Junk food tax passed: Mexicans, who recently surpassed Americans as the world’s fattest people, will now have to pay a tax on junk food. The government has imposed an 8 percent tax on candy, chips, and the like. But it has so far added only 1 peso per liter to the price of soda, as the Senate argues the merits of an 8 peso per liter tax. Mexicans drink more sugary soft drinks than anyone else—43 gallons a year each, compared with 31 gallons per year for Americans—and that is considered a major factor in the country’s soaring diabetes rate. “More is currently spent on soft drinks than on eggs, beans, and tortillas,” said Alejandro Calvillo of the advocacy group Consumer Power.
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Affirmative action: Brazil plans to start affirmative action for blacks in hiring for government jobs. President Dilma Rousseff said she has asked the National Congress to pass a law reserving 20 percent of public jobs for black Brazilians, who are disproportionately poor and undereducated. About half of Brazilians are mixed-race or black—the black population of about 100 million is larger than that of any other country but Nigeria—and most are descendents of slaves. Brazil was the largest recipient of slaves from Africa and the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888.
Dirty war files: A janitor cleaning an air force building last week found hundreds of transcripts of top-secret meetings of the military junta that once ruled Argentina. One file instructs officers not to use the term “disappeared” to refer to leftists who were kidnapped and killed, while another gives a blacklist of famous Argentine artists and writers ranked by “danger” level. “These documents will prove a valuable insight into the junta’s political reasoning, economic policies, and state terrorism,” said human rights activist Gastón Chillier. Up to 30,000 people were tortured and killed under the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.
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