- - Monday, May 30, 2011


France’s Lagarde in Brazil to promote IMF candidacy

BRASILIA — French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was in Brazil on Monday to kick off a global tour promoting her candidacy to head the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ms. Lagarde has emerged as the odds-on favorite for the job. Her appointment would make her the first woman in charge of the scandal-rocked fund but also could increase tensions with developing nations that argue that countries outside of Europe should be allowed to lead the organization.

Brazilian officials have not spoken out in favor of or against Ms. Lagarde’s candidacy. However, they previously have emphasized that the IMF’s next leader should be chosen on merits, not based on geography.

The IMF is hunting for a new leader to replace former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France, who quit May 18 after he was accused of attempting to rape a New York hotel maid. He has denied the claim.

Ms. Lagarde will meet with the head of Brazil’s Central Bank and also Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega. In recent years, Mr. Mantega has fought loudly for reforms in the IMF, World Bank and other multilateral institutions that would take into account the growth of emerging nations such as Brazil, China and India.


Report questions quake death toll

PORT-AU-PRINCE — A report commissioned by the U.S. government claims far fewer people were killed than the Haitian government said following last year’s earthquake.

The report, prepared for the U.S. Agency for International Development, estimates that no more than 85,000 people died in the January 2010 earthquake. The Haitian government put the death toll at more than 300,000.

The report also says far fewer people were left homeless than previously stated and that the amount of rubble is less.

The U.S. government has not released the report. A copy was obtained by the Associated Press on Monday.

Report author Timothy T. Schwartz defended his findings in a blog post and said there have long been questions about the Haitian government figures.


Teacher praised for protecting children

MONTERREY — The government has honored a kindergarten teacher in northern Mexico who became an Internet hit after a video showed her calmly leading children through a duck-and-cover drill as gunfire rattled outside their school.

The government of the northern state of Nuevo Leon presented teacher Martha Rivera Alanis with a framed certificate for displaying “outstanding civic courage” during Friday’s gunfight.

A video on the YouTube website shows Ms. Rivera coaxing the 15 children to lie flat on the floor and leading them in a song popularized by the children’s TV show “Barney & Friends” as hails of gunfire ring out.

Paramedics said gunmen killed five people at a taxi stand near the school on Friday.


Federal leaders discuss Amazon conflict

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian federal authorities are discussing ways to reduce deadly conflicts in the Amazon region.

At least three rural activists have been killed in the region in less than a week in disputes over land and illegal deforestation.

A fourth person who may have witnessed two of the murders also was killed.

Attending Monday’s meeting were Brazil’s vice president and officials from the ministries of environment, justice, rural development and human rights. They hope to create more cooperation between the federal and state governments to halt the killings.

According to the Catholic Land Pastoral watchdog group, more than 1,150 rural activists have been killed in Brazil over the past 20 years.

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