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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.

Shocking Tale Of Survival

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. - A 22-year-old man who climbed an electrical tower survived a 69,000-volt shock that a utility official said was nearly always fatal.

Jason Grisham was in fair condition Wednesday in a hospital burn unit.

Police and a Cinergy/PSI employee found Grisham asking for help as he emerged Sunday from behind a building at a substation where the tower was scaled. Grisham "appeared to have extensive burn marks on his chest and his pants appeared to have exploded," police said.

Grisham, from New Albany, scaled the fence around the tower about 6:30 a.m. and then started to climb the tower itself, rising 12 to 15 feet before he "received a dose of ... electricity and was knocked to the ground," said police, who were seeking a toxicology report.

"Contact with that level of voltage is almost always fatal," Cinergy/PSI spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said. She noted that household voltage is mostly 120 volts.

Protogere said the shock disrupted power to 6,800 customers.

The fence Grisham climbed is 7 feet tall and has three strands of barbed wire on top of it, and there are "clearly visible signs" saying "Danger/High Voltage," Protogere said.

Cops: Mouse Planted In Soup

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia - A mouse in the soup has gotten a Virginia woman in some hot water. Authorities charge Carla Patterson and her 20-year-old son Ricky planted the mouse in a bowl of soup at a Newport News Cracker Barrel restaurant. Prosecutors say the pair tried to extort money from the restaurant chain. Patterson claimed she had already eaten some of her vegetable soup when she scooped up the mouse in a spoon during an early Mother's Day lunch. Cracker Barrel immediately stopped serving vegetable soup at all of its 500 outlets. Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis says the Pattersons tried to get $500,000 from the chain. Both mother and son have been charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Lace Thongs Divide Polish Village

KONIAKOW, Poland - The issue of lace thongs is dividing a Polish village. Not wearing the thongs - but making them. For centuries, the women of the town have made fine lace tablecloths and altar ornaments. Last fall, some of the lace makers turned to G-strings to bring in extra cash. The thongs go for about $20 on the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reports the lace thongs are selling by the dozens. But not all in town are happy with the new sexy image. The mayor says their village is strongly conservative, and lace thongs have raised uncomfortable questions about morality and money.

'Ladies Night' Ruled Discriminatory To Men

TRENTON, New Jersey - The state's top civil rights official has ruled that taverns cannot offer discounts to women on "ladies nights," agreeing with a man who claimed such gender-based promotions discriminated against men.

David R. Gillespie said it was not fair for women to get into the Coastline nightclub for free and receive discounted drinks while men paid a $5 cover charge and full price for drinks.

In his ruling Tuesday, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, director of the state Division on Civil Rights, rejected arguments by the nightclub that ladies nights were a legitimate promotion. Commercial interests do not override the "important social policy objective of eradicating discrimination," he ruled.

The ruling specifically addressed the weekly ladies nights at the Coastline in Cherry Hill, but it carries the force of a court decision and applies throughout the state. Vespa-Papaleo said state officials would write formal rules after a public hearing.

The restaurant's attorney, Colleen Ready, did not immediately return a telephone message left Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Courts in other states have issued divergent opinions on such promotions.

Judges in Pennsylvania and Iowa have said similar events are illegal, but courts in Illinois and Washington state have said that ladies nights are permissible because they do not discriminate against men but rather encourage women to attend.

Woman Ordered To Pay For Having Another Man's Baby

SEOUL, South Korea - A South Korean court ordered a woman to pay her husband $42,380 in compensation for having a baby with another man, a judge said Monday.

The 26-year-old woman told her husband in February 2002 she was pregnant with his baby, and demanded that they marry. The baby was born in November 2002.

"The man had used condoms whenever they had sex, but he agreed to marry, thinking that one of the condoms didn't work," said Hong Joong-pyo, a judge at the Seoul Family Court.

But the man's suspicion grew when relatives complained that "the baby didn't look like him at all," Hong said.

When the husband confronted his wife with a DNA test that showed the baby was not his, the woman argued that the baby must have been switched at hospital. When the husband moved to sue the hospital, the woman confessed to having been pregnant with another man's baby, Hong said.

Hong also nullified the marriage in his ruling Thursday.

The wife said she was sexually assaulted by the baby's real father, but the court rejected her argument for lack of evidence.

Man Protests Telecom With 80,000 Text Messages

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A New Zealander sent over 80,000 text messages from his mobile phone in May - an average of 2,580 texts a day - in protest at a hike in short message service tariffs.

Allowing eight hours for sleep every day, Fraser Ray, a 24-year-old stay-at-home Dad, zapped off a blizzard of 80,012 text messages from his phone after Telecom Corp. decided to end a deal giving subscribers unlimited SMS for $6.29 a month.

His text attack was simple enough - he repeatedly sent friends a message reading: "Hi. How are you?"

It was not immediately clear what Ray's friends thought of his SMS stunt.

"I think my most consistent attempt was 4,500 texts in a couple of hours while I was watching a film," he said.

Ray said he was angry with Telecom because he had swapped cell phone providers to take advantage of the text messaging deal, which he believed would be in force until 2010.

Telecom spokeswoman Helen Isbister said a handful of people had sent over 100,000 text messages in May.

"I suppose it's an indication of the kind of thing we wanted to discourage by putting a cap" on text messages, she said.

Under its new deal that came into force June 1, Telecom customers can text up to 1,000 times a month for $6.29.

At a maximum rate of 20 cents a text message, Ray would have tallied a bill of more than $10,060 for his SMS protest.

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