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Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Driving the news: The vote comes after a six-month investigation by an 11-member committee investigating Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic.

  • The committee recommended 12 charges for Bolsonaro, including inciting crimes, charlatanism and misuse of public funds.
  • It also recommended he face charges for the genocide of indigenous people and two counts of "crime of responsibility."

What they're saying: Sen. Renan Calheiros, the report's lead author, accused Bolsonaro after the vote of being "on the side" of dictators, such as Adolf Hitler, according to Reuters.

  • "The chaos of Jair Bolsonaro's government will enter history as the lowest level of human destitution," Calheiros said.

Background: Bolsonaro has repeatedly flouted restrictions meant to curb the virus' spread, despite surging cases and his country having the second-highest tally of COVID-19 deaths in the world.

  • He has advocated for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus despite a lack of evidence.

By the numbers: The 11-member committee voted 7-4 in favor of the charges, per AP.

What's next: The case will now go to prosecutor-general Augusto Aras, who will decide whether the investigation should move forward. Aras is a Bolsonaro appointee and is widely viewed as someone who protects the president, per AP.

  • The crimes against humanity charge will need to be pursued in the International Criminal Court.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Calheiros' comment.

Go deeper

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting aspects of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

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