The Odd Truth, Aug. 11, 2004

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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 William Vitka.

Unbiased, Undressed

LONDON - Stripped-down news anchors posed outside the Houses of Parliament Wednesday to launch the latest addition to Britain's competitive news media - Naked News.

The revealing format, in which anchors disrobe while reading a digest of news, sports and entertainment, is due to being broadcasting Monday on a British satellite station.

Inspired by a Russian program, Toronto-based Naked News made its debut on the Internet in 1999, and soon was claiming 6 million individual viewers a month. It later moved to pay-per-view television and last year to a Toronto cable station - where a flood of complaints triggered a move to Sex TV, a channel with a much smaller audience.

Naked News claims a potential weekly audience of 34 million in the United States, where the program is available on pay-per-view TV.

The British version will air on Get Lucky TV, a satellite station available to 7 million subscribers in Britain and Ireland.

The Web site features both men and women, but the television broadcast will be an all-female affair. Anchor Lily Kwan, 27, said she understood that some viewers might find the concept demeaning.

"I recognize some people will feel that way," she said. "But I think this is an empowering position. Nudity is OK."

Lucas Tyler, producer of Naked News, said the British deal was "just another natural jump in our upward climb of the media markets."

A Hong Kong company launched its own version of the format in February, and Naked News plans to air a French-dubbed version on French satellite TV from next month.

The Udder Truth

MELBOURNE, Australia - Organizers of Melbourne's premier agricultural show vowed Wednesday to crack down on banned drugs after four people were caught at another show injecting performance enhancing substances into cows' udders to enlarge them.

Likening his role to that of a drug tester in a sporting event, Royal Melbourne Show chief executive Stephen Carter said all animals competing at next month's show in southern Australia would be subject to a "vigilant program of drug testing."

"We will take action - stern action," he said. "No leniency will be granted where there is clear evidence of breaching guidelines."

The increased vigilance comes after two cow owners and two groomers, who have not been named, were disqualified and excluded from competition for so-called "udder tampering" at the Royal Queensland Show in the eastern city of Brisbane this week.

Other farmers are suspected of having glued show cows' teats shut to stop milk leakage in a problem that has apparently plagued Australia's highly competitive agricultural show circuit for years.

At many shows, dairy cows are judged on their general appearance but also the size and shape of their udders. Owners often spend hours before the competitions shampooing and meticulously preening the animals before parading them in front of judges.

Carter said he had briefed all cattle owners competing in the Melbourne show that "the prohibition of banned substances will be strictly enforced."

But Was It At The Top Of The List?

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - If he's still keeping a to-do list, John Sarver could add some new entries: go to prison, and pay restitution.

Sarver, 48, pleaded guilty in April to robbing six banks, all in suburban Johnson County, in 2002 and 2003. The last took place just before Christmas, and Sarver was arrested Jan. 2.

When police searched Sarver's house, they found a list including a reminder to "rob bank."

Sarver was back in court Monday, drawing a prison sentence of 10 years and five months, plus two years under supervision after he gets out. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil also ordered him to make restitution of $13,834.

Boozin' Bear

KALISPELL, Mont. - A bear apparently bumped over barrels at a busted brewery and filled up on fermented fruit waste.

It seems the bear gorged itself on the remnants of fermented fruit, part of the debris dumped on the country property of Bill Arkush, formerly doing business as Glacier Valley Brandy, officials said Tuesday.

Arkush said he arrived home Monday evening to find a pile of debris, equipment and barrels at the entrance to his driveway.

"Two of the barrels were turned upside down and whatever was inside them was spread all over the place. And it smelled bad, with a capital B," he said.

He also recognized some air conditioning equipment that came from the building that had housed his bankrupt brewery.

The building's landlord, Russ Olson, said it was Arkush's stuff and "we delivered it to him. The mistake that we made was that when we took them out of the truck we tipped over some of the barrels."

Arkush called the sheriff's office, which dispatched the county's Office of Emergency Services to manage the stinky contents of the barrels, including possible animal waste and fermented fruit.

County officials decided to wait until Tuesday to remove the barrels. That's when the grizzly bear showed up.

Before finding the fermented waste, officials said the bear tore a door off a neighbor's chicken coop and rabbit hutch and tried to get into a building containing grain.

"The noise of the dogs woke me up," Arkush said, and one of his neighbors saw the bear.

Tim Manley, a bear expert with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, set a baited culvert trap for the bear.

Sheriff Jim Dupont said no charges would be filed against Olson because "there is no criminal intent there as far as we can tell." But he said the county would be billing someone for cleaning up the mess.

Porn People Pull No Punches

BANGKOK, Thailand - Police say a deadbeat pornographer got a beating from the star of his sex film.

German national Friedrich Johannes Michael Fischer was beaten when he failed to live up to his end of the deal, police said. They say Fischer promised a woman about $122 to be in his sex video, but he only paid her $24.

The woman, along with a male and a female friend decided to exact their revenge when Fischer refused to hand over the tape, authorities said.

Police say Fischer had an impressive collection of homemade X-rated videos. He was busted on pornography charges.

The women and her friends were arrested for assault.

Who You Gonna Call?

WESTLAND, Mich. - Fans of spirits, specters and all things ectoplasmic are expected to materialize Saturday in this Detroit suburb for the second annual Michigan Ghost Conference.

While only ghost hunters were invited to last year's inaugural event, organizers say this year's conference will be open to everyone because they have received so many requests from the public.

"It's really fascinating," said Cindy Blake, of Canton Township, president of a paranormal-investigation group called Michigan Ghost Watchers. "People will get to see how we go about doing what we do."

Also planning to attend is Rose Boening, who became interesting in ghost hunting and joined Blake's group after seeing its members at work. She plans to share stories and investigative techniques.

"For some people (ghost hunting) used to be a taboo subject," Boening told The Daily Oakland Press. "Now, if you have an open mind, it can be a window on life. For many, it's reassuring to know there is an afterlife, and it allows a closeness to relatives who have passed on."

Boening said when she moved into her Farmington Hills home three years ago, she slowly began to realize some previous tenants still were there - and didn't intend to move out.

The retired schoolteacher from Texas moved to her new home after her husband, Bill, accepted a job in Michigan. She said when the couple settled in, they were confronted with strange noises, unearthly voices and other things that go bump in the night.

"We never thought about things like that," Rose Boening said. "We heard footsteps in the house, things would move by themselves, doors would open and close. We knew something wasn't right."

The Boenings came to suspect their house might be haunted, prompting Rose Boening to contact Michigan Ghost Watchers. She asked the group to come to her home and look into the unexplained events.

The group discovered paranormal activity in her home. Members photographed anomalies known as orbs that appear as luminescent balls of light in photographic images and discovered temperature variations in the house, she said.

She soon joined the group and now takes part in their investigations of other supposedly haunted homes and cemeteries.

Boening said her home still is haunted but she and her husband have concluded that the spirits who reside there mean them no harm.

She someday would like to see them find peace instead of remaining trapped in her home.
  • Brian Bernbaum

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