...And Bird-Flipping Pilot Riles Brazilians

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Capt. Dale Robin Hersh discovered the Brazilian authorities' preferred level of etiquette after last Wednesday allegedly offering the middle-digit salute in response to Brazil's new requirement that American visitors submit to photographs and fingerprinting ... which is how Brazilians are welcomed to the U.S. under new security rules. Hersh's alleged gesture (maybe that's how he always holds things) landed him in a federal courthouse where formal charges awaited, but "Since this was a minor crime, I proposed that he be fined $12,750, which will be donated to a home for the elderly," Matheus Baraldi Magnani told the Associated Press. Hersh was looking at hard time in a Brazilian prison until his airline came up with $12,750 to soothe the indignity suffered by the disrespected security officials at Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport. (Brazil has laws against "showing contempt to authorities.") Had the charges gone through, he could have faced two years in prison. By the time the expensive etiquette lesson had been administered, however, the photo of Hersh in his now-infamous pose had been released to the local papers. Brazilian officials said they were inundated with phone calls of support from local residents applauding the arrest and fine. All of South America is on a list of countries whose citizens must be fingerprinted and photographed before entering the U.S.