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Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest drops sharply

August 10th, 2010

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest fell by 49 percent this year, the Brazilian Environment Ministry said Monday.

According to a report released in Brasilia, about 700 square miles of rainforest were destroyed from August 2009-June 2010. Over 1,365 square miles were destroyed in the same period a year earlier.

Despite the progress detected by the National Institute of Space Research, or INPE, using satellite equipment, the rainforest that was destroyed August-June is larger than the surface of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo.

INPE president Gilberto Camara acknowledged that the actual destruction could be more extensive than detected, because the radar system it uses only registers deforestation in areas larger than about 62 acres, and because the equipment has been hampered by dense cloud cover in recent months.

Still, Brazilian Environment Minister Izabela Teixeira was upbeat about the result.

“It’s very good, and it underlines a trend that was already seen last year,” she said.

The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, and most of it – equivalent to the size of Western Europe – lies within Brazil’s borders.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 17 percent of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has been destroyed over the past two decades.


Hydroelectric dams pose threat to tribal peoples, report warns

August 9th, 2010

Construction begins on the Gibe III hydroelectric dam in southern Ethiopia. Photograph: Xan Rice for the Guardian

Dams in Brazil, Ethiopia and Malaysia will force people off land and destroy hunting grounds, says Survival International

Giant hydroelectric dams being built or planned in remote areas of Brazil, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Peru and Guyana will devastate tribal communities by forcing people off their land or destroying hunting and fishing grounds, according to a report by Survival International today.

The first global assessment of the impact of the dams on tribes suggests more than 300,000 indigenous people could be pushed towards economic ruin and, in the case of some isolated Brazilian groups, to extinction.

The dams are intended to provide much-needed,low-carbon electricity for burgeoning cities, but the report says tribal people living in their vicinity will gain little or nothing. Most of the power generated will be taken by large industries, it concludes. (more…)

Brazilian Tribes Occupy Power Plant

July 26th, 2010

Brazilian native Indians on Sunday took 100 workers hostage at the construction site of a hydroelectric plant in the southern Amazon region, local media reported.

As many as 400 Indians from several different tribes occupied a power plant they say was built on an ancient burial site.

“They didn’t take into account the situation of the Indians. The company used dynamite to blow up part of an archeological site,” Antonio Carlos Ferreira de Aquino, a local administrator with the government’s agency of indigenous affairs, Funai, told

Armed with bows and arrows, the Indians occupied the site at dawn on Sunday and confined the construction company’s employees to their barracks. (more…)

Sao Paulo will build Temple of Solomon replica

July 22nd, 2010

AFP/File – The Western Wall (C), part of the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem

Brazil will build a replica of Jerusalem’s destroyed Temple of Solomon in eastern Sao Paulo, in a four-year, 113-million dollar construction project, local media said Wednesday.

The mega-church, made by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, will measure 126-by-104 meters (yards) and stand 55 meters high. It will have a 12-floor indoor capacity for 10,000 people, said Agencia Folha news agency.

It will be made of stones cut exactly like those of the original temple, which first went up in 960 BC, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, rebuilt and destroyed again by the Romans in the year 70. The Wailing Wall is its only remains.

City authorities have already approved the contruction project for the Bras neighborhood, the agency said.

Brazil to invest $3B on airports for 2014 WCup

July 20th, 2010

Rio de Janeiro international Airport

The Brazilian government approved on Monday nearly $3 billion in funding to renovate and expand its airports ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

The government also guaranteed investments of about $400 million in its ports, hoping to make sure the country is ready to host soccer’s biggest tournament.

Authorities signed a document Monday securing the investments and creating a timetable for work related to transportation and stadium construction, two of the areas receiving most of the criticism from FIFA because of delays.

Government officials had also expressed concerns with the country’s preparations, but Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said everything will be ready on time.

“Things are happening very quickly,” he said.

The document allows Brazil’s civil aviation agency to accelerate work to renovate the 13 airports expected to be used by fans and tourists in the 12 host cities that are spread across Brazil, a large country that is currently without the transportation infrastructure needed to host the tournament.

“Now we have the investments for some of the sensitive areas such as the airports,” Brazil Sports Minister Orlando Silva said. “We expect 600,000 international visitors and other 3 million Brazilians (traveling).”

The investments approved Monday will also help Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Olympics.

A recent government study said Brazil will invest a total of $18 billion in infrastructure in the next few years.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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