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The Odd Truth, Feb. 23, 2005

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Joey Arak.

Bingo Outlaws Make Amends

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - The folks who play bingo at the Klamath Basin Senior Citizen Center are no longer outlaws.

Five months ago, the Department of Justice contacted officials at the senior center after getting a complaint that bingo games were being played for cash.

Nickels, to be exact.

The senior center has a gambling license for the higher-stakes bingo program. But the Golden Age Club, which has about 200 members, is separate from the senior center and has never had a gaming license for its nickel-bingo operation.

The Klamath County Board of Commissioners last week amended the county's social gaming ordinance to include bingo, to the relief of the seniors who learned they've been playing an illegal game for the last two decades.

"Have fun with your bingo without the bureaucracy," Commissioner Bill Brown told an audience of about 20 seniors who came to support changing the rule.

College Kids Paid To Clean

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Some University of Michigan students are cleaning up -- in more ways than one.

They're getting cash payments for keeping their dormitory rooms presentable and available for tours by prospective students and their parents.

Eighteen students in nine residence halls are participating in the Michigan Campus Day tour program, according to Randi Johnson, the university's housing outreach coordinator.

The rules for Campus Day participants technically don't require a clean room. Participants do, however, have to be dressed and out of bed if they are home, and must let tour groups see their room from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Displays of anything illegal, offensive or banned -- like hot plates -- are forbidden.

Students are receiving $100 each this semester to participate.

Supreme Court Turns Down Sex Toys

SUPREME COURT - The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court won't review an Alabama state law banning the sale of sex toys.

The court let stand a lower court ruling that says Alabama has a right to police the sale of devices that can be sexually stimulating.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the appeal, saying consumers have a right to sexual privacy. The filing argues that the toys have many "beneficial uses." It also says the devices are used by consenting adults in private situations that should be "beyond the reach of government regulation."

The state law bans only the sale of sex toys, not their possession. Residents may lawfully purchase sex toys out of state for use in Alabama, or use them if the devices have other recognized medical or therapeutic uses.

Dollars And Insects

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The monarch butterfly, Alabama's official state insect since 1989, could be dethroned.

A bill, sponsored by Rep. Sue Schmitz, would end the monarch butterfly's reign as a symbol of Alabama and substitute the queen honey bee as the official state insect.

Schmitz said a beekeeper in her Madison County district suggested the change. She said it would bring attention to the bee industry in Alabama and the help that bees provide in pollinating plants in the agricultural state.

So what about the monarch butterfly?

"It doesn't bring any money in," she said.

Cloned Cat Marketing Push

LAS VEGAS - A California company is showing off its copy cats. Genetic Savings and Clone is hoping pet owners will want to clone their kitties. The company is enlisting the cooperation of veterinarians at the Western Veterinary Conference meeting in Las Vegas. The vets are seeing Peaches an orange tabby, which was cloned from Mango. Mango is owned by an employee of Genetic Savings and Clone. Last December, the company debuted the first cloned-to-order pet sold in the U.S., a kitten that cost a Texas woman $50,000. Officials of Genetic Savings and Clone say they're now working on the more difficult process of cloning dogs.

Where Every Meal Is Part Of A Balanced Breakfast

CHICAGO - Chicago is getting some Snap, Crackle and Pop. The Cereality Cereal Bar and Cafe is opening a downtown cereal-only restaurant. The new outlet will be within two blocks of the Sears Tower. They'll feature 30 kinds of cereal and 30 toppings, served in "bowls" resembling Chinese take-out containers. The company grew out of a kiosk at the Arizona State University student union. Co-founders David Roth and Rick Bacher have announced plans for ten more Cereality cafes by 2006.

Nothing To See Here!

BOSTON - You know the problem. Traffic backs up because everybody wants to slow down to look at an accident. Now, state highway officials in Massachusetts have a new weapon to fight the rubber-neckers. The Massachusetts Highway Department is using large portable screens to block the view of an accident scene to keep drivers moving. The vinyl tarps are seven feet tall and ten feet wide. The state has nearly 30 of them, at a cost of just under $38,000. Officials say the screens have been used at 15 accidents since December.

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