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Venezuelan judge retracts ban on violent news photos

Violent photos were banned to protect children from psychological damage, but impeded freedom of the

Two days after ruling that news media should not publish "violent, bloody or grotesque" photographs for 30 days, a Venezuelan judge on Thursday retracted the ban, reports CNN.

The ban had been announced in response to a complaint by citizens against a front-page photograph - first published in the El Nacional newspaper - depicting dead bodies in a Caracas morgue. It was accompanied by a story on violent crime in the country.

The court had reasoned then that the ban aimed to prevent physical, psychological and moral harm to children and adolescents. But the order drew sharp criticism from international press freedom advocates.

The Venezuelan government has said that the morgue is in a much better condition than shown in the photo, which they claim was taken years ago. But El Nacional - a fierce critic of the government - asserted that the photo was taken in December last year.

President Hugo Chavez, who says violent crime in Venezuela is falling, has accused the opposition of trying to exaggerate the issue.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.