Chatter: Brazil is still protesting




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Brazil's protests are about far more than a bus fare. Which is why it should come as no surprise that authorities' decision to reverse planned price hikes in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero hasn't cleared protesters from the streets.

Some came out in celebration; others decried the police violence, corruption, poor public services and government misspending that has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to join Brazil's biggest mass movement in years. They're just some of the red flags signalling that next year's World Cup, the biggest event on the soccer calendar, might not go smoothly. Here are five signs Brazil isn't ready to play host.


Singapore smog. Residents of Singapore, no, it's not your eyes: you really are seeing the city-state through a thick, grimy haze. Air pollution has soared to its highest-ever level, and could remain that way for weeks.

The unprecedented smog has been blamed on illegal forest fires in nearby Indonesia, to the Indonesian government's offense. Officials from the two neighbors have called an emergency meeting to discuss their response; meanwhile, Singaporeans who value their lungs have been warned not to go outdoors.

Monks on a plane. Not just any plane, and not just any monks: this is a luxury private jet, and its passengers are Rayban-wearing, Louis Vuitton-toting Buddhist monks. 

The incongruous sight was captured in a video that's currently captivating Thailand, where Buddhism reigns supreme. The clip has scandalized those who expect modern monks, as traditional teachings demand, to forsake all worldly pleasures. But more and more monks, it seems, can't resist 21st-century temptations.

RIP, James Gandolfini. Tony Soprano, as millions of TV fans knew him, has died of a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Italy. He was 51.

Inseparable for most from The Sopranos' tortured patriarch, Gandolfini also won acclaim for his many movie and theater roles. HBO, which gave him his most famous character, paid tribute to "a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person."


When consonants attack. Wales takes its notoriously vowel-shy place names very, very seriously, even if the rest of us can't. So seriously, in fact, that one Welsh village is preparing to vote in hope of settling a years-old debate: is it Llansantffraid or Llansanffraid?

The town's name was altered from the former to the latter in 2008 by local councillors who fancied themselves authorities on its long-forgotten etymology. Local people disagreed, and some unpleasantness – defacing of roadsigns, etc. – followed. Authorities hope a referendum will quell the controversy once and for all. Listen to the two versions pronounced here and we're sure you'll agree: one little "t" makes all the difference.