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The Odd Truth, Feb. 17, 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.



Kissing Record Broken!

MANILA, Philippines - More than 5,000 couples locked lips on Valentine's Day in Manila Saturday, in the hope of beating the world record for the number of simultaneous kisses.

Dubbed "Lovapaloza," the mass 10-second smooch followed a Friday night countdown into the most romantic day of the year.

"We were looking for an event really to mark Valentine's Day meaningfully," said Manila's Mayor Lito Atienza, who led the event by kissing his wife.

Atienza said 5,100 couples took part to beat the old record of 4,445 kissing couples in Chile last month.

The mass lip-lock was capped of by fireworks that lit up the sky over Manila Bay. About 20,000 people, including those who just wanted to watch, packed a park on the bay.

Dental Hygiene Porn

HONG KONG - Health officials said Monday they have halted distribution of an educational film on dental care while they investigate a report that at least one of the VCDs contained pornography.

The Health Department sent out 50,000 copies of the film that's supposed to show local pop star Miriam Yeung discussing oral hygiene, but one family allegedly got a copy that featured close-up shots of nude women.

"The images were very gross and shocking," the family's father, surnamed Wong, was quoted as telling the Oriental Daily News. "What am I going to do now that my kids have seen it? I didn't have enough time to switch off the television."

Health Department spokesman Tang Kwok-keung said authorities are looking into the matter but have received no other complaints. Thousands of the videos have been sent to schools and public libraries, Tang said.

VCDs not yet distributed are now being held back so officials can make sure they contain no porn, Tang said.

A spokeswoman for Yeung's record label, Pat Ling, said the problem with the VCD appeared to have been isolated. Ling declined further comment.

For Sale: Navy Hornet Jet Fighter

NORFOLK, Va. - You can now have your very own Navy F/A-18A Hornet jet fighter - but some assembly may be required.

The price for the jet, which formerly belonged to the Navy's Blue Angels aerial demonstration team, is just over $1 million on the auction firm eBay, or about $9 million for a buyer who wants it assembled, painted and certified ready-to-fly.

Only legal U.S. residents can bid. The auction is scheduled to end Thursday.

An F/A-18 in 1997 cost the military $28 million, according to the Blue Angels' official Web site.

Mike Landa, of Landa and Associates, the Washington state brokerage that has listed the fighter on the Internet auction service, told The Virginian-Pilot that the jet is in parts and came out of military service in 1994. Landa wouldn't identify the owner, but said he came by it legally.

"This thing obviously slipped through the system somehow," Landa said

The FBI came out to visit Landa after he put the jet up for bidding. They wanted to know "what are you selling here," he said. "They wanted to have the scoop on it."

Landa said he has no doubt that someone will surface to claim the Hornet. The jet's model can fly about 1,400 mph and climb 30,000 feet in a minute.

God To Receive Prayers Via Email

JERUSALEM - God is getting some e-mail.

Israel's Bezeq telephone company has started a new service allowing Jews to send e-mail messages to God.

Tradition holds that God will grant prayers placed between the massive stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the past, that meant the faithful had to travel in person to put their notes in the Wall.

Now, all they have to do is log on and send. The phone company will the deliver the messages to the Wall.

Bezeq had already been accepting faxes for God, but decided to take it a step further because more people have computers than fax machines.

The company currently takes the faxed notes, puts them in special envelopes and brings them to the Wall twice a week.

Most of the notes come from New York and Europe, but the company says it has received notes in Japanese and even one that came with a letter saying it had been smuggled out of Iran, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel.

Student Apologizes For Baking Teachers A Hash Cake

LUENEBURG, Germany - A German high school student on Monday admitted baking a hashish-laced chocolate cake that briefly landed 10 of his teachers in a hospital, and police said his apology likely would spare him being charged with any offense.

The 19-year-old, identified only by his first name, Ole, told reporters he had volunteered to spend 10 days working at a local hospital in the northern town of Lueneburg to show his regret over placing the cake outside the school staff room last Thursday.

"I created a real mess a few days ago," Ole said after appearing before an assembly of his school's 700 students and 65 teachers. "I would like to apologize."

Ten teachers were taken to a hospital after complaining of nausea, and urine tests showed traces of hashish.

Police said a former student tipped them off to the cake baker's identity. They then searched the student's home, where they found a baking tin and 2 grams of marijuana.

Lueneburg police chief Roland Brauer said the student was under investigation for bodily harm and drugs offenses, but added that police would recommend to prosecutors that no charges be filed. School principal Horst Homburg said he expected the student would be allowed to stay at the school.

Dream Takes Flight, Gets Grounded

HANOI, Vietnam - A Vietnamese farmer's longtime dream of owning a helicopter drove him and two friends to build their own from an old Russian truck motor - but military officials have grounded the idea.

Le Van Danh spent seven years and a small fortune - 450 million dong ($30,000) - to build the aircraft, downloading instructions from the Internet.

But military officials recently confiscated the chopper, saying Danh needed official permission to build and own it.

Danh has vowed not to back down.

"It's my hobby. I will do whatever I can, including going to the Prime Minister, to get the permission," he said in a telephone interview Monday.

"Our 'copter could lift up more than a half-yard from the ground," he said "We are in the process of a fifth test of moving forward and backward, left and right."

He said he's willing to sell his house and 25 acres of cassava fields to get permission to fly his craft.

But it still won't be easy, said Le Cong Tinh, director of the Air Transport Safety division of the country's Civil Aviation Administration. No Vietnamese individual has ever been granted a government license to build an aircraft, he said.

But Danh refuses to be disheartened. "If I cannot do it, my children or my grandchildren will do it," he said.

Danh lives in Tay Ninh, 62 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Cow Saves Farmer From Flood

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A New Zealand farmer escaped from a flooded river by hanging on to one of her cows as it struggled through the raging waters, local media reported.

Kim Riley was swept off her feet by the current as she tried to turn a group of cows from the rising river at her farm in Woodville, 80 miles north of Wellington, on Monday on the Manawatu River.

"Before I knew it, I was pushed along with the cows," she said, adding that several swam over her as they struggled in the water.

The bruised farmer said she "drank a fair bit of water" as she struggled against the current. She grabbed at trees and a fence as they rushed past, but couldn't reach them.

"I looked back and saw one of the last cows bearing down on me. As she went by I threw my arm over her neck, Riley said.

The cow struggled to the bank with the farmer clinging to her.

"When we actually hit hard ground, we both sat there quite exhausted, and puffing, and shaking a little bit," Riley said.

Riley and her husband lost 15 of the 350 cows that were swept into the river. She said the animal that saved her, Cow 569, would get a bit of extra attention from now on.

"She's an old cow, an ugly old tart, but I'll have to say 'thank you' to her," Riley said.

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