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Departments : It's a Jungle Out There

No Hacksaws, No Dynamite, No Problem

An inventive breakout, singing riot squads, and icky illegal gum.

February 01, 2005  |  by Commander Gilmore

Beautifully, if not aromatically, illustrating the old adage that if you don't have the right tools for the job, you just have to use what you've got, 15 former inmates of an infamously putrid prison outside of Kampala, Uganda, used their daily ration of water and some other equipment they were born with to stage a desperate escape.

While police scampered around the countryside looking for their lost convicts, investigators at the scene were concluding that the "explosive" that blew out the iron bars of a window and collapsed the adjacent wall wasn't an explosive at all, but rather a corrosive agent: human urine. After the first few escapees were caught, the story was confirmed.

For several months, the prisoners in that common cell had been urinating on the rusting iron bars and baked-mud wall leading to the outside and to freedom. When they figured the time was right, they simply grabbed the bars and gave 'em a little push-pull. An instant later, they learned they had nearly done their job too well, as the bars not only snapped and came free, but the wall itself collapsed with a thundering boom.

We think the real question is, just how bad did that cell stink that guards never even noticed that 15 prisoners weren't using the "duty bucket," but simply peeing on the wall?

New Riot-Control Technology

Police officials in Lagos, Nigeria, have come up with a stunningly successful technique for dispersing unruly mobs of youths in the business district before rioting can break out. They've organized squads of officers into singing groups. Yup, no kidding.

At the first report of a mob getting out of hand, officers converge on the scene and commence singing, apparently from a repertoire of formerly popular songs and show tunes. It seems they're not all that harmonious, because the crowds don't just settle down and mellow out. The cops' singing is so bad that the gatherings immediately melt away and disappear. They're not even getting violent resistance. That's gotta be some really bad crooning. If they come out with a CD, we don't want it, OK?

So, Do You Give Suspects a Breath Test?

Turkmenistan's quirky president-for-life, Saparmat Niyazov, has given that country's cops a challenging new duty. They are to identify people chewing "nas" in public, and arrest them for committing a public nuisance.

"Nas," the country's most popular semi-legal drug, is-we're not kidding-a gummy substance made from tobacco, "slacked lime," and chicken feces. Apparently, it gives users a little buzz, quite possibly in exchange for some of the worst breath known to man, goat, or buzzard.

Conventional wisdom says one can always tell a nas chewer by kissing him or her, but we don't know if that's going to be a standard field test or prima-facie evidence of guilt. After all, maybe the suspect has only been eating chicken droppings, or chewing tobacco, both of which are still legal.

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