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Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

When the test scores came out, Lucas Siqueira, 27, was really excited. His high mark on the Foreign Service exam earned him a coveted position at Brazil's highly competitive Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"They hire 30 diplomats a year and thousands of people sign up," he says in fluent English from his home in Brasilia, the capital.

It was, he says, a great day.

Siqueira considers himself to be mixed race, known in Brazil as pardo, or brown.

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Our next story is about a postal worker. She deals with aggressive dogs and missing letters and all the other stuff a letter carrier usually deals with. But her circumstances are pretty unusual. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro reports from Rio de Janeiro.

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Today, a dramatic scene in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Brazilian Portuguese).

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In Brazil today, a passionate defense from a suspended president.

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No one would want to throw the biggest party in the world if they were in the middle of divorce, broke and being audited.

That's pretty much the situation Brazil finds itself in right now, during the Summer Olympic Games.

President Dilma Rousseff is in the midst of being impeached. Her trial starts in a few days, after the end of the games. The country is going through a historic recession, and budgets are being repeatedly slashed. And the largest corruption investigation in Latin American history has taken down politicians and captains of industry alike.

"That bullet almost hit my bed. Have mercy, please God, deliver us," a resident in a group of Rio favelas called Alemao said in a message posted Saturday on the WhatsApp smartphone messaging service.

While media attention has focused on U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers who were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday, violence is surging in Rio's favelas, or shantytowns, far from the games.

It's a soup kitchen fit for kings and queens.

And that is exactly the way internationally famous chef Massimo Bottura wants it. The aim of this new venture, though, is different: It's a gourmet soup kitchen that uses leftovers to feed the less fortunate.

When you walk into Bottura's latest culinary temple, it would not be out of place in his home city of Modena, Italy, the location of his Michelin three-star restaurant Osteria Francescana.

In the opening ceremony of Rio's Olympic Games, Brazil's favelas, or shantytowns, were showcased as the birthplace of a lot of Brazil's culture.

That was showbiz. In three of the most iconic communities, the reality of how these Olympics are affecting favela residents is more complicated.

Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world. In Rio, at least 25 percent of the population lives in impoverished communities.

Take Santa Marta. Perched above Rio's expensive South Zone, it's the city's most internationally famous favela.

Brazil's suspended President Dilma Rousseff's fate seems to be all but sealed.

Senators voted overwhelmingly to try the suspended leader, 59-21, in the last leg of the process to remove her from office. She will now face a trial in the Senate over alleged fiscal mismanagement. A final vote after all the evidence has been presented and weighed is set to take place at the end of the month.

At Rio's Summer Games, there's plenty of drama inside the arenas — but it's not all about sport.

As is traditional for the host country's head of state, interim President Michel Temer declared the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics open for business on Aug. 5. But instead of cheers, the crowd erupted into boos. Music quickly swelled to mask the sound, but Brazilians, in the midst of a national political crisis, loudly made their dislike of him known.

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Some other news - tomorrow is a big day in Brazil. The Olympics are coming to Rio de Janeiro.

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With the Olympics set to start in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, athletes and tourists are flooding the city. NPR correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro checked in with some of those visitors.

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On the day she was killed, Alexsandra Moreira thought she was safe. She thought she had managed to break away and protect herself.

Her brother even escorted her to the bus station that morning to make sure she was OK on her way to work.

"When she got on the bus, my brother told her, 'If anything happens, just call me.' Ten minutes later, his phone rang and it was her. All he could hear was her screaming, pleading for help," Moreira's sister, Andreza da Silva, says.

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A year ago, Mari d'Alessandro got some of the worst news a mother can get. She had taken her son, Hugo, for a routine checkup, and the pediatrician told her Hugo had cancer. He was only 10.

Since then, Venezuela has faced economic and political upheaval that has led to food riots — and now, according to doctors and patients, a health crisis as well.

"You can't find the medicines," d'Alessandro says. "The doctor told me I'm going to have to pay six or seven thousand dollars for just one of the medicines, if I can even get it on the black market."

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

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