Clashes erupt in Brazil as police evict squatters from high-rise

September 17, 2014

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 09/16/2014

Clashes between police and squatters resisting eviction paralyzed Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning, as streets were emptied and the center of South America’s largest city was filled with tear gas and smoke from at least one torched city bus.

Large-scale demonstrations and street conflicts have taken place periodically across Brazil since June 2013, but had largely subsided since the beginning of the World Cup soccer tournament this June.

Chaos returned on Tuesday, however, after the forced eviction of members of the FLM, or Front to Fight for Housing, one of the many groups living in abandoned buildings in the city’s center. More than 70 people were arrested in the melee.

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Brazil drought crisis leads to rationing and tensions

September 5, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 9/5/2014

From his front door to the banks of the Cantareira reservoir, José Christiano da Silva used to stroll only a hundred metres when he first moved to the area in 2009. Today, amid the worst drought in São Paulo’s history, he must now trek a kilometre across the dried-up bed before he reaches what’s left of the most important water supply for South America’s biggest city.

“It’s frightening to look at,” says the retiree, standing on cracked mud. “In the past, we’d already be under water here.” After the driest six months since records began 84 years ago, the volume of the Cantareira system has fallen to 10.7% of its capacity, raising alarms for the nearby urban population of 20 million people and the most important economic hub on the continent.

The drought, affecting Brazil’s southeast and central regions, has prompted rationing in 19 cities, undermined hydropower generation, pushed up greenhouse gas emissions and led to squabbles between states vying for dwindling water resources.

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Brazil Could Save Its Atlantic Forests for Just $200 Million a Year

August 29, 2014

Douglas Main – Newsweek, 8/28/2014

The forests surrounding some of Brazil’s biggest cities, like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are home to a dizzying variety of life, with iconic species like golden lion tamarins (pictured above), maned three-toed sloths and red-tailed parrots. A total of 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are found in Brazil’s Atlantic forests, and nearly 200 types of birds live there and nowhere else.

But these forests are disappearing as farmers clear them for agriculture and as towns spread outward; less than 15 percent of the original forest cover remains.

The good news is that scientists have calculated that it would cost a relatively small amount to pay the area’s farmers to protect their own land by not developing it. By their estimate, it would cost Brazil $198 million annually—or 6.5 percent of what the country currently spends on agricultural subsidies—to preserve enough land to harbor a sustainable level of flora and fauna, the scientists wrote in a study published today (August 28) in the journal Science.

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Brazil Vows Water Supply Is Under Control as Basins Dry

August 28, 2014

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 8/28/2014

The state of Sao Paulo is facing its worst drought in eight decades, threatening the water supplies for 20 million people — but you wouldn’t know that by asking Brazil’s elected officials.

Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, who is seeking re-election in October, has been minimizing the crisis for the region, which includesSouth America’s largest city. The reaction is a far cry from the response in drought-stricken California, where Governor Jerry Brownhas declared a state of emergency and residents are being fined for watering their lawns.

Sao Paulo state is already rationing water for more than 2 million people in 18 cities. The capital city’s main reservoir is now at only 12 percent of capacity, according to the water utility Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp. While the utility received a warning at the end of July that it risks running out of drinking water in 100 days, officials vow the situation is under control.

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São Paulo: the biggest, strongest start-up ecosystem in Brazil

August 27, 2014

Jonathan Moules – Financial Times, 8/26/2014

The TechnoLatinas, as South America’s digital founders are collectively known, have a strong presence in the financial capital of Brazil.

São Paulo has the largest and most powerful start-up ecosystem in this most populous of South American countries, with a spread of companies from early stage to more established.

As the main financial centre of Latin America, it hosts almost all the offices of multinational corporations present in the region. There is also a big opportunity locally in terms of market size, thanks to São Paulo’s population of 11.8m.

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Ermirio de Moraes, head of Brazil’s Votorantim for decades, dies

August 25, 2014

 

Guillermo Parra-Bernal – Reuters, 8/25/2014

Antonio Ermirio de Moraes, the businessman who helped forge Brazil’s largest industrial conglomerate, died in São Paulo after battling Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade. He was 86.

 

Ermirio de Moraes, who reportedly owned about 25 percent of Grupo Votorantim, died late on Sunday of heart failure, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters. In a statement, Grupo Votorantim said his burial will take place in São Paulo’s Morumbi cemetery on Monday.

Forbes Magazine recently recalculated his net worth to about $3.9 billion, down from $12.7 billion last year, after uncovering an ownership split at the conglomerate. The rest of Grupo Votorantim is controlled by two of his siblings and their heirs, according to Forbes.

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New species of non-venomous snake discovered in Brazil

August 20, 2014

Odisha Sun Times, 8/20/2014

Scientists from four Brazilian institutions have announced the discovery of a new species of non-venomous snake that inhabits the savannas in the central part of the country.

The new serpent has been dubbed Atractus Spinalis and belongs to the Dipsadidae family, found in several countries of the Americas and some Caribbean islands.

The snake was found and identified by scientists of the federal universities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, who carried out their studies in collaboration with researchers from the Brazilian National Centre for Research and Conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians, and with the support of the Boticario Group Foundation for Nature Protection.

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