Illegal factories shut down
Pressing a campaign against the black market, authorities have shut down 79 shops, 200 small factories and 167 in-home “warehouses” in five months, state media said on Sunday. What are Cubans cranking out in all those illegal enterprises? Things they have a hard time affording, including soft drinks and liquors; furniture; hair care supplies; construction material and even medicines, they said. But Cuba’s black market was critical to Cubans’ everyday lives even before two major hurricanes in September damaged half a million homes and destroyed a major share of food crops. Now, Cubans arguably may be turning to it more than ever as they struggle to put food on the table.
Rare goat hangs itself in zoo
An exotic goat in Calgary Zoo accidentally hanged itself after it became entangled in a rope and then fell off a log, CTV television reported on Sunday. Home video of the accident on Friday showed the Turkmenian markhor hanging lifeless from the rope in its enclosure. Later, keepers could be seen trying to resuscitate the animal. The zoo said in a statement that the goat had been playing with a ball on the end of a rope — a toy designed to stimulate the animal.
Two more snowmobilers die
Snow slides left two more snowmobilers dead over the weekend in British Columbia, raising the province’s avalanche death total for the season to 15. The most recent death occurred on Saturday when a snowmobiler was high marking, zooming uphill to see how far he could go, and was caught by an avalanche in the Back Meadows area of Babcock Mountain near Tumbler Ridge in the northeastern part of the province, police said. On Friday an avalanche hit two people on snowmobiles out of a group of seven in the Monashee Mountains near Valemount in the south-central interior of the province. Both were dug out, but one was not breathing and could not be revived. Eight snowmobilers died late last month when they were caught in a series of avalanches near Fernie in the southeast corner of the province.
Pope touts family values
Pope Benedict XVI told Mexicans at a conference on the family on Sunday that only an “undissolvable marriage between a man and a woman” ought to be at the heart of a family. In a video address on the last day of the World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, the pontiff argued with more than 22,000 people on hand that, “due to its essential social function, the family has the right to be recognized with its own identity and not to be confused with other forms of cohabitation.” The pope said that personal freedom had been taken to capricious extremes, making it hard for the family to do its educating work. Mexico City was the first place in this majority Roman Catholic country to adopt same-sex unions, legal abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, assisted suicide and quick divorce.
Museum receives ‘Big’ gift
A Philadelphia museum has received a musical gift for children and “big” kids alike. The 4.9m walk-on piano Tom Hanks played in his 1988 film Big will be on display next month at the city’s Please Touch Museum. The instrument is a gift to the children’s museum from a couple in suburban Merion who bought it after the movie’s release. It was built in Philadelphia by Remo Saraceni, who called his invention a Walking Piano.