Buses torched, roads blocked, clashes during Brazil strike

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Buses torched, roads blocked, clashes during Brazil strike

April 28 at 8:53 PM
RIO DE JANEIRO — Protesters lit buses on fire, blocked roads and clashed with police on Friday during a general strike that brought transportation to a halt in many cities across Latin America’s largest nation.The strike was to protest major changes to labor law and the pension system being considered by Congress, but it was also a raw display of anger by many Brazilians fed up with corruption and worried about the future amid a deep recession and rising unemployment.

In Rio de Janeiro, after hours of clashes with police in front of the legislative building, several buses were torched. In Sao Paulo, thousands marched toward the home of President Michel Temer, throwing rocks at police who shot stun grenades when protesters tried to go beyond barriers set up.

Millions stayed home, either in support of the strike or simply because they were unable to get to work. The tens of thousands who took to the street raised questions about whether Temer will be able to push his proposals through Congress, where they had previously looked likely to pass.

Temer’s administration argues that more flexible labor rules will revive a moribund economy and warns the pension system will go bankrupt without changes. Unions and other groups called for the strike, saying the changes before Congress will make workers too vulnerable and strip away too many benefits.

In a statement Friday night, Temer characterized the protesters as “small groups” that blocked the roads and streets. He said his administration was working to help Brazilians workers overcome the country’s economic malaise.

Earlier in the day, most commuter trains and metro lines were stopped in Sao Paulo during the height of morning commute, and all buses stayed off the roads. Buses ran partial service during the morning in Rio but later began returning to normal. The metro was closed for the day in the capital of Brasilia.

Some protesters also set up barricades and started fires in the streets, including on roads heading to the main airports in Sao Paulo. In Rio, protesters created confusion by running through Santos Dumont Airport, and others blocked a major road.

Some plane mechanics joined the strike, according to the National Aeronautic Union, but the impact was minimal, with only a handful of flights canceled or delayed at the two cities’ airports.

“We are demanding our rights, as workers, because the president of the country proposed a law for people to work more and live less, so you will only receive your pension when you die,” said Edgar Fernandes, a dock worker who was protesting in Rio.

The CUT union said around 35 million Brazilians didn’t show up for work on Friday, more than one-third of the working population. But government officials downplayed the strike, insisting that many Brazilians were still at work.

“We don’t have a strike, we have widespread riots,” Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio said on Joven Pam radio.

Brazil’s economy is in a deep recession, and many Brazilians are frustrated with Temer’s government. Temer, whose approval ratings are hovering around 10 percent, has argued the proposed changes will benefit Brazilians in the long run. But with so many out of work, many feel they can ill afford any cuts to their benefits.

Meanwhile, the country is mired in a colossal scandal involving billions of dollars in kickbacks to politicians and other public officials. Over the last three years, dozens of top politicians and businessmen have been jailed in the so-called Car Wash investigation that has produced near daily revelations of wrongdoing.

Scores of sitting politicians, including Temer himself and several of his ministers, have been implicated. Temer denies wrongdoing.

In one the largest demonstrations Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in front Rio de Janeiro’s state assembly in the afternoon and were fighting pitched battles with police who tried to remove them. Police fired tear gas while protesters threw stones and lit small fires in the middle of streets.

In Sao Paulo, police told downtown shopkeepers to close early, apparently out of concern that protesters might head there. Throughout the day, 21 people were arrested in Sao Paulo, according to military police.

Underscoring the economic malaise, the IBGE statistics agency announced on Friday that unemployment had jumped to 13.7 percent in the first quarter of the year, up from 12 percent.

The anger over the proposed changes to benefits shows that Temer’s government has failed to convince the people that the moves are necessary, said Oliver Stuenkel, who teaches international relations at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo. And yet, the proposed laws have been moving fairly easily through Congress, and had been expected to eventually pass.

“This is a peculiar government that has low approval and still gets work done in Congress,” he said. “But lawmakers also think of their re-elections next year. After today, there could be a bigger risk for Temer in getting any meaningful bills passed.”

___

Savarese reported from Sao Paulo.

Zika Virus Can Trigger Epilepsy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

Zika virus can trigger epilepsy

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can spread the Zika virus. An infected pregnant woman’s newborn can be affected and experience severe neurological birth defects.

CBS NEWS

Beyond its known links to birth defects and other problems, the Zika virus may also trigger cases of epilepsy in infants, warn experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among 48 babies from Brazil with probable congenital Zika infection, “50 percent reportedly had clinical seizures,” said Dr. Daniel Pastula, Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp and Rosemarie Kobau.

All three have studied Zika at the CDC, and co-wrote an essay on the Zika-epilepsy connection, published online April 17 in JAMA Neurology.

The Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito bites, and its most devastating effects occur when pregnant women are infected. In those cases, Zika can trigger severe neurological birth defects such as microcephaly, where infants are born with underdeveloped skulls and brains. Thousands of such cases have occurred in South America, most notably in Brazil.

And other pediatric defects and illnesses linked to Zika are emerging.

According to the CDC team, besides the group of 48 babies cited above, seven of another group of 13 Zika-exposed babies in Brazil were also diagnosed as having epilepsy.

The finding isn’t overly surprising since the types of brain abnormalities seen in Zika-affected newborns have been linked to seizures and epilepsy in the past, the team noted.

In a prior study, babies exposed to another common virus, called cytomegalovirus, had higher rates of epilepsy as well — and showed brain abnormalities that were similar to those associated with Zika.

All of this points to “the need to examine how and to what extent congenital Zika virus infection and resulting brain abnormalities are associated with seizures and/or epilepsy,” the CDC authors wrote.

Early diagnosis of affected babies is crucial, the researchers added, and may lessen “some adverse outcomes associated with developmental delay.”

Right now, parents and health care professionals may not be aware of the Zika-epilepsy link, the CDC researchers said, so cases “may be misdiagnosed or under-reported.”

The researchers believe that heightened awareness will be key to spotting cases of epilepsy linked to fetal exposure to Zika and helping babies.

In a statement, the CDC said that “better recognition, diagnosis, and reporting of seizures and epilepsy in infants and young children will help guide interventions to make sure families receive the right support and treatment.”

Brazil To Allow 100% Foreign Ownership Of Domestic Airlines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Brazil to sign decree for full international ownership in airlines: source

Brazilian President Michel Temer will sign on Tuesday a decree allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of local airlines, as part of measures aimed at increasing investment in the tourism industry, a government source told Reuters on Monday.

Temer will sign the decree at a ceremony with the Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão, the source said.

Reuters first reported in January that the government was drafting the measure.

Last year, former President Dilma Rousseff issued a decree lifting the limit on foreign ownership of airlines to 49 percent from 20 percent.

As part of the new measures the government will also, according to the source, subsidize airlines to fly to remote areas that are poorly served by flights, such as parts of the Amazon.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

2,000 Jewish Teens On Spiritual Tour De Force In New York City

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

2,000 Jewish Teens on Spiritual Tour de Force in New York City

Students are coming in from all over the world, to then bring the spirit of the Shabbaton back home

Teens from around the world, accompanied by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, will pour into New York to participate in the ninth annual CTeen International Shabbaton. The official program starts Friday and lasts through Sunday. Pictured from last year is Samuel Tibi from Ra’anana, Israel; this year, his younger brother, Victor Tibi, is attending. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Teens from around the world, accompanied by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, will pour into New York to participate in the ninth annual CTeen International Shabbaton. The official program starts Friday and lasts through Sunday. Pictured from last year is Samuel Tibi from Ra’anana, Israel; this year, his younger brother, Victor Tibi, is attending. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)

“How many people can show up in Times Square and have a mad Jewish party there?” asks Koby Lerner, rhetorically.

The 16-year-old from San Diego will be one of more than 2,000 Jewish teenagers from countries around the world to share in a Havdalah ceremony and spend Saturday night in New York’s iconic neighborhood at Broadway and Seventh Avenue as part of the ninth annual CTeen International Shabbaton, to take place Feb. 24-26. And that’s only a part of a weekend of spirited (and spiritual) celebrations, learning, touring, socializing and more.

Koby recalls the first time he attended the Shabbaton two years ago and his first impression of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, N.Y. “At first, it seemed like we didn’t fit in there because we didn’t have black hats and white shirts,” he says. “But it didn’t matter at all to anybody there: They loved us unconditionally. You could feel the love from these random strangers.”

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These numbers, according to Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302, “are a testament to the dedicated Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries who have worked tirelessly to bring Jewish teens closer to Yiddishkeit.”

In Germany, getting ready for going abroad. This year will see the largest international group to date, including chapters from Moscow, Monaco and Brazil. (CTeen Photo)
In Germany, getting ready for going abroad. This year will see the largest international group to date, including chapters from Moscow, Monaco and Brazil. (CTeen Photo)

Rabbi Mendy Mottal, Chabad emissary of CTeen Paris, is accompanying 207 participants from throughout France to New York. “Each year, the energy and effort that is poured into making this event is incredible,” he says. “Our teens always have an uplifting and inspiring experience, much of which I attribute to the incredible community feeling that Crown Heights offers us.”

This year, for the first time, CTeen will welcome chapters from Moscow, Monaco and Brazil, making this the largest international group ever. And as many as 75 young Israelis are flying to New York.

Rabbi Aizik Rosenfeld of the Marina Roscha Synagogue and Jewish Community Center in Moscow will be accompanied by 22 teens to the Shabbaton, none of whom have ever been to the United States before. “They’re really pumped up,” says Rosenfeld. “New York is like a dream come true; it’s what America means to them.”

The students will be hosted by local families and experience a traditional Shabbat, similar to what it was like for many of their great-grandparents and forefathers, adds the rabbi.

Rabbi Zalman Marcus, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo, Calif., fields questions from participants and parents about what to expect at the three-day event. (CTeen Photo)
Rabbi Zalman Marcus, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo, Calif., fields questions from participants and parents about what to expect at the three-day event. (CTeen Photo)

“It will be an interesting experience for them, keeping Shabbat from beginning to end,” says Rosenfeld, who moved to Moscow three years ago with his wife, Blumi. He remembers being amazed at “how much liberty there is now, how much openness there is as far as Yiddishkeit in general. Still, the density of Jewish life in Moscow, growing as it is, remains very different from Crown Heights.”

For these young people, he says, every small step—such as putting on tefillinonce a week or observing Shabbat to any extent—is a huge change.

Similar to the Russian students, Rabbi Chai Kohan, head of CTeen Español, adds that “the draw for many arriving from South and Central America is the chance to meet other Jewish teens from around the world. Most of them have never traveled to the United States.”

The worldwide growth of CTeen programs like the Shabbaton is thanks to the Meromim Foundation, spearheaded by Rabbi Bentzi Lipskier. To date, the foundation has sponsored more than 40 CTeen Chabad couples under the “New Shluchim Initiative.”

The Shabbaton comes just days after thousands of women filled Brooklyn as part of the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchos).

CTeen Côte S. Luc preps in Montreal, Canada (CTeen Photo)
CTeen Côte S. Luc preps in Montreal, Canada (CTeen Photo)

‘Part of Your Journey’

In New York, teens will get to visit some of the city’s major attractions: the Statue of Liberty, the new One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, Midtown, Uptown, Downtown and more—and will spend Shabbat learning, eating, praying and getting to know one another.

Participants will also get a tour of Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, and the President Street home and the study of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. And they will visit the Ohel, the Rebbe’s resting place at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.

Teens get an update in Ashkelon, Israel, about the Shabbaton. As many as 75 young Israelis are flying to New York. (CTeen Photo)
Teens get an update in Ashkelon, Israel, about the Shabbaton. As many as 75 young Israelis are flying to New York. (CTeen Photo)

Victoria Lamport, 17, from Tampa, Fla., sees the recreational parts of the Shabbaton as intrinsically connected to its more religious aspects. “It’s fun to see all your friends, to reconnect and to meet new people,” she says, “but the spiritual side to it is also the fact that you’re around so many people who are as motivated as you are . . . people who want to help, people who want to be a part of your journey, people doing certain mitzvahs for the first time and seeing how it affects them.”

She has seen that transformative energy work in her own family. “What is really awesome,” says the high school senior, “is that as I started to learn more, my family also got more involved. My dad started having the rabbi over every other week to learn. It’s been amazing to see the impact that Chabad has had on our lives.”

She hopes to spend the summer focusing on Jewish studies before starting a pre-med curriculum at college. “When I’m learning is when I really feel; I can almost feel my neshamah [‘soul’]. I don’t really know how to explain it. I just feel it—like I have a purpose in this world.”

Koby relates how exposure to the strong camaraderie that Victoria describes has been “life-changing.” Last summer, the California native went on the “CTeen Xtreme” summer travel camp out West, staying on afterwards for a yeshivah program. “I liked it so much I decided I didn’t want to go home, so I convinced my parents to let me stay.” Now, Koby lives and learns full-time at Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad in Los Angeles.

Koby Lerner of California will join the Shabbaton for a second time. The 16-year-old was also part of “CTeen Xtreme” summer travel camp last year, shown here having a blast. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Koby Lerner of California will join the Shabbaton for a second time. The 16-year-old was also part of “CTeen Xtreme” summer travel camp last year, shown here having a blast. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)

Youths Into Leaders

For many teens, the inspiration continues long after the Shabbaton is over.

“My daughter, Sydney, was always deathly afraid of getting up to speak, even to our own family,” says Craig Winawer of Dix Hills, N.Y. “Recently, I watched her make a 10-minute speech in front of our of whole shul about CTeen and the Shabbaton. This is a kid who you can barely get to say three words at our Passover seder.”

Ever since Sydney became involved four years ago, her father has watched his shy daughter transform into a real leader. Today, she is member of the CTeen International Board.

A little anxiety, however, isn’t just relegated to teenagers. Brochie Levin of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta in Calgary, Canada, acknowledges that “as a new shlucha to CTeen, I was nervous about bringing in a group for the Shabbaton. But the amount of advice, prep and work that was put into helping us was incredible. Our teens are so excited—and so are we.”

To learn more about CTeen International and the Shabbaton, click here.

The Havdalah ceremony and celebration in Times Square 2014 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
The Havdalah ceremony and celebration in Times Square 2014 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2015 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2015 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2016 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2016 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
A group on the way from Kiryat Bialik, Israel, for the 2017 Shabbaton (CTeen Photo)
A group on the way from Kiryat Bialik, Israel, for the 2017 Shabbaton (CTeen Photo)

At Least 60 Inmates Killed in Brazil Prison Riot

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

At Least 60 Inmates Killed in Brazil Prison Riot

“This is the biggest prison massacre in our state’s history”

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — At least 60 inmates died during a prison riot in the northern state of Amazonas, including several who were beheaded or dismembered, Brazilian state authorities said Monday.

State public security secretary Sergio Fontes said that in addition to the deaths, some inmates escaped, but he did not say how many. Several prison guards were held hostage.

“This is the biggest prison massacre in our state’s history,” Fontes said during a press conference. The riot began Sunday afternoon and lasted until Monday morning.

Two of the biggest crime gangs of Brazil began fighting last year over control of several prisons and authorities in Amazonas believe that’s the reason behind the first riot of 2017.

Fontes said the inmates made few demands to end the riot, which hints at a killing spree organized by members of a local gang against those of another that is based in Sao Paulo.

The secretary said officers found a hole in a prison wall through which authorities believe weapons entered the building.

Fontes confirmed that many of the dead had been beheaded and Judge Luis Carlos Valois, who negotiated the end of the riot with inmates, said he saw many bodies that were quartered.

“I never saw anything like that in my life. All those bodies, the blood,” Valois wrote on Facebook.

Valois said that during the negotiations, inmates only asked “that we did not transfer them, made sure they were not attacked and kept their visitation.”

The riot ended after the inmates freed the last of the 12 prison staffers they had held hostage, Valois said.

In another prison in Amazonas, 87 inmates escaped in the first hours of Monday, Fonte said.

One of the inmates posted a picture on Facebook as he left the prison.

Greece’s Ambassador To Brazil Murdered By His Wife’s Lover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Police contend Greece’s ambassador to Brazil was killed by his wife’s lover — a military police officer — and the widow is being questioned in the crime, Brazil’s state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported Saturday.

Chief Evaristo Pontes, a police investigator in the Baixada Fluminense state, said Friday that Sergio Gomes Moreira Filho claimed he killed the ambassador in self-defense and then recruited his cousin to help dispose of the body, Agencia Brasil News reported.
Ambassador Kyriakos Amiridis, 59, had been missing since Monday, Pontes said. A burned car with Amiridis’ charred body inside was found in Nova Iguaçu, a town outside Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday, he said.
“He (Moreira) says he got into a physical fight with the ambassador, and he had no choice other than to hit the ambassador and kill him,” Pontes said. “He says he was in desperation and didn’t know what to do, given what had happened, so he asked a cousin for help and they went to make the ambassador’s body disappear.”
Greek ambassador to Brazil Kyriakos Amiridis.

Besides Moreira, the ambassador’s widow, Francoise De Souza Oliveira, and the officer’s cousin, Eduardo Moreira de Melo, are also being questioned, Pontes said.
Pontes said investigators think Oliveira ordered the killing. No charges have been filed.
“She only told us that her lover — let’s call him that — the military policeman, was the author of the crime, executed this crime against her husband,” Pontes said. “She denies taking part.”
Agencia Brasil reported the officer killed Amiridis inside the ambassador’s home in Nova Iguaçu. The officer and his cousin wrapped the body in carpet and put it inside a car, Agencia Brasil reported.
Pontes said the cousin told police Moreira offered “to pay him 80,000 reals (about $24,574) 30 days after the crime, a period after which they thought there wouldn’t be any more problems.”
“All are under temporary arrest for 30 days for the ambassador’s death,” Pontes said. ” As we said before, this was a tragic, cowardly act.”
Amiridis had lived in Brasilia, the capital, since being appointed ambassador in January but usually spent holidays in the house outside Rio, where he was consul-general from 2001 to 2004, Agencia Brasil said.
The news agency said Oliveira was Brazilian.
Speaking to reporters outside the police station, Francisco Oliveira, the widow’s brother, said the couple “did not fight,” reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“For me it’s like a dream,” said Rosangela Oliveira, her mother. “I’ll wake up and nothing will have happened.”
Brazilian President Michel Temer’s office issued this statement: “In this moment of pain and sorrow, I offer, on behalf of the Brazilians, my condolences and solidarity to the government and people of Greece, in particular to the families and people close to Ambassador Amiridis.”
The statement says Brazilian authorities will investigate the incident thoroughly.
“The Brazilian government reaffirms its willingness to collaborate actively with the Greek side, as it has done from the beginning,” the statement said.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing its “deepest sorrow” at the death of Amiridis.
“The late diplomat served at the Permanent Mission of Greece to the EU, at the General Consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Rotterdam and at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade during the first phase of the war in Yugoslavia,” the statement said.

Brazilian cardinal who blamed state for murder of Jew dies at 95

Paulo Evaristo Arns defied regime over death of Jewish journalist and political prisoner Vladimir Herzog in 1975

Source: Brazilian cardinal who blamed state for murder of Jew dies at 95

Colombia plane crash: Flight was running out of fuel, investigators reveal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Colombia plane crash: Flight was running out of fuel, investigators reveal

WORLD Updated: Dec 02, 2016 00:57 IST

Highlight Story

International flight regulations require aircraft to carry enough reserve fuel so they can fly for 30 minutes after reaching their destination in case they need to circle before landing or fly to another airport. (AFP)

The plane that crashed in Colombia killing 71 people including most of a Brazilian soccer team had no fuel on impact, according to initial findings by aviation officials, prompting an investigation into why the plane flew under those conditions.The comments by the civil aviation authority late Wednesday night confirmed Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga’s final words to the control tower at Medellin’s airport on a crackly audio obtained by Colombian media.

“When we arrived at the accident site and were able to inspect the remains we could confirm that the aircraft had no fuel at the time of impact,” said Freddy Bonilla, secretary of airline security at Colombia’s aviation authority.

A recording of the pilot’s final words can be heard telling the control tower the plane was “in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel.”

He requested urgent permission to land before the audio went silent. The BAe 146, made by BAE Systems Plc, slammed into a mountainside next to the town of La Union outside Medellin.

Only six on board the LAMIA Bolivia charter flight survived, including three of the Chapecoense soccer team en route to the Copa Sudamericana final, the biggest game in their history, a journalist and two crew members.

International flight regulations require aircraft to carry enough reserve fuel so they can fly for 30 minutes after reaching their destination in case they need to circle before landing or fly to another airport.

“In this case, sadly, the aircraft did not have enough fuel to meet the regulations for contingency,” Bonilla said in Medellin. “One of the theories we are working on is that finding no fuel at the crash site or in the alimentation tubes, the aircraft suffered fell for lack of fuel.”

LAMIA Chief Executive Officer Gustavo Vargas said on Wednesday it is at the pilot’s discretion to refuel en route. He said plane should have enough fuel for about four and a half hours, more or less depending on weather.

“Weather conditions influence a lot, but he had alternatives in Bogata in case of a fuel deficiency. He had all the power to go to refuel. It’s a decision that the pilot takes,” Vargas told reporters in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Bonillo said weather conditions in Medellin at the time were optimum for a successful landing.

Some have also questioned why Chapecoense used the charter company instead of a commercial airline.

Investigators from Brazil have joined Colombian counterparts to check two black boxes from the crash site on a muddy hillside in wooded highlands near La Union.

Bolivia, where LAMIA is based, and the United Kingdom also sent experts to help the probe.

The club’s vice president, Luiz Antonio Palaoro, said LAMIA had a track record of transporting soccer teams around South America and it had used the airline before.

“We are dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the families and the victims,” Palaoro told reporters in Chapeco. “After that, we are going to have to think about restructuring the team and also in the appropriate legal measures.”

Among surviving players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann’s right leg was amputated, while defender Helio Neto was in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs, and fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery.

Two of the Bolivian flight crew, Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri, were bruised but not in critical condition, while journalist Rafael Valmorbida was in intensive care for multiple rib fractures that partly collapsed a lung.

Rescuers have recovered all of the bodies, which are to be sent to Brazil and Bolivia.

The bodies of Brazilians on the plane have been identified and are being embalmed and prepared for transport by military aircraft back to Brazil, Chapecoense soccer club Communications Director Andrei Copetti told reporters.

He said the coffins will arrive in Chapeco as soon as midday Friday and be taken directly to the club’s stadium for a collective wake that Brazilian President Michel Temer is expected to attend.

Since there was no fire on board, bodies are being identified by fingerprints, Julio Bitelli, Brazil’s ambassador to Colombia, told Reuters.

Brazil Chapecoense football team in Colombia plane crash

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC NEWS AGENCY)

Brazil Chapecoense football team in Colombia plane crash

Remains of aircraftImage copyright TELEANTIOQUIA VIA TWITTER
Image caption The plane crashed in a mountainous area on its way to Medellin

A plane carrying 81 people, including a top Brazilian football team, has crashed on its approach to the city of Medellin in Colombia, officials say.

Reports say there are 25 dead and six survivors.

The chartered aircraft, flying from Bolivia, was carrying members of the Chapecoense football team, airport officials said.

The team was due to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, against Medellin team Atletico Nacional.

The first leg of the final of the cup, South America’s second most important club competition, was scheduled for Wednesday, but has now been suspended.

The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said it was suspending “all activities”.

Chapecoense team at semi-final against Argentina's San Lorenzo - 24 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe team were due to play in the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana
Scene of the crashImage copyright MI ORIENTE
Image caption Rescuers can only reach the crash site by land – local media picture

Chapecoense issued a brief statement saying: “May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.”

It said it would refrain from any further statements until it had assessed the extent of the crash.

Reports suggest that at least two members of the team – Alan Ruschel and Danilo – may have survived.

The sports network Telemundo Deportes tweeted (in Spanish) that Ruschel was in shock but conscious and talking, and asked to keep his wedding ring and to see his family.

The mayor of the nearby town of La Ceja confirmed that a 25-year-old footballer was among the survivors.

He said that 25 people were known to have died.

The team, from the southern city of Chapeco, was promoted to Brazil’s first division in 2014 and reached the final last week after a victory against Argentina’s San Lorenzo.

Reports say the British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by Bolivian charter airline Lamia and carrying 72 passengers and nine crew, crashed in Cerro Gordo in the municipality of La Union shortly before midnight local time (05:00 GMT).

According to an airport press release, it was reporting an electrical fault to the control tower.

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Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez described it as “a tragedy of huge proportions”.

The Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport, which serves Medellin, posted on its Twitter account: “Confirmed, the aircraft licence number CP2933 was carrying the team @ChapecoenseReal. Apparently there are survivors.”

It later said in a statement that “all possible aid was being mobilised because six survivors are being reported”.

Poor weather has meant that the crash site, in a mountainous area, is only accessible by land.

However, there was no fire on impact, which has given rescuers hope that more survivors may be found.

Conmebol said in a statement that its president, Alejandro Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin.

“The Conmebol family greatly regrets what happened. All activities of the confederation are suspended until further notice,” it said.


Chapecoense football team

  • Founded in 1973.
  • Promoted to the Brazilian top division, Serie A, for the first time in the club’s history in 2014. Currently ninth.
  • Were flying to play in the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana – winner qualifies for Copa Libertadores, top continental competition in South America.
  • Were underdogs – facing current Cope Libertadores holders Atletico Nacional
  • Based in the Brazilian city of Chapeco in the state of Santa Catarina.
  • Brazil’s 21st biggest club in terms of revenue at 46m reais ($13.5m/£10.9m)

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

CHINESE President Xi Jinping arrived in the western Indian state of Goa Saturday for a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Leaders of the five countries are expected to discuss BRICS cooperation and other issues of common concern at the Oct. 15-16 summit, themed with “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”

A Goa declaration will be issued when the summit concludes Sunday.

Along with Xi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma will be attending the summit, the eighth of its kind.

The five leaders will hold dialogues with representatives of the BRICS Business Council and state leaders of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries at the summit.

The BIMSTEC, initiated to connect South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

President Xi will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the summit.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, which gathers the world’s five major emerging economies.

The bloc members have seen their cooperation growing over the past decade, especially the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014.

Despite economic headwinds in the BRICS countries and external skepticism about whether the block is losing its power over recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said earlier this month in its latest issue of World Economic Outlook that in emerging market and developing economies, the 2016 growth will accelerate for the first time in six years.

China and India, in particular, will continue their relatively fast pace in growth this year and next, according to the IMF projections. Meanwhile, the IMF cut its 2016 growth prospects for advanced economies following a slowdown in the United States and Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The five BRICS leaders just met last month in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou when China hosted the 11th summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

At their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, President Xi said that BRICS members should enhance coordination to make emerging-market economies and developing countries play a bigger role in international affairs.

BRICS nations are leaders among emerging-market economies and developing countries, and also important members of the G20, Xi said, noting that they should reinforce coordination to build, maintain and develop the BRICS and G20 platforms.

China has been a staunch supporter for and an active participant in BRICS cooperation, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told reporters earlier this week.

“We hope the Goa summit can send out a positive signal of confidence, solidarity and cooperation, help deepen our practical cooperation and promote the cooperation level, enhance communication and coordination on major international issues to safeguard our shared interests, and strengthen dialogue and cooperation with other countries in the region,” Li said at a press conference ahead of Xi’s trip.

India is the final stop of Xi’s Southeast Asia and South Asia tour, which has already taken him to Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Before leaving Bangladesh on Saturday morning, Xi laid a wreath at the national martyr monument in Dhaka.

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