Since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was diagnosed with cancer and a malignant tumor was removed from his pelvic region last June, all kinds of rumors, lies and speculations have circulated about his health. Most of the hype has come from known anti-Chavez media, such as the Miami Herald and several online blogs run by right-wing extremists like Bush’s former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, who’s been obsessed with Chavez for years. All cite unnamed sources who claim they have “insider information” about the Venezuelan head of state’s health. It’s been unsurprising that those media outlets, known for their decade-long distortions of Venezuela’s reality, would publish such falsities and morbid tales about President Chavez. But that a serious, veteran, investigative journalist, such as Dan Rather, would indulge in the necrophiliac story-telling about the Venezuelan President is truly disappointing.
Rather, who now runs his own show on HDNet, Dan Rather Reports, posted a report on Wednesday, May 30, claiming President Chavez’s health is “dire” and has “entered the end stage”. Rather also claims his unnamed “high-level” source, who he alleges is close to the Venezuelan President, told him Chavez won’t live “more than a couple of months at most”. In his brief report, which he calls an “exclusive”, Rather also bids in with his own biased language, calling the democratically-elected Venezuelan President a “dictator”.
What prompted Dan Rather to write such diatribe? Why would he join the ranks of Roger Noriega, the wretched Miami Herald and a slew of pseudo-journalists drooling over their morbid wet dreams of President Chavez’s failing health?
What is apparent is that Rather was quick to the gun to “break” his “exclusive” story. Just the day before, President Chavez hosted a cabinet meeting broadcast live on television that lasted more than four hours. The Venezuelan head of state appeared energized, optimistic and focused on his duties, and even sang a few heartfelt songs, as is custom for the eclectic and charismatic Chavez. He reaffirmed his candidacy for the October 7th presidential elections. (Yes, Venezuela is a democracy!) That’s a far cry from being on his “death bed”, as Rather implies.
President Chavez does have cancer. He’s been the first to inform on his health, and has been open about his treatment and recovery since his first operation last June to remove the initial tumor. Chavez then underwent five sessions of chemotherapy – four of which were done in Cuba. He was recuperating well and even played host to a major historical summit in Caracas last December to inaugurate the newly-formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which all 33 nations in the region are represented.
But in early February, Chavez announced that a second, smaller tumor had been detected in the same area in his pelvic region, and had to be removed. He again returned to Cuba for surgery, and subsequently received several rounds of radiation therapy. According to Chavez, there was no metastasis, nor were any of his organs affected. On May 11, he returned to Venezuela after completing the treatment and expressed his optimism for recovery. “I’m on the plane… Heading for the Venezuelan fatherland. With more optimism than ever! We will live and we will conquer!” Chavez said that day in a message on Twitter.
Since then, the Venezuelan President has participated in several televised meetings and called in to different news programs to discuss his policies and provide updates on his health. He has admitted he can no longer be the “work horse” he was before, and now must limit himself to an 8-hour workday, ensuring he keeps his diet and sleep in check. But previous to his health scare, Chavez was a super-President, appearing on television in public events for hours – sometimes even eight hours – and participating in three to four activities daily, often in different parts of the country. He barely slept and drank excessive amounts of black, sugary coffee. He worked until the wee hours of the morning and listened to every voice, attended every request. His level of energy was extreme, as was his anxiety and commitment to continue rebuilding Venezuela and ensuring his policies reduced poverty and provided for the most needy.
Now, as Chavez runs for his third full term, his pace is no longer extreme, but it’s certainly on par or above his counterparts. Even throughout his cancer treatments, President Chavez was on top of his duties, informing the public via television and Twitter about budgetary issues and new projects underway. He never dropped the ball, despite the severity of his situation.
Chavez has cancer, and he is fighting it hard, with the same strength he has used to propel his nation forward, often against the toughest obstacles. But President Chavez is not “out of the game”, as Dan Rather morbidly implies. Polls show him with double-digit leads over the opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, a neoconservative known for his violent role in the April 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez. A majority of Venezuelans know – and love – President Chavez for his immense humanity and his passionate commitment to improving their lives. And they will vote for him again.
Dan Rather has always emphasized the necessity of “courage” in reporting, yet he shows cowardice and sloppy ambition by racing to publish unconfirmed reports on President Chavez’s health, and by touting slanderous epithets to describe the Venezuelan head of state. He also shows a complete lack of respect for President Chavez’s humanity by perpetuating gruesome rumors about his mortality. Mr. Rather appears to have left his journalist ethics and principles behind, and has chosen – at least in this case – to be a pawn of yellow journalism.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has declared that he has overcome his illness, dismissing allegations that any physical ailment will affect his campaigning for the country’s upcoming elections.
“Free, free, totally free,” Chavez told reporters at a four-hour press conference on Monday when asked if he was still afflicted with cancer.
“Thanks to God, I am here and every day I feel [I am] in [a] better physical condition, and I really don’t think this expression ‘physical restrictions’… will be a factor in the campaign,” he told the conference. … Full article
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday froze a decree issued by President Mohamed Mursi reinstating the Islamist-led parliament, a judicial source said.
The decision is expected to raise tensions between Mursi, the top court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which handed over power to the new president at the end of June.
“The court ordered the freeze of the president’s decree,” the source said.
On Sunday, just eight days after taking office, Mursi, a former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, ordered the lower house to reconvene.
His move highlighted the power struggle between the president and the Supreme Constitutional Court which last month said certain articles in the law governing the parliament elections were invalid, annulling the lower house.
The judicial source added: “The court ordered that its previous ruling (invalidating the elections and annulling the lower house) be implemented.”
The latest announcement came hours only after the dissolved parliament convened on Tuesday in defiance of the powerful SCAF and the judiciary.
“We are gathered today to review the court rulings, the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court,” which ordered the house invalid, speaker Saad al-Katatni said.
“I want to stress, we are not contradicting the ruling, but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today,” he added.
SCAF, which ruled Egypt after dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted in last year’s popular uprising, dissolved the house and took legislative control using a document granting it supreme powers.
On Monday, the Supreme Constitutional Court rejected Mursi’s decree, saying that all of its rulings were binding.
“All the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal…and are binding for all state institutions,” it said.
And the military echoed it with a statement late on Monday saying the constitution and the law must be upheld.
- Egyptian parliament dissolution “binding” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Egypt People’s Assemby refers own fate back to the Judiciary (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Just after WikiLeaks began releasing the data from the Syria files, Anonymous hacktivists claimed responsibility for accessing the information and passing it on to the whistleblower organization. While WikiLeaks continues to release the sensitive emails on a daily basis, Anonymous has thus far refrained from speaking of the sources of the information.
However in an Anonymous press release they state that in February of this year, hacktivists from Anonymous Syria, AntiSec and the People’s Liberation Army apparently worked day and night “to create a breach of multiple domains and dozens of servers inside Syria.”
Their press statement reads:
While the United Nations sat back and theorized on the situation in Syria, Anonymous took action. Assisting bloggers, protesters and activists in avoiding surveillance, disseminating media, interfering with regime communications and networks, monitoring the Syrian internet for disruptions or attempts at surveillance – and waging a relentless information and psychological campaign against Assad and his murderous and genocidal government. When world governments would not send so much as a single bandaid worth of medical supplies to the protesters in Syria. …
I just have to separate the part below out from the rest of the article. How in cahoots are the so called hacktivists with the NATO war/destabilization machine?
“… it was a team of six European Anons who donned back-packs and walked almost 400 pounds worth of medical supplies over the border (What border would that be ? Why that would be the Turkish border! How convenient. So the European Anons came across with the NATO backed rebels!) along with ten pounds of chocolate candy for the children. (Yah because that would be a priority, right? But, aren’t they sweet? Wonder how it was the 10 lbs of chocolate didn’t melt? LOL! Wonder what else the “Anons from Europe” brought with them? Cash? ) and into Idib, Syria – risking their very lives to assist our dear freedom seeking brothers and sisters inside Syria. And as long as the tyrant remains defiantly in power, Anonymous will continue to work relentlessly day and night – from every country and every timezone, to assist the courageous freedom fighters and activists in Syria. We Are Anonymous – We Are Everywhere – We Are Legion – We Never Forget – We Never Forgive
This is not the first time that WikiLeaks and Anonymous have worked together. In December last year, Anonymous hacked five million emails from the private security firm Stratfor. These emails were then passed on to WikiLeaks who published them in February of this year under the release name The Global Intelligence Files.
Special envoy Kofi Annan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met on Monday and agreed to initiate another ceasefire plan between the government and the opposition. The following is an account of what was said at the meeting.
The meeting between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the international envoy to Syria Kofi Annan on Monday began with the usual pleasantries. They were joined by the [Head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria] General Robert Mood and Annan’s political advisor Martin Griffith.
The international envoy began by indicating that he had followed the recent media appearances by the Syrian president, from the German television to the Turkish Cumhuriyet newspaper.
“It seems, Mr. President, that you are intensifying your media appearances in this period,” he remarked.
“This is true for two reasons. First, I am someone who prefers action and then words. Second, we noticed an extensive blackout of the facts in addition to the distortion and misrepresentation of many matters. So I saw it as my duty to speak,” Assad replied, smiling.
Annan understood. He replied saying he completely understands the difference between the events on the ground and the prevailing image that reflects the imagined scenarios of several agendas and impressions.
Annan then turned to the officially prepared statement: “Mr. President, I felt it was my duty following the conference we held in Geneva and a few days before my briefing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on July 20 and 21, to come to you, meet with you, and present what we have achieved and what should be followed-up,” Annan said.
It was obvious from the introduction that Annan deliberately left out Friday’s opposition “Friends of the Syrian People” Paris conference and the escalation in rhetoric during and after that meeting.
He even went further, seizing the opportunity of his and the UN’s repeated commitment to his six-point peace initiative to stress to the Syrian president that the outcome of the Geneva convention was out of concern for this initiative, and nothing else.
“No doubt, Mr. President, you know that what happened in Geneva is different from some of the interpretations and explanations, which sought to add issues that had nothing to do with the conference or distorted its decisions,” he added. Annan’s remarkable position seems identical to the Russian stance on Western perspectives that followed the meeting.
Annan then spoke about the situation on the ground and the international monitoring mission in Syria. He pointed out the tragic situation in some regions and the need to practically achieve the essence of his mission, namely the second point concerning cessation of violence.
Assad responded by saying he is fully aware and responsive to the situation. He then presented his guest with a brief presentation of his mission since 12 April 2012. He explained how the ceasefire was reached and respected by the official armed forces for 24 hours, before it was broken by the armed insurgents, as noted in the international observers’ reports. While Assad was explaining, chief observer Mood nodded in agreement several times.
Annan listened to his host’s message, concluding that the truth of the matter confirms the need to work on a ceasefire, since the volatile situation began to spill outside Syria. Then he named Lebanon as a worrying arena for the repercussions of the Syrian situation.
“Let us try again and put a specific mechanism for a ceasefire starting from one of the more volatile regions, then move to the next,” Annan suggested. Again, Assad was completely responsive.
“We are a state, a government, and official authorities. Therefore, if you agree with us and we gave our word to abide by the ceasefire, we will be responsible for this and you can refer to us for implementation. But who will you negotiate with on the other side?” Assad asked his guests.
Annan replied, aided by Mood. They explained that the international observers, during their mission, were able to conduct a semi-comprehensive survey of armed groups active in those areas.
“We now know the main groups at least and we know those who are responsible for them. It is true that they do not have a unified command or clear structure. But we know the key people. Therefore we believe we could work with them step by step,” they said.
In this context, it was clear that the international officials had classified the side opposing the Syrian regime as an “armed opposition.” This was later indicated in Annan’s official press release.
On this point, Annan was reminded that the insurgents were the ones who aborted several similar attempts, especially in Homs.
“Some time ago, your observers witnessed attempts by some fighters to leave al-Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs to surrender themselves and their weapons. But other fighters stopped them from doing so. Your observers also witnessed how armed fighters blocked the attempt to rescue some of the residents trapped in al-Dayyan and al-Hamidiya neighborhoods in Homs,” they were told. This was confirmed by Griffith who had observed these events.
The international officials did not deny their hosts’ words. “Nevertheless, due to the current situation, let us try again. Our observers will reach an agreement with the armed groups in any area where we choose to work. In return, we want you to make a goodwill gesture at any of the mutually agreed starting points. Your gesture would be for a unilateral ceasefire from your side, a short time before the mutual deadline. Even if it is for four hours, for example,” Annan suggested.
Here, Annan was reminded that the ceasefire proposed in his six-point initiative is related to putting an end to the arming, financing, and weapons smuggling. Annan was listening to this sensitive point without reacting, until he was interrupted by a direct question.
“What do you think of what the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said two days ago [Sunday], when she called on the armed groups to launch an assault on the government’s forces? Is such a position consistent with the substance of your mission?” Annan was asked.
After a few seconds of silence, he replied saying, “Of course not. These are dangerous words. But let us try. Let us agree on this mechanism and proceed to try to implement it on the ground, step by step.”
As for the possible time-frame for such an operation, the two sides discussed several ideas, opinions, and suggestions. They concluded by agreeing on a preliminary deadline of three months, beginning from the first step to be implemented in the plan. In the meantime, both sides will work on releasing a joint statement of progress, once every two weeks.
Annan moved from the situation on the field to discuss the question of a national dialogue between the government and the opposition. “If we moved ahead in resolving the security issue and reached the dialogue phase, can you name your representative in this process to negotiate with the opposition, as a sort of liaison officer to follow the second part of the UN’s mission?” he asked.
Assad smiled and immediately replied, “We had decided on this before you asked us. Since the formation of the current government, we named someone to be in charge of the issue. He will be our representative in this process. He is the National Reconciliation Minister Dr. Ali Haidar.”
Annan inquired about Haidar and was told by Assad that he had been chosen for several reasons. “First, he is not from the loyalist camp. He is actually from the opposition. He is also the head of a party known for its honesty in Syria and abroad. Third, he was hurt during the bloody events. His son was killed by the insurgents but he ignored his wound and accepted the mission towards a genuine national reconciliation,” Assad said.
Annan acknowledged Assad’s explanation, but added that “we would have preferred if you named someone who is close to you and who would be in direct contact with you to follow-up on the dialogue process.”
Assad smiled again, saying that “Dr. Haidar and I sat next to each other all through my university years when I studied ophthalmology. Do you need someone closer than this?”
“In any case,” he continued, “I think your problem will be on the other side, not ours. Will you be able to name someone who represents the opposition?” Annan could not hold his laughter. He seconded Assad’s words and added, “I completely understand this difficulty. I saw them at the last conference in Cairo.”
The formal meeting concluded, but there was still time for some closing remarks. Getting ready to leave, Annan asked his host, “How long do you think this crisis will continue?”
“As long as the [...] regime funds it,” Assad replied. But Annan was not surprised by the answer. “Do you think they are behind all the funding?” he inquired.
“They are behind many things that happen in our region. They believe they will be able to lead the whole Arab world today and in the future,” Assad said.
The international envoy concluded by remarking, “But it seems to me that they lack the population needed for such an ambition.” This made everyone laugh.