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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nude hiking in the Alps

APPENZELL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Hikers will no longer be able to stroll naked through the idylic Alpine countryside of Appenzell Innerrhoden after the conservative Swiss canton banned nude walking there.

Appenzell Innerrhoden has become hugely popular for naked ramblers due to its tranquil, picture-perfect meadows and valleys. But the hordes offended Appenzellers' sensitivities and they voted Sunday to order them to cover up.

"It's ridiculous that Appenzell is getting an international reputation for such a despicable habit," said Peter Schmid, who turned up bearing the canton's traditional long sword to vote against nude hiking at the annual open-air Landsgemeinde.

The Landsgemeide is a popular assembly that takes place in Appenzell town on the last Sunday of April. Participants vote by raising hands to decide on local issues, a privilege reserved to men only until women were admitted in 1990.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 voters, many wearing traditional robes, turned up at this year's Landsgemeinde.

The canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden started earlier this year to take steps to rein in what the local justice and police department called "immoral habits."

In February, the cantonal council began levying naked hikers on-the-spot fines. But this seemed to backfire, raising Appenzell's international profile as a haven for naked hikers.


Naked hiking has become popular in countries like France and Germany, with supporters praising the liberating feeling of being able to roam freed from clothes in nature.

"There are naked hikers in France and Germany too," Edith Zweifel of the Swiss tourism board told Reuters. "But Switzerland is a lot more conservative and very traditional."

Detractors say the practice, against which the Appenzell canton will now impose a 200 Swiss franc fine, presents risks.

Swiss trekking clothing and equipment manufacturer Mammut deems the practice unsafe and irresponsible.

Mammut spokeswoman Katharina Habermann said exposing certain delicate areas of the body to the sun's UV-rays was dangerous.

Supporters say the rewards for those who dare to bare are worth the effort.

"Those who have already experienced walking nude through the damp mist, lying in the sun, swimming in the water and feeling the wind on your naked skin, know how liberating it is to move around with no clothes on," Alice Haller, president of the Swiss Naturists Organization, wrote in a public letter.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Free Money in Taichung, Taiwan

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan police have arrested a 55-year-old man for lobbing bank notes worth about T$1 million ($29,600) from vehicles, causing disorder in the streets, an officer said on Monday.

The man tossed the bills from a taxi in a crowded part of Taichung city on Sunday as people stopped to pick up the cash, Changhua police official Lin Shih-ming said.

"He might have had a nervous condition, as his state of mind wasn't normal," Lin said.

He is believed to have thrown heaps more money on an earlier road trip starting in the capital Taipei.

The man also burned about T$400,000 and had two more sacks of cash, apparently the proceeds of a property sale, Lin said.

Some of the passers-by who picked up the bills turned the money over to police, while others pocketed it, he said.

The taxi driver turned the man in to police in Changhua county, just south of Taichung

The suspect would be charged with public endangerment and destruction of currency, Lin said.

(Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

burger king vs mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Burger King advertisement for new Tex-Mex style hamburgers, which features a squat Mexican draped in his country's flag and an American cowboy, has offended Mexican officials who want the spot pulled.

Mexico's ambassador to Spain said posters for the new "Texican whopper," a cheeseburger with chile and spicy mayonnaise, inappropriately display the Mexican flag, which is draped over the diminutive wrestler like a poncho.

"This advertisement denigrates the image of our country and uses improperly Mexico's national flag," Jorge Zermeno wrote in a letter to Burger King in Spain, the Reforma newspaper reported on Monday.

The ambassador contacted the local offices of Burger King after he saw the posters in Spain, Reforma said. The burger is only available in Europe, according to the paper.

Mexico has strict laws prohibiting the defamation of the flag, Zermeno said. He asked Burger King to cancel the ad campaign that "offends Mexicans and Mexico."

The Miami-based fast-food chain Burger King was not immediately available to comment.

Last year, Sweden's Absolut vodka angered many U.S. citizens with a publicity campaign in Mexico that idealized an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as part of Mexico. The campaign was later dropped.

Burger King to scrap ad after complaint
Wed, Apr 15 13:53 PM EDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Fast food giant Burger King apologized Tuesday for an advertisement featuring a squat Mexican draped in his country's flag next to a tall American cowboy and said it would change the campaign.

Mexico's ambassador to Spain said posters released in Europe for Burger King's new Tex-Mex style "Texican whopper," a cheeseburger with chile and spicy mayonnaise, inappropriately displayed the Mexican flag, whose image is protected under national law.

The ambassador wrote a letter complaining to Burger King and requested the ad campaign be discontinued.

Burger King said the ads were meant to show a mixture of influences from the southwestern United States and Mexico, not to poke fun at Mexican culture, but said it would replace them "as soon as commercially possible."

"Burger King Corporation has made the decision to revise the Texican Whopper advertising creative out of respect for the Mexican culture and its people," it said in a statement.

"The existing campaign falls fully within the legal parameters of the United Kingdom and Spain where the commercials are being aired and were not intended to offend anyone," the company added.

A TV version of the ad shows the strapping cowboy and the pint-sized Mexican wrestler -- nicknamed "Just a Little Bit" -- living together as roommates. At one point, the American lifts up the Mexican to help him put a trophy on a high shelf.

Mexico was involved in another controversial ad campaign last year when Absolut vodka posted billboard ads in Mexico with an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as part of Mexico.

The campaign angered many U.S. citizens and was later dropped.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Eric Walsh)

top TEN US school according to Playboy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playboy magazine on Friday named the University of Miami as the top party school in the United States based on five criteria that included a nod to brainpower.

The adult magazine, which has only occasionally published the party college list in the past but will now turn it into an annual feature, ranked the schools on campus life, sports, sex and academics, or "brains," as Playboy put it.

As a last criteria, Playboy included "bikini" which combined weather, guy-to-girl ratio and cheerleaders.

But absent from the credentials were college bars and parties that exist on the fringe of campus life.

"In order to make the list, you had to be a school where fun happens, so we threw that out and went to other criteria," said Playboy Assistant Editor Rocky Rakovic.

Rakovic also said it was hard to quantify just exactly what made a good bar scene from campus to campus, because each location had its specific attributes.

"You can't say keg party at Arizona State is much better than bar crawl at (University of) Wisconsin," he explained.

On the subject of brainpower, Rakovic said that criteria was important because, after all, "you are in college for a reason, to get an education."

Judging the intelligence of U.S. university students turned into a rather scientific equation, too, using things like grade point averages, freshman retention and Princeton academic reviews, then giving them a numerical weight and averaging results.

The one surprise, Rakovic said, could be the No. 6 school University of Wisconsin because the "bikini" ranking favored schools with warm weather climates.

Playboy began ranking party colleges 20 years ago. The full list is in the magazine's May issue and on the Internet at www.playboy.com/partyschools09.

The top 10 party schools are below in order of rank:

1) University of Miami

2) University of Texas (Austin)

3) San Diego State University

4) University of Florida

5) University of Arizona

6) University of Wisconsin (Madison)

7) University of Georgia

8) Louisiana State University

9) University of Iowa

10) West Virginia University

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)