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.
Trapped miners saved
Some 167 workers trapped in a gold mine for more than 24 hours were safely brought to the surface late on Sunday, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported. Mine spokesman James Duncan said there were no injuries and the mine workers had received adequate water and ventilation and remained in telephone contact with the surface throughout, according to SAPA. The workers — mainly maintenance staff — were trapped when lightning struck an electrical substation late Saturday and caused a complete power blackout. Electricity supplies were re-established on Sunday and engineers managed to connect the power to the underground winders and lifts.
Tony Hart dies at 83
British TV presenter Tony Hart, who charmed generations of children with his artsy antics, died early on Sunday morning, his agent said. He was 83. No cause of death was given, but Hart’s health had been in decline following two strokes several years ago, Roc Renals said. Hart’s 50-year TV career took in everything from lightning-fast magic marker sketches to a giant paint-spattered Jackson Pollock-like composition and an even larger elephant whitewashed onto an airfield. Throughout it all, Hart’s bubbly demeanor and endearing grin kept children hooked.
Robbers kill house pet
British police said two robbers broke into an elderly woman’s home, stole money and then snapped the neck of her pet budgerigar in front of her. Police in the Welsh city of Cardiff say the killing of the bird left the 78-year-old traumatized. “The victim is deeply upset because not only has she been the victim of a crime, she has also lost her pet budgie, her soulmate, in a brutal and disturbing manner,” Detective Sergeant Stuart Wales said on Saturday. Police said the woman was watching TV when the men burst into her home and threatened her with her own walking stick. The pair made off with £150 (about US$220).
Islamist group kills two
At least two civilians were killed during an attack on African Union (AU) peacekeepers by an extremist Islamic group in the capital, witnesses said on Sunday. Al-Shabab, an extremist Islamic group, attacked two AU bases late on Saturday. The troops retaliated, leading to heavy fighting, said Mohamed Hussein, a resident in the area where the attack happened. “I saw two dead men killed by mortar rounds,” Hussein said. Fadumo Ali, a nurse at Medina hospital, said nine civilians wounded in the attack were brought to her hospital. The AU peacekeepers’ spokesman Barigye Bahoku said the force did not suffer any casualties.
Fugitive Zazo captured
Police said a Neapolitan fugitive wanted on drug trafficking charges has been captured in Barcelona. The paramilitary Carabinieri police working with Spain’s Civil Guard arrested Salvatore Zazo as he was making a phone call in a shop in Barcelona on Saturday. Police official Angelo Mazzagatti said on Sunday that an arrest warrant had been issued for Zazo a few months ago. He said Zazo, 52, was suspected of international trafficking in cocaine. Investigators say they believe Zazo has been leading the Mazzarella crime family in the historic center of Naples. It is part of the Camorra criminal syndicate. Police say authorities will ask for Zazo’s extradition.
Artist finds fakes at exhibit
Acclaimed artist SH Raza inaugurated a show of his paintings in New Delhi over the weekend, only to find most of the works were fakes, the Mail Today said. Paris-based Raza had contributed some drawings to the show at a well-known gallery that had put together more than 30 of his early paintings, the artist wrote in the newspaper. “When I reached the gallery and started looking at the canvases on the walls, I was stunned,” Raza said. “As I moved from one canvas to the other, I realized that the works were just not mine, they were all fakes.” Raza’s works have commanded high prices internationally, with one painting going for about US$1.9 million at a Christie’s auction in London last year. The gallery, which closed the show shortly afterwards, said it had been duped.
Police hold on to suspect
Police were granted another two-week extension yesterday to hold and question the lone surviving gunman captured during the deadly attacks on Mumbai, a senior officer said. A judge granted a request to hold Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman during a brief hearing in the city, said the officer in charge of the investigation, crime branch chief Rakesh Maria. “We have got custody up to Feb. 2,” Maria said. The Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 attacks left 165 people dead and more than 300 injured.
Police shoot three men
Police fatally shot three men yesterday who allegedly stole from dozens of politicians and businesspeople in robberies and break-ins during a nearly two-year crime spree. The members of the Ronald Gang were killed in a pre-dawn shootout with police who learned they were traveling in a stolen car on a highway on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, said Shakaruddin Che Mood, the police chief of Kajang district. The suspects opened fire on police after realizing they were being followed, Shakaruddin said. Police shot dead all three, including the group’s alleged leader, after a brief chase. The gang, named after its leader, is believed to have stolen cash, jewelry and other items from about 50 homes belonging to politicians and business figures in various cities over the past two years.
Fire shuts down fuel depot
Police were investigating a fire at a major fuel depot yesterday in Jakarta that forced authorities to shut down the station and forced nearby residents to flee. The fire broke out at about 9am and engulfed one of the fuel tanks at Plumpang oil depot for about 10 hours, officials said. State-run oil company Pertamina said the fire at the country’s largest depot was unlikely to disrupt fuel supplies to the capital and nearby regions. There were no reports of casualties.
Ferry captain investigated
The captain of a ferry that sank off Sulawesi island last week, leaving hundreds missing, has been named a suspect for possible negligence causing loss of life, police said yesterday. The ferry, which had 250 passengers and 17 crew according to the manifest, ran into heavy seas. Rescue officials have found 35 survivors, including the captain, and nine bodies. “We made Sabir [the captain] a suspect yesterday for negligence that caused loss of lives,” said Heri Sabiansauri, a spokesman for the South Sulawesi police. Negligence leading to a loss of life can carry a maximum jail sentence of five years.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,