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The Odd Truth, Feb. 3, 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.

Beauty And The Beast

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Looking for a little something special for your valentine? How about a hissing cockroach? That's the suggestion from the folks at the Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, New York. The zoo is running a Valentine's Day adoption program called "Give Your Beauty a Beast." For $10, you can adopt a hissing cockroach for your sweetheart. The adoption includes a photo, cockroach fact sheet and a free pass for your special friend to visit the little hisser. If a roach doesn't say "I love you," the zoo has some romantic alternatives. There's a bearded dragon, a black vulture and a bleeding heart dove.

Powerlifting Judge

OLYMPIA, Wash. - This justice gives new meaning to the words "bench press."

State Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland won her second national powerlifting championship over the weekend, grabbing a spot for herself on the USA Masters Team for world competition.

On Saturday, the 61-year-old justice broke the American squat record for her age and weight with a 198-pound lift. In the deadlift, Ireland set a personal record of 253 pounds.

She's proudest of her 133-pound bench press - not just because it set another national record, but because she achieved her long-standing personal goal of benching more than her 130-pound weight.

"That's kind of a mark among people who lift weights," the gym-savvy judge explained. "At my age, I'm happy to do it!"

Twenty years ago, Ireland was overweight, out-of-shape and nearly crippled by back pain from a car accident. She started lifting weights about four years ago as physical therapy for her back, and says it has transformed her life.

"Powerlifting has been a personal fountain of youth for me," Ireland said.

'Billy Jack' To Run Against Bush

CAMARILLO, Calif. - Tom Laughlin, best known for bringing martial arts into American pop culture with his 1970s "Billy Jack" films, is now throwing his punches in the political arena.

The 72-year-old actor, who lives in Camarillo, is one of 13 candidates running for president against George W. Bush in the Republican primary.

Laughlin, who first ran for president as a Democrat in 1992, said he's campaigning to draw attention to a two-party system he deemed "so corrupt it can't function anymore."

He described himself as a "messenger" candidate and said he wasn't disappointed by the New Hampshire primary, in which he garnered 154 votes to Bush's nearly 34,000.

"I've never run for president with any kind of thought of winning except to make a statement that we need change desperately," Laughlin told The Associated Press on Sunday.

He cited President Bush's claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and Congress' recent approval of a Medicare bill that prohibits the purchase of cheaper health care drugs from Canada, as the issues he's most concerned about.

Laughlin said he hopes to make a docudrama about his campaign, mixing details from his own life with old footage from his cult classic films, including, "Billy Jack Goes to Washington."

"Billy Jack was always about the little guy going against the power brokers who are out to exploit and ruin," Laughlin said. "And that's why I'm running."

John Edwards' Penknife Confiscated

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sen. John Edwards had a penknife confiscated as part of a stepped up security search that caused a one-hour delay for the Democratic presidential candidate and others boarding his chartered plane.

Albuquerque security officials gave extensive screenings to those traveling with the senator, including hand inspections of everyone's luggage and carry-on bags.

"We must look dangerous," joked the North Carolina Democrat, who was forced to go through a metal detector along with other passengers, and to have all his bags X-rayed, before being allowed to board his campaign plane.

A small knife was confiscated from Edwards' luggage. "It was a pocket knife," Edwards said. "I didn't even know it was there." He said he was told it would be returned to him later.

A pair of scissors, tweezers and assorted small tools used by photographers and television cameramen also were confiscated. The extra scrutiny, which was not explained, caused Edwards to be an hour late for his next scheduled appearance, a speech at a union hall in Oklahoma City.

About three dozen people are traveling on Edwards' plane, most of them members of the news media.

Feng Shui Bill Introduced In California

SAN FRANCISCO - A legislator wants California's building codes to accommodate the ancient Chinese tradition of feng shui, which says buildings should be located and designed in ways that create harmonious energy flow.

"We've been the recipients of some joking in the Capitol," state Assemblyman Leland Yee said at a news conference Friday about the measure he introduced in early January.

Yee's resolution isn't meant to become law or force cities to change how buildings are constructed. Instead, Yee said, it would encourage building officials to accommodate the concept and be more sensitive to a cultural practice that can improve work and living spaces.

For example, some homeowners haven't been able to put doors on certain sides of their houses because local building codes don't accommodate their feng shui-based preference, Yee said.

The building industry is resisting the proposal, citing existing regulations that make new homes expensive.

"The Legislature should be less focused on what goes into a new home and more on making sure that enough new homes are built," said John Frith, a spokesman for the California Building Industry.

Feng shui expert Steven Post said many basic feng shui concepts are similar to existing, good design measures. For example, entryways should be bright and inviting and offices and living rooms should be located near the front of the home, while bedrooms should be put farther inside.

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