President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuela is ready to become the sole energy supplier to Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Haiti, presenting the countries with his most generous offer yet of oil-funded diplomacy in the region.
Chavez said he hoped to sign a deal with the four countries, his main leftist allies in the region, during the summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas he is hosting this weekend in Caracas.
The bloc, known as ALBA, was formed in 2004 by Chavez and his Cuban mentor, Fidel Castro, to promote trade and cooperation along socialist lines and to oppose a U.S.-backed free trade area. It has since grown to include Bolivia and Nicaragua. Ecuador has also expressed interest, and Haiti was attending the two-day summit that started Saturday as an observer.
Under the oil proposal, Venezuela was ready to finance up to 50 percent of the total oil bill and would also create a matching fund to finance agricultural projects, food production and small- to medium-size industries, Chavez said.
Town to institute plastic bag ban
A small town in southwest Britain is banning plastic bags in a bid to help the environment and cut waste – a move environmentalists believe is a first for Europe.
Shopkeepers in Modbury, population 1,500, agreed to stop giving out disposable plastic bags to customers on Saturday. They said paper sacks and cloth carrier bags would be offered instead.
Last month, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags.
Internationally, legislation to discourage plastic bag use has been passed in parts of South Africa, Ireland and Taiwan. Bangladesh already bans them, as do at least 30 remote Alaskan villages.
Modbury, about 225 miles southwest of London, has also declared a bag amnesty, allowing residents to hand in plastic bags that have piled up at home. They will be sent for recycling.
The Modbury ban was the idea of Rebecca Hosking, a local resident who saw the effect of bags on marine life while working in the Pacific as a wildlife camerawoman.
Google working to remap town
Chile has asked Google Inc. to correct its popular online mapping service that shows a southern Chilean town – named after a national hero – as part of neighboring Argentina.
Villa O’Higgins, a town of about 400 residents near the glacier-encrusted tip of South America, was named after Bernardo O’Higgins, a revered commander of military forces that won Chile’s independence from Spain.
Chile’s Foreign Ministry said it had contacted Google, and the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine company said on Saturday that it was working on the request.