Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Man's body found hanging in apartment -- 8 years later... -

Man's body found hanging in apartment -- 8 years later... - 

The new owner of an apartment near Paris made a shocking discovery last week when he took possession: the mummified body of the previous owner which had been hanging for eight years.

The body was found in the apartment in the Paris suburb of Bussy-Saint-Georges on Friday, after the flat was sold at auction following its repossession by the bank, police and judicial sources said.

The previous owner, a former security guard of Cambodian origin, appears to have committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet.

The man, aged around 40 when he died, had not been heard from since 2005 when he filed a labour complaint against his firing.

He had cut ties with his family years before and neighbours believed he had returned to Cambodia.

His apartment was eventually sold after he failed to make mortgage payments and to cover building charges.

A police source said the new owner discovered the body when he arrived to inspect the apartment and entered with the aid of a locksmith.

"The body was in perfect condition, as was the apartment," the source said.

Investigators were unable to explain why the body had not decomposed.

Neighbours said they had no inkling of what lay inside the flat.

"I thought it was an abandoned apartment," said Camille, who lives in one of the four-storey building's 20-odd apartments.

"Bussy is a commuter suburb, people don't see each other much," she said.


Red Flags? Company behind ObamaCare site has a checkered past -

Red Flags? Company behind ObamaCare site has a checkered past - 

While the company behind the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov was virtually unknown to the American public until this month, critics say the Obama administration should have known this multibillion-dollar firm had a checkered history with other government contracts.

In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance. And this was while, and in some cases before, CGI Federal was paid millions, along with other contractors, to create the ObamaCare website. 

"The morning I heard CGI was behind [Healthcare.gov], I said, my God, no wonder that thing doesn't work," said James Bagnola, a Texas-based corporate consultant who was hired by the Hawaii Department of Taxation (DOTAX) in 2008. 

CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc., another subsidiary, had been responsible for overhauling the IT systems for the Hawaii tax department, and then, developing its new delinquent tax collection services. Not only was the software and implementation problematic, but the second contract, signed in 2009, paid CGI millions for work it did not complete, according to a state audit completed in 2010 on the matter. 

Still, they hold contracts all over the Hawaii government. Hawaii's Health Connector, the state's new health exchange for providing insurance options under ObamaCare, hired CGI to build its website. Like HealthCare.gov, the Hawaii portal had immediate problems when it launched on Oct. 1, but those have since been rectified and so far, according to Health Connector officials who spoke with FoxNews.com, they are not blaming CGI. 

Bagnola doesn't buy it, saying when they overhauled DOTAX's IT, "the system was broken all the time." 

"I can't believe people continue to hire incompetency," he added. 

The firm's performance was also called into question when parent company, CGI Group, was hired to design and execute a new $46.2 million diabetes registry for eHealth Ontario, part of the Canadian government health care system. That contract was canceled in September 2012 after a series of delays that rendered the system obsolete, according to news reports at the time. 

"They did not meet the requirements of their contract which was faced with many layers of delays, which caused great angst among the health care providers who are trying to do their best," Frances GĂ©linas, a member of Ontario's provincial parliament, told the Washington Examiner, in an Oct. 10 report. 

It was reported initially that Canadian taxpayers were not on the hook for the nearly $15 million already spent by CGI because a clause in the contract said that if CGI did not meet the deadlines, it wouldn't get paid. The registry was supposed to be up and running by June 2011. A later audit, however, found that the provincial government spent $24.4 million of its own money on the project before it was scrapped. 

Meanwhile, the state of Vermont is reportedly considering whether to penalize CGI for not meeting its deadlines for designing and producing Vermont's health care exchange, Vermont Health Connect, which is also experiencing the same kind of glitches as the federal system. In that case, the state recently signed an amended $84 million contract with CGI -- just $9 million less than the one it signed with the federal government in 2011. In late September, VermontDigger.org reported that CGI failed to meet 21 deadlines this summer and the state could charge as much as $125,000 a day in penalties as a result. 


Birth order: Why first-born children are smarter -

Birth order: Why first-born children are smarter - 

A child's behaviour is often linked to birth order. But according to a new study, birth order also affects intelligence.

The National Bureau of Economic Research study found that "those born earlier perform better in school." The results showed that 33.8 per cent of mothers said their first-born was "one of the best students in the class," compared to the mere 1.8 per cent who put their child at the bottom.

For each child thereafter, the numbers fell for those stating their child was one of the best. The data polled only 31.8 per cent for their second child, 29 per cent for their third, and 27.2 per cent for their fourth.

Conversely, those stating their child was "near the bottom of the class" rose. The number increased to 2 per cent for their second child, 2.1 for the third, and 3.6 for the fourth. You get the picture. So while the study found that first-borns had higher IQs, it also found that parents considered them more accomplished.

So the question remains: why is this happening? The reason for first-borns having higher grades is directly based on parenting. Turns out, parents have a much stricter parenting approach with their first-born than they do with their second or third child.

The study explains that "parents 'play tough' when their older children engage in bad behavior -- tougher than caring, or altruistic, parents would prefer -- in an attempt to establish a reputation of toughness to deter bad behavior amongst their younger children."

Essentially, parents are trying to set a good example for their younger kids, so they practice stricter rules and punishment for their first child and are more involved in their academic performance. By doing this, parents hope to establish a "reputation" for being strict so that their younger kids will follow suit.

As a result of establishing this reputation in the household (or at least thinking so), parents relax their strict parenting approach on their subsequent children. Then with fewer pressures to do well in school, the younger children become relaxed as well, which leads to lower grades compared to their eldest sibling. It's as simple as that.


Pope temporarily expels German "luxury bishop" from diocese after 31M euro renovation -

Pope temporarily expels German "luxury bishop" from diocese after 31M euro renovation - 

Pope Francis has temporarily expelled a German bishop from his diocese because of a scandal over a 31-million-euro project to build a new residence and related renovations.

The Vatican didn't say Wednesday if Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst would permanently leave the diocese of Limburg. But it said Limberg's newly named vicar general, Monsignor Wolfgang Roesch, would administer the diocese during Tebartz-van Elst's "period of time away."

In a statement, the Vatican said the situation in the diocese had become such that Tebartz-van Elst "could no longer exercise his episcopal ministry."

The decision was taken after Tebartz-van Elst met with Francis on Monday.

The bishop has defended the renovation, saying it involved 10 different projects and that there were additional costs because of regulations on buildings under historical protection.

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