's unclear what was stinging people's eyes and making them cough, choke and tear up. The Park Police released a statement saying it wasn't tear gas. While the moment was captured on video from dozens of different camera angles, one protester actually grabbed a canister of Oleoresins Capiscum, or "OC," the gas that was used.

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Vladimir Putin must love watching the US fall apart: columnist

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New Yorker columnist Susan Glasser made the astute observation that if Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to destabilize the United States with the election of President Donald Trump, he's clearly achieved his objective.

It was reported in March that Russian intelligence services are working to incite violence using white supremacist groups to try and sow racial chaos in the United States ahead of the November election.

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Conservative columnist links all Republicans to the attack on Lafayette Square

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Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump decided to walk across Lafayette Square for a photo-op. To get there, however, it took an outright battle with mounted park police, police covered in body armor and rattled Secret Service members who had just rushed the president to the bunker several nights before. Armed with semi-automatic weapons and military gear, they staged a siege on Lafayette Square against unarmed hippies, woke whites and people of color, again, forced to fight for justice.

Writing for the Washington Post Wednesday, conservative columnist Max Boot attacked Attorney General Bill Barr, who accepted responsibility for demanding that demonstrators be tear-gassed, beaten and shot with rubber bullets. Like Bull Conor ordering fire hoses on students marching in Birmingham, Alabama, Barr's attack on Lafayette Square for a photo-op proved he is willing to do what it takes to stroke the fractured ego of a president forced to cower in a bunker.

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