Days after wildfires burned their way toward the shuttered Chernobyl nuclear power complex, dangerous smog filled the air of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city. According to Swiss monitor IQAir, Kiev had the highest level of air contamination of major world cities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ahead of Hangzhou, Chongqing and Shanghai in China. Residents of greater Kiev were warned to keep their windows closed. In April 1986 nuclear fuel in Chernobyl’s unit 4 exploded and burned, spreading radiation across Europe.
(“Fires Near Chernobyl Make Kiev Air the Most Polluted in the World,” Reuters, April 16, 2020; “Wildfires Dangerously Close to Chernobyl Site,” The Guardian, April 13, 2020)
After weeks of disputes inside Brazil’s government over social distancing policies to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro fired his popular health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. The firing caused a major uproar with protesters taking to the streets of many cities, banging pots and pans. With 2,000 acknowledged deaths from the coronavirus, Brazil now braces for new cases — and rumors that Bolsonaro himself may have contracted the virus. The president was among a group of Brazilian officials who traveled to the United States in early March, 23 of whom have since tested positive for COVID-19.
Across the country, advocates for immigrants have filed lawsuits to force the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release detainees at risk of contracting the coronavirus. In some cases, ICE has released immigrants, but elsewhere, judges have rejected petitions for the release of inmates held in detention centers where there have been outbreaks of the coronavirus.
(“ICE ignored coronavirus Guidelines in Detention, Federal Lawsuit Says,” Miami Herald, April 13, 2020; “Covid19 Concerns Prompt Hunger Strike and Protests,” Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2020;)
This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.