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 V.13 No.31 | July 29 - August 4, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Sweden—Teenagers at a three-day music festival got their mouths washed out with soap—but it was entirely voluntary. It didn't take long for revelers at the Baltic Sea Music Festival in Karlshamn to figure out that the liquid soap used in the portable toilets contained 62 percent alcohol. Carbonated beverages spiked with the detergent soon became the drink of choice over the long weekend. “I suspected something was wrong because the soap went like hot cakes,” Anders Persson, whose company Bajamaja was hired to provide 65 portable latrines, told the Associated Press. Most of the soap dispensers had been smashed open and emptied by the end of the festival. One 14-year-old girl was briefly hospitalized with a minor stomach ache after pouring too much soap into her soda. Access to alcohol is strictly regulated in Sweden, with the state monopoly selling spirits only through a national chain of retail outlets.

Dateline: California—A 73-year-old grandmother subdued a robber by boring him into submission. Juan Garcia Vasquez tried to burgle the woman's San Francisco home, but ended up waking her when he broke a window. Vasquez put a cloth over the woman's mouth, but she managed to calm him down and offered him some food. The kindly grandmother showed the intruder pictures of St. Theresa, prayed next to him and then began showing off photographs of her grandchildren. Eventually, the intruder fell asleep on the couch. The woman then locked herself in the bathroom and called police.

Dateline: Tennessee—Four Hawkins County Jail inmates escaped last Thursday night when they realized that their cell doors had accidentally been left unlocked. Fortunately, the inmates returned a short time later—albiet with four cases of beer in tow. It seems that Ridgy Dean Coleman, Jimmy Joe Stapleton, David Wayne Blizzard and David Allen Hopkins all left their cells when they realized the cell block doors were unlocked and a faulty control panel had failed to alert jailers. Two of the inmates walked out through a fire exit, left the door propped open with a Bible and made a hole in the exercise yard fence. From there, they walked to a nearby convenience store and bought the beer. “I guess they thought if they came back, they wouldn't be charged with escape, but they were wrong,” Sheriff Warren Rimer told the Kingsport Times-News. On Monday, the inmates were charged with escape and introduction of intoxicants into a penal institution.

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Florida—David Havenner of Port Orange stands accused of beating his girlfriend with a four-foot alligator. Havenner, 41, was held without bond last Saturday on misdemeanor charges of battery and possession of an alligator. Nancy Monico, 39, told investigators that Havenner beat her with his fists, then grabbed the alligator by the tail and swung it at her as she tried to escape. She said she was struck at least once by the beast. The alligator, which Havenner had been keeping in his bathtub, was turned over to Florida wildlife officials.

Dateline: Germany—American bureaucrats aren't the only ones out of touch with their constituency. Germany recently issued a 16-page application form for a scheme to merge unemployment and social welfare benefits. The country's economy minister, Wolfgang Clement, claimed last Tuesday the new benefits plan was simple, and invited anyone who didn't understand it to give him a call. Several newspapers reported his comments and published the phone number of his Berlin office. Needless to say, the phones haven't stopped ringing. “My office is completely paralyzed,” Clement admitted to reporters during a visit to the southern town of Pforzheim.

Dateline: Russia—Air rage by drunken passengers is becoming increasingly common. However, Russia's leading airline may be contributing to a whole new trend. Last Tuesday it was reported that two crew members on a domestic Aeroflot flight beat up a passenger who had complained that the flight attendants were drunk. The passenger, identified only as A. Chernopup, was aboard a recent flight from Moscow to the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk. Noticing that the crew members were intoxicated and not fulfilling their duties, Chernopup asked to be served by a sober and competent flight attendant. The rowdy crew apparently took offense at the crack and attacked Chernopup. One passenger on the flight told the Izvestia daily that Chernopup left the plane with a black eye and was promptly sent to a doctor. A criminal investigation has been launched. According to Aeroflot spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg, the crew on the flight belonged to another airline, Aviaenergo. Aeroflot has been contracting out from Aviaenergo since August 2003. The entire crew of the Aviaenergo flight has been temporarily dismissed and a joint commission is looking into the issue.

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

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