At a news conference after his spirited address to the UN on Wednesday, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela expressed one regret: not having met that icon of the American left, the linguist Noam Chomsky, before his death.
On Thursday, a call to Chomsky's house found him very much alive. In fact, he was struggling through "10,000 e-mails" he had received since the remarks by Chavez, who urged Americans to read one of Chomsky's books instead of watching Superman and Batman movies, which he said "make people stupid."
At 77, Chomsky has joined the exclusive club of luminaries, like the actor Abe Vigoda and Mark Twain, who were reported dead before their time, only to contradict the reports by continuing to breathe.
"I continue to work and write," he said, speaking from his house in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Chavez, while addressing world leaders at the UN, flagged Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, which Chomsky published in 2003, as a must-read. Chomsky said he was glad that Chavez liked his book, but he would not describe himself as flattered.
"We should look at ourselves through our own eyes and not other people's eyes," he said.
Chomsky said he had taken no offense at Chavez's remarks about his being dead. In fact, Chavez's promotion of the book propelled it on Thursday into Amazon's top 10 best sellers.
While retired from teaching full time, Chomsky still goes to his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, occasionally lecturing and also working on a new book.
At the UN, the remarks by Chavez on Wednesday set off a firestorm that nearly overshadowed the visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country has been under intense global scrutiny for its nuclear ambitions. From the podium of the General Assembly, the Venezuelan leader said he smelled lingering sulfur, left by US President George W. Bush, who had spoken there the day before and whom he branded "the devil."
Chomsky said that he would not choose to use the same harsh oratory, but added that the Ven-ezuelan leader was simply expressing the views of many in the world. And he said Chavez's anger was understandable.
"The Bush administration backed a coup to overthrow his government," he said. "Suppose Venezuela supported a military coup that overthrew the government of the United States? Would we think it was a joke?"
Proving that he was still up for a lively debate, Chomsky then went on to talk about income inequality in Latin America, the history of the UN, Iraq, Iran, Fidel Castro and, finally, the man who so fervently admires him, Chavez.
"I have been quite interested in his policies," Chomsky said. "Personally, I think many of them are quite constructive."
So would Chomsky oblige Chavez's wish for a meeting, helping ensure that the South American leader will not have that regret to live with anymore?
"I would be happy to meet him," Chomsky said.
Chavez was due to return to Venezuela today.
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions