Vladimir Herzog died in military custody nearly 30 years ago in what remains one of the most notorious cases of human rights abuse in Brazil. Now the publication of a pair of photographs said to have been taken in his last hours has reopened that old wound and widened differences between the armed forces and the left-wing government that is now in office here. \nThe army's attempt, decades after the episode, to justify its treatment of Herzog and several hundred other political prisoners has enraged public opinion here. Though President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has moved to discipline the army, the resurfacing of the case has also exposed other violations that may prove harder to address. \n"The immediate political problem may have been resolved, but the deeper one has not," Joao Luiz Pinaud, president of the government's Special Commission on the Death and Disappearance of Political Prisoners, said. "The residue of an authoritarian system is still there, concealed in the shadows." \nIn interviews last week, the military intelligence agent who supplied the photographs, Jose Alves Firmino, has also raised eyebrows by saying that military intelligence continued clandestinely to spy on left-wing parties and politicians, unions and social movements long after military rule ended. He said that during the mid-1990s he even monitored da Silva's activities, offering a photograph of himself with the future president as proof. \nHerzog, a Sao Paulo television journalist, was summoned for questioning at intelligence headquarters there on Oct. 25, 1975, on suspicion that he had Communist ties, the government has said. He died the same day after being tortured. The military called his death a suicide, and made public a photograph, later proved to have been staged, that showed Herzog hanging from a belt in his cell. \nHis death became a symbol of the military dictatorship's excesses, though an amnesty precluded any attempt to bring those responsible to justice. But the Herzog case has been addressed in books, films and television programs over the years, and when the Brasilia daily Correio Braziliense learned that photographs of Herzog, jailed, naked and in despair had been found in the archives of a congressional committee, where they had been sent by Firmino some years ago, it interviewed him and made them public. \nThe armed forces maintains that all relevant official documents about human rights abuses were legally destroyed after civilian democratic rule was restored in 1985. But Firmino says they are part of a trove of 50,000 documents that a military officer gave him a few years ago.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and