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Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Brazil's Amazon rainforest is facing rapid deforestation under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The Amazon, the largest and most biodiverse rainforest on the planet, plays an essential part in slowing global warming. The seas of greenery absorb and store carbon dioxide, preventing the gas from overwhelming our atmosphere. But when trees are plowed, carbon has nowhere to go, risking further increases in global temperatures.

The big picture: Bolsonaro campaigned on opening up the Amazon to new economic ventures. Just 7 months into his presidency, he's keeping true on the promise, with the Brazilian part of the rainforest shedding 1,330 square miles of forest cover — 39% more than was lost during the same period last year, according to the Times. About 80% more forest cover was lost this June compared to 2018.

  • Bolsonaro has also cut the budget for Brazil's main environmental agency by 24%.
  • A New York Times analysis showed environmental enforcement measures like fines or seizures have fallen 20% in the first 6 months of the year compared to 2018.
  • The administration has hinted at the possibility of ending a $1.3 billion Amazon restoration fund, fueled in part by Germany and Norway. Bolsonaro has said that the "Amazon is ours, not yours," and insisted it should not be a concern to non-Brazilians.

Between the lines: Deforestation for the sake of economic growth had already been a marketable stance prior to Bolsonaro's leadership. Per the New York Times: "As the economy plunged into a recession in 2014, the country became more reliant on the agricultural commodities it produces — beef and soy, which are drivers of deforestation — and on the powerful rural lobby. Land clearing began to tick upward again."

Go deeper: Deforestation of Brazil's Amazon rainforest reaches decade high

Go deeper

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.

CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers

Rochelle Walensky listens during a confirmation hearing on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats release full text of Biden's $3.5T reconciliation package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday unveiled the full text of President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Why it matters: Democrats are racing to finish negotiations and get the bill on the floor as soon as possible so Pelosi can fulfill her promises to both House centrists and progressives about the timing and sequencing of passing the party's dual infrastructure packages.