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The Odd Truth, July 8, 2004

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

Move Over, Superman

WASHINGTON - It used to be only Superman who could see through concrete walls, but an exhibit at the National Building Museum shows mere mortals can do it too.

Called "Liquid Stone," the show features variations of translucent concrete, a newfangled version of the old construction standby that offers a combination of aesthetics and practicality.

One display is a wall of translucent concrete blocks. When someone stands in front of it and light is shone from behind, the person's shadow can be seen clearly on the other side.

"I think it's beautiful in itself, so it might be attractive in a restaurant or a hotel," said G. Martin Moeller Jr., the museum's senior vice president. "But it might also be used in an indoor fire escape where you wanted light to come through in case of a power failure. It could become a lifesaver."

The translucent blocks are made by mixing glass fibers into the combination of crushed stone, cement and water, varying a process that has been used for centuries to produce a versatile building material. The process was devised by Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi in 2001.

One of the first demonstrations was a sidewalk in Stockholm made of thin sheets of translucent concrete. It looks like an ordinary sidewalk by day but is illuminated at night by lights under it.

Translucent concrete is strong enough for the uses for traditional concrete, and chemical additives can greatly increase the strength. Moeller pointed out, however, that until demand increases, experimentation continues and production costs fall, the price of any new product will be significantly higher than similar older products.

312 Left Shoes Stolen

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - If people say you've got two left feet, there's a thief somewhere with a deal for you.

Nike salesman Ray Staiger said he left his hotel on Tuesday morning, and found the lock to his pickup truck bed had been broken. Staiger told police someone took 312 shoes he used as sales samples, which he valued at $10,789.

They were all left shoes. A salesman in Missouri has the right mates.

Staiger had to cancel sales presentations he had scheduled for Kansas City and Omaha, Neb., and return to Wichita for replacement shoes, paying a $500 deductible.

Ex's Revenge

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A Virginia man is going to prison - for playing an Internet dirty trick on his ex. Prosecutors charged that Anthony Lee Napier posed as his ex-wife in Internet chat rooms - looking for sex partners. Napier - impersonating his former wife - gave out her address and phone number and said she would play dumb when the men called, but still wanted sex. Napier pleaded guilty in April to two felony counts and three misdemeanor charges. This week he was sentenced to two years in prison and another ten on supervised probation.

Sock-Napper Behind Bars

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Alleged sock-napper Maurice C. Teague is behind bars. The Columbus, Ohio, man is accused of grabbing a nine-year-old boy, carrying him behind a supermarket and stealing his socks. Teague now faces kidnapping and robbery charges. Investigators say Teague at first tried to buy the boy's socks, but grabbed him when the youngster refused offers of five and ten dollars. Officers say Teague told them he has 500 pairs of children's socks. One detective says it's obviously odd, someone going after little boys' socks. Teague is now jailed on $75,000 bond.

Gambler Narrowly Esscapes Kidney Sale

SHANGHAI, China - Talk about extracting a pound of flesh.

Alleged loansharks tried to force a Shanghai man to sell one of his kidneys to pay back a $3,600 debt, the Shanghai Daily reported Thursday.

The two men kidnapped habitual gambler Lu Ronfeng and demanded doctors at a city hospital remove the organ, the Shanghai Daily reported Thursday.

Turned away, they decided to take him to the inland province of Anhui for the operation, but Lu escaped in the hospital parking lot and ran to a policeman.

One of the alleged loansharks, Li Shenghe, was arrested on the spot and has been charged with illegally holding Lu, it said. Li denied trying to make Lu sell his kidney. His accomplice escaped.

"Whether they forced Lu to sell his kidney or not, the fact is they detained him illegally, which violated the law," the paper quoted prosecutor Zheng Haiquan as saying.

China is an international center for organ transplants, many of them allegedly taken from the bodies of executed criminals.

Bad Luck Flasher

LOGAN, W. Va. - Wytona Mollohan picked the wrong guy to flash. She's now serving a 90-day jail sentence, after exposing her breasts to a West Virginia prosecutor. Logan County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Abraham says he was driving to a gym, when he passed Mollohan and another woman standing by the side of the road. Abraham says as he drove by, Mollohan pulled her shirt up almost over her head. Abraham says he turned around, called police and told Mollohan to stay put. She's pleaded guilty to indecent exposure.

Murder Suspect Flees After Gluing Ankle Bracelet To Cat

PRINCETON, W. Va. - A 14-year-old girl under house arrest on charges of murdering her father escaped after cutting an electronic monitoring device off her ankle and gluing it to a cat, authorities said.

Police searched on Wednesday for Kayla Marie LaSala, who fled an uncle's house early Saturday.

If she thought pinning the device to the cat would fool authorities, it did not work. An alarm went off when a circuit in the device was broken, officials said. But she was gone before police could get there.

"She's very, very sharp. She's cunning," said sheriff's detective C. T. Lowe.

Kayla is awaiting trial Sept. 7 on charges of stabbing her father to death in February. Sheriff's Sgt. A. D. Beasley said the motive for the slaying was unclear.

Lowe said Kayla told family members she planned to escape by July 2. He said the relatives were asleep when she fled.

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