Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds and Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

NOVEMBER 29, 1999: 

Dateline: Israel -- Israeli Health Minister Shlomo Benziri, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, drew loud protests last Wednesday after announcing plans to ban any AIDS awareness advertisements in Jerusalem featuring images of condoms. "There are citizens from all sectors of society -- Jews, Arabs, also religious and secular · that are embarrassed by them," Benziri said. Doctors and other health workers reportedly became upset when Benziri instructed ministry workers to remove condoms from the Health Ministry's advertising campaign for International AIDS Day on Dec. 1 -- which is probably a bad idea since ...

Dateline: Israel -- Another nationwide uproar erupted in Israel last week after it was reported that members of the national soccer team partied with call girls the night before an important playoff match. Not only did the players carouse with hookers, but they were defeated 5-0 by Denmark in the following day's qualification playoff match, virtually eliminating Israel's chances of gaining a berth in next year's European Championship finals. Reports of the team's sexual shenanigans monopolized local radio and television, shoving aside coverage of a meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. President Bill Clinton. Politicians and scientists alike took to the airwaves to debate whether sex had sapped the players' powers.

Dateline: England -- The northern English town of Bedlington is looking to pull a few tourists in from out of town -- way out of town. The Chamber of Commerce in Bedlington, some 300 miles north of London, recently approached the National Aeronautic and Space Administration via the Internet and asked if it could join in a mission to Mars. As a result, NASA agreed to send a CD-ROM guide to Bedlington aboard the upcoming Mars 2001 Lander Mission. Bedlington hopes to become the prime vacation destination for extraterrestrial tourists.

Dateline: England -- A British theater company in the tiny western English town of Malvern is taking Shakespeare off the stage and onto the toilet. The Bog Standard Theater Company has spent three years and $6,475 converting their porcelain-lined venue into a 12-seat theater complete with stage. "Shakespeare said all the world's a stage, so I guess that includes toilets," the troupe's Dennis Neale told The Sun tabloid. "Ironically, we don't have room for a loo -- the audience has to run across the road to public ones."

Dateline: The Netherlands -- Amsterdam's top police spokesman was formally reprimanded by city officials after publicly endorsing an avowed thief's new book. Former drug addict Van Zelst, 35, admits to stealing more than 50,000 bicycles in his memoir 100,000 Bike Valves. Klass Wilting, Amsterdam's police spokesman for the last 20 years, publicly praised the book for its gritty portrait of street life and drug addiction, which he felt might deter young people from that lifestyle. The town's mayor and police commissioner felt differently, however, believing that Zelst's book glamorizes criminal behavior. Wilting now stands accused of impropriety after accepting an autographed copy of Zelst's memoir, which also contains tips on how to steal a bicycle. Bike theft is Amsterdam's most common crime, with some 180,000 bicycles boosted in the Dutch capital every year.

Dateline: Texas -- A San Antonio police officer confiscated what he believed to be two large marijuana pipes during a routine traffic stop. The not-so-observant officer logged the two cylindrical objects into the local police station as "drug paraphernalia," but another officer quickly recognized them not as bongs, but as bombs. The two small pipe bombs were handed over to the San Antonio bomb squad and detonated in a nearby parking lot.

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