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Amazon Wildfires Should be At Top of Group of Seven (G-7) Summit Agenda: French President

Brazil's ultra-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is accusing his French counterpart of having a "colonialist mentality"

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Amazon, Wildfires, G7
This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil on Aug. 20, 2019. As fires raged in the Amazon rainforest, the government denounced critics who say President Jair Bolsonaro is not doing enough. VOA

Brazil’s ultra-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is accusing his French counterpart of having a “colonialist mentality” for saying the Amazon wildfires should be at the top of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit agenda.

“The French president’s suggestion that Amazon issues be discussed at the G-7 without participation by the countries in the region evoke a colonialist mentality that is out of place in the 21st century,” Bolsonaro tweeted Thursday.

He said countries that send money to Brazil for the Amazon are not doing it out of charity but “with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.”

Thousands of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest threaten to wipe out large parts of a vital and irreplaceable ecosystem.

Amazon, Wildfires, G7
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks at the opening of the Brazilian Steel Congress, in Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 21, 2019. VOA

“Our house is burning. Literally,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Thursday. “The Amazon rainforest, the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen, is on fire. It is an international crisis.”

Images from U.S. satellites show smoke blanketing South America from the thousands of fires burning in the Amazon.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is very concerned and the Bishops Conference for Latin America Thursday said the fires are a “tragedy” and called on the world to take immediate action to protect the Amazon.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reported this week it has spotted about 73,000 fires in the Amazon so far this year — an 83% surge over the first eight months of 2018.Environmentalists put much of the blame on Bolsonaro, saying he encourages farmers and others to burn land for development and pasture.

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They decry what they say are his anti-environment stance in favor of oil, mineral, logging and ranching interests. Bolsonaro has called the Amazon an economic resource that should be exploited.

With no evidence to back it up, Bolsonaro has accused nongovernmental organizations that have lost funding of deliberately setting the fires to “try to take me down.”

But he said Thursday that farmers may have illegally set fires.

Bolsonaro also said his government lacks the resources to fight the fires in such a huge area.

Amazon, Wildfires, G7
French President Emmanuel Macron pauses after greeting Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Elysee Palace, Aug. 22, 2019 in Paris. VOA

Brazilian prosecutors say they will investigate allegations that the government has cut back on monitoring and enforcing environmental laws in the Amazon. They also plan to look into who was behind a newspaper advertisement in Para state encouraging farmers to set fires and burn large areas.

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest ecosystem and irreplaceable. Environmentalists call it “the world’s lungs” because it creates 20% of the globe’s oxygen and is able to absorb carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming.

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The Amazon is also home to much of Brazil’s indigenous population and thousands of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. (VOA)

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Federal Judge in Washington Halts Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

US Court has currently put a pause to Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

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Microsoft
People stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon says President Donald Trump's “improper pressure" and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract. VOA

By Peyton Bigora

A federal judge in Washington has halted, for now, a major U.S. Defense Department cyber contract, blocking Microsoft Corp. from working on the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud-computing initiative pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought by rival Amazon.com.

In October, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, which has an estimated worth of around $10 billion over the next decade. The JEDI project will process and store classified data to provide the U.S. military improved communications with soldiers in the field as well as artificial intelligence to speed up war planning and fighting capabilities.

By November, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, filed a lawsuit alleging the Defense Department unfairly judged its bid for the contract. Amazon believes the process was tainted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s animosity towards Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, which Trump has regularly accused of bias against him.

Microsoft
The Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France. VOA

Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said the JEDI contract cannot continue to be enacted “until further order of the court.” Judge Campbell-Smith’s full opinion was sealed.

While Amazon scored at least a preliminary victory, it is required to create a $42 million security fund that will be used to pay for any damages if the court later finds the injunction was improper.

Earlier this week, Amazon asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to allow them to question Trump and top Pentagon leaders, including former defense secretary James Mattis and Defense Secretary Mark Esper about any political interference from the White House in the awarding of the contract.

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“We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” said Microsoft’s spokesman Frank Shaw, adding that he is disappointed by the ruling and believes the Pentagon’s decision-making process was fair. (VOA)