Despite plummeting popularity and increasing social unrest at home, Hugo Chavez has decided it's a perfect time to nationalize both Venezuela's cement and steel industries. On Wednesday, the Chavez government announced that it would takeover steelmaker Ternium Sidor, "sending the Argentine-controlled company's shares tumbling." Following news of Venezuela's planned takeover of Mexican cement company Cemex, Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, made a trenchant point: "They are doing such a terrible job managing the nation's most important company, [state oil company] PDVSA, that it's hard to imagine they're really going to have the skill, the manpower and the knowledge to do much with [cement] companies. This is rather a cockeyed economic proposition."
Both decisions will surely have a negative economic impact on Venezuela's already shaky economy, but it cannot possibly match the damage to public morale of this decision. The Times of London reports:
Luxurious chest hair and little red trunks versus doughnuts and "D'oh!". In the battle of the US television heavyweights, The Hoff has vanquished Homer.
Or at least in Venezuela, where The Simpsons has been ordered from television schedules by President Hugo Chavez after being deemed unsuitable for children. Controversial enough, but in an even more curious move its 11am timeslot has been handed to Baywatch, the show that launched a thousand adolescent dreams.
David Hasselhoff and his aerodynamic life-saving cohorts began their slow-motion jog across the nation's screens on Friday morning, after a ruling that The Simpsons was in danger of breaching the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television.
The National Telecommunications Commission said the show pushed "messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents". So far the regulatory agency, which reports to the government, has failed to explain why the cartoon family from Springfield poses more of a threat to the minds of Venezuelan children than a lifeguard falling out of her swimsuit.
(Hat tip: Bruce)