Archive for October, 2006

Halloween Fever In Japan


Two decades ago the idea of getting dressed up in ghoulish costumes, decorating your home with jack-o-lanterns and going door-to-door asking for candy was thought of as a bizzare western custom in Japan. Not anymore.

This weekend, the streets of Tokyo were packed with people in costume and shopfronts were adorned with witches and pumpkins – Halloween fever has hit Japan.

Although the Japanese have a similar Buddhist holiday in August known as Obon, which, needless to say is celebrated with as much joviality as a funeral, the Japanese know the holiday as an Americanized time to have fun and relish in it. After all, the Japanese are known for their fondness for fantasy role playing as seen in their habits for “cosplay”, which involves dressing up in anime costumes.

Halloween was probably first introduced in Japan in the early eighties, when Tokyo Disneyland opened its doors. Today, the theme park (which apparently is the most packed of all Disney parks around the world) started their annual Halloween parade even ahead of Florida’s Walt Disney World – as early as September 12th.

A recent survey reported that 3/4ths of the population in Tokyo know what Halloween is, and although the trick-or-treating tradition has yet to become a tradition, it is quite apparent that the holiday of horror has wormed its way into the heart of the Japanese people.

Madonna Adoption Case Gets Hairy

Adoption is certainly not the easiest process there is, but for someone with a celebrity status as mega as Madonna, expect even more problems, and in this case, a media frenzy, unnecessary as it may be.

Throughout the past month, Madonna, a mother-of-two, has been in the spotlight, fighting the legal accusations of Malawian groups that her plans to adopt the 13-month-old David, son of Yohane Banda was illegal.

Madonna came out in Oprah defending herself, and then there were the conflicting comments made by the baby’s Father Yohane. At first he said he was pleased that Madonna was giving his son an amazing chance (after he himself left David at an orphanage when his wife died at childbirth), then, he started saying things like his son would “return to him” etc.

But in the court hearing away from the prying eyes of the word’s media, Banda was recorded to have testified:

It?s only myself as the father and owner of the child who can decide whether my child should come back or not, I want my child to stay there since I’m hoping the best for him. My child cannot forget where he came from no matter how long he stays there. One day he will remember me and come back?

The Lilongwe Magistrates Court will by trying the case on November 13, 2006 to determine whether Madonna’s adoption of the boy was legal or not.

Bluetooth Headsets Set Off Lawsuits

Hot on the heels of the iPod‘s makers being slammed with class-action suits because of claims that the wildly popular device can cause hearing damage comes the latest lawsuits to claim the same – this time for Bluetooth headsets.

Bluetooth’s shortwave innovation was conceived in the 1990′s and has been licensed to several products, from cars to ironically, hearing aids. Its headphone devices exploded into the market last year, selling over 33 million units last year.

Slick and ultra-tech in looks, the device allows hands-free working, which has appealed to so many, and has gotten millions addicted and using their headsets up to 12 hours a day.

What scientists have found out however, that even worse than the iPod or the old Sony Walkman, which had similar audiatory problems due to its headsets, the Bluetooth headset is just on ONE ear. In a test run, one Motorola model was able to produce a maximum volume of 106 decibels, which is enough to damage the hair cells of the inner ear even if used for a mere five minutes a day.

So with sales anticipated to grow even more next year, lawsuits have been filed in Tampa, Florida, accusing bluetooth headset manufacturers ( Motorola, Jabra, Plantronics) of failing to supply adequate health warnings.

French Cafe Workers Angered Over 35 hr. Working Week

The French have found another reason to grumble with a new high court ruling that the 35 hour working week is to be implemented in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels.

This could mean even lower pay for the junior staff of such establishments as well as even lower incomes for owners. Furthermore, the hospitality industry in France is already disappointed by two other factors just passed by law – the no-smoking ban in public places (how un-French!) and the failure to cut to a 5.5% vat.
The deal, which affects around 850,000 employees could see French income in this industry sink even lower. Now, overtime rates will have to be paid for extra hours worked, and owners will be forced to cut down on pay.

Andre Daguin of the Union of Hospitality Trades (UMIH) expressed his disbelief at the news:
This is a unique situation because for the first time ever a union has actually acted to bring down the buying power of its members, especially those in small establishments who will see their pay cheques get smaller
Supporters of the recent ruling however, believe that these new measures will actually create new jobs if followed properly.

Smokers Airline To Fly Next Year

Its not exactly the most appealing of ideas, but by next March, Smintair or Smokers International Airways is planned to take to the skies.

The novel idea of smoker’s airline is the brainchild of former stockbroker Alexander Schoppmann (obviously a pack-a-dayer himself), who plans to offer flights from his hometown of Dusseldorf to Tokyo, another smoke-friendly destination.

Its all about service and the luxury of the old days, he says, and smokers will now be able to travel in comfort and style. Cramped economy seats will be non-existent and every smoke-friendly seat will be either business or first class quality. Havana cigars will be at hand, as will modern frills like internet, phones, DVD and flight attendants decked out in couture.

The German entrepreneur explains:

“I’ve been an airline passenger for 50 years….It made me very angry that the gap between service and price became so big with regular airlines. Especially in the first class and business class, service is at its lowest point ever.”

And how much is this new level of comfort going to cost smokers?

“We are on the same price level with Lufthansa, British Airways and other airlines that operate on similar routes…..Frankfurt-Tokyo and back costs $12,500 with Lufthansa for the first class and $8,125 for business class both ways. And those are exactly our prices.”

[tags]Smoking,Travel,Airlines,Germany,Tokyo,Dusseldorf,Luxury Travel,Air Travel[/tags]

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