Hugo Chavez wins press freedom award

When you think of Hugo Chavez and journalism, his repeated habit of shutting down TV stations that are critical of his government and supporting legislation to punish "press crimes," might be the first thing that comes to mind. But one Argentine University doesn't see it that way:

The University of La Plata said it was honouring him for his efforts to break "media monopolies" in Latin America and support "popular communication".

The award has angered critics who accuse Mr Chavez of stifling opposition media in Venezuela.

Earlier Mr Chavez signed a series of commercial accords with his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez.

The university said it was giving Mr Chavez the Rodolfo Walsh award for "his commitment to defending the liberty of the people, consolidating Latin American unity, and defending human rights, truth and democratic values".

Giving Chavez a prize named for Rodolfo Walsh, a journalist "disappeared" during Argentina's military rule, is especially unfortunate given the jailing of critical journalists in Venezuela.

Maybe he can keep the award next to his Qaddafi Prize for Human Rights. 



Zahi Hawass's triumphant return

Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who unwisely took a position in Hosni Mubarak's cabinet just a few days before the government's downfall, has been named minister of antiquities in Egypt's new government: 

Hawass's appointment is likely to anger pro-democracy activists who have been calling for the cabinet to purged of all old regime elements.

His nomination comes amid multiplying calls by the UN cultural agency to protect Egypt's heritage after reports of looting and theft during the unrest that followed the popular uprising.

UNESCO said on Tuesday that it would write to Egyptian authorities to officially ask for more protection for the country's archaeological sites.

It's also likely to prompt some grumbling from archeologists, many of whom claim that Hawass' role as supreme gatekeeper for Egypt's historical heritage makes it nearly impossible for researchers with competing theories to get dig permits. In any event, pharaohs may come and go, but it seems like it will take a lot more than a revolution to dislodge Hawass from his perch.