[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.
The Press Ombudsman panel dismissed a complaint by Ronald Suresh Roberts (also known as Robert Kevin Roberts) against The Weekender newspaper this week. The paper reported late last year that Roberts had been charged with plagiarism by Aids denialist Anthony Brink for lifting passages from Brink’s unpublished book and using it in his “biography” of President Thabo Mbeki, Fit to Govern.
Roberts was particularly upset by the poster of the newspaper titled Suresh Roberts caught cribbing because, he argued, it elevated the claims by Brink to the status of fact. The Press Ombudsman panel rejected his argument, stating that it was a fair reflection of the story and that the story was fair.
Significantly The Weekender editor, Peter Bruce, argued that this was so because the:
The Weekender believes that the publication was true or at least that they reasonably believed the facts to be true. The evidence appears on a balance of probabilities in relation to the plagiarism charge to bear fruit. The same applies to the billboard.” Bruce repeated this at the hearing: “The poster was true – he (Roberts) is a plagiarist.”
The Ombudsman panel found in favour of the newspaper, in effect endorsing the view of the newspaper that Roberts is a plagiarist.
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