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The week at a glance...Americas

Americas

Medellín, Colombia
Girl smuggler caught: An 11-year-old girl who was visiting a relative jailed on gun charges and a 25-year-old woman accompanying her had already made it through one security check when they were stopped at a second prison checkpoint last week. Guards observed an irregular shape beneath the girl’s sweater and investigated. They found a .38-caliber revolver and 74 cell phones, including two BlackBerries, taped to her back. The girl and the woman, who claimed to be the girl’s sister, were both detained. Medellín became notorious in the late 1980s as the home of one of Colombia’s most powerful drug cartels. Last week’s smuggling attempt occurred just days after it was revealed that a convicted former Colombian politician had hosted a grand birthday bash at his jail in Bogotá.

Amazonas, Brazil
Drought adds to carbon: A widespread drought in the Amazon rain forest last year caused the forest to produce more carbon dioxide than it absorbed, according to a study by British and Brazilian scientists published last week. The finding raises fears that the massive rain forest—25 times the size of Britain—could accelerate, rather than slow, emissions of heat-trapping gases. Water in the Río Negro—the Amazon’s main tributary—hit a record low last year, eclipsing the so-called “100-year” drought of 2005. In severe droughts, vegetation rots, emitting carbon dioxide. Dr. Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds in the U.K., who led the study, said: “If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rain forest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change to a major source of greenhouse gases that could speed it up.”

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