The Odd Truth, Feb. 5, 2003

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.

Miss Brazil Is Mrs. Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO - Beauty pageant organizers stripped Miss Brazil of her title after they discovered she was married.

Joseane Oliveira, 21, was replaced on Tuesday by first runner-up Taiza Thomsen, 21, who will perform the beauty queen's duties for the remaining three months of the reign.

Evidence of Oliveira's 1998 wedding to Rafael Gustavo Vargas was uncovered by a newspaper in her home state of Rio Grande do Sul, which published the marriage certificate in its Saturday edition.

Oliveira, who has since separated from Vargas but is not divorced, said she concealed the marriage to enter the pageant because her father was sick and she needed the money.

"I wouldn't do it again, but I don't regret anything," Oliveira said at a press conference Tuesday, when organizers presented Thomsen with Oliveira's crown.

It wasn't the first time Oliveira's behavior had drawn criticism.

Earlier this year, she appeared seminude on a Web site. Oliveira also appeared on the Brazilian version of the reality show Big Brother III, in which contestants are locked up in a house and filmed around the clock. At times she appeared to be drunk, performing lurid dances and sensually kissing another contestant. She was among the first contestants voted out of the house by her peers.

Loveland's Labor Of Love

LOVELAND, Colo. - It's time for the annual labor of love -- in the post office in Loveland, Colorado. In the coming days, about 225,000 Valentines will be postmarked by volunteers in Colorado's sweetheart city. The postmark will have a ditty penned by Jean Hunt Goudy, a long-time cupid helper. It reads in part: "Beside a lake of blue, With mountains in the distance, Sending Love to You." The postmark also shows Cupid wearing chaps and a cowboy hat.

Jurors Sentence Man To Life By Mistake

SAN FRANCISCO - Jurors are apologizing for convicting a man for growing medical marijuana.

At least five of the 12 jurors say they'd never have found Ed Rosenthal guilty if they'd known he was growing pot for the city of Oakland under California's medical marijuana law. The federal judge in San Francisco refused to allow testimony about that.

The jury foreman says, "I never want to see this happen again." Another juror says, "We were manipulated."

Rosenthal was convicted Friday. Prosecutors painted the world-renowned activist as a major drug manufacturer. He could get up to 85 years in prison.

The federal government does not recognize medical marijuana laws in the nine states that have them. Federal authorities have waged a campaign against the law in California.

Train Conductors To The Rescue!

TOKYO - A packed express train carrying thousands of commuters made an unscheduled — and probably unprecedented — stop to help a girl make it to a high school entrance exam on time, the train's operator said Wednesday.

"We decided a young person's future was on the line," said a railway official on condition of anonymity. He couldn't recall any similar cases.

The 15-year-old girl left home with plenty of time Monday morning for a 9:20 a.m. exam to attend a competitive public school in a Tokyo suburb. Her name wasn't provided.

But instead of taking a local line that would have carried her to a nearby neighborhood for the test, she boarded a commuter express train that wasn't due to make another stop until it was in the heart of Tokyo's business district.

Horrified to discover halfway to Tokyo she was speeding toward the city center and not her exam, the girl drew the attention of fellow passengers who alerted the conductor.

The Chiba Office of East Japan Railway then decided on the unprecedented step of having the train make a special stop to let the girl off.

The girl's parents called the railway later that evening to report their daughter made it to the exam just in time.

Empire State Building Run-Up

NEW YORK — Who needs an elevator? Not these runners.

Coming from around the world, 116 men and women gathered at the Empire State Building on Tuesday to run up 86 floors — 1,576 steps to the observation deck for the 26th annual Fleet Empire State Building Run-Up, an event organized by the New York Road Runners Club.

Australian Paul Crake won the men's race for the fifth consecutive year, finishing in 9 minutes and 33 seconds, seven seconds off his time from the previous year.

Among the women, Cindy Moll, of Indianapolis, Ind., came in first, with a time of 13:06. She had been second in last year's race.

Another notable runner was Chico Scimone, 91, of Sicily, competing in his 13th career run-up. He finished with a time of 40:02.

With 102 floors, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world from its completion in 1931 until 1972, when the first of the World Trade Center's twin towers was completed.

What's In A Name?

PHOENIX — Arizona's tight gubernatorial race last year left a phone book company confused.

In the newest edition of the National Directory Co. phone book, Republican Matt Salmon is listed as governor under "Governor's Office" — even though Democrat Janet Napolitano won the race.

The mistake came about as the Tustin, Calif.-based company was putting together the phone book in December and looked at the Maricopa County recorder's website for election results.

In Maricopa County, one of 15 counties in Arizona, Salmon received 337,954 votes to Napolitano's 313,107 votes.

Statewide, Napolitano eked out a narrow win against Salmon.

NDC doesn't plan on fixing the mistake in this edition, which was distributed to about 160,000 households, said Dorothy Carmadella, NDC vice president of operations.

"It's an unfortunate mistake for the phone book directory," said Napolitano spokeswoman Kris Mayes. "The phone numbers in it were right, the only thing they got wrong was the name."