Dirty money? Swiss investigators are perplexed about who flushed tens of thousands of euros down toilets in Geneva. And why?
Bundles of shredded 500-euro notes, worth about $120,000 or 100,000 euros, were found clogging toilets at a bank and three nearby restaurants.
The high-value euro notes are due to be discontinued in 2018 over fears they are being used in illegal activities, including money laundering and sponsoring terrorism.
The notes will remain legal tender, but the European Central Bank will stop producing them following a European Commission inquiry into their use.
Destroying legal tender is not an offense in Switzerland, but police want to know the circumstances that would lead someone to flush money down a toilet.
The Tribune de Geneve newspaper, which first reported the unusual deposit, said it appeared the money belonged to unnamed Spanish women who had placed it in a safe-deposit box at the bank.
Police have not disclosed the women’s identities and are unsure why they would have wanted to dispose of the euros.
“We are not so interested in the motive, but we want to be sure of the origin of the money,” said Vincent Derouand, spokesman for the Geneva prosecutor’s office.
“Clearly, it’s very surprising,” he said.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
Thousands upon thousands of cans are filled with beer, capped and washed, wrapped into six-packs, and boxed at dizzying speeds — 1,500 a minute, to be exact — on humming conveyor belts that zip and wind in a sprawling factory near Tokyo.
Nary a soul is in sight in this picture-perfect image of Japanese automation.
The machines do all the heavy lifting at this plant run by Asahi Breweries, Japan’s top brewer. The human job is to make sure the machines do the work right, and to check on the quality the sensors are monitoring.
“Basically, nothing goes wrong. The lines are up and running 96 percent,” said Shinichi Uno, a manager at the plant. “Although machines make things, human beings oversee the machines.”
FILE – Asahi Breweries plant manager Shinichi Uno watches the production line at an Asahi Breweries factory in Moriya near Tokyo, May 29, 2017.
The debate over machines snatching jobs from people is muted in Japan, where birth rates have been sinking for decades, raising fears of a labor shortage. It would be hard to find a culture that celebrates robots more, evident in the popularity of companion robots for consumers, sold by the internet company SoftBank and Toyota Motor Corp, among others.
Japan, which forged a big push toward robotics starting in the 1990s, leads the world in robots per 10,000 workers in the automobile sector — 1,562, compared with 1,091 in the U.S. and 1,133 in Germany, according to a White House report submitted to Congress last year. Japan was also ahead in sectors outside automobiles at 219 robots per 10,000 workers, compared with 76 for the U.S. and 147 for Germany.
One factor in Japan’s different take on automation is the “lifetime employment” system. Major Japanese companies generally retain workers, even if their abilities become outdated, and retrain them for other tasks, said Koichi Iwamoto, a senior fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry.
That system is starting to fray as Japan globalizes, but it’s still largely in use, Iwamoto said.
FILE – Asahi Breweries employees work at the central control room at a factory in Moriya near Tokyo, May 29, 2017.
Although data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show digitalization reduces demand for mid-level routine tasks — such as running assembly lines — while boosting demand for low- and high-skilled jobs, that trend has been less pronounced in Japan than in the U.S.
The OECD data, which studied shifts from 2002 to 2014, showed employment trends remained almost unchanged for Japan.
That means companies in Japan weren’t resorting as aggressively as those in the U.S. to robots to replace humans. Clerical workers, for instance, were keeping their jobs, although their jobs could be done better, in theory, by computers.
That kind of resistance to adopting digital technology for services also is reflected in how Japanese society has so far opted to keep taxis instead of shifting to online ride hailing and shuttle services.
‘Human harmony with machines’
Still, automation has progressed in Japan to the extent the nation has now entered what Iwamoto called a “reflective stage,” in which “human harmony with machines” is being pursued, he said.
“Some tasks may be better performed by people, after all,” said Iwamoto.
FILE – Asahi Breweries employee Kiyoshi Sakai speaks during an interview at a factory in Moriya near Tokyo, May 29, 2017.
Kiyoshi Sakai, who has worked at Asahi for 29 years, recalls how, in the past, can caps had to be placed into machines by hand, a repetitive task that was hard not just on the body, but also the mind.
And so he is grateful for automation’s helping hand. Machines at the plant have become more than 50 percent smaller over the years. They are faster and more precise than three decades ago.
Gone are the days things used to go wrong all the time and human intervention was needed to get machines running properly again. Every 10 to 15 minutes, people used to have to go check on the products; there were no sensors back then.
Glitches are so few these days there is barely any reason to work up a sweat, he added with a smile.
Like many workers in Japan, Sakai doesn’t seem worried about his job disappearing. As the need for plant workers nose-dived with the advance of automation, he was promoted to the general affairs section, a common administrative department at Japanese companies.
“I remember the work being so hard. But when I think back, and it was all about delivering great beer to everyone, it makes me so proud,” said Sakai, who drinks beer every day.
“I have no regrets. This is a stable job.”
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
Authorities in Guyana are hunting for 13 prisoners who escaped from custody, just weeks after another jailbreak.
Police in the South American country said the prisoners dug a tunnel disguised as a latrine under a high wall to escape Lusignan Prison, a minimum-security facility on the country’s east coast.
Lusignan Prison was recently fortified, after hundreds of inmates were transferred there from Georgetown Prison, a maximum-security institution that burned down after inmates set a fire to protest prison conditions and lengthy trial delays. Seventeen convicts died in the fire last year, and most of the hundreds of others formerly held at Georgetown have since been transferred to other facilities.
A senior police official said the 13 men who broke out between Sunday night and Monday morning were “real bad ones” and former Georgetown inmates, and he urged members of the public to be cautious.
Four other prisoners who escaped from what remains of the Georgetown Prison also are still on the loose. Using handguns smuggled into the jail, they shot their way out more than two weeks ago, killing a guard in the process.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
Indian police are reviewing reports of missing children to try to identify a girl who was found living in a forest with a group of monkeys.
The girl, believed to be 10 to 12 years old, was unable to speak, was wearing no clothes and was emaciated when she discovered in January and taken to a hospital in Bahraich, a town in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India.
She behaved like an animal, running on her arms and legs and eating food off the floor with her mouth, said D.K. Singh, chief medical superintendent of the government-run hospital.
After treatment, she has begun walking normally and eating with her hands.
“She is still not able to speak, but understands whatever you tell her and even smiles,” Singh said.
Some woodcutters spotted the girl roaming with monkeys, police officer Dinesh Tripathi told The Associated Press on Thursday. They alerted police.
“They said the girl was naked and was very comfortable in the company of monkeys. When they tried to rescue the girl, they were chased away by the monkeys,” the officer said.
She was rescued later by a police officer in the Katarniya Ghat forest range. “When he called the girl, the monkeys attacked him but he was able to rescue the girl. He sped away with her in his police car while the monkeys gave chase,” Tripathi said.
He said police are trying to determine how the girl got into the forest and who her parents are.
She will be sent to a home for juveniles until she is identified, Singh said.
Text Credit: VOA News
Photo used in the article is only for representational purpose
Rome is investing millions of euros in environmentally friendly, cost-saving LED street-lighting, but some residents of the Eternal City are unhappy to lose the softer, golden glow of the old sodium lamps.
“This LED light is really bright, really blue, it feels like a hospital light,” said Monica Larner, an American who lives in Rome’s historic center. She said she was shocked to find the old bulbs replaced in her neighborhood overnight, with no notice to residents.
The city’s electricity company Acea says the new lighting, which should be fully installed by the summer, will improve visibility and safety as well as save money.
With an investment of about 50 million euros ($53.33 million) the town hall, run by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, will save 260 million euros over the next 10 years, said the head of Acea’s public lighting department.
Over the same period it will cut carbon dioxide production by 350,000 tons and reduce petrol consumption by 180,000 tons, Paolo Fioroni told Reuters.
“This is a great step forward in terms of technological advancement and energy efficiency,” he said.
While the conversion is carried out, some central piazzas are now illuminated partly by the old softer light bulbs, encased in romantic glass, and partly by the brighter LED glow.
Not all residents prefer the former, even if it is more aesthetically pleasing.
“I am more than happy. I find there is more light in this area and above all there is a real saving in energy level,” said shop owner Luca Candolo. “It was about time.”
Text Credit: VOA
Rescuers are sorting through mounds of debris and mud Sunday in search of missing people after a massive wall of water from three overflowing rivers in Colombia swept through the region overnight Friday, destroying homes and infrastructure, and killing more than 200 people.
Shortly after the banks of the rivers burst, a landslide devastated the southwestern town of Mocoa.
President Juan Manuel Santos visited the wrecked town of 40,000 near the border with Ecuador on Saturday and declared a state of public calamity.
Santos warned that the death toll is likely to rise, and added, “We don’t know how many victims there are going to be.”
To those affected by the disaster, he said, “We will do everything possible to help them. It breaks my heart.”
For their part, Red Cross officials said at least 203 people were injured in the deluge and an undetermined number of people were still missing.
A handout picture released by the Colombian Army press office shows people helping to carry a woman after mudslides following heavy rains, in Mocoa, April 1, 2017.
Video from the scene showed flattened buildings, and mounds of crumpled cars and uprooted trees, as dazed residents surveyed the scene and rescuers pulled the injured and the dead from the wreckage.
The catastrophe came after days of torrential rains that has left large parts of the region without electrical power or running water. President Santos blamed the avalanche on climate change, saying the amount of rain that drenched the area in one night was nearly half the amount the area receives in the month of March.
Pope Francis addressed the tragedy Sunday at the Vatican, saying he was “profoundly saddened.”
In recent months, heavy rains and flooding have struck along the Pacific side of South America, killing scores of people in Peru and Ecuador.
Text Credit: VOA
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