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 V.15 No.38 | September 21 - 27, 2006 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: England--A homeowner in the southwestern town of Treovis has been cited by local police for “placing a garden gnome with intent to cause harassment.” BBC News reports that Gordon MacKillop was woken just before midnight by two officers who warned him that the gnome was offensive to his neighbors. Apparently, MacKillop’s neighbor, former policeman John McLean, had complained that the statue is placed in an “annoying position” and is upsetting to potential buyers viewing his home. The statue in question is just under two feet tall and features a gnome dressed as a police officer, standing between a German shepherd and a flashlight-sized nightlight. Mr. MacKillop told the BBC he bought the lighted gnome to deter criminals after his motorcycle was stolen from his driveway. “I’m not having the police tell me what type of garden gnome I can have in my garden,” said MacKillop. “This is a standard gnome I bought from a retail store. If they are considered to be harassing, they should be withdrawn from sale.”

Dateline: France--An impromptu performance by ’80s rock singer Bonnie Tyler aboard an Air France flight to Mauritius has led a group of passengers to sue the airline. The passengers, believed to be Belgian, complained after the Welsh singer performed a snippet of her 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the request of the copilot, who was on his final flight before retirement. “I was asleep in first class. The stewardess came and said the copilot was retiring. And they asked me would I sing to him. They were having a bit of a party,” Tyler said. After the flight, the passengers--obviously no fans of Tyler’s--registered a complaint with the airline, claiming they were traumatized by the experience and feared for their safety during the performance. Air France has rejected the passengers’ claims, calling them “nonsense” and denying the flight’s passengers were at risk at any time.

Dateline: Wisconsin--They didn’t get any cash, but burglars who broke into a central Wisconsin cheese factory did make off with the fixings for one hell of a tailgate party, including nearly 350 pounds of meat, more than 100 pounds of cheese and a dozen cases of beer. The theft occurred at the Dupont Cheese Factory in Marion, according to the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department. Among the missing items were 80 pounds of garlic sausage, 80 pounds of summer sausage, 80 pounds of beef sausage, 60 pounds of snack sausage, 30 pounds of bacon and 15 pounds of smoked beef. Also stolen were 48 jars of pickled herring, 70 pounds of string cheese and a 40-pound block of cheese carved into the shape of a wedding bell. To wash it all down, the thieves nabbed 12 cases of beer and 16 12-packs of soda. A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the hungry thieves.

Dateline: Florida--While on an evening bike ride, 31-year-old Troy Stewart suggested a sure cure for his 10-year-old daughter’s fear of heights: A jump off the Lantana Bridge and into the Intracoastal Waterway. The nervous girl agreed and the two jumped nearly 20 feet into the water. Little Megan Stewart was unfazed by the jump. “When I jumped, I was laughing. I’m like, ‘Let’s do it again,’ ” Megan told the Palm Beach Post. Unfortunately, her father suffered a broken left leg. “He thought he could break her fear of heights by doing that. Instead he broke his leg,” said Lantana Police Capt. Andy Rundle. Mr. Stewart was treated at nearby JFK Medical Center. No charges were filed.

Dateline: New York--Starbucks Corp. is being sued for $114 million by an angry customer after the coffee chain refused to honor her coupon for one free drink. The furor began on Aug. 23 when Starbucks e-mailed the coupon for the free grande drink to selected employees and asked them to forward the coupon to friends and family. The offer was supposed to be valid through Sept. 30. Not so surprisingly, the coupon proliferated in cyberspace. Within days, thousands of customers were streaming into coffee shops nationwide looking for a free caffeine fix. Starbucks ended up cutting the promotion short. “The excuse proffered by Starbucks, that they did not believe an offer released over the Internet would be so widely distributed, is ridiculous,” said Peter Sullivan, the lawyer who brought the suit on behalf of a 23-year-old Starbucks client who felt “betrayed” when her coupon was not honored. Sullivan said he saw lines of coupon-carrying customers outside Starbucks coffee shops in New York, and when they could not redeem the coupons, “they felt let down.” Sullivan’s client, a paralegal from Queens named Kelly Coakley, is asking for the $114 million because it approximates the average cost of one cup of Starbucks coffee a day for all of the people turned away for the 38 days the offer was valid. Although Sullivan did not explain how he and his client determined how many people would have redeemed the coupon, he did tell reporters that $114 million was “a very conservative figure.

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

 

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