The Odd Truth, Feb. 20, 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.

Woman Jailed For Feeding Deer

YREKA, Calif. - A woman is in jail for feeding black-tailed deer in her backyard.

Thana Minion, also known as "The Deer Lady of Copco Lake," was sentenced to 30 days for feeding a large herd of deer a mix of oats, barley and other grains.

Minion, 52, violated her probation from a 1997 conviction of driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest during an altercation with Fish and Game officers, who wanted her to stop feeding deer.

As part of her probation, she must obey all laws and stop feeding the deer, but she has apparently refused.

"Ill go to jail as many times as I have to," Minion said. "It's not going to stop me."

Siskiyou County District Attorney Pete Knoll said he doesn't want to see Minion behind bars and he's no fan of the deer-feeding ban. But he said her flouting of the law gives authorities no choice.

The state Legislature in 1996 enacted the law specifically for cases in which feeding causes perceived harm to the animals by attracting disease, predators or hunters or by over-taming them to a point where they rely on the illegal feed.

Minion, who served 45 days in jail for a similar violation in 2000, said as an American Indian she has the right to feed deer as part of her connection to nature.

Genie Circumcision Strikes Jakarta

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A mother has claimed that a genie circumcised her 10-month-old son while she was cooking breakfast, the state news agency Antara reported Thursday.

The report did not say whether the toddler, Riyan Abdullah, experienced any complications as a result of the operation, which allegedly took place early Wednesday close to the town of Tasikmalaya, on Java island, 250 miles southeast of Jakarta, the agency reported.

"When I heard Riyan crying, I went straight to his bedroom and couldn't believe what my eyes saw," Riyan's mother, identified only as Ineng, told Antara. "He had been circumcised."

The family immediately suspected it was the work of a genie, belief in which is widespread in Indonesia. They summoned a local paranormal to the house who confirmed their suspicions, the report said.

More than 90 percent of Indonesia's 210 million are Muslim, though many still believe in sprits and the unseen world. According to Islamic tradition, Indonesian boys are normally circumcised, usually when they reach the age of 6 or 7.

That's Quite A Collection

MESILLA PARK, N.M. - More than 100 cats and the frozen carcasses of 82 others were removed from the four-bedroom home of a woman living alone, authorities said.

Las Cruces police went to the home in southern New Mexico Tuesday after receiving reports of foul odors, Lt. Juan Moreno said.

The odors came from the cats - some of which were in need of veterinary care - and their urine and feces, Moreno said.

Las Cruces and Dona Ana County Animal Control officers helped to remove about 70 cats Tuesday. Officers returned Wednesday for the remaining 30 cats.

Inside a kitchen freezer, officers found 82 frozen cats - each inside a one-gallon freezer bag bearing a brief description and date, Moreno said.

The woman, 46, was taken to Memorial Medical Center for examination and was later released. Officers said the cats were strays the woman had taken in.

Necropsies will have to be done to determine if any charges will be filed.

The woman could also be fined for keeping more pets than city law allows - two dogs, two cats or two rabbits, or any combination of the pets.

Teens Stab Man, Return Knife For Refund

MISSION, Texas - Three teenagers who allegedly stabbed a man later returned the knife they used to the store where they bought it - and got their money back, authorities say.

A security officer at a McAllen mall provided information about the suspects' car after the Sunday attack, and a tip led police to the home of two of the suspects, Omar Ozuna, 18, and his 14-year-old brother.

A warrant was issued for a third suspect, Jason Gonzalez, 19.

According to police, the suspects snatched a woman's purse at the mall and stabbed Jason Meyers, 24, four times when he tried to retrieve it for his mother. Meyers was in stable condition Thursday.

Ozuna and his brother allegedly confessed, said Martin Garza, a spokesman for the Mission Police Department.

"Sure enough, they (Wal-Mart store) had a knife and receipt with a signature of one of the suspects returning the knife," Garza said. The knife was in a cart marked "returns," Garza said.

Flag Flapping Flap Settled

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A man ticketed after complaints that his flag's flapping made too much noise has settled on a quieter way to show his patriotism.

Ray Saelens was ticketed last week after a next-door neighbor complained that the 18-by-12-foot American flag kept him awake at night.

Saelens, a self-employed mason, rejected suggestions he take the flag down at night. Instead, he proposed switching to a 15-by-10-foot American flag - an offer accepted by neighbors Mark and Sue Grucz.

"Discretion is the better part of valor," said Saelens.

He said the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks prompted him to pay $4,000 to install a flagpole behind his home along Lake St. Clair's Anchor Bay, north of Detroit.

Sue Grucz said it wasn't the flag they objected to - it was the noise in the wee hours of the morning. She said she hopes the smaller flag will be a good solution.

"This is not a perfect fix. We're letting them work it out if they can," township attorney Bob Seibert said. "If they can't, either a judge will solve it or a jury will solve it."

Cologne Creates Big Security Stink

PHILADELPHIA — The big stink over some cologne was just a misunderstanding. It seems a Saudi Arabian student was trying to prove there was nothing dangerous in his cologne bottle, when he sprayed some airport security people. A few sweet-smelling spritzes prompted a bio-terrorism alert at the Philadelphia International Airport. The student was questioned by the FBI and everyone who had contact with the guards was quarantined. It took a few hours and some chemical test to straighten everything out. The FBI says the student's papers were in order and he was released. But the student did miss his flight to Europe.

Surgeon Sues After Dessert Spoon Debacle

LONDON - Hospital managers gave a surgeon a dessert spoon to use in performing a hip replacement operation, prompting him to spend $238 of his own money to buy the proper instrument, he testified.

Dr. Godfrey Charnley is suing the public agency that runs Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, southwestern England, for unfair dismissal.

The hospital says he threw the dessert spoon at a nurse and threatened to retaliate if the matter was investigated.

Charnley says he threw the spoon on the floor in frustration.

He said assistants had given him a sterilized metal dessert spoon instead of a curette, a sharp-edged, spoon-shaped tool he should have had to scrape cartilage and damaged bone from the hip socket.

"If shards of bone had got into the interface of the hip replacement, it could cause the operation to fail within weeks or months, and it would have to be redone at huge cost in pain to the patient and in time and money," he testified Wednesday.

"On this occasion I tossed it on the operating theater floor in the hope it would never be offered to me or to any other consultant again," he said.

Julian Hoskins, lawyer for the Plymouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust, accused Charnley of threatening Sister Helen Wood, a nun present in the operating room.

The surgeon, who now practices at another hospital, also claims managers pressured him to manipulate waiting lists so they would not be fined for making patients wait too long.

Tiddleywink Finally Gets Some Respect

LONDON - After being virtually flicked from existence, the tiny but proud hamlet of Tiddleywink has won new signs of official recognition.

The only sign pointing to the hamlet - a cluster of eight cottages in Wiltshire in southern England - was knocked over in a road accident four years ago, leading to confusion for postal and delivery workers.

Turning to the usual directories for assistance provided little help - the hamlet has been omitted from the current edition of the Collins British Atlas and Gazetteer.

Now Wiltshire County Council has put up two new name signs, much to the delight of local residents, who campaigned for its return.

"It's good news because people didn't know where we were. They were always having to ask at the Post Office. But now we're back on the map," said Denis White, 79, who has lived in the hamlet for 40 years. "The name does make people smile, they usually say 'what a lovely address."'

Tiddleywink takes its name from the 18th century use of the word for the children's game - now spelled tiddlywinks - as rhyming slang for "drinks."

The word evolved into slang for a small beer shop, such as the cottage in the hamlet that once served beer to passing cattle drovers.

"It's nice it has kept its name because people have lived here for years and it's a part of history," said Wiltshire County council member Jane Scott.

"It's also a great fun name and always makes me laugh. Apparently, when the old sign was up Japanese and American visitors used to stop and have their photograph taken next to it so goodness knows what will happen when the visitors come back in the summer."