Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

AUGUST 17, 1998: 

Dateline: Germany--A lobby group for the unemployed in Bonn, Germany, has announced they will be pressing their demands for more paid vacation time for unemployed workers. The German government currently grants three weeks paid holiday each year for citizens without jobs--half as much vacation time as those with jobs. Apparently that isn't enough. The lobby group is demanding a full six weeks holiday for the unemployed. Apparently, not working in Germany is hard work.

Dateline: California--A newly installed metal detector inside Redwood City's Hall of Justice has nabbed its first piece of dangerous contraband--a bread maker. The $917,000 system helps officials intercept anything entering the courts that could be considered a weapon. The bread maker was seized from an unidentified gentleman under the building's new zero-tolerance policy. When asked what threat a bread maker posed, authorities pointed out that it had wires and a timer. "He doesn't need to be walking around with a bread maker anyway," added Deputy Carole deGery.

Dateline: Nebraska--An Omaha, Neb., teen is accused of using his dog to mug another boy of a Super Nintendo video game. Patrick Swolley, 14, was approached by a boy of about 16 and a large black-and-white dog as he walked to his mother's house. The older boy told Swolley, "Give me your game, or my dog will bite you." Swolley refused, and the dog bit him on the arm. The interspecies muggers grabbed the game and fled. If the dog and his larcenous owner are not located, Swolley may have to get a rabies shot.

Dateline: Houston--Prompted by the unrelenting 100-plus-degree heatwave plaguing his hometown, city councilman Jay Roach has drafted the "Houston Heat Relief Act." The new ordinance encourages the city to adopt a dress code barring employers from forcing workers to wear neckties or pantyhose for the rest of summer. "An employer who fails to follow this resolution shall be publicly humiliated by any means necessary," the act reads.

Dateline: Arizona--Mad scientist alert! Writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an international team of researchers has announced the startling claim that aspirin can help ease pain and suffering in plants as well as it does in humans. Researchers in the past have found that plants do register "pain" and can release chemical signals to alert other plants in the area. An acacia tree, for example, sends out a chemical signal to alert other trees when a browsing animal is nearby. The neighbors respond by producing a chemical in their leaves that tastes bitter. Ralph Backhaus and Zhiqiang Pan of Arizona State University and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Institute de Biologie Moleculaire des Plantes in Strasbourg, France, all collaborated on the study, which sheds new light on the so-called "pain" mechanism that plants possess. According to the scientists' research, aspirin blocks the production of jasmonic acid, a hormone that is produced when plants are in distress. The scientists have yet to propose a practical use for their findings.

Dateline: Wisconsin--Meanwhile, mad scientists in the northern states have proved that rats that have listened to Mozart sonatas since birth learn faster than other rats. Francis Rauscher and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin announced in the journal Neurological Research that rats exposed to the work of Mozart completed mazes more rapidly and with fewer errors than rats raised on other sounds, including compositions by minimalist composer Philip Glass.

--compiled by Devin D. O'Leary

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