Jaguar Shot Dead After Olympic Torch Event in Brazil

Austin Ramzy – The New York Times, 06/22/2016

A soldier in Brazil has shot and killed a jaguar who was used in an Olympic torch event this week, prompting an outpouring of anger from animal lovers and a public apology from the local Games organizing committee.

The jaguar, a 17-year-old female named Juma, was kept at a zoo that is part of a military base in Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon.

She apparently escaped an enclosure on Monday but was not at risk of fleeing the zoo. The military said in a statement that Juma had been tranquilized but was shot after she moved toward a soldier, and that the action was taken to protect a team that was trying to recapture her.

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Rio’s Forgotten Health Crisis

Anne Vigna – Americas Quarterly, 06/16/2016

As Rio de Janeiro prepares to receive hundreds of thousands of tourists and athletes from over 200 countries for the Olympic Games, health authorities are working overtime to combat the spread of the Zika virus. But beyond Zika, the city hides shockingly high rates of tuberculosis, especially in its favelas.

The infectious lung disease, not common in Europe since the 18th and 19th centuries, killed a total of 840 people in Rio de Janeiro state in 2014, including 440 in the city itself.

That’s the highest number in any of the country’s 27 state capital cities, amounting to 6.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014.

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Brazil’s indigenous leaders risk their lives fighting for survival

Wyre Davies – BBC News, 06/20/2016

Brazil’s indigenous tribes are as diverse as they are numerous: from the south-western sate of Mato Grosso do Sul to the impenetrable northern jungles of the Amazon to the eastern Atlantic seaboard.

There’s one thing, perhaps above all others, these tribes have in common – the relentless, insatiable pressure on their land and resources.

Indeed, there is nowhere else on earth as dangerous for “defenders” of land or the environment as Brazil.

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W.H.O. Says Olympics Should Go Ahead in Brazil Despite Zika Virus

The Olympic Games should go on as planned, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, and athletes and spectators, except for pregnant women, should not hesitate to attend so long as they take precautions against infection with the Zika virus.

Pregnant women were advised not to go to Brazil for the event or theParalympics. The W.H.O. previously told them to avoid any area where Zika is circulating.

Some attendees may contract the mosquito-borne infection and even bring it back home, but the risk in August — midwinter in Rio de Janeiro — is relatively low, W.H.O. officials said.

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Zika cases at Olympics will be ‘close to zero’, says Brazil sports minister

Owen Gibson – The Guardian, 06/06/2016

Brazil’s new sports minister has predicted there will be “close to zero” cases of Zika recorded during the Olympic Games as he mounted a trenchant rearguard action over a host of issues clouding preparations for Rio.

Leonardo Picciani, who recently became the third person to fill the role since March, said he was convinced the Games, which start on 5 August, would be a success despite a backdrop of political and economic turmoil and a range of other concerns from unfinished transport links to doping controversies.

On a visit to London during which he also met the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, and the mayor, Sadiq Khan, Picciani also promised a crucial extension to the metro would open “a couple of days before the opening ceremony”, that Brazil would finish in the top 10 in the medal table and there would be a last-minute surge in demand for tickets.

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When Rio fails, sister city shows sewage cleanup possible

Jenny Barchfield – The Associated Press, 06/06/16

NITEROI, Brazil (AP) — With thousands of liters of raw human sewage pouring into the ocean every second from Rio de Janeiro, August’s Olympic Games have thrust into the global spotlight the city’s spectacular failure to clean up its waterways and world famous beaches. But just across the Guanabara Bay from Rio, the sister city of Niteroi is showing that a real cleanup is possible.

In Niteroi, 95 percent of sewage is treated and authorities say they are on track for 100 percent within a year, even though Rio’s failure to do its part means that sludge still flows in from across the bay. Rio has not only broken promises made to fix its sewage problem in time for the upcoming Summer Games, but the state has been downplaying expectations, even suggesting it might be 2035 before a full cleanup happens.

Niteroi’s success underscores key factors that stand in stark contrast to Rio: privatization of sewage management, major investment in infrastructure and a high level of accountability and collaboration between the city government and the utility to define targets and meet them.

Brazil’s new government may be less likely to protect the Amazon, critics say

Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff – The Washington Post, 05/22/2016

Signs of a rightward turn by Brazil’s new government have alarmed conservationists and climate change activists who fear a rollback of environmental laws that could accelerate deforestation in the Amazon basin.

With Brazil’s economy in its worst slump since the 1930s, new leader Michel Temer took power this month promising a more business-friendly agenda to spur growth. Temer named a ­conservative-leaning cabinet whose members include figures with close ties to powerful landowners and agribusiness companies.

Temer has taken control in South America’s largest nation — and the world’s biggest rain forest — at a time when Brazilian lawmakers are considering a major overhaul of environmental laws. This includes a controversial constitutional amendment known as PEC 65 that would reduce licensing requirements for development projects and limit judicial oversight of their impact.

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From the favelas: the rise of rooftop solar projects in Brazil

Heriberto Araújo – The Guardian, 05/24/2016

Sunny days have long been considered a competitive advantage for Brazil. Before the 2014 World Cup, the country’s tourist board set up a website allowing visitors to compare the number of sunny days in US and European capitals to cities in Brazil (eg Brussels 103, Rio de Janeiro 212). But while tourism may have been capitalising on the sunshine, the solar industry has not.

According to statistics from the Brazilian electricity regulatory agency, Aneel, solar accounts for just 0.02% of the country’s energy. The bulk of the country’s energy generation (70%) is from hydropower.

However, while demand for energy is increasing, multi-year droughts andwidespread blackouts have created serious concerns about energy security for millions of businesses and homes. Despite a traditional lack of support (unlike Europe, China and the US, Brazil has not implemented feed-in tariffs or tax breaks), the government is now making efforts to diversify (pdf) the country’s energy mix with recent public auctions for solar and wind. Its 10-year energy plan released in 2014 estimates that 7GW of solar projects will be installed by 2024, making up 3.3% of Brazil’s energy mix.

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