London postal workers are out on a one day strike in protest of the governments plans to part-privatise Royal Mail. Interview with Mark Dolan, Area Delivery Rep.
Chavez: Venezuela progressing towards food independence
CARACAS, June 14 (Xinhua) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that the government has set targets for exporting food to neighbor countries and is progressing towards food independence.
During his weekly radio and television broadcast “Alo Presidente,” Chavez said Venezuela’s cattle herd now topped 12 million heads and is estimated to rise to 14 million by 2012.
Chavez hosted Sunday’s show from the La Bandera farm in southwestern state Tachira, a model socialist dairy farm set up on land seized from drug traffickers.
The Venezuelan government has seized 50 farms from traffickers, equivalent to 12,000 hectares suitable for livestock.
La Bandera now has 1,985 heads of cattle, up from 1,300 18 months ago; and produces 38 percent more milk, the Venezuelan president said.
Venezuela takes on Tetra Pak
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has threatened to ignore international patents and manufacture Tetra Paks to help reduce the need for imports.
Chávez told the audience of his weekly Aló Presidente show that patents were “universal knowledge” and Venezuela had the materials to produce the cartons itself. “We don’t have to be subject to capitalist laws,” he said.
Importing Tetra Pak materials is said to have cost the South American country $63m (£38.5m) in May alone. Tetra Pak was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Chávez targeted overseas packaging in March when he seized 1,500 hectares of eucalyptus forest belonging to Irish packaging giant Smurfit Kappa that he said should be destined for food rather than cardboard.
In yesterday’s broadcast, Chávez said the government would have to seize packaging firms that did not deal with national food companies, although did not provide further information.
Aló Presidente is now in its tenth year and runs on Sundays on state TV. It starts at 11am and has been known to run for five hours.
The segment of the show on Tetra Pak and patents can be viewed in Spanish via the YouTube website by clicking here.
Wrong type of passenger prompts Venezuela to redirect metro line
Plan for two stations in Caracas put on hold because it would have benefited ‘oligarchs’
Venezuela has redirected a new metro line away from a chic part of Caracas, one of Latin America’s most congested capitals, because it would have benefited “oligarchs”.
Authorities cancelled plans for two metro stations at Las Mercedes, a district of malls and restaurants, because it would serve the wrong type of passenger in a country undergoing a socialist revolution.
“That is a line which benefits the oligarchy,” said Claudio Farias, president of the state-owned company Metro Caracas. “We are redesigning it because we think this line makes no sense. Everybody goes to restaurants in Las Mercedes in their cars.”
Under redesigned plans five stations will be dropped from line five, which is intended to carry about 300,000 passengers daily from the central Zona Rental to low-income areas in the south-east.
Venezuela Orders End to Coca-Cola Zero Production
On Wednesday the Venezuelan Ministry for Health ordered the Coca-Cola Company to remove its product Coca-Cola Zero from sale for containing a cancerous ingredient, sodium cyclamate, an ingredient not included in the US version of the drink.
Jesus Mantilla, the health minister, said, “The product should stop circulating in order to protect the health of Venezuelans.” He said the product contains sodium cyclamate, which in large amounts can be harmful, and then announced that the product should be recalled, destroyed, and not produced anymore.
Divis Antunez, director of sanitary control for the Health Ministry, said the ingredient wasn’t in the company’s application that it made in 2007 and that was approved by the Ministry. Later, in a random test conducted by the National Institute for Hygiene Rafael Rangel, sodium cyclamate was found and the Health Ministry started a legal process for non-compliance with the Health Registry.
Antunez said that the recommended amount of sodium cyclamate for human consumption is 11 mg per kilo, whereas the new Coca-Cola Zero has 18-22mg per 10 mils, exceeding the amount approved by the Venezuelan Commission of Industrial Norms (COVENIN).
Yesterday Coca-Cola said in a press release, “The Coca-Cola Company and its bottler Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela responsibly declare that Coca-Cola Zero doesn’t contain any ingredient that could be harmful to the health.” However, Coca-Cola said that until the government concludes its administrative proceedings it will suspend production in Venezuela and recall the drink.
Coca-Cola Zero is a drink without any calories (or an amount small enough to be rounded down to zero) and is marketed to young males who are self conscious of their weight but see Diet Coke as being for women. The diet and zero versions in the US, England, and Canada both contain non-calorie sweeteners aspartame (E951) and acesulfame K (E950), but in slightly different proportions and they therefore have slightly different tastes.
However the versions produced in Venezuela (as well as in Chile and some other Central American countries) have sodium cyclamate (E952) in larger proportions than aspartame. Whilst aspartame is cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sodium cyclamate has been prohibited since 1969 when it was proved to cause cancerous tumours and congenital malformations.
Sodium cyclamate, when combined with other chemicals, has the capacity to sweeten up to 600 times more than sugar. According to Aporrea.org, it is also much cheaper than aspartame at $10/kilo compared to $152/kilo for aspartame.
In Mexico in August 2007, El Universal-Mexico reported that Coca-Cola was also putting sodium cyclamate in the coca-cola zero drink there. The article said that the drink contained 25mg of the ingredient for every 100g in a can of 355ml. Pro-U.S president Vicente Fox authorized the ingredient for the government’s list of permitted food additives in July 2006.
In February 2008 Mexican feminist news Cimanoticias reported that consumers had “triumphed” and that the ingredient had been removed from the drink.
The government hammers those most affected by the poverty and misery of Gordon Brown’s Britain with hypocrisy and draconian laws. Every week people are jailed for not paying their council tax or are dragged in front of the courts for not paying their TV licence.
It is a cliché to say that there is one law for the rich and another for the rest of us. But as it turns out there is no law for the politicians – except the rules they set for themselves.
If you are a government minister you can avoid tax, double claim expenses, have your council tax paid for you and even get the bill for a council tax summons paid for by us.
The easiest way to see the depth of the corruption, and it is corruption, is by looking at the New Labour cabinet. Continue reading
Coverage of Mark Thomas Tearing shreds of the labour government and the banks whilst making a hell of a lot of sense on what to do about the crisis.
The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!
Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money? Continue reading
By Amy Goodman
The financial crisis gripping the U.S. has the largest banks and insurance companies begging for massive government bailouts. The banking, investment, finance and insurance industries, long the foes of taxation, now need money from working-class taxpayers to stay alive. Taxpayers should be in the driver’s seat now. Instead, decisions that will cost people for decades are being made behind closed doors, by the wealthy, by the regulators and by those they have failed to regulate. Continue reading
All 14-year-old children and future generations in England will have their personal details and exam results placed on a compulsory electronic database for life under a plan announced in February by government officials.
Colleges and prospective employers will be able to access students’ records online to check on their qualifications. Under the terms of the scheme all children will keep their individual number throughout their adult lives. The database will include details of exclusions and expulsions.
Officials claim that the introduction of the unique learner number (ULN) is not a step towards a national identity card. But it will be seen as the latest step in the Government’s broader efforts to computerise personal records.
Teachers’ leaders, parents’ organisations, opposition MPs and human rights campaigners have questioned whether this Big Brother approach is necessary and have said that it could compromise the personal security of millions of teenagers.
The new database — which will store a “tamper-proof CV” — will be known as MIAP (managing Information Across Partners). To be registered on the new database every 14-year-old will be issued with a unique learner number. Unlike the current unique pupil number now given to children in school but destroyed when they leave, the ULN will be used by government agencies to track individuals until they retire. Ultimately, it will create a numbered database for every citizen aged 14-plus in the UK. Continue reading
By Michael Albert
The diverse factual reports and other data included in this article are culled from documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is exciting and exemplary, yet few people know much about where Venezuela is headed.
Misrepresentations abound. Data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways. Information deficit plus skewed interpretations cause many people who ought to support the Bolivarian Revolution to instead doubt or even reject it. Useful lessons from Venezuela go largely unreported and thus have less than their widest possible effect.
Hugo Chavez became President in 1999 and in that year, largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s, the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50%. The aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development.
In the 1999 constitution, Article 299, for example, emphasizes “human development” as the cornerstone of social judgements and Article 70 states that the “involvement of people in the exercise of their social and economic affairs should be manifest through citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, community enterprises, as well as other kinds of associations guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.”
But, as many skeptics would point out, words are not deeds, and you can find nice words everywhere – including, say, in the constitutions of countries suffering dictatorship and economic and social injustice, as but one example, in the constitution and other literary organs of the the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Words matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day.
So what about deeds? Continue reading
A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.
The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.
The proposal will raise further alarm about a “Big Brother” society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government Continue reading
The Big Brother State is an educational film about what politicians claim to be protection of our freedom but what we refer to as repressive legislation.
Since terrorism has become a global threat, especially after 9/11, governments all over the world have started enforcing laws which, so the governments say, should increase national security.
These laws obviously aim at another goal: the states gaining more and more control of their citizens at the cost of our privacy and freedom.
Watch this short animation in better quality here
On Saturday 1st March, the Colombian Armed Forces violated the territory of Ecuador. The immediate aim was to kill the second in command of the FARC guerrillas; a second aim probably was to provoke division and disputes between the nations of Latin America. Instead, a Latin American summit meeting left President Uribe of Colombia isolated and almost humiliated, and the feeling for Latin American integration strengthened.
Colombia is, for the moment, an exception to the general move away from right-wing governments in South America. President Uribe, Continue reading