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 V.17 No.36 | September 4 - 10, 2008 

Odds & Ends

Eric J. Garcia

Dateline: Cambodia—Thanks to soaring inflation and increasing demand, the price of rat meat has more than quadrupled in the southeastern Asian nation of Cambodia. With consumer inflation at 37 percent according to the latest Central Bank estimate, demand has pushed a kilogram of rat meat to around 5,000 riel ($1.27). Spicy field rat dishes made with garlic have become particularly popular since beef prices have soared to more than 20,000 riel a kilogram. “Not only are our poor eating it, but there is also demand from Vietnamese living on the border with us,” Ly Marong, a Cambodian agricultural official, told Reuters. He estimated that Cambodia supplies more than a ton of live rats a day to Vietnam. Rats are also widely eaten in Thailand, while the state government in eastern India last month encouraged its people to eat rats in an effort to battle soaring food prices.

Dateline: Bosnia—Police have imprisoned a pigeon after it was discovered that the bird was used to smuggle drugs into one of Bosnia’s highest security jails. “The guards suspected the animal might be involved in drug smuggling once they noticed four prisoners visibly intoxicated shortly after the pigeon landed on a prison window,” Zenica prison official Josip Pojavnik told reporters. All four inmates later tested positive for heroin. It is believed the drugs were stuffed into tiny bags attached to the legs of the carrier pigeon, which one of the prisoners had previously been allowed to keep as a pet in his cell. “We suspect that the pigeon carried the drugs from Tuzla,” a town around 40 miles northeast of Zenica in central Bosnia, confirmed the prison official. “We do not know what to do with the pigeon, but for the time being it will remain behind bars,” Pojavnik said.

Dateline: Sweden—Officials at a prison in central Sweden have denied a prisoner access to a can of fermented herring because the seasonal delicacy poses a security risk. The Tidaholm correctional facility wrote in a statement that a request for the fragrant food item--known as surströmming--from an unidentified inmate was denied because the dish wasn’t in accordance with site policies, Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå reported late last week. “Tidaholm has made a determination to deny the possession of a can of surströmming as this food product cannot be considered in accordance with the facility’s responsibility to uphold order and security vis-à-vis (the prisoner’s) personal engagement in such a culinary tradition,” prison officials said.

Dateline: Switzerland—The Swiss state of Glarus has officially exonerated a woman accused of witchcraft more than 200 years after she was executed. Anna Goeldi was beheaded in the year 1782 for allegedly causing a girl to spit pins and convulse. She was the last woman in Europe to be executed for witchcraft. Several thousand people, mainly women, were executed for witchcraft between the 14th and 18th centuries in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. Goeldi’s trial and beheading in the village of Mollis, however, took place at a time when witch trials had largely ended on the continent. Last year, the territorial subdivision’s executive branch and the Protestant Church council both rejected even considering an exoneration. In this most recent development, the Glarus government said the Protestant Church council, which conducted Goeldi’s trial back in 1782, had no legal authority to do so and had decided in advance on the woman’s guilt. The official exoneration noted that Goeldi’s execution took place in the Age of Enlightenment when “those who made the judgment regarded themselves as educated people,” the government said. “In spite of that, they tortured an innocent person and had her executed, although it was known to them that the alleged crime was neither doable nor possible and that there was no legal basis for the verdict.” Goeldi was executed even though Swiss law at the time did not impose the death penalty. The Glarus government said in June it would contribute $118,000 to an upcoming theater play about Goeldi as an “additional sign” of her rehabilitation. A museum about Goeldi was opened in Mollis last year on the 225th anniversary of the woman’s death.

Dateline: North Carolina—An avid fisherman used a pink Barbie fishing pole to land a record-breaking catfish. David Hayes and his 3-year-old granddaughter Alyssa were fishing in the pond behind his Wilkes County home when she asked him to hold her rod while she went to the bathroom. “They hadn’t no more than closed the door than the cat hit the cricket and took off,” Hayes told the Hickory Daily Record. “He turned the water over and I saw his tail was about as wide as my two hands.” Alyssa returned to find her grandpappy battling the monster fish. “She said, ‘Papa, you’re going to break my rod,’ because it was bent double,” said Hayes. After 25 minutes, the pink plastic toy prevailed, and Hayes landed a 21-pound, 1-ounce catfish on the 6-pound test line. At 32 inches, the record-breaking fish was 2 inches longer than the pole used to catch it. A state fisheries biologist from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission certified the record, which was nearly 3 pounds over the previous mark.

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

 
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