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The Odd Truth, Nov. 16, 2004

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

Virgin Mary Sandwich

MIAMI - The people at eBay were no believers in this cheesy miracle: half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich whose owner claimed it bore the image of the Virgin Mary.

Diana Duyser put the sandwich up for sale last week, drawing bids as high as $22,000 before eBay pulled the item Sunday night. The page was viewed nearly 100,000 times before being taken down.

An e-mail Duyser received from eBay said the sandwich broke its policy, which "does not allow listings that are intended as jokes."

But, Duyser, a jewelry designer who has bought and sold items on eBay for two years, insisted this was not a laughing matter.

"How could eBay do this to me?" Duyser said Monday, hours before the online auction was supposed to have ended.

EBay spokesman Hani Durzy said he did not have enough information to comment specifically on the case.

Duyser thought eBay would be the best place to show off the sandwich, made on plain white bread with American cheese. It was cooked with no oil or butter.

Duyser, 52, said she took a bite after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her from the bread. She put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her night stand.

At first, she was scared by the image, "but now that I realize how unique it is, I wanted to share it with the world," Duyser said.

The sandwich, she added, has never sprouted a spore of mold.

Sex For Rent

LINCOLN, Neb. - Can't pay the rent? How about a roll in the sack? That's the gist of the government's case against Nebraska landlord John Koch. Justice Department lawyers say Koch was caught on tape demanding sex once a week from a female tenant. Tamechia Nedds, a single mother of two, agreed to be wired after she complained to Omaha's Fair Housing Center. The Justice Department is suing Koch for violating the Fair Housing Act. Koch's lawyer counters that sex-for-rent may be immoral - but it's not illegal.

Cocaine Found In Squid Shipment

LIMA - Peruvian anti-drug agents seized 1,540 pounds of cocaine destined for the Mexico that was hidden inside of a shipment of squid, police said Monday.

The shipment, with an estimated street value of $17.5 million, was seized at the port of Paita approximately 550 miles northwest of Lima on Friday.

Seven Peruvians were arrested in connection with the smuggling operation.

National police officials said the drugs were wrapped in plastic, coated with pepper and packed in 25 tons of squid fillets to mask the smell.

Peruvian authorities had been working since August with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors on the case.

Peru was once the world's leading producer of coca. But it reduced its production by 70 percent between 1995 and 2001, thanks to low coca prices, the interception of smugglers, forced eradication of coca fields and programs to help farmers grow alternative crops.

More than 7 tons of cocaine has been seized by Peruvian authorities this year.

Naked Man + Carnivorous Reptiles = Trouble

NEW YORK - A man was undergoing psychiatric evaluation after he jumped naked into a pool of carnivorous reptiles at the Bronx Zoo, authorities said.

The episode happened at about 1:30 p.m. Friday, when the man, whose name was not released, stripped off his clothes and climbed a 5-foot wall surrounding the zoo's tank of caimans - a type of crocodile from Central and South America, police said. The tank was inside the zoo's World of Darkness section, which features nocturnal animals.

He tried to touch one of the toothy lizards before police and zookeepers were called to the scene and pulled him out.

"Thankfully, no one got hurt and it didn't happen while there were any school groups around," zoo spokesman Linda Corcoran told the Daily News for Saturday editions.

It was not clear why the man jumped into the tank. He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center for observation.

Janitor Leaves $2.3M To School

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - A part-time janitor who worked at the University of Great Falls has left the college $2.3 million - the largest gift the school has ever received.

Genesio Morlacci died on Halloween at the age of 102.

On Monday, university president Eugene McAllister announced Morlacci's generous bequest.

"This is the largest single gift ever received by the university," McAllister said. "Students on this campus will benefit from every hour of the 18-hour days he worked."

Morlacci, a former dry cleaner, owned Sun Cleaners for several years before selling his business and going to work as a janitor at UGF.

"He only had a third-grade education, but he knew his numbers," said Morlacci's longtime friend Bill Foy. "He wasn't afraid to work hard."

Morlacci and his late wife always lived frugally, Foy said. "He patched the patches on his pants and turned the collars on his shirts."

A native of Italy, Morlacci directed that 95 percent of the money go to scholarships. The university can choose how to spend the remainder.

Croat Diplomat Suspended For Blog Writing

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatia's ambassador to Washington suspended a young diplomat suspected of writing an Internet blog in which he ridiculed his job as well as the U.S. president and foreign officials, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Vibor Kalodjera, 25, who worked as the embassy's third secretary, "was suspended from his diplomatic duties" and was being investigated, said ministry spokesman Dobroslav Silobrcic.

This week, Croatian newspapers published excerpts from a Web diary signed by "Vibby," which the papers claimed was Kalogjera. The content and language of the diary - since deleted - triggered nationwide outrage.

In October, "Vibby" said he sat as the state representative at an international congress. "What a 'privilege,"' he wrote. "I'd rather had been at a concert."

He also wrote that U.S. President George W. Bush is interested "in oil only" and that the president profits every time the oil price goes up, and attached a picture of Bush setting the globe on fire.

But Bush's former rival for the presidency, U.S. Senator John Kerry, is "no better" than Bush, he wrote.

He also blasted world's financial institutions for "giving us loans with huge interest rates. They're seizing our sovereignty."

Kalodjera is a son of the veteran journalist Silvija Luks, who recently was chided by her employers at the state-run television for her faulty coverage of the U.S. elections.

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