Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 14, 1998: 

Dateline: Canada--As billionaires continue to fail in their round-the-world ballooning attempts, an errant Canadian weather balloon appears unstoppable in its bid. Early last week, the unmanned 26-story balloon survived attempts by the Canadian Air Force to shoot it down. Two fighters pumped more than 1,000 rounds into the wayward balloon, but failed to bring it down over Nova Scotia. Badly off course and lacking a warning transponder, the balloon drifted all week in the North Atlantic, causing rerouting of commercial air traffic. By the weekend, the weather balloon was in Russian air space.

Dateline: Thailand--The Auditor General of economically depressed Thailand discovered a long-forgotten 16-year-old bank account at the U.S. Federal Reserve containing more than a third of a billion dollars. No word yet on what the cash-strapped nation will do with the $367 million windfall. New furniture in the Auditor General's office seems likely, though.

Dateline: Ivory Coast--Colonel Pascal Gbeh, 49, of Africa's Ivory Coast Army was killed while testing a "magic belt" supposedly endowed with the power to protect him from bullets, so long as he abstained from sex while wearing it. Gbeh apparently donned the belt and handed his service pistol to the son of the belt's maker to try it out. The young man shot Gbeh, who died instantly. Obviously, the Ivory Coast Army will not be adopting the "magic belt" anytime soon.

Dateline: Libya--In what could be the least impressive award presentation in the world, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi awarded Cuban dictator Fidel Castro his 1998 human rights prize. The award, named in honor of Gadhafi himself, was given in appreciation of Castro's "history of struggle."

Dateline: Florida--Enthusiasts at Orlando's Disneyworld say they have failed in their attempt to rescue "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" from the wrecking ball. Disney imagineers will continue with plans to close the venerable ride forever on Sept. 8. Disney plans to replace Mr. Toad with a "more modern" Winnie the Pooh attraction.

Dateline: Florida--When George and Ruth Selby of Delray Beach, Fla., decided to return to the site of their honeymoon to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they didn't count on times--and prices--changing so radically. In May of 1948, the newly hitched Selbys went to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to celebrate their nuptials. The price for that night of passion? Fifteen dollars. This time around, Mrs. Selby was told that the cheapest accommodations in the house went for $435 a night. When Mrs. Selby mentioned her honeymoon, however, the operator at the Waldorf-Astoria put her on hold. When she returned, the operator informed the Selbys that they could stay at the $15-a-night rate if they had their original receipt. They did. The couple returned to Manhattan last month and stayed seven nights for $18.75 a night--the 1948 rate plus tax.

Dateline: Oklahoma--Deceased housewife Jacquelyn Ledgerwood took second place in Oklahoma's Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat, despite the fact that she's been dead for over a month from a stroke. Ledgerwood's victory has forced a runoff election, where she will also be on the ballot. Oklahoma state law does not allow a candidate to be removed from the ballot.

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