The Odd Truth, Feb. 11, 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.

Jesus H. Christ, Esq.

GAINESVILLE, Mo. — A Missouri man is calling on a higher power for his legal representation.

Richard John Adams requested Jesus Christ as his trial attorney during a hearing Wednesday on tampering charges. Adams, who described himself as a patriot and a Christian, says lawyers are "devils" who are trying to undermine the Constitution.

Ozark County Circuit Judge John Moody told Adams the only person who can speak for him in the courtroom is a lawful attorney.

Adams is charged with tampering with a judge for hostile comments made during an earlier traffic case. He faces a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted of both counts.

Target Pulls 'Jihad' Valentine's Cards

PITTSBURGH - Target Corp. pulled boxes of Valentine's Day cards from its shelves after one contained the word "Jihad" and a parent interpreted the message as a veiled terrorist threat.

A spokesman for the retail chain said Monday the company was removing "I Spy" box sets of Valentine's Day trading cards from its stores after a parent in Pittsburgh contacted the store and law enforcement.

Among several other items, the card contained the word "Jihad" and the message, "It's Time to Be Mine." The FBI said it was looking into the origin of the card.

"Jihad" refers to the Islamic concept of the struggle to do good. In particular situations, that can include the waging of holy war, and extremist Muslims often employ the term with that meaning.

The publisher, Scholastic Inc. in New York City, said any association with terrorism was unintended. The company said it regretted causing any distress.

Aimee Spengler Dolan, a spokeswoman for the publisher, Scholastic Inc., said the card in question was a portion of a photo and riddle from "I Spy School Days," published in 1995.

"Jihad" was the name of a child in a class the author visited, the publisher said. Scholastic said it changed the name in subsequent reprints of the book to Jared in 2001 but that the valentines used original artwork.

"At first, we just thought it was in really bad taste or maybe some radical in the art department of this company or something," said Nick Poillucci, 37, who purchased the set at a Target on Saturday for his 3-year-old daughter to give out in her preschool class.

The Great American Carthenon

BARSTOW, Calif. — Greece has the Parthenon. This Mojave Desert town may get the Carthenon.

That's what artist Curtis Zaxxr Llewellyn calls his design for a 40-foot-tall gateway. The project would use junked cars, crushed into cubes and assembled into five columns. Topping them would be an aluminum sign sporting tailfins resembling those of a 1959 Cadillac.

Wayne Soppeland, who heads the economic development committee of the local Chamber of Commerce, said he envisions the sculpture as "something that the people could be proud of and identify with."

He also says it's a fitting concept considering historic Route 66 ran through town.

Llewellyn, who designs such art for a living, got into the picture last year when he stopped at a local motel during a business trip.

"I heard about their plans," Llewellyn said. "I love working with these small towns in the middle of nowhere."

Elephant Falls, Can't Get Up

LOS ANGELES - An 8,000-pound elephant in a pond at the Los Angeles Zoo couldn't get up, and it took the fire department to get her back on her feet.

Handlers found Tara, who is in her 40s, in the shallow pond at the zoo Saturday morning and she appeared unable to get to her feet.

"Well, Tara's not one who lies down on a regular basis," mammal curator Jennie McNary said. "I think she was in a position where it was difficult for her to get up."

Firefighters and zoo animal handlers used a tow truck, crane and a forklift to move Tara. It took them nearly three hours to get two thick straps around the massive mammal to lift her.

Tara was not hurt, zoo officials said.

It was a new experience for firefighters.

"When I go to work in the morning, I'm going to start taking a handful of peanuts with me," said Carl Butler, a fire battalion chief.

High School Bans Valentines

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - If lovestruck students at an Auckland high school want to surprise their Valentine on Friday, they'd better do it before or after classes.

Principal Allan Peachey of Rangitoto College in the northern city said Tuesday deliveries of flowers and other gifts are a distraction from the classroom.

"Youngsters come to school to do English, math and science, that sort of thing, not to have their attention disrupted," he said.

Other schools in the city have no problem with the odd delivery of flowers or chocolates.

Frankie Wynne, deputy principal of Avondale College estimated about 20 bunches of flowers would be delivered to the 2,700 students and staff on Valentine's Day.

"If anything we are quite happy for this to happen. It's one day of the year," she said. "It's rather a nice thing having flowers."

John Morris, headmaster of Auckland Grammar boys' school, expects some of the boys to receive roses from girls at nearby private schools.

"It's a bit of a laugh. The flowers are delivered in class. It's quite embarrassing for them," Morris said.

Free Socks With Every Shoe Inspection

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - Security personnel at Tri-Cities Regional Airport won't wash your feet when they inspect your shoes.

But they will offer you a free pair of socks.

As a way of cushioning the inconvenience of new anti-terrorism efforts, the airport on Friday began giving away athletic socks to each passenger whose shoes must be checked by security.

"We realize the random shoe checks are annoying," said Melissa Thomas, director of marketing and air service development. "While we can't do much to change the security process, we can let passengers know we appreciate them."

Chuck Whitman, a federal Transportation Security Administration official at the airport, said the idea is "to provide world-class security and world-class customer service."

A local company, Bristol Products, made the promotional socks, while Dawn of Hope Developmental Center of nearby Johnson City tagged them and assembled gift boxes.

Georgia Gov. Gives Up Snickers, Makes Headlines

ATLANTA — The new Georgia governor is ready to do something about government fat.

Gov. Sonny Perdue launched a weight-loss program at the Capitol on Monday, pledging to give up his favorite Snickers bars and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Weigh-ins were optional, but Perdue bellied up to the scales after joking, "I want y'all to know I actually have two 10-pound ankle weights on me today."

The Republican governor, who is 5 feet 11 inches, tipped the scales at 228.5 pounds. "I weighed 220 this morning," he quipped. "I don't know what happened."

To demonstrate his resolve, however, the self-confessed Snickers addict produced a wrapped bar, kissed it goodbye and tossed it into the crowd.