Odds & Ends
Dateline: Uganda—Anti-land-mine activists in Africa were shocked to find an unexploded bomb being used as a school bell in rural Kasese, Uganda. Workers with Anti-Mine Network Rwenzori found teachers at a primary school in the district banging on the bomb with a rock to summon the 700 children under their care to class. Wilson Bwambale, coordinator for AMNET-R, told Uganda’s Daily Monitor, “It was a shock to us to find out that what the school was using as a bell was a bomb.” According to Bwambale, the shell of the bomb had been hollowed out, but “its head was still active, which means that if it is hit by a stronger force, it would explode instantly and cause untold destruction in the area.” The bomb was removed to a cordoned-off area and destroyed. Uganda was torn apart by a massive civil war that lasted from 1996 to 2002. Countless bombs and land mines are still believed to be scattered throughout the region.
Dateline: Mexico—Correctional officers at the Cereso Chetumal prison in the state of Quintana Roo stopped a jailbreak when they found a prisoner stuffed into a suitcase and being rolled halfway to freedom. Maria del Mar Arjona, 19, was visiting her common-law husband, Juan Ramirez Tijerina, who is serving a 20-year sentence for a weapons charge. After a scheduled conjugal visit between the two, staff at the prison noticed that Arjona seemed nervous and was pulling a black, wheeled suitcase that looked suspiciously bulky. Unzipping the luggage, they located Tijerina, curled up in a fetal position. He and his better half will now be facing additional charges.
Dateline: New York—The family of convicted murderer Gerard Domond is suing New York’s Correctional Services Department, claiming that it has stigmatized inmates by calling them “inmates.” The family is seeking $50 million in damages for “mental anguish.” In court filings, Domond’s sister Marie argues that the term inmate “implies that our brother is locked up for the purpose of mating with other men.” Acting as her own lawyer and amateur etymologist, Ms. Domond argued that “the suggestive nature of the word is disgraceful. The cruel psychological programming has weighed heavily on our emotional and psychological well-being.” In an interview with the New York Post, Ms. Domond said, “I couldn’t understand why no one recognized that somebody being labeled an inmate, why they wouldn’t recognize that. To me it just sounded very wrong.” Mr. Domond is in jail for a 1987 incident in which he shot a man in the head during a drug deal gone wrong. Now 49 and incarcerated in the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, he is eligible for parole in May 2013.
Dateline: New York—A motorcyclist riding without a helmet to protest motorcycle helmets was killed earlier this month because he was not wearing a helmet. Philip A. Contos, 55, of Parish, N.Y., was on a ride organized by the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) on Saturday, July 2. During the ride south on Route 11, Contos was forced to hit his brakes. His 1983 Harley Davidson began fishtailing and Contos lost control of the bike. Witnesses say he was killed when he flew over the handlebars of his bike and hit the pavement with his bare head. He was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where he was pronounced dead. State police said evidence at the scene plus information from the attending physician indicated Contos would have survived had he been wearing a helmet as state law requires. “This is another sad and tragic example where we have lost someone due to the lack of wearing a helmet,” said Jonathan Adkins, communications director for the Governors Highway Safety Association. ABATE of New York Inc. is in the process of organizing a memorial “to honor an individual who rode for freedom and risked his all for freedom.” ABATE was created in 1974 to promote “motorcycle safety, awareness and education,” largely through the refusal to wear helmets.