Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

MAY 17, 1999: 

Dateline: South Africa--South African police announced last Monday that they were following the trail of a 186-carat diamond stolen by a miner after a sorting machine spit it out as junk. The egg-sized diamond, estimated to be worth more than $2 million, is believed to have been smuggled to the Belgian diamond cutting center of Antwerp. According to police, the sorting machine at a mine southwest of Johannesburg thought the massive diamond was just a large piece of rock. An unnamed miner picked up the giant gem from the rubble pile and allegedly sold it to two brothers who ran a chain of bars. The miner, who has subsequently disappeared, sold the stone for a meager 30,000 rand ($4,950). Police have already arrested six other people for on-selling the diamond, which soared from 30,000 rand to 12 million rand before it even left the country.


Dateline: England--British Airways has decided to take no disciplinary action against a stewardess who lent new meaning to the term "landing strip" by streaking around Italy's Genoa airport. Andrea O'Neill, 31, apparently lost a bet to her captain on the London to Genoa flight and performed the racy stunt for "a bit of a giggle." British Airways has been on a drive to improve punctuality, and O'Neill bet the pilot that he couldn't land ahead of schedule at Genoa's Christopher Columbus airport last Sunday night. The plane pulled in 10 minutes ahead of schedule and, true to the conditions of her wager, O'Neill stripped down to her panties, the captain's hat and a yellow flight vest. The stewardess then descended the gangplank, raced around the airplane and returned to step back into uniform and greet passengers traveling to London's Gatwick airport.


Dateline: England--According to The Daily Telegraph, Britain's biggest supermarket chain has asked growers to supply smaller melons after research showed woman shoppers subconsciously compared them to the size of their own breasts. Buyers for the Tesco chain were told by a "retail psychologist" that a current preference for smaller breasts was the reason why traditional big, fleshy melons were going unsold. According to the psychologist's research, seven out of 10 women questioned agreed breast size was "the most likely subconscious factor when selecting size of melon." According to a Tesco spokesman, since introducing the smaller melons two months ago, the company has sold more than a million of the fruits.


Dateline: Pennsylvania--The Shoestrings shoe store thought they had come up with a clever ad campaign when they posted a 14-by-48-feet vinyl sign to a billboard near the North Scranton Expressway reading, "Bring in this ad and you'll get a free pair of shoes." Unfortunately, three Scranton residents took the shoe store at its word, scaled the billboard and removed the 70-pound banner. Chancellor Media Group, which installed the sign, has agreed to pay for three pairs of shoes after the trio went to Shoestrings with the billboard in tow. The store's new billboard will be accompanied by a disclaimer.


Dateline: Tennessee--Two angry consumers are suing Wal-Mart, claiming they were injured in the last holiday season's infamous Furby riots. Sherry Smith and Jacquiline Dyer allege in a federal lawsuit that Wal-Mart didn't properly manage the crowd that gathered outside a Nashville, Tenn., store the day after Thanksgiving to get their hands on one of the plush, talking Furbies. Attorney Joseph M. Dalton, who represents both Smith and Dyer, claims that some 200 people stormed into the store looking for one of the digital gremlins. In the ensuing stampede, Smith allegedly suffered a dislocated jaw and Dyer a knee injury. The women are asking for $250,000 each in compensatory damages, personal injuries, physical pain, suffering and mental anguish. If the women triumph in their lawsuit, it is expected that they will blow the entire half-million dollar settlement on Beanie Babies.


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