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The Odd Truth, Feb. 10, 2004

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.

Sea Lion Flops On Highway

LOS BANOS, Calif. - A sea lion that apparently swam upriver from the ocean into the inland canals of central California was captured after motorists spotted it flopping along the roadway, 65 miles from the sea.

The 300-pound animal, first reported Monday morning, basked in the sun on the back of a highway patrol cruiser while officers waited for a marine rescue team to fetch him.

The adult male was expected to be held several days for observation before being released into the ocean, said Cynthia Schramm, a spokeswoman for the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center.

"We don't think anyone grabbed him. We just think he went all the way through the San Joaquin River, into some canals, and probably got out and started wandering around," Schramm said. "Maybe he was going after fish, and there are far fewer sea lions to compete with in the delta."

Sea lions have also been found in the Sacramento and Stockton areas, more than 50 miles inland, Schramm said.

"Sometimes they follow the prey until they are so far away and don't know how to get back," Schramm said.

The sea lion, found about a half-mile from the nearest canal, appeared to be in good condition.

Peanut Butter Freed From Jelly

MESA, Ariz. - Peanut Butter is finally free from Jelly.

The pair of conjoined tortoises - so named because you can't have one without the other - were separated Sunday at a Tempe animal hospital.

"I think it was a great success," said Sharon Ehasz, 24, who owns the African leopard tortoises with her husband, Bobby Ehasz. "I think they're going to be a little confused - the world as they knew it is going to be somewhat tilted."

Peanut Butter and Jelly were joined at the side of the belly near the tail end, slightly offset in a heart-shaped configuration.

The two tortoises spent about half of their lives with one on its back, the other trying to kick itself over.

Bobby Ehasz, 29, said he and his wife routinely flipped over the tortoises, carefully logging the time one stayed on its back while the other was upright.

Veterinarians Jay Johnson of University Animal Hospital in Tempe and Jim Jarchow of Orange Grove Animal Hospital in Tucson worked for about three hours to separate the tortoises.

Johnson said the condition is "extremely rare." That's partly why Johnson and Jarchow agreed to operate on the animals at no charge to the Ehaszes, other than the cost for anesthesia and other items.

The Yellow Snow Bandit

ELKO, Nevada - It wasn't exactly tracks in the snow that helped police in Nevada break a case. It was the yellow snow. Officers in Elko say a burglar relieved himself from the roof of a restaurant that had been ripped off. Investigators say the yellow snow yielded enough DNA to link Roger Gray to the scene. Police say he's admitted to a jewelry store burglary. Investigators are now looking at his possible involvement in burglaries at a pizza place and a JC Penney store. He's being held on $5,000 bail.

Dead Man Walking

LISBON, Portugal - More than two weeks after Spanish authorities informed a Portuguese worker's family that he had died near Zaragoza, the allegedly deceased turned up at his house.

"They were as surprised as I was," Fernando Chaquico told the national news agency Lusa, referring to his family's reaction.

Chaquico reportedly had spent several months working as a casual laborer in northeastern Spain.

Spanish authorities had discovered his personal identity documents on the body of a man and sent word to his family in northern Portugal, Lusa reported Tuesday. The Portuguese consulate in Barcelona was said to be helping with his funeral arrangements.

But Chaquico arrived at his village in Braganca, about 240 miles northeast of Lisbon, on Monday, according to Lusa.

Village officials reportedly were trying to find out whether the body in Spain had been buried and whether Chaquico's death certificate had been issued.

Finnish Police Issue $216,900 Speeding Ticket

HELSINKI, Finland - Police gave a record $216,900 speeding ticket to one of Finland's richest men under a system in which traffic fines are linked to an offender's income, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Millionaire Jussi Salonoja zoomed through a 25-mph zone in downtown Helskinki and police handed him the hefty ticket, the Iltalehti tabloid reported. It didn't say what his speed was.

The fine was based on information police got directly for the Finland revenue office, the newspaper said.

Salonoja, 27, could not be reached for comment, and police declined to discuss the case until it reaches the Helsinki Regional Court.

Although it's the costliest ticket to date, it's not the first with a big price tag.

Two years ago, Anssi Vanjoki, then executive vice president of Nokia's mobile phones division, landed a $148,000 ticket after being caught going 45 mph in a 30-mph zone on a motorcycle.

It was later lowered to about $7,500 after he showed a court that his income had dropped, but not before the high fine sparked outrage. Despite weeks of Parliament debates, discussions on TV shows and expressions of disgust in the media, the system remained in place.

Other hefty speeding tickets have included a $71,000 fine for a professional hockey player.

Jailed Woman Handcuffed To Bed During Labor

PARIS - A prison guard handcuffed a jailed woman in labor to her hospital bed, apparently fearful that she might escape, angering France's justice minister Tuesday and prompting an inquiry.

The woman, an inmate at the Fleury-Merogis prison south of Paris, was transferred to a hospital to give birth on Dec. 31. There, she was handcuffed to her bed during labor, the Justice Ministry said.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben, in a statement, said the woman's treatment was "unacceptable."

Perben instructed that prison directors be given written orders to ensure that "women in detention give birth in dignity," his ministry said.

He also ordered that guards remain outside the delivery room while women prisoners give birth in hospitals.

Prison inspectors launched an inquiry into the case of the woman, "who gave birth handcuffed," Perben's ministry said.

A prison watchdog group, the International Observatory of Prisons, said the woman refused to allow the guard to remain in the delivery room when she gave birth. The guard left, but first handcuffed her, it said.

The guard was a woman, a ministry spokesman said.

Don't Mess With The 'Womenfolk'

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - A 53-year-old woman who fired nine shots with two handguns to ward off an intruder said she tried to avoid hitting her furniture.

"Priorities, right?" said Carolyn Lisle of Rancho Cordova. "It was one of those nights. I have a few holes in my glass out front."

The Sacramento County sheriff's department said William Kriske, a 47-year-old parolee, was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, then jailed on suspicion of burglary and resisting arrest after he crashed through Lisle's sliding glass door Thursday evening.

Lisle's three guests fled the home, but she took action, opening fire with a .357 caliber revolver.

"He was like a mosquito hitting the window. Every time he turned around, poweee," she told the Sacramento Bee.

She emptied her first handgun as the intruder crashed through another window to escape, then retrieved a second revolver as he broke into her garage.

"I like to be prepared," she said.

She opened fire again as the intruder fled the garage and approached the house, wounding him.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Lou Fatur said Lisle, a retired state worker who once worked as a correctional officer, won't be charged for defending herself with properly registered firearms.

The intruder tried to steal a motorcycle from a home across the street, but was chased off by neighbors who also had armed themselves to come to Lisle's aid.

As the burglar fled, one of the men yelled, "And that's just our womenfolk," Lisle said.

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped Kriske nearby, and he was arrested by sheriff's deputies.

"I don't think he'll be back," Lisle said.

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