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The Odd Truth, July 21, 2004

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

One Big Bubble

CONWAY, Ark. - Kelsey Lea knows how to blow one big bubble. The 12-year-old Arkansas girl is one of six finalists for the Dubble Bubble National Bubble Blowing Contest. She earned a shot at the title with a 20-inch bubble. That's two inches bigger than a basketball and six inches larger than last year's winner. Kelsey says the secret in blowing is in the chewing. She says you have to chew a piece of bubble gum for ten to 15 minutes to get the right consistency. The national bubble blow off will be a week from Saturday on the "Today" show in New York. The biggest bubble blower gets a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a $5,000 donation in their name to a local children's hospital.

When Flight Attendants Attack!

MOSCOW - Drunken passengers often give air crews trouble, but Russia's leading airline reported a new twist: intoxicated flight attendants beating up a passenger.

Two crew members on a domestic Aeroflot flight beat a passenger who had complained that the flight attendants were drunk, airline spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said on Tuesday.

The passenger, identified only as A. Chernopup, was aboard a recent flight from Moscow to the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk, Dannenberg said. She said the crew belonged to another airline, Aviaenergo.

Seeing that the crew were intoxicated and were not fulfilling their duties, Chernopup asked to be served by a sober and competent flight attendant, Dannenberg said. Chernopup was then beaten up by crew members.

The male flight attendants were so intoxicated that they "behaved improperly" and only began catering to passengers 1-and-a-half hours into the four-hour trip, Dannenberg said.

The daily Izvestia quoted another passenger as saying that half of the food the crew served ended up on the floor, leaving the aisle strewn with debris.

According to the passenger, Chernopup left the plane with a black eye and was promptly sent to a doctor. Izvestia said a criminal case was opened by police.

Wife Strangled During Sex

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A Syracuse, New York, man has admitted to strangling his wife during a sex act.

Thirty-five-year-old Joseph Micale was allowed to plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the death of his wife, Maureen, last year.

He'll be sentenced to five years' probation and surrender parental rights to his one-year old son.

Micale had originally been charged with reckless manslaughter, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Police say he wrapped a telephone cord around his wife's neck during a sex act. After she died, authorities say he rearranged the scene to make it appear she'd hanged herself.

Burger King Bathroom Brawl

STRATFORD, Conn. - Call it a case of potty rage. Police in Stratford, Connecticut, were called to a Burger King the other night when a fight broke out over the bathroom. According to officers, Joseph Manuel Augusto was waiting to use the john - and thought Andres Diaz was taking too long. When Diaz emerged, pushing and shoving escalated into a fight. According to officers, the men chased each other around the burger joint with weapons. Police say Augusto had a small razor pocketknife, while Diaz brandished a Burger King straw dispenser. No one was hurt, but both men were busted. They've been charged with breaching the peace and have to appear in court next Tuesday.

Walk Like A Man

JERUSALEM - A young monkey at an Israeli zoo has started walking like a human following a near death experience, the zoo's veterinarian said Wednesday.

Natasha, a small five-year-old black macaque monkey at the Safari Park next to Tel Aviv, began walking exclusively upright on two legs after a stomach ailment nearly killed her, zookeepers said.

Monkeys usually alternate between upright movement and walking on all fours. A picture in the Maariv daily on Wednesday showed Natasha standing ramrod straight like a human. The picture was labeled humorously, "The Missing Link?"

Two weeks ago, Natasha and three other monkeys were diagnosed with severe stomach flu. At the zoo clinic, she slipped into critical condition, said Igal Horowitz, the veterinarian.

"I was sure that she was going to die," he said. "She could hardly breathe, and her heart was not functioning properly."

After intensive treatment, Natasha's condition stabilized, but she exhibited strange behavior, and a day after was released from the clinic, she began walking erect like a human being.

"I've never seen or heard of this before," said Horowitz. One possible explanation is brain damage from the illness, he said.

Besides her evolutionally advanced method of movement, Horowitz said, Natasha's behavior has returned to normal.

There Must Be An Easier Way To Get Drunk

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Some people at a three-day music festival in southern Sweden got more than just clean hands from the liquid soap in the portable toilets. They got a nice clean buzz, too.

Since the detergent had 62 percent alcohol in it, some users were more keen on spiking their sodas than washing their hands.

A 14-year-old girl was briefly hospitalized with a minor a stomach ache after she put too much soap into a carbonated beverage during the Baltic Sea Music Festival in Karlshamn, a town that once was the center for Sweden's liquor production.

Most of the soap, locked in dispensers, disappeared over night, said Anders Persson, whose company Bajamaja was hired to provide 65 portable latrines.

"I suspected something was wrong because the soap went like hot cakes," he said Wednesday.

Many of the soap dispensers were smashed by the time the festival ended on Sunday, Persson said.

Access to alcohol is tightly regulated in the Scandinavian country of 9 million with the state-monopoly selling spirits through a national chain of retail outlets. Swedish law prohibits the sale of any alcoholic products to anyone younger than 18.

Some 200 years ago, Karlshamn was a hub for the production of "snaps," a Scandinavian variety of hard liquor, which was made at the town distillery and then shipped throughout Sweden.

Since then, the distillery has become a museum and the only liquid made in the town is vegetable oil.

Woman Bites Off Boyfriend's Lip

POCATELLO, Idaho - A 28-year-old woman has been ordered to undergo a four-month counseling program in prison for biting off a one-inch chunk of her boyfriend's lip.

Yvonne Martin told 6th District Judge Peter McDermott that she has a problem with alcohol and anger management, but wants to be a good mother to her 6-year-old son.

The judge suspended a 10-year prison term and retained jurisdiction until Martin completes the counseling program at the women's prison in Pocatello. McDermott will decide after that whether to place her on probation or require her to serve the original prison term.

Martin was charged with assault after she bit boyfriend Zachary Ford in a bar on March 29 after pretending she was going to kiss him. When a female bartender tried to break up the altercation, Martin pulled her hair until police and patrons intervened, authorities said.

McDermott said the attack, combined with prior battery charges against Martin, reflected a pattern of violence.

Defense attorney Dave Martinez said Martin could turn her life around if she stayed away from alcohol, underwent counseling and got her high school diploma.

Do-It-Yourself Censor

LAYTON, Utah - A self-appointed editor of Davis County Library books has given new meaning to "purple prose."

The do-it-yourself censor is turning swear words into "darns" and "hecks" - in purple ink.

"They believe it's within their right to deface public property and impose what they believe on others," library director Pete Giacoma said.

"It's a crime. It would be prosecuted if we were to find who did it, by luck or accident," he said.

Destroying or defacing library materials is a class B misdemeanor. It's punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Giacoma said the library usually will settle for restitution.

"I think the worry of the public, every once in a while, is that we're doing it," he said. "We're not."

Giacoma said in cases like this, the vandals will usually tire of editing books and stop on their own.

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