A Political Pinata--Full of Farm Products
In a New Year's gift to grocery shoppers on both sides of the Rio Grande, the U.S. and Mexico on Jan. 1 eliminated most of their remaining tariffs on agricultural products, under provisions of the NAFTA accord. But many of Mexico's farmers are trying to stem the flood of heavily subsidized U.S. produce, especially apples, pork and chicken parts. Last month thousands of Mexican protesters threatened to block border crossings, and a few burst into their country's Congress on horseback. U.S. poultry producers, concerned that Mexico will erect such nontariff barriers as additional health inspections on chicken, have worked with U.S. officials to offer a five-year extension and gradual phase-out of the tariff on chicken drumsticks and thighs, which dropped from 49% to nada this month. A U.S. industry spokesman says the two sides are making progress on this and other issues.
FILL 'ER UP WITH CRISCO, PLEASE
Some drivers in South Wales thought they had found a clever if illegal way to dodge the taxes that push British diesel prices north of $4.50 a gal.: by filling up with vegetable oil at half the cost or, better yet, with used cooking oil from fish-and-chip shops. Filter with methanol, and voila! But undercover cops have begun to sniff out these alternative-fuel users (the exhaust smells like french fries) and nail them for tax evasion. And while diesel cars can run well on such oils--so long as all the glycerin, water and other contaminants have been removed--the homemade stuff can gunk up an engine. Meanwhile, British foodmakers like Wal-Mart subsidiary ASDA have started to team up with refineries to turn used cooking oil into legitimate biodiesel fuel, which creates 79% less carbon dioxide than regular diesel. This year ASDA will test its refined waste oil in delivery trucks pluckily labeled THIS VEHICLE IS POWERED BY CHICKEN FAT.
EVERYTHING BUT THE INKY FINGERS
For international execs who want constant access to their favorite papers and magazines from around the world, NewsStand.com just keeps getting better. Using proprietary software, the site creates digital replicas of more than 40 publications in several languages, from Barron's to India's Tarun Bharat, and enhances them with features like zooming and keyword searches. The site sold some 500,000 issues last quarter and adds new publications almost weekly. NewsStand beams Harvard Business Review to readers in more than 100 countries, and a fifth of the New York Times's 3,800 electronic subscribers are from outside the U.S. Users can buy annual subscriptions or individual copies for about the same price as for paper copies. Downloads can take minutes with broadband or hours with a dial-up modem, but they can be scheduled to move while you sleep. Coming soon: a version for Macs and an archiving service.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Death of a Chronicle Told