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The Odd Truth, Feb. 26, 2004

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.

Church Sign Sparks Outrage

DENVER - A Denver clergyman has sparked outrage by putting up a sign outside his church that read "Jews Killed Our Lord."

Maurice Gordon is the pastor of the Lovingway United Pentecostal Church. Gordon says he displayed those words in front of his church in response to discussion about the movie "The Passion of the Christ."

Director Mel Gibson has denied charges that the epic is anti-Semitic. But Gordon says he was inspired by a radio show debate on the movie. Gordon says it may get more people to read the Bible.

So far the message mostly has ignited anger, among Jews and Christians alike. One Jewish human rights leader is calling on Christian clergy to rebuke the church that posted the sign.

One passerby was so upset, she bought a ladder and took down the first word, "Jews."

Church members later took down the rest of the words.

Cubs' Ball To Be Destroyed

CHICAGO - They're getting ready to take this ball out of play - for good.

The baseball that was at the center of a heartbreaking play for Chicago Cubs fans last October is going to be destroyed by a special effects expert today. It'll take place in front of Harry Caray's restaurant in downtown Chicago.

During Game Six of the National League championship series, a fan deflected the foul ball out of reach of a Cubs outfielder who was about to make the catch. The Cubs went on to blow their lead against the Florida Marlins, who went on to capture the playoffs and the World Series.

The ball was purchased at auction in December for $113,000 by the owners of Harry Caray's - the restaurant named for the late Cubs' broadcaster.

Man Wears Diaper, Pink Stretch Pants

PEQUANNOCK, N.J. - Dress for success probably doesn't include wearing a diaper. Authorities in northern New Jersey charge that William Rhode III went to a Roman Catholic school seeking a job application. Police say the 53-year-old Paterson man was wearing a diaper and pink stretch pants. According to police, Rhode pooped in his diaper when officials at the Holy Spirit School refused to give him a job application. Police caught him a short time later near a local supermarket. He faces child endangerment charges and is being held on $75,000 bail. A judge has also ordered a mental exam for Rhode.

China Warns Soccer Players Against 'Weird' Hairstyles

BEIJING - They might idolize David Beckham's technique, but Chinese officials ordered its national boys' soccer team not to copy his ponytail or other "weird hairstyles."

Rules issued this week by the China Football Association also bar players for the under-17 team from adopting the shaved head of Beckham's Real Madrid teammate Roberto Carlos.

"Dyed hair, long hair and weird hairstyles are all strictly prohibited in the training camp and all players must cut hair short," said the order, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Beckham is a pop-culture idol in China, featured on billboards and television commercials. He and his Real Madrid teammates were mobbed by adoring fans when they visited Beijing in August to play an all-star Chinese team.

China's youth team started spring training this week in the southern city of Nanning.

"You must learn how to behave as a true man before becoming a soccer star," Xinhua quoted Feng Jianming, director of the CFA youth department, as telling the players.

Snoring Touches Off Debate In Norway

OSLO, Norway - Snoring has become a hot political issue in Norway after offshore oil workers complained of roommates keeping them awake at night.

On some offshore oil platforms, workers have to share accommodations. So if one of them snores, the other can get dangerously deprived of sleep.

The problem made national news Wednesday, after a member of parliament wrote to Labor Minister Victor Norman, demanding that something be done to help the sleep-deprived workers.

Karin Andersen, of the Socialist Left party, said she asked the minister to explain by Monday how he planned to meet the demand for undisturbed sleep.

"It seems the problem is increasing," she was quoted as saying by the Haugesunds Avis newspaper.

Platform workers generally spend two-week shifts offshore, meaning they have no escape from roommates' nightly noises for the period.

Geir Heddeland, union leader on the Ekofisk oil field off southern Norway, said the problem affects about 700 of the 1,050 workers on that field alone.

"It goes beyond just snoring," he said by telephone. Roommates, often in bunk beds, can wake each other up simply by getting in and out of bed, he added.

"These are industrial workplaces at sea," Heddeland said. "If people get too tired, they can make a misstep, which can be dangerous."

Cat Rips Gas Pipe, Killing Owner

BEIJING - An agitated house cat ripped a hole in a cooking gas pipe, causing a leak that killed her owner and left the women's daughter in the hospital, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The cat's owner, identified only by the common Chinese surname, Wang, had locked the feline in the kitchen of her apartment at night because it was "in heat and making too much noise," the report said.

The cat was "biting and scratching about when it damaged the gas pipe. Gas leaked through to the bedroom of the home," located in the frigid northeastern city of Shenyang, the report said.

Wang was found to have died in her sleep, while her daughter, who had been sleeping in the same room, was recovering in the hospital, it said.

As for the pet, which survived by staying below the rising gas: Wang's family, the report said, had "disposed of the cat, and swore never to keep pets again."

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