SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Human remains were dug up where authorities were searching for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, Brazil's Justice Minister Anderson Torres said on Wednesday. "I have just been informed by the federal police that 'human remains were found at the site where excavations were being carried out.' They will undergo forensic analysis. Later today, those responsible for the investigations will hold a press conference in Manaus," Torres said on Twitter. (Reporting by Carolina Pulice and Peter Frontini; Editing by Brad Haynes)
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Campaigners in Northern Ireland are closely watching US moves to restrict abortion, particularly concerns that women will now have to travel across states for terminations.
Abortion was only decriminalized in the British province in 2019 -- 42 years after terminations were made legal up to 24 weeks in most circumstances in the rest of the UK.
But despite legislation, lack of government funding and political wrangling have meant women are still having to travel to the British mainland for abortions.
Currently, there are still no surgical abortion services available in Northern Ireland and no options for abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Last year, 161 women crossed the Irish Sea to England and Wales for an abortion, according to UK government statistics published last month.
"The fact that 161 people travelled last year is totally unacceptable, even one should be a scandal," Dani Anderson from the Abortion Support Network told AFP.
The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which enshrined the right to abortion prompted some states to introduce a ban.
That has raised fears women from low-income, rural and black and minority ethnic backgrounds will be hit hardest if they have to travel.
In Northern Ireland, campaigners say this is already a reality.
Grainne Teggart, deputy program director for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said traveling for an abortion had not been "safe or viable" for many during the pandemic.
From a healthcare perspective, "later trimester abortions are more complex, so it is the women who should be traveling the least who are being made to travel", added Naomi Connor, co-convener at the grassroots campaign group Alliance for Choice.
She said they have seen cases where women facing domestic violence or in coercive relationships were reluctant to make long journeys because they were "really anxious about anyone finding out".
As in neighboring Ireland, where an abortion ban was overturned in a 2018 referendum, religious conservatism is strong in Northern Ireland, both among Catholics and Protestants. This also led to a delay in legalizing same-sex marriage.
In rural communities particularly, women have been hesitant to explicitly seek terminations because of stigma.
One refugee in Belfast, who fled her home country after a forced marriage, was told she would have to travel to receive an abortion.
But with limited knowledge of English and other restrictions, she was unable to make the journey, said Connor.
She was eventually helped, but there have been times when case workers have had to say nothing can be done.
"It's heartbreaking," said Connor.
Healthcare is a devolved issue for the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.
But the main pro-UK party is currently refusing to join the power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists in a row over post-Brexit trade.
Northern Ireland's health minister Robin Swann claims he is unable to commission full abortion services without a functioning executive.
Individual health trusts that have stepped in are struggling due to limited funding.
"Since April 2020, when services were supposed to be commissioned, different individual health trusts have had to withdraw services due to a lack of resources," said Connor.
Last year, one trust had to temporarily suspend its early medical abortion services for a year, redirecting patients elsewhere in Northern Ireland.
Campaigners also complain of a lack of public information about options for women before they are past their first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Still, there is renewed hope that abortion services may finally be commissioned, despite the current political paralysis.
MPs in the UK parliament in London recently voted to implement access to services in Northern Ireland, passing the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022.
They allow the UK's Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to step in, controversially overriding the authority of the devolved administration in Belfast.
Teggart welcomed the regulations as a "very necessary move".
"For the health minister (Swann) it is a damning indictment on his failure to prioritize the health of women and girls," she said.
Lewis wants services to be "delivered and available to all across Northern Ireland as soon as possible".
Swann was "currently awaiting legal advice" on the implications of the new regulations, his department said.
© 2022 AFP
Hopping vampires from China and disembodied flying heads and organs from Thailand have enticed hordes of people to an exhibition in Taiwan, scandalizing religious groups who have called for the show's cancellation.
Ticket sales had to be temporarily suspended twice on opening day to avoid overcrowding inside the Tainan Art Museum on the island's south-western coast, with thousands waiting in line for a chance to see the gory display.
The show features traditional artifacts, artworks and pop culture about the afterlife in different Asian cultures, with much of the display borrowed from a French museum.
The main attraction is three life-size depictions of Chinese hopping vampires -- reanimated corpses whose stiffened limbs mean they can only move by bouncing along -- with visitors lining up to imitate their grasping, outstretched hands.
"I expected many people to come, but not that it would be bursting with crowds," Lin Yu-chun, the museum's director, told AFP.
Lin said the Covid-19 pandemic had made discussions of mortality more prominent in Taiwanese society over the last few years, even though it is generally a taboo subject in Chinese culture.
"Many of us have been directly impacted and have had to face death," she said.
"I have never seen that many people here, not since the pandemic started," said a vendor surnamed Su whose shaved ice stall is beside the museum.
"The line must have been at least one kilometer long," she added.
Once inside, visitors can see depictions of ghosts from Thailand -- such as krasue, a body less female ghoul whose glowing viscera hang below a floating head -- as well as drawings of Japanese underworld spirits and works from Taiwanese artists.
"Asian ghosts tend to be more feminine, there are more ghosts which are female," Lin explained, whereas "western ghosts tend to be stern-looking such as the vampire".
Though the show has fascinated swathes of the public, it has alarmed religious groups.
A Christian church in northern Taiwan criticized the exhibit when it was first announced and called for it to be axed, saying online that it "defile(d) the country and people," local media reported.
Other groups, including some Taoist temple ones, warned it was spreading superstition.
Local media reported the museum had prepared 1,000 protective charms to give out to show attendees to ward off bad luck.
But Tony Lyu, a policeman in his twenties who visited the same day as AFP, said the show had allowed him to reflect.
"I will try not to do bad things from now on because of the fear (of going to hell)," Lyu laughed.
Zora Sung, 25, a hospital lab technician from capital city Taipei, said she was "moved and felt a little touched".
"Hell is also a part of our culture we need to try to understand," she said.
© 2022 AFP
Tropical Storm Bonnie was upgraded to a category one hurricane on Sunday as it swept towards Mexico after killing three people in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane, the third of the season off Mexico's coast, is carrying maximum sustained winds of 80 miles (125 kilometers) per hour "with higher gusts," the NHC said, citing satellite images.
"The core of Bonnie is expected to remain south of, but move parallel to, the coast of southern and southwestern Mexico during the next couple of days," the center said in its latest advisory.
Before moving towards Mexico, the storm caused damage to property in the Central American countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua, felling trees and flooding rivers, streets and hospitals.
A 24-year-old woman died in El Salvador, emergency services said, while in Nicaragua the army said a 40-year-old man was swept away trying to cross a river and a 38-year-old man died trying to rescue passengers from a bus.
Rescuers in El Salvador were still searching Sunday evening for a missing man and the search efforts will continue on Monday, the country's civil protection agency said.
"Bonnie generated very heavy rains and thunderstorms in the coastal area, the volcanic mountain range and the San Salvador metropolitan area, with strong gusty winds and hail in some areas," the environment ministry said.
El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele said all classes would be suspended Monday.
Bonnie, which made landfall in Nicaragua overnight Friday to Saturday, is set to drench southern Mexico with heavy rain, the NHC said.
Swells caused by the hurricane are to "cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions," its advisory said.
© 2022 AFP