How To: Get Detained By Airport Security

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Dangerous Item: Comedians
Don't Bring "˜Em To: Myanmar
The citizens of this country just want to avoid trouble—the kind that starts with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "C" and that stands for "comedy." Once known as Burma, Myanmar has a long tradition of stand-up comedy, usually in conjunction with traditional dance and theatre. But, since the rise of the military government nearly 20 years ago, comedy and comedians are increasingly unwelcome because of their propensity to make jokes at the junta's expense. Jokesters have even spent time in jail. Two members of an act known as the Moustache Brothers were imprisoned, with hard labor, for five years after they cracked some anti-regime jokes at a 1996 rally. A letter campaign by American comedians eventually got the two freed in 2001, but they're now banned from performing their act in Burmese.

Dangerous Item: Camera Phones
Don't Bring "˜Em To: Saudi Arabia
These trendy little devices were banned in 2002 amid concerns that the tiny cameras were being used to secretly photograph women in family or all-female environments where they might not be dressed as modestly as they would in public. In fact, according to news reports, accusations of camera phone use had led to fights at weddings and pat-down searches of students at girls' schools. But, after the ban incited a massive black-market business, the phones were re-legalized in 2004.

Dangerous Item: Vegemite
Don't Bring It To: The United States
In 2006, rumors (fueled by breathless reports by the Australian and New Zealand press) began circulating that the United States had banned the yeast-based, salty spread Vegemite from its shores. Popular (for some strange reason) with folks from down under, the spread contains large quantities of folate, a chemical whose artificial form, folic acid, is tightly regulated by the FDA. Natural folate doesn't fall under the laws, so Vegemite isn't actually in danger of bannination, but the FDA does limit the types and amount of products that can contain folic acid. Why? Because while small amounts of folate are important (particularly for fetuses and pregnant women) nobody knows what side effects it could produce if you were to start eating it in larger doses.

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February 20, 2007 - 6:02am
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