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SÃO PAULO — The end may be in sight for Dilma Rousseff’s presidency after impeachment proceedings were authorized on Wednesday by the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress.

Eduardo Cunha’s decision to fire the starting pistol marks a first tentative step in a process that, even if supported by Congress, could take months, though some analysts suggest the president may feel forced to resign before it is completed.

Cunha accepted one of several requests to begin impeachment that had been in his office for weeks. They were widely reported to have been put on ice amid back room bargaining in which he promised to protect the president if his speakership was not threatened by accusations of corruption against him.

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VICE News

SÃO PAULO — Violence has stalked Joana* throughout her life.

After surviving a brutal childhood she had to defend herself and her two children from an abusive husband from whom she eventually ran after he tried to stab her to death. It didn’t stop there.

Struggling to make ends meet in her new home in a violence-plagued shantytown in São Paulo, Joana took in a nephew in order to help pay the rent but he was lured into local drug gangs.

“They wanted to show us who was boss,” the 40-year-old black Brazilian told VICE News, cracking a smile that quickly faded. “They raped me and my young daughter, and threatened to do the same to my son.”

Sitting in a small stuffy room with black mold creeping down the walls, Joana remembered her desperation over five lonely years of near-daily violent abuse.

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SÃO PAULO — Hundreds of Frenchmen, Brazilians and people of other nationalities gathered outside the French consulate in São Paulo today in a ceremony to remember the victims of the recent attacks on Paris.

After a minute’s silence, the crowd broke into song with an emotional rendition of the Marseillaise.

The Consul General of France in São Paulo, Damien Loras, who led the ceremony, said: “The shock was extremely big, and it is a relief at this time of pain and suffering to know that we have friends in São Paulo, that we are together and that we are not giving up on being a free and democratic country.”

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Houston Chronicle – by Mihir Zaveri, Susan Carroll and Ben Tavener

HOUSTON/SÃO PAULO — Sandwiched between U.S. and Texas flags, the Brazilian banner waves outside a set of discolored tanks and pipes at the site of a Pasadena refinery. A sign marked “PRSI” – for Pasadena Refining System Inc. – hangs over chain link fence with razor wire that surrounds the compound that dates back nearly a century.

From her porch, Hilda Perez and neighbor Lorie Soliz can see that refinery across a grassy field and train tracks – its glowing flares and sulfurous fumes are familiar. Both friends remember four years ago when an explosion there rocked the neighborhood and a giant flame rose into the sky. “There’s always something going on over there,” said Soliz, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1992.

But they didn’t know that their hometown refinery – owned by Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras – has become a flashpoint in an explosive political scandal abroad.

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Mashable

SÃO PAULO — Over a dozen people are thought to be have been killed after two dams burst in rural southeastern Brazil, triggering a wall of sludgy mining spoils to cascade down a valley and wipe out an entire town, burying residents alive.

It was initially reported that the 170-meter (560-foot) high Fundão Dam, which was holding back a 40 square kilometer (15.4 square mile) lake of “tailings” – the spoils of mining operations, breached at 4:20 p.m. local time (GMT 18:20), swamping the small town of Bento Rodrigues below.

The mining company operating the dam later said that two dams had in fact failed.

The muddy tsunami swept away cars and swallowed entire buildings in the town of approximately 600 people, which is around 15 miles from Mariana, a colonial town in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

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VICE News

SÃO PAULO — Activists in Brazil say a proposed law defining terrorism will criminalize protest movements, including those looking to use media attention on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to highlight social injustices and push for reforms.

The bill, authored by President Dilma Rousseff’s office, was amended on its way through the lower house of Congress to add specific exemptions for social movements, but these were removed when it sailed through the Senate last week. It now heads back for a final reading by Brazil’s deputies, and would require final approval by the president.

Supporters of the bill argue Brazil needs legislation to define and fight terrorism, though experts charge that the move stems from pressure from the U.S.-led anti-terrorism body — the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF — amid fears of sanctions that could exacerbate the country’s recession.

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SÃO PAULO — Protesters took to the streets on Friday to voice their opposition to proposed legislation that would toughen Brazil’s already strict laws on abortion, extending criminal proceedings those who assist, or provide information leading to, the termination of a pregnancy.

The bill, PL 5069/2013, which is sponsored by conservative deputy and embattled speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, was approved by a parliamentary commission on 21 October, and can now go to a vote by lawmakers.

Currently, abortion is legal only in a small number of specific circumstances, including if the pregnancy is the result of a rape, if the mother’s life is in danger, and if the foetus is confirmed to have anencephaly.

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VICE News

SÃO PAULO — Prisons controlled by criminal gangs rather than guards and filled with moldy and windowless cells stinking of urine and feces in which dozens of men are forced to compete for floor space on which to sleep — life for inmates in Brazil’s state of Pernambuco amounts to a “human rights disaster,” according to a new report released on Tuesday.

The report was compiled by the US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) that visited four prisons and interviewed past and current prisoners, their families, and security officials in the poverty stricken northeastern state.

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