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The Odd Truth, Dec. 9, 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.


Dudes And Don'ts

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Arvin Mayor Juan Olivares had just one request of a Kern County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop - "Don't call me dude."

Olivares planned to file an official complaint with the sheriff's department, seeking to have the deputy fired for what he called disrespectful behavior.

"I asked him five times, 'Please, officer, don't call me dude.' I'm not a dude. I'm 41 years old, I'm a businessman, I'm a Christian and I consider myself a gentleman," Olivares said Monday.

Olivares is mayor of Arvin, a city of 20,000 in Kern County, about 20 miles south of Bakersfield.

The deputy stopped Olivares and Arvin City Councilwoman Carmen Acevedo in Bakersfield on Nov. 23. Olivares, who was driving, said he was ticketed for having illegally tinted windows on his vehicle, and Acevedo received a citation for having an open container of beer.

Olivares didn't dispute the charges. He just took issue with being called dude.

"He was calling me dude and laughing about it," Olivares said. "I don't think Kern County needs that kind of leadership."

Officials with the Kern County Sheriff's Department did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Ford: Piety Is Job One

AHMADABAD, India - Alfred B. Ford, the great-grandson of motoring legend Henry Ford, was preaching spirituality Monday at a western Indian business hub, where money means everything to its residents.

Clad in a silk kurta, or tunic, and a sarong, Ford chanted "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" as he laid the foundation stone of a Hare Krishna temple in Rajokot town.

"This material world can make no one happy. The ultimate beauty lies in heaven where Krishna resides," said Ford, who left his family's business to become a devotee of Hinduism' most popular god - Krishna.

"Krishna is the ultimate truth. He embodies all that is divine," he said.

In Rajkot, a busy trading center of India's most prosperous state, Gujarat, residents said Ford's visit was an eye-opener. For people who came to hear him, Ford is Ambarish Dasji - the name he got after becoming a Hare Krishna devotee more than two decades ago.

"I always admired the family for its business success, for showing the world how to run a mega corporation, but Ambarish Dasji opened my eyes," said Suryakant Patel, a local entrepreneur.

After renouncing his wealth "he looks so happy. His face is so calm," Patel said. "I will never forget this day."

Ford is in India to help the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, widely known as the Hare Krishna movement, build a $100 million sprawling complex at its headquarters in Mayapur town in the West Bengal state. Ford has donated about $10 million for the project.

Founded in 1966, the Krishna movement has more than 400 centers around the world.

Angry, Urine-Dousing Lawyer

SAN ANTONIO - A federal judge is to resume hearing testimony Monday in a case involving an angry lawyer who doused urine on office equipment in retaliation against a co-worker.

Gregory L. Fronimos, 49, is being prosecuted by the federal government for "malicious mischief" to government property.

His attorney, Michael McCrum, wants the judge to dismiss the case because he does not want embarrassing allegations that detail Fronimos' actions to be made public.

Fronimos reportedly caused more than $1,000 in damage to three telephones, a computer keyboard, and a computer last year.

U.S. Magistrate Pamela Mathy will listen to testimony on McCrum's request.

Federal prosecutors pursued charges after Fronimos confessed to his bosses at Brooks City-Base that he poured urine on the office equipment of a co-worker several times.

A court-filed Air Force memo said Fronimos was upset because a co-worker allegedly referred to him in a profane manner and disparaged him to other employees.

The incidents led to his resignation as a seven-year Air Force reservist. He also quit his job as a lawyer with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence in late January.

Honestly Reigns Supreme

MILWAUKEE - Jennifer Walterscheit was amazed that all but one of the 30 $100 bills that fell out of her purse and blew all over a suburban shopping center were returned. And when she told her story to a newspaper, the last bill came back, too.

"Doesn't that blow your mind?" she asked Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl.

"I have to tell you, if I found a $100 bill on the ground, my first thought would not be, 'I should take this to the police station.' "

Stingl wrote about the happenstance in Friday's paper and later that day got a message from a reader.

"That undiscovered $100 bill is in our safe in our house," said Donna Roche of Cedarburg. "My son found the money. He's 13 years old."

Roche then went and handed over the final bill to police.

Larry Glines saw some of the bills on the ground and others tumbling in the wind.

"You kind of get this good angel and this bad angel on your shoulders," he said.

He picked up eight of them and wondered if it was part of a gag.

"I was waiting for somebody to start pulling on the string and I'd be chasing the $100 down the sidewalk," he said.

Pot Smoker Denied 'Drug War' Asylum In Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A man who said he would be persecuted in the United States for smoking marijuana to fight a rare form of cancer has been denied refugee asylum in Canada.

Steve Kubby lacks reasonable grounds to fear cruel and unusual punishment and therefore does not need protection, Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Paulah Dauns ruled Monday.

"There are no substantial grounds to believe that his removal to the United States will subject him personally to a danger of torture," Dawns wrote.

Kubby's wife Michele and their two young daughters were also denied asylum in Canada for the same reasons.

Kubby, 57, formerly of Lake Tahoe, Calif., said he would appeal to the Federal Court of Canada and might hire a lawyer. He did not have a lawyer in the hearing and sometimes was represented by his wife.

The family lives in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast northwest of Vancouver and, without an appeal, would have to leave Canada within 30 days.

"We were just stunned when we saw the decision because it was just completely contrary to the testimony and the science and the evidence that we introduced," Kubby said. "We really think this decision is not only erroneous but a bigoted decision."

Kubby, a Libertarian candidate for governor of California in 1998, was granted permission by Health Canada to grow and smoke pot for medical reasons in August 2002.

Made For TV

LONDON - London plans a fireworks spectacular on New Year's Eve, and Mayor Ken Livingstone hopes nobody will come.

Livingstone said Tuesday he has arranged a two-minute firework display over the London Eye ferris wheel by the River Thames, but it's purely for the cameras.

Livingstone said he wanted to create an extravaganza to rival the spectacular fireworks displays that cities such as Sydney and Los Angeles have become noted for. Unlike those cities where millions turn out to watch the displays, the mayor doesn't want the hassle of gawking crowds.

"If 2 million people turn up, there will be a problem. We do not think that 2 million will turn up," he said. "It will just be a two-minute firework display. It will be a visual image to broadcast around the world."

No major events are planned for the British capital this New Year's Eve because crowd control problems that marred the Millennium celebrations are still being reviewed. Livingstone said discussions were under way for a big party next year.

Dog Turns Up In Garbage Truck

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A dog from Middlesex County is probably feeling like a lucky pooch - though she smelled like trash - after being rescued from among 40 tons of household waste in the back of a garbage trailer.

The dog, plucked from the garbage truck at the Edgeboro Landfill at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, was badly shaken but unharmed from her ordeal, the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick reported Tuesday.

The 5-year-old shepherd mix arrived at the landfill among a load of garbage from the Perth Amboy Waste Transfer Station, where garbage trucks dump household trash into a pit. The garbage is packed into trailers and trucked to the landfill, officials said.

A landfill worker who found the dog described seeing it in 5 feet of garbage at the back edge of the truck and moments from being dropped 7 feet into the dump.

"She was hanging on for dear life," said East Brunswick Patrolman David W. Blumig, of the township's Animal Control Division.

Blumig said he lassoed the dog and checked her for injuries. Finding none, he drove the dog to Blumig Kennel, run by his sister.

The dog had no tags and Blumig said she may have become caught in the pit at the garbage transfer station.

"She's a nice dog, but we don't know what the circumstances are right now," Linda Blumig said. "She's not ready for strangers yet."

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