- - Wednesday, January 4, 2012


President undergoes thyroid cancer surgery

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s president was awake and recovering Wednesday after a 3 1/2-hour operation to remove her cancerous thyroid gland.

Cristina Fernandez’s surgery went without complications and all her vital signs were good, her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro announced, prompting cheers and applause from supporters gathered outside the hospital.

Doctors had expected a routine surgery and predicted a complete cure without chemotherapy, since preoperative tests showed the cancer had not spread beyond a nodule on the right side of her thyroid gland.

Vice President Amado Boudou was put in charge shortly before the operation, and will remain as the country’s constitutional leader for 20 more days while Ms. Fernandez takes medical leave.

Ms. Fernandez, 58, was found to have papillary thyroid carcinoma shortly after beginning her second four-year term as Argentina’s leader last month, her doctors said.

The surgery at Hospital Austral in suburban Pilar, north of the capital, was led by Dr. Pedro Saco, a veteran Argentine oncologist who specializes in cancers of the head and neck.


Men get prison terms for black teen’s murder

LONDON — A British judge sentenced two men Wednesday to at least 14 years in prison for stabbing a black teenager to death in London almost two decades ago - a crime that exposed racism within the police and set the victim’s family on a long quest for justice.

The murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence in 1993 shocked the country and came to be seen as a festering racial injustice. It took 19 years before anyone was convicted, and three other suspects remain at large.

Judge Colman Treacy called the murder an evil crime motivated by racial hatred. He sentenced Gary Dobson to a minimum of 15 years and 2 months in jail, and David Norris to 14 years and 3 months.


Tunisians call for end to campus veil standoff

TUNIS — About 200 students and professors demonstrated in Tunisia’s capital on Wednesday calling for an end to the standoff by ultraconservative Muslims at a nearby university.

For more than a month classes and exams at Manouba University’s humanities department have been put on hold by a sit-in demanding students be allowed to attend class in the conservative face veil, known as the niqab.

“Science before the niqab,” and “no to shackles, no to niqab, knowledge is free,” read the signs of the demonstrators, who urged the minister of higher education to resolve the dispute so that classes could resume.

University policy prevents students from covering their faces during class.

The sit-in has been the latest crisis faced by Tunisia since it overthrew its long-serving dictator last year, who had aggressively promoted secular policies.

In his absence there has been a resurgence of ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafists, who are seeking a greater role for Islam in public life.


Protest leader freed after month in jail

MOSCOW — Protest leader Sergei Udaltsov, whose jailing became a rallying point for the Russian opposition, was freed Wednesday after a month in custody.

A crowd of about 100 supporters cheered as he stepped out onto a dark and snowy Moscow street.

The 34-year-old leftist has been detained at least a dozen times in the past year after leading anti-Kremlin street protests, but he only recently has seemed to earn the attention and respect of Russia’s main opposition leaders.

His jailing fed the anger during mass demonstrations in Moscow in December, and his release could help the opposition build momentum in the month remaining before the next big protest scheduled for Feb. 4.

Mr. Udaltsov was arrested on Dec. 4, the day Russia held a parliamentary election during which observers said the vote was manipulated to allow Mr. Putin’s party to retain its majority.

Mr. Udaltsov then was kept in jail on charges related to a protest he led in October against the exclusion of opposition parties from the ballot. He spent much of his time in custody in a hospital after a hunger strike threatened his health.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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