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U.S. General Says
Chavez Worries Region

By Robert Pear
THE NEW YORK TIMES MANAGUA, NICARAGUA

The commander of U.S. military activities in Latin America said Monday that Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez had become a destabilizing force, and that other countries in the Western hemisphere shared that concern.

The commander, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock of the Army, said, “What I have heard in the last few months is more concern by more countries” about an increase in Venezuela’s purchase of weapons, especially small arms.

U.S. officials said Venezuela had used its oil wealth to undermine democratic forces in other Latin American countries. “There’s a factor here that is destabilizing,” Craddock said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Craddock were in Managua for a meeting of defense ministers from more than 30 countries in the hemisphere.

In recent months, Venezuela has bought AK-47 assault rifles and military helicopters from Russia and patrol boats from Spain.

Airplane Recorders Recovered
From Brazilian Crash Site

By Paulo Prada
THE NEW YORK TIMES RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Rescue workers on Monday found cockpit voice and data recorders in the wreckage of an airliner that crashed in the Amazon rainforest last week, killing all 155 people on board.

Investigators continued questioning the American pilots of a business jet that Brazilian authorities say they believe collided with the larger aircraft in midair. A senior executive of ExcelAire Service Inc., a New York-based aircraft charter and management company that had purchased the smaller jet in Brazil and was bringing it back to the United States, was also being questioned.

In aerial surveys of the crash site, in dense thicket in the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, salvage crews spotted the tail section of the Boeing 737-800 in which the recorders were found. Until now, the probe into the crash has focused on cockpit data from the smaller aircraft, an Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, and on the statements of its pilots and passengers, who landed safely on a remote military landing strip a half-hour after they felt a jolt.

Compulsive Buying May
Become a Psychiatric Diagnosis

By Nicholas Bakalar
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Compulsive buying is just as common in men as in women, a nationwide telephone survey has found, and in its extreme forms may be a psychiatric illness an impulse control disorder associated with abnormal levels of depression and anxiety.

Researchers used a seven-item questionnaire to determine whether people felt a need to spend money, whether they were aware that their spending behavior was aberrant, whether they bought things to improve their mood and whether their buying habits had led to financial problems.

They followed up with three questions designed to determine the degree of loss of control: How often have you just wanted to buy things and did not care what you bought? How often have you bought something and when you got home were not sure why you bought it? How often have you gone on a buying spree and just could not stop?

A statistical analysis of the results found that 5.5 percent of men and 6.0 percent of women could be classified as compulsive shoppers — that is, people whose uncontrolled urges to spend money lead to serious negative consequences.