Alibi V.27 No.47 • Nov 22-28, 2018 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: New Jersey

After garnering media attention for a $400,000 GoFundMe campaign, a homeless veteran and a couple have been charged with conspiracy and theft by deception. The Inquirer reports Johnny Bobbitt Jr. and the New Jersey couple, Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, were accused of conspiring to invent a story that would attract online donations from strangers. Last November the three launched a GoFundMe campaign that claimed McClure met Bobbitt when she had run out of gas one evening. According to the story, the homeless veteran used his last $20 to buy her fuel and a gas can. The campaign was meant to raise $10,000 so Bobbitt could find a place to live, but quickly gained public attention and ended up raising $402,706 in a single month. In September the couple was sued by Bobbitt for allegedly spending over half of the funds raised themselves, leading to a full criminal investigation of their assets. Their home was raided by Burlington County officials in September and they were arrested later in the month. According to officials, the couple met Bobbitt at least a month before they created the GoFundMe page. In text messages to a friend, McClure allegedly said that the entire gas can story was fabricated to “make people feel bad.” Last week the couple was released in New Jersey. Bobbitt was being held in Philadelphia. They each face up to 10 years in prison. GoFundMe said all 14,000 donors to the campaign last year will be refunded in full.

Dateline: Japan

Japanese citizens are shocked to find their minister in charge of cybersecurity doesn't use computers and is unsure of how a USB drive is used. According to The Guardian, cybersecurity and Olympics minister Yoshitaka Sakurada admitted to a government panel last week that he has never used a computer. During a Lower House Cabinet Committee, he told Diet members, “Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself.” He also reportedly showed signs of confusion when asked if Japan's nuclear facilities used USB drives. Opposition officials balked at his apparent computer illiteracy and questioned how someone with no background in technology could be responsible for the country's cybersecurity. Sakurada was only recently appointed to the position by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He was also criticized in his role as minister of the Olympics following a similar show of ignorance during a briefing on the matter. When asked about plans for North Korea's sports minister to visit Japan at the end of the month, Sakurada claimed to know nothing about it until an aide intervened and reminded him that he had been briefed on the subject. He mistakenly said the central government would be contributing 1,500 yen to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics—despite the actual amount being 150 billion yen. He later complained to reporters that opposition members were failing to give him questions beforehand, leading to poor performances before the Diet.

Dateline: Wisconsin

A novelty glass-making company's owners are giving their employees handguns for Christmas. According to WISN in Wisconsin, the father-and-son owners of BenShot LLC gave each of their 16 full-time employees a gift card good for a handgun of their choice with a value of up to $500. The gift cards ensured that each employee received a background check before the gun could be purchased. The Post Crescent reports that some of the employees had never fired a gun before, and at least two declined the offer initially. Both are now reportedly considering accepting the gift after taking gun safety courses that were provided by the company. Reporters asked co-owner Ben Wolfgram if he was worried about workplace violence. He answered that the staff were all friends, and he wasn't worried. “We are a small, close-knit team at BenShot. I want to make sure all of employees are safe and happy—a handgun was the perfect gift.” BenShot sells novelty shot and beer glasses that have real bullets embedded in the glass.

Dateline: Australia

A retailer's suggestion that Australians place onions below their sausage instead of on top was met with wide scale controversy, prompting politicians in Australia and New Zealand to clarify their positions on the subject. According to CNN Travel, Bunnings Warehouse, a national hardware chain, hosts Sausage Sizzle fundraisers held by community groups at each of its locations every week. Organizers will sell open-faced sausage sandwiches topped with grilled onions and served on slices of white bread. However Bunnings recently made waves when it sent a suggestion to Australian community leaders that serving the sausages with onions on top—the traditional method—was a slipping hazard. The announcement was almost immediately met with customer outrage on social media, where the company was accused of micromanaging and being overprotective. The debate became so heated that reporters even asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to give his opinion. “Whether the onions are on top or underneath,” he said, “I’ll always be buying sausages on bread.” During their first meeting, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested a joint commitment between the two nations to Morrison “that on our watches the Bunnings sausage sizzle should continue.” ABC News in Australia reports an unnamed customer who was injured at one of their locations after slipping on a grilled onion and signed a non-disclosure agreement with the company three years ago has commended Bunnings' decision.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.