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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Bougainvillea shade the pathways at the Cementerio General del Sur, where the mausoleums of statesmen and movie stars stand next to the graves of aristocrats and thousands of commoners. Sculpted lions gaze down from sepulchers. Elegance, not anarchy, once defined this resting place.
Now, crypts for once-feared military rulers have been ransacked. Coffins, twisted open with crowbars, lie strewn under samán trees. Cages with padlocked gates surround the burial sites of some families, as if that might protect them from a disturbing reality: not even Caracas’s city of the dead is safe.
Accompanying Venezuela’s soaring levels of murders and kidnappings, its cemeteries are the setting for a new kind of crime wave. Grave robbers are looting them for human bones, answering demand from some practitioners of a fast-growing transplanted Cuban religion called Palo that uses the bones in its ceremonies.
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Iran is helping to detect uranium deposits in Venezuela and initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant, President Hugo Chavez's government said Friday.
Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Iran has been assisting Venezuela with geophysical survey flights and geochemical analysis of the deposits, and that evaluations "indicate the existence of uranium in western parts of the country and in Santa Elena de Uairen," in southeastern Bolivar state.
"We could have important reserves of uranium," Sanz told reporters upon arrival on Venezuela's Margarita Island for a weekend Africa-South America summit. He added that efforts to certify the reserves could begin within the next three years.
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The Yanomami leaders are wading into a politicized debate about how officials react to health care challenges faced by the Yanomami and other Amazonian tribes. In recent interviews here, government officials contended that the Yanomami could be exaggerating their claims to win more resources from the government and undercut its authority in the Amazon.
Meanwhile, the Yanomami claims come amid growing concern in Venezuela over indigenous health care after a scandal erupted in August over a tepid official response to a mystery disease that killed 38 Warao Indians in the country's northeast.
"This government makes a big show of helping the Yanomami, but rhetoric is one thing and reality another," said Ramón González, 49, a Yanomami leader from the village of Yajanamateli who traveled recently to Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas State, to ask military officials and civilian doctors for improved health care.
"The truth is that Yanomami lives are still considered worthless," said González, who was converted to Christianity by New Tribes Mission, a Florida group expelled in 2005. "The boats, the planes, the money, it's all for the criollos, not for us," he said, using a term for nonindigenous Venezuelans.
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