Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

MAY 26, 1998: 

Dateline: Poland--The Polish news agency PAP has reported that two people died last Thursday in an explosion at a garden gnome factory in Kozuchow in western Poland. Three others were injured, one seriously, in the blast at the plant which manufactures ornamental garden figures in the shape of jolly forest-dwelling fairies. Efforts are still underway to identify the remains of the victims. Local authorities have not yet identified the source of the blast, although volatile paint fumes are suspected to be the cause. Gnome production has flourished of late in western Poland thanks to the demand from neighboring Germany. Illegal sales of "German-style" garden gnomes by small, unlicensed stalls near the Polish/German border have evoked protests from German manufacturers.

Dateline: Mexico--By the end of this month, Mexico City's top hotels will be offering paranoid clients financial protection against crime for just a small additional surcharge on their bill. Mexico City Hotels and Motels Association President Juan Jose Garcialourdes told the Reforma newspaper that the proposed anti-mugging insurance will cost guests between $2 and $2.50 per day. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department warned American tourists that crime in Mexico's capital had reached "critical" levels. Mugging insurance is the Hotel and Motel Association's latest attempt to bolster flagging tourism rates.

Dateline: New York--The Green Party of New York State seems to have settled on a candidate for governor. Their choice to replace current governor George Pataki: "Grandpa Munster." Green Party leaders meeting near Syracuse last weekend decided that former actor Al Lewis--best known for portraying aging vampire Grandpa Munster of the '60s sitcom "The Munsters"--should be the man to lead New York into the 21st century. The 88-year-old Lewis is also known as a union and political activist and currently hosts a weekly talk show on issues and politics on New York City's KBAI radio. The environmentally oriented Greens are hoping that Lewis can nail down 50,000 votes in the general election, enough to gain the Green Party "ballot status" in New York. With ballot status, the Greens would be guaranteed a spot on the New York ballot for the next four years.

Dateline: Indiana--A train conductor who kicked a small child is being hailed as a hero. Norfolk Southern conductor Robert Mohr and engineer Rod Lindley spotted 19-month-old Emily Marshall in the path of their oncoming 96-car freight train. Lindley managed to slow the locomotive down to 10 miles per hour while Mohr grabbed onto a railing, leaned out over the front of the moving train and gave little Emily the boot. The child, who had wandered off from her nearby home, sustained a cut to the head and a swollen upper lip.

Dateline: North Carolina--Let's hear it for poor sportsmanship. Recently, Mabel Lowman, Burke County's assistant clerk of court, decided it was time for a promotion. Lowman made up her mind to run for clerk of court, and last Tuesday she won the Democratic primary, defeating her current boss, Iva Rhoney. On Wednesday, Rhoney--who retains her position until the Nov. 3 general election--fired Mabel Lowman and two deputy clerks who supported Lowman. "When I came in, she just told me to clean out my desk," Lowman reported. Lowman, who has worked in the clerk's office since 1976, faces Republican Ray Lail in the upcoming general election.

--compiled by Devin D. O'Leary

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