TIME Markets

This is Why Trees Come Down When the Gold Price Goes Up

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A new study establishes a connection between demand for gold and deforestation

The steep rise in the price of gold is a factor in the heightened rate of deforestation in South America, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico, says small-scale miners now find it profitable to try and extract the metal from low-grade seams underneath the region’s rain forests.

With the price of gold rising five times between 2001 and 2013, satellite data shows an area of 1,680 sq km cleared across forests in Brazil, Peru and the Guianas. Much of this was in protected areas, the Guardian reports.

During the second half of the period, deforestation doubled in speed as financial crises around the world caused the price of gold to shoot up.

Agriculture and logging are responsible for clearing more forest, but, researchers say, miners are more harmful to the soil and to water sources because of their use of mercury, cyanide and arsenic.

TIME Transportation

Brazilian Airlines Want to Charge Parents Who Fly With Babies in Their Laps

baby airplane
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Airlines are pushing for deregulation in Brazil

Call it the baby tax.

Brazilian airlines want to charge parents for bringing babies on planes, Bloomberg reports. Most carriers don’t impose full ticket prices for fliers under age 2, thanks to a cap on charges at 10% of the full adult fare. Only one—Avianca Brasil—charges a nominal fee for infants.

The Brazilian airlines’ new proposal, which will be decided on by the end of 2016, would require waiving the local cap on fees for children under 2 who sit in their parent’s lap.

In the United States, aviation regulators and airlines decided not to impose charges on infants a decade ago, arguing it would be better to encourage parents to fly with their infants rather than drive. Flying has a far lower accident rate than driving.

If U.S. airlines charged for lap babies, “it would be perceived as a money-hungry concept that jeopardizes children because certain people would be forced to drive,” said Alan Bender, professor of aeronautics, airline management and economics at Daytona Beach’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Read more at Bloomberg.

TIME brazil

Four People Were Killed by a Lightning Strike on a Brazilian Beach

Local media reports say they included a pregnant woman and were from the same family

Four people were killed Monday by a lightning strike on a popular beach in Brazil, during a sudden storm off the coast of São Paulo.

Citing local media, the BBC says the four included a pregnant woman and were from the same family.

Four other people were injured and taken to hospital, with two said to be in a serious condition.

The victims were sheltering from the heavy rain under a kiosk on Praia Grande beach, near the port city of Santos, when they were struck.

An earlier storm on Monday tore down trees and power lines across São Paulo state, causing transport chaos.

[BBC]

TIME

The Most Powerful Protest Photos of 2014

There wasn't a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson to the student camps of Hong Kong

In 2011, TIME named the Protester as the Person of the Year, in recognition of the twin people-power earthquakes of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. TIME named the Ebola Fighters as the 2014 Person of the Year, but you could have forgiven if we went back to the Protester. There wasn’t a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the squares of Mexico City, to the impromptu student camps of Hong Kong. Many of the protests were remarkably peaceful, like Occupy Hong Kong, which was galvanized by public anger over the overreaction of the city’s police. Others turned bloody, like the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine, which eventually brought down the government of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in turn triggering a war that led to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in May and the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians.

Not every protest was as effective as those that began the year in the cold of Kiev. Hong Kongers still don’t have full democratic rights, gay rights are on the retreat in much of east Africa and every day seems to bring news of another questionable police killing in the U.S. But the wave of social action that ended 2014 is unlikely to crest in 2015. The ubiquity of camera phones means no shortage of iconic photographs and videos from any protest, whether in Lima or Los Angeles, and social media gives everyone the means to broadcast. What follows are some of the most powerful images from the global streets in 2014.

TIME Crime

Alleged Brazil Serial Killer Confesses to 42 Murders

Sailson Jose das Graças told reporters that he killed for pleasure and the accompanying adrenaline rush

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — A man arrested on suspicion of murder told police he killed 42 people over the past decade, potentially making him one of the Brazil’s most prolific serial killers.

Sailson Jose das Graças, 26, told reporters at a police station in the state of Rio that he killed for pleasure and the accompanying adrenaline rush. He said his preferred victims were white females, whom he strangled. “I would wait for an opportunity to break into the house and kill,” Das Graças told reporters, adding he would often watch his victims for months before making his move. “When I didn’t do it I would get nervous…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME brazil

Brazilian Politician Tells Congresswoman She’s ‘Not Worthy’ of Sexual Assault

Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro seen in 2011 Rogério Tomaz Jr./CDHM—Flickr Creative Commons

He said it on the floor of the legislature

A Brazilian Congressman apparently told a female colleague who had allegedly called him a rapist that he wouldn’t sexually assault her but because she’s “not worthy” of it.

Representative Jair Bolsonaro reportedly made the comments on the floor of the national legislature Tuesday after lawmaker Maria do Rosário gave a speech condemning the human rights abuses of the U.S.-backed military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, a regime Bolsonaro defends, according to a translation from the Huffington Post. “Stay here, Maria do Rosário. A few days ago you called me a rapist, in the Green Room,” he said. “And I said I wouldn’t rape you because you’re not worthy of it.” The Green Room is a private room in the capitol building.

“I was attacked as a woman, as a Congress member, as a mother,” do Rosário told the Brazilian news agency O Globo. “When I go home, I have to explain this to my daughter… I’m going to press criminal charges against him.”

[Huffington Post]

TIME brazil

Brazil Confronts Horrors of the Past With Torture Report’s Release

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff cries during a speech at the launching ceremony of the National Truth Commission Report, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Dec. 10, 2014.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff cries during a speech at the launching ceremony of the National Truth Commission Report, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Dec. 10, 2014. Eraldo Peres—AP

President Dilma Rousseff, herself a former victim of the former dictatorship's abuses, sheds tears as she unveils Truth Commission report

Brazil reacted dramatically to its most official, detailed and damning report to date on killings, torture and human rights abuses carried out by the state under two decades of military dictatorship on Wednesday.

And the reaction began at the top, as President Dilma Rousseff broke down into tears while presenting the National Truth Commission report at a ceremony in Brasília. “The work of this commission increases the possibility for Brazil to have a fully democratic future, free of authoritarian threats,” said Rousseff, who was herself imprisoned and tortured under the military leaders who ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

The Truth Commission has spent two years and seven months compiling its report, which contains harrowing details of tortures carried out by the military dictatorship. It detailed beatings, electric shocks, sexual violations, and psychological torture on people the state saw as a threat.

The report increased the number of those it said were killed or disappeared during the dictatorship to 434, from the previous official number of 362. It also named 377 people it said were involved in human rights abuses, of whom 196 are still alive. The names included deceased former presidents and military leaders.

The commission advocated civil, criminal and administrative judicial responsibility for the state employees who committed abuses and said the armed forces should recognize its institutional responsibility. It also called for those who had committed serious human rights abuses to face criminal prosecution, despite a 1979 Amnesty Law preventing both those who opposed the regime and those who committed abuses from being tried or punished.

Its publication was welcomed by human rights groups as a watershed moment. Amnesty International said Brazil lived a “historic day” today, while Human Rights Watch also praised the report. “For the first time there is a body in Brazil who after more than two years of work identified abusers,” said Maria Canineu, the group’s Brazil director. “The report can encourage prosecutors and also the judiciary.”

The abuses of the dictatorship touch almost every level of Brazilian society. Rousseff was herself imprisoned and tortured by the military dictatorship as a member of the armed, left-wing resistance. Although she rarely talks about it, evocative images of the young bespectacled Rousseff and state files on her were among the imagery used in her campaign for re-election, narrowly won in a second-round run-off in October.

Other surviving opponents of Brazil’s military government welcomed the report. “This commission has a fundamental role to divulge to Brazilian society what happened,” said Vera Vital Brasil, who was imprisoned and tortured with electric shocks and beatings as a student activist in 1969 in Rio de Janeiro. She later spent six years in exile and Chile and has worked as a psychologist and human rights activist since returning to Rio in groups like Torture Never Again Rio de Janeiro Group.

In September, she took part in a Truth Commission visit to the army base where she was tortured. “It had a very big impact because that place was where terrible things happened,” she said. The room she was tortured in is now a dormitory, but the base was home to the regime’s more macabre torture practices after her time there. “There were people who had a snake dangled on the body, who had an alligator put on top,” she said.

Unlike some other South American countries ruled by right-wing dictatorships, like Argentina, Brazil has never prosecuted those responsible. “We in Brazil had a very big difference to other countries of Latin America – our process of silence was very deep,” said Brasil. “We were never able to say that this is wrong, even though that have been a democratic country since 1988,” added Canineu.

But military personnel and former members of the armed forces argue that Brazil’s Amnesty Law had brought peace to the nation and should be left in place. “There was a pacification of the country,” said retired Colonel José Gobbo Ferreira, an army engineer who supported the coup in 1964—as did the United Statesand is a vocal online defender of what he calls the military ‘regime’, rather than dictatorship. “The idea was to extinguish all of this from the national memory.”

He said the Truth Commission was part of a wider left-wing conspiracy to install communism throughout the continent and argued that the report had exaggerated tortures. “It is logical that there were some abuses. But not on the scale that they are saying,” he said.

Minority elements in right-wing, anti-government demonstrations since then have even called for the return to the dictatorship. Ferreira said the Truth Commission should have also investigated bank robberies, kidnappings and murders carried out by the armed left wing groups that opposed the dictatorship.

Human Rights Watch’s Canineu agreed that crimes by the left-wing resistance could have been investigated, if only to show how much more widespread were the abuses carried out by the state. “It was important to break the myth that it was a war,” she said. “It is a very sensitive issue. They could have included it but that doesn’t make the report weaker.”

In 2010, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided the 1979 Amnesty Law remained valid. Eight months later the Inter-American Court of Human Rights disagreed arguing it contradicted the American Convention on Human Rights. Now, with a Supreme Court judge saying Wednesday that the issue will come back to the court, Rousseff’s government must decide how far it abides by the recommendations of the very Truth Commission it set up.

TIME brazil

Meet the Brazilian Singer Drawing Crowds with his Stinging Social Critique

Criolo performing in London 2012.
Criolo performing in London 2012. Jeff Gilbert—LatinContent/Getty Images

The red-hot musician Criolo has captured public anger about social divisions in Brazil

When Brazilian rapper Criolo takes the stage with his live band at the cavernous Fundição Progressso concert hall in Rio de Janeiro, a mass ‘rap-along’ breaks out as 6,000 fans chant along with him, throwing up hip hop hand gestures.

But there is nothing celebratory about the lyrics they repeat word for word. Criolo delivers a stinging social critique in song and rhyme, taking in Brazil’s crippling inequality, its drug problem, its violence and the growing obsession with consumerism that came with the country’s economic development. But the message is delivered as entertainment, not lecture, because this is a show, not a political discourse.

“There is no way you can look at the Brazilian social panorama and do agreeable songs,” says Luiz Fernando Vianna, a music critic for the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “What Criolo manages to do is do this criticism with a little humor.”

In the late 1980s and 1990s, São Paulo’s Racionais MCs filled stadiums with an uncompromising hip hop sound. Heavily political, they operated outside Brazil’s cultural mainstream. Criolo, in contrast, has broken out and is accepted more widely in Brazil as an artist, not just a rapper catering to niche tastes.

“He constructs bridges,” says Rodrigo Savazoni, a contemporary culture researcher and writer. “It is rap with its hand outstretched.”

Stardom for Criolo, real name Kleber Cavalcante Gomes, came late. The 39-year-old had struggled for 20 years on the grassroots hip-hop scene in his home city of São Paulo when his 2011 album Nó Na Orelha (Knot in the Ear) took off. It took a more accessible approach, combining his incisive and poetic rhymes with his singing, a live band, and elements of funk, reggae and samba.

MORE: The Top 10 Best Songs of 2014

It won three awards at Brazil’s 2011 MTV Awards, including best song for ‘Não Existe Amor Em SP’ (There Is No Love In SP), a haunting lament to a vacuous, lonely metropolis. Brazilian music great Caetano Veloso appeared on stage with him to sing it.

The song connected with a wider sentiment in the city then being daubed in graffiti slogans calling for “more love.” Brazil struggles with staggering levels of violence—56,000 people were murdered in 2012 alone. “It became an alternative anthem,” says Rodrigo Savazoni.

Criolo’s new album Convoque Seu Buda (Call Your Buddha) presents a similarly-eclectic mix of styles, and has already been downloaded 250,000 since it was released for free on the internet earlier this month.

It confirms his status as a star with a wide appeal along Brazil’s segregated social pyramid, from his original fans in the low-income, densely-packed outer suburbs, or periferia, of São Paulo to inner-city bohemians.

“He reaches different social levels,” says André Ribeiro, a Criolo fan and teacher at a state school in São Paulo’s southern periferia.

Rogério Silva, a sociology professor from the Federal Institute of São Paulo, says purist hip hop fans like Criolo—whose name can be used as a pejorative term for black, or Afro-Brazilian, citizens in this Latin American nation—but can’t always understand his complex language. “He is more popular in the middle class,” he says.

Criolo’s new album includes one song, ‘Casa de Papelão’ (‘Cardboard House’), that eloquently targets a crack epidemic that has turned an entire area of São Paulo’s center into an addict city, called ‘Cracolandia’ or Crackland. A video for two rap numbers on the album—‘Duas de Cinco’ and ‘Cóccix-ência’ —presents a chilling vision of a slum, or favela of the future, in which the poverty and crime remain the same but the technology has moved on. “There is still time to avoid this happening,” Criolo told TIME.

MORE: The Top 10 Worst Songs of 2014

The favela in the video is Grajaú, the sprawling slum on São Paulo’s southern edge where Criolo used to live with his parents, immigrants from Ceará state in Brazil’s northeast, in a house piled high with books. His mother Maria Vilani runs a weekly ‘philosophy café’ discussion group and his father Cleon is a metalworker. His great-grandfather, he says, was a slave.

Criolo and his four brothers and sisters grew up at the sharp end of Brazil’s notorious unequal society, living at one point in a leaking wooden shack. He lost many friends to the violence that blights the periferia. “I have seen things I wouldn’t wish anyone to see,” he says.

Criolo discovered hip hop age at eleven, listening avidly to rappers from New York and Los Angeles

In Criolo’s view, Brazilian problems stem from its modern history—a vicious colonization in which Portuguese invaders killed and enslaved indigenous tribes, followed by centuries of slavery. “You already start like this,” he says. Later came the military dictatorship that ran Brazil for two decades until 1985.

Yet he will not comment on Brazil’s recent presidential election, which saw the incumbent Dilma Rousseff secure a second term after one of the most gripping contests in recent Brazilian history. “It becomes innocent to talk about politics when we don’t have a structure to study politics,” he says. “Those who govern us are not interested in putting certain areas in school material.”

MORE: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2014

Brazil has its own version of hip hop—a raw, electronic sound from Rio favelas called ‘funk’. In recent years São Paulo has stolen the other city’s thunder with a style dedicated to conspicuous consumption called ‘ostentation funk’.

Criolo satirizes consumerism as a panacea for social exclusion in a disco-rap duet with singer Tulipa Ruiz called ‘Cartão de Visita’ (or Business Card). “I wouldn’t say extreme riches, I would say extreme futility,” he says. It draws the biggest cheer when Tulipa Ruiz joins him onstage to sing it.

But Criolo insists he is not pessimistic, just realistic. He says the urban occupations he also raps about are an example of positive change. He played an “emotional” show for activists in the northeastern city of Recife, after an occupation in an abandoned port area being developed was violently evicted by police.

“There is something bigger than all of this. Our generation. This new young generation that is being created, with new ideas, the desire to change the world,” he says. “There is not going to be a musician who manages to write this.”

TIME Soccer

Brazilian Soccer Legend Pelé Is ‘Doing Fine’ in Hospital

Brazilian soccer legend Pele laughs during the inauguration of a refurbished soccer field at the Mineira slum in Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé laughs during the inauguration of a refurbished soccer field at the Mineira slum in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 10, 2014 Ricardo Moraes—Reuters

The 74-year-old was receiving special care after suffering "clinical instability"

Brazilian soccer star Pelé says he is “doing fine” after he was transferred to a special care unit on Thursday for monitoring after being treated for a urinary infection.

Earlier reports indicated the three-time World Cup winner had been admitted to intensive care, but Pelé reassured fans that his condition was not serious.

“I want to take this opportunity to let you know that I am doing fine,” the 74-year-old tweeted.

The Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, said in a statement Thursday that Pelé was transferred after suffering “clinical instability,” reports the BBC.

Pelé was admitted to the hospital on Monday and diagnosed with a urinary infection. According to local media, the infection could have stemmed from a procedure to remove kidney stones, for which he was treated on Nov. 13.

TIME Environment

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Is Easing Up

An aerial view of a tract of Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso
An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the Brazilian city of Novo Progresso, Pará state, on Sept. 22, 2013 © Nacho Doce / Reuters—REUTERS

In fact, it just fell to its second lowest level in 25 years

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has fallen to its second lowest level in 25 years, according to the country’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Teixeira said 4,848 sq km of forest were cut down between August 2013 and July 2014, compared with 5,891 sq km during the same period a year earlier, the Associated Press reports.

The drop is a surprise, since environmental groups have been warning of an increase following the adoption of a controversial 2012 bill that eases clearing restrictions for small landowners.

“The major message is O.K., is good: Brazil has been advancing,” says Marco Lentini, coordinator of the Amazon program for WWF’s Brazil branch, while cautioning: “It doesn’t mean that the deforestation issue is over.”

The Amazon rainforest, considered an essential natural defense against global warming, is gradually being razed to make way for cattle grazing, soy plantations and logging. Sixty percent of the forest is found in Brazil, which has pledged to reduce deforestation to 3,900 sq km per year by 2020.

[AP]

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