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The Odd Truth, April 9, 2004

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

Whiskey Bride Wants Photo Killed

DAYTON, Ohio -- Most women are eager to show off their wedding photos. But Michele Hemphill is suing to get a picture of her drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette in her wedding dress off store shelves.

The photo was taken 22 years ago while Hemphill was with her bridesmaids before her wedding. It's featured on a greeting card with the caption: "Intoxicating Love." Inside it says, "Isn't love intoxicating? Congratulations on your special day."

Hemphill, a mother of three who works at an assisted living community and is active in her church, seeks damages of more than $25,000 for invasion of privacy, publication of private matters, intrusion upon seclusion and slander in her lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Named as defendants are Wallace McNamee of Hilton Head, S.C., who took the photo; Corbis Corp. of Olympia, Wash., an online digital image company; and Portal Publications Ltd. of Novato, Calif., a greeting card publisher.

McNamee was on assignment for Newsweek doing a story about families in the Springfield area when he took the picture, which Hemphill never authorized to be used on greeting cards, the lawsuit says. He licensed the photograph to Corbis, which licensed it to Portal in January 2003 for "nonexclusive use on greeting cards and postcards for worldwide distribution for a three-year period," the lawsuit says.

Hemphill learned of the card on July 31, 2003, when a friend received it. The card is available at retailers in the Dayton and Springfield areas, the lawsuit says.

AOL Raffles Off Spammer's Porsche

NEW YORK -- America Online said its members have submitted more than one million AOL screen names in the Internet company's unorthodox drawing for a spammer's seized sports car.

Last week, AOL announced it had confiscated a red Porsche Boxster S convertible as part of a settlement with a spammer who made more that $1 million from sending unwanted junk e-mail. AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., launched a sweepstakes for the car on March 30 as "a gesture of support and thanks" to its members for their help in the fight against spam.

At one point during the first 24 hours of the sweepstakes, AOL processed several hundred entries per minute, the company said. The drawing has generated 3 million pageviews of the sweepstakes promotion in just over eight days.

AOL will stop taking names at 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday. The winner will be selected in a random drawing on Friday or soon after, and will likely be announced publicly during the week of April 19.

Car Trouble Foils Bank Robbery

ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. -- A man robbed a bank of $1,800 on Thursday, but his car stalled during the getaway and he was caught quickly, police said.

A passer-by unwittingly aided the man by giving him a jump start.

"The guy was trying to start his car, then a lady stopped to help him," witness Nicole Ditzler said. "He couldn't get it started in time. Then the cops came flying in. The lady was flabbergasted."

Dennis Colbert, 39, said the robbery was "a very stupid thing" that he did because he could not afford car repairs.

"I had to get my car fixed for my mom's sake," Colbert told WGAL-TV.

Colbert confessed to police, and all of the money was recovered from his car.

"He actually looked at the photos from the bank surveillance and said, 'Yup, that's me going into the bank. That's me at the counter,'" Mount Joy Township police Lt. Carl Steinhart said.

Colbert was being held in Lancaster County Prison on $50,000 bail.

Thief Returns Car After 'Texting' Apology

SYDNEY, Australia -- A distraught woman used cell phone text messages to persuade a thief to return her car.

Lee Alaban, 34, of Port Macquarie had her Holden Commodore sedan stolen while she was at work on March 30, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Wednesday.

Her 13-year-old son's cell phone was in the car, so Alaban sent text messages to the thief. She explained that the car was a gift from her father shortly before he died and that presents for her son's birthday, which was on the following day, were in its trunk.

"We exchanged a number of text messages," Alaban told the newspaper. "He started apologizing and I felt I was getting through. Next thing, I got this text saying he will return the car."

The thief wrote another text message telling her where to find the car, which he abandoned in a parking lot — but not before stealing the cell phone and the birthday presents.

Alaban was so pleased to get her car back, she even sent a final tongue-in-cheek text.

"If I ever lock myself out of my car, I'll send you a message," she wrote.

And the '11th Commandment' Is ...

LONDON -- If the first 10 commandments were handed to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the 11th was born in less solemn surroundings: The British pub.

The Methodist Church, together with Christian Web site, invited drinkers to send in mobile phone text suggestions for an 11th commandment, leaving details of the unusual competition on beer mats in pubs around the nation.

The winning entry had an appropriately modern twist: "Thou shalt not worship false pop idols."

"The idea was to get people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, thinking about the Commandments and to prompt a debate about ethics," said Simon Jenkins, editor of, who sifted through the 2,000 entries.

"By using beer mats, the Methodist Church hoped to connect with a group it doesn't usually reach," he said.

The church said it plans to publish a book of the best entries.

The top five submissions for a new commandment were rounded out by "Thou shalt not kill in the name of any God," "Thou shalt not confuse text with love," "Thou shalt not be negative" and — in a nod to the Atkins-era — "Thou shalt not consume thine own bodyweight in fudge."