Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

OCTOBER 26, 1998: 

Dateline: Vatican City--Though their stance on birth control is strong, their stance on anti-impotence drugs seems even stronger. The Vatican pharmacy, one of the world's most well stocked, announced that it does not plan to sell the popular potency pill Viagra. Although Catholic theologians have admitted there is nothing wrong with Viagra when used by a married couple to help their sexual life, the pharmacy of the Holy See will not stock the drug. As of last Wednesday, Viagra is available for sale in other Italian drug outlets.

Dateline: France--The French AIDS prevention agency Sida Info Service has yanked cartoon ads featuring Snow White and Cinderella "romancing" (in a safe way) with their charming princes. The (non-explicit) ad campaign urged condom use "so your love story will remain a fairy tale." SIS bowed to pressure from mega-corp Disney to pull the ads.

Dateline: Norway--The Norwegian Standards Association, which sets governmental standards for everything from bicycle safety helmets to food packaging, now plans to standardize the country's Christmas trees. Designed to curb the import of cheaper (though clearly inferior) holiday foliage from neighboring Denmark, the new three-class system will grade trees according to shape, size, color and growing method. Only trees with a single tip, regular shape and color and free of artificial insecticides and fertilizers will be rated "first class." Under the voluntary guidelines, Christmas trees should be felled after Nov. 20 and have a label showing the date of harvest. Norway consumes 1.5 million trees a year, 500,000 of which are imported from Denmark.

Dateline: Virginia--Neil H. Lederman, sentenced recently to 11 months in jail for writing a bad check, found himself out in just three weeks because the Fairfax County Jail could not afford to feed him. Lederman, a 43-year-old orthodox Jew, required Kosher meals. The special diet wound up costing Fairfax County an additional $70 a day. Much to the dismay of county prosecutor James Bitner, Lederman was released last month and allowed to serve out his sentence through home detention. Bitner now wants local police to investigate the validity of Lederman's Kosher claims.

Dateline: Florida--In a public disclosure statement, Newell Daughtrey, a candidate for Florida state comptroller, admitted that he has over $52,000 in debt on 23 different credit cards. As state comptroller, Daughtrey would be the state's chief financial officer. Daughtrey claims he is making regular payments on the 23 cards and that the massive debt just shows he "understands the private sector."

Dateline: Georgia--More than 100,000 pilgrims descended on tiny Rockdale County, Ga., last Wednesday to hear what they believe was the final message of the Virgin Mary. For the past seven years, 47-year-old former nurse Nancy Fowler has been relaying annual messages she says are from the Virgin Mary. Despite the fact that Fowler is not endorsed by Catholic officials, thousands descend on Fowler's rural farm every October to receive "the word." In 1991, the county health department asked Fowler to post signs warning pilgrims away from a well that Fowler said Jesus had blessed in an appearance to her. The well water tested positive for coliform bacteria. Last year, Fowler announced that 1998 would be the last year the Virgin Mary would speak through her. In her "final" message, the Virgin Mary told the faithful to "pray against the evils of this day" and shun materialism.

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