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Why the US and Latin America could be ready to end a fruitless 40-year struggle

August 8th, 2010

A Nicaraguan smokes a joint of marijuana in a poor district of the port of El Bluff. Photograph: Oswaldo Rivas/REUTERS

Mexico’s president Felipe Caldéron is the latest Latin leader to call for a debate on drugs legalisation. And in the US, liberals and right-wing libertarians are pressing for an end to prohibition. Forty years after President Nixon launched the ‘war on drugs’ there is a growing momentum to abandon the fight

The birthday fiesta was in full swing at 1.30am when five SUVs pulled up outside the house. Figures spilled from the vehicles and ran towards the lights. They burst into the house and levelled AK-47s. “Kill them all!” A shouted instruction, only three words, and the slaughter began.

Gunfire and screams drowned the music. Some victims were cut down immediately, others were caught as they tried to escape. By the time the killers left there were 17 corpses, 18 wounded and 200 shell casings. Among the dead was the birthday guest of honour, a man local media named only as Mota, Mexican slang for marijuana.

The atrocity last month in Torreón, an industrial city in the northern state of Coahuila, came amid headlines shocking even by the standards of Mexico’s drug war. A sophisticated car bomb of a type never before seen in the country; a popular gubernatorial candidate gunned down in the highest-level political murder; and then last week the release of official figures putting the number of drug war-related murders at 28,000. (more…)

Alleged thief killed by falling window in Brazil

August 5th, 2010

A would-be thief escaping from an abandoned house in Brazil where there was nothing to steal died after a window slammed down on top of him, trapping and eventually asphyxiating him.

Inspector Fernanda Rangel says that scratches and other marks on a wall next to the window indicate the intruder struggled to free himself but failed. Rangel says she does not know how soon he died after becoming trapped. Investigators have not yet identified him, but believe he was about 30 years old and that his body was in the window frame for at least four days.

Rangel says that the corpse was discovered Tuesday by the house’s owner, who had arrived to store some personal belongings.

The Associated Press

Sylvester Stallone faces ?1.36m lawsuit from Brazilian production company

August 4th, 2010

Sylvester Stallone AFP/Getty Images/File

‘Rambo’ star Sylvester Stallone is apparently in a 1.36-million-pound dispute with a Brazilian production company that worked on his latest film.

O2, which made the acclaimed crime drama ‘City of God,’ has claimed the 64-year-old Rocky star left the country after shooting ‘The Expendables’ without paying what he owed the company for its help.

According to Veja, a Brazilian magazine, the film’s US producers left a string of debts, with a lighting company, drivers and security guards also owed money, reports the Telegraph.

“Since May of last year, O2 has been trying to get the money from the Americans. However since the beginning of this year, Stallone and his producers have stopped answering their calls,” said the magazine. 2’s accountants even had to recruit armed guards to protect their offices from angry production workers. (more…)

Police recover Candido Portinari painting 2 weeks after it was stolen from museum in Brazil

August 1st, 2010

Candido Portinari's O Enterro

Police have recovered a painting by one of Brazil‘s most famous painters two weeks after it was stolen from a museum.

Authorities say Candido Portinari’s “O Enterro,” or “The Burial,” was found with a suspect in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

It was taken from the Contemporary Art Museum in the northeastern city of Olinda earlier this month.

Police said in a statement they arrested a man who was in possession of the 1959 painting, which is worth about 1.5 million reals ($850,000).

The statement did not give details of the investigation, but Brazilian media reported that fingerprints at the crime scene helped police track down the suspect.

It is one of seven Portinari artworks at the museum.

Associated Press

Brazilian Goalie Is Charged in Ex-Lover’s Killing

July 31st, 2010

Flamengo Goalkeeper Bruno Souza

The police said Friday that they had charged the goalie of Brazil‘s most popular soccer club, Flamengo, with murder in the disappearance of a former lover who claimed to have had his child.

In a case that has dominated news coverage for weeks in this soccer-obsessed nation, the police said they had concluded their investigation and were charging the goalie, Bruno Fernandes das Dores de Souza, 25, and eight friends and family members in the killing of Eliza Samudio, 25, who disappeared in early June.

Since the police first said they had discovered the blood of Ms. Samudio in Mr. Souza’s car in early June, Brazilians have been exposed to a barrage of soap opera-like revelations and gruesome details. The investigation intensified during the last few days of the World Cup, when the police took Mr. Souza into custody, where he has remained since.

The relationship began last year when the soccer player, who was not on the Brazilian World Cup team, and Ms. Samudio met at a party in Rio de Janeiro. Soon after, the police said, she discovered she was pregnant and told him he was the father. Mr. Souza, who is married, apparently did not take the news well. Last October, she filed a complaint with the police in Rio saying he had kidnapped her and tried to threaten her into having an abortion. (more…)

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