Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 29, 1997:  Dateline: England--Last Wednesday, Britain's Environmental Agency tossed some 500 cucumbers into the Irish Sea to study the migratory patterns of sheep dung. The cucumbers were painted five different colors and dropped off at different "launch sites" to find out why sheep droppings have been washing up on British beaches lately. Blackpool, a popular northern resort, has been particularly hard hit. Environmental engineers are hoping the cucumbers will reveal where the droppings are coming from.

Dateline: Venezuela--An ice cream vendor was killed in Caracas when a lamppost fell on the corner where he had worked for the last 14 years. Police say thieves had stolen some retaining screws, causing the heavy fixture to topple. The 46-year-old man died of head wounds before medical help arrived.

Dateline: Iran--Iranian newspapers have denounced as "depraved" a pair of scantily clad, battery-operated "Lambada" dolls that sway back and forth to the popular Latin American dance. The dolls, which cost 30,000 rials (about $10), have been sold openly in Northern Iran after being smuggled in from neighboring Azerbaijan. Iran recently launched "Dara and Sara," a pair of traditional Iranian dolls dressed head to toe in proper black robes, to compete with the growing popularity of Ken and Barbie.

Dateline: Nigeria--Roving gangs of Muslim youths took to the streets of Kaduna City to protest a lunar eclipse. Nigerian newspapers reported last Thursday that assorted street youths, aged nine to 15, paraded in the northern city to protest the eclipse, which they believed was caused by the "sins of infidels." Police report that the children harassed women and customers in hotels and bars, blaming their actions for the eclipse the night before.

Dateline: France--Jean-Marc Giordano was sentenced to three years in jail--with two years suspended--for killing five people in a spectacularly unsuccessful suicide attempt. The 32-year-old Giordano blew up his apartment block, killing five neighbors, in May of 1996 when he tried to gas himself.

Dateline: Japan--Japan's Emperor Akihito lost a game of "rock-paper-scissors" last Friday and paid the penalty. While visiting a nursing home in Tokyo, the Emperor found himself engaged in an impromptu game of "jan-ken-pon," as it is known in Japan, with 81-year-old Toshiko Arai. The 63-year-old Emperor proved no match for his wily subject and had to give a shoulder massage, one of several traditionally agreed upon penalties, while onlookers smiled and clapped.

Dateline: Massachusetts--A 31-year-old Boston man was hospitalized with seizures and kidney failure after trying to drink an absinthe recipe he apparently found on the Internet. Absinthe, a wormwood-based liqueur, has been banned in most countries for decades because it is--duh--poisonous.

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