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Gun Violence in Rio de Janeiro Is So Widespread That People Are Using a Smartphone App to Avoid Dangerous Areas

Gun violence is a very serious issue on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so much so that people have begun using a smartphone app similar to the popular “Waze”, only instead of heavy traffic, they’re trying to avoid gun fire.

Rio de Janeiro is facing a crisis of gun violence, as police raids and shootouts between drug gangs echo daily through the streets of Brazil’s second largest city. Civilians are continuously caught and killed in the crossfires, with harrowing stories, such as that of a pregnant woman being shot in the stomach, continually emerging from the beleaguered city. The hardest hit area is the Maré complex of poor favela neighborhoods, the residents of which fear even walking down the street, both at night and during the day.

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Brazilian Boy Sues Absent Father for Emotional Abandonment

A Brazilian judge recently presided over one of the most difficult cases of her career – an 18-year-old boy who sued his absent father for emotional abandonment, seeking no financial compensation, only a favorable verdict that would allow him to move on with his life.

Gabriela Jardon, a judge at Brazil’s Federal District Court, recently recounted one of the most emotional experiences of her career, the hearing of an 18-year-old trying to hold his absent father responsible for being completely absent from his life. The experience of growing up without a father apparently had such a traumatizing effect on the young man that as soon as he legally became an adult, he felt he needed to take his father to court and hold him accountable.

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Brazilian Church “Hypnotizes” Pesky Pigeons with Colored Bullseyes

The Nossa Senhora da Consolação church, in downtown Sao Paolo, Brazil, used to have a serious pigeon problem. The pesky birds would fly through the place during sermons, poop on  the benches and leave feathers everywhere, but ever since they had these colored circle panels installed in the windows and doorways, no pigeon gets close anymore.

Regular parishioners at Nossa Senhora da Consolação describe the pigeon situation as a “real hell”. Dozens of birds had made the place of worship their home, flying in and out whenever they pleased, making a lot noise during mass and dropping stones and bits of plaster on people. Every morning, the floor and wooden benches had to be cleaned of bird droppings, and at one point it all became too much to bear. The church wanted to find a humane way of driving the pigeons away, but they never imagined hypnosis would be the answer.

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Brazilian “Traffic Waiter” Is Probably the World’s Most Elegant Street Vendor

Aílton Manuel da Silva is not your usual waiter. He dresses as one, carries himself as one and even sports a tray full of cold drinks and snacks, but instead of a restaurant or a cafe, he works in the streets, braving the hot sun and incoming traffic to provide for his family. He is the “traffic waiter” of Recife, and probably the world’s most elegant street vendor.

Every morning at 5 a.m., 43-year-old Aílton Manuel da Silva wakes up, puts on his creased pants, white shirt, bow tie and lacquered shoes and leaves for work. He arrives at the busy intersection of Avenida Almirante Dias Fernandes and Rua Emiliano Ribeiro at around 5:30 and gets ready for a long day of waiting through traffic. He prepares his bottles of cold water, cans of soda and snacks like popcorn and chips, sets them neatly on his metal tray, and at 7 in the morning he steps into traffic to offer motorists his assortment of refreshments.

 

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Brazilian Tattoo Artist Punishes Thief with Humiliating Forehead Tattoo

Maycon Wesley Carvalho dos Reis, a tattoo artist from the Brazilian state of Sao Paolo, was recently arrested and charged with torture, after punishing a young man who tried to steal his bicycle by tattooing “I am a thief and a loser” on his forehead.

A disturbing video of an alleged would-be thief sporting a “sou ladrão e vacilão” tattoo on his forehead has been doing the rounds on Brazilian social media since Friday. In it, two men ask the 17-year-old terrified boy to tell them what he wants to have tattooed on his forehead, and then force the answer out of him – “thief”. After the humiliating tattoo is completed, they again force him to say why he had received the bizarre “artwork”, and he admits that he had tried to steal a bicycle.

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Brazilian Man Spends 40 Years Bringing a Forest Back to Life

83-year-old Antonio Vicente has spent the last four decades of his life fighting against the current. As Brazilian landowners cut down rainforests to make room for profitable plantations and cattle grazing grounds, he struggled to bring the lush jungles of his childhood back to life. Today, his efforts are being rewarded, as the completely stripped land he once began planting trees on 40 years ago, has become a beautiful jungle teeming with tropical wildlife once again.

It was 1973 when Antonio took up the challenge of restoring the forest on a 31-hectare piece of land that had been razed for cattle grazing. Ironically enough, he bought the land on the outskirts of Sao Pablo, in Brazil’s Sao Paulo region, using credits that the military government was giving out to promote deforestation and investing in advanced agricultural technology. But Antonio had no intention of using the money to boost the national agriculture. He just wanted to revive the forest.

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Every Day, This Dog Goes on the Same Walk He Used to Go On with His Owner

Remember the tragic yet heartwarming tale of Hachiko, the loyal Akita Inu who spent nine years waiting for his owner to return from work, not knowing that he had died of a brain hemorrhage? His legendary loyalty is now being emulated by Thor, a dog of the same breed, who goes on the same walk he and his departed owner used to go on, every day.

Every day, the people of Caçapava do Sud, a town in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul region witness a touching display of animal loyalty. In the morning, Thor, a white Akita Inu, takes to the streets, retracing the daily walk he and his owner used to take up until a year ago, when the 58-year-old man died. He stops at all the usual places his master used to spend time in, lets those who know him pet him on the head and even poses for pictures, before returning home to his adoptive family. That’s become his daily ritual for the last year or so.

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Unconventional Church Uses Heavy Metal Music to Preach the Word of God

Some misguided people still consider heavy metal to be ‘”the devil’s music”, but a Church in Sao Paolo, Brazil is actually using it as a way to spread the word of God. Crash Church is an evangelical church attended by heavy metal fans looking to worship God through music.

Located in a large garage, Crash Church looks more like an underground rock concert venue than a Christian place of worship. The “parishioners” look just as unusual, dressed in dark colors and sporting tattoos and piercings. Pastor Antônio Carlos Batista doesn’t wear any religious garments, opting instead for jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. His arms are covered with colorful tattoos inspired by the Christian faith, and about a dozen piercings and earrings decorate his ears. He reads the Gospel from behind a medieval-looking pulpit, while the congregation follows along on their cellphones, on TV screen showing the passages being read, or on regular bibles. Batista uses everyday jargon to explain the religious texts, and performs heavy metal songs between sermons.

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Putting Faith in a Piece of Rope at Brazil’s Largest Religious Festival

Every year, in the second week of October, millions of Roman-Catholic devotees from all over Brazil descend on the city of Belem to attend Cirio de Nazaré, the country’s largest religious festival, and to touch a 400-meter-long piece of rope believed to have the power to heal the sick.

Cirio de Nazaré has been celebrated intermittently in Brazil since 1793. The event revolves around a small statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth), an artifact supposedly sculpted in Nazareth that is believed to have performed miracles in medieval Portugal, before being lost in Brazil. Legend has it that a cattleman found it in a canal during the 1700’s, but every time he took it out of the water, it would disappear, only to be found again in the original place it was discovered. The people of Belem believed that it was Our Lady’s wish to remain there, so they built a church there, which would later become today’s Nazaré Basilica.

The celebration lasts two weeks, but the climax of the event is on the first Sunday, when the small statue is taken from the city’s Catedral da Sé to the Nazaré Basilica, on a flower-bedecked carriage pulled by thousands of devotees. The night before the procession about 15.000 devotees queue in front of the cathedral to secure a place near the 400-meter-long piece of rope used to pull the carriage through the city. Men and women align on two separate lines, and by 10 a.m. on Sunday, the human density around the rope reaches an incredible 10 people per meter.

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Tombs with a View at the World’s Tallest Vertical Cemetery

With the remains of around 100 billion dead people currently buried or otherwise stored on this planet, it’s no surprise that we’re running out of space for final resting places. The phrase “six feet under” just isn’t sustainable anymore, so architects are now looking to the sky as an alternative to sprawling ground cemeteries. High-rise cemeteries are becoming increasingly popular all over the world, and the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica, in Santos, Brazil, is the highest of them all.

When Pepe Altstut inaugurated the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica cemetery, in 1983, it was only a very small building, but the demand for above-ground tombs with a view was so great that he kept expanding until his cemetery became the tallest in the world. Today, it measures 108 meters tall, features 25,000 storing units (tombs, if you will), several wake rooms, crypts, mausoleums, a peacock garden with its own small waterfall and even a chapel and snack bar on the roof.

While few regular cemeteries can be considered tourist attractions in their own right, the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica is actually one of the most visited landmarks in Santos, and acknowledged as such by the local tourism board. Altstut himself admits that his cemetery is incredibly popular with tourists, and attributes it to the structure’s notoriety as the tallest cemetery on Earth. People from all over the world reportedly come to Santos to see the necropolis where people pay big money for tombs with a view.

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Loyal Dog Refuses to Leave Hospital Where His Owner Died Eight Months Ago

Ever since his owner was taken to the Ruth Cardoso Hospital in Santa Catarina, Brazil, a young black dog named Negão has been patiently waiting outside the building for  him to walk out. Even though the man died of sepsis soon after his admission, the story of Negão’s loyalty has touched the heart of millions around the world.

It all started late last year when the dog’s owner, a homeless man, was taken to the hospital after developing an infection that would later prove fatal. Medical staff reported that Negão ran alongside the ambulance all the way to the hospital, watched his favorite human be carried inside and waited outside for his return. He has been waiting outside the building ever since, not knowing that the eagerly awaited reunion with his owner will never happen. Every time an ambulance arrives, the dog’s ears perk up and he follows it to see if it is carrying his master, as it did many months ago.

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Brazilian Company Launches Maternity Clothing Imbued with Mosquito Repellent to Combat Zika Virus Scare

Megadose, a Brazilian company that designs maternity clothes, has released a new line of anti-Zika apparel. These clothes are made of a special fabric that is infused with a natural mosquito repellent called citronella and are designed to help pregnant women avoid contracting the dreaded Zika virus.

Ever since the Zika outbreak spread across the Pacific to the Americas and reached pandemic levels in 2015, people in these are being regions are being asked to cover up well and use mosquito repellents at all times. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent getting infected, so the only way to stay safe for now is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.  

While Zika fever itself has mild symptoms and is treated by rest, it can cause birth defects to the fetus if contracted by pregnant women. In fact, the governments of some countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and El Salvador have recommended that women postpone getting pregnant until more discoveries are made about the risks. But for those who are already pregnant, Megadose is trying to provide a viable solution.

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Patagonian Penguin Always Returns to the Human Who Saved His Life 5 Years Ago

João Pereira de Souza, a retired bricklayer from Rio de Janeiro, shares a heartwarming bond with a Magellanic penguin native to South America’s Patagonian region. For the past five years, the bird seems to have altered its natural migratory pattern just to be able to visit de Souza several times a year.

The unlikely friendship began in 2011, when de Souza found the bird, nicknamed Jinling, soaked in oil on the beach near his house. He brought the penguin home, cleaned him up, and offered him a meal of cool sardines and a shady spot to rest. Since then, Jinling has never stayed away from de Souza for too long.

Even though the kindhearted man tried to get the penguin reacquainted with the open sea after he got better, the bird just kept coming back. He even took him out in a boat, far from land and turned him loose in the ocean, but by the time he got back home, Jinling was already waiting for him.

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One-Year-Old Brazilian Boy Bites Venomous Pit Viper to Death

Vipers are usually the ones who do the biting, but a one-year-old boy from Brazil gave the venomous snake a taste of its own medicine, biting it on the head and killing it.

17-month-old Lorenzo was playing with the family dog in the garden of his home, in the town of Mostardas, Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, when he apparently came face to face with a pit viper. His mother Jaine Ferreira Figueira, who was doing some work inside the house, heard some noises and turned around to go check on the boy, only to see him in the room with a snake in his mouth and blood on his clothes. She instinctively shouted for her husband Lucier. They quickly got in their car and took Lorenzo to the Sao Luiz hospital, some 175 km from Porto Alegre, but not before putting the snake in a jar, so doctors could identify it and administer the right anti-venom.

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The World’s Newest Human Ken Doll Actually Looks Plastic

Brazilian model Mauricio Galdi is the newest addition to the growing band of surgically-enhanced men branded ‘Human Ken Dolls’. After a total of eight procedures in the past decade, his face now looks like that of the popular plastic doll.

Mauricio, 27, claims that he wasn’t actually aiming for the ‘Ken’ look, but now that the media’s given him the title, he doesn’t mind cashing in on the publicity. “I never sought out to be the Brazilian human Ken,” he said. “It was something that came to me, television sought to give me that title.”

We find that kind of hard to believe though, given the fact that he’s been obsessed with dolls since childhood. Growing up in a middle class household in Sao Paulo, Mauricio confessed that he often felt jealous of little girls because it was socially acceptable for them to play with Barbie and Ken. “I saw them playing with dolls and I wanted to do the same,” he admitted, “but I never did for fear of prejudice.”

Mauricio-Galdi

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