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The Odd Truth, Aug. 27, 2002

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Dumb Criminal Award Goes To...

JIM THORPE, Pa. — A man sentenced to jail for falling asleep behind the wheel of his car and crashing into a school bus told the judge he dozed off because he was up late the night before making counterfeit checks.

Charles Digiglio, 34, received a two- to four-year sentence for causing the accident in Penn Forest Township on Nov. 20, 2000. Police filed 26 charges against Digiglio, including eight felony charges for the most serious injuries suffered by victims of the accident. He pleaded guilty.

Digiglio gave Carbon County Judge Roger N. Nanovic the unusual excuse for the accident, saying he had been very groggy.

"I was up all night," Digiglio said.

The sentence will run concurrent with an 18-month federal sentence Digiglio is serving for taking part in a ring that used stolen computers to create $500,000 worth of phony payroll and personal checks.

Digiglio was scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Northampton County Court on forgery charges. Authorities said he acknowledged cashing checks for a total of $962 at a Forks Township grocery store. (AP)

Politician Sold To Highest Bidder

SYDNEY - An Australian politician may have to spend a day cleaning a brothel after its madam won him for a day.

Workers at Langtree's brothel in the mining town of Kalgoorlie said that madam Mary-Anne Kenworthy outbid all others in a Rotary Club raffle for a day's worth of work from Liberal party member of parliament Barry Haase.

"She bid $540," said a receptionist. "(She'll get him) cleaning and doing tours, driving the limo."

Haase, a member of Prime Minister John Howard's party, was unruffled.

"You can't be half-hearted about fund-raising for significant charities and I think I'm big enough to play the game," he told Reuters.

Kenworthy told the Australian Broadcasting Corp she looked forward to seeing Haase decked out in a frilly apron. (Reuters)

Penny Pin Prompts Probe

DULUTH, Minn. — Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny is giving away pins made from pennies — a play on his name that may skirt a few laws.

Federal law restricts the attachment of advertising to U.S. bills or coins.

"We are not an enforcement agency, but his attorneys might want to take a look at the statute," Michael White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint, told the Duluth News Tribune.

Penny's campaign said they got clearance from the Mint before gluing pointy posts to pennies to make the pins. The posts are attached with a water-based adhesive that won't damage the coin or the environment, said Jennifer Moire, a campaign spokeswoman.

"We are not advertising. We are not defacing currency. We are not selling anything and the pin is of nominal value," Moire said. "This is just a way for people to demonstrate their support for the candidate."

The pins are distributed on cards that say in part, "The Penny Pin. Wear it to show your support for Tim Penny! Prepared and paid for by Tim Penny for Governor."

Federal law calls for fines on "whoever impresses upon or attaches to any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice or advertisement."

State law says that giving out money in elections is illegal, though its unlikely anyone's vote could be bought for one cent.

Penny's opponents said the pins don't bother them. (AP)

City Mulls Backyard Burial Ban, Finally

RED LION, Pa. — There's no law in this eastern Pennsylvania borough to prevent residents from burying dead loved ones in their backyards, and a local official wants to know if they want that to change.

The borough council plans to discuss an ordinance that would prohibit human burials on property other than established cemeteries. The public will get a chance to comment on the proposal during a Sept. 9 meeting.

Solicitor Michael Craley raised the idea of a home-burial ban. There is no state law prohibiting home burials but the state borough code does allow municipalities to ban the practice if they wish, he said.

The borough has no law to regulate home burials in any way, zoning officer Lynn Rinehart said.

Officials said they did not know how often home burials occur in the borough. (AP)

Gridlock Of The Irish

DUBLIN - A new traffic system was launched in Dublin this week to ease gridlock in a city seen as second only to Calcutta for motoring mayhem.

The color-coded sign system, designed to redirect motorists away from Dublin's choked city center, has sparked a storm of controversy because of its complexity.

Each sign contains up to nine pieces of information based on junction reference numbers and color coding, making them difficult to figure out at a glance.

Despite the controversy, the Dublin City Council said the new system was a success with a 50 percent reduction in vehicles on O'Connell Street, the city's main boulevard.

A business survey found that it took an average of 57 minutes for 11 pounds of goods to be transported 7.5 miles in Dublin, more than three times as long as in New York and more than four times as long as in London. Only Calcutta, where the journey took 4 hours 30 minutes, ranked below Dublin. (Reuters)

Hark! The Audio Angel Sings

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — People who live near a church heard angelic voices in the middle of the night last week because of a technical glitch.

The church plays music in the neighborhood from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. But the old tape system had broken and a new system had been installed, said the Rev. Jim Turner, pastor of St. James United Methodist Church.

"What happened was the new system missed the time by 12 hours. It was playing from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.," he said.

Turner, who lives in a parsonage next to the church, said the music neighbors heard that night was some Celtic Christian music he'd recently bought.

"When I finally went outside, it was pretty loud and it did sound angelic," he said.

Neighbors called police to complain. When Turner and a police officer discovered that neither knew how to stop the music system, they pulled the plug. (AP)

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