The Odd Truth, Aug. 6, 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.

Clonin' Kitten Caboodle

SAN FRANCISCO - A company that unveiled the world's first cloned cat nearly three years ago now says it is ready to start filling orders for cloned pets, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Genetic Savings and Clone, a firm that wants to make a business out of cloned pets, now has Tabouli and Baba Ganoush, 8-week-old Bengal kittens who are the world's second and third cat clones.

"All pieces of the puzzle are now in place on the cat side," Genetic Savings CEO Lou Hawthorne told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The firm is being backed by John Sterling, founder of the University of Phoenix, who has already funneled more than $10 million into a project that could require an additional $5 million before it sees a profit.

Five customers are paying $50,000 each for a clone of their own cats, which the company expects to have available by December. The company also said it has several hundred clients paying $150 a year plus an initial $900 to preserve tissue from living pets for future cloning. The first cloned cat - a calico named CC for Carbon Copy - cost the company $200,000 to produce.

To clone the Bengal kittens, Genetic Savings removed skin cells from the "mom," a cat owned by Hawthorne's 4-year-old son. It then used a technology called chromatin transfer to regress the cells to an embryonic state, and injected the cell into another cat's egg to produce a single-celled cloned embryo. The embryo was implanted into a surrogate mother cat, who carried the pregnancy to the regular two-month term.

The company declined to say how long it took to create Tabouli and Baba Ganoush. Both cats are said to be healthy and do not face any of the common clone health problems, such as organ malformation.

But critics say there could be hidden defects and that the cats may have curtailed lives.

"They're exposing animals to risks for very few, if any benefits," said David Magnus, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford. "The quest for immortality in ourselves and even in our pets opens the door to commercial interests who want to make a profit on it."

The company guarantees customers their money back or a free clone if any genetic defects surface.

Cloning dogs presents more of a challenge, but Genetic Savings now hopes to produce a dog clone this year.

Toe Licking Ban

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands Toe-licking could become a criminal offense in the Netherlands after a man who licked the toes of several women was released by police without charges.

The toe-licker, whose name was not released, was arrested in Rotterdam earlier this week after a woman who had been sunbathing said he unexpectedly licked her bare foot.

Other women had also complained, and the 35-year-old man has reportedly been pursuing his fetish for years, but prosecutors in Rotterdam said they are powerless to stop him.

"A lick over the foot doesn't qualify as a crime: there has to be some kind of objective sex act committed," said prosecution spokesman Cees van Spierenburg in the Rotterdam Daily newspaper. "That's the way the law is."
Lawmakers Peter van Heemst and Aleid Wolfsen, members of the leading opposition Labor Party, asked Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner in a formal complaint to change the law.

"How can you explain that we can prosecute someone for throwing a cigarette butt or soda can on the ground, but not for this kind of misbehavior?" the men wrote.

Ex-Porn Star Next Mayor Of Milan?

ROME - A former porn star and one-time Italian lawmaker said Friday that she plans to run for mayor of Milan, saying she would like to make the Italian financial capital more "exciting," perhaps by opening a casino.

Ilona Staller, widely known by her stage name, "Cicciolina," told The Associated Press that if elected in the city's 2006 mayoral vote, she hopes to make Milan "an exciting place."

"Exciting is an ambiguous word, I know, that is why people like it," said the 52-year-old, who has been known to bare her breasts at news conferences. She was speaking in a telephone interview.

"I want to open a casino in the Sforzesco Castle so City Hall can have more money," she said of the 15th century monument, a tourist attraction that hosts cultural programs in the heart of Milan.

Staller told reporters Wednesday that she is trying to collect 1,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot. If she makes it, Staller said she will run as an independent and use her "smiling, beautiful face" as a symbol.

Staller emigrated to Italy from Hungary in the 1970s, and soon after began making porn films under the screen name "Cicciolina." She acted in nearly 40 porn films and live shows before quitting the business in 1989.

She entered politics in 1987 when she won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, on the Radical party ticket.

Three years later, Staller publicly offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein if the then-Iraqi leader agreed to free foreigners being held hostage in Iraq before the Gulf War.

Staller did not run for re-election at the end of her 5-year term, but her interest in politics remained - she made a failed bid to get on the ballot for a parliamentary election in her native Hungary in 2002. That same year, she also lost a mayoral election in Monza, a town near Milan.

A Real Pain In The Butt

BRISTOW, Okla. - Drew Patterson wanted to protect himself after hearing reports of a fugitive in this northeastern Oklahoma community. He didn't think he would be nursing a sore rear end.

Patterson's .22-caliber pistol, hooked into the waistband of his denim shorts with the hammer pulled back, apparently fired, hitting Patterson in the left buttock Wednesday afternoon.

Patterson, 27, said he suffered "one of my most embarrassing moments" when his gun fired.

"At first, I didn't feel anything at all," said Patterson, who talked readily about the incident Thursday at his parents' Bristow home.

"Then about 30 seconds later, I felt that burning, stinging," he said.
He felt something warm trickling down his left leg and found an exit wound.
Patterson said he walked into his parents' home and said, "Mom, I did something bad."

Law enforcement officers searching for escaped inmate Raymond Lee Smith, 26, who ran from a Bristow courtroom Wednesday, stopped their hunt when Patterson's gunshot wound was reported.

"It hurts fiercely now," he said while walking slowly and gingerly.

Ho-Ho, Uh Oh

SINGAPORE - Singapore police questioned a Santa Claus impersonator from an animal rights group Friday after she protested outside a KFC outlet against alleged fowl treatment of live chickens by the fast-food giant.

Santa, complete with a sign reading "Peace On Earth For Chickens; Boycott KFC," was one of three volunteers from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, who took their cause to the straight-laced city-state.
The group said that KFC "could bring a little early Christmas cheer to millions of birds" if it treated them better.

Police spokesman Rachel Yeo said authorities responded to the three-person protest after receiving a call from a "member of the public."

Rochelle Regodon, dressed as Santa, got out of costume after meeting police officers near the crowded restaurant on Singapore's shopping belt.
No arrests were made and Yeo said PETA did nothing illegal.

The PETA protestors were distributing flyers on how "KFC tortures chickens" and were demonstrating "KFC's lack of an animal welfare policy," PETA's Asia-Pacific representative Jason Baker told reporters.

"KFC tortures animals," he said. "They are guilty of cruelty to animals and we are trying to let the public know," he added.

Last month, PETA released a video showing workers at a KFC supplier's farm in the United States "stomping on chickens and drop-kicking them, the rights group said on its Web site.

A statement from KFC Friday rebutted the group's claims, saying it "was committed to the well being and humane treatment of chickens."
The company said its suppliers had to follow strict guidelines, and could lose their business if they didn't comply.

Tightly-ruled Singapore requires demonstrators or protestors to apply for a police permit to gather in public as authorities say such gatherings can lead to "law and order problems."

Protests are extremely rare in the city-state.
  • Brian Bernbaum

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