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Women Step Out of Kitchen and Into Mafia

Tue May 28, 9:29 AM ET

Women’s lib at its finest hour…

ROME (Reuters) - The headline news Monday was sadly familiar for most Italians -- a high speed car chase in southern Italy ends in a deadly shootout between rival Mafia families. But these were not the usual suspects.

The gun-toting clan leaders Sunday night were 50-something Italian mamas and teenage girls, police said.

"Obviously things are changing even in these feuds," the Corriere della Sera newspaper wrote Monday.

The protagonists in Sunday's bloodbath were the wives and granddaughters of Camorra gangster families, the Mafia organization that operates in and around the southern Italian city of Naples.

One car full of Cava family women and another car with Camorra boss Salvatore Graziano, his granddaughters and their mother showered each other with bullets in the prolonged shootout in Lauro, a town east of Naples. Two middle-aged mothers and a 16-year-old girl were killed.

"Yesterday's incident shows that not only bosses and their 'soldiers' have the duty to eliminate members of rival families; now the women, the bosses' wives and even the daughters participate," Corriere wrote.

Mafia women, especially in Sicily's "Cosa Nostra," are traditionally not allowed to get mixed up in men's business. Instead, the black-skirted women shuttle between the kitchen and the church, selflessly grieving for their fallen loved ones.

But in Naples, the battle of the sexes has taken on new meaning with the "madrina," or godmother, muscling in on territory of the traditional godfather.

One woman even allegedly ran one of Naples' most powerful criminal families while her brother was in prison. (This might ring a bell for anyone who's seen the Sopranos first season)


Prostitutes Told to Clean Up Their Act

Tue May 28, 9:22 AM ET

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - In a sanitary crackdown on Colombia's sex trade, Bogota authorities on Friday ordered prostitutes to use plastic-covered mattresses, change bedsheets and spray rooms for ****roaches, lice and rodents.

"Sex workers will have a higher status. They will be more respected," said Bogota's flamboyant Mayor Antanas Mockus, commenting on the new edict for the Colombian capital.

The regulations were imposed after a frustrated Bogota man sued the city over its unruly brothels. The sex trade long has been legal for adults in Colombia, with prostitutes and police often sharing the same Bogota street corners at night.

Among the rules, brothels in Colombia's capital will be restricted to specially authorized zones, and they must have ventilation systems, as well as adjoining showers and toilets.

Mockus, an eccentric mathematician known for imposing a strict drinking curfew and declaring a one-day annual "ladies night" banning men from the streets, said he thinks the rules will discourage prostitution.

"There is less prostitution in societies which are more free, in terms of sexuality," said Mockus, who married his wife at a circus, perched on top of an elephant.

"My experience as a Latin American student in Europe is that when talking to classmates of mine, practically none of the French had used prostitutes, whereas eight or nine of every 10 Latin Americans had visited prostitutes."


Convict Escapes Jail Disguised as a Doctor

Tue May 28, 9:19 AM ET

ATHENS (Reuters) - An American murder convict slipped out of the biggest jail in Greece disguised as a doctor and aided by the prison psychologist, police said Tuesday.

Wearing a wig, a suit and glasses, the 31-year-old man walked casually past guards at Athens' Korydallos jail late on Monday where he was serving a life sentence for killing a girl.

Police officials said the man had confessed to a murder in Greece because he wanted to avoid extradition to the United States where he is charged with double murder.

The psychologist escorted the convict out of the jail, introducing him to guards as her colleague.

Prison officials did not know of the escape until the evening headcount.

Greek Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos suspended the prison warden Tuesday along with six officers for the latest in a series of embarrassing jail breaks.

Last month a group of convicts used a spoon to dig their way out of a police cell.


Dancer Jailed for 'Corruption'

Tue May 28, 9:23 AM ET

Why don’t Iranians have sex standing up?

It might lead to dancing….

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A U.S.-based Iranian male dancer has been jailed after returning home, accused of corrupting the youth by giving dance lessons, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Mohammad Khordadian, a folklore dancer living in Los Angeles, recently returned home to attend his mother's funeral.

But he was arrested on orders of a hardline court dealing with "moral corruption" and sent to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, the daily Iran said. It said the court had set a bail of 200 million rials ($25,000) for his temporary release.

Like many other Iranian entertainers, Khordadian fled Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution which led to the enforcement of strict Islamic laws, including a ban on "decadent" practices, such as dancing and Western-style music.

In Los Angeles, home to a large Iranian expatriate community, Khordadian has been performing on stage and teaching dancing.

His performances are regularly broadcast to the Islamic republic via satellite televisions, making him very popular among Iranian youth. Illegal videotapes of his dance instructions are bestsellers in Iran.

"I did not mean to teach dancing. They are really fitness classes," Khordadian told the court in defense of himself. "If I had known what I was doing is wrong, I would never have performed."

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