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The Odd Truth

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

The Odd Truth is moving! Beginning Monday, April 5, you can find the Odd Truth in the "Features" box that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the home page, and in the upper right-hand corner of each news section, National, World, Health, etc.

Car Thief Asks For Directions

MONTEREY, Tenn. - Who says men never stop to ask for directions?

Jason Daniel Waddell was in jail Wednesday after authorities said he did - and allegedly told the person who helped him that he was driving a stolen car.

Authorities said the 26-year-old Maryland man stopped a woman in an apartment complex Tuesday to ask for directions to Interstate 40.

The woman called Monterey police a few minutes after the driver confided he was in a stolen vehicle, Sgt. Tim Murphy said.

Waddell was caught about an hour later, 15 miles away and still on a state highway. He also is charged with holding up a sandwich shop and taking $200.

Murphy said leaving Monterey, population 2,717, shouldn't have been hard.

"He was less than 200 yards from the I-40 ramp when he robbed the store," Murphy said. "I think that he panicked when he left ... and turned right into a residential neighborhood."

Waddell was taken to the county jail on charges of aggravated robbery and property theft.

Professional Cow-Tipper

SALEM, Ore. - Steve Bartelds has a good reason to be a cow-tipper. It's hard to give Bessy a pedicure if she's standing up.

Bartelds is a national leader in the obscure profession of hoof trimming, the president-elect of the Hoof Trimmers Association, Inc., a Missoula, Mont.-based trade group.

First, Bartelds suspends cows sideways, using a machine called a tilt-table that attaches to his one-ton Ford.

Then, using an electric trimming tool that sends shavings flying and a special knife made in Switzerland for finer work, Bartelds can trim the hooves of four to six cows an hour.

Like trimming fingernails, trimming hooves doesn't cause the animal pain when it is done correctly. But cows hate being strapped down and flipped on the tilt-table. Knowing a little cow psychology helps Bartelds do his job without stressing the animals.

One trade secret: Never tilt a cow more than 80 degrees. "If you have a cow completely level, that freaks her," he said.

He also believes in speaking softly.

"C'mon, don't argue," Bartelds told a bellowing cow he was shooing toward the tilt-table.

Hoof trimming is an exacting process. If the trimmer removes too much of the hoof, the cow can be so seriously injured that it is fit only for hamburger.

"You can kill a $1,500 cow instantly," said Bartelds, 53, showing a photograph of a cow's foot split in half to reveal the heavy bone just beneath the hoof.

His charges vary from $10 to $25 per cow depending on the size of the dairy and how often the animals' hooves are trimmed.

Rite Aid Photo Flap

PITTSBURGH - A photo album has led to sexual assault charges against a Rite Aid Pharmacy manager in the Pittsburgh area. Police say Donald Edward Preik made duplicate copies of sexually explicit pictures that people had dropped off for developing. The discovery was made after a woman claimed she found pictures of herself and others in Preik's album. Investigators charge that Preik also took explicit pictures of women who appeared to be asleep or unconscious. According to police, the women range in age from 20 to 67. Preik faces a host of serious charges, including ten counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Monkey On The Rampage

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong woman says conservation officers chased a stray monkey into her home, where it went on a rampage that destroyed an expensive flat-screen television. Now she's suing the government.

Cai Ai-lan told the Small Claims Tribunal that officials spooked the monkey with nets while they were trying to catch it in September, and it went on a minor rampage in her apartment, the South China Morning Post said.

Cai, 48, says the officials should have been trying to tranquilize the monkey instead. The Apple Daily newspaper said she's seeking $3,846 in damages to cover damage to the TV, which was knocked down and ruined.

Conservation officers said Thursday that any damage to the television was not their fault.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department spokesman Albert Hui told The Associated Press the monkey chase had not yet started when it ran into Cai's apartment.

Hong Kong has hundreds of wild monkeys in remote parts of the Kowloon peninsula and they occasionally stray into urban areas and cause minor mayhem.

Regardless of how Cai's lawsuit is resolved, newspapers reported that she replaced her flat-screen television with a bulkier conventional model.

"It is heavier so if the monkey comes again, it's not easily overturned," Cai was quoted as telling the Post.

19th Century Photos Deemed Too Racy For Pub

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nude women have been on the menu at The Sutler for years, but the Nashville pub covered up the 19th-century Victorian photos after being warned they might be too racy for state law.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission decided Wednesday that only one photo showing a woman's genital area was off-limits, but by then every nipple on the menus had been covered in black marker.

The pub has displayed the artistic antique photos for many years and had never attracted notice of state regulators until recently.

Commission agents had told the pub owner that some of the photos, thought to be from the mid-1800s, might run afoul of state laws that limit sexually explicit material or performances where alcohol is served.

The law bans such things as displays of sexual intercourse and nude wait staff, as well as "scenes wherein artificial devices or inanimate objects are employed to depict, or drawings employed to portray, any of the prohibited activities."

"The underlying issue is whether the pictures violate the statute," said Danielle Elks, executive director of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. "It is a very broad statute."

Elks said a misunderstanding led The Sutler to black out its menus before the commission made its decision. "It was never the intent of the agency to cite (the pub), and the agency did not threaten them," she said.

The owner of The Sutler, Johnny Potts, said he did not want to talk about the issue.

No, It's Not An April Fool's Joke

LONDON - A claim that British scientists considered using live chickens in a nuclear weapon aroused skepticism Thursday, but archivists insisted it was not an April Fool's hoax.

"It's a genuine story," said Robert Smith, head of press and publicity at The National Archives.

The archives released a secret 1957 report from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment that suggested - and immediately dismissed - the possibility of putting chickens inside a plutonium land mine to keep it warm enough to be viable for eight days in extreme cold weather.

Listing ways of extending the armed life of the land mine, the declassified document proposed putting more than four inches of insulation on the device, or "incorporating some form of heating independent of power supplies under the weapon hull in the emplacement. Chickens, with a heat output of the order of 1,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per bird per day are a possibility."

The next paragraph, however, dismissed the need for more insulation or chickens, saying four inches of insulation "should be accepted as a reasonable compromise for service requirements."

The seven-ton device, code named "Blue Peacock," would have been detonated from a distance or by timer in the event of a retreat from invading Soviet troops, to prevent them from occupying the area.

Andy Oppenheimer, co-editor of Jane's World Armies, said he found the idea of using chickens hard to believe.

"I have a feeling that it's an April Fool," he said in a phone interview. Insulation was a better idea, he said.

Tom O'Leary, head of education and interpretation at the National Archives, said he had no doubt that the document was authentic.

"None whatsoever," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's not the kind of thing the civil service does, to set up an April Fool's joke."

He Just Can't Get Enough

TARENTUM, Pa. - A man was charged with robbing two banks less than one day after getting out of prison for a botched 2001 convenience store robbery in which he held a can of ravioli under his shirt to simulate a gun, police said.

Thomas Glenn Rokosky, 28, was arrested Tuesday morning a few minutes after someone robbed the First Commonwealth Bank in Tarentum, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Police said an alarm system sent a distress call directly to a dispatch center and helped them quickly locate Rokosky, of Tarentum, and his vehicle, which matched witness descriptions. Police said he also had a note demanding money from a teller.

Simple arithmetic led police to charge Rokosky with another robbery the day before.

Rokosky got out of prison on Monday and had just $12 when he was released, officials at the State Correctional Institution-Cresson told police. When he was arrested, Rokosky was carrying nearly $4,300, police said. The person who robbed the Tarentum bank got away with $2,500.

Investigators then found out that another First Commonwealth Bank branch was robbed Monday afternoon in Johnstown, not far from the prison.

Rokosky told police about the Johnstown robbery when they asked about it, saying that he paid a cab driver $100 to turn off his meter and drive him to Tarentum, about 65 miles away. Rokosky was supposed to meet with his parole officer Monday but "blew him off," Tarentum police chief Bill Vakulick said.

Rokosky was still in jail Wednesday.

In one attempt, Rokosky threatened an unwitting clerk at a corner store in Natrona with a ravioli can. Rokosky ran away when the clerk was too afraid to open a cash register drawer.

Governator Ale To Be Discontinued

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Governator won't be b-a-a-a-ck - Governator Ale, that is.

A Portland artisan brewing company will bow to the wishes of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and stop selling Governator Ale, a popular beer that has been a big seller in California.

"We've agreed to settle," Portland Brewing chief executive Jerome Chicvara said Tuesday. "We're saying we're not going to argue - we're going to acquiesce to their point of view, and we're not supposed to say anything more."

In December, Chicvara sent 4,500 cases of 22-oz. bottles of Governator to California, where it was a hit at $2.99 a bottle. The brew became the darling of bloggers worldwide, thanks to articles on CNN and MSN online pages.

Chicvara says a couple of hundred cases are still in Oregon, mostly at Columbia Distributing, but that collectors elsewhere have been paying about $20 for a bottle of Governator on eBay.

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