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The Odd Truth, May 14, 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.

Prosthetic Limbs Lost, Found

LONDON - The things swimmers forget: false teeth, prosthetic limbs.

Managers at Water World in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, said Thursday they had amassed 10 artificial limbs from absent-minded visitors who forgot to pick them up before returning home.

Pools manager Gemma Ward said she was "flabbergasted" by the results of an audit of 3,000 personal belongings handed in last year to the lost and found desk.

All the limbs were subsequently retrieved by their owners.

"You can't quite believe someone would forget something as important as their legs or arms," Ward said.

Japan PM Scolds Lawmakers

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi scolded rookie lawmakers Thursday for reading comic books and talking on their cell phones during legislative sessions, according to a newspaper report.

The national Asahi newspaper said Koizumi scolded 30 first-term lawmakers from his Liberal Democratic Party during a luncheon.

"Don't send e-mail on your cell phones or read comic books in Parliament while in session," Koizumi was quoted as saying.

"You can be seen very clearly from the prime minister's seat. You should really stop that - it's disgraceful."

Koizumi's office said he hosted a luncheon Thursday, but it could not immediately confirm his comments.

Comic books, often with adult themes, are common reading material for middle-aged men. Japan's younger generation also is hooked on using cell phones to send e-mail.

The country's youngest lawmakers sit in the front of Parliament, while their elders sit in the back of the chamber.

Mysterious Finger Found In Jaguar Zoo Exhibit

ALBUQUERQUE - A finger was found outside the jaguar exhibit at the Rio Grande Zoo a day after a groundskeeper spotted a frequent visitor running out with blood on his pants.

The man ran into a bathroom at the zoo Tuesday, said Director Ray Darnell. The groundskeeper followed the man and asked if he was OK, but the man turned and ran out of the zoo.

The finger found "was pretty dried up. It looks like a Halloween prop," said Rick Janser, mammal curator.

The man believed to be injured is in his 50s and is known to them as one of about 15 or so people who visit the zoo every day. He has a New Mexico Zoological Society pass, which enabled zoo officials to call him.

"Are you missing any fingers?" the man was asked.

"Oh no, there's nothing wrong with me, you have the wrong guy," the man responded, according to Darnell.

Some people visit the zoo every day and devote themselves to particular animals, Darnell and Janser said.

"About two weeks ago we found some food in the cat exhibits that we didn't give. We increased watching but never saw anyone going over the rail," Darnell said.

The man who said he didn't lose his fingers was seemingly entranced with the cats and particularly with Manchas, the jaguar, Janser said.

"He'd be seen talking to him, sitting in front of his exhibit" every day for about the past year and a half to two years - except this Wednesday and Thursday, Janser said.

'No More Crack!'

BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana state representative's idea to ban low-slung pants is making him the butt of colleagues' jokes.

When the bill came up for debate earlier this week, Rep. Derrick Shepherd, a Democrat, was met with catcalls on the House floor.

The bill would make it a crime to wear clothing in public that "intentionally exposes undergarments or intentionally exposes any portion of the pubic hair, cleft of the buttocks or genitals."

Launching a fiery speech in support of the bill, Shepherd said, "There comes a time in every society where we must draw a line of decency, where we must speak to a group of individuals who would flaunt the laws of our state, who would flaunt the morals of our community."

The result: laughter from some and a facetious chant of "No more crack!" from a fellow Democrat, Rep. Tommy Wright.

Shepherd asked for a delay of a vote and the measure awaits action.

Despite the jokes, some opponents have serious concerns. During a May 6 committee hearing, Heather Hall of the American Civil Liberties Union said Shepherd's bill would institute a literal "fashion police" and a "really invasive violation of the fundamental right to public expression."

House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Danny Martiny, a Republican, said he agreed with the spirit of the measure but said the law would be impossible to enforce.

"I don't know that it's respectful to pay my respects at a funeral without my shirt on, but that's not illegal; that's just stupid," he said. "Government can't fix everything."

Killer Weed

POUGHKEEPSIE, New York - It might have been killer weed, but at least it wasn't a bomb. City Hall in Poughkeepsie, New York, was evacuated yesterday, when three bomb-sniffing dogs found something even more suspicious in a suspected package of pot. Police had taken the package to their headquarters, believing it only contained the illegal drug. It had been sent to a local resident from out of state. Poughkeepsie officers called in the experts, when the bombing dogs indicted it also contained explosives. But officials say X-rays of the package showed nothing unusual inside. Investigators opened the package and found some strange smelling pot. Police say the strong odor may have caused the dogs to react. The investigation continues.

Insurance Horror Story

MIDVALE, Utah - A Utah woman finally has her head together again.

She'd been without almost half her skull for four months while medical administrators battled over paying for the surgery to put her back together.

Briana Lane was in a car crash in January. Doctors removed a chunk of her skull to treat bleeding in the brain. It was supposed to be put back a month after she was released from the hospital.

But Medicaid and the hospital couldn't agree on how it'd be paid for.

Meantime, the 22-year-old wore a plastic street hockey helmet, and endured extreme pain.

One health care consumer advocate says insurance horror stories happen every day, but the skull case is "outlandish."

Tour Guide Injured By Piece Of Falling Building

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - A tour guide showing off St. Petersburg's renowned but deteriorating buildings was injured when a piece of building fell on her head Thursday, officials said.

The 10-inch section of molding fell off a building on Bolshaya Morskaya Street, which intersects the main avenue Nevsky Prospekt, the city's Emergency Situations office said.

The guide was admitted to a neurological hospital, but there was no immediate word on her condition.

Much of St. Petersburg's ornate building stock is in poor condition. Mayor Valentina Matvienko recently proposed that up to 2,000 historical structures in the city be privatized because the state does not have sufficient money to preserve them.

So Much For Outrunning The Cops

ROME - Italian drivers who like to use roads as their personal speedways are about to lose the race.

Italy's state police presented a sleek new addition to their fleet Friday: a Lamborghini Gallardo, with a top speed of 192 mph. The car is ready for service, fitted with a siren and painted blue-and-white with the word "POLIZIA" - "police" - stenciled on the side.

Police showed it off at an anniversary celebration in Rome on Friday. They said the Lamborghini will be used on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway in southern Italy, for emergencies and to transport organs for transplant.

Lamborghini, which is owned by Volkswagen and based near Bologna in northern Italy, donated the car. The six-speed, two-door luxury vehicle can go from zero to 60 mph in four seconds, and has a list price of $165,000.