- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Farmers want new government

NAVARRO | It’s wheat sowing season on Argentina’s pampas plains, but farmers are biding their time - praying for rain and a government defeat in Sunday’s mid-term election.

Months of tax protests by farmers last year sparked broader discontent with center-left President Cristina Fernandez, who faces the biggest test of her turbulent 18 months in office in the vote and risks losing her congressional majority.

Argentina, once dubbed the world’s breadbasket, remains a leading global food supplier, but growers like Jorge Cerda in the small town of Navarro say political uncertainty means they’re keeping investments in machinery, seeds and fertilizer to a minimum.

Mrs. Fernandez’s attempt to raise soy taxes galvanized farmers’ anger, and several protest leaders are running for Congress Sunday in a bid to challenge Mrs. Fernandez’s farm policies and push for lower taxes on multibillion-dollar grain shipments.

Mrs. Fernandez defends the high export taxes, which are a major source of state revenue, as a way to redistribute wealth among poor Argentines.


Tropical storm churns the Pacific

MEXICO CITY | Tropical Storm Andres churned off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast Monday, near the resort of Zihuatanejo, and could blow into a hurricane as it moves slowly away from the coast, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was about 180 miles south of Zihuatanejo, shifting northwest at around 3 mph and packing winds of about 50 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the storm’s center, the NHC said, and Andres could bring heavy rains to southern Mexico during the next day or two.

“Some strengthening is forecast, and Andres could become a hurricane during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.


Garbage men go on strike

TORONTO | Toronto garbage collectors, day care workers and other municipal employees went on strike just after midnight Monday in a contract dispute that could lead to a prolonged shutdown of important services in Canada’s largest city.

The strike was authorized by two locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) after the city and labor negotiators were unable to reach an agreement by Sunday. In all, about 24,000 workers are on strike, the union said.

The CUPE is Canada’s largest union, with around 590,000 members across the country.

The city is demanding concessions from the workers, including the end of the practice of “banking” unused sick leave.

The union contends that other unionized public employees in the city, ranging from parking-authority workers to police and firefighters, have reached agreements with wage increases of at least 3 percent and no concessions.


Crash bodies identified

SAO PAULO | Ten of 50 bodies recovered from the Air France flight that plunged into the Atlantic three weeks ago have been identified as Brazilians, medical examiners said.

Five of the first 11 bodies to be identified were Brazilian men, five were Brazilian women and one was a “foreigner of the male sex,” the Public Safety Department of the northeastern state of Pernambuco said in a statement Sunday.

The department did not reveal the nationality of the non-Brazilian victim.

Dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples were used to identify the bodies, the statement said. Investigators are reviewing all remains, debris and baggage at a base set up in Recife in northern Brazil.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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