Historical reenactment is a ripe subject for an odd news-ter such as myself--horses, actors, noisy, spook-inducing exploding things. It's a veritable recipe for blog topics. But this one's a bit different. Because, really, we're all affected. Now--don't panic--but a mule barge is threatening national security.

It seems the staff at Hugh Moore Historical Park in Pennsylvania have run afoul of a federal anti-terror law because their mule drivers--workers who dress in colonial garb and guide two mules (Hank and George) along a 2-mile demonstration canal route--don't have the proper credentials now required for transportation workers

As CNN points out:

"The park's two-mile canal does not pass any military bases, nuclear power plants or other sensitive facilities. And, park officials say, the mules could be considered weapons of mass destruction only if they were aimed at something resembling food."

The park's Director of Operations contacted her State Representative in December to see if they could maybe get an exemption to the rule, which requires biometric Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC), which run about $100, on top of the Coast Guard mariner credentials the park already maintains.

Rep. Charles Dent in turn took up the case with the TSA and requested a waiver. Which was denied.

So Dent then took it up with new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Dent pointed out that, while mules Hank and George are "sometimes are ornery, they are not terrorists."

Napolitano said she would try to be flexible, and Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa told The Morning Call they are "actively looking at what is clearly a very unusual and unique situation."

(Now everybody sing! "15 miles on the Erie Canal!...")


The Irish Times today posted a collection of some odd stories from their archives.

There's some really good stuff, including a UFO sighting and stolen securities found stuffed in a tree trunk, and, of course, a donkey story. (Because really, what would an odd news collection be without a donkey story?)

In the report from September 23rd, 1950, the paper recounted the story of a heroic Italian donkey, which was grazing along an estuary when a 5-year-old child fell into the water:

"Immediately, the animal began to bray, perhaps in the hope of getting help.

"There was nobody about to hear him, so he waded into the water and swam close to the boy. When Aldo had a good grip, the donkey returned to the bank, deposited Aldo on dry land, and went back to his grazing as if nothing had happened."

I hope he got an apple for that!