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A fire burns after spreading onto a farm along a highway in Nova Santa Helena municipality in northern Mato Grosso State, south in the Amazon basin in Brazil, on August 23. Photo: JOAO LAET / Contributor

Brazil prepared for an "unprecedented" operation, deploying 44,000 troops starting Saturday to fight the fires that have blanketed the Amazon region and prompted anti-government protests, as well as global condemnation and widespread concern, reports AP.

Why it matters: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known as a far-right populist and climate science cynic, authorized use of the national military to battle the blazes on Friday as international pressure mounted. French leader Emmanuel Macron led the charge, threatening to block a European Union trade deal with Brazil had Bolsonaro failed to act, reports the New York Times, adding, "The moves zeroed in on a sensitive spot for Brazil’s pro-business leader: the country’s fragile economy."

By the numbers: There have been 40,341 fires in the Amazon already this year, per the NYT. More than 1,330 square miles have been torched in the first 7 months of 2019.

  • Per the AP, the military will use two C-130 cargo planes to drop as much as 12,000 liters of water on the flames.
  • Reality check: Brazil's dry season often results in wildfires, but the country has not seen "blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade," per the NYT.

What's next: Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said G7 leaders would discuss the fire in the Amazon over this weekend.

  • However, "...it is far from clear whether [Bolsonaro] will reconsider any of the policies that, experts say, have contributed to the rapid pace of deforestation since he took office in January," the NYT notes.

Go deeper

13 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

15 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.