BRAZIL: 257 dead in landslides
Summer rains sent tons of red mud and torrents of water rushing down mountainsides in towns outside Rio, enveloping homes of rich and poor alike and killing at least 257 people in 24 hours. Some survivors clung to trees to escape the water and landslides. Rescuers used heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands to dig through debris in a search for survivors Wednesday. At least 50 remained missing, and officials feared that figure would rise. In Teresopolis, 40 miles north of Rio, creeks overflowed and flash floods swept over already waterlogged mountainsides. At least 130 people died in Teresopolis, the local Civil Defense agency said. The mountains saw 10 inches of rain fall in less than 24 hours.
TUNISIA: Minister fired over riots
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said Wednesday the country's interior minister has been fired after deadly protests over unemployment. He also announced that most prisoners arrested during nearly a month of riots are being freed. The government has said 23 people have died in the protests during which police shot at demonstrators. Others say the death toll is higher.
NETHERLANDS: Taxing the sex trade
Workers in the world's oldest profession are about to get a lesson in the harsh reality of Europe's new age of austerity. The Dutch government has warned prostitutes who advertise their wares in the windows of Amsterdam's red-light district to expect a business-only visit from the taxman. Prostitution has flourished since the 1600s, when the Netherlands was a major naval power and sailors swaggered into the port looking for a good time. The country legalized the practice a decade ago, but authorities are only now getting around to looking to sex workers for taxes. "We began at the larger places, the brothels, so now we're moving on to the window landlords and the ladies," said Janneke Verheggen, spokeswoman for the Tax Service. The move is meeting with little formal opposition, even among prostitutes, though some are skeptical it can be enforced. It marks yet another shift away from the permissive attitudes that once prevailed.