Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

AUGUST 23, 1999: 

Dateline: England -- Tish, the world's oldest goldfish, has given up the ghost at age 43. Back in 1956, seven-year-old Yorkshire lad Peter Hand won the common goldfish at a local fairgrounds. Tish the fish grew to a healthy one-and-a-half inches and outlived all of Peter's other pets. After Peter grew up and moved out of his childhood home, the scaly senior wound up in the care of Peter's parents, Hilda and Gordon Hand. The Hands eventually moved to a retirement home, taking the Guinness Book of World Records certified "World's Oldest Captive Goldfish" with them. Early last week, Mrs. Hand found Tish belly-up in the bottom of his tank.

Dateline: Brazil -- The seaside city of Recife, Brazil, is all hot and bothered by the proposed construction of a gigantic phallic sculpture. Famed artist Francisco Brennand, known for his erotically charged ceramic sculptures, was commissioned to create a public work of art as part of a city beautification project. Though Brennand claimed his 100-foot tower represented "a beacon to outer space," most who saw the designs agreed that it looked very much like a giant, glowing male organ. A city committee voted to censor Brennand, making his design "look more like a lighthouse." Incensed, Brennand quit the project. Soon after, gossip columnist Orismar Rodrigues and arts critic Mario Helio wrote in the Jornal do Commercio newspaper that Mayor Roberto Magalhaes' wife was behind the committee's censorship vote. According to witnesses, the mayor himself then stormed into the paper's office in Recife, brandished a gun and threatened to kill Rodrigues and Helio. In the end, the city council decided to build Brennand's original sculpture after all.

Dateline: Tennessee -- The Knox County justice system almost had its man -- except their man didn't exist. In a bizarre case of blind justice, the Knox County Sheriff's Department "created" a fictional drug runner named Frankie Lane Gresham as part of an ongoing undercover investigation. Unfortunately, no one told the judge who was attempting to try Gresham, the public defender appointed to defend him or the office that was trying to prosecute him. Apparently, a warrant naming Gresham was obtained on May 21 by sheriff's deputies. The department then created a realistic prisoner profile on their computer system, listing Gresham's alleged height, weight, hair color, social security number and place of birth. Somehow, the profile leaked into the other branches of the justice system, and the hunt for Gresham was on. General Court Judge Bob McGee canceled the warrant against Gresham last Tuesday after the 10-week charade came to light. McGee has asked the county's district attorney to investigate.

Dateline: Connecticut -- Norman and Melissa Cameron of Hartford, Conn., took out a $54,000 home loan from the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and are now refusing to pay it back for one simple reason -- God said so. According to court documents filed by the couple, the Camerons signed the mortgage "without being equipped with truth ... and without Godly wisdom." After falling three months behind on their mortgage payments, the Camerons prayed to God and were informed that they now had "total free and clear possession" of the property. Apparently unswayed by such divine intervention, Fannie Mae filed suit last month seeking possession of the home and more than $15,000 in interest.

Dateline: New York -- Charter One Bank mistakenly issued a $5,000 credit line to three-year-old Alessandra Scalise after her mother jokingly returned a credit card application which had been mailed to the toddler. Antonia Scalise filled out the "pre-approved" application for her daughter, listing "preschooler" as her occupation and adding, "I'd like to have a credit card to buy some toys, but I'm only 3, and my mommy says no." Much to Mrs. Scalise's surprise, the bank quickly approved the application, even though there was no social security number and no annual income listed. Little Alessandra can now buy plenty of toys -- her $5,000 credit limit is higher than that of her parents.

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