Ripped From Which Headline? "Brazil"

Slate's Culture Blog
March 30 2010 6:08 PM

Ripped From Which Headline? "Brazil"

We all know that

Law & Order
June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 


rips its stories from the headlines—but which headlines? Every week, Brow Beat matches


s plot points to the events that inspired them.

March 29, 2010, "Brazil"

These Are Their Stories
When Oscar Silva, a Brazilian climate-change denier, is poisoned at a scientific conference, the police search his computer. They discover a file that contains e-mails between two researchers that mention adjusting the climate data they have collected. Silva used the compromising e-mails to blackmail one of the scientists.

This Is the Real Story
In November 2009, private e-mails attributed to British and American climate researchers were made public. According to the New York Times , the messages included "discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released. ... In one e-mail exchange, a scientist writes of using a statistical 'trick' in a chart illustrating a recent sharp warming trend."

These Are Their Stories
The detectives learn that Oscar Silva's American-born wife, Dana, was once married to Phillip Shoemaker, an American scientist who snuck into the breakfast meeting where Oscar Silva was poisoned. After their divorce, she had taken their daughter, Nicole, to Brazil in violation of the custody agreement. Over a period of years, Shoemaker filed numerous lawsuits in Brazil to gain access to Nicole. The police speculate that he had a motive to poison Oscar Silva, knowing that if he died, Dana and Nicole would likely return to the United States.

This Is the Real Story
In 2004, Bruna Bianchi took her son, Sean Goldman, to her native Brazil, leaving her American-born husband, David Goldman, in New Jersey. She later filed for divorce and remarried a Brazilian. David Goldman sued for custody in U.S. and Brazilian courts, to no avail. Bianchi died in 2008, but her widower sued for custody of Sean and refused to return the boy to the United States. In December 2009, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered that Sean be returned to his father .

These Are Their Stories
Finding neither parent fit for custody, a family court judge gives temporary custody of Nicole to the Lehmans, Dana's parents. Soon after Dana and Nicole move in with them, Nicole goes missing; her doll is found next to the boat dock where an inflatable boat has floated out to sea. Cable news crews follow the craft, which is eventually shown to be empty, but Nicole is found sleeping behind the boathouse. Nicole's grandfather admits that the incident was staged: He was trying to present Dana as an unfit mother so that they would get custody.

This Is the Real Story
In October 2009, Colorado authorities chased a homemade helium balloon in which 6-year-old Falcon Heene was thought to be hiding. Cable news networks covered the pursuit live , including the craft's dramatic landing and subsequent revelation that Falcon was not onboard. The Heenes later admitted that the incident was an elaborate hoax intended to snag the family a reality-TV show deal.


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