The Odd Truth, May 13, 2004

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

UFOs Spotted Over Mexico?

MEXICO CITY - Mexican air force pilots filmed 11 bright, rapidly moving objects in the skies that an expert said proved the existence of UFOs, but defense officials said Wednesday no conclusions had been reached about the objects' origins.

A videotape aired Monday on national television showed a series of brilliant objects flying at more than 11,480 feet over southern Campeche state. The tape was filmed March 5 by air force pilots using a video camera equipped with an infrared lens.

The objects appear to accelerate rapidly and change course suddenly. At least one crew member testified in a videotaped interview that the objects encircled the military jet at a distance of at least two miles.

The pilots spotted the objects while conducting a routine drug-surveillance mission. Only three of the objects showed up on the plane's radar.

Infrared equipment can only detect heat emanating from objects. It is unable to provide an image of the objects' exact forms.

Defense Secretary Gen. Ricardo Vega Garcia gave the videotape to UFO specialist Jaime Maussan, who has spent 10 years studying unidentified flying objects.

Maussan claimed Tuesday the videotape was evidence that flying saucers exist. The video was especially significant since it was provided by the military, he said.

"This is historic news," Maussan said. "Hundreds of videos (of UFOs) exist, but none had the backing of the armed forces of any country. ... The armed forces don't perpetuate frauds."

But Vega denied Wednesday that the military had made any conclusions about where the lights came from or whether they were UFOs.

Octopuses Find Love

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - It looks like J-1 is in love.

After meeting the very fetching and slightly younger Aurora, he changed color and his eight arms became intertwined with hers. Then, the two retreated to a secluded corner to get to know each other better.

We're talking about giant Pacific octopuses here.

Aquarists at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward introduced the two Tuesday, and evidently they hit it off: Spermatophores were seen hanging from J-1's siphon.

"We really were not sure he had it in him," SeaLife Center aquarium curator Richard Hocking said Wednesday.

Love almost passed J-1 by. At 5 years of age and 52 pounds, he's reaching the end of the line for his species, the largest octopus in the world. J-1 is in a period of decline that occurs before an octopus dies. His skin is eroding. His suckers have divots.

With so little time left, J-1, who was collected on a beach near Seldovia in 1999 when he was about the size of a coin, wasn't going to let the sweet Aurora slip through his eight arms.

Aurora sank to the bottom when aquarium staff put her into J-1's 3,600-gallon exhibit tank and promptly made the first move, reaching out to touch J-1 before retreating to her corner. But J-1 was soon in hot pursuit.

"They both were gripping the back wall of the tank. He just about covered her completely," Hocking said.

The two remained intertwined for about eight hours. It's possible that during that time he passed his sperm packet to her, Hocking said. When they separated, J-1 flashed some colors, turning almost white and then dark red.

If Aurora did accept J-1's spermatophores, she will produce 60,000 to 100,000 eggs. If with many, many children, Aurora - who was about the size of a grapefruit when she was found in 2002 living inside an old tire in front of the SeaLife Center - will stop eating while she tends her eggs. She will then weaken and die - a fate that J-1 also seems soon to meet.

Total Bummer, Dude

BOZEMAN - A man who believed he was being robbed called police to his house, only to lead them to a marijuana growing operation.

David Lagarde, 19, called 911 on Monday morning to report he was being robbed.

When officers arrived, Lagarde said one of the robbers was hiding in a closet. Bozeman Police Sgt. Dave McManis did not find any intruders, but court records show he found two marijuana plants in Lagarde's bedroom closet.

Officers arrested Lagarde for felony manufacture of dangerous drugs. Bail was set at $30,000.

Rumsfeld's Briefings Set To Music

SAN FRANCISCO - After hearing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld dress down the media at Pentagon press briefings, two San Francisco musicians came to an inevitable conclusion: his words simply must be set to chamber music.

So they've taken Rumsfeld's explanations of world affairs and set them to airy classical compositions.

"The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and Other Fresh American Songs" includes "The Unknown" from Rumsfeld's Feb. 12, 2002, briefing on the situation in Iraq:

"As we know,

"There are known knowns.

"There are things we know we know.

"We also know there are known unknowns ... "

Now those words are lyrics sung by soprano Elender Wall, set to the lofty chords of composer and pianist Bryant Kong.

The self-published CD has been featured on National Public Radio and several Web sites. Kong is hoping coverage will fuel brisk sales.

Kong - no fan of the Bush administration - says Rumsfeld's unscripted remarks are at once deliberate and casual, and often simply odd. The combination is perfect for classical music, Kong said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"What we show in the songs is that we believe that Rumsfeld is telling a story that doesn't hold up - that he is trying to sell a war that is not justified," Kong said. "These classically based forms are a great way of doing that."

Among those enjoying the sendup: Rumsfeld himself!

"Someone gave me a copy of this thing, and here is this woman with a wonderful voice singing my press conference," Rumsfeld marveled at a meeting of the Newspaper Association of America last month. "Now, if that doesn't tell you something about the state of the world!"

Last year, journalist-humorist Hart Seely took selected Rumsfeld briefings and without changing a word, presented them in the form of free verse, sonnets and haiku in his book "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld."

Aussie Government: Go Forth And Multiply!

CANBERRA, Australia - Facing a falling birth rate, the Australian government has a simple message: Go forth and multiply. And they're prepared to pay new parents who take up the call.

"Come on, come on, your nation needs you," Prime Minister John Howard said Wednesday, when asked about a one-off $2,100 payment for all new mothers announced by Treasurer Peter Costello in the annual budget.

On Tuesday night, a smiling Costello urged reporters in Canberra: "You go home and do your patriotic duty tonight."

The father of three suggested that two children per couple wasn't quite enough to combat the effects of an aging population and declining birth rate in this sparsely populated nation of 20 million.

"If you can have children it's a good thing to do. You should have ... one for your husband, one for your wife, and one for your country," Costello said.

Slippery Grease Thief

EDMOND, Okla. - A slippery thief is on the loose in Edmond, where police say nearly 5,000 pounds of used cooking grease has been stolen from three restaurants.

The latest theft was of 1,700 pounds of grease from Alvarado's, taken between 10 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

Two other restaurants have been victimized twice with about 2,200 pounds taken from Panda House and about 1,000 pounds from Jamil's.

"It's one of the most unusual cases of theft we've had in Edmond," said police spokeswoman Glynda Chu.

Police think the thief is someone familiar with the restaurant industry and is looking to turn in the grease for the recycling value, Chu said.

The grease was to be picked up by Evergreen Grease Service of Cashion, which resells it.

Evergreen officials said the grease has a resale value of about $380.

Driver Seeks Revenge For Turkey Vandalism

AUGUSTA, Maine - A turkey that bloodied and dazed itself after pecking and scratching a parked SUV likely thought his own reflection was a rival turkey vying for the attention of an accompanying hen.

At least that's one of turkey hunter Michael Bitar's theories. Bitar, whose 2002 Ford Explorer suffered deep scratches on the bumper and paint, is hoping to track down and bag the bird that caused $1,500 in damage.

Bitar said the tom turkey, which was accompanied by a hen, saw his own reflection on the shiny SUV.

"When I came out, he had his claws on my gas cap," Bitar said. "I guess he figured he was fighting another turkey. But he was fighting my car."

Gene Dumont, a wildlife management supervisor for Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, has never heard of turkeys attacking vehicles. But Bitar's theory was plausible.

"They can be aggressive, especially if it's a young tom during mating season," Dumont said.

The turkey attack happened about one week before turkey season opened in Maine May 3. Bitar now has his license to hunt turkeys for the season and is admittedly on the hunt for a sweet taste of revenge.

"My vehicle just depreciated quite a bit," Bitar said. "But that doesn't matter. He'll be in the freezer soon."