Associated Press

Associated Press 13 Mar 2019

Ex-students attack school in Brazil, killing 8


Two young men wearing hoods and carrying guns, knives and crossbows opened fire at a school in southern Brazil killing eight people before taking their own lives. (March 13)

Brazil saw a dramatic increase in the number of fires in the Amazon with more than 80,000 fires so far this year alone.

This past summer, the world watched in horror as images of flames engulfing swathes of land in the world's largest rainforest came out, leading to global calls for boycotts over President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis.

The fires have come as deforestation has risen over the past years and is increasing even more as the Brazilian government weakens environmental regulations.

New data recently released by the government shows that deforestation is at the highest point in a decade under Bolsonaro, with an area ten times the size of New York City deforested since the beginning of the year.

"The message that arrives on the ground is now everything is possible; we can keep on invading public land, we can keep on deforesting because it'll be forgiven," says Brenda Brito, researcher at Imazon, an NGO dedicated to conserving the Amazon rainforest.

Valuable trees are cut down first, the land is cleared with fire, and then the land can be used for cattle or soy, two of Brazil's key exports - or often, illegal mining.

But even as deforestation worsens, the Brazilian government has weakened its environmental protection agencies. That has put pressure on communities already at risk trying to fight the destruction of the rainforest.

Beyond the headlines of the fires, there is a violence that comes with the destruction taking place in Brazil.
"We are receiving threats because we are trying to protect the forest. It is not only the trees that are coming to an end, But people are dying, giving up their own lives because of the trees," says small farmer Maria Marcia de Melo.

Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a land defender, as the profits of deforestation combined with local corruption have led to a high rate of impunity.

In the past decade, over 300 people have been killed in the Brazilian Amazon over land conflicts.

"These are very specific killings. Its the killing of the person who is standing up and defending the forest. That killing sends a message to everyone in the community - that if you do anything, that's going to happen to you. So the impact of the killings is enormous," says Cesar Munoz, Human Rights Watch.

At stake are both the world's largest rainforest as well as the lives of indigenous communities and small farmers trying to protect their lands.

Fault Lines travels to Brazil to look at what is at the heart of the Amazon burning and to meet the people defending the land.
The number of women in Brazilian prisons has soared over the past twenty years. The data also put Brazil behind only the United States and Thailand in its arrest rate of women. CGTN's Paulo Cabral reports.
Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were teenagers when they were sentenced to life in prison in 1984 for murdering a Baltimore teen. They were exonerated and released on Nov. 25.

Dewitt Duckett, 14, was killed on Nov. 18, 1983, at a high school over his jacket. The three men convicted, when they were teenagers, said they were not at the school at the time of the killing. They were arrested on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. This Thanksgiving they get to spend it with their families.

The men became eligible for parole in recent years, but all three declined to accept responsibility for the slaying.

Maryland also has no working system to compensate exonerees even though such payments are allowed by state law.
Iraqi parliament votes to remove foreign troops, drawing sanctions threat from US president

The Middle East is grappling with the United States' assassination of Qassem Soleimani.
In an extraordinary session on Sunday, Iraq's parliament voted to remove foreign troops.
U.S. president President threatened what he calls 'very big sanctions' on Iraq if American troops are forced to leave.
The military alliance NATO has suspended its training mission in Iraq, fearing soldiers could be attacked in reprisal for the killing of Iran's top military commander.
What are the consequences for Iraq and the Middle East if all foreign soldiers leave?

Presenter: Folly Bah Thibaut

Richard Weitz - Security Analyst with Wikistrat, a global risk consultancy

Jean-Marc Rickli - Head of Global Risk, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Zeidon Alkinani - Independent researcher on identity politics in Iraq and the Middle East

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