- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007


Bad traffic control blamed in fatal crash

RIO DE JANEIRO — The U.S. company that owned the executive jet involved in a midair collision with a commercial airliner blamed faulty Brazilian air-traffic control for the accident that killed 154 persons, according to a report the Associated Press obtained on Saturday.

The Sept. 29 accident was Brazil’s deadliest air disaster. A Gol airlines Boeing 737 and an ExcelAire Legacy 600 jet clipped each other, causing the jetliner to plunge into the Amazon rain forest, killing all aboard. No one in the smaller plane was hurt.

In a 154-page report to Brazilian federal police this month, New York-based ExcelAire said an analysis of air-traffic-control transmissions and flight recorders in the Legacy “confirmed that both planes were freed by Air Traffic Control to fly at the same altitude and the same path, in opposite directions.”


Exiled leader to get doctorate in languages

JOHANNESBURG — Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, exiled in South Africa, will receive a doctorate in African languages this week in a ceremony to be attended by President Thabo Mbeki.

Haiti’s first democratically elected leader has been a guest of the South African government since fleeing an uprising in the Caribbean nation in February 2004. Soon after his arrival in South Africa, Mr. Aristide was appointed an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.

The populist ruler, who failed to win the approval of Haiti’s middle and upper classes during his two stints as president, has qualifications in theology, philosophy and psychology obtained at universities in Haiti and Rome.


Overseas French vote a day early

MONTREAL — Citizens of France in North America voted in large numbers on Saturday, a day before their compatriots back home cast ballots to choose France’s next president amid intense interest in the hotly contested election.

Hundreds of people were still queuing up to vote Saturday afternoon on a brilliant spring day at a polling station in the Outremont district of Montreal, which has the largest number of French voters outside Europe.

“It is definitely the first time there are so many people. I can’t believe it,” said Jacqueline Orquin, a medical researcher at the University of Montreal.

Weekly notes …

Cuban President Fidel Castro met with a top Chinese official last week, the government said — another sign that the convalescing leader is unofficially back at work on more of his customary official duties. On Saturday, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma published two photos of Mr. Castro, 80, looking more fit. They were the first official photos published since Jan. 30. … Chopping down parts of the Amazon rain forest to plant soybeans is even more damaging to the environment than using the land for cattle pasture, according to a study issued last week. Soybean fields in Brazil reduce local rainfall by four times as much as pasture land, the British weekly New Scientist reported. The reason: Soybean fields are light in color and reflect solar radiation skyward.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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