Brazil, Peru, China plan trans-South American railway

Anadolu Agency, 5/9/2015

Brazil, Peru and China are working on an outline agreement to create a new railway that would cross South America, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported Tuesday.

The train line would cross the continent, linking Brazil’s Atlantic coastline with the Pacific Ocean in Peru, and in part boost commodity exports.

Preliminary reports estimate the Transoceanic Railway would cost at least $10 billion, and the Brazilian government hopes Chinese businesses will bid for sections of the project.

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The big picture behind Brazil’s protests

Patrick Gillespie – CNN Money, 3/17/2015

Over a million Brazilians protested in the streets Sunday, calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

A massive corruption case involving the president helped spark the protests, but Brazilians also marched out of frustration that Brazil’s economic boom is over.

South America’s largest economy was last decade’s emerging market darling. Now it’s edging toward recession and its currency is losing value quickly. The corruption scandal and economic collapse are creating a perfect storm for public unrest.

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Venezuela, Brazil Leaned Heavily on Secret Swiss Accounts

AP – ABC News, 2/9/2015

Venezuela was among the top clients for HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, which helped shield wealthy clients around the world from scrutiny and taxes.

A report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and several news organizations reveals that socialist Venezuela ranked third among countries with the largest dollar amounts tucked into secret Swiss HSCB bank accounts, trailing only Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Government and individual clients from the South American oil-producing country accounted for $14.8 billion in accounts, according to leaked data that covers a period ending in 2007.

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Brazil Scientists Fear Golden Mussel Threat to Amazon River

Jenny Barchfield – ABC News, 2/5/2015

The world’s mightiest waterway, the Amazon River, is threatened by the most diminutive of foes — a tiny mussel invading from China.

Since hitching its way to South America in the early 1990s, the golden mussel has claimed new territory at alarming speeds, plowing through indigenous flora and fauna as it has spread to waters in five countries. Now, scientists fear the invasive species could make a jump into the Amazon, threatening one of the world’s unique ecological systems.

“There’s no doubt the environmental effect would be dramatic,” said Marcia Divina de Olivieira, a scientist with the Brazilian government’s Embrapa research agency.

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Oscars 2015 History: How Has Brazil Done at the Biggest Film Awards Show on the Planet?

David Salazar – Latin Post, 1/26/2015

After Argentina, no other South American country has had as strong a performance at the Academy Awards as Brazil.

The South American nation has grown as a center of great film over the last few decades and has made its presence known at the biggest awards show in the industry.

Brazil has managed 18 nominations at the big show, but has yet to win a single award. Brazil does have one film competing at the Oscars this year in the Best Documentary category. That film is “The Salt of the Earth,” which is directed by the legendary Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil, officials downplay water crisis as residents suffer

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 12/13/2014

The water crisis is so bad in South America’s largest city that when rain began to dribble from the sky recently, workers in a downtown office high-rise stood up and cheered, running to the windows to celebrate each drop.

A majority of city residents recently surveyed said their water has stopped flowing at some point, usually at night. In some neighborhoods, people say their homes have no water service at all. Although scientists say that the drought has its roots in such changes as deforestation, analysts say poor planning and political manipulation by local authorities have exacerbated the crisis.

Authorities insist that they have not shut off the supply to any neighborhoods and that problems caused by a loss of water pressure may affect 1% to 2% of homes. They recommend that residents use home water tanks. But they acknowledge that without huge amounts of rain over the next months — “floods,” said National Water Agency President Vicente Andreu — the crisis will intensify.

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Brazil drought crisis leads to rationing and tensions

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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