Gaddafi’s kid on the hook for half million dollar Italian hotel bill

Have you ever stiffed the hotel on the bill? They might be able to slap it on your credit card while you’re making a getaway, but a few thousand dollars is easy to recover. When the tab starts creeping toward half a million dollars, though, courts start getting involved … especially in Italy and especially when your father is a Libyan dictator.

Saadi Gaddafi, whose dad is Muammar, dropped €392,000 for a 40-day stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, near Portofino. In fairness, he also had his entourage with him – personal trainer, bodyguards, secretaries … you know the drill. It takes a lot of people to keep a dictator’s son on the go. Instead of making things right at the front desk on his way out, Gaddafi left a black SUV in the parking lot. According to local media, it’s still there.

This may seem like irresponsible behavior for a world leader’s son, even if he is only from Libya. At the time, though, he was wrapping up his career as a soccer player in Italy, so he had to party in a manner appropriate to his profession. And he did have his fun. According to the Guardian:

After signing in 2003 for Serie A side Perugia, Gaddafi joined Udinese in 2005 and Sampdoria in 2006, playing in a total of two matches in Italy and failing a drugs test. When not in training, he made the Italian gossip columns when he reportedly crashed a yacht into a harbour wall in Sardinia. He is now reportedly forging a new career as a film mogul.

The hotel didn’t rush into court. Rather, it worked the usual channels with a country that has solid relations with Italy:

Corriere della Sera reported that prior to taking legal action, the Grand Hotel Excelsior contacted the Libyan embassy in Italy which had paid previous bills on behalf of Saadi Gaddafi, only to be told that it would not cover the cost of the stay until it was told to do so by the Libyan government. On Friday, an Italian judge ordered Gaddafi to €5,000 in legal expenses in addition to his bill.

Time to sell some more plutonium, I guess. I’m sure there’s someone out there with half a million dollars and a flux capacitor to feed.

[photo by StartAgain via Flickr]

Japanese sex clubs: Where flight attendant uniforms mean service

Where is a flight attendant uniform synonymous with high-touch service? Well, you may encounter JAL duds in a Japanese sex club. Your hostess may not keep it on long, but you’ll be happy to know that your safety is her first priority, whether you’re dressed or not. When JAL fell into bankruptcy, the risk that flight attendant uniforms would fall into the wrong hands skyrocketed.

It seems that people will pay big bucks to get serviced by a “flight attendant,” as long as it doesn’t happen on a plane. Thus, the uniforms can fetch thousands of dollars, a sale made easier by employees falling victim to mass layoffs. Flight attendant uniforms popping up on the Yahoo! Japan auction site were on the block for more than $3,000.

Of course, there’s more to this problem than the illusion of freaky FAs filling fetish fantasies for sex club patrons. The airline also says that there’s a security risk, as uniforms can make it easier to access restricted areas in airports. JAL also suggests that here’s brand risk, with an airline spokeswoman indicating, “We also do not want people misrepresenting the company or damaging our image in any way.”

I guess the impact on the airline’s image depends on the talent wearing the uniform …

Randy Quaid (allegedly) stiffs hotel for $10K

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.

Unsurprising news of the day: Berlusconi in yet another scandal

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 Owns up to Price Fixing

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.