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 V.14 No.38 | September 22 - 28, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Holland—A 31-year-old dutchman returned home from work to find a strange car parked in the driveway of his home in Pieterburen. Two children were sitting in the backseat, so the man asked them where their father was. According to Nu.nl, a local newspaper, the children said their father was “robbing” the man's house. The homeowner rushed inside to find a man and a woman who immediately ran out and drove off with the children. The homeowner could not catch the burglars, who did not have time to steal anything, but he was able to describe the entire family to police.

Dateline: Bosnia—The ethnically divided city of Mostar has found a new symbol of unity--Bruce Lee. Community leaders have finally raised enough funds to erect a statue of the kung fu legend--a figure admired by Muslims, Serbs and Croats alike. A group of enthusiasts came up with the idea of honoring the childhood hero of the city's ethnic groups in 2003 on the 30th anniversary of his death. In the time since, they have launched the project, gathered donations and waited a year for the city's approval. “We plan to erect the statue in November in the center of the city,” Veselin Gatalo, a member of the Urban Movement organization, told Reuters. “This will be a monument to universal justice that Mostar needs more than any other city I know.” Reconciliation between the once-warring Muslim and Croat communities has been slower in Mostar than in other areas of Bosnia. The statue, cast in bronze and showing the Chinese-American marital arts master in a typical fighting pose, will be designed by a local sculptor and set up in central Mostar where it will stand as a testament to “justice, honor and mastery.” Lee's widow Linda will be invited to attend the unveiling.

Dateline: India—A recent report in the Hindustan Times claims that New Delhi's 97-member Rat Surveillance Department hasn't caught so much as a single rat since 1994. According to the report, the decades-old agency saw plenty of action back in the early '90s, when a plague outbreak killed 56 people in areas of northwest India near the capital. But, the paper claims, there are no records of any rodents being caught in the past 10 years. It isn't for a lack of rodents either. Local residents are forced to use their own traps to snare the rampant disease-carrying rats. Each of the department's 97 full-time rat-catchers earns about 3,500 rupees ($77) a month. The daily newspaper reported government officials as saying that whenever they receive complaints about rodents in other government departments, they set up traps to catch them. However, the officials couldn't recall when or where they had last set up a trap, the newspaper said.

Dateline: Australia—An alleged drunk driver in the Northern Territory town of Katherine thought he had the perfect plan to beat an arrest. When police started chasing him, he simply jumped into the backseat with his two passengers, leaving his car to careen out of control on an outback road. Police charged the 24-year-old with resisting arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol after he abandoned the wheel late Saturday night. One of the passengers suffered minor injuries when she panicked and jumped from the driverless car while it was still moving. The runaway car eventually lost speed, allowing a policeman to get out of his vehicle, chase it down on foot and bring it to a halt by applying the brake. The ex-driver, who had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit, was also charged with driving in a dangerous manner, driving while disqualified and driving an unregistered vehicle. Katherine Police Officer Sgt. Wayne Jenkinson told reporters that the man's dangerous stunt was aimed at avoiding arrest. “His cunning plan, in his muddled state of mind, was that he wouldn't be the driver,” Jenkinson said.

Dateline: Washington—KOMO-TV reports that two men in the Tacoma suburb of Fife who were trying to steal electrical wire last week were met with the expected shocking surprise. According to Fife police, the two men tossed a rope over a city power line and tried to pull it down. Unfortunately, the rope did little more than conduct 55,000 volts down from the wire, into the hands of the thieves and out through their feet. The resulting sparks caught nearby grass on fire. Julian LaPointe, 22, was killed instantly, while his partner in crime ended up in Harborview Medical Center with burns on his hands and feet. Investigators from Puget Sound Energy told KOMO that this wasn't the first time someone had tried to steal live power lines. Electrician Joshua Vasquez told the television station that thieves often target new home construction, ripping the copper wires right out of the walls hoping to sell it for up to $1.50 a pound. “It's not highly valuable,” Det. Jeff Nolta with the Fife Police Department said. “If you get enough of it you get a few dollars, but certainly not enough to risk your life.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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