Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds and Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

AUGUST 28, 2000: 

Dateline: Columbia--Carlos Arbelaez, president of Colombia's association of former state security police agents came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea to exploit his country's infamous reputation as crime capital of the world. Arbelaez planned to offer up Colombia's rampant crime to mystery writers as fodder for novels or screenplays. "Columbia has had some of the most hideous crimes in the world," Arbelaez told Reuters news service. "It is raw material for writers of this genre." Unfortunately, it seems as if Albelaez' "raw material" is too good. The majority of foreign authors invited to attend a three-day conference scheduled to begin last Thursday in Bogota refused to come, forcing the cancellation of the conference. Undaunted, Arbelaez and his association have rescheduled for October. Last year, Colombian authorities reported 23,172 homicides and 3,000 kidnappings.

Dateline: Illinois--In a rare example of blue-collar politics, Chinese exhibitors at the Chicago Hardware Show closed their booths last Tuesday to protest the display of Taiwan's flag inside the convention center. China, which does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, ordered the more than one dozen Chinese exhibitors to shut down their displays, put away their hammers and cease the selling of all Chinese-based tools. Flags from all nations participating in the annual Hardware Show were displayed throughout the gigantic convention site. More than 200 of the exhibitors were from Taiwan and continued to do business despite the China flap.

Dateline: Massachusetts--Police in Adams, Mass., tried cautiously to awake a black bear apparently slumbering in Ms. Margaret Lowry's garden. When a police siren and a special noisemaking device failed to arouse the creature, a special high-tech piece of equipment known as a long stick was employed. One quick poke later and local law enforcement officers realized they were dealing with a bear of the "teddy" variety. The four-foot-long furbearer aroused the interest of Ms. Lowry when she spotted it in her back yard early last Tuesday. Frightened by recent reports of bear sightings in and around her Berkshire Hills hometown, Ms. Lowry promptly informed the local constabulary. Two police officers arrived shortly, but failed to wake the creature with their cruiser's siren. A special environmental officer, called in for backup, tried to get it moving with a special device that emits a loud noise similar to a firecracker. Still, the bear did not budge. Eventually, the long stick was employed and the officers realized their quarry was quite stuffed. Police don't know who put the teddy bear in Ms. Lowry's garden, but suspect neighborhood pranksters.

Dateline Massachusetts--Thanks to a computer glitch, Northeastern University in Boston has accidentally admitted 600 extra freshman. Instead of the normal 2,800 students expected this fall, a whopping 3,400 showed up thanks to problems with a new computer system. Classrooms, dining halls, dormitories and health center facilities are expected to be strained to the maximum during this year's crowded student rush.

Dateline: Washington--A nine-year-old boy has been charged with grand theft auto after stealing an entire Trailways bus from a D.C. terminal last Monday. Ronnell Blakeney apparently wanted to go visit his grandfather, so he rode his bike to the bus station and found a bus with its door open. "I did just like my uncle showed me how to do it--I pressed this button to start the engine and that's when I pulled out and started to drive it," Blakeney told the Washington Post. The boy, who will be a third grader next month, was arrested shortly after crashing the vehicle into a utility pole while performing a U-turn on a crowded expressway. Blakeney faces juvenile charges as well as curfew and counseling programs. Blakeney's mother, Louise, assured reporters that he would face penalties at home as well. "Ronnell is already punished through November," she said, "and now this is going to take away his Christmas."

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