Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

JANUARY 20, 1998: 

Dateline: England--Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother, announced late last year that his family's Althrop Park estate would be opened briefly for mourners who wished to visit Diana's gravesite. Last Monday, tickets went on sale to tour Diana's childhood home and burial site. Only 2,500 ticket-holding visitors will be allowed to visit the estate each day between July 1, Diana's birthday, and Aug. 30. A total of 152,000 tickets are available. Most callers had a little trouble getting through last week, however. According to London's Daily Mail, the 220 phone lines set aside to handle ticket requests received a record-breaking average of 600,000 calls per hour. All proceeds will go to benefit the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

Dateline: Denmark--A statue commemorating the beloved Danish fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" was decapitated last Tuesday in Copenhagen by unknown vandals. That marks the second time in 33 years that the bronze statue has lost its head. The mermaid has also had an arm sawed off and her neck slashed.

Dateline: Iran--A man sentenced by an Islamic court to have his eyes gouged out for blinding a co-worker could escape justice because no doctor will agree to carry out the punishment. Vahid Abdollahi blinded fellow worker Gholamhossein Maafi by splashing acid in his face during a fight over less than 25 cents. Shortly after the attack, a court in Tehran ordered that Abdollahi should have his eyes gouged out under the Biblical principle of "an eye for an eye."

Dateline: England--An enterprising cemetery owner in Cornwall has found a way to cash in on the death (so to speak) of a recent fad. Proprietor Terry Squires has set aside a special patch of burial ground for Tamagotchis and other digital pets that have passed into the great beyond. Many owners can become quite attached to the tiny electronic hatchlings, and their inevitable death (due to neglect, starvation or simple old age) can cause distinct feelings of loss. For less than five pounds, or about $8, each virtual pet will receive a 5-by-10-inch wooden coffin, a foot-deep burial plot, a headstone and a small bouquet of flowers. So far, about 20 Tamagotchi graves have been sold.

Dateline: Russia--Forget "Wheel of Fortune," the hottest TV game show in the former Soviet Union is "Interception." In it, contestants are called upon to escape police in a "stolen" vehicle. If they can outrun the cops for 35 minutes, they get to keep the car.

Dateline: Washington D.C.--Official White House cat Socks and President Clinton's new dog Buddy met each other for the first time last Tuesday. The meeting took place on the South Lawn of the White House. Socks arched his back and hissed at the Labrador pup. Buddy, meanwhile, barked loudly and had to be restrained by the president. Sources close to the administration say that the bad blood between presidential pets may have been sparked by Clinton's recent vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands. While Buddy hopped aboard Air Force One and accompanied the Clinton clan to St. Thomas, Socks was left home in the care of the White House usher. When pressed, President Clinton told reporters that the two animals were "making progress."

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