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Tazer 02-12-2013 12:32 AM



Mister.Weirdo 02-12-2013 09:05 PM

Mark Balelo, an auction house owner featured on the A&E reality TV show "Storage Wars," was found dead on Feb. 11, The Ventura County Star reported. He was 40.

Balelo was one of the deep-pocketed buyers featured on the show that depicts storage-unit auctions. The former owner of a chain of thrift stores, Balelo had a knack for bargaining and finding treasure among trash.

Nicknamed "Rico Suave" for his flamboyant style, Balelo once hosted a live auction right before Halloween while dressed as Superman. He carried a "man purse" (or "murse"), which he considered his good-luck bag; the murses became so popular with fans that he later sold them on eBay. Balelo also was instrumental in helping Nicolas Cage recover a mint-condition copy of a 1938 Action Comics book that was stolen from the actor's storage locker. The comic book was valued at $1 million.

Balelo owned Balelo Inc., a business that specializes in asset liquidations and closeout sales. Until recently, he ran a gaming store called The Game Exchange. Although Balelo loved working -- "My work is my hobby nowadays" -- his favorite past-times included flying private planes, listening to music, hanging out with friends and going to Vegas. A strong competitor with a no-holds-barred attitude, he was best known on "Storage Wars" for beating the competition by showing up to auctions carrying more than $50,000 in cash.

Balelo was arrested over the weekend for alleged possession of a controlled substance, E! Online reported. He was reportedly distraught after being released from jail.

According to, one of Balelo's employees found his body inside the garage of his Simi Valley, Calif., home.

Armando Chavez, senior deputy medical examiner, refused to provide any information as to Balelo's cause of death, Reuters reported. An autopsy will be conducted on Feb. 12.

Tazer 02-12-2013 10:23 PM



Mister.Weirdo 02-13-2013 12:28 AM

John Kerr passed away Saturday, Feb. 2 at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif. He was 81.

The stage and screen actor, known for his roles in films South Pacific and The Pit and the Pendulum, died of heart failure, his son Michael told The Associated Press.

Kerr won a Tony Award in 1954 for his role as Tom Robinson Lee, a prep school student who is bullied for being a suspected homosexual, in Elia Kazan's Broadway production of play Robert Anderson's Tea and Sympathy. He also starred in the 1956 film version of the play.

While working in television on Peyton Place in the mid-1960s, the Harvard graduate enrolled in law school at the University of California, Los Angeles. He graduated in 1969 and had a private practice until retiring in 2000.

Kerr is survived by his wife, Barbara Chu, stepchildren Sharon and Chris Chu, daughters Rebecca Kerr, Jocelyn Kerr-Thantrakul and son Michael Kerr from his first marriage, and seven grandchildren.

Tazer 02-13-2013 09:46 AM



Mister.Weirdo 02-18-2013 03:24 AM

Country music star Mindy McCready has reportedly committed suicide.

The 37-year-old singer has died Sunday night, her brother confirmed to the Daily News.

McCready with her boyfriend, record producer David Wilson, who died last month. His death was initially ruled as a suicide by the sheriff's office investigation remains open.

Andrea Canning, a reporter with NBC Dateline, tweeted, “Just got a call from Mindy McCready's best friend that she shot and killed herself this evening. My heart breaks for her two boys.

McCready's brother has confirmed she her death.

McCready recorded five studio albums throughout her career, but she was perhaps best-known for her affair with former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens.

The singer, who had two young boys, had reportedly struggled with alcohol and mental health issues in recent months and had checked herself into an inpatient rehab facility two weeks ago after the death of her boyfriend, producer David Wilson.

Wilson’s death was initially reported as a suicide, but the sheriff's office in Cleburne County, Ark., has an opened an investigation into it.

Space Cop 02-18-2013 01:59 PM

I don't know her work, but there are two orphans left. Very sad.

Big Daddy Dave Skywalker 02-18-2013 04:11 PM

Every time I saw her on the news I thought it was to announce her death. Reminds me of Kurt Cobain where they keep getting on my tv and I'm like, "aren't you dead yet?" Everyone knows it's coming, let's just get to the punchline already.

Tazer 02-18-2013 06:19 PM


I remember her having that seizure in front of Mackenzie Philips on Dr Phils Rehab Show and scaring the shit outta every1; Id thought/hoped she'd pulled herself together since then but I guess not. I really feel sorry for her poor kids....... ;)


Sylent_Asassin 02-19-2013 07:38 PM

RIP Jerry Buss


As the tributes flowed in from everywhere, the sports world stopped to honor a giant now gone. The death of the Lakersí owner Jerry Buss Monday at age 80 brought out all the usual remembrances, which included the proper credit for creating the Lakers phenomenon out of almost nothing, for spawning much of what we recognize as the modern N.B.A. out of so much magic dust. The tales of the man behind all that, though, were so colorful and so unlikely, it is worth taking a second to realize that if Jerry Buss had not been real, Hollywood would have had to make him up.

And frankly, most Hollywood producers would have thrown out some of the most preposterous details of Bussís story. Because, really, a man with a doctorate in physical chemistry, who despite a hardscrabble life turned a $1,000 real estate deal into a personal fortune and then turned a moribund N.B.A. franchise into the biggest happening in happening-addicted Los Angeles? Oh, and he won 10 N.B.A. titles along the way? Címon, now, whoís going believe all of that?

As Howard Beck writes in The Times, Hollywood did not make Bussís Lakers, Buss did. He played the part of show business mogul to a T, as Bill Dwyre writes in The Los Angeles Times, but the best of his many sides is what shined brightest. As Magic Johnson told Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times after spending several hours of Bussís last day with him, ďWithout Dr. Jerry Buss, there is no Magic.Ē Without his vision, which was his defining characteristic, writes Ramona Shelburne on, there is no Showtime. He brought together the star players, the great basketball minds, added the layer of glamour that became the Lakersí mystique and set it free to work its wonders.

Mister.Weirdo 02-19-2013 08:53 PM


Mister.Weirdo 02-20-2013 04:31 PM

According to MOJO, Soft Machine frontman Kevin Ayers has died at the age of 68.

The English-born singer-songwriter was one of many pioneers from The Canterbury Scene, alongside fellow progressive rockers Robert Wyatt, Dave Stewart, Steve Hillage, and Peter Blegvad. In 1963, he joined forces with Wyatt and Hugh Hopper to form The Wilde Flowers, and in 1966 he and Wyatt formed jazz-fusion band Soft Machine.

It was with Soft Machine where Ayers found himself collaborating with future Police guitarist Andy Summer, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett, and Bob Dylan producers Chas Chandler and Tom Wilson. The band shared the same management team as Jimi Hendrix, and in 1968, they were invited to open for the celebrated rocker on his North American tour.

Ayers would later embark on a successful solo career, releasing over 15 albums and collaborating with Brian Eno, Mike Oldfield, and Lady June. His final record, 2007′s The Unfairground, featured contributions from Hopper, Bridget St John, and Phil Manzanera, as well as members of Neutral Milk Hotel, Teenage Fanclub, Ladybig Transistor, and more.

Tazer 02-20-2013 05:50 PM



Mister.Weirdo 02-21-2013 02:09 PM

TV, film and stage actor Lou Myers, best known for playing Mr. Gaines on the sitcom A Different World in the '80s and early '90s, has died at 77.

Myers passed away at the Charleston Area Medical Center in his native state of West Virginia after battling pneumonia for several months, reported.

Myers was born in Chesapeake, W.V., the son of a Cabin Creek coal miner, according to the Charleston Gazette. After attending West Virginia State University, he got his first acting break as an understudy in the Broadway play The First Breeze of Summer.

He went on to appear in more than a dozen films, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Wedding Planner.

On television, he had roles on ER, JAG and NYPD Blue, but is best remembered for playing Vernon Gaines on A Different World, which was a spin-off from The Cosby Show.

On Broadway, Myers appeared in productions including Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won an NAACP Image Award for his portrayal of the Stool Pigeon in the play King Hedley II.

An accomplished piano player, Myers also sang jazz and blues with the touring company of Negro Music in Vogue.

He is survived by his mother, Dorothy Jeffries, 95, a son, Melvin Myers, and two grandsons, Brayden and Christian, the Gazette said.

Tazer 02-21-2013 03:19 PM



Mister.Weirdo 02-22-2013 05:46 PM

Artist Scott Clark worked for a number of publishers over the course of his career, but according to a statement he passed away at 43.

The report was posted last night on his Facebook page and quickly disseminated on Twitter. Clark was best known for his run on Wildstorm's original Stormwatch series in the '90s.

He went on to contribute to various titles, including Spawn/WildC.A.T.S., Alpha Flight, What If...?, and more. The bulk of Clark's work over the last several years was done for DC Comics where he contributed to Adventure Comics, Batman: Incorporated and Brightest Day.

Clark had begun working on a Martin Manhunter story written by Matt Kindt. The first chapter is scheduled to be published as a back-up feature in March's Justice League of America #2.

At this time, the cause of death has not been revealed.

Tazer 02-22-2013 07:19 PM



Tazer 02-23-2013 06:23 PM



Cleotha Staples, founding member of the Staple Singers, dies at 78


Mister.Weirdo 02-25-2013 11:34 PM

C. Everett Koop, the former surgeon general who brought frank talk about AIDS into American homes, has died at his home in Hanover, N.H., officials at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth announced Monday. He was 96.

Koop, a pediatric surgeon with a conservative reputation and a distinctive beard, was surgeon general from 1981 to 1989 during the Reagan administration and the early months of the administration of George H.W. Bush.

"Dr. Koop will be remembered for his colossal contributions to the health and well-being of patients and communities in the U.S. and around the world," said a statement released by Chip Souba, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine and Joseph O'Donnell, senior scholar at the C. Everett Koop Institute. "As one of our country's greatest surgeons general, he effectively promoted health and the prevention of disease, thereby improving millions of lives in our nation and across the globe."

He is best remembered for his official 1986 report on AIDS – a plain-spoken 36-page document that talked about the way AIDS spread (through sex, needles and blood), the ways it did not spread (through casual contact in homes, schools and workplaces) and how people could protect themselves.

The report advocated condom use for the sexually active and sex education for schoolchildren, pleasantly surprising liberals and upsetting many of Koop's former supporters. An eight-page version was mailed to every American household in 1988.

The brochure came in a sealed packet with the warning that "some of the issues involved in this brochure may not be things you are used to discussing openly."

In interviews and speeches, Koop always stressed that sexual abstinence and monogamy were the best protection against AIDS, but that medical experts had a duty to tell people who did not choose those paths how they could stay healthy.

"My position on AIDS was dictated by scientific integrity and Christian compassion," Koop wrote in his 1991 biography, Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor.

Koop also made his mark in the fight against smoking, with another 1986 report that alerted the public to the dangers of second-hand smoke – setting the stage for today's widespread prohibitions against smoking in public places.

At one point, Koop was the second-most recognized public official in the United States, after President Reagan, says Alexandra Lord, a former Public Health Service historian and author of "Condom Nation: The US Government's Sex Education Campaign from World War I to the Internet." He was one of the most high-profile surgeons general, before or since, she says -- though she says people under age 35 or so may not know his name today.

Charles Everett Koop was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 14, 1916. He briefly played football at Dartmouth College, where he acquired his lifelong nickname Chick, according to a biography posted online by the National Library of Medicine. An early fascination with medicine eventually led him to Cornell University Medical College. In 1945, he became first surgeon in chief at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a position he held until his appointment as surgeon general.

His nomination for that position was opposed by groups who feared he would use the office to promote his anti-abortion views – which he said were developed during a career saving newborns with life-threatening birth defects. But Koop avoided pronouncements on abortion during his tenure.

After he left office, he became one of the first high-profile doctors to establish a presence online. His website,, was launched in 1997 and was intended to provide reliable health information to the public, he said. But Koop and his backers faced criticism over ties with companies advertising on the site. Like many Internet efforts of the era, it failed, going bankrupt in 2001.

Koop remained active, though, heading his C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. At a news conference in Washington, D.C., in 2010, when he was 94, he spoke from a wheelchair and told reporters that he was "very, very deaf" and legally blind, the Washington Post reported.

But he still had the strength to warn that AIDS was becoming a "forgotten epidemic." Although 56,000 Americans were still getting infected each year, "simply put, HIV is no longer on the public's radar screen," he said.

Tazer 02-26-2013 12:20 AM



Mister.Weirdo 02-28-2013 07:49 PM

Dale Robertson, who parlayed his Oklahoma drawl and a way with horses into a long career as a popular, strong-minded star of westerns on television and in the movies, died on Wednesday in San Diego. He was 89.

The cause was complications of lung cancer and pneumonia, his wife, Susan, said. He had been hospitalized near his home in San Diego.

Mr. Robertson was a skilled rider at 10 and training polo ponies by the time he was a teenager. He often said that the only reason he acted professionally was to save money to start his own horse farm in Oklahoma, which he eventually did.

In between, he appeared in more than 60 films and 430 television episodes. In the movies he was a ruggedly handsome counterpart to leading ladies like Betty Grable, Mitzi Gaynor and Jeanne Crain. On television he had starring roles in popular westerns like “Tales of Wells Fargo,” which appeared from 1957 to 1961; “Iron Horse,” from 1966 to 1968; and “Death Valley Days,” which he hosted from 1968 to 1972.

In 1981 he played an oil wildcatter in early episodes of “Dynasty.” The next year he had a recurring role in another glitzy nighttime soap opera, “Dallas,” and later in the decade he starred in the short-lived “J. J. Starbuck.”

Mr. Robertson refused to call himself an actor. Rather, he said, he was a personality with a distinctive style, not unlike that of the actor he most admired, John Wayne.

“An actor can change himself to fit a part, whereas a personality has to change the part to fit himself,” he said in an interview in 1988. He added, “The personality has to say it his own way.”

Acting or not, he failed to impress some critics, who found his performances understated to the point of woodenness. But others saw him as an embodiment of the stoic frontier virtues that made westerns one of America’s most popular genres for decades.

He was born Dayle Lymoine Robertson in Harrah, Okla., about 30 miles east of Oklahoma City, on July 14, 1923, to Melvin and Varval Robertson. He starred in sports in high school, boxed professionally as a young man and attended the Oklahoma Military Academy. In World War II, he served in the Army in Africa and Europe and was wounded twice, earning bronze and silver stars.

Before being sent overseas, Mr. Robertson, then stationed in California, wanted to give a portrait of himself to his mother. He and some buddies went to Hollywood and picked a photographer at random. The photographer liked his picture of Mr. Robertson so much, he blew it up and put in his window. Talent agents started calling.

Mr. Robertson’s first movie role, an uncredited one, was in “The Boy With Green Hair” (1948). His first significant role was that of Jesse James in “Fighting Man of the Plains” (1949). He figured that about 70 percent of his films were westerns and said he did his own stunts.

Among the other westerns he starred in were “Devils Canyon” and “City of Bad Men,” both in 1953; “Sitting Bull” (1954); “Dakota Incident” (1956); and “Hell Canyon Outlaws,” which was released in 1957.

That was the year he gravitated to television, liking its faster pace of production. He developed, owned and starred in the “Wells Fargo” series, playing Jim Hardie, a troubleshooter for the stagecoach company. To make the character distinctive, he had the otherwise right-handed Hardie draw his gun and shoot left-handed.

“Wells Fargo” was originally shown in black and white and in half-hour episodes. In 1961, however, the producers wanted to turn it into a full-hour show, broadcast it in color and expand the ensemble of characters. Mr. Robertson refused, and sold the show to them.

In “Iron Horse,” he played a man who runs a railroad that he had won in a poker game. In “Death Valley Days,” he followed Ronald Reagan and Robert Taylor as host. In “J. J. Starbuck,” Mr. Robertson was a bereaved billionaire who finds meaning in life by solving complex criminal cases and charging no fee.

Mr. Robertson was married four times. In addition to his wife, the former Susan Robbins, whom he married in 1980, he is survived by his daughters, Rochelle Robertson and Rebel Lee, and a granddaughter.

Mr. Robertson never made any bones about his desire to get out of show business one day. He said movies had gotten too sexy for his tastes. He said he got tired of having to hold his stomach in. Mostly, he wanted a ranch. He bought one in Yukon, Okla., about 20 miles west of Oklahoma City.

Mr. Robertson never lost his disdain for Eastern actors, who he thought just played at being cowboys. He said you could spot them by the way they walked around a horse. As for himself, he heeded advice given to him by Will Rogers Jr., son of the Oklahoma humorist.

“Don’t ever take a dramatic lesson,” Mr. Rogers told Mr. Robertson. “They will try to put your voice in a dinner jacket, and people like their hominy and grits in everyday clothes.”

Tazer 02-28-2013 09:27 PM



Mister.Weirdo 03-01-2013 06:50 PM

Bonnie Franklin, the pert, redheaded actress who won fame as a divorced mom on the long-running sitcom One Day at a Time, has died.

Family member say she died Friday due to complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 69.

Her family had announced she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2012.

Though she already had stage and TV credits, One Day at a Time made her a star with its premiere in 1975. She played a divorced single mother raising two teenage girls, costars Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips.

The series ran on CBS for nine seasons, spending most of them as a Top 20 hit.

Franklin's recent credits include appearances on The Young and the Restless and the TV Land comedy Hot in Cleveland, which reunited her with Bertinelli, one of that show's regulars.

Tazer 03-01-2013 07:12 PM



Mister.Weirdo 03-05-2013 11:07 PM

Hugo Chavez, the polarizing president of Venezuela who cast himself as a "21st century socialist" and foe of the United States, died Tuesday, said Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

Chavez, who had long battled cancer, was 58.

Chavez's democratic ascent to the presidency in 1999 ushered in a new era in Venezuelan politics and its international relations.

A look at the life of Hugo Chavez Hugo Chavez's legacy Vice president: Hugo Chavez is dead Hugo Chavez's 2009 interview with CNN.

Once a foiled coup-plotter, the swashbuckling former paratrooper was known for lengthy speeches on everything from the evils of capitalism to the proper way to conserve water while showering. He was the first of a wave of leftist presidents to come to power in Latin America in the last dozen years.

As the most vocal U.S. adversary in the region, he influenced other leaders to take a similar stance.

But the last months of Chavez' life were marked by an uncharacteristic silence as his health condition became "complicated," in the words of his government. Chavez underwent a fourth surgery on December 11 in Cuba, and was not publicly seen again. A handful of pictures released in February were the last images the public had of their president.

Chavez's ministers stubbornly maintained a hopeful message throughout the final weeks, even while admitting that the recently re-elected president was weakened while battling a respiratory infection.

Chavez launched an ambitious plan to remake Venezuela, a major oil producer, into a socialist state in the so-called Bolivarian Revolution, which took its name from Chavez's idol, Simon Bolivar, who won independence for many South American countries in the early 1800s.

"After many readings, debates, discussions, travels around the world, etcetera, I am convinced -- and I believe this conviction will be for the rest of my life -- that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism. The path is socialism," he said on his weekly television program in 2005.

Chavez redirected much of the country's vast oil wealth, which increased dramatically during his tenure, to massive social programs for the country's poor. He expanded the portfolio of the state-owned oil monopoly to include funding for social "missions" worth millions of dollars. That helped pay for programs that seek to eradicate illiteracy, provide affordable food staples and grant access to higher education, among other things.

But Chavez also leaves a legacy of repression against politicians and private media who opposed him.

He concentrated power in the executive branch, turning formerly independent institutions -- such as the judiciary, the electoral authorities and the military -- into partisan loyalists.

Through decrees and a judiciary tilted in the president's favor, many political opponents found themselves barred from running in elections against the ruling party. Even former allies, like Chavez's onetime defense minister, Gen. Raul Baduel, faced accusations that critics called trumped-up corruption charges.

Chavez's government similarly targeted opposition broadcasters, passing laws and decrees that forced at least one major broadcaster and dozens of smaller radio and television stations off the air.

Opponents also have criticized his social programs, calling them unsustainable over the long run and responsible for unintended consequences. Price controls, for instance, drove up inflation, while expropriations of farmland depressed production.

In lengthy, freewheeling speeches, Chavez saved his most acerbic barbs for the "imperialist" United States and its "colonial" allies in the region.

He accused the United States of trying to orchestrate his overthrow, and referred to President George W. Bush as the devil in front of the United Nations General Assembly.

At home, business interests accused him of scaring off investment by abusing the power of expropriation. Venezuela struggled to grow its economy during this period, even as the nation was flush with money from oil, which was at about $17 a barrel when Chavez took office and rose to more than $100 a barrel.

In addition to domestic social programs, the Chavez government pumped money into his foreign policy interests. He invested millions of dollars in oil and cash in countries that were ideologically similar.

Chavez considered former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a mentor, and aligned his country with Iran and other nations opposed to the United States.

Cuba loses a benefactor in Chavez, whose provision of an oil lifeline at below-market prices could be at risk under a new government.

While Chavez admired Castro, he found most inspiration from Bolivar, even renaming the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

An affable, if sometimes bombastic, man, Chavez had a disarming manner that even his critics could not deny.

Some called his style buffoonish, but he spoke like an ordinary Venezuelan -- not like a bureaucrat -- and voters reacted positively.

Other leftist leaders elected after him, like Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, followed Chavez's example to varying extents.

Chavez could also be secretive. He was slow to publicly admit that he had cancer, and never shared what type of cancer affected him. The government kept a tight seal on details of the president's treatment and declining health.

The death of the Venezuelan president leaves a sharply polarized country, with no clear successor for his party and an untested opposition. Chavez' passing means new elections will be held, although he had said previously he wanted Maduro to succeed him.

Chavez was born in the plains state of Barinas, in southwest Venezuela, on July 28, 1954, the third of the seven children of two educators.

As a child, he was an altar boy who went on to develop a great love of baseball. Recently, even as questions arose about his health, the media-savvy Chavez sought to reassure the public by playing catch with his foreign minister on state television.

As a young man, he enrolled in the Military Academy of Venezuela, reaching the rank of sub-lieutenant in 1975. He joined the parachute corps of the army and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant colonel.

His first political steps came when he founded the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement, or MBR-200, in 1982. A decade later, on February 4, 1992, he led a failed military rebellion against then-President Carlos Andres Perez. He also made his first public appearance in front of the television cameras.

"Compatriots, sadly for now the objectives that we proposed were not achieved in the capital city," he said. "That is to say, we here in Caracas did not succeed in gaining power. You did it very well out there, but now is time to avoid more bloodshed. Now is time to reflect and new situations will come."

Chavez served two years in prison before then-President Rafael Caldera granted him amnesty.

Chavez went on to form a new political party, the Fifth Republic Movement, which carried him to a presidential election victory in 1998. His fiery campaign speeches blamed the traditional parties for corruption and poverty.

Chavez married twice and divorced twice. He had three children with his first wife, Nancy Colmenarez: Rosa Virginia, Maria Gabriela and Hugo Rafael.

Years later, he married Marisabel Rodriguez, with whom he had a fourth daughter, Rosa Ines. He divorced in 2003; Venezuela has had no first lady since then.

Upon taking office, Chavez made rewriting the constitution one of his first orders of business. A July 2000 referendum affirmed the new constitution, which the government printed as a little blue book that Chavez used regularly as a prop during speeches.

In the following years, the charismatic Chavez rattled off a string of electoral victories that made him seem almost invincible.

He won re-election in 2000, survived a recall election in 2004, and won another six-year term in 2006.

Chavez secured another re-election victory in October, describing his win as "a perfect battle, and totally democratic." He vowed to "be a better president every day."

A turning point for Chavez came in April 2002, when a coup briefly removed him from office.

But the interim government couldn't consolidate power, and within 48 hours, with the help of the military, Chavez returned to power.

While short-lived, the coup had a profound effect on Chavez, who took a more accelerated authoritarian and leftist turn afterward.

Human Rights Watch wrote in 2010 that the coup provided a pretext for policies that undercut human rights.

"Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chavez presidency," the report concluded.

"At times, the president himself has openly endorsed acts of discrimination. More generally, he has encouraged his subordinates to engage in discrimination by routinely denouncing his critics as anti-democratic conspirators and coup-mongers -- regardless of whether or not they had any connection to the 2002 coup," the report said.

Consolidation of power in the presidency -- to the detriment of separation of powers -- became a theme in Chavez's policies.

Another challenge to Chavez's rule followed the coup. From December 2002 to February 2003, a crippling general strike pressured the president. The economy took a hit, but Chavez outlasted the strikers.

The following year, in 2004, the opposition gathered enough signatures to hold a recall referendum on Chavez, but again, the president survived.
Chavez's vitriol toward the United States also increased in the period after the brief coup because Washington had tacitly approved it.

In one of his most memorable insults, Chavez said of Bush in 2006 before the U.N. General Assembly:
"The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today."

In 2007, Chavez tasted defeat for the first time, in a referendum seeking approval for constitutional reforms that would have deepened his socialist policies. Nonetheless, thanks to a National Assembly friendly to him, Chavez achieved some of his goals, including indefinite re-election.

That same year, Chavez created a new political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, which merged his party with several other leftist parties.

His detractors accused him of being authoritarian, populist and even dictatorial for having pushed through a constitutional reform that allowed indefinite re-election.

Increasingly, Chavez used legislation to clamp down on broadcasters and other media. His government relentlessly went after opposition broadcaster Globovision, accusing it of a number of violations, from failure to pay taxes to disregarding a media responsibility law.

The broadcaster is the last remaining TV network that carries an anti-Chavez line, since the president refused to renew the license of another opposition station, RCTV, allegedly over telecommunication regulation violations. The station had to go off public airwaves and transmit solely on cable.

Abroad, Chavez was also known for his colorful -- if sometimes strange -- statements.

Last year, after several Latin American leaders were diagnosed with cancer, himself included, he wondered if the United States was behind it.

"Would it be strange if (the United States) had developed a technology to induce cancer, and for no one to know it?" he asked.

During a water shortage that Venezuela suffered in 2009, he took to the airwaves to encourage Venezuelans to take showers that lasted only three minutes.

At a summit in 2007, his repeated attempts to interrupt resulted in King Juan Carlos of Spain saying to him, "Why don't you shut up?"

Chavez was a believer that the days of the "Washington consensus," a model of economic reforms favored by the United States for developing countries, were over.

Along with Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and some Caribbean countries, Chavez formed the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, a group intended to offer an alternative to U.S. influence in the region.

As president, Chavez made clear his ambitions of being a regional and international leader who left, in his own way, changes that awakened passions and feelings in favor and against -- everything except indifference.

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