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 V.13 No.38 | September 16 - 22, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Belgium—Prison guards in Belgium have come up with a novel solution to the recent rash of breakouts: Keep security lax. Union representatives fear that prisoners will turn to violence to get away if they can no longer escape easily. They argue that allowing crooks to break out of jail using nonviolent methods will stop dangerous situations from developing. Union Leader Filip Dudal said in a radio interview this week that, “It is better for them to escape through a case of mistaken identity than planting bombs or taking the wardens hostage.” In a recent incident, one prisoner was helped from outside over a 15-foot wall while another simply walked out of the prison wearing a visitor's clothes.

Dateline: Brazil—The Brazilian Justice Department has launched an investigation after armed policemen in Rio de Janeiro stormed a restaurant to arrest a man for smoking a cigar. The incident began at the Porcao restaurant when a woman called her daughter, a policewoman, to complain about a man who would not put out his cigar. Six police cars raced to the restaurant and a squad of heavily armed officers raided the place. The smoker refused to go with police and the officers backed down when the man's father, an air force colonel, got involved. “My son was in the smoking area,” Colonel Hermano Sampaio told Terr Noticias Populares. “The policemen showed me their badges trying to intimidate him, but then I showed them mine and we were even.” Officials are looking into the case to find out why so many policemen showed up for such a minor crime and why they didn't go through with the arrest.

Dateline: Australia—Inmates in a New South Wales jail appear to be breeding deadly redback spiders, so they can milk them for their venom and inject it for a high. The spiders were among contraband seized from prisoners according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws. Four “pet” redbacks were found in a cell in Grafton on Feb. 19. “Intelligence” suggested that inmates at the complex had been milking the arachnids, watering down the venom and injecting it. Department of Corrective Services spokesman Biran Kelly told The Daily Telegraph that the investigation is still open. “We did find spiders in a spider nest in a jar at Grafton in February,” admitted Kelly. “An inmate in that area said inmates were breeding them for their venom. But we found no evidence to support the information.” Jackie Adams-Maher, a spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park told the newspaper that a “high” from redback venom would be painful and could involve major damage to organs.

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Tennessee—A Tennessee man has beaten his own world record by remaining underwater for five days. Jerry Hall, 29, of Bluff City spent 120 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds at the bottom of a lake wearing scuba gear. Hall's previous record, listed in the current Guinness Book of World Records was just over 71 hours. Hall was assisted by a team of 10 divers who had trained for a year to perform this dive. A recliner was harnessed to a dive deck and lowered 13 feet to the lake bottom. Hall napped there for up to four hours at a time. The rest of the dive he spent listening to music pumped over underwater speakers and playing checkers with visiting divers on a heavy aluminum plate. After surfacing, Hall cheerfully signed a pledge to his wife never to repeat the stunt.

Dateline: South Carolina—A man wearing sunglasses and a mask entered the Security Federal Bank in Aiken last Tuesday morning and robbed the place by brandishing a rusty pitchfork. The hayseed holdup artist got away with an undisclosed amount of money. The four-foot farm implement was dropped as the robber fled from the bank through a wooded area to a golf course behind the bank. Police used bloodhounds to track the robber to a fast food restaurant parking lot, where witnesses say the man got into a white van driven by a woman. Fortunately, no one was forked during the robbery and the suspect remains at large.

Dateline: Serbia—A radical Serbian nationalist is facing defeat in a local election after his son mounted a “Don't Vote for My Dad” campaign. Dragomir Antonic of the Serbian Radical party is running in local elections in Belgrade on Sept. 19. His campaign suffered a major blow, however, when his 26-year-old son Lazar decided to launch his own movement to stop his dad being elected. Lazar Antonic told the Serbian daily newspaper Blic, “I'm preparing posters with the slogan ’Do Not Vote for My Dad Dragomir Antonic' on them just to tell my father and everyone else that the policies he represents are bad.” The radical politician has no plans to stop his son, adding, “No matter what he does, he will always be my son.” The Serbian Radical party is led by Vojislav Seselj, who is awaiting trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.

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

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