Notes and shorts from around the world

Police in northwestern Spain have intercepted and seized a drug-smuggling narco-submarine off the coast of Galicia, which police sources said was loaded with 3,000kg of Colombian cocaine, valued at $164 million. The 20-metre vessel was suffering engine trouble in stormy weather when it either ran aground, or was intentionally scuttled, in an inlet in Pontevedra province. Two Ecuadorian suspects made it ashore where they were arrested. A third man was arrested later. Narco-submarines are widely used by organised crime gangs in Latin America, and have often been intercepted in Colombia, Mexico and California. However, this is believed to be the first time a submarine from across the Atlantic has been intercepted in Europe. Galicia’s rias (like fjords) have long been a key gateway into Europe for cocaine-smuggling gangs.
Civil marriages now majority
The number of civil marriage ceremonies in Italy has overtaken the number of church weddings for the first time – a major social shift in the once firmly Catholic country.
As recently as 1970, only 2.3% of weddings in Italy were civil ceremonies. In 2018, that proportion rose to 50.1%, according to official statistics. This is partly due to the rising proportion of marriages (currently 20%) where at least one spouse has been divorced, and cannot remarry in church. The statistics also revealed a big split between the more secular and richer north of Italy, where civil marriages accounted for 64% of the total, and the south, where 70% of weddings still take place in church.
Nearly 78% of Italians still describe themselves as Catholic, however it has been estimated that only around 30% of adults attend church regularly.
Helpless old lady?
A young man who broke into a house in upstate New York was beaten up by its octogenarian resident – who turned out to be an award-winning weightlifter. The man  broke down 82-year-old Willie Murphy’s door at 11pm one night, at which point she tackled him using a metal-legged table, poured shampoo on his face and hit him with a broom.  “I think he was happy when he went in the ambulance,” said Murphy, who still deadlifts 225 pounds. “He picked the wrong house to break into… I’m alone and I’m old, but guess what – I’m tough.”
Words of gold
David Walliams, the actor turned children’s writer, has joined the select band of authors who have sold more than £100 million worth of books. He has published more than 20 books starting with The Boy in the Dress in 2008.
Bons mots
“Politics consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” – J. K. Galbraith, Canadian-American economist

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