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A vast blanket of white sand overlooking the Brazilian city Salvador became a flashpoint after City Hall began building a plaza at the dune’s base with bathrooms and a welcome center, and soon will start on a staircase leading up the sand. Afro Brazilian religious groups have protested what they see as elected representatives wielding power to conquer and christen another physical space, and politics poisoning religion ahead of the Oct. 2 election. Defenders of the project say it’s necessary to protect the fragile dunes from the huge influx of people. The project reinforces some people’s concern that the constitutionally enshrined secularism of the world’s fourth largest democracy is in jeopardy.

AP
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Newly baptized Casa de Oraçao church members Zerilda Souza, 57, from left, Bruno Jesus Santos, 32, and Joao Ferreira, 80, pose for a portrait on the shore of the Abaete Lagoon, in Salvador, Brazil, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. While Catholicism is still the largest religion in Brazil, in recent years it has slipped below 50% of the population to lose its status as a majority faith even as evangelical churches have gained. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

AP
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A resident walks past a school adorned with religious symbols representing Judaism, from left, Christianity, Islam and the Afro Brazilian faith Candomble, paired with the Portuguese words for peace, tolerance and respect, in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Members of Afro Brazilian religious groups say evangelicals' rising influence in the country's halls of power and politics are straining interreligious relations ahead of the Oct. 2 general elections. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

AP
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Issack is 80, Hassan 75. The two blind men are friends and as close as brothers, gripping each other’s hands in their mutual darkness as tightly as they hold their canes. Near the end of their lives, the most alarming drought in more than half a century in Somalia has stripped them of their animals and homes. Pastoralists and farmers who have known for generations where to take cattle, goats and camels when the usual water sources run dry have been horrified by this drought that has seen four straight rainy seasons fail. The Associated Press met the men crouching together in the dust among hundreds of new arrivals at a displacement camp.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved one of the most contentious bills before him this year. It's a measure aiding efforts by farmworkers to unionize that was backed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Their support pinned Newsom in a difficult political position after his office previously criticized the proposal. The bill he signed Wednesday will allow farmworkers who provide much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables to vote by mail in union elections. Proponents say that will help protect workers from union busting and other intimidation. Farm owners say it lacks necessary safeguards to prevent fraud.

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Authorities have publicly identified the 14-year-old killed in a shooting that also wounded four other teens as they walked away from a Philadelphia high school athletic field after a football scrimmage, saying they believe he was not the intended target of the shooting. Police said Wednesday they were searching for at least five suspects in the shooting outside Roxborough High School shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday that killed Nicholas Elizalde, of suburban Havertown. Three of the wounded players were stable, and the fourth was treated at the scene for a graze wound. Several players for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles offered prayers for the families and lamented that gun violence shattered a safe space.

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An investigator works the scene where multiple people were shot near Roxborough High School in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Authorities have identified the 14-year-old youth killed in a shooting on Tuesday that also wounded several other teens as they walked away from a Philadelphia high school athletic field after a football scrimmage. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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An evidence marker noting an apparent bullet hole is seen at the scene where multiple people were shot near Roxborough High School in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Authorities have identified the 14-year-old youth killed in a shooting on Tuesday that also wounded several other teens as they walked away from a Philadelphia high school athletic field after a football scrimmage. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Police vehicles are parked at Roxborough High School near where multiple people were shot in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Authorities have identified the 14-year-old youth killed in a shooting on Tuesday that also wounded several other teens as they walked away from a Philadelphia high school athletic field after a football scrimmage. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)