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The Odd Truth, July 16, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum.

Oops! Penis Mistakenly Cut-Off

BUCHAREST, Romania - Medical authorities are investigating a Romanian doctor after he allegedly cut off a patient's penis accidentally during testicle surgery, officials said Friday.

Mircea Cinteza, chairman of Romania's Doctors College, said colleagues would meet Friday to decide whether the unidentified urologist is guilty of malpractice.

The 34-year-old patient's penis was severed during an operation at a Bucharest hospital on Tuesday.

Dr. Ioan Lascar, a plastic surgeon who performed an operation on the man Thursday to help him urinate, said the patient was in stable condition.

Lascar said the man would undergo reconstruction surgery in the coming months but the chances of success are unknown.

The urologist was temporarily suspended pending the investigation. If found guilty of malpractice, he could lose his license to practice medicine.

Note: Roll Down Window Before Throwing Fireworks

SALT LAKE CITY - Two men planning to throw lighted fireworks from a car were burned when they forgot to roll down the window.

"They lit a large mortar rocket firework" and were going to throw it out the window, Salt Lake County sheriff's Sgt. John Barker said. "The passenger threw it out the window, but he forgot to roll the window down. It bounced back in his lap."

Adam Weber, 24, was in fair condition Thursday at the Intermountain Burn Unit at University Hospital with second and third degree burns on his arms, legs and torso.

"He's going to be in a lot of pain. I don't think it's life-threatening, but he's going to have a hard time. It's going to be a long process to get him healed up," Barker said.

The driver, Jared Williams, only had minor burns to his back.

The accident happened about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The investigation has been turned over to the Unified Fire Authority. An officer told KSL-TV any charges filed likely would be just misdemeanors.

Friends Don't Call Friends Terrorists

BANGOR, Maine - A fake wanted poster the owner of an Etna variety store displayed on his cash register as a practical joke has triggered a defamation lawsuit.

Brad Graves sued Ronald Hicks last week in Penobscot County Superior Court, claiming that Hicks damaged his reputation by displaying the poster that labeled him a "terrorist."

Hicks' lawyer characterized the lawsuit as "ridiculous," saying the poster was created as a harmless joke by his client and was aimed at a frequent customer whom he regarded as a friend.

The poster included a photograph of Graves with the words "Mohammed Abdul Graves, suspected leader of the outlaw organization Extreme Activist Terrorism Militia of Etna" or "EATME" under his picture, according to court documents.

The poster also allegedly stated that Graves was "Assumed to be armed and dangerous."

Graves' lawyer, Brett Baber, said Graves was "mortified" by the poster.

"In this day and age, anytime one is alleged to be a terrorist and part of a terrorist group, it does inherent damage to one's reputation," Baber said. "He's fortunate that he saw this fairly soon after it was posted."

Hicks' lawyer said the prank took shape when someone brought in a picture of Graves, who was wearing camouflage and standing in a cornfield. Hicks prepared what he thought was a humorous caption and was planning to give the picture to Graves when he stopped in, Harrigan said.

Monkey Saved From Restaurant Brain-Slicing

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A monkey was recuperating at a wildlife park in Taiwan after being rescued from a restaurant that planned to sell slices of the animal's brain while he was alive in a cage, a local government official said Friday.

A tourist in the central mountainous area of Nantou bought the monkey, Formosan macaque, after he saw that customers at a restaurant were about to eat its brains, said Huang Kuo-chen, a forestry official in Taoyuan county, where the tourist lives.

The man phoned Huang's department to ask whether the monkey could be legally raised at home, the forestry official said.

"Raising monkeys at home is banned because they are protected animals," Huang said.

The man, who didn't give his name, handed over the animal to the authorities after rescuing it in May, Huang said. An inspection of the monkey showed exposed bone and small holes in its skull, he said.

In a front-page story, the Apple Daily showed photos of the monkey with a patch of hair shaved on its head where the restaurant reportedly planned to cut open his skull and slice off pieces of brain.

Many Taiwanese enjoy eating exotic animals because they believe the creatures provide special health benefits.

CTI cable news quoted doctors who warned that animal brains could contain dangerous viruses and were not fit for consumption.

The monkey is now being held at a wildlife park before experts evaluate whether it can be released in the wild, Huang said.

Armed With Claw Hammer, Elderly Man Stops Robbery

ARDMORE, Okla. - Gene McMahan put the hammer down on a would-be robber.

The 68-year-old McMahan was behind the counter at Taylor's Liquor Store when he saw a man walk into the nearby Boy's Food Store and point a weapon at the clerk.

He grabbed his claw hammer, locked the liquor store and went next door to confront the robber.

"It was going to be him or me," McMahan said.

He said the man threatened to shoot him, a fight ensued and both lost their weapons. The money was dropped and the robber ran away.

Christopher Ray Smith, 22, was arrested by police in connection with the Tuesday robbery.

Police Lt. Rickey D. Lawrence said McMahan's crime-fighting behavior is not encouraged.

"There are times when things don't go right," Lawrence said. "Realistically, it's best for citizens to get a description and a direction of travel and let us find the subject and put him in custody."

Fighting Bureaucracy, One Nickle At A Time

EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. - Sandi Bryan gave the state her two-cents worth over the five cents they claim she owes.

When the Washington state Department of Employment Security notified her that she owed money for an unemployment compensation overpayment more than six years ago, she picked up the phone.

She was being threatened with court action over a nickel.

Bryan said she asked the state employee who took her call on a toll-free line whether she should mail in a nickel taped to a piece of paper.

"I said, 'Do you realize for this nickel, you paid an employee to type this ... (spent) 37 cents for postage, and you want me to pay for a money order and the postage?"' she said.

The response was that the money had to be paid properly.

Bryan said she was overpaid when she was on unemployment for about three months more than six years ago but thought she had paid it all back.

That was until she got a notice dated June 18 that demanded payment of five cents, after which "the Superior Court warrant will be satisfied immediately."

Employment Security spokeswoman Kristin Alexander said the overpayment notices are sent to about 70,000 people a month with the average amount about $1,000.

"Typically we do require payment to be made in whole, (but) in the case of a nickel, we would usually make an exception," Alexander said. "Had she spoken to me, I would have taken a nickel out of my purse and paid it for her."

When Did Art Students Get So Dumb?

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Two art students who placed fake bombs in the Czech Republic's second largest city, saying it was part of a university project, have been charged with hooliganism, an official said Friday.

Police closed a street and a square for several hours and evacuated nearby offices after two suspicious parcels, which appeared to be explosive devices were found in the heart of Brno, 125 miles southeast of Prague, on June 17.

Police announced the charges on Friday, after charging two art students, ages 21 and 24, earlier this week, police spokesman Mojmir Popp said in a statement.

An investigation by police experts found that the parcels posed no threat.

The students told police they considered the imitation explosives to be "sculptures" and that they were part of an assignment on visual communication in the city, Popp said.

The students claimed that the fake bombs, made of used electronic components placed in a box with a huge sign saying "explosive" were intended to provoke discussion, Popp said.

The two said they didn't expect that their actions would lead a police investigation and said they regretted the outcome, Popp said.

If convicted, the two could be fined or face up to two years in jail.

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