Brazil dam disaster: Toxic red mud threatens endangered wildlife in Rio Doce basin

David Sim, International Business Times, 11/24/2015 

The collapse of the dam caused Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster. Sixty million cubic metres of iron ore waste – enough to fill 25,000 Olympic-size swimming pools – engulfed villages and contaminated rivers in south-east Brazil on 5 November.

Eleven people were killed and 12 people remain missing, presumed buried in the mud.

Brazil dam


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Brazil’s Real Rises Ahead of Congressional Vote on Fiscal Target

Paula Sambo, Bloomberg, 11/24/2015

Brazil’s real rose ahead of planned vote in congress for the fiscal target and as the central bank stepped up support for the currency.
The real climbed 0.4 percent to 3.717 per U.S. dollar at 11:29 a.m. in Sao Paulo. The government is working to gather support among lawmakers to guarantee approval of a change to this year’s fiscal target and next year’s budget guidelines ahead of a vote that could happen as early as Tuesday, Valor Economico reported. The chances of approval have improved, the newspaper said.

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Brazil trade minister says new Argentina leader ‘music to our ears’


Brazil’s trade minister said on Monday that the election of pro-business candidate Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s next president is good news for trade relations between the South American neighbours.

Macri, the centre-right mayor of Buenos Aires, ended more than a decade of leftist Peronist rule in Sunday’s election after promising to overturn the free-spending populism of outgoing President Cristina Fernandez.

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Brazil’s Opposition Also Has A Problem

Forbes, Kenneth Rapoza, 11-23-2015

Brazil’s opposition has a problem. If President Dilma Rousseff is sacked, and this is looking less likely at the moment, there is no guarantee that would get a shot at a new election before 2018. If they did, the Social Democrats (PSDB) would win. They’d be piloting Brazil’s beleaguered ship of state around a black hole. Sorry, Dilma haters…the PSDB will not save you.

At least not anytime soon.

What does the opposition get by trashing Dilma? Nothing. They get nothing but hopes for an impeachment; a process that is being led by Eduardo Cunha, a former Dilma ally implicated in the Petrobras bribery scandal. A money-launderer who lied to Congress about some $5 million he has in a Swiss bank account. Although Cunha is not part of the PSDB party, this is the man they have relied on to stir things up in Congress and give Dilma the boot.

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Is Dilma Rousseff the Comeback Kid of Brazil?

The Observer, 11-23-2015

n the 1970s, a young Dilma Rousseff wanted to change Brazil through revolution. But something went wrong during a meeting with fellow Trotskyists and Brazil’s military dictatorship arrested the young guerrilla fighter whose main nom de guerre was Estela. She managed to survive three years in jail as well as torture, including electric shocks to her hands and feet. Fast forward to 2010: a leftist technocrat turned into a novice politician, she was anointed by then-president Lula as the Labor’s Party (PT) presidential candidate. She won election by pledging to leverage the social and economic achievements brought both by the Lula and the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administrations through a “new economic matrix.” Packaged in a posh marketing strategy in the 2010 and 2014 campaigns, Ms. Rousseff’s popular platform called for credit expansion, tax cuts and investment in infrastructure.

But as she finishes the first year of her second term (2015-2018), her country struggles with a recession and she faces a political crisis that could lead to her impeachment.

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Is Brazil nearly out of fresh water?

Christian Science Monitor, 11-23-2015

Once considered “the Saudi Arabia of Water,” Brazil is now nearly deplete of it.

As drought continues to scorch Southeastern Brazil to unprecedented degrees, Sao Paulo primary water reservoir, the Cantareira, has been reduced to its last drops. As of August, it is 17 percent of capacity.

As for the residents of Sao Paulo, NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and Lauren Migaki report, conservation groups predict there may only be enough water to last five more months.

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Vale workers fear for safety after Brazil’s Samarco disaster

MARTA NOGUEIRA, Reuters, 11/20/2015 

Workers at Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA fear for their safety after the Samarco dam burst in the town of Mariana, where the company was reducing the number of employees because of weak ore prices, despite its push for output and complaints about safety.

A tailings dam at Samarco, a joint iron ore venture of mining majors BHP Billiton and Vale SA, unleashed 40 million cubic meters of mud on the valley below on Nov. 5, killing 11 people with 12 still missing.

For Ronilton Condessa, secretary of the Metabase labor union in Mariana, where Samarco is the main employer, in Minas Gerais state’s iron belt, the dam’s collapse is evidence of the risks the company is taking with its people.

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