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The Odd Truth, Dec. 12, 2003

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.


Penis Falls Prey To Jealous Wife

MANILA, Philippines - A jealous wife cut off her sleeping husband's penis after finding a text message from another women on his mobile phone, a newspaper reported Friday.

Antonio Llanesiras, 30, was being treated at the Pasay City General Hospital.

Surgeons there saw little chance of reattaching the plumber's severed organ, which was brought in by the wife carefully wrapped in a piece of cloth, according to the Manila Standard.

It wasn't immediately clear if charges will be filed against the woman.

Parts Broker Goes Belly-Up

KIRKWOOD, Mo. - A man has apparently promised authorities he'll stop storing and brokering human body parts out of his home.

Richard Leutheuser, a designer and builder of swimming pools who dabbles in providing donated body parts for science, says he's working with this St. Louis suburb to find a location where zoning allows his sidelight business.

Leutheuser's business surfaced last month when FedEx workers opened leaking packages bound for his home and found an arm and two legs, each limb wrapped and placed in dry ice.

Leutheuser said he was a middleman for a California-based company, and investigators said he did nothing wrong, aside from having an unlicensed home business. City zoning rules also bar the storage of business inventory in a residential area, whether "they're body parts or whatever," said Dan Niebaum, Kirkwood city planner.

Leutheuser has told the city he would move that business to a site commercially zoned, Niebaum said.

Vodka-Wielding Dad Acquitted

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A man accused of pouring vodka into his 7-year-old stepson's feeding tube was found innocent by a jury.

The boy, who suffers from a rare medical condition but survived the incident, was hospitalized in July 2002 with a blood-alcohol level of 0.59 - almost double the amount considered a fatal dose.

Christopher Harmon was acquitted Thursday of first-degree criminal abuse, which could have landed him in prison for up to 10 years.

Harmon's attorney, William Sharp, tried to shift the blame for the incident to the child's mother, Cherie Glover, who was at home during the incident and was not charged.

The jury evidently "felt there was reasonable doubt as to who did it," prosecutor Shelly Gibson said after the verdict. Glover "is disappointed, as is the commonwealth," Gibson said.

The couple have separated, and neither testified in the trial.

The boy, who suffers from a rare cluster of birth defects and had a feeding tube through the abdomen, is "back to normal" and living with Glover, Gibson said. For a time, the child was in foster care.

Thieves Make Off With Rhino Horn

OSLO, Norway - Thieves stole the nose horn from a stuffed rhinoceros in a Norwegian museum, leading to fears that the horn was likely ground into a powder prized as an aphrodisiac in Asia.

Thieves broke into the Bergen Museum on Norway's west coast and used an angle grinder to remove the horn from the rhino, which had been part of the museum's collection for more than a century.

The Dec. 2 theft made national news Thursday after it was first reported by local newspaper Bergensavisen.

Supplies of ground rhinoceros horn are scarce because the giant animals are a protected species, and Trond Andersen, of the museum, said the likely motive was to use the horn to make the supposed aphrodisiac.

"That, at least, has been the main use for the horn from this extremely threatened species," Andersen was quoted as telling Bergensavisen.

The thieves tried to fool museum staff, installing a poorly made copy of the horn molded in plastic. Museum staff quickly spotted the fake.

Shanghai On Auto Redial

SHANGHAI, China - Shanghai has a warning for anyone cluttering its streets with illegal fliers: Expect a phone call. And another. And another.

Shanghai has unveiled a computer that repeatedly calls phone numbers listed in the ads, demanding that offenders take them down, a newspaper reported Friday.

Numbers will be called every two hours for the first two days, the Shanghai Daily said.

After that, the frequency increases steadily - up to once every eight seconds, the paper said in a story headlined: "Phone war waged on illegal posters."

The move is the latest tactic in a battle to curb unsightly ads that cover walls, lampposts and nearly every other public surface in one of the world's most crowded cities.

They tout products ranging from dubious herbal remedies to identity cards and services arranging cell phone numbers.

Offenders who get the computerized phone calls must either disconnect the numbers on the ads or appear for punishment, the Shanghai Daily said.

With fines ranging from $6 to $60, most are expected to choose disconnection, the newspaper said.

Giant Straw Goat Set Ablaze

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A fiery Christmas tradition continued in a central Swedish city early Friday, when vandals burned a giant straw goat that rarely survives the holiday season.

The Christmas Goat in Gaevle, 90 miles north of Stockholm, was set ablaze shortly before 1 a.m., two weeks after it was set up by merchants, police said.

The goat survived Christmas last year for the first time since 1997. Since the tradition began in 1966, only 10 goats have made it through Christmas and New Year's Day.

The vandals are seldom caught, but in 2001, a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland, Lawrence Jones, spent 18 days in jail for setting the goat ablaze.

This year, police said they had no suspects, but hoped pictures from a surveillance camera would help them find the vandals.

Meanwhile, merchants started rebuilding the goat and vowed to hire more security guards to watch it.

"This one is going to make it to Christmas," Christmas Goat committee chairman Kurt Lagerholm said.

Workers Taxed On $15 Holiday Bonus

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Some bonus.

Hourly workers at Tower Automotive received $15 gift cards redeemable at Meijer grocery-retail stores before Thanksgiving. Then the automotive supplier decided the cards were "same as cash" gifts subject to federal and state income taxes totaling 36.75 percent.

That means the "gift" will take $5.51 out of the workers' next paychecks.

"It's got a lot of people ticked off," said Donald McKee of Kingsley, a welding technician. "This is the lowest they've gone yet to give us something and then take it back."

United Auto Workers Local 5110, which represents about 300 hourly workers, has filed a contract grievance over the matter. Some workers also have returned the gift cards rather than pay the tax.

Workers will still get Christmas bonuses. Tower said it will return to issuing gift certificates that can be redeemed for holiday turkeys or hams without being considered cash income.

Sewage Floods New Mexico Suburb

ALBUQUERQUE - About 10 families in a subdivision on Albuquerque's west mesa were forced out of their homes when raw sewage flooded their homes.

Ted Asbury, director of the city's public works department, said discarded cans and beer bottles likely caused a backup that sent gallons of fecal matter into homes Tuesday afternoon.

"There was this roar coming from our toilets and sinks, and then I looked outside and saw one manhole cover pop, then another down the street," said one resident, Michael Lucero Sr. "Next thing you knew, the sewage was coming out."

Lucero's neighbor, Rhonda Moya, said thousands of dollars in of Christmas gifts under her tree were ruined.

"The restoration people say that our tile will have to come out and the drywall in the walls will have to be cut ... because of all the hazardous stuff has seeped into the walls," Moya said.

A resident called dispatchers about 2:30 p.m., reporting his drains had backed up. When crews opened a manhole, they discovered the line blocked by trash.

"We found soda cans, plastics, beer cans, beer bottles," Asbury said.

Public works officials believe the material was dumped. The sewer line was not damaged.

"My crews in the field say they've never seen anything like this," Asbury said.

However, another resident, Ruby Hernandez, said the same thing happened five months ago. "The sewage came out on the streets," Hernandez said.

The city's risk management division paid for the displaced families to stay at a hotel while crews worked on the line, Asbury said. It was not clear how long repairs would take.

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