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The Odd Truth, Aug. 29, 2002

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

MIT Rips Off Comic Book

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - When MIT announced in March that it won a $50 million grant to design high-tech gear for the U.S. Army's "soldier of the future," the project was hailed as the stuff of science fiction and comic book heroes.

It turns out there was a lot more to those plaudits than most people realized.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has grudgingly acknowledged that it copied images from the sci-fi comic book "Radix" as part of its winning bid to host a research center that aims to make soldiers partly invisible and allow them to clear 20-foot walls in a single bound.

But with the Canadian creators of "Radix" crying foul and weighing their legal options, the tale may not end there.

The illustration in question -- a masked female soldier -- appeared on page 13 of a grant proposal MIT submitted to the Pentagon to host the high-tech Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

When MIT won the grant, beating out other schools such as Cornell University, national news media used the image to illustrate the kinds of futuristic warrior gear that the institute hoped to develop.

"It was an innocent use," MIT spokesman Ken Campbell said. "We didn't know it was from anyone else's artwork." The university issued a statement explaining its stance after an article appeared in the Boston Globe. (Reuters)

Not Your Typical Toothache

KIRKLAND, Wash. — This time it was the doctor overseeing a root canal that had the jitters, and for good reason.

The patient, Bengo, was a 400-pound pet tiger, a Siberian-Bengal mix, with two broken teeth. Even with his front paws declawed, one swipe could break a man's neck in the six minutes it would take for a sedative administered by injection to take effect.

"I've had second thoughts," said Dr. Skip Nelson, 62, a veterinarian who once worked at a zoo. "Tigers don't necessarily like having a needle stuck in their butt."

As it turned out, the 18-month-old tiger was about as much trouble as a pussycat.

Wearing a tie with tigers on it, Nelson greeted Bengo, stroked the animal's head and gingerly used a syringe mounted on a long pole to administer two shots.

Once the animal fell asleep, he was wheeled into a small office at Nelson's business, The Exotic Pet & Bird Clinic, for the root canal performed by Dr. Gregg DuPont, 47, an animal dentist. (AP)

Killer Timing!

NEW ORLEANS — It's a small world after all.

Working off-duty security at a bus station, homicide detective Bernard Crowden was catching up on paperwork for a murder case when the suspect walked up and asked where he could catch a cab.

Days earlier, Crowden had issued an arrest warrant for Tron Hughes, 22.

"Out of all the police officers on the job, probably the only officer who would have recognized his face or known he was wanted for murder was me," Crowden said Tuesday. "That's a bit of bad luck."

Crowden immediately arrested Hughes, who had just stepped off a bus from Houston.

Hughes was booked for first-degree murder and was being held in Orleans Parish Prison without bond. (AP)

Guilt By Association

WACO, Texas - A fraternity at Baptist-run Baylor University has been suspended for a year after its members posed for Playboy magazine, even though everyone in the picture was fully clothed, a school spokesman said Wednesday.

The students -- about 50 members of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and four women -- were found to be in violation of the school's sexual misconduct policy, spokesman Larry Brumley said.

The students posed on a volleyball court for the photograph, which was published in the October issue.

The suspension means the fraternity must cease activities for a year, but Brumley said Sigma Phi Epsilon has appealed.

Playboy spokeswoman Elizabeth Norris said the magazine was dismayed.

"I'm sure if you ask all the guys, in their heart of hearts they were thrilled to be in the magazine," she said. "You have to wonder what kind of education they're (Baylor) giving students." (Reuters)

Target Yanks 'Neo-Nazi' Apparel

MINNEAPOLIS - Retail giant Target Corp has called on its 1,100 stores to remove shorts and baseball caps marked "eight eight" or "88" -- code among neo-Nazis for "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

Minneapolis-based Target, one of the largest discount chains in the country, directed its stores to remove the items after being alerted to the problem through the efforts of a California shopper and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national organization which tracks racist groups.

Joseph Rodriguez, a 51-year-old video producer/director at the University of California-Davis, discovered the "88" products in a Sacramento-area Target store in late July.

Rodriguez was looking at a pair of red shorts -- marked with skulls and other symbols -- when he noted that they also bore the numeric white supremacist code.

"I just thought they were cool," Rodriguez said in a release provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center. "But when I saw the 'EIGHT EIGHT,' I couldn't believe it." (Reuters)

Squid Pro Quo

LISBON, Portugal - A giant squid has washed up on a Portuguese beach, a rare occurrence for the deep-water creature.

Bathers found the dead 21-foot animal on a beach near Melides, about 50 miles south of Lisbon, a spokeswoman for the Oceanographic Museum of Portinho da Arrabida said.

Nature reserve workers transported the 110-pound cephalopod to the museum, she said. It has been frozen awaiting examination and classification.

Giant squid normally live at depths of 1,600 to 3,300 feet and usually sink when they die. (Reuters)

Turtles Take A Wrong Turn

ROME - Four dozen sea turtles took the wrong turn after they hatched on a moonless night and walked into a vacation home instead of heading out to sea.

La Repubblica newspaper reported Thursday that the tiny turtles were attracted by the house lights close to the Agrigento beach on the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

The animals were collected in a bucket by the astonished resident, Andrea Crapanzano, and taken down to the sea at dawn.

The sea turtles, which are endangered, lay eggs on a number of Mediterranean islands.

On the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, environmentalists say there are seven egg nests waiting to hatch which could produce more than 500 turtles.

Lampedusa normally sees one or two nests a season. (Reuters)