Taos, New Mexico, is home to a large Spanish-speaking population. There are a lot of Latino people living and working in the town. So it follows that many people there have traditionally Latino names. You would think a guy from Texas (another state close to Mexico and home to many Hispanic people) would understand that. But not Larry Whitten.
When Whitten came into town to take over as the manager of a run-down hotel, he told his Latino staff that they needed to change their names to more Anglicized versions. As CBS News puts it, “No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain old Martin. No more Marcos, now it would be Mark.” Of course, the staff and many of the town’s residents were not happy. Nor were they pleased when Whitten fired several Hispanic employees and forbade those remaining from speaking any language but English around him, because he feared they were talking about him in Spanish.
After referring to the locals as “mountain folk” in an interview and then being picketed by fired employees and their families, Whitten later apologized for the “misunderstanding” and said he was not against any culture.
Whitten denied that his actions were racist and said that he asked the staff to change their names for the “satisfaction” of guests who may not be familiar with Spanish names. One fired employee disagreed. “I don’t have to change my name and language or heritage,” he said. “I am professional the way I am.”
Actor Randy Quaid
and his wife, former model Evi, got out of jail Thursday night. They landed in the Texas pokey because of a $10,000 hotel bill they didn’t pay in California
. Each is out on $20,000 bail. They were arrested in Marfa, 160 miles southeast of El Paso
Authorities in Santa Barbara, California issued a felony warrant – burglary, defrauding an innkeeper and conspiracy – for the Quaids. The couple disputed a charge of more than at a local hotel, prompting the hotel, San Ysidro Ranch to file a complaint. The police, hotel and Quaid family aren’t talking, according to a USA Today report.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been taking a lot of flack lately, what with allegations of corruption and dictatorial leanings, his divorce, and his penchant for hiring attractive women for important positions. Now he’s got to deal with charges that he’s covering up archaeological remains on one of his many properties.
The accusations stem from secret tapes made by call girl Patrizia D’Addario, in which the Italian leader can be heard boasting that he covered up the existence of thirty Phoenician tombs on the property of his villa in Sardinia. Italy has strict antiquities laws and the tombs should have been reported to the authorities. Covering them up would have stopped any delays in constructing the villa, but is illegal, not to mention politically damaging.
Berlusconi’s lawyer claims the Prime Minister doesn’t have any tombs on his property and that he did not know Ms. D’Addario was a call girl. He also denies that any money changed hands.
If there are tombs on Berlusconi’s property they could be a significant find and help Italy’s beleaguered tourist industry. The Phoenicians were a civilization of sea traders centered in what is now Lebanon from about 1550 to 300 BC. They set up trading posts all around the Mediterranean and even circumnavigated Africa. Several Phoenician sites are already tourist destinations in Italy, such as the city if Tharros in Sardinia, shown here.
Qantas is eager to put this year behind itself. Several mid-air incidents caused the airlines commitment to safety to come into question. Also, their plan to outsource labor caused a ruckus with local unions. Nonetheless, the Qantas is keeping its head above water. It dominates lucrative routes between the US and Australia and holds its own against stiff competition in Asia.
So when a price-fixing scandal involving the airline’s freight division came to public attention, Qantas was only too willing to make amends. Between 2002 and 2006, Qantas was one of over 30 airlines to charge unnecessary fuel surcharges. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are the two high profile airlines already guilty of price fixing via fuel surcharges. But whereas the two London-based carriers’ scandal involved passengers, Qantas was only accused of fixing prices on air freight. Chief exec Geoff Dixon announced that the issue was settled before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). A fine of AUS$20 million was paid to the ACCC. Last year, Qantas paid US$61 million for a related price-fixing charge in the US.
The board members of Hawaii‘s State Tourism Authority accepted the resignation of Rex Johnson, the head of the agency, after a months-long investigation into emails sent and received from his office computer. Johnson was first reprimanded in August after an audit by the state uncovered pornographic emails on the computer. At that time, Johnson was reprimanded by the board. His salary was cut and his apology accepted.
However, further investigation revealed that the emails had been forwarded by Johnson to other email accounts. Some of the emails included remarks deemed racist and sexist by investigators. Rather than face further scandal, Johnson agreed to step down yesterday. The board was only too happy to accept the resignation. I guess poor Rex never learned the meaning of the acronym NSFW. But with tourism accounting for a large part of the Hawaii’s economy, the negative press from such a scandal could end up affecting the state’s image and tourism revenue.