RIO DE JANEIRO – Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes … “Ew, what’s that smell?”
At Ipanema beach in January, the organization Meu Rio staged a protest in an attempt to make it known that thousands of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the ocean off Rio’s coast each day.
“For three months we held protests every weekend to turn an invisible problem into a visible one,” Leona Deckelbaum, the campaign coordinator with Meu Rio, said in a recent interview. Only about 34 percent of Rio’s sewage is treated, and the rest simply washes into the azure waters, giving new meaning to the nautical term poop deck.
Guanabara Bay, the site of several 2016 Olympic sailing events, has 78 times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195 times the U.S. limit. In addition to human waste, the bay is also a receptacle for trash from ships and the bay’s 15 adjacent communities, as well as toxic runoff from a former landfill. And its not just Guanabara–the ritzy Leblon and Ipanema beach areas are plagued with similar pollution problems. The state environmental agency, INEA, found that Leblon and Ipanema were unfit for swimming for 40 percent of 2011. Botafogo Beach had so much fecal pollution that it did not pass a single INEA test in 2013, according to the BBC.
"In the waters just off Copacabana beach, the measurement of fecal coliform bacteria spiked to 16 times the Brazilian government’s satisfactory level as recently as three weeks ago, bad news for the marathon swimmers and triathletes set to compete there," the AP noted in November.
Olympic teams are getting grossed out and nervous.
Read more. [Image: Felipe Dana/AP]
Years before starting her own church with her wife, Lanna Holder tried to quit being gay for God. She represents an unusual side of the Protestantism that’s sweeping the world’s largest Catholic country.
Read more. [Image: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters]
Women have high hopes for the deep pockets of visiting gringos, but advocacy groups caution that their expectations might be dashed.
Read more. [Image: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]
In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room.
Read more. [Image: Felipe Dana/AP]
Ten kids, a baby, and a plywood shack in Brazil.
Read more. [Image: Olga Khazan]
SAO PAULO—I have only been in Brazil for a few days, but I am ready to make one ignorant American overgeneralization: This country loves its buffets. I have dined buffet-style for almost all of my meals here, and the times that I didn’t, the restaurant had a buffet option available.
Walking around a Sao Paulo neighborhood the other day, a fellow reporter here was taken aback by one particular restaurant buffet offering. The sign in front noted that the price for a lunch buffet was five reais (about $2.25) higher for men than for women. When a waitress was asked about the discrepancy, she responded, plainly, that it’s because men eat more than women.
In a way, she’s right: Women have, on average, smaller bodies than men, and thus require fewer calories in a given day. To maintain weight, a 26-year-old, moderately active man should eat about 2,600 calories per day, while a woman of the same age and activity level should eat 2,000.
Read more. [Image: Boellstiftung/Flickr]
Tunisia, Argentina, Brazil and Thailand are home to some of the world’s most math-phobic 15-year-olds.
Levels of “mathematics anxiety” in those countries were the highest among the nations tracked by the OECD as part of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests that the organization coordinates.
Read more. [Image: GlobalPartnership for Education/Flickr]
"As the popularity of rolezinhos grows each week, so is the alarm of authorities. Mall administrators have responded by obtaining judicial orders to fine anyone caught participating in a rolezinho 10,000 reales (roughly $4,200). They’ve also deployed guards to screen would-be mall goers. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, apparently concerned that the movement will spread, called for a high-level meeting on the subject this week, and on Thursday the mayor of São Paulo pleaded with local youths to move the events to public spaces or at least the mall parking lots, while at the same time announcing a series of meetings with shopping mall owners to avoid racist policies.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the seeming random nature of the rolezinhos, reaction to them has provided much fodder for analysis among São Paulo’s elite. Left-wing commentators were indignant when the gatherings were initially interpreted by the local media to be ‘arrastão,’ a term usually applied to large groups of people intent on rioting. Some headlines are using the term ‘apartheid' to refer to the shopping malls' attempts to keep these youths out.
'People are scared because it's a lot of youth together … and because they are black and live in the periphery,' says Barreido.”
To win Olympic medals, a country needs lots of talent, the resources to train that talent, and the desire to spend those resources, as my colleague Matt O’Brien put it.
As host of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil has plenty of incentive to rake in as much Olympic gold as possible, and with almost 200 million people, it has quite the talent pool, too.
What’s more, the country has discovered that certain segments of its sizeable population come prepackaged with Olympic-worthy skills. Why train new Olympic archers, the thinking seems to be, when some Brazilians have already been shooting arrows since they were the size of a quiver?
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Paulo Whitaker]
If you want to understand the modern academy, it wouldn’t hurt to start at “impact factor.”
Every year, the company Thomson Reuters assigns every academic journal an “impact factor.” Impact factors measure, roughly, how often papers published in one journal are cited by other journals. It is an ecological measurement, in other words. You’d recognize the names of journals with the highest impact factors — Nature, Science, etc. — but the world of scholarly journals is enormous, and there’s crowding at the bottom.
Two stories today illustrate the problems with impact factors, and the difficulty of measuring knowledge through any metric.
Read more. [Image: Eduardo Coutinho/Flickr]