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News/Opinion
‹‹ V.18 No.37 | September 10 - 16, 2009

Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O’Leary
Odds and Ends

Dateline: England—The central English town of Birmingham has banned two street musicians from doing their thing because they only know two songs. Sick of hearing endless, out-of-tune renditions of “Wonderwall” by Oasis and “Faith” by George Michael, a judge at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court slapped a two-year performing ban on the bad buskers. Acoustic guitar player James Ryan, 40, and garbage can lid banger Andrew Cave, 39, were also barred from entering the Birmingham suburb of Moseley Village and playing instruments of any kind there. The city council added that it is now illegal for either man to beg for change anywhere in England or Wales. Next stop: France!

Dateline: France—London’s Daily Telegraph reports two feuding mayors of neighboring Paris suburbs have each declared the same thoroughfare a one-way street—in opposite directions. Patrick Balkany, the conservative mayor of Levallois-Perret, made the D909 one-way to cut commuter traffic in his district. Gilles Catoire, the Socialist mayor of neighboring Clichy-la-Garenne, says he noticed increased congestion in his area as a result of Balkany’s traffic change. So, naturally, he also declared the D909 a one-way—only in the other direction. Thanks to the contradictory road signs, police had to be called in to sort out the resulting commuter chaos. Patrick Strzoda, the governor of the Hauts-de-Seine départment, recently ruled that Mayor Balkany’s plan is the correct one. He noted that Levallois’ plan was “coherent” and an accompanying study showed that there would be “no notable” rise in traffic in neighboring towns. Clichy’s decision, however, was done “without any prior study” and had caused “serious disorder.” Clichy’s mayor has promised to appeal.

Dateline: Pennsylvania—At a sentencing hearing last Monday, 39-year-old Anthony Miller told a judge he robbed a bank in 2007 so he could go to jail and get away from his overbearing wife. According to defense attorney Robert Beyer, Miller approached tellers at a bank in Ephrata with a BB gun, asked for money and then told them to call police. He said Miller even asked for updates on their efforts to reach authorities. Miller had allegedly tried to leave his wife before the intentionally botched robbery, but she threatened to commit suicide. Miller pleaded guilty to the crime in June. At the hearing, Lancaster County Judge Louis Farina sentenced him to three to six years in prison. Beyer said the couple has divorced since the incident.

Dateline: North Carolina—A sheriff’s deputy, responding to a complaint about a dog, ended up with four flat tires after a pit bull tried to eat her patrol vehicle. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says the animal deflated all four tires on Deputy Lynn Lavallis’ cruiser near the town of Hope Mills. At the time, the vehicle was parked in the driveway of homeowner Gloria Bass, who had phoned in the complaint. Oddly enough, the complaint was not about the dog who ended up chomping Lavallis’ tires. According to a police spokesperson, the pit bull’s owner, Bass’ next-door neighbor, will be billed $500 for a new set of tires.

Dateline: Florida—A Tampa bank refused to cash a check for a customer because he could not provide them with a thumbprint—mostly because he has no arms. Steve Valdez admits he doesn’t have an account at Bank of America in downtown Tampa, where he tried to cash a check from his wife earlier this month. He presented two forms of identification, but the bank refused to process the check without a thumbprint. Valdez, who was born without arms, has two prosthetic limbs—neither of which has fingerprints. Bank of America spokesperson Nicole Nastacie says the bank should have “offered alternative requirements if an individual is not able to give a thumbprint.” The bank has since apologized to Valdez.

Dateline: Illinois—A Joliet woman suffered second-degree burns at a 7-Eleven gas station last Tuesday night after she used a cigarette lighter to see how full the gas can sitting on the front seat of her car was getting. According to the police report, the 27-year-old woman “was filling up a gas can, which was sitting on the passenger seat of her car. [She] then used a lighter to ... observe how full the can was.” Surprisingly (to the woman anyway), the lighter’s open flame ignited the gas, which caused the gas can to explode, which promptly set the car’s interior on fire. The car was about five feet from the gas pumps and engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. The woman was treated at the scene for second-degree burns to her right wrist and right thigh before being taken to Silver Cross Hospital. Her injuries were listed as serious but not life-threatening.

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