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The Odd Truth, Aug. 12, 2004

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's William Vitka.

Puss And Powell

WASHINGTON (AP) - Colin Powell, the black cat, will meet on Friday with Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

The U.S. Cat Fanciers' Association has named Colin Powell, a Bombay pedigree cat, black cat of the year.

Colin Powell, the secretary of state, has agreed to a meeting in the State Department's treaty room on the seventh floor - for pictures not dialogue.

The room has served loftier purposes through history, including the signing of important treaties.

Serial Snuggler

BATON ROUGE, La. - Baton Rouge's serial "snuggler" - the man who snuck into women's apartments just to cuddle with them - has been sentenced to five years' probation.

District Judge Todd Hernandez said before pleading guilty earlier this year to 12 counts of unauthorized entry, Steve Danos led a commendable life, one that would make any parent unbelievably proud. The judge attributed Danos' recent bizarre behavior to the use of alcohol and drugs.

Authorities say none of Danos' victims was hurt. Instead, he roused the residents to ask about a party, helped himself to beer and pizza, folded clothes, made nachos and crawled into one woman's bed to rub her stomach.

Danos' attorney, Robert Gill, said Danos was an outstanding high school athlete who expected to join L-S-U's baseball team as a walk-on. When he didn't make the team, Gill says Danos sank into depression.

The odd behavior, he says, began when Danos started soothing himself with Xanax, alcohol and marijuana.

Hernandez ordered Danos to complete 200 hours of community service, attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and submit to regular drug screenings. He also reminded Danos of the suspended sentence he'll have to serve if he doesn't comply with the conditions of his probation.

Six-Legged Spook

CHESTERTOWN, Md. - It turned out to be just a bug on the lens of a security camera. The would-be ghost haunting Kent County Court House is an anomaly that's happened before, a security company said.

On July 29, for a little more than an hour, a courthouse security camera showed a round, translucent, white object that seemed to "walk" up and down a set of stairs inside the newer wing of the courthouse. A security officer first saw the strange light on a delayed video and then live on the video system.

"I've seen it so many times, it's not funny," said Brooke Eyler, general manager of Atlantic Security, which installed the courthouse cameras. "It's definitely a bug."

But a self-proclaimed "ghost investigator" wants to have another look.

Beverly Lipsinger, president of the Maryland Ghost & Spirit Association, said the descriptions she's heard don't sound like a bug. But she hasn't seen the video yet for herself.

"It's a ghost," said Lipsinger, a Randallstown resident. "They don't want to believe, so they're coming up with something."

It Just Wasn't Buddha's Scene

HONOLULU - Buddha said, "Everything is changeable." And some Waikiki Buddhists would like to see the name of a local watering hole changed.

The famed Buddha Bar in Paris has imitators all over the world, but it's one in Waikiki that's running into opposition.

Local Buddhists have launched a letter-writing campaign to city and state government agencies to protest the name of the new Buddha Bar.

"In my letter, I said a Christian would find it offensive to see a Jesus Bar," said Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel, president of the Hawaii Association of International Buddhists.

Buddhism is estimated to be the second largest religion in Hawaii after Roman Catholicism.

The bar opened last week in the space formerly occupied by the House of Hong, one of the city's premium Chinese restaurants for 40 years before it closed earlier this year.

Bar owners and promoters said they did not mean to offend anyone, noting that the concept of using Asian influences in a bar's interior decorations is popular all over the world. The Waikiki bar is not affiliated with other Buddha Bars.

"I'm at a loss how to handle it," said Les Hong, president of Hong's Enterprises, which owns the bar property. "It never crossed my mind that this would upset people. We are sensitive to the concerns of some people and will try to address it."

It Was For The Secret Candy Demons

ALBUQUERQUE - It was sweet sleuthing for cops casing a candy crime.

They quickly caught the sweet tooth who made off with a box of Fifth Avenue candy bars early Monday.

A trail of candy bars led police to the front porch of a home in southeast Albuquerque, where they found Lawrence Jordan.

Jordan, a 20-year homeless man, faces commercial burglary charges for stealing a box of candy bars from a convenience store, according to a criminal complaint.

When officers responded to an alarm at the store, they noticed a broken window and a trail of Fifth Avenues in the direction Jordan had fled.

Witnesses saw Jordan running from the store, clutching the candy, the complaint said.

The owner of the store said several candy bars were recovered from the street and the rest were with Jordan in the box. Jordan apparently didn't eat any of the candy.

The complaint said Jordan told police he broke into the store "because he needed help." He refused to elaborate.

Crawling Metropolis

MELBOURNE, Australia - Normally clannish and aggressive Argentine ants have become so laid back since arriving in Australia decades ago that they no longer fight neighboring nests and have formed a super colony here that spans 60 miles, scientists say.

The huge colony stretches under the southern Australian city of Melbourne.
Argentine ants are not harmful to humans, but have been known to displace native plants and animals.

"In Argentina, their native homeland, ant colonies span tens of meters, are genetically diverse and highly aggressive towards one another," Monash University researcher Elissa Suhr said in a statement this week. "So, population numbers never explode and they are no threat to other plants and animals."

However, Suhr said the genetic structure of Argentine ants here has changed since they first arrived in 1939, making them less aggressive and more likely to mate with ants from neighboring nests.

"Now they're uncolonial ... and the ants from different nests are not aggressive towards one another. So that enables them to grow into an absolutely enormous colony that covers the whole city," Suhr told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio late Wednesday.

Suhr said the Argentine ants could even displace native species by taking over local habitats and preying on insects commonly eaten by Australian ants.

Australia is not the only country to be invaded by the Argentine ants, Suhr said.

"In California, they have displaced native ants, decreased the diversity of other native insects, affected the dispersal of seeds and even decreased lizard numbers," she said.