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Exorcism – Hong Kong Style!

I don’t know if it is still common practice but when I was in London (1978-80) when you approached well known traffic jam spots, people would appear with buckets of water and chamois and clean your windscreen. Unless you were able to stop them before they’d done it they’d then charge you 50p or £1 for the privilege. There were also newspaper vendors at the same spots who would never give you change unless you pursued them.

I hear that in the States in shopping malls people come up and spray women with perfume and charge a fee(!)

This story (once again forwarded to me by my “quirky stories from around the world” correspondent, John O’Hare) takes such unsolicited provision of service to a new level!

A Taoist master is accused of trying to extort nearly $5,000 for an unsolicited exorcism. From CNNGo:

“We’re strolling through a shopping mall, minding our own business, when we’re suddenly pounced on by a Taoist priest telling us that we’re possessed by an evil ghost who is hell-bent on killing us within three days. Temple workers proceed to grab hold of us and an exorcism is performed despite our protests. After an hour of struggle, the evil ghost is purged and we’re asked to cough up HK$36,000 for the Taoist priest’s good deed.”

At least that’s the picture that a 23-year-old woman surnamed Tang presented to the police. The priest’s disciples even filmed the entire process of the exorcism and put it on Youtube. The woman was held down by five people while the priest covered her head with a red cloth. While she struggled, she was told to keep silent as the priest and his disciples were talking to the ghost.

The forced exorcism is captured on video (see above), and produced — along with animated dramatization — by Hong Kong’s Next Media. (This is the same group made famous worldwide for the Tiger Woods car crash animation.)


Banking Crisis Part 2?

I’ve been reading with interest a couple of articles about the state of the commercial property market in the UK.

There was a frenzy of building and buying shopping centres and other commercial property up to and including 2007 when the market collapsed. The banks, particularly our old friends HBOS and RBS* were lending out crazy money to clients like The Kenmore Group who were placed in administration by Lloyds/HBOS in November.

If you CLICK HERE and scroll down to the programme File on Four (it’ll be there for another couple of days) you can hear how the bank supported Kenmore in the £36 million purchase of a trading estate in the West Midlands in 2007.

The estate had been sold for £2.5 million in 1982. The commentator on the programme, a property expert who had advised another client to stay clear of a purchase, described the price paid as “insane”.

The thing is that this kind of “insane” lending was commonplace. Kenmore and others may have been placed in administration but there are hundreds of other companies sitting with shopping centres and commercial property in serious negative equity (values being roughly half of what they were pre 2007). At the moment these companies are carrying that debt on their balance sheets. As they go into receivership and their assets sold, their debts and liabilities then revert to the banks.

Lets remember again which two banks bought into the buying frenzy with such zeal? Yup, *

Good sound businesses who can’t access money for loans were and are still being allowed to go to the wall whilst the banking industry counts the cost of financing chanty wrasslers in the hope of making a quick buck.

Journalist Ian Fraser has a good handle on things and writes not only about profligate lending but the fraudulent practices of the banks which continue to emerge.

From what I have learned in the past week, avoiding a second banking crisis would be something akin to a miracle.

Head for the hills!