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Brazil Beams with Pride Over Sixth-Place Economic Ranking

Brazil beamed with pride Tuesday on news that it has powered past Britain to become the world's sixth biggest economy but officials say it will take another 20 years before the country can match the Europeans' standard of living.

"From a psychological standpoint, this is a fantastic year-end victory," Ricardo Teixeira, an administration professor at the prestigious Getulio Vargas foundation in Rio, told Agence France Presse.

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McDonald's Fined in Brazil over 'Happy Meal' Toys

U.S. fast food giant McDonald's has been fined $1.8 million in Brazil over its "Happy Meal" toys, which consumer advocates say encourage bad eating habits in children, state media has reported.

The Foundation for the Protection and Defense of the Consumer in Sao Paulo imposed the fine after a consumer group filed a complaint with it against the global fast food chain.

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At Least 36 Killed in Brazil Road Accident

At least 36 people were killed Saturday in a crash between a truck and bus carrying farm workers in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, highway police said.

A police spokeswoman told Agence France Presse that authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident, which also saw 13 people injured in the town of Milagres, 250 kilometers from the state capital Salvador.

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Leaders at Americas Talks: World Economy Top Worry

Leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean pledged to work together to fend off the effects of the world financial crisis and safeguard the region's growing economies.

Several presidents stressed at the start of a two-day summit Friday that they hope to ride out turbulent times by boosting their local industries and increasing trade within the region.

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Brazil Says it Has AIDS Under Control

Brazil said Monday its AIDS epidemic was under control, with a 0.61 percent cut in new cases between 2009 and 2010, although a rise among young homosexuals was a cause for concern.

"The AIDS epidemic remains stable," the health ministry said in its latest epidemiological report.

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Berri Confirms Lebanon will ‘Overcome Crises’

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Saturday that Lebanon will overcome the crises and maintain its stability.

“Lebanon will overcome crises and preserve its security and stability,” Berri said during a dinner banquet in honor of Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer.

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Suleiman Meets Brazilian VP, Asks Assistance to Urge Israel Implement 1701

President Michel Suleiman discussed on Saturday with Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer the importance of developing the bilateral relations between the two countries, asking assistance to pressure Israel to implement U.N. Security Council resolution 1701.

Suleiman stressed during a meeting with Temer at Baabda Palace on the importance of reforming the United Nations and the World Trade Organizations.

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Police Move to Wrest Control of Brazil's Largest Favela

Police forces here launched a major operation early on Sunday to wrest from criminals’ control of the Rocinha favela, the largest in Brazil.

The shantytown has been controlled by narcotraffickers for the past 30 years.

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Sources: Wael Abbas was Held in Syria for 20 Days

The ringleader of the gang that kidnapped the seven Estonian tourists, Wael Abbas, stayed in the custody of the Syrian authorities for 20 days before being handed over to Lebanon’s General Security Department last week, official sources said.

The sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published Monday that Syrian authorities questioned Abbas over his fake Venezuelan passport and other documents after Qatar arrested him at Doha airport and deported him to Syria.

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Chavez Calls for 'Cancer Summit'

Venezuelan president and cancer survivor Hugo Chavez on Sunday announced a summit in early 2012 of Latin American leaders who have beaten the disease including Brazil's current and former presidents.

The 57 year-old Chavez had surgery in June to remove a malignant tumor. After several rounds of chemotherapy, mostly in Cuba, he claimed last month that he was cancer-free.

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