John Walsh: Don't cry for me after this, Mr Chavez

BTW...
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The Independent Online

It's a travesty of justice that Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan premier, should have won the Rodolfo Walsh Prize, Argentina's leading journalism award. Chavez has closed down 32 radio stations and two TV outlets in the past 10 years, because they wouldn't broadcast his Castro-length speeches or support his political agenda.

My distant cousin Walsh (1927-77) occupied a different moral universe. Argentina's top investigative journalist, he wrote seditious pieces against successive dictatorships. And when the military junta tried to censor the press in 1976, he set up the Clandestine News Agency, printing leaflets that read, "Reproduce this information, circulate it through means at your disposal: by hand, by machine, my mimeograph, orally.

Send copies to your friends... Millions want to be informed. Terror is based on lack of communication. Break the isolation. Feel again the moral satisfaction of an act of freedom. Defeat the terror." Suck on that, Hugo.

* When John Le Carré announced this week that he'd asked to be withdrawn from consideration by the judges of the Man Booker International Prize, saying "I do not compete for literary prizes" and that less well-established authors should be given a chance to win, he was possibly being disingenuous.

He joins a starry line-up – including Graham Greene, Iris Murdoch and John Fowles – who asked that their work shouldn't be entered for the Booker. They too magnanimously wanted lesser-known talents to have a chance – prompting speculation they didn't want to "compete" for fear of coming second to some bumptious oik without an ounce of their majestic, canonical brilliance.

* Britney Spears has had an interesting week. She's been sued in a $6.25m lawsuit by a "branding agency" called Brand Sense which claims they set up Ms Spears with a lucrative perfume deal with Elizabeth Arden. It's alleged that Brit and her father made a secret deal with Arden that shut out the middlemen.

While this was going on, she agreed to take part in a stunt organised by the wicked boys from Jackass. She was locked in a portable loo, which was then flung skywards on a bungee rope, drenching her in human waste; it was shown on the Jimmy Kimmel Live TV show.

I can't imagine there being a huge audience for Ms Spears's fragrance (Eau de Shitney?) after that.

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