Taiwan county turns off red light – shuts last legal brothel

Authorities in central Taiwan have turned off the red light at the county’s last legal brothel after the death of its pimp aged 87. Ai-Le was the last legal brothel in Nantou county in central Taiwan, and police revoked its permit because the 48-year-old business could not be transferred.

Prostitution has been illegal in Taiwan since 1997, and licensing of new brothels stopped in 1974, but isolated illegal brothels can be found all over the island. Brothels licensed prior to 1974 were allowed to keep operating.

The closure effectively leaves Ai-Le’s two prostitutes, aged 40 and 50, jobless.

Hookers that old should be working in Florida, anyway.

Bhutto’s widower Zardari easily elected president of Pakistan

Asif Ali Zardari easily won a parliamentary vote to become Pakistan’s new president despite past allegations of corruption and at a time when the country faces severe tests from a faltering economy and increasingly assertive militants.

Partial results announced by officials after separate votes in the federal and provincial assemblies show that Zardari, the widower of assassinated former leader Benazir Bhutto, won an overwhelming majority of the votes…

Despite the scenes of jubilation, the country’s traditional power brokers – the military, the bureaucracy and the business elite – are aghast at the prospect of the election of Zardari, saddled with his “Mr 10%” image over past corruption allegations.

Zardari, who has voiced support for Washington’s so-called war on terror, will have his finger on the nuclear button, possess the authority to fire and appoint the all-important army chief, and the power to summarily dismiss the government.

Crucially for NATO, the president is also in charge of Pakistan’s tribal territory, the border area with Afghanistan that is used as a safe haven by Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

The question uppermost in my mind is how committed is he to building an independent, democratic Pakistan? The battle for the future of Pakistan should be safely returned to the ballot box.

Armenia and Turkey – football diplomacy

Thousands of Armenians lined the streets of the capital Yerevan Saturday, protesting the Turkish president who drove past in the first ever visit by a Turkish leader. Many held placards demanding justice for massacres that took place nearly 100 years ago.

Abdullah Gul arrived in Armenia to watch a Turkey vs. Armenia football World Cup qualifier game with President Serge Sarkisian that many hope will help the two countries overcome decades of antagonism rooted in Ottoman-era massacres of Armenians.

Gul is the first Turkish leader to set foot in Armenia since the ex-Soviet nation declared independence in 1991. The two neighbors have no diplomatic ties and their border has been closed since 1993.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Still, the visit is a sign of a diplomatic thaw.

Armenia 0 – 2 Turkey

Intelligence agents confirm CIA jails in Poland

Polish intelligence sources have for the first time confirmed that the US Central Intelligence Agency ran a secret prison facility on Polish soil. Polish and Romanian officials denied the claims, but Warsaw has launched a new inquiry into the matter.

Two anonymous intelligence officers made the claims about facilities being located in Poland in the daily Dziennik.

One of them states that between 2002 and 2005 the CIA held terror suspects inside a military intelligence training base in Stare Kiejkuty in north-eastern Poland.

Both the then Prime Minister, Leszek Miller, and President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, knew about the base, the newspaper reports. However the officer says it was unlikely either man knew if the prisoners were being tortured because the Poles had no control over the Americans’ activities.

Both leaders have always denied the existence of any such base.

That’s an interesting relationship. You let a foreign nation bring illegal captives into your country and you have no control over whether or not prisoners are being tortured.

There used to be a thug named “Quisling” who had the same relationship with Nazi Germany.

Wanna real deal on designer jeans?

In the midday heat of downtown Los Angeles, Chris Johnson squints at the jeans-clad plastic buttocks of mannequins lined up in Fashion District storefronts.

He’s looking for something special: a horseshoe design stitched in the jeans’ back pockets. He passes stores selling counterfeit Coach bags and Prada sunglasses, then heads down an alley to a store where two men are checking their cellphones and looking bored. A specialist in dungarees, Johnson has a client list that includes True Religion Brand Jeans, Joe’s Jeans and Antik Denim. He likes to joke that none of those companies makes jeans in his size.

It’s an uphill battle for Johnson and the hundreds of investigators like him as the flow of counterfeit goods into the United States increases. Customs officials seized $197 million worth of fakes in 2007, up 27% from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Last year, customs officials seized $18 million worth of counterfeit apparel, which includes denim, from China alone — up 29% from the previous year.

That’s why denim companies spend millions annually to employ people like Johnson.

Read the article. Johnson has an interesting history. The teling point – predictably – is that the gangs specializing in counterfeiting retail products turned to them when they realized they wouldn’t get more than a slap on the wrist whenever they were caught.

Not certain which part of bourgeois morality is at play here; but, lousy governing is part.

Best Buy’s Sunday circular features iPhone

A copy of next week’s Best Buy circular (above) duly notes the handset’s arrival with a sprawling glamour shot across its cover, the latest example of a blossoming relationship between Apple and the No. 1 U.S. specialty electronics retailer…

On September 7th, Best Buy will also become the first independent U.S. retailer to carry the iPhone 3G when it’s put up for sale at 970 Best Buy locations and 16 Best Buy Mobile specialty outlets across the country. More importantly, however, the deal broadens Apple’s reach by expanding the number of iPhone distribution points by approximately 30 percent to over 3000 locations.

Up until now, Americans could only purchase the iPhone from approximately 2,200 locations, including approximately 190 Apple retail stores and 2000 mobile phone dealerships operated by exclusive US iPhone carrier AT&T.

I’ll stop by my local Best Buy and see if there’s anyone there who knows whatever about the iPhone.

Injured rider rescued after 3,700-mile SOS

A British student who was injured after falling off a horse in a remote part of Russia was rescued yesterday after sending a distress signal which was picked up 3,700 miles away by an RAF base in Scotland.

Kimberley Warren, a second year zoology student at Nottingham University, activated a rescue beacon on Thursday night which was detected by satellites monitored by the UK Mission Control Centre, based within the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre at RAF Kinloss in Moray.

The beacon used GPS technology, which gives a very accurate position within five seconds of being activated, allowing RAF Kinloss to raise the alarm and tell Russian emergency services where to find the party of nine.

They were able to pinpoint the location of the group right down to an area smaller than half a tennis court,” said Michael Mulford, from RAF Kinloss, who added that it was “very unusual” for the base to respond to signals so far away.

After a 12-hour helicopter rescue operation Warren, who had broken her leg, was airlifted to a nearby town with the rest of the group.

Globalizing safety is a terrific use of technology like this. Fortunately, she wasn’t on a Terrorist Watch List.

Here’s the research project she was working on btw.

Gene ‘network’ linked to schizophrenia uncovered

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have uncovered for the first time molecular circuitry associated with schizophrenia that links three previously known, yet unrelated proteins.

“This is very exciting because until now the many known genetic factors implicated in this condition were not connected in any way,” says Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D.. “Now, through a cross-disciplinary and cross-departmental collaboration, we not only have figured out how these three proteins interact with each other, we also have found patients who carry mutations. These results give us a really good foundation to dig deeper into such an elusive condition…”

“Serendipity brought us together from the far corners of campus and allowed us to see the links between these three proteins, centrosomes, and schizophrenia,” says Katsanis. So they embarked on a collaboration to see if these coincidental observations would lead to a better understanding of schizophrenia…
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Poll verifies Western Nations’ economic pessimism

People in Western Europe and the United States share an extremely negative view of the economy and place the blame squarely on their national governments, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted for the International Herald Tribune and France 24 by Harris Interactive, showed that far more people felt their purchasing power had decreased a lot in the past three years than felt it had increased even a little.

In France and Italy, more than 50 percent of respondents said they were a lot worse off financially, a huge number for such a survey. And even in the countries where people felt least affected by the global financial slump, Britain and the United States, those who considered themselves a lot worse off outnumbered those who thought themselves even a little better off by a ratio of 3 to 2…

Large majorities in every country expressed dissatisfaction with their governments’ responses. Two in three people took that view in most countries; only in Spain did the number fall as low as 56 percent, while in Germany it rose to 74 percent.
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