Get these Brazilian snakes off this ****** plane!

A round-up of global stories from local sources

By Nicholas Nehamas

Hollywood star and amateur herpetologist Samuel L. Jackson holds a Burmese python at the premiere of his movie “Snakes on a Plane” in 2006. (Reuters)

Latitude News is dedicated to breaking down the barrier between “domestic” and “international” reporting. Every Monday morning, we bring you a round-up of headlines from local papers across the country that show how news simply doesn’t stop at the border.


  • A Brazilian man has been arrested in Florida after trying to smuggle 27 snakes in his luggage. Mateus Dal Maso bought the reptiles legally at a breeders’ expo in Daytona Beach. He then wrapped the snakes—valued at $10,000—in nylon stockings and stuffed them inside an old stereo in his suitcase. Shocked security officials saw the wriggling creatures when they performed an X-ray scan on Dal Maso’s bag. They arrested him before he could board his flight from Orlando to Sao Paulo. Among the catch were a Ball Python and several Boa Constrictors. Samuel L. Jackson could not be reached for comment. (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Japan has won the Little League World Series, beating a team from the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee. Despite the lopsided score of 12-2, there were no hard feelings on either side. After hitting a two-run dinger off Kotaro Kiyomiya—the American team’s only hit—Brock Myers was surprised when the Japanese pitcher rushed over to congratulate him while he rounded the bases. “It was fun playing against them,” said Myers. “They were really nice.” Kiyomiya explained the good feelings through an interpreter: “The Tennessee team was our best friend from the U.S. divisions. Thanks to them for being our best friends at this World Series.” The last three World Series finales have pitted Japanese teams against Americans ones, with the foreigners winning two out of three. (The Tennessean)
  • An editorial in the Seattle Times urges the U.S. to adopt permanent normalized trade status with Russia. Because of human rights concerns, the U.S. has granted Russia only temporary trade relations since 1974. Now that Russia has joined the World Trade Organization, businesses in the state of Washington are worried foreign competitors will get the jump on opening up potentially lucrative Russian markets. “A lot of businesses are hunkering down,” a Bellevue-based attorney who specializes in U.S.-Russian joint ventures tells the Times. He added that American corporations “will be tremendously disadvantaged” compared with companies from WTO countries which have granted permanent status to Russia. (Seattle Times)
  • A piano-playing cat from Philadelphia has inspired a composer from Lithuania to pen a concerto. In 2007, a couple from Philly heard their cat Nora tapping out a few atonal notes on their piano. They put a video on Youtube, which somehow garnered 24 million hits. That led Lithuanian maestro Mindaugas Piecaitis to compose his opus, the so-called Catcerto. “I was so amazed,” says Piecaitis. “[Nora] had such feeling, such Stimmung.” The piece has now been performed more than twenty times in four different countries. Last Friday, Piecaitis finally flew to Philadelphia to meet his muse. “I think I’m dreaming,” the overjoyed Lithuanian said. (Philadelphia Inquirer)