Ernie’s at it again
Ernie the Attorney has featured more superfluous legal boilerplate language on his website, this time in the form of a US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notice at the end of an email. To the best of Ernie’s knowledge, the attorney who sent the email is a general litigator who doesn’t specialise in tax matters. But at the end of his email was this: “IRS Circular 230 Notice: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, please be informed that any federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.”
You can never be too careful I guess.
Mother of all property disputes
It is India’s greatest icon and the world’s most famous monument to love, but Agra’s world heritage listed Taj Mahal is now at the centre of an ownership dispute. Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal 350 years ago as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Arjuman Banu Begum and it now attracts about three million tourists from around the world annually. Government body the Archaeological Survey of India, which has maintained the Taj for 20 years, is contesting a claim by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf (Trust) Board, a Muslim organisation that governs properties belonging to Muslim religious institutions. The Board claims that Shah Jahan bequeathed the Taj to its predecessor and dedicated it as Wakf property.
Then there is Prince Yaqub Habeebuddin Tucy whose family traces its lineage to Shah Jahan. As a surviving descendent, Tucy believes he should be given ownership rights. But it wouldn’t be India if religion didn’t play a part. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu group, says the Taj Mahal cannot be considered a Muslim monument because it was built after a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva was demolished on the site. Instead, it should be declared a Hindu monument. Of course none of these claims would have any relation to the revenue raised from entry fees to the monument. Folklaw would have (naively) thought such an icon would be above private ownership, but then again if an oil company can buy the rights to Angkor Wat, anything is up for grabs.
Look out, it’s RollerCop
The Swiss police force has reportedly replaced its horses with roller skates in order to save costs. The roller-cop unit is comprised of nine women and 25 men, who cover their beat in Zurich five times faster than their fleet-footed colleagues, and at a fraction of the cost of keeping a horse.
Police chief Philipp Hotzenkoecherle said the horseback units had been disbanded because they were too expensive and impractical for modern police work. The cost of operating the entire skating unit is no more than the cost of maintaining just two horses, and police director Esther Maurer said they provided just as much of a spectacle as the mounted police. Well, that claim will find no arguments here. Unit head, Marcel Schaeffer, admitted his officers have to be aware that people can push them over more easily when they are on skates, but said: ”If people want to do that to these officers then they had better be able to run very fast, because when we are back on our feet you won’t be able to get away from us very easily.”
The virgins are all mine
Richard Branson’s persistent pursuit of all small companies that deem to use the word Virgin in their name has hit a pocket of resistance in the form of Jason Yang, proprietor of Virgin Threads, an online clothing retailer. Yang, whose sole source of income is the site, is fighting the lawsuit, arguing that such a common word should not be subject to trademark laws in the same way that made up words, such as Altria are. A CNN Money report quoted David Bollier, author of the book Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture, saying: “If anyone can lay claim to that word, shouldn’t it be the Catholic Church?” Fair call.
Valentin Lefter, 20, from Focsani, Romania, returned from a holiday to be greeted by a letter from his employer expressing commiserations to Lefter’s wife over his death. He contacted the wine-bottling company Prodecam Vanatori to inform his colleagues that he was still alive and kicking, but they in turn informed him he no longer had a job as they had already employed a replacement.
His bosses did apologise (which must have provided great comfort) and said the misunderstanding had come about through a computer error. Lefter has decided a pay- out of $23,250 would be more appropriate and plans to sue for that amount.
Surely this man emigrated from Romania to Brazil? Ednor Rodrigues, 32, was filmed on CCTV stealing seven toothbrushes from a supermarket in Ribeirao Preto. When approached by police he showed them his toothless mouth in order to convince them of his innocence, but eventually admitted to his folly. “I don’t know why I did it,” he said. “I have no teeth, what was I thinking?”