The Odd Truth, Jan. 31, 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.

G.I. Joe Millionaire

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island - It's a G.I. Joe so expensive, it could break even the Pentagon's budget. G.I. Joe creator Don Levine is going to sell his hand-carved prototype for the world's first action figure. It will go on the block in July and the auctioneers figure it could bring more than $600,000. If you don't have quite that much money, Levine is selling some of his other G.I. Joe stuff, including the first handmade figure with movable limbs. That's worth an estimated $75,000. Levine created G.I. Joe 40 years ago, as an executive for Rhode Island-based Hasbro toys. He says the name came to him while watching an old black and white movie called "The Story of G.I. Joe."

Naked, Sober Man Nabbed In Museum Break-In

BAKERSFIELD, California - He wasn't exactly the caped crusader. Police in Bakersfield, California, say they busted a naked guy at the scene of a museum break-in. According to officers, Shane Michael Walton was wearing only a top hat and a cape -- and rolling around in a wheelchair used as a prop by the museum for historical skits. The cape and hat were from the place, too. Authorities say Walton trashed the Kern County Museum, causing an estimated $20,000 in damages. Officers are offering no explanation as to why Walton was nude. But police say he wasn't drunk or on drugs. He's been booked for investigation of burglary and felony mischief.

54-Year Old Paternity Suit Ends, Finally

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Making a baby doesn't take long. Proving you didn't can take half a century.

The Supreme Court of Sweden last week said 79-year-old Ragnar Johansson is not the father of a 55-year-old woman, overturning a lower court decision from 1949.

The decision ended a long-standing paternity dispute, but was unlikely to lead to reimbursement for the child support Johansson paid as the child grew up.

Johansson disputed his fatherhood after the girl was born in 1948, but a court ruled against him and ordered him to pay child support to the girl's mother.

The 1949 decision, well ahead of the advent of DNA technology, was based on blood tests and circumstantial evidence, Johansson's lawyer Claes Aurell said.

Johansson appealed to the Supreme Court in 1950, but the court declined to hear the case. It granted a retrial 53 years later, after Johansson provided DNA tests proving he was not the father.

The Supreme Court absolved Johansson from fatherhood but denied his request for reimbursement for legal costs.

The daughter, who asked not to be identified, told The Associated Press she never met Johansson and wondered why he waited so long before requesting a retrial.

Mohandas 'G-Man' Gandhi Protested

NEW DELHI, India - An MTV show is causing people to go hungry in India.

About 150 lawmakers and political activists fasted yesterday, in protest of "Clone High, USA." They say the show mocks Mohandas Gandhi.

The show has never aired in India, but a newspaper report about it has upset people who revere the late independence leader.

The show has a character -- G-Man -- who is a fictional Gandhi clone.

But this Gandhi wears dangly earrings, eats junk food and is a party animal.

MTV India says it doesn't plan to air the show.

The Indian Express quotes a supporter of Gandhi saying, "such pygmies who try to ridicule him will only fail."

Adventurous Mouse Wreaks Air Traffic Havoc

ZURICH, Switzerland - A missing mouse forced the Swiss airline to cancel flights two flights between Zurich and New York, the company said Friday.

The mouse, destined for use in laboratory experiments, escaped from its transport container in the hold of an Airbus A-330 during a flight Wednesday from Boston to Zurich, Swiss spokesman Manfred Winkler said.

On safety grounds, authorities were forced to gas the mouse by pumping carbon dioxide through the hold — even though modern aircraft design limits the risk of cables being gnawed. As a result, a scheduled flight Thursday from Zurich to New York was scrapped, as was the return leg.

Missing Armored Car Cash Found In Mexico, With Driver

SAN DIEGO — An armored car driver who vanished last week along with more than $100,000 was detained in Mexico, authorities said.

On Thursday, the FBI and Mexican authorities detained Philip Carlos Salcedo Jr., 23, in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, FBI spokesman John Iannarelli said.

The Loomis Fargo armored car Salcedo was driving was found abandoned in downtown San Diego on Jan. 23 with its engine running and door open. Moments earlier Salcedo had dropped off a fellow security guard, at a city administration building for the car's final pickup of the day, police said.

The next day, FBI agents found money and deposit bags in Rosarito, Mexico. Police initially treated the case as a possible kidnapping and robbery, but later said they considered Salcedo the "prime suspect."

Salcedo's family hired a private investigator to help find the married father of two, saying they believed he had been threatened and were concerned for his safety.

The Labor Movement Just Got Sexier

SAN FRANCISCO - Some strippers are now covered -- by a union contract. The dancers at San Francisco's Lusty Lady have approved a new labor pact that restores pay cuts and improves some fringe benefits. They're the only unionized strippers in the country. They had picketed the club last month, to protest a pay cut of three bucks an hour. But the exotic dancers can now take it all off at their old salary -- $27 an hour. The club has even promoted the strippers' union status. The Lusty Lady boasts it has the "only peep show where you can be sure the dancers will be beautiful, smart and unionized."

You Make Me Feel So Young

OSLO, Norway - Ingeborg Bertea Thuen was delighted when local authorities offered her free bus rides to the school she's supposed to attend as a first-grader this fall.

The last time Thuen started school, in 1903, she had to walk an hour each way.

"That's great," the 106-year-old told the Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen Friday about the free ride. "It's quite a way to walk."

She was born in 1897, but computers in Os township, near the west coast city of Bergen, misread the '97' in her birth date as 1997. That would have made her 6 years old, and the township sent her a letter summoning her to start school.

The letter also encouraged the centenarian's parents to list the children she would like to have in her class.

Thuen, who gets around with the help of a walker, reckons she may do better than her first-time peers.

"Since I can already read, maybe I should skip a couple grades," she joked.

Victor Hugo Is Rolling In His Grave

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — Even in this age of raunchy rap and tasteless television, high school drama coach Ruth Ridenour warned students trying out for "Les Miserables" that it contained swear words.

Three, precisely: "hell," "bitch" and "bastard."

The students were all right with that, but some parents were not.

Several complained, and administrators are now preparing to consider whether the musical — four weeks into rehearsals and set for an April 11-13 run — is too raw for this Potomac River town of 1,900.