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The Odd Truth, April 2, 2004

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.

Mom Strips At Son's Birthday

MERCER, Pa. - A Pennsylvania mom is going to jail for allegedly stripping at her teenage son's birthday party. Prosecutors charged that 35-year-old Patricia Johnson provided the entertainment when plans to ride go-carts fizzled. Yesterday, a judge sentenced Johnson to serve three to 15 months in jail. She pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor corruption charge and furnishing alcohol to minors. But Johnson didn't admit she stripped for the 13 to 16-year-old boys at a hotel. Authorities say Johnson bought beer for her son and three friends -- and licked their faces while she did her striptease act. Johnson says her unusual behavior was fueled by pills and alcohol.

Sewage Backup Sends Manholes Soaring

IRVING, Texas - A faulty gate at a wastewater treatment plant backed up millions of gallons of raw sewage, causing a smelly mess that flowed into a river, shot manholes into the air and closed a park.

State and federal environmental regulators were reviewing what caused the problem at the Trinity River Authority's east Grand Prairie plant, blocking all sewage from getting into the site for a half-day Wednesday.

The force of the flow launched at least eight manholes skyward, geysers of sewage rose more than four feet high, and part of a golf course and a park were closed.

"Take the worst thing you've ever smelled and multiply it by 10," said golfer Len Stahly, 71.

Nearly 70 million gallons of raw sewage backed up, and about 3 million gallons of it flowed into the river, officials said Thursday.

The blocked gate was initially raised with cranes and cables, but crews eventually fixed the problem by opening the plant's only other gate, which had been closed for construction, spokesman John Jadrosich said.

Impatient Robber

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - No service, no patience, no payoff.

According to police, a would-be robber walked out empty-handed Wednesday when he got tired of waiting for someone at a suburban pharmacy to respond to his written demand for narcotics.

Pharmacist Dwight Disney said a man walked up to one of his co-workers at Vaughn Pharmacy in Powell and passed her a note scribbled on an envelope.

The note demanded drugs and said the robber had a pipe bomb strapped to his chest. Disney said the man pulled back his jacket, revealing some wires.

Disney said his colleague "didn't want to find out if it was real" and brought him the note. The pharmacist called 911.

After all the pharmacy workers avoided approaching the robber for about five minutes, he walked out without a word.

"I didn't have a plan or anything," Disney said. "He helped us when he just decided to walk out."

Knox County authorities are searching for the suspect.

Brawl Erupts At Anger Management Assembly

WOODLAWN, Md. - A brawl broke out during an anger management assembly at a suburban high school.

Two people were arrested and 11 students were suspended after a shoving match escalated into a melee during Thursday's assembly.

Authorities said a confrontation between a student's mother and a group of girls who had been bothering her daughter turned into a shouting match, and led to pushing and hitting, before the crowd of 750 students erupted into "chaos," said C. Anthony Thompson, principal of Woodlawn High School.

The melee began as students on stage acted out peaceful ways to resolve conflict during the assembly was organized by Sheppard Pratt Health System.

"People were climbing over seats and started fighting about stupid stuff," said ninth-grader Melissa Parks.

"Unfortunately, that original incident at the assembly became the catalyst for other fights," said Douglas J. Neilson, a spokesman for Baltimore County schools.

It took about 15 minutes to defuse the situation, Thompson said.

The mother, who was not identified because she had not been brought before a commissioner, was to be charged with trespassing and disrupting school activities, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a spokesman for the police department. The daughter, who was not identified because she is a minor, was to be charged with second-degree assault, he said.

Underwear Drug Smuggling Ring Broken

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Deputies in Georgia made short work of a long johns smuggling scheme. Authorities accuse Octavia Robertson of hiding a plastic bag of pot in some thermal underwear left for an inmate at the Chatham County Jail. A woman with her, Shirlena Ann Spellman, was also busted. According to police, she tried to smuggle joints into the joint last month. When authorities went to check their car in the parking lot, they also found drugs in a nearby car. The man driving that car was also arrested. Robertson and Spellman are charged with crossing a guard line with drugs. The man is accused of pot possession.

Six-Year-Old Drives Drunk Uncle

SYDNEY, Australia - A drunk-driver who let his six-year-old nephew take the steering wheel was sentenced by a court on Friday to six months of weekend detention and banned from driving for five years.

Gavin Conrad Harris, 31, had his license suspended in January when he crashed his car into a parked police vehicle. Stunned traffic officers found his 6-year-old nephew sitting on his lap, controlling the steering wheel. Neither was wearing a seatbelt.

In Manly Local Court in Sydney Magistrate Andrew George told Harris that he was "unable to make any reasonable judgments when you are affected by alcohol."

"It is difficult to say there is a more serious example of drink-driving," George said.

Harris, a former self-employed plumber with three previous drink-driving convictions, read a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.215 percent.

That reading is more than four times the legal limit throughout Australia, of 0.05 percent.

Howard Stern: April Fooler

NEW YORK - Fans who turned on Howard Stern's radio show yesterday morning heard a perky morning team - Cross and Lopez - promising "fun without the filth." They played Clay Aiken songs and chatted about the movies coming out this weekend.

They also played a taped message from Stern's general manager saying he had to take Stern off the air because he didn't want to risk having the FCC pull the company's license.

The joke lasted about an hour and a-half before Stern came on the air and said - April Fool.

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