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Jesus Weeps in Madagascar

Remote, violence-torn island looks to church leaders to help restore calm.

On a map, Madagascar's capital city of Antananarvio is 8,800 miles from Washington, DC. But in reality, Madagascar may be as close as that can of Coca-Cola you had at lunch today. Madagascar is one of the world's largest exporters of vanilla, a key ingredient in Coke classic.

Tragically, life in the Republic of Madagascar, one of the world's poorest nations, is not living up to the animated fantasy that Dreamworks cooked up in hit feature films, "Madagascar" and "Madagascar 2." (These two films grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.)

In late January, Marc Ravalomanana, the president of Madagascar, closed the opposition radio station that Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of Antananarvio, operated. Broadcasters were airing comments highly critical of the government. The station closure touched off protests, rioting and looting. So far, the death toll is more than 30 lives lost. A number of the fatalities were due to electrocution from contact with security fences set up around food storage buildings, ...

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