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Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Nairobi A black market alcoholic brew laced with poisonous methanol has caused the deaths of 49 people in Kenya, medical workers said Sunday, while police searched for a woman suspected of distributing the drink to local bars.

More than 174 people were hospitalized after drinking the brew containing methanol, a toxic wood alcohol added to the drink – called chang’aa – to give it more kick.

“Two people have gone completely blind, and another eight have reduced vision of varying degree,” said Simon Mueke, medical superintendent at the Machakos General Hospital.

Patients overwhelmed the small hospital in Machakos district, about 35 miles southeast of Nairobi. TV footage showed nurses in a crowded hospital ward working frantically to resuscitate poisoned patients. Other patients were shown being intravenously rehydrated, and some drunk patients were pictured struggling to stay on their feet.

Police have arrested several suspects but were still searching for a woman suspected of distributing the brew to several illegal bars.

Father of suspect in disappearance freed

Oranjestad, Aruba The father of a Dutch suspect arrested in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager was freed from jail on Sunday, hours after a judge ordered the release of a party boat disc jockey also held in the case.

Paul van der Sloot, a high-ranking justice official studying to be a judge on the Dutch Caribbean island, had been arrested Thursday as a suspect for collaborating in a crime with his 17-year-old son, according to his lawyer.

Earlier Sunday, a judge also ordered police to release Steven Gregory Croes, the party boat disc jockey held in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, saying authorities did not have enough evidence against him, the man’s lawyer said.

Croes, 26, was one of five people held in the case of the 18-year-old young woman last seen in the early hours of May 30. No one has been charged, including the last person reportedly seen with her, Joran van der Sloot.

Jordan bans novel written by Saddam

Amman, Jordan It seems even fallen dictators have trouble getting novels published.

Jordan has barred publication of Saddam Hussein’s fourth novel, titled “Get Out, Damned One,” due to political concerns, a senior Jordanian official said Sunday.

“I just assessed whether this would be in Jordan’s national interest and I thought it was not because the whole issue bears political ramifications which do not serve Jordan at all,” said Ahmad Qudah, head of the Press and Publications Department. “I have declined to ordain the printing and circulation of the novel said to be written by Saddam because we in Jordan will not sacrifice our ties with Iraq for anything.”

The novel tells the story of a man named Ezekiel who plots to overthrow a town’s sheik but is defeated by the sheik’s daughter and an Arab warrior. The story is apparently a metaphor for a Zionist-Christian plot against Arabs and Muslims. Ezekiel is meant to symbolize the Jews.

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