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The Odd Truth, Aug. 20, 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.

Mr. Stabbity: A Lesser-Known Villain From 'Charlotte's Web'

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An appeals court has granted a new trial to a man convicted of stabbing a potbellied pig, then blurting out in drunkenness that he wanted pork chops.

Edwin "Louie" Deason, 45, was convicted of two counts of felony cruelty to animals in March 2003.

His attorney had argued that a neighbor, Bob "Big Bob" Wehrheim, was the one who plunged a rusty knife into the pig, severing a main nerve and forcing county Animal Care and Control workers to euthanize the 50-pound animal.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the "trial court abused its discretion" by keeping the jury from hearing Deputy Robert Catalano testify that Wehrheim was an informant in unrelated cases.

"Whether this establishes bias is a question to be resolved by a jury, but this evidence was without a doubt relevant," Chief Judge Mark Polen wrote in the decision.

At the trial, one deputy testified Deason was covered in blood and pig feces when he said, "I cut it, so what?"

But deputies also saw Wehrheim lying on the ground, knife in hand, trying to remove the injured pig from his cage, according to court documents.

Prosecutors have not decided whether to retry the case, said Assistant State Attorney Ken Selvig.

Otter Insanity

PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. - A rabid otter latched onto, and bit, a 6-year-old boy who was taking swimming lessons at a small public lake Wednesday.

Police said Ethan Pederson emerged from the water with the otter hanging onto his back and legs. Lifeguards wrestled it off, but the animal ran in and out of the water several times, chasing after others in the class, police said.

Putnam County Sheriff's deputies were called to the lake about 11:15 a.m. Lifeguards finally trapped the animal under a plastic crate, and a deputy shot it dead, as opposed to shooting it alive. Police said the Putnam County Department of Health reported a positive rabies test.

Pederson was treated for hand and back wounds as well as for rabies.

Freshwater otters have brown fur and grow about 4 feet long. They are usually nocturnal and live off of fish, and sometimes fowl.

Thank Heavens They Weren't Reading

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A pair of teenagers who spent more than two straight days publicly glued to a television set say they have set a new world record for uninterrupted TV viewing.

Chris Dean, 16, and Mike Dudek, 17, logged 52 consecutive hours of viewing time by the time they ended their feat at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The teens, who are incoming high school seniors, surpassed the Guinness World Records mark of 50 hours and seven minutes by nearly two hours — giving new meaning to "must-see TV."

"We've got a record under our belts," Dudek told The Grand Rapids Press.
Confirmation of the record could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months because documentation must be sent to Guinness, Dean said.

The teens set up their television inside an International House of Pancakes restaurant because it is open 24 hours a day and the management was willing to participate.

Workers, friends and onlookers watched Dean and Dudek with curiosity as the teens sat hour after hour in front of their set.

"It's a strange thing to want to do," said Virgil Sandberg, a food server at the IHOP. "It's probably one of the strangest things I've ever seen here."

According to rules set by Guinness, Dean and Dudek were required to remain awake with their eyes always on the television screen. They were given a five-minute break every hour and restroom trips were permitted only during 15-minute breaks every eight hours.
The pair also had to complete their task in a public place and keep a logbook and video documentary of their activities. They dined exclusively off the IHOP menu — taking occasional shots of maple syrup — because outside food was not allowed.

Dean's parents, Gordon and Brenda Dean, helped document the event and said they were proud of their son's unusual achievement.

"He has to be good at something, this is just as well," Gordon Dean said. "He set a goal and reached it."

Hack Attack Smackdown

SINGAPORE - Armed with laptops, modems, hard disk drives and sandwiches, 12 computer experts hunkered down Friday for a seven-hour contest to find the best hacker in tech-savvy Singapore.

Divided into six two-man teams, the contestants participating in "BlackOPS: HackAttack challenge 2004" have to defend their networks and servers from hacking while attacking other teams' systems. The top prize is a DVD burner and computer classes.

"It's a very realistic scenario," said Julian Ho, the organizer of the government-backed contest. "Most security professionals engage in some kind of 'dark art'... Computer espionage is a very big thing."

The contestants hailed from Brunei, China, Myanmar and Singapore, but their identities couldn't be revealed because they all work in the computer security business, organizers said. All entrants had to pass a preliminary competition.

Teams were not allowed to use the Internet as a hacking tool, only computers and modems.

By Friday afternoon, the Brunei team — dubbed "Frozen Throne" — was leading.
Asia has been the root of some of the worst attacks by hackers in recent years. In May 2000, the so-called Love Bug virus, released in the Philippines, overwhelmed e-mail servers worldwide and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Singapore has said it is increasingly concerned about cyber security in the highly wired city-state where eight in 10 households own personal computers.

Hackers can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to $5,852 under Singapore's Computer Misuse Act.

Organizers had said they hoped the contest would help shed light on ways to prevent actual computer attacks.