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NOW WE'VE HEARD EVERYTHING: The Amherst IDA has refused to assist Northwestern Mutual Financial Network's proposed move from downtown Buffalo to Amherst. The IDA board refused a request by the Zaepfel Development Co. to lease space to Northwestern in a tax subsidized building.

Aside from doing the right thing, we can understand the board's reluctance. It's already facing lawsuits from Buffalo property owners over the relocation of Buffalo businesses to tax-subsidized space in the suburbs.

What we found remarkable was this statement from Zaepfel's lawyer, Peter Gilfillan: "What I'm concerned about is everybody is afraid of a lawsuit. If you're going to be afraid of a lawsuit, forget about it, you might as well close up shop. Because anybody can sue anybody."

Do not check your reading glasses. That was, in fact, a lawyer complaining about lawsuits.

NOW WE'VE REALLY HEARD EVERYTHING: Who says the guys at al-Qaida don't have a sense of humor? Their latest effort to intimidate Americans threatens new attacks on Washington and New York unless the United States abandons Israel and we all convert to Islam.

It was unclear from the directive if this is to be a mass conversion, like those Moonie weddings, or if we are to proceed alphabetically by state or what. We'll get right on it.

DEFINE "BAD BUSINESS DECISION": Rochester billionaire and three-time gubernatorial loser B. Thomas Golisano turned down a request by the National Hockey League to improve his bid for the Sabres. As a result, the league tentatively awarded the franchise to Mark Hamister. "I think I would have liked to have been the team's owner, but I'm not going to make a bad business decision," Golisano said.

OK, fair enough. But we're a bit confused. Was spending approximately $60 million as a third-party candidate, which ensured he would lose his race for governor, a good business decision? We guess that's why we're not billionaires.

NO HEAD CASE: It doesn't have the style of the last such case, but when Princess Anne went to court this week, she became the first senior member of Britain's royal family to be convicted of a crime in more than 350 years.

The princess royal, as she is formally known, pleaded guilty to violating the Dangerous Dog Act, by losing control of one of her bull terriers -- the beast is named Dotty -- which then knocked over two boys on bikes and bit them. The boys were not seriously injured.

Anne is liable to be fined and assessed other costs, but reports suggest there will be no off-with-her-head histrionics. That's a break from tradition. The last time a senior royal was convicted of a crime was in 1649, when Charles 1 was beheaded on the eve of the civil war. Who says the royals are stuck in the past?

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