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Brazil in ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ due to Covid: MSF

AFP/Editor

Brazil’s «failed» response to Covid-19 has driven the country to a «humanitarian catastrophe,» Doctors Without Borders said Thursday, accusing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government of making the health crisis even worse.

«The lack of political will to adequately respond to the pandemic is killing Brazilians in their thousands,» the humanitarian group said in a statement.

The statement underlined the deadly surge of Covid-19 that has made Brazil the current epicenter of the pandemic.

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Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 percent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, the group said. In all, the disease has claimed more than 360,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States.

«These staggering figures are clear evidence of the authorities’ failure to manage the health and humanitarian crises in the country and protect Brazilians, especially the most vulnerable,» it said.

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the pandemic and defied expert advice on measures to contain it, leaving state and local authorities to implement a messy patchwork of response measures.

Doctors Without Borders said the lack of an «effective, centralized and coordinated» response was exacerbating the crisis.

«Public health measures have become a political battlefield in Brazil,» said Christos Christou, president of the group, which is sometimes referred to with its French acronym MSF.

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«As a result, science-based policies are associated with political opinions, rather than the need to protect individuals and their communities.»

The statement came two days after the Brazilian Senate launched an investigative committee into Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.

Doctors Without Borders condemned the lack of masks and social distancing in Brazil, which have been «shunned and politicized» even as Bolsonaro and his allies tout medications such as anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, despite studies documenting their ineffectiveness against Covid-19.

«Fuelling sickness and death in Brazil is the overwhelming amount of disinformation,» it said.

It also condemned the country’s «half-speed» vaccination campaign.

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The organization, which has operated in Brazil since 1991, has deployed medical teams in eight of Brazil’s 27 states to respond to the pandemic.

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El Salvador: Buscan impedir que pandillas evolucionen antes de ser eliminadas

Funcionarios de gabinete de Seguridad se reunieron esta semana con el presidente de la República, Nayib Bukele para medir los avances en el Régimen de Excepción y continuar con la siguiente etapa de la estrategia de seguridad, a fin de “impedir que los grupos terroristas evolucionen antes de ser eliminados”, constó una publicación de Casa Presidencial.

Fotografías que acompañan la publicación muestran que la reunión contó con la participación del fiscal general de la República, Rodolfo Delgado; el director de la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), Mauricio Arriaza; el ministro de Justicia y Seguridad Pública, Gustavo Villatoro y el ministro de Defensa, Francis Merino Monroy.

Las autoridades buscaron medir los avances de la implementación de un régimen de excepción que está vigente desde el 27 de marzo pasado y que ha sido prorrogado en dos ocasiones, a fin de continuar con el combate a los grupos delincuenciales en la denominada “Guerra contra las Pandillas”.

Según reportes de Casa Presidencial, los funcionarios sostuvieron encuentros del mismo tipo el 28 y 30 de marzo, también el 6 de abril y el 25 de mayo, pata evaluar y ajustar detalles del plan de seguridad dentro del régimen de excepción.

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Hasta este viernes, el Ministerio de Justicia y Seguridad Pública (MJSP) dio cuenta de 39,415 capturas de presuntos pandilleros, 183 de ellos detenidos en las últimas horas.

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Centroamérica

Nombran nuevo encargado de Negocios de la embajada estadounidense en El Salvador

Patrick Ventrell ha sido nombrado como nuevo Encargado de Negocios de la Embajada de Estados Unidos en El Salvador de forma interina, en sustitución de Brendan O’Brien, anunció este viernes la sede diplomática en un comunicado.

El texto señala que Ventrell ejercerá como Encargado de Negocios «Ad Interim durante las próximas semanas antes de regresar al Departamento de Estado en Washington D.C.».

“En la actualidad, (Ventrell) es el director de la Oficina de Asuntos Centroamericanos en la Oficina de Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental. Entre sus cargos anteriores se encuentran la de portavoz adjunto de la Misión de Estados Unidos ante las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York, director de la Oficina de Relaciones con la Prensa en la Oficina de Asuntos Públicos, director de comunicaciones y portavoz adjunto en el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional”, detalló la embajada estadounidense.

Así mismo, añadió otros cargos que han sido ejercidos por el nuevo encargado de negocios, tales como: director de la Oficina de Programas para el Hemisferio Occidental en la Oficina de Asuntos Internacionales de Narcóticos y Aplicación de la Ley y varios cargos en las embajadas de Estados Unidos en Bogotá, San Salvador, Bagdad y Santiago.

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La información concluyó en que la embajada seguirá trabajando de manera normal, mientras se continúa el proceso de confirmación del Embajador designado, William Duncan, ante el Senado de los Estados Unidos.

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Ecuadoran toad breaks its silence after 100 years

AFP

Ecuadoran biologist Jorge Brito was trekking through the forest when he heard what he thought was the chirp of a cricket.

What he found changed a century of scientific belief.

«At first I thought it was some sort of cricket out there vocalizing, but then I paid attention,» said Brito, from Ecuador’s national biodiversity institute.

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It was, in fact, a type of brown toad with rough skin called Rhinella festae that has a prominent nose and had been considered mute since it was first discovered 100 year ago.

«While it did not inflate its vocal sack, you could see a small flicker» on its chin, said Brito.

He caught it and took it to a laboratory to study with his colleague Diego Batallas.

«The first time I heard it, I said: Wow, that’s not the sound of a toad, it’s like a little bird,» Batalla told AFP.

The toad, which measures between 45 and 68 millimeters in length, lives in the mountainous Ecuadoran regions of Cutucu and Condor, extending over the border into the Amazonian region of Peru.

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The discovery was first reported in February in Neotropical Biodiversity magazine, where Brito and Batallas described the sound made by the toad.

«It is the first time this unique song of the Rhinella festae has been recorded and it’s surprising because it shouldn’t sing,» Batallas told AFP.

The toad does not have the vocal sack that allows most amphibians to amplify their calls so that they can be heard up to one kilometer away.

«The fact that this species can sing (without the vocal sack) makes it unique,» added Batallas, who used to sing in a choir.

Batallas said that the faint sound emitted by the Rhinella festae demonstrates that some species of amphibians could have evolved in such a way — perhaps as an anti-predator measure — as to «not need their song to be heard very far away.»

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In the case of the Rhinella festae, it emits a sound as a greeting, whereas other species of toad croak as part of a mating ritual or as a warning.

«It’s a very subtle sound and very difficult to hear in nature.»

Ecuador has registered 658 different species of amphibians, of which 623 are toads or frogs and almost 60 percent of those are at risk or in danger of disappearing.

Only Brazil and Colombia have more species of amphibians than Ecuador.

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