The Odd Truth, April 21, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Osama In A Pink Dress

DANBURY, Conn. - Emil Vicale's business really began to surge when he put Osama bin Laden in a pink dress.

His new hit is Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, who comes in two versions, "dumb" and "dumber."

The dumber one talks.

Vicale's company, Herobuilders.com, makes action figures of notables in the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, from President George W. Bush to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

For those who find bin Laden too menacing in military fatigues, Herobuilders offers another outfit.

"We made him a nice pink dress," Vicale said Friday. "The demand was so much we had to look for a seamstress who specializes in these little clothes."

When he decided to make a bin Laden figure, he discovered the villain was a big seller.

Doll parts are placed on shelves under signs that marked the different products, including "Dirty Terrorist," "Saddam Insane," and "Ally," for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Vicale has a long list of new dolls he's planning, including the leaders of France, Russia and Germany, who opposed the Iraq war.

Man Bites Dog

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A 33-year-old man faces charges that he bit a police dog during a disturbance outside a downtown bar.

Paul Russell of Syracuse, was charged with injuring a police animal, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration.

"I don't think I bit the dog. I just got into a fight with him," Russell told The Post-Standard of Syracuse in Monday's newspaper. "I don't really remember (what happened). I was pretty drunk."

The incident occurred Saturday night when Officer William Foster and his dog, a German shepherd named Renny, were sent to investigate a disturbance at 10 p.m. outside the Empire Brewing Co.

According to police reports, after being asked to leave, Russell grabbed Renny by the throat and started choking the animal and biting it on the left side of his neck.

Foster said he punched Russell twice in the face to make him let go of the dog. Russell said he suffered a broken nose and two black eyes when police hit him.

After the arrest, 3-year-old Renny was taken to a veterinarian. Foster said the animal had swelling in his neck and was sore where he was bitten.

"The dog is off for the next two days. He'll be back for his regular shift. He's not expected to miss any time," said Lt. Joseph Cecile, a police spokesman.

Casualties Of Dinner

TIKRIT, Iraq - Supper time has become a double treat at a Marine base outside Saddam Hussein's hometown — not only is there fresh meat, but it's from Saddam's personal hunting preserve.

The Tikrit South airfield, where Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 set up base in this week's campaign to take the city, is on the edge of a preserve where Saddam and favored guests once hunted gazelle.

Now, Marines are venturing into the woods to hunt the animals, which stand about waist-high. They haul back the carcasses as a welcome substitute for the prepackaged Meals Ready to Eat that have been their staple.

"It was delicious. I don't know if it's because we've been eating MREs for two months, but everyone's enjoyed it a lot," said Cpl. Joshua Wicksell, 26, of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Wicksell's review may be biased — he's the cook, and has been putting his two-year culinary arts degree to good use in an unexpected setting.

Each of the squadron's platoons has been limited to killing one gazelle a day to make sure the herd isn't depleted.

The marines are using 9mm pistols to hunt after initially being forbidden to use firearms for fear that gunshots in the woods might be mistaken for enemy fire.

"We hunted them with rocks, as Stone Age as that sounds," Wicksell said. "We gutted them and skinned them and pretty much carried them over our shoulders barbarian-style."

Sick High School Prank

FREMONT, OHIO - Fourteen dead animals have been found on a Fremont Ross High School softball field by an assistant coach.

School athletic director Art Bucci says the bodies of skunks, raccoons, rabbits, cats and a ground hog were placed in positions that players would take on the field.

The gates to the school's fields were locked when the coach made the discovery yesterday. Police found no signs of forced entry.

The team found its cars covered in toilet paper and shaving cream when returning from a game at Lima Thursday night. Bucci believes it was a prank by other students.

Fremont is about 30 miles southeast of Toledo.

Man Sings His Own Siren Song

MANHEIM, Germany - One German man's marital problems has him wailing with anger.

He'd finally had enough of his wife's loud tirades.

The elderly fellow says he couldn't get in a word so he decided to take action.

He bought a siren.

Everytime his wife would start in on him, he'd rev up that 220-volt air raid siren and let it rip for a few minutes.

He says it worked every time.

But now, Mannheim police have seized the siren — too many complaints from the neighbours.

Gladiators Celebrate Rome's Birthday

ROME - Hundreds of gladiators sporting chain-mail, wolf-skins and swinging grappling nets marched by the ruins of ancient Rome on Monday in a birthday celebration for the city, which legend says was founded 2,756 years ago.

The make-believe gladiators — some from as far away as France and Hungary — poured off buses, sporting steel helmets and daggers swinging from scabbards.

"We're all here today because it's the birthday of Rome, so we celebrate the foundation of the city like good Romans," said Giorgio Franchetti, the spokesman of the Roman Historic Group, who himself was geared up for battle.

Franchetti was delighted by the attendance of foreign gladiatorial enthusiasts.

"The beautiful thing is that to feel Roman, you don't necessarily need to have been born in Rome," he said.

Legend has it that Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus on April 21, 753 B.C., after the twin brothers built a settlement in what is now Italy's capital.

Strip Club Attends Job Fair

MASHPEE, Massachusetts - A club known for nude dancers tried recruiting workers at a high school job fair this week before embarrassed school officials asked its representatives to leave.

Junior Bethany Logan said Mashpee High School students were shocked and amused to see a sign for Zachary's Pub briefly displayed at the fair.

"It's a place in town that people are ashamed of, not a place where you want to see anyone from our school work," she told the Cape Cod Times.

Zachary's registered for the job fair under another name, Diamond Real Estate, which is club owner Richard Halpern's other business, according to the Mashpee Chamber of Commerce, the fair's sponsor.

The representatives were looking for bartenders' assistants and landscapers for the real estate business, said Janet Kraskouskas, a school guidance counselor who organized the fair.

Club officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment Saturday and Halpern's number is unlisted. A Zachary's employee told the Times the club wasn't recruiting dancers at the fair.

Minister Charged In Bank Robberies

MOORE, Oklahoma - A Norman minister was charged in federal court today after being arrested by FBI agents in connection with a string of bank robberies.

FBI agents arrested Warren Preston Brown of Norman after he took money from the Oklahoma Educators Credit Union in Moore.

Brown is a minister at Norman's Bible Baptist Church and lives on the property.

Court documents say Brown gave a written statement to agents admitting he tried to rob the Oklahoma Educators Credit Union and robbed five other banks in the metro.

Brown appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Valerie Couch. He was given a court-appointed attorney and ordered to return to court Tuesday.

He is charged with bank robbery.

Damned If You Do ...

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - The Tennessee man who was arrested after saving his dog from a burning apartment says it's "just ridiculous" to think he might face jail time.

Jarrod Martin faces two misdemeanor charges after ignoring police and firefighters last Wednesday in Nashville.

Martin climbed onto his apartment balcony and smashed the glass door to free his trapped pit bull, "Bishop." The man tells NBC's "Today" show his one-year-old dog is "a member of the family" — and he wasn't thinking about the consequences of the rescue.

Martin's arrest is not his first run-in with the law. He's been named in more than a dozen arrest warrants since 1998, according to the Nashville Tennessean newspaper. But he tells NBC his past record "has nothing to do" with what happened last week.
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