Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

NOVEMBER 23, 1998: 

Dateline: England--Supervisor Martin Keys stands accused of stealing candy--1.5 million Mars bars to be precise. Newspapers in the southwestern English town of Gloucester reported last Thursday that Keys has been accused of plotting to steal eight truckloads of the sweets worth some 500,000 pounds ($829,000). Keys, who denies the charges, recently paid 21,000 pounds in cash for a new car and put a 52,000 pound cash deposit on a house.

Dateline: Japan--Japan's top crayon maker has bowed to pressure from teachers and consumer groups and will be changing the name of its "skin color" crayon to "pale orange." Pentel Co., which controls 45 percent of the Japanese crayon and paint market, has received a growing number of calls complaining that the company's racist crayons imply that human skin only comes in one shade. The company has been printing new labels and boxes since April and hopes to replace the current stock of "skin color" by next year. American crayon manufacturer Crayola recently phased out their "flesh"-colored crayons over similar concerns.

Dateline: Martinique--A group of 287 French tourists got an extra long vacation last week on the Caribbean island of Martinique. Unfortunately, the tourists were being held hostage by striking Club Med workers. The vacationers found themselves blocked inside the Boucanier Village complex last Thursday and were not rescued until Sunday night when local police in riot gear were called in to break through the picket lines. Workers at the island resort were on strike to demand an 8 percent pay hike. Club Med management has offered them 3 percent. The Boucanier Village resort remains closed until further notice.

Dateline: Belgium--Eight dog toilets, freshly installed in the Belgian city of Ghent, have been dubbed a rousing success by the city's Environmental Department. After only 10 days, the experimental toilets have caught 1,160 turds, or 187 pounds of doggy-do. The "toilets" are set into the ground with a layer of gravel at the top and are shielded by wooden screens. The canine crappers are being cleaned six days a week and disinfected twice a week. Ghent, which has an estimated 20,000 dogs, plans to expand the project.

Dateline: England--Britain's Home Office announced last week that it would be easing restrictions on the tight licensing codes that govern England's many pubs--but only for New Year's Eve 1999. To celebrate the dawning of the new millennium, the Interior Ministry will allow pubs to stay open past midnight (the traditionally mandated closing hour). On New Year's Eve, 1999, pubs will be allowed to stay open until 11 a.m.--the normal opening time on January 1, 2000.

Dateline: Colorado--Voters in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge have approved a proposal that rescinds part of their decades-old lodging tax. According to the current law, funeral parlors are listed among the "other accommodations" subject to hotel tax. Thanks to the queer tax law, dead bodies must be charged the $18 lodging tax while they await burial. Apparently, mortuary owners were getting tired of explaining the tax to mourners. The city council will enact the change soon.

Dateline: West Virginia--Two escapees from the Pruntytown Correctional Center made their first stop at a local convenience store to pick up a six-pack of beer. Unfortunately, Frank Bertrand, 21, and Timothy Nottingham, 23, didn't have their IDs on them. The clerk refused to sell the two jailbirds the booze. Frustrated, Bertrand and Nottingham returned to the correctional facility.

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