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The Odd Truth, July 7, 2004

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

The Mill Pond Monster?

SALINE, Mich. - You don't have to travel all the way to Scotland to see a monster in a lake.

A mechanical creature with a long neck dubbed "Millie" will surface in Mill Pond during the annual Saline Celtic Festival as a nod to Scotland's Loch Ness monster.

Millie is the creation of mechanical designer Jim Peters, who is a volunteer for the festival that takes place Saturday. Peters, 54, came up with the idea last year.

"I was down there at the festival. It was full of bagpipe music and Scottish sights and activities. Viewing the long body of water, one can't help think of the Loch Ness area in Scotland and its famous legend.

"I asked myself: `Where's the monster?"'

Peters' wood-and-steel reptile is 24 feet long when in a low position and 6 feet tall in its upright position. Millie is composed of a neck and headpiece, a mid-hump and a tail that can be moved with a rope connected to pulleys.

Reported sightings of a big beast dubbed "Nessie" in the gray waters of Loch Ness have led many people to believe it holds a huge creature, although a series of searches has found no evidence of one.

Statues Mistaken For Corpses

JOSEPH, Ore. - Dannie Eaves got busted for hauling some busts.

Eaves, an employee at Joseph Bronze in Joseph, Ore., had six busts in his pickup truck Wednesday when several motorists mistook the Nebraska-bound sculptures for dead bodies and called the police.

"I was going down the freeway and a sheriff pulled up behind me," Eaves said of last Wednesday's incident.

Eaves was asked to step to the back of the truck.

The officers found a life-sized sculpture of a firefighter in the truck bed. Three shoulder-sized busts of former governors were in the truck's cab, a fourth was placed on the floor boards and a fifth was with the firefighter sculpture.

"I explained to him they were statues," Eaves said. "We all had a good laugh. I bet they were really relieved."

The rest of the trip to Evanston, Wyo., about 650 miles from Joseph, Ore., was uneventful, Eaves said. The sculptures were relayed by another person with a canopied truck the rest of the way to Nebraska.

Mickey Mantle Mystery Card

WINDSOR, Ontario - Fortune seekers are descending on a Windsor, Ontario school to search for a valuable Mickey Mantle rookie card.

Windsor Star columnist Marty Gervais recently wrote about the baseball card he'd buried at St. Thomas school as part of a time capsule in the 1950's.

The building is in the process of being demolished.

After reading Monday's column by Gervais, people began turning up at the site to try to find the card before it is destroyed.

It's estimated to be worth $50,000.

The son of the building's owner says he'll lay claim to the card if it is found - and then he'll head to Las Vegas.

Killer Margaritas

OMAHA, Neb. - The margaritas were a real killer. A Nebraska woman has been sentenced to up to 26 years in prison - for spiking a margarita with potentially deadly anti-freeze. Maureen Plambeck will have to serve at least eleven years, for attempting to kill her former sister-in-law. The victim survived the poisoning attempt but spent three days in a hospital intensive care unit. Plambeck apologized in court yesterday, and said the spiked cocktail was only meant to scare - not kill.

Face Transplants: Not Just For Evil Villans Anymore

PITTSBURGH - It might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but doctors someday may be doing face transplants.

Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says it's a matter of when - not if.

But face transplants won't be for cosmetic reasons. Lee says face transplants make sense when surgeons can't adequately rebuild the faces of people who have been disfigured.

He says a key in a successful face transplant would be the ability to wean patients from powerful anti-rejection drugs.

Other surgeons say there should be a national policy on face transplants before the procedure becomes a reality. They note face transplants would carry significant psychological and social ramifications.

Ghengis Kahn Kin Offered Free Dinner

LONDON - A London restaurant is offering diners the chance to learn whether they are descended from the rampaging Mongol ruler Genghis Khan - and win a free meal if they are.

The promotion by the restaurant Shish has proved surprisingly popular, exemplifying how Genghis Khan, once reviled in the West as a tyrant, has gained new respect in his own country and among academics.

"We've had Mongolian people who've traveled across London to give us their details," said Hugo Malik, bar manager of Shish, which is giving away one DNA test at each of its two London branches every day through Friday. "They said, 'Grandad always used to tell us we were descended from Genghis Khan."'

Grandad may have been right. Oxford Ancestors, the firm doing the testing, says 16 to 17 million men in Central Asia share a pattern of Y chromosomes within their genetic sequences that indicates probable descent from Genghis Khan, who conquered vast tracts of Asia and Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries and sired many offspring.

"He was an all-conquering tribal leader," said David Ashworth, a geneticist who is Oxford Ancestors' chief executive. "He took their cities, he took their land, he took their women."

Lacking any tissue samples from Genghis Khan, the tests are based on an assessment of probabilities.

The tests are part of the burgeoning field of bioarchaeology, which uses biological techniques to learn about our ancient ancestors. Founded four years ago by Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes, Oxford Ancestors offers DNA testing to people around the world eager to trace their genetic roots.

Sykes believes DNA can be used to map humanity's common ancestry. In 1994, he extracted DNA from the Iceman, a frozen 5,000-year-old corpse found in the Tyrolean Alps, and identified a woman living in Britain as his descendant.

Woman Charged $71,000 For Drunk Driving

OSLO, Norway - A wealthy Oslo businesswoman was fined a record $71,000 for driving while drunk, Norway's biggest newspaper reported Tuesday.

The woman, whose name was withheld in court documents, was arrested in August 2003 after she crashed into three parked cars in Oslo, the capital. Police said she had consumed about 11 glasses of wine.

The recent court ruling also said the woman gave police a false name, punched one officer in the stomach and yelled at the others.

A breath test showed her blood alcohol level was 0.2 parts per million, or 10 times the legal maximum in Norway.

Norwegian courts usually fine those convicted of drunken driving an amount that corresponds to a month's salary. She got the hefty fine because her annual salary was $860,000.

She was also given a suspended jail sentence of 25 days.

At her attorney's request, the woman's name, age and employer were expunged from court documents.

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