To Brazil’s consternation, hordes of young Argentines make themselves at home after World Cup

July 25, 2014

AP – Fox News, 7/25/2014

Lucas Bazan Pontoni rifled through his pockets for the 45-cent lunch fee as he stood in line at a downtown soup kitchen. When he came up short, an acquaintance sprang for the government-subsidized meal.

One of about 160,000 Argentines who flooded into Brazil for the World Cup, Pontoni hardly fits the image of deep-pocketed foreigners who dropped around $3 billion in Brazil during the monthlong tournament. The 23-year-old actor is broke, and he has no immediate plans to return home almost two weeks after Germany beat Argentina in the July 13 final.

“Brazil is amazing, and I want to stay,” said Pontoni, who had been camping out in Rio’s Sambadrome Carnival parade grounds, lunching at soup kitchens and searching for an odd job to cover bus fare to see northern Brazil. “It could be weeks or months or longer. I’m going to see where life and the road take me.”

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Temple in Brazil Appeals to a Surge in Evangelicals

July 25, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 7/24/2014

It occupies an entire block in this teeming megacity: a 10,000-seat rendition of Solomon’s Temple.

Towering in sharp relief against the graffiti-splattered tenements nearby, it beckons with monumental walls of stone imported from Israel and the flags of the dozens of countries where its owner, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is nourishing an evangelical Christian empire.

A helicopter landing pad will allow Edir Macedo, the 69-year-old media magnate who founded the Universal Church in a Rio de Janeiro funeral home in 1977, to drop in for sermons. The sprawling 11-story complex features other flourishes, too, like an oasis of olive trees similar to the garden of Gethsemane near Jerusalem, and more than 30 columns soaring toward the heavens.

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Dour Outlook For Brazil May Be Exaggerated: A Contrarian Take

July 25, 2014

Jim Cahn – Nasdaq, 7/25/2014

With the World Cup having put it in the spotlight, Brazil is getting a lot of critical attention, including reports that the country is unprepared to host the 2016 Olympics. Between those two events are the pivotal October elections, which will determine if South America’s largest country is going to stick with populist policies and price controls or start doing some very unpopular things to mitigate inflation and revitalize the stagnating economy.

Its domestic growth production is restrained in the 2% range, its foreign imbalances have grown, the currency is being hammered and even the often slow-to-react ratings agencies have cut Brazil from BBB to BBB-.

But frankly, it’s not all that bad. In fact, the outlook for certain sectors is quite good, especially consumer goods, finance and infrastructure.

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Brazil to Spend Record $600 Million to Boost Olympic Medal Hopes

July 24, 2014

Tariq Panja – Bloomberg, 7/23/2014

Brazil’s Olympic Committee will spend a record $600 million in an attempt to secure a top 10 medals ranking when the Summer Games take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Through a combination of public and private funding, the country will prepare 400 athletes with the aim of as many as 30 medals, 13 more than the the team achieved at London 2012. For that event, Brazil, which was joint 14th place on the total medals ranking, spent $350 million. It was 22nd in gold medals.

Hosting duties gives Brazil responsibility to outperform its previous records, said Marcus Vinicius, director of sport at Brazil’s Olympic Committee.

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​​Dozens of Activists in Brazil Were Arrested Not for Protesting the World Cup, but for Possibly Planning to Do So

July 23, 2014

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia – Global Voices, 7/22/2014

A day before the final World Cup match, 28 people opposed to hosting the tournament in Brazil were arrested “preemptively” at their homes in the city of Rio de Janeiro on the early morning of July 12. Police suspected they would engage in violent acts during a protest scheduled for the next day and accused them of “forming an armed gang” based on what activists and alternative media are calling false evidence.

A total of 37 people were arrested as part of Operation Firewall; some were detained simply for having a connection to the activists. Most were released, but five are still in jail waiting to be brought before the court or indicted.

Police reportedly found weapons, masks and explosives at some of the homes of those arrested, but activists have disputed the claim, saying that only knee pads, a tear gas mask, newspapers and a flag were seized. A 16-year-old, one of two minors detained, was accused of forming an armed gang based on a gun belonging to her father discovered in the house she was in, according to the collective Rio na Rua.

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Brazil Boosts Security in “Pacified” District

July 22, 2014

Latin American Herald Tribune, 7/22/2014

Brazilian authorities on Monday strengthened security in a cluster of Rio de Janeiro shantytowns that were officially pacified four years ago after decades as a bastion of drug traffickers.

The additional police presence follows a violent weekend.

A police officer was wounded, two vehicles were burned and a police base was attacked on Sunday night by suspected drug dealers who evidently were acting in reprisal for the death of a young man during a gunfight and the jailing of one of their associates, Rio state police said.

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Rio Olympics organizers can glean lessons from Brazil’s World Cup

July 21, 2014

Mimi Whitefield – Miami Herald, 7/19/2014

Brazil has barely said tchau to the World Cup, but it has no time for a breather. In two years, Rio de Janeiro will be throwing out a welcome mat to the world as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Only three countries — the United States, the former West Germany and Mexico — have had such a short turnaround between hosting duties for the two biggest sports events on the planet. In the 1930s, however, both the United States and Germany hosted summer and winter Olympics in the same year.

Despite misgivings about everything from security to transportation to whether stadiums would be finished on time, Brazil managed to pull off a successful FIFA World Cup. That’s a positive omen for the Aug. 5-21, 2016 Olympics and Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.

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Former exec of Brazil’s Petrobras charged with fraud

July 18, 2014

EFE – Fox News Latino, 7/17/2014

Prosecutors have filed fraud charges against an erstwhile executive of Petrobras and eight other suspects over alleged gross overbilling for a contract, the latest corruption scandal to rock the Brazilian state-controlled oil giant.

Petrobras’ former chief international officer, Jorge Luiz Zelada, is accused of favoring Brazil’s Odebrecht in a 2010 auction in which the construction group was awarded an $825.6 million contract, the Rio de Janeiro state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Also under investigation are Odebrecht’s contract director, Marco Antonio Duran, and the Petrobras attorneys, technicians and engineers who were involved in the alleged fraud related to a project to adapt Petrobras’s assets in 11 countries.

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Brazil tracks World Cup lessons for Rio Olympics

July 18, 2014

Stephen Fottrell – BBC, 7/18/2014

The World Cup may be over, but in just two years’ time Brazil will once again brace itself for an influx of huge numbers of visitors, sports fans and tourists for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 2014 tournament has generally been regarded as a success, in the face of many doubts inside and outside Brazil.

So what can the country learn from the experience that can help it to host its next major sporting event? BBC Brasil’s Renata Mendonca looks at the lessons learned and the challenges ahead for Brazil.

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Brazil’s Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rose in May on World Cup

July 17, 2014

David Biller – Bloomberg, 7/16/2014

Brazil’s retail sales in May unexpectedly rose as consumers shopped for domestic goods in preparation for the World Cup soccer tournament.

Sales rose 0.5 percent after a 0.4 percent decline the previous month, the national statistics agency said today in Rio de Janeiro. That was above forecasts from 34 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median estimate was for sales to decline 0.1 percent.

May’s sales marked the first growth since January as shoppers cope with accelerating inflation and higher interest rates. Consumer confidence that in May fell to a more than five-year low has since rebounded. President Dilma Rousseff saw a bounce in support ahead of October elections as she labors to pull the country from the slowest growth of gross domestic product for any president in more than two decades.

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