On a busy avenue in Olinda, in northeastern Brazil, two men in wigs, big red noses and full clown makeup are squeaking horns and making a good-natured ruckus.
"Where's your helmet?" shouts one as a motorcyclist whizzes by. "Fasten your seat belt!" calls out the other.
Uncle Honk and Fom Fom are traffic clowns, or palhacos, hired by the city to make the roads a bit safer. They lean into traffic, making exaggerated gestures, like the sweep of the arm to mimic fastening a seat belt, and a mimed reminder to never drink and drive.
Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.
But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:43 pm
A story in the Financial Times caught our eye this week. It was on foreign workers in South Korea.
The story looked at the town of Ansan, where about 7.6 percent of the population is foreign. They come from other Asian countries, as well as from Russia. Here's one of the reasons for the change in South Korea, a highly homogeneous society:
At a community center named for Florida civil rights pioneer Carrie Meek, a few dozen members of Miami's National Church of God gathered over the weekend for a tea party — and to hear from a special guest, Monica Rodriguez of Enroll America.
The organization is working to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that will let people without health insurance shop for coverage starting Oct. 1.
It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.
"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."
She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.
The former Versace mansion fetched a top bid of $41.5 million from a group that included New York’s Nakash family, which controls Jordache Enterprises, at a court-ordered bankruptcy auction Tuesday.
After the auction, Joe Nakash, the winning bidder and owner of the Victory Hotel next door, said he plans to ask for the right to use the Versace name and operate the mansion as a hotel in conjunction with the Victor.
Lamar P. Fisher of Fisher Auction Co. conducted the auction Tuesday morning inside the ornate 10-bedroom, 11-bath mansion.
After a nearly 20-year career as part of a landmark exhibit at Zoo Miami, the white Bengal tiger known as “Carlita” was euthanized on Monday, the zoo announced.
Carlita was born in July 1992 and was transferred to Zoo Miami, where she began her career as part of the Tiger Temple exhibit in February 1994. She was paired with two other typically-colored Bengal tigers, Lyric and Roshe, and her color — or lack of it — helped her stand out and added to her popularity among zoo visitors, said zoo spokesman Ron Magill.
When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, Gary Lauer was nervous. Part of the bill sounded grim. It said people could buy required health coverage online, but only through websites run by state and federal governments.
"That was going to pretty much delete us from the landscape," he says.
Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd gathers in Sao Paulo and waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.
They are celebrating a sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death. The women wear white dresses with crinolines, colorful belts and headdresses. The men wear lace, pajama-style suits. They sing and dance in a circle for hours; the room gets warmer, the chanting more intense.
Suddenly, they are here: Orixas have possessed the chosen among the faithful. They are spirit gods, the deified ancestors who link humans to the other world.