Brazil probes Olympics threats after group backs Islamic State

Reuters, 07/20/16

Brazil’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday it was investigating all threats to next month’s Rio Olympics after a presumed Brazilian Islamist group pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) less than three weeks before the Games.

The SITE Intelligence Group that monitors the internet reported that a group calling itself “Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil” said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that it followed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and had promoted IS propaganda in Arabic, English and Portuguese.

Brazilian authorities stepped up security measures following the truck massacre in Nice last week, planning security cordons, further roadblocks and the frisking of visitors in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.

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Brazil’s Olympic Greeting: Welcome to Hell

Beth McLoughlin – U.S. News, 07/18/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — In Brazil’s oldest favela of Providencia, Diego Deus lives with his wife and 6-month-old son. He can walk to work at the Museum of Modern Art, a gleaming new addition to the city’s port zone that has been redeveloped in advance of this summer’s Olympic Games.

Unemployment has been steadily climbing in Brazil, a country in its worst recession since the 1930s, but Deus is one of many Rio residents who has found work directly or indirectly as a result of the Games. Proud of his neighborhood, he resisted being moved when 200 people were evicted to renovate Providencia.

“They wanted to take my house out [to build a cable car], but I resisted,” Deus says. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else. It might seem strange to say it, but I feel safe here, I can go out and leave my door open. People look out for you.”

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Rio mayor Eduardo Paes: ‘The Olympics are a missed opportunity for Brazil’

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 07/11/2016

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, believes crisis-hit Brazil has missed the opportunity of the Olympic Games to showcase itself on the global stage – but in an interview with the Guardian, strongly denied that Rio’s billion-dollar Olympic investment has ignored the poorer parts of his city.

Every host city faces controversy in the build-up to the mega-event, but a combination of recession, security breakdowns, the Zika epidemic, the Brazil president’s impeachment, budget cuts, infrastructure delays, environmental scares and complaints about displacement and gentrification have inflicted serious damage on the images of both Brazil and Rio.

“This is a missed opportunity,” Paes acknowledged. “We are not showcasing ourselves. With all these economic and political crises, with all these scandals, it is not the best moment to be in the eyes of the world. This is bad.”

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Will Rio Be Ready? Brazil Stumbles to Olympics Finish Line

Paulo Sotero, Paulo Prada, Jules Boykoff and Alan Abrahamson – KCRW/NPR, 07/06/2016

One month to go until the Olympic Games and Brazil is in a state of emergency. But it’s not just political and economic crises — athletes have been mugged at gunpoint, venues are unfinished or perhaps unsafe, the Olympics mascot was shot dead… Can it get any worse?

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Leader of Brazil’s Rousseff Impeachment Resigns From Top Job

Associated Press – The New York Times, 07/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — The man who led efforts to impeach Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff resigned on Thursday as speaker of the lower house of congress, but kept the congressional seat that could help shield him from corruption charges.

Brazil’s top court already had suspended Eduardo Cunha from his duties over allegations of obstructing justice and corruption, including holding Swiss bank accounts worth millions of dollars in bribes.

Cunha kicked off the proceedings against Rousseff in December 2015, accusing her of violating fiscal laws, which the embattled leader denies.

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Missing ex-Gitmo detainee unnerves Brazil

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 07/06/2016

Brazilian police are trying to locate a former detainee of the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay after reports of his disappearance from Uruguay caused alarm in the country only a month before it is due to hold the 2016 Olympics.

The Uruguayan media reported that the former US prisoner, Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, had been missing from his adopted home for three weeks and had possibly gone to Brazil.

“The federal police states that it has taken diverse measures and until now there is no confirmation of the entrance or presence of this foreigner on national soil,” the Brazilian federal police said in a statement.

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Brazil Replaces Antidoping Agency Chief

Will Connors – The Wall Street Journal, 06/30/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil has replaced the head of its antidoping agency just weeks before the Olympics begin, adding to the uncertainty around efforts to keep the Summer Games clean.

The move comes after the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month suspended the Rio lab that was to be the center of athlete drug testing during the August games.

Marco Aurélio Klein will be replaced by  Rogério Sampaio, a former Olympic judo athlete, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Sports.

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