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In brief: Chavez dismisses rumors of ill health

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reappeared on television Monday after an eight-day silence, scoffing at rumors that his health took a turn for the worse and saying he plans to be back home Thursday after his latest round of cancer treatment in Cuba.

Chavez said in a live phone call on state television that radiation therapy takes a physical toll and that he will need to recover.

He dismissed rumors of complications in his treatment.

Chavez said once he’s back in Venezuela, he plans to return to Cuba for one more round of radiation treatment.

U.N. seeks billions for malaria fight

UNITED NATIONS – The global campaign to fight malaria is appealing for $3.2 billion to try to reach the U.N. goal of “near-zero” deaths from the mosquito-borne disease by 2015.

Ray Chambers, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for malaria, told reporters Monday that there has been “great progress” in reducing malaria deaths using bednets, insecticide spray and drugs.

Chambers said that in the past six years, the campaign to fight malaria has raised more than $6 billion.

Historic diamond to be auctioned

PARIS – The 400-year-old “Beau Sancy,” one of the world’s oldest and most storied diamonds in private hands, is up sale at Sotheby’s auction house. Weighing in at 34.98 carats, the sparkling pear cut gem is estimated to be worth up to $4 million.

Cut from the famous gem mines in the Indian city of Golconda, the diamond made its way through four royal European families and once belonged to Queen Marie de Medici of France. Its most recent owners are the descendants of the last emperor of Germany.

The gem is currently on display in Paris. It will travel to London and Zurich before its auctioning in Geneva on May 14.


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