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Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon up 85 percent in 2019

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Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil soared 85 percent in 2019, compared with the previous year, official data showed Tuesday.

The 9,166 square kilometers (3,539 square miles) cleared was the highest number in at least five years, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

In 2018, the deforested area was 4,946 square kilometers.

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The sharp increase overlapped the first year in office of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon’s vast riches.

The data was collected by the satellite-based DETER system, which monitors deforestation in real time.

It comes after fires ravaged swaths of the Amazon basin last year, igniting a global outcry and diplomatic feud between Bolsonaro and European leaders.

The number of fires in the rainforest rose 30 percent to 89,178 in 2019, compared with the previous year, the latest official data show.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Bolsonaro to reverse his environmental policy, which the campaign group says has accelerated land clearing and encouraged attacks on forest defenders.

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In recent months, three indigenous people have been killed in two separate incidents in the northeastern state of Maranhao.

One of them died after being ambushed by loggers. The others were killed in a drive-by shooting.

Photo: AFP/File / NELSON ALMEIDA

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Follow the money on impeachment: Trump bought off the McConnell and the rest of the GOP jury — and hints at bigger tax cuts

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Republican senators are making millions off of Trump’s tax cuts — and will repay him by betraying their oath.

It's long been obvious that Republican senators have little interest in serving as impartial jurors in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. While there is a raft of motivations for such historic perfidy — with several GOP senators politically benefiting from some of the same corrupting influences — one under-examined, non-Russian reason is personal greed.

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‘Rattled’ White House was blindsided by Bolton revelations: report

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In an appearance on CNN's "New Day," on Monday morning, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan revealed that the Donald Trump's White House was "rattled" by revelations contained in former national security advisor John Bolton's upcoming book -- and that they appeared to be unaware of them until they read them in the New York Times.

Speaking with hosts Alisyn Camerota, and John Berman, Swan was asked how the White House was responding to the bombshell revelations that blow a huge hole in Trump's impeachment defense.

"The New York Times knew about the content of the Bolton book before you say the press shop at the White House did. What itself is the significance there?" host Berman asked.

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Palestinian PM calls on world to boycott Trump peace plan

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Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Monday urged international powers to boycott US President Donald Trump's "peace plan" which they see as biased towards Israel.

"This a plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu from prison. It is not a Middle East peace plan," Shtayyeh told a cabinet meeting.

"This plan gives Israel sovereignty over Palestinian territory," he said.

Trump is expected to unveil his "peace plan" for the Middle East after hosting Monday in Washington Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz.

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