Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds and Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

JANUARY 4, 1999: 

Dateline: France--The French Parliament gave its final approval last Tuesday to legislation intended to eliminate pitbull terriers from the country over the next 10 years. The bill bans the acquisition, sale or importation of "attack dogs" such as pitbulls. Specified dogs already in France will have to be sterilized. Pitbulls have become highly popular pets in France, but have been involved in a series of high-profile attacks.

Dateline: Belgium--A scientific study into the production method of traditional paté de foie gras has European gourmets crying foul. The traditional Christmas appetizer--made from the livers of ducks and geese which have been force-fed large amounts of grain--came under attack from an independent panel of European Union scientists. The scientists submitted their "non-binding advice" to the European Commission, which must now decide whether to use the recommendations as a basis for a legislative proposal. One "extreme" option, the scientists said, could be an outright ban on foie gras. In their study, the scientists had concluded that "force-feeding as currently practiced is detrimental to the welfare of birds." The scientists failed to mention that having their livers ground into paté is also "detrimental to the welfare of birds."

Dateline: Romania--In order to fill gaps in the national budget, Romanian Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes has dreamed up an innovative new "chair tax." If the proposed law is approved by the government, bars, restaurants and cake shops would be required to pay an annual tax of $25 for each chair they employ. One county in southern Romania has already found a way around the tax--restaurateurs and bar owners are replacing their chairs with benches.

Dateline: Scotland--Proving that there's no human tragedy so great that it can't be properly exploited, police in Lockerbie, Scotland, announced that burglars took advantage of the 10th anniversary of one of the world's worst plane crashes to loot houses in the area. Sunday, Dec. 20 was the 10th anniversary of the Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie. On board, 259 people were killed by a terrorist bomb. On the ground, 11 more died as a result of falling debris. Most people in the tiny Scottish town were attending church memorial services when the robberies took place.

Dateline: Texas--El Paso County officials recently declared tiny Buford, Texas, null and void, claiming it was a sham set up to protect sex businesses. Buford, located some 40 miles east of El Paso, has about 50 people and more than a dozen adult bookstores and strip clubs. It straddles Interstate 10 and is a favorite stop for truck drivers. Since its incorporation in 1962, Buford has never had an election or a government. The El Paso County Attorney filed suit in state district court to eliminate Buford and got a favorable ruling from a judge last month. No appeal was filed by the deadline last Sunday, and so the county wiped Buford from the maps, making its sole industry subject to county regulations, which ban sex businesses. Sergio Gonzalez, attorney for the Buford business community, plans to file suit in federal court seeking to overturn the ruling, and he denies that Buford is a sham. "It's just an inactive municipality, that's all," Gonzalez said.

Dateline: Michigan--The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a consumer advocacy group, has awarded its top honors in this year's Wacky Warning Label Contest to the incomparably dumb "Remove your child before folding the baby stroller." The group, which hopes to shed light on frivolous lawsuits, also awarded runner-up status to a sleeping pill prescription warning that the drug may cause sleepiness, a fireplace lighter caution against using the device near fire, flame or sparks and a laser printer cartridge warning people not to eat the toner.

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