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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A charred trunk is seen on a tract of Amazon jungle that was recently burned by loggers and farmers in Brazil. Photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

The Amazon rainforest is burning faster than usual, it's most likely because of humans clearing land for agriculture, and it will make efforts to fight climate change harder if it doesn't stop fast.

Why it matters: "By one recent estimate, the trees of the Amazon rainforest pulled in carbon dioxide equivalent to the fossil fuel emissions of most of the nine countries that own or border the forest between 1980-2010," the BBC reported.

The big picture: Amazon deforestation has sped up under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. Fires in the region are up 77% from last year, and the dry season has just gotten started.

  • As of last month, an area of the Amazon the size of Los Angeles had burned, per the BBC.
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest. Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Between the lines: It always burns in the Amazon during the dry season. But "natural fires are very rare in the Amazon, so all, or almost all, the fires we are seeing are set by humans," Global Forest Watch's Mikaela Weisse told the N.Y. Times.

  • "It is definitely something to be concerned about, especially with more research coming out about reaching a tipping point."

Bolsonaro isn't just unconcerned — he's made the ludicrous suggestion that the fires are being started by NGOs.

  • “It could be, it could, I’m not saying it is, a criminal action by these N.G.O. people to call attention against me, against the Brazilian government."

The bottom line: The Amazon may not belong to all of us, but what happens there affects all of us.

An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil August 22, 2019. Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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