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British adventurer about to complete Amazon trek

August 9th, 2010

Ed Stafford is walking the length of the Amazon river Photo: KEITH DUCATEL

A former British army captain is about to finish the longest jungle trek in history after completing a 6,000 mile expedition along the Amazon River.

Ed Stafford, 34, is expected to arrive at Maruda Beach in Belem on the Atlantic coast of Brazil after 859 days hacking through some of the most difficult terrain in the world.

The former Afghanistan war veteran began his epic journey near the Pacific Ocean at Camana in Peru in April 2008 and had been expecting to complete the 4,000 mile journey in one year.

But huge detours caused by flooding more than doubled his schedule and added an extra 2,000 miles to his route.

The former Dorset and Devonshire Light Infantry Officer, who has used his walk to raise awareness of environmental issues and collect money for charity, said he was relieved it was finally almost over. (more…)

Brazilian men swapped at birth work, live together

August 1st, 2010

Dimas Aliprandi and Elton Plaster

Two years back, Dimas Aliprandi and Elton Plaster didn’t know of each other’s existence. Then they learned they had been accidentally switched at birth more than 20 years ago.

The discovery didn’t bring bitterness or recrimination. Rather, it led to the creation of a bigger family.

Today, the two 25-year-olds are living and working together with both sets of parents growing vegetables and coffee on a small farm in southeastern Brazil.

The chain of events started with Aliprandi, who was always intrigued that he did not resemble the four sisters he grew up with.

“There was something different,” he told The Associated Press by phone. “I had blonde hair and blue eyes and my sisters had dark hair and eyes. (more…)

Brazil offers asylum to Iranian woman facing stoning

August 1st, 2010

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to allow a woman sentenced in Iran to death by stoning to accept an offer of asylum in Brazil, local media reported.

The sentence imposed on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for an extra-marital relationship, which she denies, has caused an international outcry. It has been suspended pending a review by Iran’s judiciary but could still be carried out.

“I call on the supreme leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to permit Brazil to grant asylum to this woman,” state radio reported him as saying on Saturday.

The two nations have drawn closer this year after Brazil pioneered diplomatic efforts backing Iran’s uranium enrichment work, which Tehran says it needs to produce power and for medical purposes. Many Western nations believe it is a front for developing a nuclear bomb. (more…)

Penguin deaths on Brazil’s beaches caused by unusual currents

July 23rd, 2010

Magellanic Penguins are pictured here in Chile. Some 500 Magellan penguins turned up dead on beaches in and around Peruibe, 80 miles south of São Paulo, Brazil.

Penguin deaths on the beaches of São Paulo state in Brazil may be caused by hunger or exhaustion after coming in search of food.

Penguins and Brazil go together like chalk and cheese. And yet the wee, fat birds have been in the news here all this week after some 500 Magellan penguins turned up dead on beaches in and around Peruibe, 80 miles south of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.

Vets think they died of hunger or exhaustion after coming in search of food.

“They come on the currents looking for food. Many of them are young and inexperienced and when they don’t find food they keep coming with the currents and eventually find themselves in Brazilian waters,” says Rafael Ramos, a vet at the Peruibe Aquarium who performed autopsies on some of the dead animals. (more…)

Hundreds of dead penguins dot Brazil’s beaches

July 21st, 2010

Hundreds of penguins that apparently starved to death are washing up on the beaches of Brazil, worrying scientists who are still investigating what’s causing them to die.

About 500 of the black-and-white birds have been found just in the last 10 days on Peruibe, Praia Grande and Itanhaem beaches in Sao Paulo state, said Thiago do Nascimento, a biologist at the Peruibe Aquarium.

Most were Magellan penguins migrating north from Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands in search of food in warmer waters.

Many are not finding it: Autopsies done on several birds revealed their stomachs were entirely empty _ indicating they likely starved to death, Nascimento said. (more…)

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