The Odd Truth: July 20, 2005

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

Free Schooling For Virgins

KAMPALA, Uganda - A lawmaker is offering to pay university fees for girls who are virgins when they graduate from high school, in part to help fight AIDS.

"We want to encourage people to be morally upright and not to go into early marriages. We also want girls to resist defilement. We do not want these girls to get exposed to AIDS," Bbaale County Member of Parliament Sulayiman Madaada said.

He said he was counting on donors to help pay for the project.

Health workers in the central Kayunga District will conduct gynecological examination on girls who want to take part in the project — which is also intended to promote the education of girls there, Madaada told The Associated Press.

Uganda was one of the countries hit hardest by HIV/AIDS, but an aggressive campaign led by political, religious and community leaders pushed down infection rates from as high as 30 percent in the early 1990s to around seven percent now.

Infection rates, however, remain high in parts of Uganda.

Blind Date Record

SINGAPORE - Hundreds of college freshmen at a Singapore university met up with members of the opposite sex Wednesday in this record-obsessed country's latest wacky feat — setting up blind dates en masse.

Organizers at Nanyang Technological University paired 536 people into 268 couples who spent at least an hour together during a single 12-hour period, a university statement said.

The accomplishment has yet to be submitted to Guinness World Records for verification, said university spokeswoman Mah Lay Choon.

The previous record of 123 couples was set in London in 2001. Guinness regulations require couples to spend at an hour together in a 12-hour period.

The Singapore event was part of the University's orientation program and 50th anniversary celebrations.

This tiny Southeast Asian city-state of 4 million people often organizes attempts to put itself on the world map of unusual feats.

Last year, Singaporeans broke Guinness records for burger stuffing and cracker eating. A young Singaporean woman holds the world record for the fastest cellular phone text message.

Fire Captain Uses Water For His Yard

KOKOMO, Ind. - A city fire captain has gotten in trouble for mixing work with his home life.

Capt. Kevin Shaffer must repay the department $120 for using a fire truck to water his yard. He also was reprimanded and must pay 35 cents per gallon for the water he used, officials said.

Shaffer and other firefighters were training recently on the south end of town, after which Shaffer wanted to purge the truck's tank.

Instead of dumping the water down on the street or down a drain as is normal procedure, Shaffer put the water on his lawn in the city 50 miles north of Indianapolis, Deputy Chief Pat Donoghue said.

"We consider that a misuse of fire department equipment," Donoghue said. "He said he didn't want to waste it. If he didn't want to waste it, he could have watered the department's lawn."

Shaffer said he did not plan to appeal the reprimand or fine.

Answering Service Sabotage

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A doctors' answering service company in New York is accused of hacking into a competitor's computer so that patients got a busy signal or heard sexual moaning when they tried to call their doctors.

Gerald Martin is charged with computer tampering and possession of a forged instrument. If convicted he could face up to seven years in prison.

Westchester Country District Attorney Jeanine Pirro says the tampering led to at least one emergency situation. She says a patient had to be rushed to the hospital because a doctor couldn't be reached.

One county medical official says thousands of patients may have been prevented from reaching their doctors.

Living Billboard

NEW YORK - It's not the first time in New York's Times Square that a Calvin Klein billboard has gotten extraordinary attention. But it's the first one to use live subjects.

For a one-day stunt, the fragrance division of the fashion colossus put live models into a giant perfume bottle erected on the side of a Times Square building.

The display was a billboard-sized version of a TV commercial for Klein's eleven-year-old fragrance, CK One. And it got plenty of attention. One driver stopped at a traffic light got up on the step of his SUV for a better look.

One passerby said the only way to make it better would be to get a couple of beers and go up there and dance with them.

Man Confesses To Robbery On Radio

CHICAGO - People will say almost anything on a radio talk show. But one guy has pleaded guilty to a bank robbery after boasting about it on the air. The robbery of a Chicago-area bank went unsolved until a bank worker heard Randy Washington's description of the heist on the radio and told authorities. The FBI traced the call to Washington's cell-phone. This week he pleaded guilty to the April 2004 crime. Prosecutors say Washington cooperated after his on-air confession. Five other people have been implicated, including a former bank employee. Washington will be sentenced in October.