Brazil’s Amazon city of Manaus sees surge in violence

BBC News, 7/21/2015

They began after a police officer was shot dead outside a bank. Several killings happened at almost exactly the same time, suggesting co-ordination.

Officials are investigating whether they may be part of a drug gang war or the result of police officers avenging the death of their colleague.There are normally between two and three murders a day in the city.

The nature of the shootings has raised suspicions of police involvement.Local officials say that another possible explanation could be local drug gangs settling scores.

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Bertelsmann sets up Brazil fund in education push

Harro ten Wolde and Georgina Prodhan – Reuters, 7/16/2015

German media company Bertelsmann is putting up as much as 100 million euros ($109 million) to set up a fund to invest in education companies in Brazil, it said on Thursday.

Bertelsmann wants to make education a third pillar of its business alongside media and services, aiming to grab a billion-euro slice of the fragmented $5.5 trillion global market in which the biggest single player is Britain’s Pearson .

Europe’s largest media group, which controls broadcaster RTL and book publisher Penguin Random House, said it would take nearly 40 percent in the fund with a target endowment of 800 million Brazilian real ($255 million).

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Brazil: man’s lynching compared to slave flogging

Emmanuelle Saliba – NBC News, 7/10/2015

A shocking newspaper cover – comparing a recent lynching to the treatment of slaves – has gone viral in Brazil.

“From trunk to pole,” declared the cover headline of the newspaper “Extra,” comparing a 200-year-old public slave flogging to the lynching Monday of Cleidenilson Pereira da Silva.

According to reports, residents took matters into their own hands in São Luís, a city located in northern Brazil, after da Silva, 29, and a teenager attempted to rob a bar. Silva was caught, stripped naked, tied to a pole and beaten to death, the O Estado newspaper reported. Angry residents also threw a variety of objects at him, including stones and bottles. The teenager was brutally beaten.

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Brazil’s prison system faces ‘profound deterioration’ if youth crime law passes

Bruce Douglas – The Guardian, 6/29/2015

Brazil’s justice minister has described his country’s violent and overcrowded prison system as “terrible” and warned that it will only get worse if congress votes this week to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

José Eduardo Cardozo ordered the early publication of a justice ministry report on prison overcrowding ahead of a vote on Tuesday over legislation which would reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 for serious offences involving violence.

The new statistics show that Brazil’s prison population has doubled in the last 10 years and now contains more than 220,000 inmates over its capacity. Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will add up to 40,000 more inmates to the system, Cardozo said.

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Another defeat for Brazil’s kids

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 6/25/2015

This month, public school teachers from the state of São Paulo announced the end of their three-month-long strike — without any of their demands having been met. For the first time since it began, the strike reached the front page of a major newspaper; it had been mostly neglected until then. The headline declared: “Defeated, São Paulo’s Teachers Put an End to Their Strike.”

It was the longest teachers’ strike in the state. They maintained to the end their demand of pay parity with other college-educated professionals — which would ultimately have meant a 75 percent salary increase. This is a steep rise in public salaries, but the parity principle is part of the National Educational Plan, a law adopted last year with support from President Dilma Rousseff. According to that plan, parity is to be achieved by 2020.

The teachers also demanded smaller classes, with at most 25 students. The secretary of education stipulates a maximum of 40 students in high school classes, but last February, at the beginning of the school year, there were accounts of classes with 85 or 95 enrolled students. As if that weren’t bad enough, the state government shut down more than 3,000 classes this year, according to the teachers’ union for São Paulo State.

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Violent clashes at Brazil teachers’ protest in Curitiba

BBC News, 4/30/2015

More than 200 people are reported to have been injured in clashes between police and teachers protesting in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at demonstrators in the southern city on Wednesday. Officers said they had been forced to act when a group of protesters tried to break through police lines around the state legislative assembly.

The teachers were protesting against proposed changes to their pension. Curitiba city officials said 213 people had been injured. The emergency services reported that eight were in a serious condition in hospital.

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Experts give their prescriptions for Brazil as the commodity boom ends

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 3/25/2015

Brazil’s economy has slowed sharply. The brakes were applied by the end of the commodity supercycle that occurred in the first decade of the 21st century combined with rapid credit growth.

The debate in Brazil has returned to the vexed question of how to make one of the world’s most inward-looking economies more competitive.

The answer lies in improving education, streamlining taxation, simplifying bureaucracy in general, and fixing infrastructure. But beneath these concepts are complex questions that run as deep as Brazilian politics and culture itself.

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