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Brazil’s Spiral Of Bloodshed, A One-Day Homicide Record

Among the world's many gloomy corners, it is hard to get any gloomier than Brazil. After a drug war broke out among several criminal groups, leading to huge prison riots and the death of close to 100 inmates, what looks like a worrying yellow fever outbreak and the death of the Supreme Court judge leading the ongoing Lava Jato ("Car Wash") anti-corruption probe, the northern city of Belém set a new 24-hour record for the number of homicides in a locality, with 30 deaths.

As Folha de S. Paulo reports, the wave of killing started on Friday morning, after a 29-year-old military police officer, Rafael da Silva Costa, was killed during a shootout with criminals he was chasing. By Saturday morning, 30 more people had been killed around the city, with at least 25 of them showing signs of having been executed, local security officials said. "We are considering the possibility that these crimes were committed in reaction to the policeman's death, but we can't say this with certainty yet," the Pará state's security secretary Hilton Benigno told reporters. Witness reports would seem to confirm this, pointing out that many of the killings looked like they had been the work of militia gunmen, driving around in black cars.

Some of the victims just seem to have found themselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Among them, a 23-year-old cab driver, whose family say he was not a criminal and "just minding his own business." "Nobody knows why they've killed him," a cousin of the driver told another Folha de S. Paulo reporter.

As a result of the wave of bloodshed, many people decided to keep their shops closed over the weekend. "We're scared because anybody could be next," mechanic José Henrique Nunes said. "On the one hand, you have the local criminals we all know. On the other, you have the militiamen driving around and killing people."

In one neighborhood where a man was killed with 13 bullets on Friday afternoon, some people locked themselves up at home. "We avoid leaving the house out of fear. We're surrounded by violence on all sides," a 21-year-old student and neighbor of the victim said.

The authorities, however, consider that the situation was brought under control before noon on Saturday. Between 12 p.m. on Saturday and the same time on Sunday, "only" six people were killed. That would be seen as an awful and utterly unacceptable lot in some places — but in Belém, it's just an average weekend.

The explosion of crime is hardly limited to Belém. In the coastal city of Natal, in the Rio Grande do Norte state, public transport was interrupted on Thursday after a wave of criminal attacks in which 26 buses, as well as five government cars and three public buildings, were torched. This happened despite — or perhaps because of — the presence of military police at the city's Alcacuz prison, where at least 26 inmates were killed over the past 10 days. In Natal too, the situation eventually returned to normal and public transport services resumed on Monday. But how long it will last is anybody's guess.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why Poland's Break With Ukraine Weakens All Enemies Of Russia — Starting With Poland

Poland’s decision to stop sending weapons to Ukraine is being driven by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party's short-term electoral calculus. Yet the long-term effects on the world stage could deeply undermine the united NATO front against Russia, and the entire Western coalition.

Photo of ​Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Lutsk, Ukraine, on July 9

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Lutsk, Ukraine, on July 9

Bartosz T. Wieliński


WARSAW — Poland has now moved from being the country that was most loudly demanding that arms be sent to Ukraine, to a country that has suddenly announced it was withholding military aid. Even if Poland's actions won't match Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s words, the government has damaged the standing of our country in the region, and in NATO.

“We are no longer providing arms to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland,” the prime minister declared on Polsat news on Wednesday evening. He didn’t specify which type of arms he was referring to, but his statement was quickly spread on social media by leading figures of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

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When news that Poland would be withholding arms to Ukraine made their way to the headlines of the most important international media outlets, no politician from PiS stepped in to refute the prime minister’s statement. Which means that Morawiecki said exactly what he meant to say.

The era of tight Polish-Ukrainian collaboration, militarily and politically, has thus come to an end.

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