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A Millionaire In Finland Gets a $58,000 Ticket For Doing 64 In a 50 MPH Zone

                            finnish flag photo: Finnish flag Finland20flag.gif

Finland doesn’t mess around when it comes to income inequality. Just ask Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman with an annual income of $7 million.

He was recently fined 54,024 euros (about $58,000) for traveling a modest, if illegal, 64 miles per hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone. And no, the 54,024 euros did not turn out to be a typo, or a mistake of any kind.Mr. Kuisla is a millionaire, and in Finland the fines for more serious speeding infractions are calculated according to income. The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too

Traffic fines in Finland, and to a lesser extent, in other Scandinavian countries, are assessed depending on your income, through a complex system accessible by police through a one-minute inquiry to the Finnish tax office:

The fines are calculated based on half an offender’s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.

Mr. Kuisla was fined for “eight days.” If he had made only $54,000 per year he would have received about a $370 fiine.

The Nordic countries have long had a strong egalitarian streak, embracing progressive taxation and high levels of social spending. Perhaps less well known is that they also practice progressive punishment, when it comes to certain fines.

As one might expect, Mr. Kuisla did not take the news well, venting on Facebook to a (for the most part) bemused and unreceptive Finnish audience:

The ticket had its desired effect. Mr. Kuisla, 61, took to Facebook last month with 12 furious posts in which he included a picture of his speeding ticket and a picture of what 54,024 euros could buy if it were not going to the state coffers — a new Mercedes. He said he was seriously considering leaving Finland altogether, a position to which he held firm when reached by phone at a bar where he was watching horse races.“The way things are done here makes no sense,” Mr. Kuisla sputtered, saying he would not be giving interviews. Before hanging up, he added: “For what and for whom does this society exist? It is hard to say.”

Actually it’s not that hard to say. Finland boasts one of the most admired and successful educational systems in the world, with no tuition fees, highly educated teachers and professors, and fully subsidized meals for students.  Progressive taxation of the wealthy makes that and many other programs for social good possible:

Finns have one of the world’s most generous systems of state-funded educational, medical and welfare services, from pregnancy to the end of life. They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little. (Finns devote 7 percent of gross domestic product to health care; we spend 15 percent.) Finnish senior citizens are well cared for. Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely.

This explains why Mr. Kuisla’s highly publicized indignation has largely been met with indifference by the Finnish public. While there is general agreement that the fine in this case might be excessive, there is also acceptance that fines and taxes should continue to be assessed in a progressive manner based on income.  That’s because the system works wonders for the vast majority of the Finnish people. In fact, the general reaction to Mr. Kuisla’s blustering about leaving the country has been to show him quickly to the door:

“This says a lot about the times when the stinkingly rich can’t even take their fines for crimes, but are immediately moving out of the country. Farewell, we won’t miss you,” said one post in The Helsingin Sanomat, a daily newspaper and website.

Of course, one can sympathize with Mr. Kuisla to some degree. He’s hardly the first person to have been caught speeding, rich or poor. The fact is, however, that he should have known better. He was previously hit for an $83,000 fine for doing 76 in a 50 MPH zone.  Courts do take into account mitigating factors and Mr. Kuisla had that fine reduced to about $7000 U.S., since his “income” that year was based on a one-time stock sale.  A ticket issued in 2002 assessed a $103,600 fine against a heavy-footed motorcyclist who blew through Helsinki in too much of a hurry.  That ticket was based on an income of $12 million.Police note that very, very few tickets of this magnitude are issued, although they acknowledge they do not keep track of them.

Millionaire leaves comfort of his Burj Khalifa apartment for life on Dubai’s streets

Jun 21, 2013
Arif Mirza learns skills as scrap yard worker

For as long as he can remember Arif Mirza has planned to retire by the age of 40. At 39, and with an accumulated wealth of millions, he looks set to achieve that goal.

The Canadian-Pakistani, who has lived in Dubai for three years, is a highly successful entrepreneur, making his money through a series of online ventures. He is also a life coach and motivational speaker, has companies in no less than six countries and a staff of hundreds.

Yet he has recently spent 33 days on the streets of Dubai, living as a migrant worker and sharing a room sometimes with up to 12 men. Why? Because he was moved by the experiences of labourers here in the UAE and wanted to experience at first hand what it felt like to be in their position.

“I met a Pakistani man in Healthcare City one day,” recalls Mr Mirza, who first revealed his plans to The National in March.

“He had not eaten for three days when he approached me asking me for money. He had tears in his eyes.”

Then there was a young Pakistani boy Mr Mirza met on a beach, collecting scrap and selling it on. “There are so many stories like these in Dubai. But to help people like this and understand what they go through, I needed to live their life and so I took to the streets,” he explains.

Mr Mirza’s 33-day stint started on May 6 when he left his comfortable apartment in Burj Khalifa that he shares with his wife and two children and took up work as a manual labourer, pledging to live on less than Dh1,000 for a month.

He survived by buying and selling used junk, working on building sites in the searing heat, often for 12 hours at a time and undertaking welding and painting jobs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“There are people living in Dubai on half of that and sending Dh500 a month home to their families. When you have to, you can do – it’s actually not that hard,” says Mr Mirza, who filmed as much of his experiences – and the people he met – as possible either with a phone or hidden camera.

“A lot of people didn’t want to be filmed. They were afraid they would be sent back to their own countries or busted by the authorities,” he adds.

Besides having his eyes opened to some illegal business practices taking place here, he was amazed at how happy the people he worked with were.

“They have no money but they have such big hearts,” he says. “They shared everything with me.”

His fellow workers also provided emotional support. “They kept me going and were extremely kind, encouraging me whenever I felt low.”

Having now returned to his wealthy lifestyle, what has he learnt from the experience?

“It has definitely made me stronger,” he says. “I no longer take anything in my life for granted.

“These people earn so little and yet they’re so grateful for what they have because in their own countries it would be considered a good salary.”

The businessman is still in touch with many of the people he encountered. He attends a cricket match in a car park in Dubai during weekends and hands out water.

He also plans to back an app, called Mobile Aid, which will enable people to donate money to help people who are struggling.

This is not the first time Mr Mirza has held a menial job. Growing up in Canada, his family struggled to make ends meet. With five brothers, one sister and a father who was a taxi driver, he had a series of part-time jobs throughout college including working at Dunkin’ Donuts and washing dishes in a restaurant. He is very close to his family still and credits his older brother Rocky with encouraging him to take to the streets of Dubai.

To record his experience, Mr Mirza has produced a 45-minute documentary called Streets of Gold, which he hopes will highlight the hard graft undertaken by menial workers. It will be shown for the first time tomorrow.

#RIPAmina: Moroccan suicide triggers Twitter outrage

Published 19.45 on 13th March 2012

Updated 20.32 on 13th March 2012

16 YO Amina’s parents forced her to marry her rapist to preserve their “dignity”, she killed herself to preserve her own. #RIPAmina #Morocco

@hadearkandil Hadear Kandil هدير

#previoustweet what is even more sickening, how they think the rapist is doing the girl a favour by marrying her! #RIPAmina

@Nervana_1 Nervana Mahmoud

The story of a 16-year-old Morrocan girl who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist reverberated through the Arab world on Tuesday. Amina reportedly ingested rat poison in her hometown Larache, in norther Morocco, on the weekend as a last resort to escape her marriage and the domestic violence she experienced at the hands of her husband. The girl’s plight dates back to a year ago, when she was reportedly raped by a man 10 years her senior. After the incident was reported to authorities, the two families struck a deal in which Amina was married to her rapist to preserve her family’s ‘honour’. This example of a practice which is still common in some parts of the Arab world struck a nerve with many. Tweets tagged with #RIPAmina spread like wild fire through social media on Tuesday as many condemned laws that exempt rapists from punishment if they marry their victims.

16 YO Amina’s parents forced her to marry her rapist to preserve their “dignity”, she killed herself to preserve her own. #RIPAmina #Morocco

Amina’s case is far from an exception in the Arab world and one blogger and Middle East analyst commented that it is common to blame women if they get raped.

#previoustweet what is even more sickening, how they think the rapist is doing the girl a favour by marrying her! #RIPAmina

Nevertheless, the news that her parents forced her into marriage prompted outrage. In a mock personal ad one Moroccan Twitter user wryly joked: “I am a charming girl of 16 years, seeking a kind pervert or preferably rapist for marriage and more if we hit it off”:

“Je suis une charmante fille de 16 ans, qui cherche un gentil pervers ou violeur de préférence pour Mariage et plus si affinité.” #RIPAmina

Some reports claimed that the judge presiding over the matter in Tangier, northern Morocco, was responsible for the marriage but as one Egyptian Twitter user pointed out, under Moroccan law nobody can be married against his or her will:

From what I have read in Moroccan family law, a woman cannot be forced into marriage. I think there was some inaccurate reporting. #RipAmina

Instead, it appears more likely that the girl’s family forced her into marriage:

Cont.: thus, most likely, the family judge recommended marriage as a solution, and Amina’s parents forced her to accept. A tragedy.#RipAmina

A Syrian also laid the blame with the parents who arranged for the union:

#RipAmina :Disregarding the judiciary decision that consented on her marriage with her rapist,the massive problem is her parent’s consent.
Read more tweets  here

Bunker Roy

Confessions of a Flight Attendant

by Bobby Laurie

I work crazy hours, get screamed at by unruly passengers, and have often fantasized about popping that escape slide and gliding to freedom. Will I actually snap one day?

The recent news about Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who cursed out his passengers, grabbed a couple beers, and rode the escape slide to freedom, had me thinking. Have I ever come close to my breaking point on the plane?

I remember working a flight from New York to Los Angeles when a man boarded wearing black sunglasses and a suit coat. He took off his coat, threw it onto my shoulder, and simply said, “Take care of it.” I thought, he can’t be serious. But serious he was. I smiled, folded it up nicely, and placed it in the overhead bin. The man slowly turned around, glaring, and said, “I told you to take care of it.” I smiled again, and responded, “I did.” We didn’t have closets on board that aircraft, and the moment was filled with tension. Later in the flight, this same passenger pushed his entire meal onto the floor of the plane because he “didn’t like the way it looked.”

Later in the flight, this same passenger pushed his entire meal onto the floor of the plane because he “didn’t like the way it looked.”

Still, I kept my cool. I talked it out with the other flight attendants on the flight, took their suggestions for dealing with the problem, and dealt with it. Don’t get me wrong, many times I have thought, How great would it be to pop the slide just to get out of here? But I would never do it.

In November of 2005, I filed an application with a regional airline to become a flight attendant. I did it because I was living in Los Angeles without a job and a friend of mine had described it as “awesome.” I had seen movies like View from the Top, which made the job look glamorous and exclusive, but I was skeptical that it was always that way.

I couldn’t have been more right.

Soon after you graduate flight attendant training, reality hits you. You find out that you’re only paid from the moment the aircraft door closes until the time that it opens again, which means transportation to and from a hotel is considered “rest” or “sleeping.” And you discover that, as a new hire, you are an “on-call reserve flight attendant,” meaning you can be called up and told to rush to a plane at any time. Even for more senior flight attendants, the schedules can be grueling—even as I write this, at midnight, my 4:45 a.m. wake-up call for my flight to San Francisco is looming.

Jessi Klein: Steven Slater Is Our Favorite Quitter

When I first started flying I was based in Washington D.C. and I worked on an aircraft that had two flight attendants. The Federal Aviation Administration believes that every 50 seats warrants one flight attendant (personally, I think that ratio needs to be smaller). Having the extra crewmember means having someone to talk to on long flights. It also means you’re not the only target for passenger ire in the event that something goes wrong. And trust me, things go wrong.

I remember landing in Key West, Florida from Fort Lauderdale. We were supposed to turn around and go right back to Fort Lauderdale, on to Orlando, then up to Washington D.C. to end our trip. That didn’t happen. Instead, when we landed in Key West we deplaned, cleaned the cabin (that’s right, sometimes we’re the cleaners, too) and started to re-board the aircraft. I was working in the front, and the captain called me into the flight deck. Apparently there was a problem with our brakes and it wasn’t safe for us to fly the aircraft until it was fixed. I got to break the news to the full flight. People began screaming at me instantly. One passenger yelled at me that he had a meeting to get to. I would have liked to snap back, “Would you like to get there alive?” But I just smiled and said sweetly, “I’m so sorry. Hopefully they can fix this fast.”

Why was I having to apologize for an airplane breaking and my pilots deciding not to fly it? Getting yelled at for being the bearer of bad news—or even non-news—is not uncommon. Passengers take the things we tell them personally. Let’s say you’re sitting in your seat sending a text message. The main cabin door has been closed, and the safety demonstration has been completed.

By now, you’ve heard at least three times that all electronic devices have to be turned off. So why isn’t yours? The flight attendant comes over and asks you to turn it off, in front of everyone. It’s situations like this, where the passenger feels singled out, that start most of the confrontations on board. But we’re just doing our job. Asking people to push bags under their seats, put bags in bins, fasten seatbelts, shut off electronics, bring seats fully upright—we’re not picking on you or singling you out. We’re working.

I admire Steven for doing what he did. On a daily basis, I experience the frustrations he faced, and I can understand why he may have finally just said, Enough. (Not to mention, he did the two most taboo things in the industry: popping the slide and stealing alcohol.) But when the day is over and I walk off the airplane I can undoubtedly say I’ve handled each situation as it came to the best of my ability, and usually, I look forward to what the next day brings because no two days are ever the same.

Bobby Laurie is a lead flight attendant for a low-cost airline based in California. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and combines his passions for writing and travel by blogging about his travel experiences and flying the friendly (sometimes!) skies. Bobby writes a flight attendant blog called Up Up & A Gay and serves as co-host of The Crew Lounge podcast.

Showing Chinese sweatshop workers slumped over their desks with exhaustion, it is an image that Microsoft won’t want the world to see.

The image Microsoft doesn’t want you to see: Too tired to stay awake, the Chinese workers earning just 34p an hour

By Liz Hull and Lee Sorrell
Last updated at 12:29 AM on 18th April 2010

Employed for gruelling 15-hour shifts, in appalling conditions and 86f heat, many fall asleep on their stations during their meagre ten-minute breaks.

For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company.

Read more:

US ex-convicts go green for work

The US state of California has one of the most troubled economies and highest unemployment rates in the United States.

Finding work is hard enough for people with solid career records. For those with prison records – the odds are much steeper.

But “Homeboy Industries” – a new non-profit organisation that trains former criminals to be skilled at reputable jobs – including the installation of solar panels in homes – is giving them a second chance in life.

The coca-cola case

A Morally Bankrupt Military: When Soldiers and Their Families Become Expendable

dahr jamail

Rich’s advice to anyone thinking of joining the military today: “Don’t join. Everything they advertise and tell you about how it’s a family friendly army is a lie.”

The military operates through indoctrination. Soldiers are programmed to develop a mindset that resists any acknowledgment of injury and sickness, be it physical or psychological. As a consequence, tens of thousands of soldiers continue to serve, even being deployed to combat zones like Iraq and/or Afghanistan, despite persistent injuries. According to military records, over 43,000 troops classified as “nondeployable for medical reasons” have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan nevertheless.

read on

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