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 Sep 2 - 8, 2004 
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Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary
Odds and Ends

Dateline: England—A man has admitted to endangering passengers on a 737 flight from Norway by setting fire to a pornographic magazine under his seat. David Mason used a cigarette lighter to ignite torn-out pages from the magazine, which he had purchased earlier. The charges came to light in Lewes Crown Court in southeast England last Tuesday. Prosecutor Roger Booth said stewardesses on the Norwegian national airline Braathens became suspicious when Mason asked if he could burn some paper in the plane's galley oven. They refused and sent him back to his seat. Soon afterwards, two passengers complained of a burning smell. Crew members found Mason had started a small fire under his seat. The blaze was extinguished with water. Booth said that Mason, who was receiving treatment for mental illness, had “been offended” by some of the pictures in the magazine, one of several he had bought. “He said that on the plane he had become overcome, and felt the desire to destroy them there and then,” the prosecutor said. Mason is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Dateline: Germany—A waiter, fired from his job for drinking 100 bottles of beer a day, has won a case for unfair dismissal. The 50-year-old admitted that his bosses had repeatedly warned him not to drink on the job. He also admitted that he consumed as many as 100 bottles of free beer a day with friends while working at the Unter Taschenmacher pub in Cologne. The waiter, who had worked at the pub for eight years, was awarded $3,000 and three months' salary after saying that working at the pub had been his “dream” job. Pub owner Rene Sion said he couldn't understand why the court had been so lenient with his boozing employee.

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Hong Kong—Police are asking the public for help tracking down a gang of bathroom bandits who have brazenly looted public toilets, stealing stainless steel drain covers, faucets and other fixtures to sell for scrap metal. Apple Daily newspaper reported that, so far this year, the washrooms in one Hong Kong neighborhood have lost 73 drain covers, four faucets, a steel gate and a hand dryer. The fixtures are worth an estimated $4,000 in resale value.

Dateline: Montana—Meanwhile, in other bathroom-related news, a teen has been accused of maliciously clogging a public toilet. Authorities in Toole County have charged 19-year-old college student Jesse Huffman with criminal mischief. Huffman insists that he did nothing wrong and that the toilet only clogged after “nature called.” Huffman, a student at Montana State University in Bozeman, was returning to Montana after a trip to Alberta, Canada, with four friends when port authorities stopped their car for a random search. The car's 19-year-old driver was cited for illegally possessing alcohol. Huffman said he asked to use the border crossing's bathroom while he was waiting for the driver to get his citation. A short time later, a port inspector discovered the toilet was clogged and threatened charges. “I didn't think they were serious at first, I was laughing so hard,” Cory Grayson, one of Huffman's compatriots, told the Associated Press. Huffman said he has hired a lawyer and intends to fight the charge. “I've never been arrested before or anything like that and I get arrested for taking a dump,” Huffman was quoted as saying.

Dateline: New Jersey—Kenneth Davis, 42, apparently used the corpse of his dead snake to whip the person responsible for its death. According to police, the dispute started when a drunken Davis tried to let his six-foot black snake into a Cederville house on Sunday, and the resident's father stomped on it and hit it with a piece of wood. An enraged Davis pushed the father and then whipped resident Michael File, 26, with the dead reptile. File, who was shirtless at the time, suffered small cuts and lacerations on his back. Police said it was not clear how Davis and File knew each other or why Davis released the snake in the first place. Davis was charged with simple assault.

Dateline: Ohio—A bank robbery case was cracked wide open when police in Cleveland spotted a man trying to stuff hundreds of dollars in dye-stained bills into the change machine of a drive-thru car wash. According to the FBI, Stephen Jackson, 35, was arrested on Aug. 18 and charged with conspiracy and bank robbery in connection with a suburban Westlake holdup. Jackson was arrested when police noticed him at a car wash feeding ink-stained bills into a coin machine. The money from the robbery was stained red thanks to an exploding dye pack. When an officer approached Jackson, he ran across the parking lot, leaving a trail of quarters in his wake. He didn't get very far. When police caught him, there was $457.50 in quarters--a total of 23 pounds worth of change--in Jackson's pockets. Police found an additional $2,185 in bills in his car. Jackson's wife and another man were charged in the holdup. The wife, the second man and a third suspect were charged in another Cleveland bank robbery.

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

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