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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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Five Dead, 16 Missing in Rio High-Rises Collapse

Rescue teams frantically dug through rubble Thursday for 16 people missing after three office buildings collapsed in the historic heart of Rio, killing at least five people and injuring six, officials said.

The collapse, apparently caused by structural problems, occurred late Wednesday near the municipal theater on the city's Cinelandia square, in a historic district bustling by day but nearly deserted at night.

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'Anonymous' Hackers Attack Brazilian Websites

The computer hacker group Anonymous attacked websites of Brazil's federal district Saturday as well as one belonging to a Brazilian singer to protest the forced closure of

Anonymous posted messages on Twitter describing attacks against hundreds of Brazilian sites that share the URL ',' which are owned by the government of the federal capital in Rio de Janeiro.

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First Rio Carnival Tickets Sell Out in 30 Minutes

The first 36,840 tickets for the Carnival parades in Rio's famed Sambadrome sold out in half an hour Tuesday, organizers said.

The coveted tickets, for grandstand seats and individual chairs for the parades scheduled for February 19 and 20, were sold only to Rio residents by telephone at a cost ranging from 67 to 222 dollars, the Independent League of Samba Schools (Liesa) said.

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103 Journalists Killed in 2011, Mexico Deadliest Place

A total 103 journalists were killed in 2011, with Mexico the most dangerous place to work for the media, Vienna-based press watchdog IPI said Thursday.

This was the second highest toll on record after 2009, when 110 journalists were killed while covering a story.

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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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