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Venezuela: When is a Coup Not a Coup?

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'There Was No Rebellion' screamed the banner headline of Venezuela's biggest newspaper after the country's supreme court threw out charges against the generals who briefly overthrew president Hugo Chavez on 11 and 12 April.

The verdict was the clearest evidence yet of the hold which those who staged the coup still have on important sections of the state machine. It came alongside relentless hysteria against the government in every one of the country's newspapers and all but one of its TV channels.

Between the Lines

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Starbucks coffee cup sizes - London congestion charge - Lords head companies

Beware when you next visit a Starbucks for a cup of coffee. If you look at the menu board the smallest cup advertised is 'tall'--a 340ml cup of coffee. In fact they do have a smaller 227ml cup which isn't on the board. But ask for a 'small' or 'regular' cup and you'll be given a 'tall' one. You must use the magic word 'short' to get the cheaper 227ml size.

Earth Summit: An Ideological World Away

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With a 10 million square mile, 3 kilometre thick mass of soot and carbon monoxide hovering over South Asia, central Europe still recovering from some of the most devastating floods of its history, and sub-Saharan Africa facing a catastrophic famine, the need for radical action against poverty and environmental destruction could not be clearer.

Yet the opulent £30 million Earth Summit which began in Johannesburg at the end of August had only neoliberal 'solutions' on the table.

French Elections: Second Round Win--On Points

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Many commentators interpreted the mainstream right's victory in the French parliamentary elections in June as a return to normality after the shock of Le Pen's showing in the presidential election last April.

The big majority for president Chirac's UMP (Union pour la majorité présidentielle) coalition and the fact that the defeated Socialists achieved more or less the same vote as in the last general election of 1997 appeared to herald the recovery of the mainstream, apparently confirmed by the falling away of support for both the National Front (FN) and the revolutionary left since April.

Immigration - Labour Puts Asylum in Focus

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Labour's intellectuals prepared the party's current lurch to the right on asylum and immigration. Blairite thinkers in the 'Policy Network' said Labour must adopt the policies of the far right to stop the growth of the far right, and in particular must attack asylum seekers.

Recent initiatives by Tony Blair, David Blunkett and Jack Straw show the message was received and understood.

Civil liberties - The Big Brother House in Westminster

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New Labour likes to vaunt its modernising project--particularly when it comes to the rights of the individual. Yet its obsession with the right wing agenda--particularly crime, benefits, asylum seekers and now terrorism--pushes it in the direction of strengthening the state and eroding civil liberties.

Last month Tony Blair promised a new white paper, the eleventh piece of criminal justice legislation since Labour came to office in 1997. It would ditch the double jeopardy rule that prevents people being tried twice for the same crime--even though the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence rejected the move.

There would be a new intermediate tier of justice, where a judge sitting with two lay magistrates tried cases too serious to be tried by magistrates on their own, in practice imposing even tighter restrictions on the right to jury trial.

Anti-capitalism - Florence: planning the shape of Europe's future

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The echoes of last year's anti-capitalist protests in Genoa are still being felt all over Italy.

They were heard quite literally last month in Florence, during the first showing of the film Carlo Giuliani ragazzo, a documentary about the last day in the life of the protester who was murdered by the police. Some 2,000 people packed into the city's largest theatre and gave the director a standing ovation.

Between the Lines

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Website charts dot.com collapses - Girl scouts introduce stress management badge - Drugs companies push for relaxation of testing rules

One dotcom company that has not suffered from the stock market collapse is the website www.fuckedcompany.com which is one of a tiny handful of dotcom companies making a fortune. The site has been the premier information resource on the demise of the web revolution.

Middle East: Bush's Empire Backs Sharon

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Yes, it does mean a 'bloodbath'. Even Shimon Peres, Israel's hapless foreign minister, said it in response to Bush's infamous Palestine speech. But the wider and even more frightening possible implications were missed.

Dangling the prospect of a Palestinian state sometime in the future, while imposing the deliberately impossible demand that the Palestinians change their leadership first, is a recipe for chaos.

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