The Odd Truth, Aug. 4, 2004

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

We All Scream For Ice Cream!

OKLAHOMA CITY - An ice cream truck driver is in trouble for handing out more than frozen treats.

The driver, Markus Jerome Miller, was arrested after firing two shots from a handgun toward the ground to end an argument with a customer, police said.

A woman was struck by some debris from the shots, but declined medical attention.

She had gotten into an argument with Miller and he pulled the gun when a man tried to intervene, police said.

Officers found a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in the freezer of Miller's truck. It was not loaded, but the magazine with six bullets was discovered in a cardboard box nearby.

Police arrested Miller inside the ice cream van a short distance away.

Miller was arrested on suspicion of assault with a dangerous weapon shortly after the incident Sunday. He was jailed with bail set at $30,000.

Orangutan Boxing KO'd In Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand - A Thai zoo has been forced to halt orangutan boxing matches as police investigate allegations that the animals were illegally smuggled from Indonesia, a spokeswoman and police said Wednesday.

Police have been investigating the Safari World animal park near Bangkok since November after receiving complaints that it was keeping protected species without a permit.

Authorities ordered the zoo to keep the orangutans confined while a probe was being conducted. Some of the zoo's 115 orangutans have been trained to perform traditional Thai kickboxing onstage for tourists.

The zoo, however, continued to hold the bouts until earlier this week when it received a police warning.

"The unique daily show of orangutan boxing is over," a zoo spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity. "We stopped since Sunday after we received the letter from police."

Police said they were investigating the origins of the animals at the urging of Indonesian officials, who claimed last week that the orangutans were smuggled into Thailand from Indonesia.

No arrests have been made. The maximum penalty for trafficking in protected species is four years in prison and a fine of $1,000.

Orangutans are endangered according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the case has been an embarrassment for Thailand as it prepares to host the 13th CITES Meeting Oct. 2-14.

DUI Defendant Shows Up Drunk In Court

UNIONTOWN, Pa. - Something smelled rotten when Michael Hanczyk showed up in court to fight a drunken driving charge. Authorities say it was the booze on his breath.

A judge stopped a hearing Tuesday and ordered the 42-year-old Hanczyk to take a field sobriety test after he and others said they smelled alcohol on Hanczyk's breath.

"Everyone smelled him," said district attorney Nancy Vernon.

A breath test indicated that Hanczyk had a blood alcohol content of 0.296 percent, more than three times the state's legal limit, Vernon said.

Fayette County Judge John Wagner Jr. threatened to put Hanczyk in jail for 30 days for contempt of court, but then said he would wait for a blood test. Hanczyk was taken to a hospital and the hearing was rescheduled.

Hanczyk's attorney, Daniel Hargrove, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment late Tuesday.

Hanczyk was charged with drunken driving after a July 8, 2003, accident in Henry Clay Township, near the West Virginia border.

Police said Hanczyk suddenly stopped his car, setting off a chain-reaction crash with two other vehicles. After two troopers reported smelling alcohol on Hanczyk, he refused to take a field sobriety test but later agreed to take a blood test, which indicated he was drunk, authorities said.

But Hargrove sought to have the charge dismissed, saying police didn't have probable cause to arrest Hanczyk because he was driving safely.

We Repeat, The Officer Was Not Undercover

MOUNT STERLING, Ohio - Undercover officers weren't needed to nab this alleged drug dealer.

William McCrary was charged with selling drugs to a uniformed police officer sitting in his marked cruiser, police said.

"It was one of those things where he got comfortable with thinking Officer (Brian) Botkin would do it," Mount Sterling Police Detective Joe Cox said Tuesday. "Probably every drug dealers' main goal is to get a police officer on their side. Look at where you could go from there."

McCrary, 30, was indicted by a grand jury on July 14 on three counts of trafficking in drugs, all fifth-degree felonies.

"We are probably just as amazed that it went through as most people that read about it would be," Cox said.

McCrary is currently jailed for violating a civil protection order.

Botkin led McCrary and another man to believe he had been a heavy marijuana user before he became an officer in order to establish a relationship with them.

"Our plan was to use him to go up the chain," Botkin said. "But now he's in jail and (his supplier) knows."

Manager Takes War On Terror A Little Too Far

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - An emergency management director in northeast Tennessee is facing a state investigation for a mock drill that shocked the county commission Monday night.

Ernest Jackson says he's taking the nation's war on terror seriously and was just trying to do his job. He says he had informed some participants of the drill, but did not specify how it would be carried out.

The drill in Elizabethton had a man and a woman rushing in carrying guns. They held a weapon to the head of county finance director Jason Cody and said there would be no new taxes. One of the bogus hostage-takers fired a blank.

County commissioner Jack Buckles says this drill could have "turned bad real quick." He says there were uninformed law enforcement officers in the audience who were in the process of reaching for their guns.

Lawyers With BB Guns - Should We Be Worried?

ST. LOUIS - They weren't terrorists - just lawyers with BB guns. Police responding to an emergency call at a St. Louis office building found a handful of women hiding under desks and in closets. Some of them reported they had seen two men carrying guns. But Melinda Hagaman, who works in the building, told the officers not to worry. She said it was just a couple of lawyers who work down the hall having some fun. She adds boys will be boys. Hagaman tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she got caught in a cross-fire about a month ago. After getting hit with some BB's, Hagaman says she got mad. She grabbed one of the guns and started firing back.

Study: British Kids Need More Studying

LONDON - Many British youngsters think J.J.R. Tolkien's wizard Gandalf, fictional sailor Horatio Hornblower or explorer Christopher Columbus led English forces that defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, according to a survey published Wednesday.

Less than half identified Sir Francis Drake as a key figure in one of the most famous sea battles in British history, the poll for the British Broadcasting Corp. showed.

A third of 16 to 34-year-olds did not know that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066, while more than a fifth of 16- to 24-year-olds thought Britain had been conquered by the Germans, the Americans or the Spanish at some point, the poll found.

The figures, released to mark the start of the BBC's "Battlefield Britain" series on landmark conflicts in British history, horrified educators.

"It clearly shows that our state education system has got a lot to answer for," said Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, which argues for traditional teaching methods.

Pollsters TNS found that 31 percent of all age groups did not know that the Battle of Britain happened during World War II; a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds thought it occurred during World War I and 12 percent said it happened 600 years earlier, during the Hundred Years War fought between England and France.

Again, 13 percent credited Horatio Hornblower, C.S. Forester's fictional Royal Navy hero from the Napoleonic wars, with helping England defeat the Spanish Armada.

Men Sentenced To Three Years For Eating Peacock

YANGON, Myanmar - It may have been quite the fashion for kings in medieval times, but peacock is off the menu nowadays, as two poachers here learned after they were jailed for eating the birds.

Win Naing and Moe Htike were found guilty and each sentenced to three years in prison on July 7 for killing and eating two peacocks from the Hlawga Wildlife Park, about 15 miles north of Yangon, 7 Days magazine reported Wednesday.

"Some people might think that taking action for killing two peacocks is too severe, but this is a great loss from the point of view of wildlife preservation," park administrator Myint Sein was quoted telling the journal.

Peacocks are a protected species in Myanmar. Killing them draws a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 Kkats ($833).

Aside from being rare, peacocks have long served as one of Myanmar's national symbols.

However, the bird's image has recently been most closely associated with the opposition pro-democracy party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which adopted the "fighting peacock" as its symbol.

Peacock is not a common dish anywhere, and serving it as a meal is most closely associated with the culinary excesses of kings and emperors, such as England's gluttonous King Henry VIII.