Michael Bloomberg fights big tobacco in Uruguay

Michael Bloomberg is a man on a mission. This, of course, isn't the first "noble cause" he's latched on to but the "evil" of tobacco is something he feels particularly strongly about.

In co-operation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bloomberg has just launched a multi-million dollar fund to help smaller countries fight legal battles with tobacco companies, among them the small South American country of Uruguay.

Uruguay has considerably fewer smokers than Michael Bloomberg's usual backyard of New York but this country of just three million people has become an unlikely battleground between anti-smoking campaigners and big tobacco. Its government is embroiled in a long running and expensive legal battle with the cigarette industry over its anti-smoking laws.

And the former Democrat, come Republican, come Independent once touted as a potential presidential nominee has stepped into fray.

"We are in this to help countries that can't afford to defend themselves against an industry which will try to kill a billion people this century," Bloomberg tells me, pulling no punches in his New York headquarters.

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Rio losing its battle to clean up waterways for the Games

A beach in Rio
The International Olympic Committee stipulated that 80% of the sewage entering the Guanabara Bay be treated

With just over 500 days to go before the 2016 Olympic Games open in Rio de Janeiro, work is continuing around the clock to complete the sporting venues. But the BBC has seen startling scientific evidence which suggests a requirement to clean the city's polluted waterways in time for the Games will not be fulfilled.

From the air you can see Rio's Olympic Park, in the Barra zone to the south of the city, taking shape.

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Uruguay bids farewell to Jose Mujica, its pauper president

Whatever your own particular "shade" of politics, it's impossible not to be impressed or beguiled by Jose "Pepe" Mujica.

There are idealistic, hard-working and honest politicians the world over - although cynics might argue they're a small minority - but none of them surely comes anywhere close to the outgoing Uruguayan president when it comes to living by one's principles.

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Rocky road ahead for Argentine leader over Nisman case

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Brasilia on 16 July 2014
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was first elected in 2007 and won a second term in 2011

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been president of Argentina since 2007 but this, the last year of her presidency, is undoubtedly the most difficult period she has yet had to face.

Cristina, as most people here colloquially call their president, is occasionally flamboyant and is naturally politically combative.

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Death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman highlights Argentina polarisation

A woman holds a sign during the funeral of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, January 29, 2015.
On the day of Alberto Nisman's funeral, a woman holds a sign reading: "My job was to look for justice for you and it cost me my life"

We still may not know exactly how or why Alberto Nisman was killed in his luxury Buenos Aires apartment, but the special prosecutor's death has opened a window on Argentine politics and society.

The 51- year-old had been about to reveal more details about his report into the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed.

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Alberto Nisman: How and why did Argentina prosecutor die?

Argentina's populist President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner could not have had a worse start to the new year.

Her final year in office - she is not allowed to stand for re-election - already looks like it will be dominated by ongoing economic uncertainties and a political scandal involving the apparent murder of a former state prosecutor.

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Moment of Truth for Brazil's military past

DOPS cell
A cell at the Orwellian Department of Political and Social Order or DOPS

The Department of Political and Social Order or DOPS. It is a place as Orwellian and as sinister as the name suggests.

Right in the heart of the modern metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, the former police administration centre, prison and torture chamber has remained largely untouched since the end of the dictatorship in 1985.

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Brazil drought: Sao Paulo sleepwalking into water crisis

Mud in reservoir
Levels in the Cantareira reservoir system remain dangerously low

In Brazil's biggest city, a record dry season and ever-increasing demand for water has led to a punishing drought.

It has actually been raining quite heavily over the last few days in and around Sao Paulo but it has barely made a drop of difference.

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Brazil's president preaches unity after hard-won victory

Workers Party supporters celebrate Dilma Rousseff's election victory 26 Oct 2014
For the Workers Party, it was a triumphant night

Sometimes a close contest can bring out the worst in people. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, weeks of effort with nothing to show at the end, lots of money spent for no return.

On opposite sides of Rio de Janeiro last night, the rival camps were nursing their wounds after a bruising campaign.

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Brazil elections: Last-ditch push in 'Mini-Brazil' state

Brazilian presidential candidate and incumbent President Dilma Rousseff (R) and social democratic candidate Aecio Neves (L) attend a TV debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 24 October 2014
President Dilma Rousseff (R) and challenger Aecio Neves faced off in a bruising TV debate on Friday

All votes count in Brazil - there's no "winner takes all" system as in American states - so each part of this vast country is being fought over by Dilma Rousseff and Aecio Neves ahead of Sunday's vote. Nowhere is the race closer than in the southeastern state where they were both raised, Minas Gerais.

"Minas" is among the most closely contested constituencies in this election and is one in which many features affecting voters in the wider country can be found.

Read full article Brazil elections: Last-ditch push in 'Mini-Brazil' state