It was World Tai Chi day on Saturday, and in old Havana’s San Francisco Plaza, more than 200 Cubans of all ages, dressed in white, green, blue, red, yellow and black, showed off their skill in the ancient martial art-turned exercise. There are more than 5,000 Tai Chi practitioners nationwide, as well as a Cuban School of Wushu, established in 1995 in located in Havana’s Chinatown district, said the school’s director, Roberto Vargas Li. There are about 200 older Cubans who have reached a high level of Tai Chi mastery, and often act as instructors, he said.
May Day celebrated
Pro-Kremlin parties and trade unions brought thousands of people onto the streets in May Day demonstrations yesterday. Crowds waving balloons and blue or red flags gathered in cities from the Pacific port of Vladivostok to Moscow in carefully choreographed rallies reminiscent of the Soviet era. Opposition parties of all hues have said they would hold their own rallies to protest against the policies of the Kremlin.
Tax transfers halted
Jerusalem has suspended tax transfers to the Palestinians in response to President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid to forge an alliance with rival Hamas Islamists opposed to peace talks, a newspaper said yesterday. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz canceled the latest routine handover of 300 million shekels (US$88 million) in customs and other levies collected on behalf of the Palestinians, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily said. A spokeswoman for Steinitz said she could not immediately confirm the Yedioth report, which said Israeli officials would also cancel talks with the Abbas administration aimed at updating the tax transfer mechanism which provides it with US$1 billion to US$1.4 billion annually.
Funeral trumped wedding
Almost 23 million of the nation’s TV viewers tuned in to watch live coverage of Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton on Friday despite the wedding taking place before dawn in much of the country. However, Nielsen ratings data released on Saturday show the TV viewing interest in the British royal nuptials in London was far below that of Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997. Nielsen said 22.7 million of the nation’s viewers watched live coverage of the royal wedding on 11 networks — out of a population of about 310 million people. In comparison, 33.2 million watch Diana’s funeral in London in September 1997. The Nielsen figures did not cover the millions more who watched on smaller networks or online.
Police find hidden arsenal
Federal police said on Saturday they discovered a basement arsenal hidden behind the mirrors of a home gym that included three anti-aircraft guns, dozens of grenades, a grenade launcher, AK-47s and other high-powered weapons. The neatly ordered stockpile found in an upscale neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, also contained several makes of machine guns, rifles, a shotgun and more than 26,000 ammunition cartridges, according to Raul Avila Ibarra, the federal police commissioner in charge of the city. Police say they discovered the weapons on Friday while searching a house near the US border. Avila said the police acted on an anonymous tip that there were kidnapping victims in the house, but no one was found.