BRASILIA (AFP) -- Brazil on Sunday deployed two Hercules C-130 aircraft to douse fires devouring parts of the Amazon rainforest, as hundreds of new blazes were ignited ahead of nationwide protests over the destruction.
Heavy smoke covered the city of Porto Velho in the northwestern state of Rondonia where the defense ministry said the planes have started dumping thousands of liters of water, amid a global uproar over the worst fires in years.
Swathes of the remote region bordering Bolivia have been scorched by the blazes, sending thick smoke billowing into the sky and increasing air pollution across the world's largest rainforest.
Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem this year.
At least seven states, including Rondonia, have requested the army's help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops are based and available to combat fires, officials said.
The fires have triggered a global outcry and are a major topic of concern at the G7 meeting in Biarritz in southern France.
NEW DELHI (AFP) -- Authorities on Sunday defended blocking opposition Indian politicians from visiting Muslim-majority Kashmir, saying it was to "avoid controversy" weeks after stripping the restive region of its autonomy and imposing a major clampdown.
India's Hindu-nationalist government has been criticized by the main opposition Congress party over the contentious move on August 5 that brings Kashmir -- which has waged an armed rebellion against Indian control since 1989 -- under its direct rule.
The region remains under strict lockdown with movement limited and many phone and internet services cut, although authorities say they have been easing restrictions gradually.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, still a key figure in India as a scion of the powerful Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, was earlier invited by local governor Satya Pal Malik to visit Kashmir.
But video released by Congress showed Gandhi questioning officials about why he was stopped from entering Kashmir's main city of Srinagar at the airport on Saturday.
HONG KONG (Dispatches) — Police in Hong Kong used tear gas Sunday to clear rioters who had taken over a street and brought out water cannon trucks for the first time in the summerlong protests.
The skirmish on a main drag in the outlying Tsuen Wan district followed a march that ended in a nearby park. While a large crowd rallied in the park, a group of hardline rioters took over a main street, strewing bamboo poles on the pavement and lining up orange and white traffic barriers and cones to obstruct police.
After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Rioters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police. The result was a surreal scene of small fires and scattered paving bricks on the street between the two sides, rising clouds of tear gas and green and blue laser lights pointed by the protesters at the police. The rioters eventually decided to abandon their position.
BIARRITZ, France (Reuters) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, it will no longer legally owe the 39 billion pound divorce bill agreed by his predecessor Theresa May.
Earlier British media reported Johnson would use a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk on the sidelines of the G7 Summit to set out that Britain would pay less than 10 billion pounds of the settlement if it leaves without a deal.
Sky News said the figure was 9 billion pounds, while the Sunday Times reported British government lawyers had concluded the amount Britain was legally obliged to pay could be as low as 7 billion pounds.
"I think what the entire European Union understands is that if we come out without a deal then...the 39 billion is no longer legally pledged,” Johnson told Sky News, when asked if he had told EU leaders this week he planned to withhold the money.
GOMA, Congo (Reuters) -- Congolese authorities and health workers vaccinated more than 200,000 people against Ebola in August, the government said on Sunday, using a Merck vaccine they hope will help rein in the world’s second worst epidemic.
Figures released by the government’s Ebola committee showed that 204,044 people had been inoculated since August 8. A total of 1,980 people have so far died in this epidemic, of 2,950 people suspected to have been infected — clinically confirmed cases are a little lower, at 2,845.
It remains the second biggest death toll in the disease’s history, after a 2014-16 outbreak in West Africa that killed 11,300 people.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Wednesday it will fund the manufacturing of Merck & Co Inc’s investigational Ebola vaccine called V920. Another vaccine by Johnson and Johnson is available but authorities have yet to deploy it for fear of creating confusion among an already skeptical and sometimes hostile population.