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 Mar 23 - 29, 2006 
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Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary
Scott Rickson

Dateline: England—Andy Tierney of Hinckley, Leicestershire, was recently fined about $75 for putting trash in a public trash can. Hinckley and Bosworth Council sent him a letter accusing him of committing “an offense under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Domestic refuse from your property was dumped into a street litter bin. The fixed penalty is 50 pounds.” According to Tierney, he was walking from his house to his car when his postman handed him two pieces of junk mail. Tierney opened both letters as he strolled, then dumped them in the bin at a lamppost. Council officials traced the homeowner from the address on the envelopes and issued the penalty. “I could have easily chucked those letters on the ground, but I put them in the bin. What has happened is a joke. The council is barmy. I never thought I could be fined for putting rubbish in a bin--that's what they're there for,” Tierney told The Sun newspaper. The council classifies letters as “domestic litter,” which prohibits them from being placed in public street bins. “There's absolutely no way I'm paying up,” Tierney said.

Dateline: Sweden—A Swedish orchestra, planning to play an entire concert on instruments carved from ice, had to cut short their performance when a flute began to melt. Instrument maker Tim Linharts was behind the chilly concerto, carving functioning flutes, violins and a double bass out of ice. The instruments were played for the first time at a concert in a gigantic igloo in the Swedish town of Pitea last week. Aside from the loss of a flute, the performance was labeled a success. “The musicians still do not know how to handle the instruments properly. Flute player Gunilla von Bahr's instrument started melting due to her hot breath,” said Linharts. “Next time, I will keep ten ice flutes at hand in case it happens again. According to Linharts, the musicians will keep their instruments in a deep freeze and only take them out to practice or to perform.

Dateline: Norway—It was a wish come true for some, a nightmare for others. A woman by the name of Haldis Gundersen turned on her kitchen faucets and was greeted by a gusher of beer last week in the western Norwegian town of Kristiansund. “I turned on the tap to clean some knives and forks and beer came out,” Gundersen told Reuters News Service. “We thought we were in heaven.” Meanwhile, in the bar two floors below Gundersen's apartment, fresh clear water was flowing from the beer taps. It turned out that a worker had mixed up the pipes on Saturday evening, wrongly connecting a barrel to a water pipe leading to Gundersen's flat. Beer in Norway is among the most expensive in the world, averaging about $7 for less than a pint. Unfortunately, the beer that came out of Gundersen's kitchen faucet was warm and flat. “If it happens again, I'm going to order Bailey's,” said Gundersen.

Dateline: California—U.S. Customs agents announced last Tuesday that they have busted a currency smuggler with 250 bogus billion-dollar bills. Tekle Zigetta, 45, pleaded guilty to three federal counts of trying to bring cash, phony bills and a fake $100,000 gold certificate into the United States in January. Further investigation led agents to a West Hollywood apartment where they found the stash of yellowing and wrinkled one-billion-dollar bills with an issue date of 1934. The fake bills bore the picture of President Grover Cleveland. “You would think the $1 billion denomination would be a giveaway that these notes are fake, but some people are still taken in,” said James Todak, a secret service agent involved in the probe. No word exactly on where Zigetta thought he could change a billion-dollar bill.

Dateline: Ohio—There's a reason men don't stop and ask for directions. A highly coincidental pit stop has cost a would-be car thief his freedom. Michael Chapman, 54, is accused of stealing a car last Wednesday in the town of Hopedale, about 130 miles east of Columbus. According to police reports, Norma Harris started her car in her driveway, left it running so it could warm up and went back inside her house. Chapman apparently hopped in the vehicle and drove it east for three miles, then pulled off state Route 151 looking for directions to a nearby town. He stopped randomly at the home of Thomas Eltringham. Eltringham, 67, gave the directions, but something about the gold 2001 Buick LeSabre Chapman was driving looked familiar. After the car left, Eltringham called his daughter, Norma Harris, and asked her if her vehicle was missing. Of course, it was. A patrol officer spotted the car about 25 miles away from Eltringham's house and gave chase. The driver pulled into a driveway, got out and ran away. Chapman was later found hiding behind an auto sales office and arrested. He is being held at the Jefferson County Justice Center on charges of car theft, drunken driving and driving without a license.

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

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