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
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.