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10 things we didn’t know last week

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1. Beer bellies are a myth – alcohol does not target the gut.

Find out more (Time)

2. Birds are suffering from the “harmful misuse” of mobile phone apps that mimic birdsong.

Find out more

3. There’s a previously undiscovered sixth layer in the eye’s cornea – the Dua layer.

Find out more (Metro)

4. Cats born with two faces are known as Janus cats.

Find out more (Daily Express)

5. Chickens lost their penises because of a gene called Bmp4.

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6. Until recently the US Navy had a requirement that all official messages be sent in capital letters.

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7. Men are to blame for the menopause.

Find out more (Daily Mail)

8. A flamingo-like pterosaur used gravel to aid digestion.

Find out more (New Scientist)

9. A protein called myoglobin allows mammals including whales and seals to hold their breath underwater for an hour.

Find out more

10. Venezuelans are using mobile phone apps to locate scarce toilet paper.

Find out more (The Guardian)

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Venezuela & The Wary Tourist

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Venezuela has got to be one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. Certainly it is one of the most diverse, offering almost everything for the tourist and tourism in every area.

This morning I saw this question posed on BBC News…

So why aren’t tourists flocking to Venezuela?

Well, I can answer that even before reading the article, I can sum it up in one word, Chavez.

As long as Chavez and his policies preside over Venezuela tourists will stay away in droves.

Venezuela bids to beat bad image to win over tourists

Venezuela’s natural riches should be a tourist draw

It has the longest Caribbean coastline of any country and the world’s tallest waterfall, not to mention snow-capped Andean mountains and Amazon rainforest. Tourist paradise? Not Venezuela.

Considering the country’s size and natural attractions, tourist numbers are low.

In 2009, Venezuela received just over 600,000 international visitors, according to World Bank figures, compared to more than two million in neighbouring Colombia.

The majority came from Europe or North America, but less than half were on holiday. Venezuela’s Institute for National Statistics shows many were visiting family, on business or studying.

Venezuela’s annual tourism fair gets under way on Thursday and this year the country has teamed up with the UN’s World Tourism Organisation to make a special push to improve visitor numbers.

We want to “boost tourism as a means of development and cultural interaction,” a government statement said.

Angel Falls: Dramatic experience for the adventurous

Currency controls to stop Venezuelans investing abroad mean the official rate of exchange is poor for foreigners arriving with US dollars.

A sandwich and a bottle of water in a cafe in Caracas cost around $25 at the official rate.

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Venezuela simply is NOT tourist friendly.

“The government blames the international media for its inability to attract more visitors.”

Of course ‘the government,’ ergo Hugo Chavez blames the international media for giving Venezuela a bum rap. He is such an arrogant bastard, that he would never think that HE, and his policies, is the problem.

Venezuela has a reputation for violence and tourist kidnappings; but Rio de Janeiro has tourists being robbed and Colombia has much violence, but they don’t suffer in the same way that Venezuela has.

Why raises the question, why?

Simple, Rio de Janeiro may have drug dealers and Colombia may have FARC, but they don’t have Chavez.

It is true that Venezuela is probably the most beautiful and idyllic place that exists. But there has to be major changes in the tourist infrastructure before they will come. Simply holding a travel fair, changing slogans and saying ‘come’ will not work.

For a country like Venezuela to ‘boast’ 600,000 (remembering that only half that number are on holiday) tourists is nothing short of pathetic and a true reflection on what the world thinks of this paradise.

The Terrible Price of Gold

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With the world’s economic system in a shambles, the price of gold is rising making it more lucrative to exploit protected areas in the unscrupulous grab for the precious metal.

Brazil asks Venezuela to investigate village massacre claims

Brazil asks Caracas for help in determining whether gold miners killed more than 70 members of Yanomami tribe from helicopter

Members of the Yanomami tribe. The tribe says it has repeatedly warned Venezuela’s government that conflicts with miners are intensifying. Photograph: Sipa Press/REX FEATURES

Brazil is pressing Venezuela to determine whether Brazilian gold miners crossed the border and massacred a village of about 80 indigenous people from a helicopter.

The alleged assault, which a tribal group says could have killed more than 70 people in early July, came to light earlier this week when the group asked Venezuela’s government to investigate. Because of the remoteness of the region and the scattered nature of the native settlements, fellow tribe members were able to alert the government only on Monday.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said on Friday its embassy in Caracas had asked the Venezuelan government to provide it with any information that could help it determine whether the attack had happened and whether Brazilians had been involved.

Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, a government body that oversees indigenous affairs, said it would seek a joint investigation by officials from both countries at the site.

The border area between the two countries – a long, dense swath of the Amazon rainforest – has increasingly become the site of conflicts between indigenous people, gold miners, and others seeking to tap jungle resources.

The tribe that was allegedly attacked, the Yanomami, says it has given repeated, but unheeded, warnings to Venezuela’s government that the conflicts are intensifying.

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Mt Roraima, Venezuela

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Mt Roraima showing heads head above the clouds

A magnificent photo of Mt Roraima in Venezuela situated on the borders with Guyana and Brazil. It is the highest of the tepuis (table top mountains) and was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World in its bizarre landscape.

For more info you can check the post “An Island Forgotten by Time.”

Mt Roraima was also the inspiration for the film Up.

Pemón Girls

But life is not all peaceful in the region. The people, Pemón Indians, who live in the Gran Sabana and rely on the area’s tourism as a source of income, are having other problems with the government. Check this Observer article outlining the fierce debate.

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