The Odd Truth, March 25, 2004

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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.


Iceburg Painted Red

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Off the coast of western Greenland, in an area saturated by slow-moving ice floes and white icebergs, the blood red one stands out by design.

"We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us," Chilean-born Danish artist Marco Evaristti said Thursday. "This is my iceberg; it belongs to me."

On Wednesday, he used 780 gallons of paint diluted with sea water, three fire hoses, two icebreakers and a 20-man crew to spray the chunk of ice floating in the water.

The sea water was colored with the same dye used to highlight meat, Evaristti told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Ilullissat, Greenland.

Evaristti and his crew sailed from the small town and zigzagged among icebergs for about 30 minutes before they found the perfect frozen canvas.

Facing temperatures of minus 9 degrees, it took about two hours for the 40-year-old artist to paint the exposed tip of the iceberg, which was about 1,080 square yards in size.

Ilullissat, which means icebergs in Greenlandic, is a tourist destination because of its scenery.

The town of 4,000 residents sits at the mouth of the 25 mile-long Kangia fjord which is filled with hundreds of icebergs of different sizes spawned by glacial ice sheets.

There was no immediate reaction from Greenland authorities about the art work. Greenlanders are generally very protective about their unspoiled environment.

Evaristti drew widespread attention - and disdain - when he displayed 10 working blenders filled with goldfish in a Danish gallery in 2000.

He invited guests to turn the devices on and someone did, grinding up a pair of goldfish.

The gallery director was tried on charges of animal cruelty, but acquitted.

PETA Introduces 'Bucket Of Blood'

NORFOLK, Va. - The animal-rights activists who once suggested Ronald McDonald was a bloody butcher are going after Colonel Sanders, contending cruelty is the "secret recipe" for KFC's fried chicken.

Starting next month, Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to hand out "Buckets of Blood" to children outside KFC restaurants and at schools near the restaurants. The buckets are part of PETA's campaign against what it says are farming and slaughter abuses by KFC's suppliers.

The 5-inch-tall, red-and-white striped containers mimic KFC's buckets. But instead of fried chicken, each is filled with items including a bag of fake blood and bones, a bloodied plastic chicken and a cardboard caricature of a blood-spattered Colonel Sanders holding a butcher knife toward a terrified-looking chicken.

Labels on the bucket proclaim, "Shhh! The 'secret recipe' in this bucket of body parts is ... cruelty" and "The Colonel's secret recipe: live scalding, painful debeaking, crippled chickens."

KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer initially said, "We don't comment on the corporate terrorist activities of PETA. They are corporate terrorists and just like the United States government, we will not negotiate with corporate terrorists."

Warschauer added that "PETA has totally crossed the line of free speech and acceptable behavior" and "all they want is a vegetarian world."

"They misrepresent the truth about our responsible, industry-leading animal welfare standards," she said. "We're committed to the humane treatment of chickens."

PETA plans to begin handing out the buckets on the West Coast and in the Midwest in mid- to late April, then branch out from there, a spokesman said. PETA eventually will have people distributing the buckets all over North America as well as in Australia, India, the United Kingdom and South Africa, he said.

Caterpillars Crushed By The Thousands In Calif.

PALM DESERT, Calif. - It's been a slippery ride on Coachella Valley roadways. Pretty disgusting, too.

Hundreds of caterpillars have been inundating desert roadways this week and many of the three-inch critters are crushed by cars and trucks, creating a gooey mess in traffic lanes.

"When they start to cross the roads, that means they're in search of more food to eat," said Kurt Leuschner, professor of natural resources at College of the Desert. The caterpillars are hunting for primrose.

The timing of the caterpillars' arrival this year isn't unusual, but the large numbers are. Leuschner said wet weather and the wildflower bloom apparently increased the caterpillar numbers.

The last notable good year for rainfall was 1998, he said.

"The caterpillars are out in force," said Cameron Barrows, director of the Coachella Valley Preserve.

One girl is trying to help the caterpillars. As they start toward the street, Marina Padilla directs them to the sidewalk.

"I get a stick and pick them up so they can't get squished by the cars," the 9-year-old girl said.

Teens Charged For Harassing Antelope

GILLETTE, Wyo. - Six teenagers were cited for harassment. The victim? A herd of antelope.

"I watched them do it," said South Gillette Game Warden John Schneidmiller, who was driving on Interstate 90 when he spotted the teenagers in a sport utility vehicle giving chase to the animals. "They were definitely harassing the antelope."

The driver was ticketed for harassing big game animals with a vehicle, which carries a $410 fine. The five passengers were given warning citations. Their names were not released.

Schneidmiller said antelope in the area are physically vulnerable and that harassment of this sort could cause serious injury or death to the animals.

"In the drought that we're in, the antelope are so stressed to begin with that they don't need additional stress," he said.

Schneidmiller also noted the danger the driver created for himself and his passengers by zigzagging off-road around the herd.

"They almost rolled their vehicle," he said. "I watched them, they were up on two wheels a couple times."

While similar incidents are often reported to the state Game and Fish Department wardens, it is rare to actually catch someone in the act, Schneidmiller said.

Science Teacher Kills Baby Rabbits In Class

PLANT CITY, Florida - Authorities in Plant City, Florida, say a high school science teacher killed a sickly pair of baby rabbits with a shovel in front of her stunned class. She then asked the students to help bury the day-old animals.

Teacher Jane Bender won't face criminal charges, but she is facing two civil counts of animal cruelty that carry fines of $620.

One Animal Services investigator says Bender has to be held accountable, because her actions are "just not what we want to teach people to do with injured or sick animals."

The rabbits were not likely to survive on their own.

A sheriff's spokesman says Bender told investigators she asked a student to dig a hole, but the class refused to help in burying the rabbits.

Woman Tracks Down Obscene Phone-Caller

HERMITAGE, Pa. - A woman fed up with obscene phone calls tracked down the offender and cornered him as he made yet another call from a public phone booth, police said.

The 26-year-old Sharpsville woman received the calls regularly on Friday and Saturday between midnight and 3 a.m., police said.

The woman, whose identity was not released, had caller ID and asked the phone company to trace the number, police said.

The calls were traced to a phone booth in Hermitage, about two miles away, police said.

The phone company, at her request, forwarded calls on Friday to her cell phone.

The woman and three of her cousins staked out the phone booth and around 1:30 a.m., a former neighbor arrived and made a call, police said. The woman's cell phone rang, police said.

Family members prevented the man from leaving until police arrived.

Fred Marini, 43, of Hermitage, was charged Wednesday with harassment and stalking.

Marini has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Death And Marriage In Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A suburban Kansas City woman was so eager to have her husband killed that she offered her wedding ring in payment, authorities said.

Amanda Booker, 23, of Blue Springs, was being held on $100,000 bond Tuesday after being charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Kansas City police said Booker began contacting people earlier this year to find someone to kill Zachary Booker.

The Bookers have a 5-week-old baby, but they have been separated since December, police said.

Zachary Booker said he had kept in touch with his wife and daughter after moving out.

He knew things weren't good between him and his wife, he said Tuesday night, but "I was shocked when I heard all this."

Police Sgt. Eric Greenwell, who supervised the investigation, said Amanda Booker was angry because she felt her husband had gotten her pregnant and dumped her. She also hoped to cash in on his Social Security benefits, according to court records.

Police said Booker asked an acquaintance to help her find a hit man. The acquaintance ignored Booker's requests but became concerned at her persistence, believing she would find someone to carry out the murder.

The acquaintance contacted the Kansas City Police Department's Career Criminal Squad, which arranged for an undercover detective to pose as a hit man and call Booker.

The detective told Booker, "If I kill him, it will be permanent," and Booker replied, "Good, sooner the better. I want him out of my life," according to court records.

Georgia House Bans Female Genital Piercing

ATLANTA - Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation.

The bill would make such mutilation punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It makes no exception for people who give consent to have the procedure performed on their daughters out of religious or cultural custom.

An amendment adopted without objection added "piercing" to the list of things that may not be done to female genitals. Even adult women would not be allowed to get the procedure. The bill eventually passed 160-0, with no debate.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings.

"What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing."

The ban applies only to women, not men. The bill has already been approved by the Senate but now must return to that chamber because of the piercing amendment. Both chambers of the Legislature must agree on a single version of a bill before it can go to the governor for final approval.

Color TV Celebrates Fifty Years

NEW YORK - Happy birthday color TV! Fifty years ago today, RCA began making color television sets at its plant in Bloomington, Indiana. They had little 12-inch screens and sold for big bucks - $1,000, which was a lot of money in those days. But those early buyers were seeing more black-and-white than color. Networks only offered a few color shows. Officials at RCA say only about 25 of the original color TV's remain. Texas collector Fred Hoffman has two of them. He says the picture isn't very bright compared to today's TV's. But Hoffman feels the color of those early sets is more accurate than even the high-tech plasma screens of today.