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The Odd Truth, June 19, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Girl Marries Dog

NEW DELHI, India - A 9-year-old girl was married to a stray dog in a ceremony attended by more than 100 guests in a village in India's eastern state of Bengal as part of a ritual intended to ward off a bad omen, newspapers reported Thursday.

The girl, Karnamoni Handsa, had to be married quickly to break an evil spell, according to the beliefs of her Santhal tribe in the remote village of Khanyan, the Hindustan Times said.

Karnamoni's tooth had grown on her upper gum, which Santhals consider a bad omen.

The girl's father, Baburam Handsa, a poor sharecropper, could not afford the expenses of marrying his daughter to a boy, so he saved money by making a street dog the groom on June 11, the paper reported.

Other news media also reported on the ritual, which does not interfere with the girl's life. She suffers no stigma and is free to marry later. She doesn't even need to divorce the dog.

800 MPH In A Car?

SPANAWAY, Wash. - Ed Shadle feels the need for speed — and lots of it. He hopes to break the world land-speed record in a 39,000-horsepower jet car. The record now stands at more than 760 miles per hour.

The retired IBM computer technician and his partners have invested a $100,000 in their dream machine, the North American Eagle. The three-wheeled vehicle is built around the guts of an old F-104 supersonic jet fighter. They plan to start low speed test runs at an old air base in Washington state this September.

Shadle says on paper their jet car can do 800 mph. They hope to find out in September of 2004 in a desert speed run.

Pot Shots

NEWPORT, Vt. - If you're going take pictures of your pot plants, you might want to use a Polaroid. David Koslosky of Barton, Vermont was busted after a drug store employee spotted the illegal weed while developing a roll of film.

Police say Koslosky not only posed with the plants, he also put his address on the film envelope. Officers say they found the drying weed and assorted drug paraphernalia at Koslosky's apartment.

He now faces a number of charges, including felony cultivation and possession, and lying to police. Koslosky has pleaded innocent — in the case of the pot shots.

Stolen Love? Not In Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Miss. - The idea that a married person's affections can be "stolen" is a very old concept. Now, in Missouri, it's no longer a legal one.

The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down the state's "alienation of affection" law, calling it an outdated doctrine that has no place in modern law.

The court was considering a lawsuit brought by a woman against her husband's alleged girlfriend, which accused the other woman of alienating his affections. The husband later married the girlfriend.

A jury found in the ex-wife's favor, ordering the other woman to pay her $75,000 in damages. The new wife appealed that verdict, and the Missouri high court now agrees with her.

The statute is believed to date back to English common law. It's still a cause for legal action in eight states.

The Missouri court wrote that such lawsuits are usually filed after a marriage is broken. And it said revenge — not reconciliation — is often the primary motive.

Nigeria's 'Insane' Traffic Problem

LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigeria's traffic authorities confirmed Thursday they had ordered psychiatric tests of traffic offenders blamed for "insane" gridlock in sub-Saharan Africa's largest city.

Lagos' legendary traffic jams, known as "go-slows," are being worsened by impatient drivers who brazenly jump curbs and drive on the wrong side of the street, Lagos Traffic Ministry spokesman Ogundeji Adesegun told The Associated Press.

The ministry in recent days ordered police to arrest offenders, impound their vehicles, impose 25,000 naira ($200) fines and order mandatory psychiatric tests, Adesegun said.

Hundreds of drivers had already been punished under the new measures, authorities said.

Their vehicles are being held until they had received a "certificate of sound mental fitness" from one of Lagos' three psychiatric institutions.

"Let us see if these people are mentally balanced. We have to end this insanity," Adesegun said. "If this doesn't work, the next thing we may do is advise the judiciary to impose jail terms."

"We have insane traffic. It is madness, no doubt about it," the official said.

Lagos, a tropical port city of 12 million, is plagued by nightmarish traffic preventing commuters from reaching work for hours — occasionally, for days.

It is not the first time officials have gone to unusual lengths to clear road congestion in Lagos.

In the early 1980s, Nigeria's then-ruling military imposed a system in which vehicles with odd-numbered license plates could ply roads only on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays while even-numbered plates were allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The system failed; most commuters either openly flouted the rules or obtained double sets of plates for their cars.

Cat-Cam In Famous Thai Temple

BANGKOK, Thailand - Authorities have installed surveillance cameras in a bid to prevent people from dumping unwanted cats at Thailand's grandest and most famous temple, an official said Thursday.

Nearly 50 cats have become permanent residents at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, eluding efforts to clear them out, and officials say they are becoming a nuisance to tourists who visit it daily.

"We feel sorry for tourists who sometimes step on cat poo," temple staff member Samruay Shinkhum said.

She said temple authorities believe that Bangkok residents who come to the temple to listen to weekly sermons have been leaving unwanted pet cats behind, although none has been caught doing so.

"We've done everything. We made a public announcement asking people not to abandon and feed cats. We patrol frequently to make sure they don't cause problems," she said, but to no avail.

She said the dozen surveillance cameras hopefully will deter anyone who intends to abandon a cat at the temple.

The 221-year-old temple on the banks of Chao Phraya River houses more than 100 buildings marked with extravagant and colorful carvings and decor. It is one of the country's top tourist spots.

Samruay said the temple sought help from the city administration to catch the cats, but only "the friendly ones get caught." The more aggressive ones elude capture by sliding into drain pipes and hiding in gaps between walls and doors, she said.

All In A Weird Day's Work

DES MOINES, Iowa - A city police officer showed he'll do just about anything to catch his man — even borrow the suspect's car.

Officer James Butler was working security inside a local Wal-Mart store Monday when he heard the blare of a car stereo in the parking lot. The driver of the car, Derrick Sanders, 25, was wanted on more than a half-dozen warrants.

Sanders jumped out of the car and took off running when he was asked for identification.

Butler said he looked around before quickly deciding his next move.

"I got in his car and started after him," Butler said.

The suspect disappeared into a nearby Radio Shack.

Sanders "looked pretty confused" to see his own car in pursuit, Butler said. "He didn't know what to think."

Butler used the car to block the store's back door. Employees blocked the front door, and minutes later Butler had Sanders in custody.

It wasn't the first time Butler took unusual means to catch his man.

In 1995, he caught a shoplifter after he hitched a ride from a passing motorist, borrowed a man's bicycle and drove a mo-ped the suspect had stolen and crashed.

A Whirlwind Tour Of Paradise

NORMANDY PARK, Wash. - It was a very short trip to paradise for one 13-year-old boy: He flew from Washington to Hawaii and back in less than a day.

The unidentified teen managed to charge the airline ticket online to his mother's credit card — and got himself to the airport and aboard the flight to Maui.

But his mom figured out where he was going at her expense, so a Maui County officer met him on his arrival last week. The boy was booked on a return flight, and was back home before midnight.

Aloha, indeed.

"He expected to get a flower in his ear. Instead, he got a ride in a police car," Normandy Park police Chief Rick Kieffer said.

The boy's mother, whom Kieffer did not identify, realized her son was missing June 11 and checked their home computer, which showed he had ordered a plane ticket to Hawaii.

"He got mom's credit card and punched it in," Kieffer said.

The family lives just over 2 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, not a long walk for a 13-year-old.

His mother sentenced him to "two years of yard work" to cover the cost of his ticket.

"We had a happy ending, from the police side of it," Kieffer said. "How Mom felt about it might be different."