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 V.15 No.27 | July 6 - 12, 2006 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: The Philippines--Six police officers may lose their jobs for pawning their pistols in the cash-strapped southern Philippines. German Doria, police chief of the central region of Mindano Island, said Wednesday the incidents of government-issue guns being pawned came to light after the National Bureau of Investigation raided shops selling stolen goods in the town of Tupi. Six police handguns were recovered in the raid. “How can police officers carry out their missions if they don’t have guns?” asked Doria. Severely underfunded and poorly paid Philippine security forces have been battling Muslim and communist insurgents for nearly 40 years. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has promised to release 30 percent of a proposed 1 billion peso ($18.7 million) budget increase this month to help defeat Maoist-led rebels.

Dateline: Austria—A hotelier accused of invading the Czech Republic has solved the problem by cutting off the offending part of his establishment. A court had ordered Dietmar Hehenberger to trim 12 inches from the roof of his luxury hotel in Guglwald after it was determined that the structure hung over the border into the Czech Republic. Mr. Hehenberger blames Austrian authorities, who he says used imprecise maps when approving his new hotel wing. Both Czech and Austrian authorities ordered the hotel owner to remove the overhanging part, and he finally agreed after an appeal failed.

Dateline: Canada—An amnesty program designed to reduce the number of illegal and unwanted guns in British Columbia has turned up an expected find--a grandmother with a rocket launcher. Last week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced that an elderly Vancouver-area woman had turned in the plus-size weapon, which she and her husband had kept hidden in their attic. Apparently, the couple stumbled across the rocket launcher while renovating their house in 1973. The couple had been too afraid to tell anyone about the weapon earlier, police said. The month-long amnesty program in Canada’s westernmost province has so far produced more than 1,000 firearms--only one of which was a rocket launcher.

Dateline: United Arab Emirates--A Jordanian salesman tried to con a money changer in the UAE by posing as Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt. The Gulf News reported that the 29-year-old man had been told by his brother, who worked at the Dubai currency exchange, that more than $23,000 in cash had been transferred to the bureau for a client who had not picked it up for more than three months. The unnamed Jordanian then forged a fake ID using the client’s name and a picture of Brad Pitt he had downloaded off the Internet. The man, who was arrested on a tip from an informant, told police when he was caught that he had no idea who Brad Pitt was and had simply picked the photo at random. The Dubai prosecutor’s office has charged the man with forgery and attempted embezzlement.

Dateline: China--A Beijing soccer fan managed to save the most important thing when his house burned down late last Wednesday--his television set. A fire broke out in a courtyard apartment in the center of Beijing at 3 a.m. local time, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported. “When the neighbors shouted ‘fire!’ I took my little baby and ran out in my nightclothes,” the man’s wife told the paper. “My husband paid no attention to the danger, just grabbed the television and put it under his arm.” While firefighters battled the blaze, the husband searched for an electrical outlet so he could continue watching the World Cup broadcast. The six-hour time difference between China and Germany has forced local fans to endure particularly antisocial hours in order to keep up with the matches.

Dateline: Romania--The Romanian senate has opened an official inquiry into “indications” that last year’s deadly floods in the country were the result of a “meteorological war waged by a foreign power.” Sen. Dan Caralan, who initiated the probe, told Agence France Presse, “We are planning to check indications and information that the extreme meteorological phenomena experienced in July and August of 2005 were caused by human technology controlled from abroad.” Caralan said officials in the agriculture ministry had suggested the unusually heavy rain that fell in Eastern Romania resulted from “a pattern of humidity from the Black Sea directed toward this region.” Ministry spokesperson Adrian Tibu said the senator had badly misinterpreted the remarks of experts who, “in no way talked of such a possibility.” Extreme right-wing leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said, however, he was convinced Romania was “the victim of a meteorological attack” from “a great power east of Romania which is increasingly annoyed by Bucharest’s policies on the Black Sea region.” Although he did not name names, Tudor was clearly referring to Russia. Last year’s late summer flooding killed 80 people and caused some $1.5 billion in damage.

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

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