Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds and Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

NOVEMBER 22, 1999: 

Dateline: England -- The British Army is looking for a few good men -- but, apparently, they're willing to settle for a few bad ones. In addition to raising the minimum term of duty for a soldier from three years to four years, Britain's shrinking Army Corps has announced that it may start looking for new recruits in England's youth prisons. The move comes in response to a diminishing number of volunteers and an increased commitment in the Balkans following the Kosovo campaign. The newly proposed program would apply to young offenders sentenced to two years or less, and would screen out those convicted of sexual, racial or drug offenses.

Dateline: Mexico -- One person was killed and two others were injured when a papaya-ripening machine exploded in Mexico City's main food wholesale market last Sunday. A machine using chemicals to ripen papayas suddenly blew up, knocking a 15-foot-wide hole in the ceiling of the warehouse and instantly killing one unidentified man in his 30s. This is believed to be Mexico's first papaya-ripening-related death this year.

Dateline: Mexico -- A Mexican jail warden apparently tripped over a skylight and fell 23 feet to his death while spying on couples engaged in conjugal visits. According to local newspaper reports, Raul Zarate Diaz, prison warden in Tapachula, on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, crashed through the ceiling and landed next to a Nicaraguan prisoner having sex with his wife. La Cronica reported that the warden had with him a pair of binoculars and a pornographic magazine. The prisoner who was interrupted tried to start a riot, but was denied yet again.

Dateline: Ohio -- David Lee Johnson, 35, was arrested last week in connection with a Cleveland-area robbery spree. Johnson allegedly used construction tools to entirely remove the front doors of several upscale houses and then ... make off with the doors. In all, 19 antique doors were stolen over the course of several weeks. Johnson was finally arrested after a female witness watched someone swipe a door from her street. Police trailed the door-to-door burglar to an antique shop several miles away where 16 of the stolen doors were found. The intricate, carved doors are estimated to be worth between $500 and $2,000 apiece.

Dateline: Minnesota -- Artist Carly Stipe admits that whoever stole her sculpture from a St. Paul-area gallery certainly drove home exactly what she was trying to express. Stipe's work, entitled "Greed," was part of an art show meant to depict the seven deadly sins. Ironically, Stipe's sculpture -- a 1950s-style dress constructed entirely of 48 $1 bills held together by paper clips -- inspired the title sin in at least one art show patron who swiped the dollar-decked dress. The gallery reported the theft, but believes the garment has been dismantled and traded for useless consumer goods.

Dateline: Nevada -- A squabbling couple couldn't decide what to do with their loved ones following divorce proceedings, so a Las Vegas judge ordered them to divide up the babies one by one in a courtroom last Friday. Frances and Harold Mountain got divorced four months ago and, according to the divorce decree, were supposed to split their cherished Beanie Baby collection equally. The couple couldn't agree on an equitable division of the collection -- estimated to be worth between $2,500 and $5,000 -- so Family Court Judge Gerald Hardcastle ordered the Mountains to bring the collection to court and start choosing. "It's ridiculous and embarrassing," said Frances Mountain moments before squatting on the floor with her ex-husband to divvy up the stuffed toys as people in the courtroom gallery snickered. Perhaps the former Mrs. Mountain should have thought of that before she and her husband wasted their lives collecting children's toys and then fighting over who got custody of Punchers the Crab.

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