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The Odd Truth, Feb. 12, 2004

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.



Teenager Dupes BMW Dealership

NEWARK, N.J. - A teenage boy posing as a banker duped an Ohio car dealership into delivering a $123,000 BMW to him at his high school, police said Thursday.

A second order was never shipped after the dealership became suspicious, and the teen was arrested. The first car was later found in Raleigh, N.C., police said.

"He apparently sold the car, and it ended up in a dealership in North Carolina," said Detective Scott Davis of the Dublin, Ohio, police.

The boy was 16 in early January when he ordered the 12-cylinder 2004 BMW 760Li with "black sapphire metallic" paint and a heated steering wheel and seats. He told Midwestern Auto Group that his bank would confirm the wire transfer, authorities said.

After completing and returning paperwork that was mailed to his home, the teen called the dealership pretending to be a banker confirming the transfer, police said.

The car was delivered to him at Dickinson High School on Jan. 27, two weeks after the boy turned 17, police said.

That same day, he ordered a second car. But when Midwestern Auto Group learned that the first payment was never made, the dealership contacted police.

The boy was arrested at his Jersey City home late last month.

Police said the teen was not hard to find. "He did use his correct name, as far as I know," Davis said.

The teen is charged with theft by deception and was no longer in custody, Sgt. Edgar Martinez said. Authorities did not release the boy's name because he is a juvenile.

Inmates Crucify Themselves In Protest

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia - Two inmates were voluntarily nailed to crosses Wednesday by their fellow prisoners as part of a protest for better conditions and shorter sentences that was broadcast on Bolivian television.

The two men at the Palmasola prison in this city southeast of La Paz screamed in pain as their hands were nailed to the makeshift crosses.

Inmates Freddy Acosta and Walter Ortiz were removed from the crosses after a few minutes and taken to the prison infirmary for treatment of broken bones in their hands, said regional police commander Freddy Soruco.

They were removed by police who rushed to the scene.

"No one forced us to do this," said Acosta, 37. "It's the authorities' fault."

Another inmate, Carlos Vega, said five more inmates were prepared to take part in the protest, but Soruco said that will not be permitted.

Reporters from TV and radio stations were on hand to record the protest after being summoned by the inmates for a news conference - a normal, frequent procedure in Bolivia.

It was not clear why the prison authorities permitted the stunt and officials would not comment, but the guards have a reputation for corruption.

Acosta and Ortiz have been in jail for more than a year without being sentenced, other inmates said. It was not known of what crimes they were convicted.

Church's 'Dirty Little Secret'

DALLAS - Chocolates are always nice, and a diamond necklace would be delightful. But a Dallas-based ministry thinks it has a better idea for Valentine's Day.

"Her gift for Valentines? Stop looking at porn," proclaim billboards put up by NetAccountability, a nonprofit software company that aims to help Christians confront the "secret sin" of pornography.

If national surveys are any indication, it is a personal battle waged by millions of Christians.

Almost 18 percent of people who called themselves born-again Christians admitted visiting Internet porn sites, according to a 2000 survey of 1,031 adults by the evangelical group Focus on the Family. In a 2002 Pastors.com survey, more than 50 percent of responding pastors reported viewing pornography in the previous year.

"It's definitely the church's dirty little secret," said Mike Foster, co-founder of the anti-porn site XXXChurch.com, which hosts online support groups for Christians trying to kick the habit.

NetAccountability has sold more than 5,000 copies of software that lets a partner monitor the Web sites visited by the recovering porn user. The software sells for $49 a year.

The billboards have been going up in Dallas over the past few days.

Bernie Anderson, a pastor at Seventh-Day Adventist churches in the Dallas area, said an addiction to sexually explicit images threatened his marriage and his ministry.

"It was like a double life," said Anderson, 33.

Danes Halt Distribution OF Sex Ed. CD-ROM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - The Danish government halted the distribution 60,000 CD-ROMs for sexual education classes throughout the country because some of the content was deemed unacceptable, Health Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Thursday.

The 60,000 discs, intended for ninth graders, contained information about threesomes, bestiality and partners relieving themselves on each other while having sex. Distribution of the material was scheduled to start next week.

"What is the point of telling children and young people about" that, Loekke Rasmussen said. "That has, in no way, anything to do with birth control."

He said the discs for the most part contained valid lessons on sexual education and family planning, but the few questionable inclusions resulted in the ban.

The government-financed discs, created in cooperation with the Danish Family Planning Association and the National Board of Health, will be destroyed.

The Health Ministry will cover the $75,000 it cost to produce the CD-ROMs, Loekke Rasmussen said.

Christian Graugaard, a medical doctor and the leader of the Danish Family Planning Association, regretted the government's decision.

"When ninth graders encounter terms like animal sex and think that sounds weird, we would prefer that the person didn't go on the Internet and find 300,000 suspect porn sites but had sober information on a CD-ROMs instead," he said.

In 1969, Denmark, a tolerant Scandinavian country, became the first in the world to remove a ban on adult censorship and to legalize pornography. Shops and newspaper stands openly sell porn magazines and X-rated videos.

Got Cleaning Fluid?

MOBILE, Alabama - Cleaning fluid was accidentally packaged in cartons of fat-free milk sent to an elementary school, but a teacher noticed the odd taste and no students were hurt.

"I'm glad it wasn't chocolate milk," Principal Barbara Freeman said. "We don't usually get a lot of takers on the fat-free milk."

The half-pint cartons contained a disinfectant used in milk plants. One ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which can cause nausea if ingested.

Three students and a teacher at E.R. Dickson Elementary School picked up the cartons with their lunch Wednesday. All of the bad cartons were recovered after the teacher told cafeteria workers, Freeman said.

Dairy Fresh Milk Corp. used the cleaner the night before packaging the milk that was sent to the school, the Mobile County Health Department said.

The cleaning fluid is supposed to be drained properly before the milk cartons are filled, said Sue Tidmore, quality assurance manager at Dairy Fresh.

Corrective measures have been taken to ensure the mistake will not happen again, Tidmore said Thursday.

'One-Grandma Crime Wave' Sweeps Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - Prosecutors call her a "one-grandma crime wave." A 58-year-old grandmother has pleaded guilty to robberies in three states.

Margaret Ann Thomas-Irving of Hartford, Connecticut, faces up to 40 years in prison.

She pleaded guilty in Grand Rapids, Michigan, yesterday to robbing two banks in Michigan. She also admitted to ten robberies in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The 12 robberies netted a total of $19,312 dollars and occurred between October 2002 and July 2003.

Thomas-Irving was arrested in Lansing, Michigan, on the same day in July that two Lansing banks were robbed. She was in the Lansing area to visit her son, who is a police officer in Bath Township.

Thomas-Irving told the judge her only previous scrape with the law was a speeding ticket. But she said a series of employment problems sent her into a downward mental spiral and she reacted by committing the robberies.

It's A Dog's Life In Ohio

OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio - Dogs in Olmsted Falls have something to bark about.

The City Council passed a law Tuesday requiring doghouses to be waterproof and lined with bedding that resists dampness. The houses also must be equipped with self-closing doors or flaps.

Violators of the law, which will take effect within 10 days, can lose their dogs and face maximum penalties of 90 days in jail and a $700 fine.

Councilman Joseph Vitale, a beagle owner, said he supported the measure because, "There are more laws on the books about how to hunt animals than how to take care of them."

The law was prompted by residents who called police because they were concerned that a woman was leaving her golden retriever tied up outside.

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