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The Odd Truth, Feb. 9, 2005

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

Virginia Is For Covers

RICHMOND, Va. - It's time to pull up your pants, Virginia.

The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill authorizing a $50 fine for anyone who displays his or her underpants in a "lewd or indecent manner."

The bill's sponsor says his constituents have been offended by underwear that's showing above the trouser tops because teens are going for low-slung pants.

An opponent of the bill pleaded with his colleagues to remember their own youthful fashion follies, reminding them of how they dressed or wore their hair in their teens.

He also said the measure was an unconstitutional attack on young blacks who are just making a fashion statement. But the measure was approved and sent to the state senate.

Love Letters Swamp Town

VALENTINE, Texas - Love is getting stamped out in this tiny West Texas town.

Valentine's Day cards and letters have been coming to the town's adobe-style post office for weeks as romantics from around the world send messages to get stamped with the distinctive postmark of Valentine, Texas.

With 7,000 cards already behind them Monday, Postmaster Maria Elena Carrasco and her part-time assistant Leslie Williams were greeted with a dozen brimming baskets of cards and letters left by the daily delivery truck that traveled 150 miles from El Paso.

They stamped each piece by hand, and by nightfall, another truck making the return trip picked up the cards and letters for routing to cities coast to coast, border to border. By Carrasco's count, they've gone to 28 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Switzerland.

"It reinforces my belief that there is a lot of love and a lot of people do believe in God because that's what love is," said Carrasco, who has run the post office since 1990.

The holiday postmark tradition grew from the 1980s, when the previous postmaster, Doris Kelley, offered the postmark to some friends and the favor spread by word of mouth.

Cops Raid Kid's Party

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A surprise of a different kind during a two-year-old's birthday party in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Police on a drug raid burst into a suburban home during a child's birthday party, startling children as they were about to enjoy their birthday cake.

Authorities say the woman hosting the party for her niece is accused of selling marijuana from the house and had been the subject of a stakeout for the past several weeks. Police didn't know about the party.

Police Chief Richard Friend said at the time of the raid, the pregnant woman was in the master bedroom smoking marijuana and taking calls from prospective pot customers.

He says that as his officers burst through the door last Friday, the kids started crying. He says the phone kept ringing with calls from customers.

Friend said one of the first things he did after he realized what was happening was to order his officers to holster their guns.

Inmates Get Fashion Week Makeover

LIVINGSTON, Mont. - Sheriff Clark Carpenter says identifying inmates should be a black and white matter, so he's color-coordinating uniforms based on crime.

The Park County Detention Center is outfitting inmates charged with felonies in black and white prison stripe uniforms.

Carpenter said he got the idea on a trip to Canada, when he saw a work crew on the side of the highway in black and white striped clothing.

"It left no question in my mind who those guys were and what they're doing," Carpenter said.

For years, Park County inmates have worn solid orange uniforms, which can be identical to work clothes worn by some road crews. Carpenter said if someone escaped from jail and was seen on the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit, it might not raise suspicion.

Detention center supervisor Jay O'Neill lobbied against the new uniforms, but said some of the inmates "almost get a chuckle out of it and say, 'Those are kind of cool."'

Senator Hitchhikes

OMAHA, Neb. - Sen. Ben Nelson had to hitch a ride with a stranger to his own news conference after accompanying President Bush on a last-minute ride to the airport.

The Democratic senator said he did not know his own staff had sent a car for him on Friday to Eppley Airfield, where he accompanied Bush in the presidential limo.

So Nelson accepted a ride with White House staffers back to the Qwest Center, where Bush had spoken about Social Security. From there, he was stranded and late for his news conference to offer reaction to Bush's plan. Nelson said he could not reach his own staffers, who were waiting for him 50 blocks away.

Dick Preston saw Nelson outside the complex, where he was going to the annual home and garden show.

"It was obvious he needed a ride," Preston said. "I told him I had this old Buick and it was ready to go."

U.S. Takes Pancake Title

LIBERAL, Kan. - For the seventh year in a row, the U.S. has come out on top in an unusual trans-Atlantic competition.

Jill Wettsein won the American leg of an annual pancake challenge with the British yesterday. She just edged out the time of the winning English runner.

Wettsein's time in the 415-yard run in Liberal, Kansas -- while carrying a pancake in a pan and wearing an apron -- was 67.38 seconds, about a second-and-a-half faster than Andrew Rawlings' time over a course run in Olney, England.

The event takes place on Shrove Tuesday. Legend has it that the event dates back to the original race in 1445 when a harassed Olney housewife rushed to church while still carrying a frying pan with a pancake in it.

He Fought The Law...And Won!

MINEOLA, New York - It's apparently still legal to tell lawyer jokes. At least it is in New York.

A Long Island grand jury tossed out a case brought against a man arrested for disorderly conduct while in line outside the Nassau County courthouse last month.

His alleged offense? Sharing jokes with a friend. Jokes like, "How can you tell if a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving."

Harvey Kash says a lawyer in the line got court officers to arrest him and a friend.

As founders of a group that urges greater access to the courts, they say they've mocked lawyers outside courthouses for years.

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