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Brazil Unveils Cuts as IMF Urges Fiscal Discipline

The IMF urged Brazil to get its fiscal house in order to emerge from five years of low growth as South America's largest economy Friday unveiled a package of budget cuts in a move to kickstart a recovery.

Brazil has lost ground since a period of high growth largely fueled by Chinese-led demand for commodities came to an end and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts GDP will contract by around 1.0 percent this year.

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Lebanese Drug Smuggler Busted at Beirut Airport

A Lebanese man was arrested on Wednesday at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport for trying to smuggle drugs to Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported.

NNA said 22-year-old M.A. was apprehended for carrying with him 3.2 kilograms of cocaine.

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China, Brazil, Unveil Multibillion Trade, Investment Deals

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang lifted the wraps Tuesday on a multibillion-dollar series of trade and investment deals with Brazil, as Beijing looks to invest $53 billion in South America's largest economy.

The news unveiled at the start of Li's first official visit to Latin America is a huge boon for Brazil as it endures a fifth straight year of low growth after a period of rapid expansion fueled by Asian demand for commodities that has since slowed.

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Investigative Brazilian Reporter Found Slain

A Brazilian investigative reporter was found decapitated in southeastern Minas Gerais state as he followed leads in a drug-dealing and child prostitution case, a journalists' union told Agence France Presse Tuesday.

"The union is demanding a rigorous investigation. Independent journalist Evany Jose Metzker was warned he ran a risk investigating drug trafficking and child prostitution in this violent region," a union spokesman said.

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China to Invest $50 Billion in Brazilian Infrastructure

China will invest $50 billion to help overhaul Brazil's aging infrastructure, Brasilia said Thursday, ahead of an official visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

"There are $50 billion in new projects," said Jose Graca Lima, Brazil's undersecretary of state, who oversees Asia and Oceania.

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Rock in Rio gambles on 'Sin City' for U.S. Debut

Rock in Rio, the giant festival from Brazil, kicked off a first Las Vegas edition Friday as it bet big on the booming U.S. appetite for live music.

With an investment of $75 million, the festival inaugurated a specially built 40-acre (16-hectare) "City of Rock" on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Pope Francis to Visit Chile in 2016

Pope Francis will visit Chile in 2016, the South American country confirmed Wednesday, after a meeting in Rome between its foreign minister and his Vatican counterpart.

The confirmation follows comments by the pope during a January visit to the Philippines, where he said he planned to travel to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in 2016.

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Brazil Aims to Raise $666 mn in Oil Blocks Selloff

Brazil will sell off 269 blocks of oil this year to international operators, albeit none in potentially highly lucrative so-called pre-salt areas lying deep in the Atlantic, a government minister said Monday.

Brazil is setting great store by the eventual exploitation of tens of billions of barrels' worth of pre-salt stocks and whose selloff, originally slated for next year, is now expected to come in about 2017.

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Brazilian Teachers Clash with Police, over 200 Hurt

Brazilian riot police fired smoke bombs and rubber bullets Wednesday at striking teachers protesting a new law that will withhold more money from their salaries towards retirement.

A total of 213 people were injured and 13 arrested in the violence in the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil, officials said.

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Indonesian Executions Spark International Anger

Indonesia faced a storm of international protest Wednesday for putting seven foreign drug convicts before a firing squad, but Filipinos rejoiced after a compatriot was spared at the last minute.

Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest at what it called "cruel and unnecessary" executions, Brazil expressed strong regret and France vowed a diplomatic battle to save a citizen still on death row.    

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