July 13, 2007 in Nation/World

World in brief: Elite troops sent to guard energy sites

The Spokesman-Review
 

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has dispatched a new 5,000-strong elite military unit to guard strategic sites, including oil refineries and hydroelectric dams, in the wake of guerrilla attacks on pipelines operated by the national oil and gas company, Pemex, according to news reports Thursday.

Business leaders said as many as 1,000 manufacturing plants and other businesses in the Guanajuato-Queretaro region of central Mexico have been forced to shut down or scale back operations this week due to fuel shortages caused by the attacks on Tuesday and July 5.

The leftist Popular Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility for the attacks Tuesday, saying they were in retaliation for the disappearance of two of their militants last year.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Crackdown planned in red light district

Authorities announced a major crackdown on organized crime in Amsterdam’s red light district on Thursday.

With its scantily clad prostitutes posing in brothel windows and coffee shops oozing the pungent aroma of marijuana smoke, the area’s seediness has always been part of its attraction.

But the district is a magnet for petty criminals and, authorities believe, human traffickers, drug lords and mobsters who take advantage of the situation to launder money.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, and coffee shops are licensed to sell small amounts of marijuana. But prostitutes don’t have cash registers and drug vendors don’t give receipts, making it easy for them to launder money for crime lords.

Authorities said they hope to detect and prosecute money-laundering by building a national database of tax returns and other information that would allow them to compare cafe and brothel owners’ legal income to assets they hold around the country.

Tokyo

Money envelopes left at 200 toilets

Envelopes containing 10,000 yen – about $82 – and notes wishing the finder well have been discovered in municipal toilets across Japan, media reports said, baffling civil servants and triggering a nationwide hunt.

Local media have estimated that more than $16,400 worth of bills were found in men’s rooms in city halls in at least 15 prefectures in recent weeks.

Each package of 10,000-yen bills, some wrapped in traditional Japanese washi paper, was accompanied by handwritten letters that read “Please make use of this money for your self-enrichment,” and “One per person,” according to reports.

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