Politics

Anadolu Agency

LONDON — Brazil lost 1.54 million jobs in 2015, officials said Thursday, as the country’s economy continues to contract amid the worst recession in a generation.

Industrial, civil construction and services sectors were worst affected, according to statistics issued by Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment, which represent the worst result in 24 years.

Labor Minister Miguel Rossetto admitted 2015 had been a “difficult” year. “It is not a good result. We saw a reduction in jobs and average salaries, but the victories of previous years have been preserved as the level of jobs remains high,” Rossetto was quoted by local media as saying.

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Anadolu Agency

LONDON — Brazil’s economy will shrink by nearly 3 percent in 2016, according to estimates published Monday in a weekly central bank survey of 100 of the country’s economic institutions.

Gross domestic product in Latin America’s largest economy will contract by 2.95 percent in the thirteenth consecutive cut in the outlook for 2016.

The predictions are more than previously expected by economists, as economic output and confidence continue to dwindle amid a prolonged political crisis.

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SÃO PAULO — Joaquim Levy stepped down as Brazil’s finance minister on Friday evening, ending months of speculation over his role. He was replaced by former planning minister Nelson Barbosa, who is seen as closer to leftist President Dilma Rousseff.

Levy was a proponent of tough fiscal measures which he backed to lift Brazil out of the worst recession it has experienced in 25 years.

His appointment and fiscal adjustment plans had been warmly welcomed by the markets, and was widely seen as an attempt by the government to draw greater confidence in the Brazilian economy from investors.

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VICE News

SÃO PAULO — Eduardo Cunha — the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, who is also the nemesis of the country’s president whom he wants to see impeached — did not have a good Tuesday.

The day began with police cars surrounding Cunha’s official residence in Brasília in the latest phase of a criminal investigation into the country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal. Police said they were executing 53 search-and-seizure warrants to “avoid important evidence being destroyed by those under investigation.”

It was later reported that the warrants were related to a new Supreme Court inquiry into whether Cunha had abused his position to obstruct the vast corruption probe.

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Ruptly

SÃO PAULO — Brazil police on Friday violently dispersed the latest in a series of protests in São Paulo over plans to shut down 94 schools in the state.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades to force the gathered crowd, whose march had blocked a major intersection in the city, to clear the streets.

At least 30 people have been detained by police in a string of protests; footage shared on social media also showed at least one student being punched in the face by an officer who had illegally removed his identification.

Shortly after Friday’s violence, however, came a victory of sorts: São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin announced that the government’s plans to reorganise the state’s schools had been suspended until next year, drawing jubilant scenes from protesters at the tail-end of their march.

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VICE News

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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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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