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In brief | Nation & World, December 8, 2013

December 7, 2013 - 10:32pm

France, AU sending more troops to violence-marred Central African Republic, as Christians flee

BANGUI, Central African Republic — France and the African Union on Saturday announced plans to deploy several thousand more troops into embattled Central African Republic, as thousands of Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from the Muslim former rebels who now control the country after days of violence left nearly 400 people dead — and possibly more.

French armored personnel carriers and troops from an AU-backed peacekeeping mission roared at high speed down Bangui’s major roads, as families carrying palm fronds pushed coffins in carts on the road’s shoulder. In a sign of the mounting tensions, others walking briskly on the streets carried bow-and-arrows and machetes.

Concluding an aptly-timed and long-planned conference on African security in Paris, President Francois Hollande said France was raising its deployment to 1,600 on Saturday — 400 more than first announced. Later, after a meeting of regional nations about Central African Republic, his office said that African Union nations agreed to increase their total deployment to 6,000 — up from about 2,500 now, and nearly double the projected rollout of 3,600 by year-end.

As Cuba’s entrepreneurs adapt to free market, some see challenge to revolutionary values

HAVANA — It’s not dog-eat-dog. Not just yet.

But as more and more islanders go into business for themselves under President Raul Castro’s economic reforms, the ethos of capitalism is increasingly seeping into Cuban daily life, often in stark conflict with fundamental tenets of the Cuban Revolution.

These days it seems there’s a mom-and-pop snack shop or pirate DVD stand on every other block in parts of Havana. The chants of cart-pushing vendors echo through residential streets. Farmers line up before dawn at an open-air market to jockey for the best spot to sell their produce. After decades of being urged to report any black market activity in their neighborhoods, some Cubans now find themselves looking at their neighbors’ legal businesses and worrying that they’re falling behind.

The free market is still limited in Cuba, but already it is altering lives and reshaping attitudes in palpable ways. Some fear — and others hope — that values anathema to a half-century of Communist rule are taking root more with each passing day: It’s OK to make money, within limits; workers can reap the benefits of their own labor directly, instead of seeing it redistributed; individual enterprise is rewarded.

“There have been changes, and as the country grows there will be more,” said Luis Antonio Veliz, proprietor of the stylish, independent cabaret-nightclub Fashion Bar Habana. “It’s a very positive thing, but some Cubans are having difficulty understanding that now not everything depends on the state.”

Good Samaritans abound in New York City, rescuing people from oncoming trains, burning cars

NEW YORK — A personal trainer jumps down onto the subway tracks to save an unconscious man as a train barrels down. A trucker stops to pull a driver from a burning car. A quick-thinking plumber uses his belt as a tourniquet to save a woman badly injured in a crash.

In New York City, which often has a keep-to-yourself, don’t-get-involved reputation, at least a dozen good Samaritans this past year were willing to risk their own safety to save a stranger.

“It’s the way I was brought up: Always look out for each other,” said Dennis Codrington, the personal trainer who, along with two others, helped pull up a bleeding, unconscious man who had fallen onto the tracks of the No. 1 train late one February night.

Codrington was headed home from a party when he saw the 6-foot-tall man at the edge of the platform and then disappear. About 55 people are struck by New York subway trains and die every year, and the 24-year-old Codrington wasn’t going to let this guy be one of them.

So he and the two others jumped down to hoist the bleeding, heavy stranger up — as the time clock flashed that another train was due in the station in one minute.

By wire sources

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