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The Odd Truth: Aug. 2, 2005

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

Sea Lion Attack

CAYUCOS, Calif. - A 13-year-old Boogie boarder said he was chased by a sea lion that bit a chunk out of his foam board. Matthew Huff said the sea lion started chasing him Saturday evening while he was riding the board off the northern end of Morro Strand State Beach.

"It was pretty scary," said Huff, who lives in Nubieber, near Redding in Northern California. He spends every summer visiting his grandparents in Morro Bay.

The teenager said he saw the sea lion swimming toward him and he tried to get out of the way.

"He kept chasing me," Huff said.

The animal then bit the right side of the Boogie board, then circled back. When the teen put the board between himself and the sea lion, it took another bite, he said.

Ranger Dale Kinney said the sea lion was probably sick, noting sick animals often become aggressive when they're approached or touched by humans.

"A lot of times they're out on the beach because they're sick, so they're pretty grumpy anyway," the ranger said.

Man Pleads Guilty, Then Marries

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Minutes after pleading guilty to a gang-related stabbing death, Joshua Martin Miracle got married in the same courtroom.

Miracle, 26, who faces death or life in prison without parole for killing Elias Raymond Silva, 30, in October, exchanged wedding vows Friday with longtime girlfriend Christina Beltran, 21, during a brief ceremony performed by retired Superior Court Judge William Gordon.

The groom, handcuffed and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, managed to steal a kiss before bailiffs took him back to County Jail.

The bride declined comment.

"I think they are very committed to each other and, despite the present unhappy circumstance, want to be together as much as they can," Miracle's advisory lawyer Joe Allen said. "This will enable Christina to come and visit him wherever he may be."

For three months, Miracle has represented himself in the murder case with the help of his court-appointed advisory lawyer. Miracle insisted on pleading guilty but Superior Court Judge Brian Hill said state law prohibiting defendants in capital cases from pleading guilty without the advise of any attorney.

The judge accepted his guilty plea after Allen assured him the defendant was fully aware of the consequences of his pleas.

Saddam's Car Sells

DANBURY, Conn. - First Sergeant William von Zehle thinks he has the mother of all Mercedes, Saddam Hussein's car. The Connecticut soldier bought the car for about $5,000 when he was serving in Baghdad. The armored Mercedes even has flame throwers that shoot out the sides for crowd control. Von Zehle says he did some research on his pimped-up ride and found just three of armored 560 models were sold to the Iraqi government in 1988. He says that means only one thing -- Saddam. Von Zehle had the Mercedes shipped back home where it sits in his garage. He hasn't registered the car yet and says it needs some work. He says he has to replace a broken front passenger window. But the bulletproof glass costs more than $14,000.

Worm Farming

OREGON CITY, Ore. - Worm rancher Dan Holcombe is finally getting some respect. His livestock lives in a big plastic tank in his yard. But now worm wrangling is right up there with cattle ranching and wheat farming, at least in Oregon. A bill signed last week by Oregon's governor will add worms to the state's list of tax-exempt farm products. Holcombe tells The Oregonian newspaper that it's about time worms got some recognition. He says his Red Wigglers eat garbage and create prized compost. Not to mention the fish bait. And the worms aren't as yucky you might think. Holcombe's wife Jane says their worms are like family.

Chess World Record

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.- Susan Polgar's got some moves. She better. She'll need thousands of chess moves to set some new records. Polgar started playing chess yesterday morning in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. She hopes to play 20 hours straight to set a new Guinness mark. She also wants to break the 321 game record for the largest number of simultaneous chess games played. She's a Grandmaster, who has won the Chess Olympiad five times. But playing so many hours could tax even the greatest chess player. One of her current opponents, Neil Bauman, says Polgar is going to have one powerful headache.

Manure Theft

SALEM, Mass. - A Harvard economics professor is in some deep doo-doo, for stealing a truck-load of manure. A judge has ordered Martin Weitzman to pay a horse farmer $600 for the droppings and contribute $300 to the Boy Scouts. Had Weitzman bought the manure, he would have paid just 35 bucks. But it could have been a lot worse for the professor. The judge dismissed charges of larceny, trespassing and destruction of property.

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