Chirlane McCray speaks out on cop suicides after ThriveNYC controversy

First lady Chirlane McCray took to Twitter on Tuesday night to speak out about the rash of cop suicides that has shaken the NYPD this year.

Replying to a post from the mayor’s office — which credited McCray’s mental health program, ThirveNYC, for helping the department deal with suicide prevention — the first lady said: “The lives of our NYPD officers are on the line.”

“Now more than ever we need to work together to support our officers as they navigate the huge emotional demand that comes with protecting our city,” McCray added.

She appears to be doing damage control after getting blasted last week over a decision that was made to pull Thrive — which has been panned as a mismanaged money pit — out of a mental health seminar for first responders, all because a pro-cop group was co-sponsoring it.

The $1 billion signature program was supposed to staff the upcoming “mental health first aid training” event with psychological counselors, but pulled its offer once it learned Blue Lives Matter was involved, according to Councilman Joe Borelli.

“This was going to be to train police officers how to recognize signs of depression,” said the Staten Island Republican, while speaking to The Post last Wednesday.

“We had people in the police department who wanted to save lives,” Borelli added, “and now it’s canceled and we have to reschedule it because of the PC environment that de Blasio has caused.”

A city report released back in May found that the need for mental health services had actually grown since the launch of McCray’s initiative.

“Mental-heath-service needs have worsened, as have substance-abuse-disorder needs and developmentally-disabled needs,” the Health Department ­report said.

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Since 2015, Thrive has spent $560 million in taxpayer funds — and it’s expected to have a $250 million annual budget going forward.

“Go away, you hideous hypocrite,” said a Twitter user to McCray on Monday night, in response to her cop suicides tweet. “But before you go…..return that thrive money!!!”

So far, nine cops have taken their own lives this year — including one last Wednesday.

Blue Lives Matter members called the decision by Thrive to pull out of its mental health event, after all that’s happened, “very disheartening.” Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted their claims as “a lie,” and Thrive officials later claimed that they had accidentally “mishandled” the seminar planning.

“This program, it could have done a lot of good things,” said Blue Lives head Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice. “This is the problem: You reach your hand to try to do good things and, in this case, save lives, and because of political agenda they want to pull it back.”

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BBC Weather: Carol Kirkwood warns 55mph gales hurtling to UK as double front strikes

Britain is braced for two fronts to strike the nation over the next couple of days, bringing up to 35mm of rain in some places. Weather conditions are also set to be windy, with gusts reaching up to 55mph. BBC Weather host Carol Kirkwood forecast: “The weather forecast for today is one that is going to become increasingly windy, and some of us will see some rain, and some of that rain will be heavy.

“But for some of us, we will stay dry. So if you take a look at the pressure chart you can see what’s happening, high-pressure building in the south, low pressure coming in from the north-west with its attendant fronts, is going to introduce some rain and strengthening winds.

“So first thing this morning there is a lot of dry weather around, it’s a chilly start, it’s a breezy one as well.

“And as our weather front approaches from the west, it will bring rain initially into Northern Ireland and then western Scotland, and then push across much of Scotland throughout the day, getting into north-west England later on.

“Now there is a chance we could catch a shower around the Midlands or south-west England this afternoon, but they’re going to be hit and miss, most of us will stay dry and the further south it is that you are the more likely you are to hang onto the sunshine.

“But it is going to be windy in the north-west, gusting to 50mph, 55mph, breezy and blustery across much of the UK.

“Temperatures today in the high teens to the low 20s.”

For Thursday, Ms Kirkwood said a new front will bring rain to areas in Scotland before temperatures rise ahead of the weekend.

The BBC Weather presenter said: “Now through this evening and overnight, our weather front continues to sink south, it will bring some heavy rain for a time across north-west England and also north Wales, as it sinks through the Midlands it will weaken.

“On either side of it clear skies, a few showers, but by the end of the night a new front coming into Northern Ireland will introduce some rain.

“That rain tomorrow is going to spread northwards, across Scotland, where we could see as much as 25mm to 35mm of rain in some places.

“Still windy in the north, and as we come further south, while we’re looking at brighter skies, fewer showers and still quite blustery, and some sunshine with temperatures climbing.”


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Speaking earlier this week, Ms Kirkwood forecast temperatures to hit up to 26C on Friday.

The BBC presenter said: “As we head on into Friday, temperatures in the south could hit 26C and we’ll see that warmth spread a little bit further north.”

Former BBC and Met Office forecaster John Hammond of weather trending also predicted warmer temperatures to come in on time for the Bank Holiday weekend later this week.

Mr Hammond said: “Summer lurched from hot to cool and wet, but warmer weather in time for the Bank Holiday will lift the mood of weather-beaten Brits.

“Temperatures should be not far from 30C for some at the end of August.”

Meanwhile, the Met Office forecast humid and wet weather to build in the early afternoon on Wednesday, as clouds develop over Wales and northern England.

Met Office preener Aidan McGivern said: “The showers will get going into the afternoon and there will be some heavy downpours, but in-between there will be some bright spells.”

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Donald Trump says he will risk a 'two month RECESSION' as a price for his China trade war

DONALD Trump yesterday admitted he'd be willing to trigger a two-month recession as a price for his China trade war.

The US President insisted his aggressive policy to take on Beijing's economic might will be worth short-term pain for long-term gain.

Trump brushed off the idea of a recession as "irrelevant" – and said it was imperative to "take China on."

He told reporters at the White House: "It's about time – whether it's good for our country or bad for our country short term."

Responding to a question, Trump added: "Your statement about, 'Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?' OK?

"The fact is somebody had to take China on."


Trump has imposed tariffs on some US imports from China – hurting American manufacturers, financial markets – and some consumers.

The president assured that the US is "very far from a recession" – but called on the Federal Reserve to slash its benchmark interest rate.

But he also said he is considering a temporary payroll tax cut to stimulate faster economic growth.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said later: "The president does not believe we are headed for a recession.

"The economy is strong because of his policies."


It comes as the US economy appears to be showing vulnerabilities after more than 10 years of growth.

Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has waned as he has ramped up his trade war with China.

There are fears in the White House that a slowdown – if not a recession – could arrive just as Trump is seeking reelection.

Trump announced a 10 per cent hike on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports earlier this month – shaking the stock markets.

He later decided to delay some of the tariffs that were slated to begin in September.

It came after 25 per cent tariffs are already in place for $250 million in other Chinese goods.

A survey on Monday showed a big majority of economists expecting a downturn to hit by 2021 amid a recent slowing in the world economy.

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Glencore to expand controversial mining operations at McArthur River in Northern Territory

Glencore has been given the green light to start work on its plans to vastly extend its controversial mining operations at McArthur River in the Northern Territory.

The resource company, McArthur River Mine (MRM), has sought to extend its mining operation until 2048, which will add on a further 1,000 years of rehabilitation and monitoring.

The mine, 1,000km from Darwin, has a potted history, with multiple allegations and instances of contamination of surrounding environment and mismanagement of toxic waste.

In December 2017, Guardian Australia revealed the company had accidentally dumped 63 truckloads of toxic waste near the river the previous year. The incident and the government’s investigation – which produced no report – were kept out of the public eye.

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Guardian Australia has sought further information about the investigation through freedom of information laws, but almost two years later later is yet to receive any documents, for reasons that include objections from MRM.

In 2013, the suburb-sized waste rock pile combusted, and the resulting fire burned for more than a year, sending toxic smoke into the atmosphere. The incident prompted the NT’s environment protection authority [NTEPA] to demand MRM redo its environmental impact statement if it wanted to extend its operation.

On Tuesday, the NT minister for primary industry and resources, Paul Kirby, announced he had granted approval for an amendment to MRM’s mine management plan, “creating a pathway for the implementation of all 30 recommendations made by the [NTEPA]”.

The approval means that “under strict regulatory conditions” MRM can now start work on its overburden management project.

“Ongoing development of the mining industry in the Northern Territory is important,” Kirby said. “Our government expects it to be done in a sustainable and responsible manner, maximising economic benefits while focusing on minimising environmental impact.”

The NT’s approval followed federal approval from the commonwealth in June, a decision that came with a 3019 expiry date and which was not made public until revealed by BuzzFeed last week.

The amended plan also increases the company’s security bond, from $487m to almost $520m, which Gavin Mudd, associate professor at RMIT and chairman of the Mineral Policies Institute, described as “paltry”, given far less complex projects of similar scale required around $1bn.

Mudd said there were welcome aspects to the amendments, including the unprecedented stipulation that the mine’s environmental management plans must be made public, and three-yearly enforced reviews of monitoring policies.

However, parts of it were contradictory, he said, noting dual requirements that the health of McArthur River be protected from mine related impacts along its whole length at all times, and that its water quality “show improving trends” within 20 years of the cessation of mining.

“If you’re protecting the health of McArthur River there shouldn’t be anything getting out of the mine anyway,” he said.

He said the river quality should be tested against a benchmark of being a pristine environment, not “as an already impacted river”.

The chief executive of the Northern Land Council, Marion Scrymgour, said the approval was the latest example of traditional owners and Aboriginal people who lived in and around Borroloola being ignored.

“Aboriginal people in the mine area have consistently been denied involvement in decision making related to the mine, and have not seen the economic benefits that a native title mining agreement would justly bestow,” she said.

The approval also raised questions around the required establishment of an independent review panel, the set-up of which the mine will “assist” and fund.

Mudd said there were at least six critical areas of importance that required specific expertise on the panel for it to be properly monitored.

“The underlying subtext is it’s a problematic site with underlying issues and we need a good panel of experts to independently review everything.”

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He said Glencore and the NT government would do well to have community-nominated experts on the panel, in part as recognition of their loss of social licence for the mine over previous years.

The NT government’s decision puts pressure on the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, the only remaining procedural roadblock for MRM.

The AAPA has not yet granted a certificate to MRM allowing it to almost double the height of its waste rock pile. The height is currently restricted to go no higher than 80m – the height of nearby Mount Stubbs, a Barramundi Dreaming site for local clans.

MRM has said it has an agreement with traditional custodians to increase the height but its validity has been disputed by some traditional owners and local people. Accidentally published government briefings in 2017 also cast doubt on it.

The NLC’s Scrymgour said the NT government’s decision was “premature”.

“Minister Kirby knows that an Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority certificate has not been obtained for the expansion of the Northern Overburden Encapsulation Facility and yet he has approved it anyhow,” she said.

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Killer cop who shared a cell with Jeffrey Epstein requests jail move

‘There will be a price to pay’: Killer cop who shared a cell with Jeffrey Epstein requests move to a different jail after ‘guards threatened him to stop him talking about how the former billionaire was able to commit suicide’

  • Nicholas Tartaglione, 51, is now requesting to be transferred from the Metropolitan Correctional Center after allegedly being threatened by guards 
  • He’s purportedly been told to ‘shut up’, ‘stop talking’ and ‘stop complaining’, with questions looming about how Epstein was able to commit suicide 
  • Tartaglione briefly shared a cell with Epstein inside the detention center, during which time the accused sex trafficker ‘attempted to suicide for the first time’
  • Suspicions had been rife that Tartaglione inflicted the injuries found on Epstein’s neck, after he was found unconscious on the floor of his cell on July 23 
  • ‘The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay’ 

The former cellmate of Jeffrey Epstein has claimed prison guards have been threatening him to make him ‘shut up’ about speaking out over the circumstances surrounding the former billionaire’s suicide, according to a new legal filing.

Ex cop-turned-felon Nicholas Tartaglione, 51, is now requesting to be transferred from the Metropolitan Correctional Center after allegedly being told to ‘shut up’ and ‘stop talking’ about how Epstein was able to commit suicide in federal custody.

Tartaglione briefly shared a cell with Epstein inside the detention center, during which time the accused sex trafficker allegedly attempted to suicide for the first time.

Suspicions had been rife that Tartaglione inflicted the injuries found on 66-year-old Epstein’s neck, after he was found unconscious on the floor of his cell on July 23.

The pair were then separated into different cells, long before Epstein killed himself on August 10.

Ex cop-turned-felon Nicholas Tartaglione, 51, is now requesting to be transferred from the Metropolitan Correctional Center after allegedly being told to ‘shut up’, ‘stop talking’ about how Epstein was able to commit suicide in federal custody

Tartaglione briefly shared a cell with Epstein inside the detention center, during which time the accused sex trafficker allegedly attempted to suicide for the first time

‘The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay,’ Tartaglione’s attorney Bruce Barket said in a letter to White Plains federal Judge Kenneth Karas.

‘Whether or not the investigators into the suicide chose to interview Mr. Tartaglione about the attempted suicide to which he was witness or about how the facility is run and the conditions under which the inmates are forced to live, the correction officers know he has information potentially very damaging to the very people now charged with guarding him or their coworkers.’

Tartaglione is currently facing the death penalty, with prosecutors accusing him of murdering four people in a drug deal gone wrong in upstate New York, back in 2016.

After his first suicide attempt, Epstein told his lawyers that the former police officer ‘roughed him up, and that’s why they got him off suicide watch’, Tartaglione’s attorney said.

Barket, however, fiercely denied the accusations, telling NBC News: ‘We’ve always maintained Nick did nothing wrong and that’s clearly been borne out here by the jail itself.’

He added that his client was cleared of any involvement the day before Epstein’s death and wouldn’t face charges or internal discipline.

‘The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay,’ Tartaglione’s attorney Bruce Barket said in a letter to White Plains federal Judge Kenneth Karas

After his first suicide attempt, Epstein told his lawyers that the former police officer ‘roughed him up, and that’s why they got him off suicide watch’, his attorney said. Barket, however, fiercely denied the accusations, telling NBC News: ‘We’ve always maintained Nick did nothing wrong and that’s clearly been borne out here by the jail itself’

Barket’s letter also speaks of the prison’s ‘deplorable conditions’, including ‘serious rat infestation’, as one of several reasons requesting his client be moved, the NY Post reported.

Tartaglione is due to reappear in court on Wednesday as part of a scheduled hearing.

An investigation was launched into how Epstein could have had the opportunity to take his own life despite having been on suicide watch two weeks before his death.

It was later confirmed he was taken off suicide watch.

Epstein was moved to his own cell and was supposed be checked on every 30 minutes.

Tartaglione is currently facing the death penalty, with prosecutors accusing him of murdering four people in a drug deal gone wrong in upstate New York, back in 2016

The warden at MCC, Lamine N’Diaye, has since been reassigned to a new prison.

In a letter officially notifying the court of Epstein’s death, N’Diaye confirmed the July incident would be referenced in the probe carried out by the FBI and the Justice Department Office of Inspector General.

‘One open question, among others, is whether the investigations referenced in your letter will include the incident at MCC involving Mr. Epstein on or about July 23, 2019,’ Judge Richard Berman wrote in and August 12 response. ‘To my knowledge, it has never been definitively explained what the BOP concluded about that incident.’

N’Diaye did not offer up what the conclusion was in his reply.

He wrote: ‘I can confirm that, although an internal investigation was completed regarding the July 23, 2019 incident, the current investigations by the FBI and OIG will include this incident as well. Accordingly, I cannot divulge any information about the prior investigation at this time.’

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Jeffrey Epstein an ‘evil genius’ for filing will in the Virgin Islands

Jeffrey Epstein is still making trouble for his alleged victims from the grave.

By filing his will in the US Virgin Islands, the pedophile added another layer of difficulty for his sex-abuse accusers to get a piece of his estate, several lawyers told The Post on Tuesday.

“He is in some way as brilliant in death as he was in life — an evil genius,” said James Marsh, a lawyer for two Epstein accusers who added that he would either hire an associate in the Virgin Islands to help him navigate the court system there or have to pass its bar exam himself.

Scores of lawsuits have been filed against Epstein, including five in Manhattan since he hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell Aug. 10.

Nearly all of the suits will have to be refiled, since they don’t name the executors of Epstein’s will as required after his death, said a lawyer for one accuser.

The lawsuits can still continue to be filed in Manhattan, the lawyers noted — but any settlements ordered by the courts in New York would have to be doled out in the Virgin Islands, likely with the help of an attorney licensed there, they said.

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Trump HUMILIATED after sharing approval ratings from ’worst poll in the world’

The poll shared by Trump claimed his benchmark approval rating was considerably higher than almost every other poll. Trump’s approval rating was pegged at 51 percent in the poll created by the firm Zogby. Real Clear Politics compiled an average of Trump’s approval ratings working it out to be 43.1 percent, with his disproval ratings at 54.4 percent.

Trump shared a picture of the Zogby poll on Twitter in response to the results.

He Tweeted: “THANK YOU! #MAGA”

The poll is known to consistently skew results in favour of Trump and the Republicans.

FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver condemned Zogby for its online polls.

He published an article about the firm on his website in 2009 claiming it was “the worst pollster in the world”.

In the article he claims Zogby “violate the most basic precept of survey research which is that of the random sample”.

He said: “As you might infer, they obtain absolutely terrible results.

“These Internet polls, simply put, are not scientific and should not be published by any legitimate news organisation.”

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Polling experts claim the methods the polls use are often not transparent.

Rutgers University political science professor David Redlawsk claimed no attention should be paid to to the firm.

He told The Atlantic: “Any poll where they don’t provide detailed methodological information should actually be ignored.”

Fans of Trump took to Twitter to share in his celebration of the Zogby poll.


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One tweeted: “The 2020 Trump landslide is incoming. Who is with me?!”

Another said: “We love you President Trump.”

Other Twitter users were not so sure of Trumps high scoring polls.

Christopher Zullo TweetedL “Donald Trump is the fake news you seek.”

Another Twitter user said: “Zogby? Really? The only polls that Trump sees are in his imagination.”

One user, @felonrouscat, said: “Even with that poll half of the country disapproves.”

This follows Trump’s recent Twitter rant after a Fox news poll revealed his low approval rating meant he was on track to lose the 2020 election.

Trump blamed the media coverage of his repeated racism in the drop of approval ratings.

He Tweeted: “The reporting is so fake, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke.

“With all that this Administration has accomplished, think what my Poll Numbers would be if we had an honest Media, which we do not!”

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Trump refuses to meet Danish PM after plan to purchase Greenland rejected – ‘No interest!’

Last week it emerged that the US President had held serious talks with US officials concerning the potential purchase of Greenland from Denmark. When the news broke, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters that Trump’s talk of purchasing the island, and the chance of Denmark selling the island, was “an absurd discussion”. In predictable style, Trump has cancelled the meeting that was supposed to take place between himself and the Danish PM next month. Using Twitter to break the news, the US President tweeted: “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.

“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”

Questions have been asked of why Trump would want to buy the island in the first place, and what purpose it would serve the US.

One reason many have argued can be found in a tweet sent out by the President yesterday, in which a photo of Trump Tower can be seen photoshopped onto the shores of Greenland.

This was accompanied by the sarcastic caption: “I promise not to do this to Greenland.”

Ms Frederisken has previously told Danish broadcaster DR: “It’s an absurd discussion, and Kim Kielsen (Greenland’s premier) has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale. That’s where the conversation ends.”

The Wall Street Journal claimed that Trump asked advisers whether the US could acquire Greenland and listened to their explanations over its geopolitical significance as well as potential natural resource accumulation.

While some supported the prospect of the US buying the island, the newspaper reported that others dismissed it as “fleeting fascination” that will never happen.

On Sunday, Trump confirmed that he had recently discussed the possibility of buying the island, though he said it was not an immediate priority.

He said: “The concept came up and… strategically it’s interesting. (Although) it is not number one on the burner – I can tell you that.”

Greenland has a population of just 56,000 and is an autonomous region of Denmark, following Danish colonisation that began in 1721.

Trump is not the first president to speculate buying Greenland – former president Harry Truman went one step further and made an offer of $100million in gold.

The president’s move mirrors that of the US Secretary of State William Seward ’s purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for a fee of $7.2million.

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Capital One data breach suspect seeks release from jail

Lawyers for a transgender woman charged in a massive data breach at Capital One asked a judge Tuesday to release her from federal custody, saying that for her to remain jailed with men is a serious threat to her mental health.

Paige Thompson, a talented computer programmer from Seattle who goes by the online handle “erratic,” was arrested last month after the FBI said she obtained personal information from more than 100 million Capital One credit applications. There is no indication she sold or distributed the data.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday before Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson on whether Thompson will remain at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac pending trial. Prosecutors say she should because she presents a flight risk and is a danger to herself and others. They said she has “a long history of threatening behaviour that includes repeated threats to kill others, to kill herself, and to commit suicide by cop,” and that in May police investigated after she made threats to shoot up a California social media company.

In a response filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, her attorneys, federal public defenders Mohammad Hamoudi and Christopher Sanders, asked for her to be released to a halfway house where she would have better access to mental health care.

They cited the other suicides and suicide attempts in federal pretrial detention _ including the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein _ as evidence that such facilities are ill-equipped to support defendants suffering from serious mental health issues. And, they said, a psychiatric evaluation of Thompson performed by Dr. Matt Goldenberg noted that feminizing hormones had created permanent changes in Thompson, including breast growth, that could put her at higher risk of abuse.

“The risk of being continuously misgendered and becoming a target for intimidation by other inmates is likely increased in a male facility,” Goldenberg wrote. “Longterm placement in a men’s facility will likely increase Paige’s gender dysphoria, depression, and risk of suicide.”

Thompson’s lawyers also filed a letter of support from the American Civil Liberties Union urging her release.

“The conditions that many transgender women face in prison result in lifelong trauma, adverse health consequences, and at times, death,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio wrote to the court. “Too many end up being abused or engaging in self-harm in the midst of trauma and emotional crisis.”

The defence lawyers argued that there is no evidence to support the government’s argument Thompson might flee, and that in fact she has always co-operated when contacted by law enforcement before. Following the threat to the social media company, a Seattle police officer wrote in a report, “I am familiar with Paige Thompson and my unit has a response plan for her,” and found she had no means or money to travel to California.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Andrew Friedman and Steven Masada anticipated that Thompson’s lawyers would seek her release on mental health grounds in a memorandum filed earlier this month.

“Thompson’s mental-health conditions are long-standing and well-known to Thompson,” they wrote. “And Thompson made the threats and committed the crimes that counsel against her release, even while apparently receiving mental-health treatment. There is no reason to believe that any mental-health treatment that Thompson might receive while on release would be any more effective in reducing the danger that Thompson would pose than her prior treatment.”

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Sao Paulo shrouded in darkness as Amazon rainforest continues to burn

In the middle of the afternoon on Monday, the Brazillian city of Sao Paulo suddenly descended into darkness.

“It was as if day had turned into night,” Sao Paulo resident Gianvitor Dias told the BBC.

“Everyone here commented because even on rainy days it doesn’t usually get that dark,” Dias said. “It was very impressive.”

Several shared photos of the city on social media, saying it looked “apocalyptic.”

The darkness lasted just over an hour.

What caused the darkness?

According to Global News meteorologist Ross Hull, a few factors came together at “just the right moment” to place Sao Paulo under a shroud of darkness.

“A frontal boundary which helps to create lift and condensation was the catalyst for thunderstorms to move in,” he said. “Lightning and thunderstorms were actually reported at the airport in Sao Paulo on Monday, and you can see lightning flashes in some of the images from the event.”

Hull says this would have contributed to the darkened skies.

“Add to that the fact that the upper level winds, as well as the front, helped to steer smoke from fires burning northwest of the city in a more remote parts of Brazil,” he said.

“These factors all came together to reduce visibility and enveloped this part of Brazil in an eerie, dark haze.”

According to Copernicus EU — The European Union’s Earth Observation Programme — smoke from wildfires burning in Amazonia had reached the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo on Monday.

According to Copernicus EU, there has been increased fire activity in the states of Amazonas and Rondonia since August 1.

Wildfires on the rise

Earlier this month, the state of Amazonas declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of forest fires in the area.

Last week, NASA released satellite images which depicted large swathes of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia affected by the fires and smoke.

And, according to data released by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) earlier this week, forest fires in Brazil have risen by more than 80 per cent this year.

Since Thursday, INPE said satellite images spotted 9,507 new forest fires in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon basin, home to the world’s largest tropical forest which is seen as vital to countering climate change.

What is causing the fires?

Scientists from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) have said the Amazon has suffered losses in the Amazon at an “accelerated rate” since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January.

However, speaking at a press conference last month, Bolsonaro said the data “doesn’t relate to the reality.”

Shortly after, Bolsonaro fired the director of INPE.

When asked about the spread of uncontrolled fires, Bolsonaro brushed off criticism, saying it was the time of the year of the “queimada” or burn, when farmers use fire to clear land.

“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” he told reporters. “But it is the season of the queimada.”

INPE said the large number of wildfires could not be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone.

While wildfires are common in the dry season, they are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.

INPE researcher Alberto Setzer told Reuters that there is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is “just a little below average.”

“The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident,” Setzer said.

By Tuesday afternoon #prayforamazonia was trending on Twitter globally.

“I really can’t express how sad I am,” one Twitter user wrote. “Someone save [the] Amazon.”

“This is bad,” another user wrote. “Earth’s lungs are in flames.”

— With files from Reuters.

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