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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

California governor declares drought emergency in most counties

A sign in April on the outskirts of Buttonwillow in California's Kern County, one of the top agriculture producing counties in the San Joaquin Valley, after historically low winter rainfall. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover 41 of the state's 58 counties on Monday.

Why it matters: Most of California and the American West are experiencing an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, per the U.S. Drought Monitor. Newsom and other officials are concerned California could experience a repeat of the catastrophic 2020 wildfire season.

Pelosi's Republican playbook

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Republicans fight among themselves, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is showing the myriad ways she deals with the GOP herself.

Between the lines: We've seen Pelosi cut opponents off at the knees, like she did with President Trump, or pretend to forget their names, as she did to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Now she's feeding oppo research against her House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), so others can use the same harsh rhetoric to frame the Republicans as the party of dysfunction.

Exclusive: Houston mayor to lead Black mayors group

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks during a private funeral for George Floyd. Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez/Pool/Getty Images

The mayor of the city where George Floyd was raised is taking over a group that represents 500 Black mayors in the U.S. amid national pressure to revamp police departments.

Why it matters: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will become the new president of the African American Mayors Association as municipalities across the country examine police reforms and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.