Why Chavez keeps his cancer under wraps

Dec 14, 2012 21:56 UTC

Military personnel attend a mass to pray for Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Six presidents from five different countries in Latin America have been diagnosed with cancer over the past few years. Yet Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez stands apart from the others, keeping details about his health shrouded in secrecy. His neighbors in the region have announced their diagnoses and treatments, stamping out speculation and allowing media coverage to get on with it. Both critics and supporters of Chavez, whose idea of medical updates has included declaring himself “completely cured” twice, claim his illness has been used for political gain. However, Chavez’s reluctance to share information about his cancer is hardly unique for a leader poor in both health and transparency.

Presidents from Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Colombia reconciled their illnesses with public concern by disclosing details about their cancers. Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff battled lymphoma while campaigning for president, while former Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva allowed journalists to photograph him shaving his head and beard before chemotherapy for throat cancer. Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo kept the public updated after the he was diagnosed with lymphoma while president, ultimately declaring the cancer to be in remission a year later. Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez announced the date of her surgery to remove her thyroid gland in early 2012, offering details of her treatment (which turned out to be for naught when a post-operative examination revealed she did not have cancer in the first place). Most recently, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos announced he had prostate cancer halfway through his presidential term and ahead of politically-sensitive peace talks with the FARC. As with the other leaders, Santos openly discussed his recovery with reporters. These leaders kept voters abreast of developments in their treatment despite the possibility of casting doubt on their political careers.

Rather than follow suit, Chavez seized upon the trend to turn attention to how such a surprising number of Latin American leaders had developed cancer. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s diagnosis in 2011 prompted Chavez – no stranger to controversial claims – to speculate that the U.S. could be behind it all.

“It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now,” Chavez told troops during a televised appearance in 2011. “I don’t know. I’m just reflecting.”

from Hallie Seegal:

A local obstruction in the fracking pipeline

Dec 11, 2012 16:38 UTC


There are high hopes that the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will boost the economy and bring the United States closer to energy independence, but if the energy industry expects to break new ground and fulfill a growing demand anytime soon, they need to make friends with the people who reside near the drilling rigs.

Two new reports out last week point to the potential of how fracking, the process whereby a highly-pressured mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted through underground shale rock formations to release natural gas, could positively benefit our economy. One study projects that natural gas will account for nearly one-third of total U.S. energy produced by 2040, and the other one, a government commissioned report which the Obama administration is expected to partially base its shale gas policy on, shows natural gas exports providing revenue to the struggling economy under every condition considered.

Fracking well

A natural gas well is drilled near Canton, in Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 8, 2012. REUTERS/Les Stone

What to watch in 2013 world news

Dec 7, 2012 16:56 UTC

Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own.

Online chatter and political dithering from every corner of the world can make it difficult to follow a narrative when it comes to international news. To cut through the noise, here are four important potential developments to watch next year. Coming up in 2013: “Drug war” frustrations hit a high, Syria groans on, U.S. foreign policy trips over its own feet, and war comes to a computer near you.


U.S. influence on drug policy goes up in smoke.

After six years of drug-related violence in Mexico that has terrorized local communities and killed at least 60,000 people, Latin American governments are fed up with the  ”war on drugs.” In 2012, the U.S. government’s no-tolerance policy was challenged both at home and abroad.

Next year, President Obama will face an “unprecedented revolt” by Latin American countries as their leaders begin to doubt U.S. policies publicly, Brian Winter writes for Reuters. Frustrations run high as cartels continue to rake in profits shuttling illegal drugs across the border to meet U.S. demand while citizens are caught up in rampant violence. Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico in 2012 together urged the UN to consider more effective drug policies, and Uruguay proposed legislation to legalize marijuana.

from mirjam-donath:

How long can a Hungarian hunger strike go on?

Dec 29, 2011 17:01 UTC

A Hungarian TV journalist is nearing Mahatma Gandhi’s limit of 21 days for a hunger strike. 44-year-old Balazs Nagy Navarro has been sitting at the doorstep of Hungary’s Public Television Bureau for 19 days in below-freezing temperatures.

The protests that have swept through the world over the last year have finally reached Hungary. Christmas found thousands of Hungarians on the streets chanting DE-MOC-RA-CY! and FREEDOM-OF-THE-PRESS! at demonstrations against Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Navarro, a television journalist and vice president of one of the largest unions of broadcast journalists sees himself fighting for basic democratic rights such as fairness in public media.

Navarro and a fellow journalist, Aranka Szavuly, who also joined the hunger strike, are fed up with what they say is extensive news manipulation by the center-right ruling administration. For them, the last straw came on December 3, when images of  Zoltan Lomnici, the former chief judge of the Hungarian Supreme Court, were digitally blurred out in the evening news reports by two of the three state television channels. Lomnici held a press conference together with Laszlo Tokes, the other leader of the Council of Human Dignity, but only the latter was visible in the boradcasted images. The figure of Lomnici was pixelated in the background.

Nobel salutes the slow unlocking of the universe’s secrets

Richard Panek
Oct 7, 2011 16:00 UTC

By Richard Panek
The views expressed are his own.

For the first time in history our species has begun to answer some of the eternal questions about the universe: Where did it come from? Where is it going? We’re able to do so in part because of the discovery that is being recognized by this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.

Before Galileo published the first discoveries he made with a primitive telescope, in 1610, cosmology—the study of the structure and evolution of the universe—was equal parts speculation and superstition. Even the subsequent, centuries-long discoveries of new planets, new moons, new stars, and new galaxies didn’t address the evolution of the universe. Not until Edwin Hubble’s 1929 discovery that, on a cosmic scale, galaxies appear to be receding from one another, carried along by the expansion of space itself, did the universe begin to acquire a narrative—a story that changes over time.

Even then theorists split into two camps: those who posited a universe that emerged in a “big bang,” and those who preferred a universe poised in a “steady state” through the continuous creation of matter. And there the theoretical divide, as theoretical divides must do in the absence of evidence, rested.

My September 11th

Rudy Giuliani
Sep 9, 2011 14:53 UTC

By Rudy Giuliani
The opinions expressed are his own.

The following is an excerpt from an essay written by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former NY Governor George Pataki from the recently published, 9/11: Stories of Courage, Heroism and Generosity, a book compiled by Zagat Survey CEO and former head of NYC & Co., Tim Zagat.

September 11 was Primary Day, a semi-holiday for those of us in government. So I had planned for a relatively slow morning that included breakfast at Fives, the restaurant at The Peninsula hotel, with Bill Simon, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked with me while I was United States Attorney. He wanted to talk about a possible run for Governor of California. But when Bill, my chief counsel and longtime aide, Denny Young, and I were finishing breakfast, Patti Varrone, a detective with the NYPD, who served on my police detail, interrupted us with news that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. As Denny and I left, Bill said, “Good luck. God bless you,” and then hugged us.

For Denny and me, this was business as usual; at least twice a month, I got called out to major emergencies such as a big fire, subway derailment or hostage situation. A plane crash was bad, but this is New York, and along with its greatness, serious incidents do occur. As our car approached Canal Street, we saw a big flash of light, and within seconds we got a call from the police that a second plane had hit the towers. The situation was no longer business as usual. We had been attacked.

Battling death at the World Trade Center

Lauren Manning
Sep 7, 2011 15:56 UTC

This is an excerpt from Unmeasured Strength, Lauren Manning’s account of surviving the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center and her struggle to recover from severe burn injuries.

The flames were consuming me, and as the first searing pain hit, I thought, This can’t be happening to me.

The fire embraced my body tighter than any suitor, touching every inch of my flesh, clawing through my clothes to spread its hands over me, grabbing left and right, rifling over my shoulder blades, down my back, wrapping my legs in agony, gripping my left arm, and taking hold of both my hands. I covered my face, but I could not scream. My voice was powerless. I was in a vacuum, the air depleted of oxygen, and everything was muffled. The screams, the roar of the fire, the shattering sound of breaking glass— all that was very far away. I was suspended in space.

Norway Massacre

Anthony De Rosa
Jul 25, 2011 18:32 UTC

Explosion rocks Oslo

Anthony De Rosa
Jul 22, 2011 14:18 UTC
This liveblog has been retired, future updates will appear here

July 25, 2011

Latest (12:46pm ET)

Norway killer tells judge two more cells exist : Johan Ahlander and Aasa Christine Stoltz, Reuters

Police updates via BBC liveblog

    Investigation into Mr Breivik’s links to Poland still going on – Norwegian police. Nobody has been arrested in Poland with links to the Breivik case – Norwegian police. Police point out that Mr Breivik appeared to contradict himself, saying variously he had acted alone and had worked with two other “cells”. Police say today’s hearing was held in a closed court because they were “worried about giving out too much information”. “One of the reasons was that we thought that other people might be implicated.”

(9:39am ET)

Reuters Picture of Anders Behring Breivik arriving at court.

@ketilbstensrud said:


from MediaFile:

Tech CEO turns to trusted adviser on key decision; 10-year old daughter

Dec 1, 2010 17:57 UTC

Anyone who thinks the word “executive” in CEO stands for a person who actually executes decisions and strategy should think again, at least according to Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose.

 REUTERS/Charles Platiau

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

“It’s very funny, you get a job as a CEO and everyone says you’ve got this absolute power,” Rose told the Reuters Global Media Summit in Paris.

“The reality is, the power you have, the authority you have is to basically guide and to give direction…and if people don’t want to follow, they’ll just forget to do it,”