Washington Extra – Breaking glass

June 28, 2011

The new IMF chief is an accomplished negotiator, an international relations expert and a European finance minister.

The newly elected managing director also made history, and it had nothing to do with credentials. Christine Lagarde in 2011 becomes the first woman to head the IMF.

This is also the year when two women might start vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president — Michele Bachmann is running, Sarah Palin has yet to reveal her intentions.

Hillary Clinton raised more than a few eyebrows when she broke the first lady mold and ran for Senate after leaving the White House. But when she ran for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, few batted an eye.

Still, the novelty of women presidential candidates is unlikely to wear off until one takes office.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Lagarde wins IMF top job, presses Greece on crisis

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde clinched the top job at the IMF, keeping the lender in the hands of a European at a time of concern over a possible Greek debt default. Lagarde will become the first woman to head the IMF and will find herself immediately immersed in efforts to head off a Greek default that could touch off an international crisis.

For more of this story by Lesley Wroughton, read here.

Tax standoff blocks progress in U.S. debt talks

U.S. Democrats and Republicans showed no sign of resolving an impasse over taxes that has stalled budget negotiations and could threaten the country’s top-notch credit rating. The two sides will not make progress on a deal to extend the U.S. borrowing authority as long as Democrats continue to push for tax increases, the Senate’s top Republican said.

For more of this story by Andy Sullivan, read here.

Obama defends record in campaign-style Iowa stop

President Obama defended his economic record in Iowa, reminding voters in a state that could be crucial to his re-election that they helped send him to the White House. “I know you have been seeing a lot of politicians around lately. Something tells me that you may see a few more before February is over. But Iowa, you and I, we go a long way back,” Obama told workers at an Alcoa factory.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan, read here.

Well-timed Palin movie opens in hotbed state Iowa

A visit to Iowa by Republican Sarah Palin is either a timely political move to fuel speculation about a potential 2012 presidential run or simply an effort to take advantage of her star power. Or maybe it’s both.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

Senate panel approves Libya resolution

A Senate panel approved a resolution formally authorizing continued participation in the NATO-led intervention in Libya but banning the introduction of U.S. troops on the ground. The Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize the mission for one year after the date of enactment of the resolution by Congress, unless the NATO mission ends sooner.

For more of this story by Susan Cornwell, read here.

New Afghan commander backs Obama troop plan

The general poised to take command of Western forces in Afghanistan embraced President Obama’s plan to withdraw a third of troops, saying it can be done without undermining the war effort. Lieutenant General John Allen stood in contrast to other top brass in his unqualified support for the plan. “We have made really spectacular progress in the south … We’re going to consolidate that progress,” he told a Senate committee.

For more of this story by Missy Ryan, read here.

Big business scores key Supreme Court term wins

The Supreme Court in its just-ended term threw out the largest sex-discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history by Wal-Mart’s female employees, ruled for AT&T in favoring arbitration over big class actions and ended a global warming lawsuit against utilities. Businesses prevailed in the biggest cases, provoking criticism that the court’s five-member conservative majority shielded companies from suits seeking to protect workers, consumers or the environment.

For more of this analysis by James Vicini, read here.

State, local budgets closer to recovery – report

State and local governments brought in record first-quarter revenues this year, according to a Census Bureau report that offered a sign their budget crises may be abating. Total state and local revenues for the first quarter reached $321.6 billion, a 4.7 percent rise from the first quarter of 2010 and the highest level on records going back to 1988. It marked “the sixth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth,” the Census said.

For more of this story by Lisa Lambert, read here.

From elsewhere…

A little house of secrets on the Great Plains

The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming. At a single address in this sleepy city, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building isn’t a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It’s a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn. The house at 2710 Thomes Ave serves as a little Cayman Island on the Great Plains.

For more of this special report, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau (Lagarde in Paris on day she clinched top job at IMF)

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