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The Odd Truth, April 21, 2004

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

Frog Family Tradition

SPRINGFIELD, S.C. - Justin Hodson says his clan has developed a rigid workout schedule for all competitors in what's become a family tradition - championship frog jumping. He's speaking of the muscular, chiseled, glistening green bodies of the American Bullfrogs whose flight skills were honed to an edge for the 38th Annual Springfield, South Carolina, Governor's Frog Jump Contest. Back in 1978, a family frog named "Tim" recorded a 12-point-three-inch leap in what was to become a winning tradition that has seen a family member on the winner's podium 18 times. Competition-quality frogs are kept on a high-protein diet before any jumping event, consisting of the highest quality crickets of a "native variety." And Hodson says a frying pan was kept close at hand during tryouts and training "to remind the frogs of the alternative to being the best jumper they can be."

World's First KFC Torn Down

SALT LAKE CITY - The world's first KFC is no more.

The original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant has been ripped down in Salt Lake City, to make room for a new restaurant and museum honoring the chicken chain's legacy.

The museum will house various bits of memorabilia, including some of the original pressure-cookers used to make the chicken.

One thing it won't have is Colonel Harland Sanders' legendary - and secret - blend of eleven herbs and spices. The recipe is locked in a vault at KFC's Louisville headquarters.

Outrage Over Buddha Bikini

BANGKOK, Thailand - Victoria's Secret - the American company known for its racy lingerie - may have gone too far with its new bikini featuring images of Buddha.

The swimsuit has angered government officials and clergy in this mainly Buddhist country, who plan to ask the company to suspend worldwide sales of the offending item and are considering banning its import into Thailand.

The swimsuit, with pictures of a seated Buddha on the breast areas of the halter, "is a major insult to Buddhism," said Gen. Amnuay Phetsiri, the deputy chief of the national police of Thailand.

Victoria's Secret does not have any outlets in Thailand, and no local company imports its products.

Amnuay, the deputy police chief, however, said police are looking at the legality of preventing the import of the swimsuit by businesses and individuals.

Thailand's Foreign Ministry has also asked its embassy in the United States to appeal to Victoria's Secret to immediately halt sales of the swimsuit, said the ministry spokesman, Sihasak Phuangketkeow.

Man Arrested After Scaling Jinmao Tower

SHANGHAI, China - A man has been arrested and ordered detained for 15 days for climbing the 88-story Jinmao Tower, China's tallest building, police said Thursday.

Television reports showed Wang Huan, a 27-year-old from northeastern Liaoning province, scaling the 1,400-foot silver spire in Pudong, Shanghai's new financial district, as a crowd gathered to watch.

Footage showed him stopping to wave once he was halfway through the climb, which took more than an hour, according to an officer at a nearby police station, who refused to give her name.

Wang did the climb on Tuesday, but the stunt was not reported until late Wednesday.

Wang was not the first to climb the building without ropes, and police came prepared, laying a cushion below in case he fell. Officers were waiting at the top to arrest him.

Wang was detained for "infringing public security," but was not fined for the stunt, the police officer said.

Marijuana, By Mail

HONG KONG - Hong Kong customs officials arrested five people for allegedly ordering marijuana by mail from Canada with a total local market value of about $269,200, officials and news reports said.

The Sing Tao Daily newspaper reported Sunday that the cannabis was in boxes purporting to contain ginseng tea.

Officers found 15.6 pounds of the drug in several mail packages between April 8 and last Friday, Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department said in a statement Saturday.

The government statement didn't provide further information on the five suspects arrested, but the Sing Tao report said they were men ages 23-40.

The statement didn't say whether they'd been charged.

Importing marijuana carries a maximum penalty of $12,820 and 15 years' imprisonment in Hong Kong.

Officials Urge Halt To Memorial Day Candy-Throwing

IRWIN, Pa. - Borough officials want the Veterans of Foreign Wars to stop throwing candy to children during the Memorial Day parade, saying the event is meant to be a solemn remembrance of the area's war dead.

The borough council suggested tossing small flags to children instead, but the decision will be up to VFW Post 781 in North Huntingdon Township. The post organizes the parade each year in neighboring Irwin, about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh.

The post's vice commander, John Bussard, said he has no problem eliminating the candy.

The council also has asked DARE, an anti-drug group sponsored by the police department, not to pump pop music from the group's parade truck and asked fire departments not to sound truck sirens as they pass.

"It's not that type of parade. It's solemn," said Council President Danyce Neal.

Councilman Todd Bertani accused his colleagues of taking something away that children look forward to.

"To continue to attract families, it's something simple to do."

Marathon Walker's Shoes Stolen

PERTH, Australia - Deborah De Williams' fund-raising trek around Australia came to a temporary halt when thieves made off with her most required equipment - her walking shoes.

On the road since leaving her Melbourne home in southeastern Australia on Oct. 17, 2003, De Williams has trudged through cyclones and floods in a bid to become the first woman to walk around Australia.

Thieves in remote Halls Creek in Western Australia state stole four pairs of walking shoes, her wedding rings, a mobile phone, and a digital camera from her van over the weekend, she said Wednesday.

"I am not bitter or angry with the people who have done this. I keep thinking of the Mark Twain quote: 'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it,"' she told reporters.

Local police arrested five people - four youngsters and an adult - and recovered some of her belongings, including two pairs of shoes.

One of the youths was wearing a pair of De Williams' shoes when apprehended, Sen. police Const. Greg Ukich said.

The five will face court on Friday. It wasn't immediately known what punishments they faced.

De Williams is hoping to raise $182,500 for charity, walking an average of about 26 miles a day to complete the 9,070-mile trek within a year.

Bones May Uncover Corgi's Long Royal History

LONDON - Corgis, the little dogs with the short legs, may have a long royal history.

Archaeologists from Cardiff University said Wednesday that ninth century bones unearthed in Wales may be those of the first Welsh corgi to be kept as a royal pet.

They have been analyzing bones found at an ancient royal dwelling in a bog in the Brecon Beacons, a hilly area of southern Wales.

"We have the foreleg of a corgi-sized dog, which, dare we suggest, might be a much-favored ancestral royal companion," said Alan Mulville, of the university's School of History and Archaeology, who is leading the study.

Britain's current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, got her first corgi as an 18th birthday present in 1944 and is a well-known lover of the breed. Her mother, the late Queen Mother Elizabeth, also had corgis.

Experts believe the crannog - a lake or bog dwelling built on stilts or a man-made island - at Llangorse Lake was the royal residence for the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog, dating from around A.D. 890. Tree ring dating of oak planks from the crannog indicate that it was built between 889 and 893.

Crannogs are normally associated with Scotland and Ireland, and the Llangorse crannog is the first to be discovered in Wales.

The archaeologists have asked the Welsh Corgi Club to help them test the find against those of more recent corgi skeletons.

Sylvia Hughes, the club's honorary secretary, said she always believed the breed had royal links dating back hundreds of years.

"It has been rumored for some time that there were always royal links, but it was good to hear the news," said Hughes, who has owned corgis for almost 50 years.

The sturdy, short-legged breed originally was used to herd animals. "Corgi" is the Gaelic word for "dog."

Queen Elizabeth II is often accompanied on walks by a pack of the dogs, some of which she has bred herself. The queen also has owned "dorgis" - crosses of corgis and the late Princess Margaret's dachshund.

Cat Survives 19 Days In Airplane Cargo Hold

PHOENIX - Billy the cat is one well-traveled feline.

He boarded a US Airways flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia on March 29 with his owners, Guenther and Ingrid Koelbl, and was supposed to be transferred to the Koelbl's Germany-bound plane.

Instead, he escaped from his cage and spent 19 days in the cargo hold, somehow finding enough food and water to survive.

Workers discovered him on the jet last week at Manchester Airport in New Hampshire after hearing him meow.

He was treated at an animal hospital and is doing well, said Guenther Koelbl from his home in Germany. The cat will be reunited with his family on Wednesday.

"For sure, that plane is definitely free of mice," said Guenther, who lived in the Phoenix area for three years before moving to Kirchdorf, a small town east of Munich.

He said the family is just relieved to have Billy back.

"The worst thing was not knowing what happened to him. We don't see them as cats, we see them as family members," he said.