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 V.13 No.18 | April 29 - May 5, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Germany—Judges in the Bonn regional court rejected a woman's claim that candy-making conglomerate Haribo failed to warn her about the dangers of consuming mass quantities of licorice. Margit Kieske, 48, ate a full pound of licorice every day for four months and said it gave her heart problems. The Berlin woman was seeking $7,200 in damages. For flavor, licorice contains glyycyrrhizin, a powerful compound derived from licorice root. Any product containing more than 0.2 percent of glycyrrhizin must be labeled accordingly. The Haribo licorice contained less than that amount. Therefore, presiding Judge Paul-Hermann Wagner determined that there was no error in labeling the product. The licorice-addicted Kieske's claim was rejected.

Dateline: Scotland—Bus drivers in Edinburgh apparently have such a problem with flying phlegm that the city is now issuing DNA kits in an effort to apprehend people who spit on city employees. More than 1,800 employees at the city's two main bus firms are to be given the kits to secure evidence and encourage more reporting of incidents. The move, instigated by Lothian Buses and Borders Police, follows the introduction of “spit kits” on the London Underground, ScotRail services and some busses in Glasgow. The kits include latex gloves, evidence collection bags and sterile swabs to mop up any trace of the offender's DNA. “As far as we're concerned, spitting on the driver is exactly the same as any other form of assault and is completely unacceptable,” Bill Campbell, operations manager for Lothian, told The Scotsman.

Dateline: North Carolina—A man claiming to be an undercover agent arrested, handcuffed and dragged a neighbor to the county jail for booking, but ended up facing several charges himself. Reginals Suggs of Kinston was charged last Sunday with kidnapping, aggravated assault and possession of a concealed weapon. Wilbur Grady told the Associated Press that Suggs, 49, appoached him on Sunday and told him he was under arrest. Suggs brandished a wooden stick and a .25-caliber handgun, according to police reports. Grady said he recognized Suggs, who lives a few doors down from him. “I was just in the yard washing the tires when this dude walked up in my yard and said he was an undercover agent,” Grady said. “He told me I was under arrest. I told him to get out of my yard with that crazy talk.” The two exchanged words before Suggs rushed up and handcuffed Grady. He then forced the man into his car and drove him to the jail. There, Suggs informed a magistrate that he had brought in a prisoner for possession of stolen property, selling illegal lottery tickets and selling alcohol without a permit. Police arrested Suggs instead when it was determined that he was not a police officer.

Dateline: New York—An intoxicated Fire Island man won a bet (sort of) after igniting a living room rug and challenging his roommate to see who could stay in the house the longest. Police in Suffolk County say Thomas Woods, 59, lit the rug in his house on fire some time after 8 p.m. last Saturday night. Several minutes later, when the fire began spreading dangrously, Woods' roommate, Rod Bennett, ran to a neighbor's house to call 911. Volunteers from the Davis Park Fire Department responded, along with neighbors who tried to extinguish the blaze with garden hoses. A total of 75 firefighters from neighboring Fire Island departments ended up responsing to the blaze. Bennet was handcuffed after the fire, mainly because he was combative and distraught, but was eventually released. Bennett told police that he and his roommate were drinking when Woods issued his dare. “Let's see which one of us leaves first,” he allegedly said. Woods won the bet. His body was found slumped over just inside the house's entrance. Det. Sgt. Ed Fandrey of the Suffolk County homicide squad told New York Newsday that Bennett's story was “so incredible” that it's probably “credible.”

Dateline: Louisiana—Last Tuesday, legislators made a move to ban baggy pants. Rep. Derrick Shepherd introduced a bill in the state House that would punish anyone caught wearing low-riding pants with a fine of as much as $500 and six months in jail. House Bill 1626 would be tacked on to the state's obscenity law, which restricts sexual activity in public places. “I'm sick of seeing it,” Shepherd, a first-time legislator, told the Times-Picayune. “If parents can't do their job, if parents can't regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law.” Local plumbers are expected hit hard by this regulation.

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

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