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The Odd Truth, Aug. 25, 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 Brian Bernbaum.

Attack Of The Juicy Tomatoes

MADRID, Spain - Knee-deep in red mush, tens of thousands of revelers pelted each other with tons of ripe tomatoes Wednesday in Spain's messiest summer party.

Police in the eastern village of Bunol - population 10,000 - said some 36,000 people waged the hour-long food fight, bathing themselves, walls and streets with 140 tons of fruit-turned-projectile.

Television footage some warriors literally swimming in the fresh tomato puree, only their heads peeking out of the sea of red pulp.

It all started with a pistol shot at high noon, after which six trucks unloaded ammunition for Spaniards and tourists from as far away as Japan who had gathered for two hours to paste each in the decades-old battle called "La Tomatina."

Residents who preferred to watch from balconies - but get their licks in, too - poured water on the crowd.

Town hall set up 500 makeshift showers for the revelers to clean up. Others bathed in a river.

The festival, held each year on the last Wednesday of August, is said to have started in the 1940s when a clutch of youths began throwing their lunch at each other one day in a downtown square.

They met again the following year, this time pelting passers-by as well and giving birth to the now-legendary food fight.

Man Whipped With Dead Snake

CEDARVILLE, N.J. - It was a snake attack all right, but police charge Kenneth Davis with doing the attacking. Authorities in New Jersey accuse Davis of reacting with drunken rage when a man stepped on and killed his pet six-foot-long black snake. State Police say Davis picked up the dead snake and used it as a whip. Davis is charged with simple assault for attacking 26-year-old Michael File with the dead reptile. Police say File's father had stepped on the snake and hit with a piece of wood. After getting whipped with the snake, police say File hit Davis back - in the head with a baseball bat. Charges are likely against File, too.

God Is Watching Us, From A Telephone

SUMMERFORD, Ohio - Mary Dhume figures she got a phone call from God. The central Ohio woman was watching TV when the phone rang Monday night. She got up to answer it, but there was no one at the other end. Moments later, a pickup truck crashed into her living room where Dhume had been sitting. The driver of the truck missed a curve on the road in front of Dhume's home. Dhume says maybe the phone call was God's way of telling her to get out of the way. The driver ran, but was arrested a few hours later.

Krispy Kreme Helps Kids To Be Smarter, Fatter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Krispy Kreme is offering to reward students with a doughnut for every A on their report card, but the plan seems a little flaky to some officials trying to fight childhood obesity.

Under one promotion, Krispy Kreme stores will give Palm Beach County students in kindergarten through sixth grade a free doughnut for good grades. Another program has students decorate posters of doughnuts with "success sprinkles" when children meet goals. The posters can be turned in for doughnuts.

"Krispy Kreme doughnuts are very good, especially when the 'hot' lights are on, but I can't say that there's anything healthy about them," school board member Debra Robinson said Tuesday. "Can't we find something else? I mean, a doughnut?"

Krispy Kreme doesn't track how many schools are participating. Principals decide whether to allow the doughnut posters or any other business partnership, a school district spokeswoman said.

Jackie Zepeda, Krispy Kreme spokeswoman, said she was unaware of any concern about the doughnut giveaway in light of child obesity, which has been declared an epidemic by the National Institutes of Health.

The promotion comes as 50 schools in Palm Beach and Broward counties won a grant to begin a $1.4 million program to promote a healthier lifestyle with nutrition and exercise programs. The district is also offering healthier school lunch menus.

Man Test-Drives Car, Robs Bank

SOUTH OGDEN, Utah - Police say a man test-driving a used car found it worked just fine as a getaway car after he held up a bank.

The robbery happened in South Ogden, Utah.

Police say the suspect had been test-driving a car with a salesman when they stopped at the bank.

Police say the car salesman was standing outside, giving someone directions, when the man came out of bank and drove off.

Apparently, it wasn't the first bank they visited during the test drive. Police say the suspect stopped earlier at another bank, but left when tellers became suspicious and called police.

It's not clear what reason the man gave the salesman for stopping at the banks.

The suspect was arrested later in Nevada.

And You Thought Your Roommates Were Annoying

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian woman who's trying to reclaim a world record by living in a locked glass box with more than 6,000 scorpions has been stung once, is suffering a fever and scarcely sleeps because the creatures keep crawling over her.

Nur Malena Hassan, 27, said Wednesday she has a "50/50 chance" of reaching her target of being cooped up with the poisonous arachnids for 36 consecutive days to set a new record for the longest stay in a room full of scorpions.

"I'm feeling so much tension," Nur Malena told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the specially built glass room that she moved into Saturday in a shopping mall in Kuantan, a city about 160 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur.

"Nighttime is the worst," she said. "I can only sleep two or three hours, since scorpions get so active at night. But I want to show that Malaysians are capable of world-class efforts."

Nur Malena said she has a mild fever after being stung on her face Sunday. But scorpions rarely sting unless they're disturbed, so she remains cautious while moving within the room, which measures about 12 feet by 10 feet in length.

Nur Malena, who's been nicknamed "Scorpion Queen" in this Southeast Asian country, set a world record in 2001 by living for 30 days with 2,700 scorpions. She was stung seven times, fell unconscious and nearly gave up the potentially deadly feat.

Her record was shattered a year later by Kanchana Ketkeaw, a woman in neighboring Thailand who lived in a similar glass room for 32 days with 3,400 scorpions.

"Having 6,000 scorpions is different from 3,000," Nur Malena said. "It's just worse."

Nur Malena has built up an endurance to stings after more than five years of training. But she says she'll still pass out if she's stung three times within a short span.