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Brazil’s Yanomamis say endangered by miners spreading coronavirus

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Brazil’s Yanomami indigenous people on Tuesday demanded the government of President Jair Bolsonaro expel illegal goldminers from its territory to protect their communities from the spread of the coronavirus.

Three Yanomami people have died so far of COVID-19 and there are growing fears the pandemic could wipe out thousands of Brazil’s 27,000 Yanomamis if they become widely exposed to the disease.

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“The miners are entering the Yanomami indigenous land with COVID-19 contamination.” said Dario Kopenawa, leader of the Hutukara Yanomami Association.

“It is a very serious situation for the Yanomami and that is why we are campaigning so that non-indigenous people worry about our situation. The coronavirus can kill many Yanomami,” he said.

So far 76 communities have reported infections, with a total of 1,747 cases and 167 deaths, according to Brazil’s association of indigenous peoples.

An online petition launched with the backing of Brazilian and international human rights organizations is seeking to gather 100,000 signatures to demand government action against the miners.

Organizations like Survival International and Brazilian indigenous rights group Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) estimate as many as 20,000 illegal miners are operating in Yanomami territory, an area in the Amazon of some 96,000 square kilometers (37,000 square miles).

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Encroachment by illegal miners “is a recurring problem. But now with the pandemic it’s urgent,” said ISA researcher Antonio Oviedo.

A recent Minas Gerais University study showed that as many as 40 percent of Yanomami living close to mining areas risked becoming infected with the virus, Oviedo said.

The miners have become emboldened by the stance of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has defended the exploitation of indigenous lands.

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“The political context is not at all favorable,” said Oviedo.

“We have an Environment Minister (Ricardo Salles) who sees the pandemic as an opportunity to pass legislation that weakens environmental protection, but on the other hand, it is the responsibility of the State to stop this illegal and criminal activity.”

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Brazil, with more than 500,000 infections and almost 30,000 deaths, is the second worst hit country in the world after the United States.


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American Airlines ordered passengers to stop social distancing — because they hadn’t paid for exit seats

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On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the flight crew on an American Airlines trip ordered two passengers to stop social distancing and move back to their seats.

The reason? The empty row they moved into cost slightly more.

"On a June 30 flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Newark, Joy Gonzalez, an aviation engineer based in Seattle, found herself seated at a window with two older passengers beside her in the middle and aisle seats," reported Elaine Glusac. "In order to gain more social distance, she and the aisle passenger both moved to seats behind them where two rows were empty. But before takeoff, a flight attendant ordered them back to their assigned seats, telling them they had not paid for those exit row seats, which are more expensive."

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Kayleigh McEnany says she has no ‘data’ on whether Tulsa rally increased COVID — but city official says it likely did

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At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was confronted with the fact that President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma led to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Her reply was to plead ignorance: "I have no data to indicate that."

However, according to a health official in Tulsa, the pattern of cases indicates it is "likely" that it did just that.

"President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests 'likely contributed' to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday," reported Sean Murphy for the Associated Press. "Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday."

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New Hampshire Republican officials aren’t interested in attending Trump’s upcoming rally

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President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was supposed to be massive, but one of the main problems that came up for the team is that thousands and thousands of people signed up for tickets, who never attended. This time, they think they've figured it out, said the New York Times.

"Campaign officials believe they will be able to prevent the kind of ticket prank that helped turn Mr. Trump's rally last month," the report said, noting that the crowd was a "far smaller event than expected — but they still can't say for sure."

"Registering for a rally means you've RSVPed with a cellphone number, and we constantly weed out bogus numbers," campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh said. "These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking. What makes this lame attempt at hacking our events even more foolish is the fact that every rally is general admission — entry is on a first-come-first-served basis, and prior registration is not required."

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