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 V.14 No.29 | July 21 - 27, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Russia—Construction workers demolishing a Stalin-era hotel near Moscow's historic Red Square stumbled across nearly a ton of explosives hidden in the building. Moscow's NTV television showed workers removing boxes of explosives from the deep, muddy hole that was once one of the Soviet Union's flagship hotels. “The boxes held only explosives without detonators, so there was no risk of an explosion in the hotel,” a police spokesman told Russian news agencies. The Hotel Moskva was built in 1935 and stood opposite Russia's parliament building. “According to preliminary information, the explosive was hidden in a cache during the Great Patriotic War,” a police spokesman was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying, referring to World War II. Many Soviet buildings were apparently wired to explode in case Adolph Hitler's forces had taken Moscow.

Dateline: Brazil—Armed bandits in Rio de Janeiro robbed a vehicle carrying more than 400 breast implants, officials said last Tuesday. “It happened last week, but we only learned about it recently as our clients started complaining,” said Margaret Figueiredo, director of silicone implant manufacturer Silimed. A spokesman for the state Postal Service confirmed that assailants, apparently men, robbed the postal van filled with implants on Thursday night. Each Silimed implant costs nearly $400. Breast implants are in their highest demand during July--winter in the southern hemisphere--as women schedule surgery during the winter school holidays, hoping to heal by summer beach season.

Dateline: Minnesota—Thanks to a petition signed by almost one-third of the city's businesses, organizers of Gilbert's first-ever “Whorehouse Days” were forced to cancel the celebration. Following the petition and a protest by dozens of residents at a Council meeting, the City Council refused to rent out public buildings for events like a four-poster bed race, a beer mug-sliding contest and a showdown for the best-dressed madam. “The City Council is acting like it's the Moral Majority or something,” lead organizer Bob Cap told the Star Tribune. “They really played a number on us.” The festival, which had been scheduled to take place last weekend, was to include a performance of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and had attracted almost $50,000 in sponsorships. The organizers, Gilbert After Hours, Inc., plan to try again next summer and are thinking of suing the city of Gilbert. Early in the 20th century, Gilbert was a mining town known for its saloon and its prostitution.

Dateline: Minnesota—Homeowner Juren Ding, 39, faces a felony charge of first-degree criminal damage to property for doing a little gardening in his Anderson Lakes neighborhood. Ding lives in The Sanctuary, an exclusive private development in Eden Prairie, across from Anderson Lakes Park. Unable to get a clear view of the lake from his expensive home, Ding walked across the street and cut down 37 trees from the city parkland ringing the lake. “The simple fact is it's clearly somebody trying to get a better view of a natural resource by taking down trees,” Stuart Fox, the city's manager of parks and natural resources, told the Star Tribune. According to Fox, an anonymous citizen called the parks office to complain that they'd seen Ding cutting trees on city property in January 2004. At the time, city inspectors told Ding's wife that no one is allowed to cut trees on city property, according to a police report. More than a year later, in February of 2005, police responded to another call that trees were being cut on city property behind Ding's home. According to police, Ding admitted to cutting the trees to get a better view of the lake, and he also admitted he knew the trees did not belong to him. “He owns a million-dollar home,” Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said, “and that doesn't entitle him to damage the property.” Ding could face up to five years in prison or $10,000 in fines. The trees were valued at $21,600.

Dateline: California—Variety is the spice of life, but apparently not for bank robber Stephen Holloday. According to police in Oakland, Holloday has robbed the same downtown Oakland bank four times between March 9 and May 23. On his fifth attempt, earlier this month, Holloday was recognized by several tellers whom he had robbed before. Two of the previously robbed tellers confronted Holloday while he was standing in line at the Summit Bank. According to Oakland police Sgt. George Phillips, the man panicked and fled. He was arrested a short time later on a street not far from the bank. A note demanding money was still tucked into his pocket. “He was a creature of habit,” Phillips said. According to California authorities, Holloday is also a suspect in at least seven San Francisco bank robberies, including one branch he allegedly hit five times.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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