Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
AUGUST 30, 1999:
Dateline: Germany -- Shop owners in Berlin have gone to exotic lengths lately to circumvent Germany's restrictive laws requiring stores to close on Sundays. Last weekend, for example, the department store chain Kaufhof got permission to hold a "block party" in central Berlin's Alexanderplatz square -- thereby enabling the store and surrounding businesses to legally open on Sunday. While a single clown and a handful of street vendors languished in the park, thousands of eager shoppers took the opportunity to crowd the department store. Earlier this month, shops in East Berlin slathered everything from ironing boards to glassware in souvenir stickers -- allowing them to make use of a state ruling permitting shops in tourist areas to open on Sundays. Religious groups and some unions remain vehemently opposed to Sunday shopping.
Dateline: Canada -- More than 100 Chinese migrants who crossed the Pacific ocean and endured nearly 60 days in the cramped hold of a fishing trawler to seek better economic conditions are now facing extradition from Canada -- although the dog who accompanied them on their journey has been welcomed with open arms. The dog is apparently in good shape after spending nearly two months at sea, and officials with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty believe the "well-mannered" canine will have little trouble finding a Canadian home. In contrast, the arrival of the dog's Asian masters has prompted heated calls for toughening Canada's law against illegal immigration.
Dateline: Tokyo -- A rogue monkey who has spent more than two months running amok in Tokyo's posh Azabu district has finally been caught, thanks to the diligent efforts of an American pool attendant. Although local police and the area's fire department were unable to wrangle the wild macaque, Jill Morrison -- an attendant at an expatriate social club -- proved to be more than a match for the wily primate. Morrison spotted the monkey poolside at the American Club last Saturday. She lured it into the pool office with a banana and locked the door. Police officers armed with nets had been trying for months to capture the creature. TV news crews had frequently taken fleeting footage of the monkey scampering across rooftops, and the beast had become something of a local celebrity. The monkey is believed to have wandered in from the mountains surrounding Tokyo and is currently behind bars at the Ueno Zoo's animal hospital.
Dateline: Alaska -- A Hawaiian seabird is being treated for hypothermia and other cold-related ailments after following a yacht halfway across the Pacific ocean to Kodiak, Alaska. The bird, a red-footed booby, began trailing the yacht two weeks ago when it left Hawai'i. During the boat's eight-day journey, a fierce storm struck, battering the wayward booby. The bird was then brought on board the yacht and taken to Kodiak, where the Captain contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife service flew the severely hypothermic bird to Anchorage, where it was treated at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center. Although the bird remains indoors under a heat lamp, officials feel that it is recovering well and are planning to send it home next month on a Hawai'i-bound passenger jet.
Dateline: California -- A Mexican national trying to sneak into the United States using some forged identity papers chose the wrong person to impersonate last week. Arriving at the Oakland International Airport, the Mexican visitor handed officials faked U.S. documents which cleverly identified him as a fugitive wanted for felony burglary and carrying concealed weapons. The unnamed man was immediately arrested, and later identified as a Mexican national from Zacatecas. "This guy basically cloned the identity of a wanted fugitive," a Customs Service spokesman said. "It seems like kind of a loser thing to do." The unfortunate identity thief was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization service for further questioning.