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Latin America
5:32 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's Traffic Is A Circus, So Send In The Clowns

The Brazilian city of Olinda has a novel approach to taming its ever-growing traffic problem: traffic clowns known as palhacos.
Andrea Hsu NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

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.

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The Two-Way
5:31 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

On Budget Issues, Pentagon's Rhetoric Is Challenged

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 6:06 pm

The budget battles in Washington have inspired the need for some verbal gymnastics that have challenged even the most adept doublespeakers at the Pentagon. As one member of the House pointed out today, some Pentagonians have insisted that Congress cannot cut a single additional dollar from defense, without endangering the national defense strategy.

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Latin America
5:28 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's New Middle Class: A Better Life, Not An Easy One

Roberto de Carvalho (left), who maintains a truck fleet in Recife, Brazil, is shown here with his daughter Sandra, 22, wife Enilda and daughter Susana, 16. The family makes just enough to belong the rapidly expanding ranks of the country's middle class, though they still can't afford a house or even a car.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

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.

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The Two-Way
5:20 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Good Samaritan Could Get Unclaimed Lotto Jackpot In Spain

Women in Barcelona check their numbers for Spain's Christmas lottery, named "El Gordo" (Fat One), in 2012.
Josep Lago AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:10 am

A city in northwest Spain issued a rather unusual lost-and-found notice this week:

FOUND: A lottery ticket bought more than a year ago, which entitles the owner to an unclaimed $6.3 million jackpot.

LOST: The ticket's owner.

From its El Gordo ("The Fat One") Christmas lottery, to the summertime EuroMillions drawing, Spain is a country obsessed with playing the lottery — especially in a dismal economy.

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It's All Politics
5:13 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Atheists Start PAC To Elect Nonreligious Candidates

Bishop McNeil, who isn't a cleric despite his name, speaks to reporters Wednesday at a news conference to introduce the Freethought Equality Fund PAC.
Frank James NPR

Americans who count themselves among the "nones" — as in atheists, agnostics or those of no definite religious affiliation — have launched a new political action committee.

The goal? To support the election of like-minded lawmakers or, at a minimum, candidates committed to upholding the constitutional separation between church and state.

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