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Archive for March 11th, 2012

Swiss voters against longer holidays, in favor of sex!

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Prototype drive-in sex boxes in Zurich

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal to give themselves more annual leave in a national referendum. The plan would have given workers six weeks off a year, but business groups warned about the cost to the economy.

In other referendums, voters in Zurich agreed to the creation of “sex boxes” where prostitutes can work…

Referendums are a key part of Switzerland’s direct democracy system.

The Swiss frequently have their say on changes to laws, budgets, or any issue that 100,000 citizens say they feel strongly about.

Two-thirds of voters reportedly rejected an increase in the country’s minimum annual leave from four weeks to six, which would have brought it in line with most other West European countries.

But a proposal to construct what have locally been referred to as “sex boxes” for prostitutes got the green light from voters in Zurich.

The plan would see the creation of special parking spaces with walls between them where sex workers can ply their trade away from suburban areas in Switzerland’s biggest city.

I still can’t imagine why they rejected longer vacations. Similar regs haven’t crushed the economy in Germany.

As for more sex – even the Swiss aren’t against that.

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Dumb crooks of the day!

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Mr. Suarez and Mr. Santos

Two Kansas men were busted last week when one of them accidentally dialed 911 during a drug deal, KCTV News reported.

Dispatchers who took the call told police they heard arguing on the other end of the line. They recorded the conversation and traced the call to a specific neighborhood.

A dispatcher continued to monitor the call as officers set out to search the area.

“You could hear on the phone call the suspect saying, ‘Oh, there goes the cops,’” said Leavenworth police Chief Patrick Kitchens. “So that brought the officers’ attention to the two gentlemen.”

Police then arrested Jesus Suarez and Jesus Santos, both 25, and reportedly confiscated $2,500 in cash and six grams of crack cocaine…

…Kitchens said, “It might be the first case where a person accidentally dialed 911 and got arrested.”

I’ll say it again – people don’t become run-of-the-mill street crooks because they’re extra smart!

Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Irish food producer/distributor jailed for garlic tax fraud

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One of Ireland’s top food producers has been found guilty of dodging taxes on more than 1,000 tons of imported Chinese garlic and sent to prison.

Paul Begley admitted running a scam from 2003 to 2007 in which he instructed his Chinese suppliers to produce false export invoices labeling garlic as apples. Irish import duties on apples are just 9 percent but on garlic up to 232 percent.

The fraud allowed Begley to avoid €1.4 million in tax. He has been trying to repay the sum since Dublin Port customs officers discovered the deception in 2007 but still owes €700,000.

A Dublin judge sentenced Begley to six years in prison

Phew! Anyone notice tax avoiders in the USofA getting lambasted with a comparable penalty?

OTOH, why such a monster tariff on garlic? Are they preparing to defend against a vampire invasion?

Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Religious pic of the day

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Christian worship takes some interesting directions. Sometimes.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

A year after the tsunami, an undertaker’s story offers hope

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Amid the grief of finding her mother’s body at a makeshift morgue in this tsunami-ravaged city last March, Fumie Arai took comfort in a small but surprising discovery. Unlike the rest of the muddied body, her mother’s face had been carefully wiped clean.

Mrs. Arai did not know at the time, but the act was the work of a retired undertaker well-versed in the ancient Buddhist rituals of preparing the dead for cremation and burial. The undertaker, Atsushi Chiba, a father of five who cared for almost 1,000 bodies in Kamaishi, has now become an unlikely hero in a community trying to heal its wounds a year after the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged much of Japan’s northeastern coast a year ago Sunday.

“I dreaded finding my mother’s body, lying alone on the cold ground among strangers,” Mrs. Arai, 36, said. “When I saw her peaceful, clean face, I knew someone had taken care of her until I arrived. That saved me…”

Mr. Chiba’s story has been immortalized in a best-selling book in Japan, which has sold over 40,000 copies and is in its eleventh printing.

“The dead bodies are the most disturbing aspect of any disaster, and some people might not want to remember,” said the book’s author, Kota Ishii, who spent three months in Kamaishi and its environs in the wake of the disaster, chronicling Mr. Chiba’s work. “But this story is ultimately about how small acts of kindness can bring a little humanity, even in a tragedy that defies all imagination…”

As the black water receded, rescuers entered the city’s devastated streets and started pulling the dead from the rubble, carrying them on trucks to a vacant middle school that had escaped damage. The rundown gymnasium quickly became a large morgue.

Mr. Chiba, in his early 70s, whose home was also spared, raced to the gym on the day after the tsunami to look for friends and family, but was struck by the state of the mounting number of bodies there. Most were still clad in muddy clothes and wrapped in plastic, their rigid limbs jutting out and faces bruised by debris and contorted in agony.

“I thought that if the bodies were left this way, the families who came to claim them wouldn’t be able to bear it,” Mr. Chiba said Thursday in an interview. “Yes, they are dead. But in Japan, we treat the dead with respect, as if they are still alive. It’s a way to comfort the living.”

Mr. Chiba set to work. He became a fixture at the morgue, speaking to the bodies as he prepared them for viewing and then cremation. “You must be so cold and lonely, but your family is going to come for you soon so you’d better think of what you’re going to say to them when they arrive,” he recalled saying.

He also taught city workers at the morgue how to soothe limbs tense with rigor mortis, getting down on his knees and gently massaging them so the bodies looked less contorted. When the relatives of a middle-aged victim sobbed that her corpse looked gaunt, Mr. Chiba asked for some makeup and applied rouge and blush.

Mr. Chiba’s attempts to honor the dead quickly caught on. City workers put together old school desks to make a Buddhist altar. They lay the bodies of couples and of family members together. Each time a body was carried out, workers lined up with heads bowed to pay their last respects.

And at Mr. Chiba’s urging, Kamaishi became one of the only hard-hit communities to cremate all of its dead as called for by Japanese custom, enlisting the help of crematoriums as far as Akita, over 100 miles away…

As the city prepared this weekend for memorials to mark the disaster’s first anniversary, a Buddhist priest paid tribute to Mr. Chiba’s contribution to the city’s emotional recovery…

“Whether you are religious or not, mourning for the dead is a fundamental need,” Mr. Shibasaki said. “Mourning starts by taking care of the body. It’s the last you see of your loved one, and you want to remember them as beautiful as they were in life.”

Beautiful.

Click through to the original article and interactive photos. Sadness is still there; but, so is hope.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 6:00 am

Mass grave in Mexico down by Guatemala turns up 167 bodies — UPDATED/CORRECTED

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StringerMexico Reuters/March 10, 2012

Authorities are investigating a mass grave in southern Mexico containing 167 bodies that may have been dumped there at least 50 years ago, a Mexican official said…The remains, found in a cave near the Guatemalan border, “disintegrated at the touch,” said the official at the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office.

Investigators are trying to determine the age and gender of the victims and the cause of death, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The advanced state of decomposition suggests they are at least 50 years old, he said, adding there were no obvious signs of violence.

Mexican authorities including the police, the prosecutor’s office, civil protection personnel and the military were working to exhume the bodies and transport them for analysis.

The grave is on a remote ranch near the town of Frontera Comalapa, about 11 miles from the Guatemalan border in an area where migrants from Central America often cross on their way to the United States.

A 36-year civil war in Guatemala, which began in 1960, claimed 250,000 lives and left 45,000 people missing. Activists suspect they were killed by soldiers and secretly buried.

In recent years, drug trafficking gangs have dumped the bodies of hundreds of victims, including scores of Central American migrants, into mass graves.

Take your choice? Drug gangs violence? Civil War? Fascist-minded government officials, parochial or national in character, eliminating dissent?

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Anthropologists and forensics experts finally arrived on the scene and – guess what? – local coppers’ interpretations of what was found turned out to be seriously wrong. Starting with the realization the bodies have been in the cave about 1300 years!

Written by Ed Campbell

March 11, 2012 at 2:00 am

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