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The Odd Truth, June 26, 2003

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

Politics Just Got Sexier

NEWTON, N.J. - County Democratic officials want a state Senate candidate to quit the race over a nude photo contest he entered, but Jim Morrison says he's in to stay.

"If people want to know about it, they should know I won the contest," the 32-year-old attorney said.

Sussex County Democratic Party Chairman Charles Cart said Morrison does not reflect northwestern New Jersey's conservative values, and the party already has a hard enough time competing in an area where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-to-1.

"It's not like you do it when you're an adolescent and you feel like you did something wrong. It's like, `Hey, I won that contest and it's cool,"' Cart said.

Morrison, a partner in his parents' law firm, has gotten national attention in the past. He was a runner-up on ABC-TV's reality show "The Mole" in early 2001. That same year, Morrison was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Eligible Bachelors."

He posed for nude pictures while he was a law school student, and in 1996 twice entered a photo contest in New York City that featured nudity.

He called the photo contest about "as bad as a wet T-shirt contest."

"I don't shy away or back away from who I am, because I think that's the kind of person voters want," Morrison said.

Peeping In The Digital Age

PALO ALTO - A Redwood City man with a sophisticated camera system built into a shoelace is facing a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filming up women's skirts.

Police say James Rich filmed the underwear of a number of women at Sunday's annual classic car show in Palo Alto.

Investigators say a camera lens was hidden in the laces of a shoe, with wires running up Rich's leg to a camera.

A man attending the show told police he saw Rich following a woman around. He says Rich stood very close to the women — and he wasn't looking at cars.

Rich apparently saw police watching him and walked over to an officer. He let police look at his camera and tapes. A review showed under-skirt pictures of women at the show.

Shh! The Noise Police Will Get You!

SINGAPORE - After telling people how to behave on the Internet and introducing fines for those who don't flush toilets, Singapore now has noise police to keep volumes down in its public libraries.

Lee Siew Hoon, a National Library Board spokeswoman, said Thursday more than 10 people now patrol six of the island's libraries urging users to pipe down and switch off their cell phones as part of a "library etiquette campaign."

"The volunteers go around the library during the noisiest times and speak to people who are talking on their cell phones, kids who are shouting or those who are chatting away," Lee said.

They do not have the power to fine or ask people to leave the library, she said. The noise police can only ask them to stop talking, sometimes just slipping a note to the noisemakers asking them to "spare a thought for others."

Lee said people asked to keep quiet tend to be "genuinely apologetic."

The campaign would be reviewed in October and likely rolled out to other libraries, she said.

The National Library Board's Web site lists rules of etiquette, including requests for library users to queue for services and limit newspaper reading to half and hour.

Singapore, a Southeast Asian city-state of 4 million people, organizes several public service campaigns each year.

Past campaigns have encouraged residents to smile, to wave to fellow road users, and to turn mobile phones off during movies. A campaign in February, coinciding with Valentine's Day, told people how to act on a date.

Finally, X-Ray Vision's Big Break

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, New Jersey - Supporters say an X-ray machine that shows airport screeners everything there is to see under people's clothes is the safe way to go.

Congressman John Mica says it's crucial to keeping a terrorist from bombing a plane someday. The government is considering using the technology at airports because the machines used now can't detect plastic weapons or substances used in explosives.

A spokesman for the Electronic Privacy Information Center says people are likely to object. He says something that invasive is hard to justify.

"Backscatter" technology scatters X-rays to show people absolutely naked under their clothing. Rays deflecting off dense material like metal and plastic produce a darker image than flesh. Backscatter machines are used for everything from screening prison visitors to inspecting diamond miners.

Something Smells Fishy Around Here

SUPERIOR, Colo. - An 11-year-old fisherman reeled in a big catch that had nothing to do with the crayfish he was looking for.

Devonte Martinez hooked a stolen bank bag holding nearly $2,000 in soaked checks written to the Imagine Foundation charity. He noticed two other bank bags in Coal Creek and reeled them in, too. They were empty.

"I thought someone accidentally lost the bags out the window of a car," Devonte said Tuesday. "I know what it feels like; I once lost $2 when I was riding to the video game store."

The June 9 catch was taken to Boulder County authorities, who said the bags had been stolen the night before from a Boulder restaurant where Imagine had held a fund-raiser. The thief apparently took the cash — about $2,600 — and threw away the rest.

Members of the foundation, which provides services and housing for people with developmental disabilities, thanked Devonte with a fleece vest and food and entertainment coupons, and the restaurant gave him Martinez a gift certificate as well.

Investigators say they have no suspects in the theft.

Hulk Fanatic Pleads Guilty To Bootlegging

NEW YORK - He's a true-green fan. A Hamilton, New Jersey, man has pleaded guilty to making a bootleg copy of the just-released film "The Hulk" and posting it on the Internet. Kerry Gonzalez showed his true colors when appeared at federal court in Manhattan yesterday. Gonzalez wore a dark green suit and green necktie. The six-foot, two-inch defendant faces six months to a year in prison plus fines when he's sentenced in September. He pleaded guilty to a single count of copyright infringement. Prosecutors say the insurance underwriter obtained a promotional videotape of "The Hulk," copied it onto his computer and made it available in a chat room.

Naked Trek Across Britain Cut Short By Court

LONDON - Rambling buff Steve Gough started a trek across Britain wearing only socks, boots and a hat - and ended up in court.

But the case was abandoned Thursday after magistrates at Truro in southern England found he had not committed a criminal offense.

Gough, 44, was arrested last week while doing a TV interview at the start of his walk from Land's End in southwest England to John O'Groats in the far north of Scotland.

He had decided to undertake the 847-mile trek wearing only a hat, socks, boots and a rucksack to publicize his campaign for a relaxation of the laws on public nudity.

The campaigner from Eastleigh in southern England was originally charged with breaching the peace.

But prosecutor Simon Jones asked for the case to be withdrawn, saying Gough had committed no offense.

7-Year-Old Girl Ditched In Shoplifting Fiasco

SUGAR LAND, Texas - Police have arrested a woman accused of abandoning a 7-year-old girl at a suburban Houston supermarket when a shoplifting scheme unraveled.

Miroslava Espinoza, 21, was arrested before dawn Wednesday for child abandonment, a charge that carries a possible sentence of two to 10 years in prison. The little girl's mother, Neira Isabel Flores, 32, remains wanted.

Little Elvia Reyes has been in the care of Children's Protective Services since June 9, when police believe Espinoza and Flores sent the girl into a Randalls store to retrieve about $95 worth of goods the women had gathered in a handheld basket and left near the door.

When a manager who recognized the women as repeat thieves chased down the girl and grabbed her as she tried to get into a car with the women, police said, the car sped off. The girl said the driver was her mother.

No relatives of the girl, who authorities say was involved in a similar shoplifting attempt at a Wal-Mart in nearby Stafford last month, have come forward since she was taken into custody.