Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

APRIL 27, 1998: 


Dateline: Pakistan--Pin? What pin? A live hand grenade turned in at a Multan, Pakistan, police station as evidence exploded shortly after its arrival. The station commander was killed, five others were injured.


Dateline: California--Stories of late mail are hardly worthy of note anymore. But when Hristo Stamenkovic of Riverside, Calif., received a four-year-old check from the phone company in his mailbox, the retired city engineer decided to put the U.S. Postal Service to the test. Stamenkovic set out to calculate which was faster: mail or snails. The check was postmarked July 14, 1994, the envelope was properly addressed and the postage was correct. According to Stamenkovic's final calculations, the envelope traveled the 90 miles from San Diego to Riverside at a rate of 6.921 inches per hour--far slower than the average snail.


Dateline: Tennessee--A new mother who was sent home from a Memphis hospital with the wrong baby is now refusing to give it up. LaDonna Harris, 23, gave birth on Good Friday. The other baby, whose mother's identity was withheld by the hospital, was born Saturday. Apparently, a hospital worker accidentally placed the babies in the wrong bassinets on Sunday. The Regional Medical Center said last Wednesday that it has now correctly matched the babies to their mothers. Harris, however, is not convinced that the mix-up has been corrected. She told a local television station, "I just can't understand how they can give me the wrong baby. I know that's my baby."


Dateline: Ohio--High school student Sean O'Brien was vindicated by a local court last week for "insulting" a teacher. O'Brien was suspended from classes after school officials discovered the teen had made fun of a teacher on his personal, at-home Web site. O'Brien had posted his band teacher's yearbook photo and called him an "overweight middle-aged man who does not like to get haircuts." Apparently, the courts found nothing too incriminating in the description and ordered the school district to pay O'Brien $30,000 in damages for the inappropriate suspension.


Dateline: New York--An acrobat from Gabon performing in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was rushed to a hospital with burns over 20 percent of his body after his costume caught fire in front of a live crowd. Jacques Mbembo was jumping over a flaming stick when the grass skirt he was wearing burst into flames. As thousands of spectators watched, the 22-year-old Mbembo dropped to the floor, rolled around and finally ran from the stage engulfed in flames. He was later listed in serious condition at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center with second- and third-degree burns covering a fifth of his body. After Mbembo's dramatic exit from the center ring, the afternoon matinee at New York's Madison Square Garden continued without interruption.


Dateline: Pennsylvania--Mad scientist alert! Don't ask how, but Peter Fong, a biology professor at Gettysburg College has discovered that the widely prescribed anti-depressant drug Prozac can play a productive role in the breeding of freshwater clams and mussels. According to Fong's research, Prozac acts on mollusks in much the same way it does on humans--allowing subjects to secrete more seratonin, a neurotransmitter that exists in all organisms and regulates mood. Freshwater clams and zebra mussels have rarely been observed to spawn without the introduction of an artificial chemical. Fong believes Prozac to be 500 times more effective than current chemical means used to get mollusks "in the mood" to procreate.

--compiled by Devin D. O'Leary


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