Drinking report makes for a sobering read
A new report is warning the British that the country's notorious drinking culture is putting a strain on hospitals and medical staff. The cash-strapped National Health Service now spends $4.4 billion a year treating patients for drink-related problems, double the amount five years ago. The report by the NHS Confederation, a health-care providers organization, and the Royal College of Physicians warns that about 10.5 million adults in Britain drink above sensible limits, and 1.1 million people have some form of alcohol addiction. A four-month study at a hospital in Leeds found that 20 percent of all emergency room admissions were for alcohol-related conditions.
Pirates hijack cargo ship, tanker
A cargo ship and a chemical tanker were hijacked Friday by pirates off the coast of Somalia, bringing to four the number of ships seized in the past week. The British-flagged Asian Glory, with a crew of 25, was taken roughly 600 miles east of Somalia, said Commander John Harbour, a spokesman with the European Union task force charged with combating piracy off Somalia. The Singapore-flagged Pramoni, a chemical tanker with a crew of 24, was seized in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways. Somali pirates have hijacked more than 80 ships in the past two years. They currently hold 14 vessels and close to 300 crew members.
Funeral held for mobster's son
The bells of an Italian Renaissance-style church in Montreal chimed softly Saturday as pallbearers carried the gold coffin of the son of the reputed head of Canada's most powerful Mafia family. There was a heavy police presence in the city's Little Italy neighborhood at the funeral service for Nick Rizzuto, the son of Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. Nick was standing next to a black Mercedes on Monday when he was shot dead. Police have not identified a suspect. Vito Rizzuto is serving a sentence in Colorado for racketeering related to three Mafia murders.
Hamas approves $540M budget
The Hamas parliament approved a government budget of $540 million for 2010, legislators said Saturday, suggesting that a tight border blockade isn't stopping the cash flow to the Islamic militants. Up to $60 million stems from local taxes and the rest from "gifts and outside assistance," said legislator Jamal Nassar. Iran is believed to be one of Hamas' main financial backers. Nassar and fellow lawmaker Yehia Moussa refused to provide a breakdown of the budget, and it was impossible to verify that Hamas indeed has $540 million at its disposal.
Illegal immigration drops sharply
The number of illegal immigrants risking their lives in rickety boats to reach Spain's Canary Islands from northwest Africa has descended to levels last seen a decade ago, officials said Saturday. In 2009, a total of 2,041 adults and 201 children arrived in the islands or were rescued as they sailed toward them, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said. Levels this low were recorded a decade ago on the archipelago 858 miles off Spain. The number peaked in 2006 with 31,859 immigrants. Spain faces a steep recession, and unemployment is near 18 percent.