sábado, 13 de agosto de 2016

Uruguay to clamp down on free plastic bags

The government of Uruguay presented a bill to parliament in July to restrict the use of plastic bags and fight the massive land and sea pollution these cause. Bags are an oil-derived product that decompose over hundreds of years or longer, though beforehand they break into pieces or specks that are swallowed by wildlife, especially fish, when they do not choke animals in bigger pieces. Uruguayans reportedly use 345 plastic bags each a year, or a total of more than 1.17 billion bags a year nationwide, the daily El Observador cited a plastics industry representative at the Senate Environment Committee as saying. The government bill seeks to ban shops from handing out free bags from 2017, while restrictions and conditions would be imposed on bag imports, the daily reported on 29 July. Shops would also have to inform customers on the "responsible" use of bags and offer reusable bags for sale. The Finance Ministry was to regulate the pricing, mechanics and implementation of the law once approved, Spain's EFE agency reported on 28 July.

Venezuelan opponent to stay in jail, observers deplore ruling

The Caracas Appeals Court confirmed a 14-year jail sentence given to the conservative politician and government opponent Leopoldo López, held in 2014 during street protests and sentenced in September 2015 on charges of inciting violence. Opponents perceived the confirmation as politicized and duly reflecting the judiciary's loyalty to the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. López´s defence attorney wrote on Twitter that the appeals process could technically continue in two more court rooms, the Sala Penal and the Sala Constitucional, dependencies of the Supreme Court, though Spain's El País cited him as considering legal recourses as "exhausted" now. He stated that the latest court hearing, which began on 23 July, had been lengthy and "filled with irregularities" but at least allowed his team to "show the absolute nullity of the trial that unjustly condemned... López to 14 years... It is proven now that López's discourse is in no way violent and while combative, absolutely close to the constitution," the Caracas daily El Universal reported. López ally and former legislator María Corina Machado called the confirmation "monstrous,"  while the head of the Organization of Amerian States (OAS), Luis Almagro, described it as unjust and a "lost opportunity for reconciliation." The prisoner's wife, Lilian Tintori, insisted on Twitter that 2016 was the "year of change" in Venezuela. The opposition is pushing through a national vote to end President Maduro's mandate and hold general elections as soon as possible. The OAS urged Venezuela's government not to hamper or delay the referendum process, to which it stated it intended to send observers.