Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

JULY 13, 1998: 

Dateline: France--A Romanian man who was arrested in Austria escaped from a Salzburg police station, hopped a train and rode all the way to Paris--even though his wrists were still handcuffed. The rather conspicuous escapee caught the eye of police officers patrolling Paris' Gare de l'Est railway station. The man, who had no identity documents, was nabbed while boarding a train to Brussels. French police assume the man had to pass through Germany or Switzerland, crossing at least two borders unnoticed, to make the trip from Salzburg to Paris.

Dateline: France--Meanwhile, the Gallic land continues to revel in the fallout from World Cup fever. The international soccer championship continues to bring out the finest in national pride. Just last Wednesday, a drunken Mexican soccer fan "extinguished" the eternal flame burning under Paris' Arc de Triomphe. Twenty-four-year-old Rodrigo Rafael Ortega was arrested for "offending the dead" and for being drunk in public. The flame has been burning since 1921 over the grave of an unknown French soldier who died in World War I. The War Veterans Ministry said Mexican Ambassador Sandra Berain and the French Junior Minister for War Veterans, Jean-Pierre Masseret, were "deeply hurt" by the "unspeakable act." The beer-bloated Ortega is believed to have extinguished the flame au naturale, if you catch my drift.

Dateline: Nebraska--America's favorite flavored sugar water, Kool-Aid, is now the official soft drink of Nebraska. The announcement follows months of confusion, during which the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote Nebraska's Governor Ben Nelson thanking him for not choosing milk as the official state beverage. In May, Nelson awarded Kool-Aid the "official state soft drink" designation, noting that the drink was invented in Hastings, Neb., in 1927. On May 22, the Associated Press mistakenly reported that Nelson had designated Kool-Aid as the "official state beverage"--subsequently prompting the PETA praise. Now that the mess has all been cleared up, Nelson spokesman Karl Bieber reiterates that Nebraska has no official state beverage, and that the Governor, "didn't do this to slight milk at all. He is a milk drinker." No response yet from the American Dairy Council.

Dateline: Oregon--The tiny, 615-member community of Echo, Ore., recently decided it was time to renovate their city hall. It seemed like a simple task, but when workers ventured into the building's 4,000-square-foot attic, they found an unexpected surprise--5 1/2 tons of pigeon poo. The pigeons have been dumping in the attic, unmolested, since the two-story building opened in 1916. Even with a high-powered vacuum and several shovels, it took five days to clear the attic.

Dateline: California--It was a bitterly fought battle, but organizers of the annual Independence Day parade in Huntington Beach, Calif., finally bowed to public outcry and agreed to include clowns in this year's festivities. Trouble arose over the Garden Grove Elks Clown Unit's yearly tradition of squirting spectators with squirt guns. Although parade watchers have been known to fire back with their own squirt guns, the arms race has escalated in recent years, with some spectators lying in wait for the clowns--garden hoses at the ready. The trigger-happy clowns promised to leave their water weapons at home this year, but did score one concession at the bargaining table: Organizers have banned Silly String vendors from this year's parade. Apparently, the stuff sometimes damages the clowns' $200 custom shoes.

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