Haribo: sweetened with forced labor and abused animals

In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery." Read the rest

Watch a waterfall suck swimmers through a rock into a cave

Pedra Que Engole means "swallowing rock," an accurate name for a small Brazilian cave accessible only via waterfall. Read the rest

Why did this man pull a gun on someone else in a snack bar?

This footage, dated to August 19, 2017, shows a man (in a white tee) in line with his family at a snack bar in Brazil. There's another man (in a blue hooded sweatshirt) next in line. The family appears to be ordering their food. The man waiting in line behind them is tinkering around on his phone, as one does. All of a sudden, the man in the white tee whips out a gun and threatens the man in the blue sweatshirt.

The footage is low-res and there's no sound. What was the man in the white shirt afraid of? Perhaps they know each other and are sworn enemies?

Well, you'd never guess, but it turns out that it's a cop who thought the guy in the hooded sweatshirt looked suspicious.

At least we can take comfort in the fact this sort of thing doesn't happen in America! Read the rest

Brazil's Lula found guilty of corruption and money laundering, sentenced to 9.5 years in prison

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been found guilty of corruption charges stemming from a scheme at the state oil company, Petrobras. He will remain free on appeal. Lula remains a very popular politician with widespread public support.

Read the rest

The Malta Files: a European version of the Panama Papers, revealing a global web of corruption

On Friday, a variety of news outlets around the world published the Malta Files, a cache of 150,000 documents leaked "from a Malta-based provider of legal, financial and corporate services," revealing, among other things, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was secretly given a $25M oil tanker (!) by Azeri billionaire Mübariz Mansimov, a "friend" of Trump's who was present at the inauguration. Read the rest

In Paraguay, the "heist of the century" is blamed on a notorious Brazilian prison-gang

50 armed men in camou flak jackets driving armored cars cordoned off the roads leading to a transportation company's office in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay (a "smugglers' haven in the border region with Brazil and Argentina"), blew the entire face of the building up with demolition equipment, stole an estimated $40M and escaped by motorboat up the Parana River. Read the rest

Hackers hijacked a bank's DNS and spent 5 hours raiding its customers' accounts

Kaspersky Labs reports that an unnamed large Brazilian financial institution with $27B in assets was compromised by hackers who took over its DNS -- by hijacking its NIC.br account -- and for 5 hours were able to impersonate the bank to all its online customers (and possibly to control its ATMs) in order to plunder their accounts and steal their credit card details. Read the rest

The neoliberal politicians who impeached Brazil's president and took over are imploding in spectacular corruption scandals

Last June, a group of business-friendly right-wing politicians staged a legal coup and had president Dilma Rousseff removed, putting convicted fraudster Michel Temer in her office, which he used as an auction-block from which to sell off his country's crown jewels at knock-down prices to his pals, while slashing public services. Read the rest

Brazilian domestic spies use Tinder to infiltrate protest movements

Brazilian Army Captain Willian Pina Botelho posed as Baltazar "Balta" Nunes in a fake Tinder profile and set out to seduce members of left wing anti-government protest movements in order to infiltrate them. Read the rest

Black Lives Matter in Rio, too

In Brazil, racial discrimination against darker-skinned people is rife; and the famous unequal society is especially tilted against black Brazilians, who are subjected to horrific summary executions by police in the favelas (squatter neighborhoods). Read the rest

Brazilian police killing often as Olympic games loom

Amnesty International reports a "huge increase" in the number of people killed by police in Rio de Janeiro in the run up to the Summer Games.

According to new figures from Brazil’s Public Security Institute, in the city of Rio alone 40 people were killed by on-duty police officers in May: an increase of 135% on the same period last year, when 17 were people killed by police. Across Rio state as a whole, police killings almost doubled, from 44 to 84.

The 2016 Olympics are shaping up to be quite the trainwreck: a government meltdown, a doping scandal that may see Russia's entire team banned, and a public health crisis likely to convince many athletes, media and tourists to stay away.

Previously: Rio: your quadrennial reminder that the Olympics colonize host-states with Orwellian surveillance and human rights abuses Read the rest

The Olympics are profitable for every host city (that lies about the numbers)

Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics, a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives analyzes the economics of hosting the Olympics, indicting the numbers game played by bid committees and the IOC. Read the rest

Rio: your quadrennial reminder that the Olympics colonize host-states with Orwellian surveillance and human rights abuses

Remember in 1988, when South Korea's military dictator created slave-labor camps and kidnapped thousands of homeless children to work in them? Read the rest

After a coup, a judgment: Brazil's "interim president" barred from holding office for 8 years

Last month, a controversial political machination at the top levels of Brazil's government saw the removal of its elected left-wing president, Dilma Rousseff, and her replacement with an appointed, neoliberal "interim president" President Michel Temer, who has now been convicted of committing election fraud and barred from holding elected office in Brazil for 8 years. Read the rest

Brazil judge orders WhatsApp blocked for 72 hours, affecting 100 million people

A state judge in the Brazilian state of Sergipe has ordered all mobile phone operators in the country to block Facebook-owned WhatsApp for 72 hours, nationwide. Those five telecom providers put the ban into effect today, and it affects about 100 million people. In Brazil, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app.

Read the rest

Drunk, knife-wielding monkey pursues bar patrons

A drunk monkey turned "belligerent" at a bar in Brazil, reports Arede, grabbing a knife, pursuing patrons and climbing onto the roof.

After the tiny primate—said to live at the bar—downed a glass of rum and armed itself, firefighters had to be called to subdue it. The monkey was later released to the wild, according to the report, but was spotted menacing homeowners on the outskirts of town. After recapture, local authorities now plan to move the monkey to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources for evaluation. Read the rest

Woman shot dead by drug gang after following Waze app's directions to wrong destination

In Brazil, a 70-year-old woman was killed when directions she followed from the driving app Waze led her and her husband into a neighborhood controlled by a violent drug gang. The destination they meant to go to? A beach area popular with tourists, which was in the opposite direction. Read the rest

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