Ghana World Cup fans seek asylum in Brazil

July 14, 2014

Al Jazeera, 7/12/2014

Hundreds of Ghanaian Muslims who entered Brazil as tourists for the World Cup have asked for asylum on religious grounds, police have said.

Noerci da Silva Melo, a federal police officer in the southern city of Caxias do Sul, said on Friday that 200 Ghanaians had asked for asylum after entering Brazil legally to watch their team play in Natal, Fortaleza and Brasilia.

Melo said the Ghanaians were Muslims who were “fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups”.

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In shadow of Brazil World Cup, a nonprofit builds fields of hope

July 14, 2014

Rick Maese – The Washington Post, 7/11/2014

 From afar, the Complexo do Alemão favela looks like Legos dropped from the sky, a mountain of small building blocks stacked one atop another in no discernible pattern. With an estimated population of at least 100,000 people, the favela is one of Rio’s largest. Historically, it has also been one of its most dangerous.

The endless maze of small boxy homes and narrow pathways is located about 5 ½ miles from the famed Maracana stadium, site of the World Cup’s title match Sunday. But soccer isn’t that far away. In fact, it’s never been closer.

A nonprofit co-founded by Washington native Drew Chafetz is responsible for the favela’s giant year-old soccer field with red fencing wrapping around the perimeter. At the same time Brazil’s municipal governments and soccer officials scrambled to construct and refurbish a dozen World Cup stadiums, Chafetz and his modest outfit have been busy building their own fields around Brazil, working with considerably smaller budgets and with sights set on an impact that will continue to be felt long after this World Cup.

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Why rob a Samsung factory in Brazil? For millions of dollars’ worth of tablets, phones and laptops.

July 9, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/8/2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Outrageous crimes happen with a certain frequency in Brazil. Bank robbery by way of a tunnel painstakingly dug from a nearby building is one favorite. ATMs are regularly ripped out of supermarkets and blown up, with mixed results. Dangerous criminals constantly fail to return to prison from holiday visits home (these are allowed, as are conjugal visits). Crime, in Brazil, can —and often does — pay.

But the daring robbery at a Samsung factory in Campinas in the early hours of Monday took the biscuit. An armed gang spent hours loading an enormous haul of cellphones, laptops and tablets onto a fleet of trucks, which then split off in different directions.

“They carried it off in approximately seven trucks and left the place with 40,000 products,” a spokesman for Campinas police told The Washington Post by telephone. Local media said $36 million worth of merchandise was stolen, based on preliminary reports. Samsung said Monday night that $6.3 million in goods were stolen and that just 50 employees were held.

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Declassified Documents Given By Biden to Rousseff Detail Secret Dictatorship-Era Executions, “Psychophysical” Torture in Brazil

July 8, 2014

Peter Kornbluh – The National Security Archives, 7/3/2014

Ato "Ditadura Nunca Mais: 50 anos do Golpe no Brasil" | DOI-CODI São Paulo SP - 31/03/2014

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ninja Midia.

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public yesterday. Among the torture techniques used during the military era, the report detailed “special effects” rooms at Brazilian military detention centers in which suspects would be “placed nude” on a metal floor “through which electric current is pulsated.” Some suspects were “eliminated” but the press was told they died in “shoot outs” while trying to escape police custody. “The shoot-out technique is being used increasingly,” the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro noted, “in order to deal with the public relations aspect of eliminating subversives,” and to “obviate ‘death-by-torture’ charges in the international press.”

Because of the document’s unredacted precision, it is one of the most detailed reports on torture techniques ever declassified by the U.S. government.

Titled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives,” it was among 43 State Department cables and reports that Vice President Joseph Biden turned over to President Dilma Rousseff during his trip to Brazil for the World Cup competition on June 17, for use by the Brazilian National Truth Commission (CNV). The Commission is in the final phase of a two-year investigation of human rights atrocities during the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985.  On July 2, 2014, the Commission posted all 43 documents on its website. “The CNV greatly appreciates the initiative of the U.S. government to make these records available to Brazilian society and hopes that this collaboration will continue to progress,” reads a statement on the Commission’s website.

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Brazil Evictions Continue Near Future Olympic Sites

July 7, 2014

Scott Bobb – Voice of America News, 7/7/2014

Football’s World Cup in Brazil is drawing to a close leaving great sporting memories. It also leaves a legacy of controversy over evictions and land dispossessions that made way for the event. The scenario is repeating itself as Brazil prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Vila Autodromo is a community of low- and moderate-income families in western Rio de Janeiro.

It was established more than 40 years ago outside a racetrack that once hosted events like the Formula One Grand Prix. That facility has since been razed.

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Robbers Take Advantage Of Brazil Travelers As World Cup Fever Has Fans Distracted

July 2, 2014

AP – Fox News Latino, 6/30/2014

Distracted by the World Cup atmosphere, American fan Jack Smith slipped his card into an ATM in a Rio airport.

He believes the card was cloned in an instant and, over several days before he discovered it, his account was debited for $12,000, a loss he said his bank would cover.

“I’ve probably met 60 people here, and 20 have been hit,” said Smith, of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Of course these were for smaller amounts, although somebody told me they were out $6,000. But I’m scared. I won’t ever use an ATM machine here.”

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Cybercrime Scheme Aims at Payments in Brazil

July 2, 2014

Nicole Perlroth – The New York Times, 7/2/2014

SAN FRANCISCO — Security researchers have uncovered what they believe is a significant cybercrime operation in Brazil that took aim at $3.75 billion in transactions by Brazilians.

It is unclear what percentage of the $3.75 billion worth of compromised transactions was actually stolen. But if even half of that value was redirected to criminals, the scope of the swindle would eclipse any other previous electronic theft.

The thieves preyed on Boleto Bancário, or Boletos, a popular Brazilian payment method that can be issued online and paid out through various channels like banks and supermarkets, said the researchers at the RSA Security division of EMC Corp.

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Brazil’s World Cup Of Cyber Attacks: From Street Fighting To Online Protest

June 19, 2014

Federico Guerrini – Forbes, 6/17/2014

Spear-phishing, DDoS attacks, malware. While people are protesting in the streets of São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro against the organizers of the FIFA World Cup, which they see as an useless waste of money, taking place while the majority of the population is still struggling to make a living, another conflict is raging online.

The report “The State of the Art of Digital Guerrilla during the 2014 Brazilian World Cup” (the link is to the Italian version, English version coming soon), released yesterday by Italian security company Tiger Security is a journey into the darker side of the competition, with hacktivists and cyber criminals both, for different reasons, casting a shadow of what otherwise should have been – and in part, still is – a cheerful event.

Tiger Security (whose work has been first covered by has been commissioned, together with other companies, to protect the Brazilian administration’s digital infrastructure before and during the event, making it well situated to comment and report on what’s going on.

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The legacy of Brazil’s World Cup protests

June 18, 2014

Mimi Whitefield – Miami Herald, 6/18/2014

Protesters in a handful of Brazilian cities have clashed with police, thrown rocks, and dodged rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters since last week’s opening of the World Cup.

But this year’s protests are different from the massive demonstrations during the 2013 Confederations Cup when more than 1 million mostly middle- and lower-middle-class Brazilians took to the streets on a single night.

In the year since the Confederations Cup, there have been hundreds of protests across Brazil. But recent demonstrations are smaller, more targeted for specific interests — including labor demands for higher salaries — and often more violent.

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Security beefed up at World Cup venue where guards fail to show

June 18, 2014

Alonso Soto – Reuters, 6/17/2014

Some private security guards failed to show up at the World Cup stadium where hosts Brazil played Mexico on Tuesday, forcing Brazilian authorities to bring in reinforcements to secure the crowded venue.

Some of the private security personnel hired by soccer’s world governing body FIFA did not turn up for work at the Castelao stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, where Brazil drew 0-0 against Mexico in front of a 60,342 crowd.

“FIFA had hired the number of security guards needed for the game, but for some reason that we don’t know they didn’t show up,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of police enforcement and public security in Brazil.

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