Who pays for rescue efforts when people are lost? Who should?

A few days ago, Kraig wrote about the three hikers lost on Mt. Hood. At the time of his post, one of the hikers had been found dead. The other two were still missing. Almost a week after they set out on their climb, they are still missing and most probably are dead. Because of this tragic situation, the question of who foots the bill for rescue efforts has come up once more.

Back in 2005, then Gadling blogger Erik Olsen wrestled with the question about who should pay–the lost hiker who hopefully is found–or tax payers? Olsen’s musings came about after a hiker hurt his ankle while hiking in Colorado. Several fire departments rescued the hiker after he spent a night on the mountain. The sticker price for the rescue was $5,000. In this case, the fire departments wanted the hiker to pay.

Usually, the people who are getting rescued don’t pay anything. But is that fair? Rescue attempts can be pricey. Consider this: From 1992 to 2007, the U.S. National Park Service spent $58 million on search and rescue efforts.

This recent Newsweek article echoes some of Erik’s points. As the article highlights, the hard economics question of who should pay for rescue attempts has as many facets to consider as it always has.

While one might say that people who take risks by heading up a mountain top or straying off a path should pay up once he or she is found, there are other factors to keep in mind.

  • One is a concern that people may avoid calling for help until it’s too late out of fear for what a rescue attempt might cost.
  • Some risks are unknown. A beautiful sunny day could go sour if the wind shifts, for example. Should people be punished when nature is at fault?
  • A large portion of rescue attempts are made by volunteers, therefore the cost is curtailed.
  • When fire departments and military units are part of rescue efforts, they often have hours to log towards rescues. A real live rescue helps them meet their quota.
  • Sometimes a rescue attempt may be launched even though the hiker is not in danger. A seasoned hiker may be holed up somewhere waiting for more favorable hiking conditions while a family member is frantic with worry.

With the knowledge that lost hikers are part of the outdoor scene, being financially proactive seems to be the best approach for handling costs before they occur. Colorado, for example, collects a small portion of the money from state recreational fees to put into a fund that is earmarked for search and rescue.

In Alaska, people who are mountain climbing up Mount McKinley pay $200 for the privilege.

Although planning for a tragic situation is never pleasant, it seems that in this case, planning ahead for the ” just in case” is sound. Otherwise, at the worst possible moment, people will be faced with the question, “How much is a life worth?

The land of badly behaving Buddhists

Cambodia’s dictator for life prime minister, Hun Sen, recently appealed to the country’s Buddhist clergy, telling them to clean up their act. The PM told a convention of top religious leaders that the actions and poor judgment of individual monks has given the whole religion a black eye.

He cited several situations including monks accepting roles as dancers in a music video and an abbot using offerings of money to buy himself a new car. Also, disputes between monks and laypeople are on the rise, according to an independent social analyst.

Hun Sen concluded his address to the holy people by saying “These are individual monks making problems. Citizens should not consider it an issue of the whole religion, but equally, we must not be careless about this issue.”

Buddhist monks have long been revered in Cambodia. Many have become involved in various forms of social work. However, it seems that the recent economic development has affected the religious world as much as the general public.

[via Phnom Penh Post]

Adultery can get you jail time in South Korea

It is a news headline you’d expect to see in a theocratic Islamic nation in the Middle East: “Actress given 8 months in jail for adultery.” But, this time, the headline could refer to the case of South Korean actress Ok So-ri.

The Korean adultery law was created in 1953 and has been upheld despite four major challenges over the past two decades. In Ok’s case, the judges denied her arguement that the current law was an invasion of privacy and had “degenerated into a means of revenge by the spouse, rather than a means of saving a marriage.” Despite the possibility of a two year sentence, Ok was given a eight month suspended sentence. Her lover, a Korean pop star, was given a six month suspended sentence. Neither will spend time in jail. The judge’s reasoning: adultery is damaging to the country’s social order.

According to the BBC, a recent survey showed that 70% of men and 12% of women have admitted to having sex outside of marriage. Ironic, especially given Ok’s statements about the law being used by spouses for revenge.

[via SMH)

Lavigne Too Hot For Malaysia?

Malaysia’s main opposition party called on the government to cancel a concert featuring Canadian pop/punk princess Avril Lavigne. Why? The singer’s on-stage moves are too sexy. The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party’s youth wing made the request.

The government wrote off the request as moralist nonsense, right?

Actually, they took the advice seriously and canceled Lavigne’s concert. Aside from being “too sexy,” there was also something in the explanation from the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry about the concert being held on August 29th, just two days before Malaysia’s independence day.

How have other “sexy” artists fared in Malaysia in the past? Gwen Stefani was forced to cover up more than usual for a recent show. The Pussycat Dolls were actually fined for indecency in 2006. Beyonce moved her recent concert to Indonesia and Christina Aguilera opted for Singapore. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party even protests at some concert by Malaysian artists. One wonders how the censorship is going to jive with Malaysia’s Vision 2020, an ambitious project to join the list of fully developed nations by the year 2020.

Having sex on a beach can get you jail time

World travel is a wonderful thing–or can have dire consequences when cultures clash. Having sex in a public place isn’t exactly celebrated in western culture, but it’s not uncommon–particularly under the cover of night when the stretch of a beach seems private.

In some cultures having “safe sex” is more than using a condom.

In Dubai, if you get caught having sex in public, you will get arrested and face years in jail–six in fact. Such is the possible fate of Michelle Palmer, a British woman who has worked in Dubai for three years. She and her male companion were caught having sex. If all goes well, she might only be in jail for three months–the minimum sentence.

The story is not complicated. Palmer, a manager of ITP Publishing was at a champagne brunch where the bubbly stuff flowed. Eventually, smashed and feeling frisky, she and a man headed to the beach for some adult fun and letting off steam.

Unfortunately, the police came along. Having sex in public in Dubai is not the only big no-no. So is having sex if you are unmarried. So is being drunk. Three strikes, you’re out. Or in–as in jail.

This article in MailOnline gives the scoop. As I’m reading between the lines, I see a traveler’s tale that is not so uncommon of others I’ve heard. When living in a culture that is different from ones own, it’s difficult to stay vigilant–to not slide into comfort and think that you’re safe when you are being yourself.

These women SHOULD have gotten jail time, no?

Yes, people who live overseas know that if you live in another culture, and the laws are strict, you need to abide by them. In the beginning, that’s not so hard. You’re caught up in a new culture, new experiences and you’re a well-behaved guest. Then, guest status wanes, and you get bored–or complacent– or horny. Mix in alcohol and there’s a recipe for a world of trouble. Sometimes the trouble is so silly, it’s hard to believe.

A friend of mine was at the end of three years of living in Saudi Arabia. He was at a party, had a bit to drink, and decided that the Canadian nurse who needed a ride ought to be able to get in the front seat of his car. They were arrested, tossed into prison, and he had no idea what was to become of him, particularly when his head was shaved and he was transported to a jail away from the city. In Saudi Arabia, an unmarried man and woman should not be out in public together. The woman is also not supposed to be in the front seat of a car, no matter who is driving. They were not dating. He was just giving her a ride.

Luckily for my friend, his company got involved. His boss was friends with a Saudi prince. My friend was sprung after two weeks. The Canadian nurse was released also, but “prostitute” was stamped in her passport. My friend can’t go back to Saudi Arabia.

In Palmer’s case, her company has dumped her since the company’s aim is to maintain a good standing in Dubai. That also is not uncommon. If you have troubles overseas, don’t expect help. People and companies will usually cut their losses to protect themselves.

Palmer, of course, wants this nightmare to be over and has stated that she’s a good person. Of course she is, and I mean this sincerely. The problem is that all beaches are not the same and when you’re traveling, keep that in mind.

If you have an urge to have sex, be very, very careful. Sure you have the condom, but that’s not all that’s needed to have safe sex in all circumstances–particularly if you’re female. Notice that so far only Palmer has had her situation flaunted. Only the Canadian nurse was called a prostitute. My friend just lost his hair and that grew back.

The guy has only been mentioned in Palmer’s story. All that’s known is his name is Vince and he may have made Palmer an honest woman by marrying her.

I hope people get behind Palmer and help her get out of this mess. Since three months is the minimum sentence, I’m hoping she gets lucky.

UPDATE: The man is also being jailed.

Please keep your comments relevant to the topic. All abusive comments will be deleted. — Ed.