The Odd Truth, Feb. 13, 2003

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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.

Not A Silk Purse Story

COPENHAGEN - A 29-year-old Danish man was jailed Thursday for two weeks on charges he stole 32,000 dried pig ears from a Danish company that makes treats for pets.

A 26-year-old accomplice who admitted taking part in the weekend theft was also charged, but released, police said. Neither were identified in keeping with Danish law.

The 32,000 ears were worth about $8,700.

On Sunday, the pigs ears were stolen from a container outside the PetCare company in Tistrup, a village 186 miles west of the capital, Copenhagen.

Police found nearly 16,000 of the ears in a pet shop in Horsens, 62 miles northeast of Tistrup. They haven't found the other 8,000 pairs.

Police said they also were investigating whether both men may have been involved in earlier burglaries at PetCare.

In some countries, pig ears, along with chicken feet, duck tongue and yak testicles are considered a delicacy by humans. In Denmark, a Scandinavian nation of 5.3 million, they're not.

Iranian Police Crack Down On Valentine's Day

TEHRAN - It's taboo in Iran for men and women to embrace in public.

So celebrating Valentine's Day is pretty much out of the question.

Vice police were out in force in Tehran, ordering shops to remove heart decorations and any other "corrupt material" promoting Valentine's Day.

Religious authorities consider the day a decadent Western event.

The holiday crackdown is apparently the first since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

And shopowners are feeling both the legal heat and the economic pinch. One man says having his shop closed would push him into bankruptcy.

But many citizens aren't heeding the authorities. One woman calls the government's position "cultural backwardness." And a 19-year-old woman who says she's been waiting weeks to give her boyfriend a Valentine's Day gift says the crackdown only pushes her to further reject hard-line clerical rule.

Case Closed

HELSINKI - A beer guzzler's spate of robberies ended abruptly in southeast Finland after he made a getaway jump into the back of a car.

Unfortunately for the thief, a police officer investigating the thefts was sitting in front.

The trail of break-ins and shoplifting began Feb. 7 when a 28-year-old man, released from prison a week earlier, stole a car and drove it to six different locations, filching beer and cigarettes.

The officer had been following the trail that began in the man's home town of Savonlinna, 205 miles northeast of Helsinki. It ended some 60 miles away in Leppavirta, when the thief, who wasn't identified, fell into his lap Monday.

"It was real fate. The officer was off-duty at the time and didn't know the thief was about," Pyosti said.

The culprit jumped out of the car but was caught by store guards. He admitted his crimes to police and was released, Pyosti said.

A day later, he was back on the road and broke into a pharmacy, a gas station and a store, but police caught him red-handed. Now, Pyosti said, he's in jail awaiting trial on charges of theft and damaging property.

People Like Watching Animals Have Sex

ATLANTA — Birds do it. Bees do it. And humans can learn how they do it during a Valentine's Day tour of Zoo Atlanta.

The amorous antics of animals are proving so popular that organizers plan to add a second night besides Valentine's Day for their "Love In The Zoo" lecture and dance party. Several hundred guests are expected.

"This is science, and it's actually fun," said Nicole Johnson, who works in marketing for the zoo.

Lecturer James Ballance says the mating games can be hilarious.

"Birds are like, totally crazy," Ballance says, waving his arms to imitate a strutting pheasant. "Some we call the backseat-of-the-car guys — they don't stick around. They leave a lot of single mothers. Then we have the guys who will build the house before they even suggest anything."

Outside the zoo's flamingo pond, Ballance points to the pairs who spend nearly all day within a foot or two of each other.

"They pair up, but there's a lot of cheating out there," he says. "You've always got female flamingoes coming home with muddy footprints all over their backs."

Naked Streaker Knocks Himself Out

CALGARY, Alberta - This hockey streaker was a knock-out -- literally. Tim Hurlbut pleaded guilty yesterday to public drunkenness after climbing over the glass at a Calgary Flames hockey game.

The naked guy knocked himself out, when he slipped on the ice and hit his head. Paramedics carried him off on a stretcher. The judge ordered Hurlbut to donate more than $1,600 to charity and perform 35 hours of community service.

He also must undergo alcohol counseling. The judge said Hurlbut made a "pathetic spectacle" of himself, as he lay naked on the ice for six minutes.

Love Is A Way Of Life

CONCORD, N.C. — Love is in the air in Cabarrus County. It's also in the phone book — many, many times.

Cabarrus has the nation's highest concentration of people named Love — eight times more per capita than the national average — according to a Valentine's-week study by a San Diego marketing research firm.

Union, Gaston and Mecklenburg counties aren't far behind Cabarrus, making North Carolina one of the nation's Love-liest states.

Clementeene Love Glover of Gastonia said her maiden name is telling: "I'm just a friendly, happy-go-lucky person. I love my family and I love people."

"It's a beautiful name, Love," she said. "It's a way of life."

The demographers at Claritas Inc. tossed around several monikers

Romeo, Casanova, Cupid — in their search for Loves.

They tried Lust, too. But even where Lust is popular (first place: Oneida County, N.Y.), Love prevailed.

Something Smells Fishy Here ...

SINGBURI, Thailand - Specialty ice creams can be concocted from soy milk, olive oil and even cheese. But for the truly bizarre, come to central Thailand where a bakery is putting snakehead fish in its frozen desserts.

Kaesara Bakery's ice cream contains 40 percent fish meat, but you wouldn't know it from the smell, taste or texture. The bits of fish could easily be mistaken for coconut flakes.

The bakery in Singburi province, where snakeheads are a culinary pride, is about to open a third outlet and expand its line of snakehead confections with fish cookies and Chinese pastries filled with deep-fried snakehead bones.

The cakes have been a hit since their debut at the annual Singburi Snakehead Festival seven years ago.

Kasara Thepprasit, the bakery's 39-year-old entrepreneur, said she declined an Australian company's $695,000 offer for her recipe.

"We want Thailand to have a good product that other countries don't have," Kasara said. "We didn't do this just for the money. We wanted to do this to promote Thailand and its food."

NYC Bans Cell Phones In Theaters

NEW YORK - New York City is putting the force of law behind theatergoers' frustration at ringing cell phones.

The City Council has voted to ban wireless phones at all public performances. Making a call or receiving one during a movie or play or concert or dance performance could cost you $50.

The Council overrode the veto of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had said such a law would be unenforceable. It also covers galleries, libraries, lectures and museums -- though there's an exception for emergencies.

Calls could still be made and received at sporting events.

The law, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, takes effect in 60 days.