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G7 to release $22mn to help fight Amazon fires

The agreement came as the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US met in Biarritz.

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Amazon fires

Biarritz (France), Aug 26 (IANS) The G7 countries on Monday agreed to release $22 million to provide logistical and financial support to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest.

The announcement was made by French President Emmanuel Macron, the host of this year’s meeting of G7 leaders, after a G7 climate session. He said the fires were “two times the surface area of France” and were damaging the “most important lungs of the planet”.

The agreement came as the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US met in Biarritz.

Macron said the funds would be made available “immediately” and added that France will “also offer concrete support with military in the region within the next few hours”, the BBC reported.

The leaders also were studying the possibility of similar support in Africa, also suffering from fires in its rainforest, media reports said.

Macron said the US supported the initiative, although he acknowledged that US President Donald Trump had skipped Monday’s working session on the environment because it clashed with other bilateral meetings he had on Monday.

A record number of fires are burning in Brazil, most of them in the Amazon, according to data provided by the country’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

Macron last week described the fires as an “international crisis” and pushed for them to be prioritised at the G7 summit which his country is hosting.

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days,” he had tweeted on Thursday.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had hit back at the French leader, saying that the idea of G7 discussing the issue was “reminiscent of colonial mindset inappropriate in the 21st century”.

Critics accused Bolsonaro of “green lighting” the Amazon’s destruction through anti-environmental rhetoric and a lack of action on deforestation violations.

After facing mounting pressure, the Brazilian President on August 23 authorized the country’s military to help tackle the blazes.

Brazil’s Defence Ministry said that 44,000 troops were available to help in the effort and officials said on Sunday that military intervention was authorized in seven states. Warplanes had also been drafted in to dump water on the areas affected.

Apart from the short-term emergency funding, Macron also announced a longer term common initiative for the Amazon that will be discussed at the UN General Assembly.

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‘Where’s the money?’: Maharashtra’s MVA government asks BJP

Congress state chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat targeted Fadnavis saying rather than working with the government or using his good offices to get a good financial package from the Centre, the Opposition is busy trying to topple the MVA government.

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Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai, May 27 : In a scathing attack on the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi on Wednesday demanded Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis to justify his Tuesday’s claims of the state getting huge financial help from the Centre to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

“The Centre has yet to clear this state’s GST dues of over Rs 18,000 crore for 2019-2020…. other things Fadnavis has claimed have not been received, whatever has come is for ongoing schemes? Where is the money? From where it came and which account it has gone?” senior Shiv Sena leader and Transport Minister Anil Parab pointedly asked.

Nationalist Congress Party state president and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said from Fadnavis’ statements, doubts are raised whether he is a friend or enemy of Maharashtra.

“Instead of cooperating, he’s busy vilifying all the good work of the MVA government, the state BJP thought it fit to give money to the PM Care Fund but not the CM Relief Fund, he has no faith in the skills of the youth of our state and made misleading statements,” Patil said.

Congress state chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat targeted Fadnavis saying rather than working with the government or using his good offices to get a good financial package from the Centre, the Opposition is busy trying to topple the MVA government.

The MVA leaders addressed a joint press conference on Wednesday, countered all issues raised by the BJP leader at his media briefing on Tuesday, and termed his statements as imaginary.

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Global COVID-19 cases cross 5.6 mn: Johns Hopkins University

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,955), France (28,533), Spain (27,117), and Brazil (24,512).

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COVID-19 cases

Washington, May 27 : The overall number of global coronavirus cases have crossed 5.6 million, while the death toll increased to 350,876, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday evening, the total number of cases stood at 5,609,079, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is also reaching a grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Currently, the country has 1,681,418 confirmed cases and 98,929 deaths, both tallies accounting for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 391,222 infections.

Meanwhile, the UK ranked second after the US with 37,130 COVID-19 deaths, the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,955), France (28,533), Spain (27,117), and Brazil (24,512).

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Bangladesh Covid toll mounts to 544

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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Coronavirus in South Korea

Dhaka, May 27 : With 22 fresh deaths due to the pandemic , Bangladesh Covid-19 toll surged to 544, health authorities said on Wednesday.

The total corona cases in the country soared to 38,292 after 1,541 COVID-19 cases were detected in the 24 hours till 8 a.m. (local time) on Wednesday, according to the health directorate.

As per bd news 24, another 246 patients were released by hospitals in the same period, raising the number of recoveries to 7,925, DGHS Additional Director General Nasima Sultana said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The rate of recovery from the disease in Bangladesh currently stands at 20.70 per cent while the mortality rate is 1.42 per cent, according to government data.

A total of 8,015 samples were tested at 48 authorised labs across the country in the last 24 hours, Nasima added.

Globally, over 5.6 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 350,752 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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