Etc...

Um, are you spying on me?

Having had it with tax cheats, the government of Italy has decided it's time to harass them ... even on vacation. And wait 'til you learn how. For starters, the authorities chose a logical venue for their pilot project, the Liguria region - the home of such sun-splashed resorts as San Remo and Portofino, picturesque fishing villages, and distinctive cuisine. But for the strategy to be successful, effective agents were needed to carry it out. For that, those sneaky tax guys employed undercover operatives: attractive bikini-clad females posing as tourists. Their job: to check on whether the trattorias, restaurants, pizzerias, and bars send patrons out the door with accurate receipts. It's perhaps not surprising that the project has been judged a complete success and now will be expanded to the rest of the country.

Nice, long vacations: They come standard in Europe

August is here already: Have you taken your summer vacation yet? When it comes to time off, no other country is more generous than Denmark, where workers can anticipate 31 days annually. That's the conclusion of Hewitt Associates LLC, an international human resources consulting company that has looked at the comparative lengths of vacations around the world. In Mexico, by contrast, employers grant their staffers an average of only six days off per year. (In the US, paid vacation time is generally based on length of service to one's employer, with 10 days a year being the norm.) Countries where employers grant the longest vacations, with number of days per year, according to Hewitt Associates:

1. Denmark 31
2. Austria(tie) Finland 30
5. France(tie) Norway 25
7. Germany 24
8. Brazil 22
9. Australia(tie)Belgium(tie) Great Britain (tie) Ireland (tie) The Netherlands(tie) Switzerland 20
Others: Colombia, New Zealand (15); US, Canada,Japan (10); Mexico (6)

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