"It was like a gift from God," Leonardo Diaz said after what looked as though it would be a fatal stranding high on 17,800-foot volcano Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia. He'd lost his fellow climbers in a blizzard and was almost out of food and gasping for oxygen. What's more, his cellphone wouldn't allow outgoing calls. Just then, however, it rang, with a solicitor reminding him that his prepaid minutes had expired. Would he like to buy more? Diaz asked her to notify his family to send help. For seven hours, other operators called regularly "to not leave him alone ... until they rescued him." Back home, Diaz said the operators "like an angel ... injected me with human warmth [and] strength."


Speaking of coming to the rescue, you may recall an item in this space last week about Emily Harris, whose bicycle mistakenly was sold out from under her in a Scottish charity store. Her plight touched the hearts of a group of software engineers who were looking for a way "to cheer ourselves up" in Austin, Texas, a city hard-hit by layoffs in their field. They've raised $525 to help her buy a new bike to resume her 'round-the-world tour.

Hong Kong again ranks as world's capitalism capital

Hong Kong, which this week marks the fifth anniversary of return to Chinese rule, was rated the world's freest economy for a sixth year in an annual report on the subject. China overall ranked 101 out of 123 countries in the index by the Washington-based Cato Institute, Canada's Fraser Institute, and affiliates in 54 other nations. The top 10 in this year's Economic Freedom of the World Report:

1. Hong Kong
2. Singapore
3. US
4. Britain
5. New Zealand
6. Switzerland
7. Ireland
8. Canada
(tie) Australia
(tie) The Netherlands
– Agence France-Presse

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