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The Odd Truth, April 20, 2004

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

Scissors Left Inside Woman

SYDNEY, Australia - A Sydney woman demanded an explanation Tuesday from a hospital where a pair of scissors were left in her abdomen after surgery and said she planned to sue.

Pat Skinner, 69, had part of her colon removed at Sydney's St. George Hospital in May 2001. But she said that she continued to suffer intense pain in her abdomen for months after the operation.

Eventually, she demanded doctors x-ray her abdomen. They did and discovered the 6.7-inch pair of scissors, which were removed in October 2002.

"It was like a nightmare seeing those scissors up on the screen," Skinner told Sky News television Tuesday. "It was very, very traumatic and extremely painful."

The hospital has apologized to Skinner for the accident, but Tuesday she said plans to take legal action, although she did not provide any details.

A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that lawyers for both sides were currently meeting and discussing the matter.

The incident was reported to the Health Care Complaints Commission, but no disciplinary action was taken against the surgeon or the four other staffers who operated on Skinner, said the hospital's chief executive, David Pearce.

"Basically, the advice to ... Mrs. Skinner is that we couldn't explain how a pair of 6.7-inch scissors was left in her abdomen," Pearce told Sydney radio station 2GB Tuesday.

"We have put this down to human error. I've been executive director here for four years, and in that time we've done something like 40,000 operations and this is the first time this incident has occurred."

To Do: Rob Bank

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A man who added "rob bank" to his to-do list pleaded guilty to robbing six banks in suburban Kansas City.

John Sarver pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to six counts of bank robbery.

Sarver, 47, of Kansas City, Kan., admitted robbing the banks in suburban Leawood, Prairie Village, Shawnee and Olathe between January 2002 and December 2003.

In each case, Sarver handed a teller a note demanding money.

After his arrest on Jan 2, officers searching his home found the list reminding him to rob a bank.

Sarver could get 20 years without parole on each count when he is sentenced July 12.

Explosion Sends Manhole Covers Soaring

HONG KONG - An underground explosion sent 19 manhole covers flying from the pavement in a Hong Kong suburb, but no one was injured, police and media said Sunday.

Police spokeswoman Cherry Yau confirmed the Saturday morning incident. The Ming Pao Daily News newspaper reported Sunday that the explosion was suspected to have been caused by a gas pipe leak.

The report said one of the manhole covers - which protect access to sewers and weigh about 44 pounds each - shot up 30 feet, while another flew to a neighboring road, but Yau said no one was injured.

Aborigine Casts Curse On Australian PM

COLAC, Australia - An Aboriginal woman clad in possum skins put a traditional curse on Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday, apparently in retaliation for government plans to abolish Australia's top indigenous elected body.

Howard encountered the woman on a visit to Colac, an outback town with 500 people in the state of Victoria. Supporters turned up to greet the prime minister along with angry Aboriginal protesters and the woman, known only as Moopor.

Painted in traditional tribal makeup and wearing possum skins, Moopor stood silently and cast the curse by pointing an inch-long bone at Howard as he climbed into a waiting car. Howard smiled and waved at Moopor before leaving.

Moopor refused to speak with reporters, citing unspecified Aboriginal cultural reasons. It was not clear what effect the curse was intended to have on the prime minister.

Geoff Clark, the chairman of the soon-to-be scrapped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, said the curse was a warning for Howard.

"Mr. Howard can ... ignore the message at his own peril and be put under a curse up until the next federal election," Clark told reporters.

The commission, widely referred to as ATSIC, advises the government on indigenous issues. With 17 commissioners elected by Aboriginal voters and a budget of more than $600 million, it administers government-funded projects aimed at improving their lives.

But Howard said on April 15 that his government plans to abolish the 14-year-old commission because it has failed to improve the lot of most Aborigines, who remain the poorest, sickest and least educated minority group among Australia's 20 million people.

In place of ATSIC, the government wants to appoint a panel of Aboriginal experts to advise it on indigenous needs.

Ford Swears They Don't Hate Cats, Really

DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. is upset by the release of an Internet commercial that depicts a computer generated cat being decapitated, saying it didn't authorize the proposed ad or its release.

The ad for the Sportka, a hatchback sold in Europe, shows the realistic-looking orange cat climbing on top of the car and curiously poking its head into the open moonroof, The Detroit News reported Sunday.

The moonroof slides closed and the cat struggles briefly to escape before its headless body slides to the ground.

Ford says the clip was conceived without its approval by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather as part of a viral marketing campaign for the Sportka. A type of e-mail marketing, viral marketing is the electronic version of word of mouth - usually inviting the recipients to forward an e-mail to others.

"We find this unauthorized ad totally unacceptable and reprehensible and deplore the fact that it has been unofficially issued," Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said.

In a statement, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide said the unapproved and unofficial video clip was leaked April 1 and transmitted by e-mail around the world. The company said the ad wasn't sanctioned by Ogilvy or Ford.

"Both companies find this unofficial advertisement totally unacceptable and reprehensible," the statement said. "The action in the video clip was totally computer generated, and we would like to assure you that no animal was harmed in its making."

Man Posing As Undercover Agent Handcuffs Neighbor

KINSTON, N.C. - A man claiming to be an undercover agent hauled in a handcuffed neighbor for booking - but ended up facing charges of his own.

Reginald Suggs was charged Sunday with kidnapping, aggravated assault and possession of a concealed weapon. He was in jail Monday with bond set at $15,000.

Wilbur Grady said Suggs, 49, approached him Sunday and told him he was under arrest. He brandished a wooden stick and a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun, according to police reports. Grady said he recognized Suggs, who lives a few doors down on the same street.

"I was just in the yard washing the tires when this dude walked up in my yard and said he was an undercover agent," Grady said. "He told me I was under arrest. I told him to get out of my yard with that crazy talk."

The two exchanged words before Suggs rushed up and cuffed Grady's hands behind his back. Suggs then forced Grady, 68, into Suggs' car and drove him to the county jail. He told a magistrate that he had brought in a prisoner for possession of stolen property, selling illegal lottery tickets and selling alcohol without a permit.

"It was the darndest thing," said Joe Grady, a 12-year veteran in the Lenoir County Magistrate's office who quickly realized Suggs didn't have the authority to make arrests. "I've never seen anything like that before."

Global Bedroom Survey Finds Sex, Sleep

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Austrians love their bedrooms, but seldom make love in them. Malaysians often have sex in their bedrooms, but don't get much sleep there.

Those are some of the conclusions of an international Gallup poll presented Tuesday by Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

The company wanted to know how frequently people in Europe, Asia and North America use their bedrooms for different activities, including sleeping, relaxing and "romance."

In Sweden and Iceland, 72 percent of respondents said they use their bedrooms for romantic endeavors, while in China the same figure was 20 percent.

Malaysians were the most sexually active - 43 percent said they have sex daily in their bedrooms. Malaysia was also the place were people sleep the least: Six hours and 36 minutes per night, about half an hour less than the survey's average.

Austrians ranked low in sexual activity, but were the most satisfied with their bedrooms, ahead of Belgians and Swiss. Russians were the least satisfied.

The survey was conducted in January and included 14,000 IKEA customers in 27 countries. The margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.

Spaniards and Americans were most likely to keep their bedrooms private, while almost half of Chinese allowed their friends access.

Other facts in the survey: Three-quarters make their bed daily; people who frequently change their mattresses have more sex; and the most common fixture of a bedroom is the alarm clock.

The Fastest Goal In The World!

LONDON - An amateur soccer player who scored two-and-a-half seconds into a game earlier this month was credited with the world's fastest goal by the England Football Association on Tuesday.

Marc Burrows scored the goal for Cowes Sports in an amateur league match on April 3. The FA gave its confirmation after receiving a match report from referee John Sorrell.

"We can now say that Marc's goal is the fastest we are aware of," the association said in a statement. "Two-and-a-half seconds may not seem long enough to complete the maneuver described by the referee but we appreciate there was an exceptionally strong wind."

Burrows, who registered a hat trick in the game, said he would contact the Guinness Book of Records to try and get his achievement in the next edition.

"The wind was so strong I thought it was worth a goal," Burrows said at the time. "The ball just sailed over their poor keeper. I was so stunned I didn't really celebrate. I just put my hands in the air and burst out laughing."

The previous fastest goal, according to the Guinness World Record organization, was scored in 2.8 seconds by Argentine Ricardo Olivera in 1998.