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It's Party Time in Brazil as Carnival Gets Under Way

Carnival frenzy is sweeping Brazil as the South American powerhouse prepares to launch a week of sizzling samba dancing, glittering parades, and unabashed merry-making.

Over the next days this racially diverse country of 191 million people will come to a standstill for the pre-Lent bacchanalian festival that is its most popular holiday.

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Spartan Boot Camp for Rio's Carnival King

King Momo, the Rio Carnival's symbol of overweight excess, has employed a personal trainer and a nutritionist as he goes to drastic lengths to whip himself into shape for the festivities.

Milton Junior, who weighs in at 160 kilograms (352 pounds) and stands 1.84 meters (six feet three inches) tall, knows what he is in for as this will be his fourth year playing the Brazilian city's carnival king.

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Carnival Goes to The Dogs with Rio Pet Parade

Most pre-Carnival street parties in Brazil are all about samba, but the moves on display at Sunday's Blocao parade were focused more on wagging and strategic sniffing than on fancy footwork.

Hundreds of decked-out dogs — and a few brave cats — got in on the Carnival fun at Rio de Janeiro's annual pet-friendly parade: Labradors in pink tutus or engineers' overalls cavorted with Maltese terriers with fairy wings, and poodles in superheros' capes sniffed sausage dogs dressed up as Salome, with sequin-covered harem pants.

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Brazil Files Injunction against Twitter

A request for an injunction to stop Twitter users from alerting drivers to police roadblocks, radar traps and drunk-driving checkpoints could make Brazil the first country to take Twitter up on its plan to censor content at governments' requests.

Twitter unveiled plans last month that would allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.

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Striking Police Vacate Brazil State Legislature

More than 200 police on strike over pay peacefully vacated the state legislature in the Brazilian state of Bahia early Thursday after a nine-day standoff, officials said.

"The state assembly was vacated early this morning... Their leader, Marco Prisco, has been arrested," said government spokesman Robinson Almeida.

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Gorillas, Clowns Among Coveted Rio Carnival Masks

With the official opening of the famed Rio carnival less than two weeks away, business is booming at Brazil's oldest mask factory, with designs of gorillas, clowns and witches the most coveted.

This year, politicians are out, said Olga Gibert, owner of the Condal plant, located in Sao Goncalo, on the other side of Rio de Janeiro bay.

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Brazil Police Strike Leader Vows Resistance

Police strikers occupying the state legislature in the Brazilian city of Salvador vowed Monday to resist if troops try to flush them out amid a tense standoff between the security forces.

Local media reported that authorities fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas canisters at demonstrators in clashes outside the assembly that left at least six people injured.

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Brazil Sends in Troops after Police Strike Incites Crime

The Brazilian government has sent troops to the state of Bahia to restore order after a strike by militarized police set off a crime wave, authorities said Saturday.

The homicide rate in the state capital of Salvador was up 117% to 50 in the four days since the strike started Wednesday, according to figures from the government news service Agencia Brasil. A jump in looting and assaults also was reported.

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Brazilians Pay Homage to Lemanja, Goddess of The Sea

With flower offerings and drums belting out African rhythms, thousands of people across Brazil paid respects Thursday to Iemanja, the goddess of the sea in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble.

The Iemanja festival is immensely popular across this vast, racially diverse country of 190 million, but especially in the northeast state of Bahia, the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture.

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Death Toll in Rio High-Rise Collapse Rises to Six

The death toll from the collapse of three high-rise buildings in downtown Rio has risen to six, firefighters said Friday, as rescuers continued to comb through the mountain of rubble.

Some 20 people are still missing following the collapse late Wednesday of three buildings -- of 20, 10, and four stories -- in a commercial area that is bustling during the day but mostly deserted at night.

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