Pasta boss in hot water
The chairman of pasta maker Barilla has apologized for hurting anyone’s “sensitivity” after saying the company would never feature ads depicting gay families. Guido Barilla’s comments on Wednesday in a radio interview triggered calls to boycott his company’s products, which include cookies and bread. Many of the company’s ads depict heterosexual parents with children gathered for breakfast or dinner. Barilla says he supports gay marriage, but not adoption since it would be “complicated” for same-sex couples to raise children. After calls mounted on Twitter for boycotts, he reiterated his backing for gay marriage in a statement on Thursday, but insisted that traditional families have always been “identified” with the Barilla brand.
More private jobs approved
The government on Thursday expanded the list of occupations open to the nation’s fledgling private sector as part of a gradual reform of its Soviet-style economy. The Communist Party daily Granma reported that among the 18 newly authorized private-sector occupations is that of real-estate agent, agricultural produce vendor and telecommunications salespeople. The goal “is to further develop ... a climate of trust and legality,” as the nation makes the transition to an economy where private enterprise is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, Granma wrote.
Pilots nod off at controls
Two pilots on a British airliner on a long-haul flight fell asleep in the cockpit, leaving the packed jet traveling unsupervised on autopilot, the Sun newspaper reported on Thursday. One of the pilots on board the Airbus 330 flight to Britain eventually woke up and roused his colleague, but neither knew how long they had been asleep, the paper said. The flight took off on Aug. 13 and the pilot and co-pilot took turns to have 20-minute rests but, after flying for more than an hour, they both dropped off. They reported the incident themselves to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), blaming longer shifts during the summer holiday period. The CAA said it was legally prevented from disclosing any details about companies or individuals who filed Mandatory Occurrence Reports to them.
US authorities said on Thursday they had arrested about 320 people and seized more than 170 firearms and about 8,000 rounds of ammunition in a year-long crackdown on crime codenamed Operation Caribbean Resilience. The Department of Homeland Security said the operation also resulted in the confiscation of a range of illegal narcotics including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, Percocet and Oxycodone. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency carried out the operation with help from other federal agencies. The island has seen a sharp surge in street crime in recent year that authorities believe is tried to turf battles between drug trafficking gangs.
Warlord’s conviction upheld
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was definitively convicted and imprisoned on Thursday for 50 years. The appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone upheld the 65-year-old’s conviction on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including terrorism, murder, rape and using child soldiers. Taylor was the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II.