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The Odd Truth, Nov. 27, 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.

Happy Oral Sex Day!

SINGAPORE - Thursday was oral sex day in Singapore - at least according to a satirical Web site. Normally straight-laced Singaporeans are being urged to engage in oral sex, as an act of civil disobedience. Oral sex is considered a crime against nature in Singapore and is punishable by up to life in prison. The public debate over oral sex began a few weeks ago when a policeman was jailed for engaging in the act with a 15-year-old girl. Officials later changed the charges to sex with a minor. Organizers of the protest hope the act of civil disobedience will be so enjoyable, protesters won't stop. Officials say they're reviewing the ban on sex act.

Judge Honors Elderly Fraudster

MELBOURNE, Australia - A judge paid tribute Wednesday to an 82-year-old fraudster's resilience, then jailed him for 30 months.

Raymond Lewis Oughton was convicted of defrauding the government to the tune of 270,000 Australian dollars ($194,400) by claiming benefits for an elderly couple he invented back in the 1970s.

He had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud at an earlier hearing.

"One cannot help but admire your resilience," Victoria state County Court judge Michael Strong told Oughton, who has been handed a total of 22 prison sentences since doing time for the first time in 1939.

"But I have to say you are one of the most dishonest and disreputable individuals I have been called upon to sentence," Strong added.

Oughton will likely serve just 10 months before being paroled.

Man Agrees Not To Do Anything Stupid

CLEVELAND - A man charged with falsely identifying himself as a U.S. marshal avoided serving jail time by reading a statement that he would no longer do anything stupid.

A magistrate on Tuesday urged Donald Sebastian to make the statement.
Sebastian, 54, of the Cleveland suburb Middleburg Heights, was accused of pulling over a motorist and calling police for backup, then later tried to buy business cards identifying himself as a marshal.

U.S. Magistrate David Perelman considered the government's argument that Sebastian should be jailed while awaiting trial but decided jail was not appropriate.

"If I can't lock him up, I'll embarrass him," he said.

The magistrate handed Sebastian a scribbled note and ordered him to read it in court. As Sebastian rose to his feet, Perelman ordered him to "say it with sincerity."

"I promise that I won't do anything stupid," Sebastian said. "If I do anything stupid, I'll likely end up in pretrial detention."

Perelman issued one other order: Put the note where Sebastian can see it every morning.

"If Mr. Sebastian is a danger to anyone, he is a danger to himself," Perelman said.

Sebastian does not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Cat-Stabber Sentenced To Nine Years

FREEHOLD, N.J. - A man who broke into his former girlfriend's home earlier this year and stabbed her cat - which was later euthanized - was sentenced to nine years in state prison.

Gregory E. Credle, 43, of Red Bank pleaded guilty in September to animal cruelty and two counts of armed burglary as part of plea bargain with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. In return, they agreed to drop an aggravated assault charge.

Credle must serve nearly eight years before becoming eligible for parole. He broke into the unidentified Red Bank woman's home in May 2002 and again on March 9 and admitted that he violated a restraining order issued after the first break-in.

He was captured in the victim's home after she found it ransacked and called police. They found him in a bedroom with a hunting knife bearing a 6-inch blade, but it was not clear if that was the weapon he used to attack the cat, which also was found in the home.

It also was not known why he stabbed the animal.

Dog Jumps 70 Feet From Bridge, And Lives

BEAUMONT, Texas - A daring dog that's accompanying his owner on an anti-hunger trip is recovering in Texas after leaping off a 60-to-70-foot-high bridge.

A vet says the 110-pound mutt named "Czar Bear" suffered ligament damage, but is expected to be OK.

Owner Doc Mishler of Choteau, Montana is on a "Crusading Against Hunger" horseback trip to Washington.

Mishler and his dog were on a bridge over the Neches River in Beaumont the other day when Czar Bear apparently got skittish near the highway traffic.

The dog leaped over the railing of the bridge on Interstate Ten - and fell to the riverbank. The animal landed in a small puddle.

A veterinarian is taking care of the dog for a couple of days to make sure the animal isn't severely injured.

Mishler hopes they'll soon be able to resume their trek to Washington.

Don't Drink And Spin In Britain

LONDON - A man who spun his car wheels while four times over the legal alcohol limit is guilty of drunk driving, a British judge ruled Tuesday - even though the car did not move.

High Court judge Sir Michael Harrison said a lower court was wrong when it acquitted David Alderton, who spun his wheels in anger on the lawn outside his house in Chichester, southern England, after an argument with his wife last April. He was approached by police, and a breath test showed he was almost four times over the legal limit for driving.

Alderton was acquitted of drunk driving by Chichester Magistrates Court because the car had not moved.

But in response to an appeal by police, Harrison ruled that magistrates "erred in law in concluding there had to be some movement of the vehicle before the respondent could be said to be driving it."

He said Alderton had used all the car's controls, including clutch, accelerator and steering wheel, and the wheels were turning.

"The whole vehicle was in motion, save only for the hand brake preventing movement of the car backwards or forwards," said the judge.

"The fact there was no movement of the car for that reason doesn't prevent it being said that (Alderton) was driving the car."

Harrison ordered magistrates at the lower court to find Alderton guilty.

Rotten Luck For Flood Survivor

WINFIELD, W.Va. - A woman whose rescue from her flooded car was broadcast on CNN and The Weather Channel was later arrested when a deputy who saw the TV footage realized her driver's license had been revoked.

Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy David Bailey, saw Christy Walker, 37, on a newscast Nov. 19. A TV crew filmed her driving past screaming firefighters, fire trucks and cones set up to block part of a roadway covered in water. Her car submerged and she was rescued by volunteer firefighters.

Because he remembered her from a previous run-in, Bailey ran a driver's history check on Walker and confirmed that her license was invalid.

Last week, he used what he saw on TV to charge her with driving on a DUI-related revoked license. Walker was arrested in January on a charge of driving under the influence and Bailey also had charged Walker with driving illegally in September.

On Monday, Walker pleaded guilty to two counts of driving on a revoked and suspended license. She faces up to $500 in fines and up to six months in jail for each charge when she is sentenced Dec. 15.

Popcorn The Five-Legged Mutt

RALEIGH, N.C. - A five-legged dog discovered near a state park has undergone successful surgery to remove two of his legs.

During a 2 1/2 hour operation Monday morning, a veterinary surgeon removed the dog's back two left legs, which resulted from an extremely rare genetic anomaly.

The Maltese-and-terrier mix named Popcorn created quite a stir in the local dog-lover community when she was found near Umstead State Park, northwest of Raleigh. Experts said it was unheard of for such an animal to live long past birth.

Popcorn is believed to be between 9 months and a year old.

The extra, or supernumerary, leg was removed because it was hampering the dog's movement. The more fully developed leg was also removed because it was rotated at a 90-degree angle, rendering it useless as well.

Dr. Rebecca Tudor, who performed the amputations with an assistant, said Popcorn faced severe arthritis without the surgery. Because of the abnormalities, surgery took longer than expected, she said. Popcorn was expected to return home Tuesday.

Dr. Frank Ansede, who runs the Raleigh animal hospital where Popcorn is being treated, received more than $3,000 in donations from more than 50 donors living as far away as Wisconsin, Louisiana and Florida.

Laws To Live By

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. - If you move to Kentucky you better be prepared to bathe - at least once a year.

A state law that mandates people bathe at least once in 12 months is just one of many unusual statutes that are or have been on the books.

Another state law, for example, stated that "No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state unless she be escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club."

The law was later amended with: "The provisions of this statute shall not apply to females weighing less than 90 pounds nor exceeding 200 pounds, nor shall it apply to female horses."

Other unusual laws include a year in prison for anyone who throws eggs, or tomatoes, at a public speaker. It also is unlawful to dye a baby chick, duckling or rabbit and offer it for sale unless six or more are for sale at the same time.

"Sometimes unusual laws have a little sense behind them," said D. Dee Shaw, attorney for the city. "Sometimes they don't."

Book-Ripper Denies Rabble-Rousing

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - A library patron who ripped the cover off a gay and lesbian news magazine had his privileges revoked for a month.

The patron, John Callaghan, was offended by the cover of a recent issue of The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine, that pictured two bare-chested men leaning in to kiss each other.

Outraged that the library was using taxpayers' money to carry the periodical, Callaghan tore off the cover and took it home.

Callaghan, 77, could have been charged with destruction of library property, a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a $2,500 fine, 12 months in jail, or both.

The library sent Callaghan a letter Friday informing him that his privileges will be suspended from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. Callaghan said he won't contest the decision.

"If that's what they wish to do, that's their business. It's their library," he said. "I've made a point and I'm not a rabble-rouser. I'm not trying to cause trouble. I did what I thought was right."

So Much For 'Impartial Jury'

NEW LONDON, Conn. - It's a juror who ended up behind bars in New London, Connecticut. According to police, Steven Mancini was angry with fellow jury members. He jumped on a prosecutors' table and claimed to be armed with a gun and a baseball bat. Authorities say he threatened to kill the terrified people in the courtroom. Lawyers ducked behind benches and courtroom spectators made a beeline for the exit. A mistrial was declared and the jurors in the murder trial dismissed. Officers said they found a bat but no gun in Mancini's car. He now faces a number of charges, including three counts of assault on a public safety officer. He was later released on a $2,500 bond.

A Walk In The Park Gets Ugly

SAN FRANCISCO - A wild melee in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park left a police officer and a dog owner injured, a dog with a bullet wound and a horse badly mauled.

The wild scene began yesterday when a woman illegally let her pit bull dog off its leash.

Sergeant David Herrera, mounted on a police horse known as "AAA Andy," yelled at her to leash the dog. By that time, the dog had spotted "AAA Andy" and attacked.

Herrera was tossed to the ground. At that point, the woman arrived and was kicked in the face by the horse.

The horse took off - with the dog in pursuit.

Another officer spotted the dog and fired two shots as it resumed the attack. One hit the animal, and it ran into some bushes.

Herrera was treated for back and neck injuries. The woman suffered head injuries and a broken finger. The dog was picked up by animal control officers.

As for "AAA Andy," he's recovering at the police stables.

No decision yet on whether to charge the dog's owner with a crime.

Teenager Rescued From Chimney

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A teenager who locked himself out of the house tried to shimmy down the chimney. It didn't work.

Battalion Chief Craig Mosley said firefighters got a call Sunday evening reporting a child stuck in a chimney. When they arrived, they found the youth stuck a few feet from the bottom.

Fire department spokeswoman Kelly McGuire identified the boy as 15-year-old Henry Golatt.

He was small enough to get most of the way down the chimney, which was about a foot wide. But the flue that opens into the house was only 8 inches across.

Mosley says firefighters considered cutting holes in the chimney or dismantling it, but decided on a less destructive approach. They lowered a rope from an aerial ladder and pulled Henry up very slowly.

He lost his pants on the trip up but only his dignity was hurt.

Wind Chime Envy?

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - It would take a large tree and an even larger bank account to support a set of wind chimes now hanging in a local feed store.

Using a specially made pulley system, possibly the largest wind chimes in the state were strung up Friday from the 20-foot ceiling of the Sundance Feed and Seed barn in Grand Island.

The chimes measure 14 feet tall and weigh about 200 pounds.

Made by a company called Music of the Spheres, the larger-than-life chimes produce deep, resonant notes that sound more like a church organ than the tinny tinkling of its small, backyard cousins.

The asking price for the chimes: $2,700.

"These chimes are a lot more melodious because they were designed by musicians," said Sundance owner Tony Seitz.

Their high-quality sound comes from the metal used and the way in which the tubes are ground on the inside, he said.

A Texas-Sized Payload

AUSTIN - This week's cash seizure from a semi-trailer during a traffic stop in South Texas totaled $5.3 million, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The southbound semi-trailer was pulled over by commercial vehicle inspectors on U.S. 281 near Alice in Jim Wells County late Wednesday afternoon. The money was hidden among boxes of frozen dinner rolls in the vehicle's cargo area, according to troopers.

The cash was hauled to Austin, where it took until Thursday evening to finish counting the stacks of currency.

The amount is the largest ever seized during a DPS traffic stop.

"This is one heck of a bust," said DPS Director Col. Thomas Davis Jr.

Officials say the search was conducted because the truck's three occupants did not have the required logbook and provided the inspectors with conflicting information.

One man in the truck was arrested on federal money laundering charges, Mange said. The man's identity was not being released out of concern for his safety.

That's A Bunch Of Bologna!

EL PASO, Texas - Border agents last week landed a meaty bust, seizing 756 pounds of bologna arranged into the shape of a car seat and covered with blankets in a man's pickup.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 81 rolls of Mexican bologna Friday at the Paso Del Norte bridge as the pickup entered the United States.

"It puts the ultimate consumer at risk," said customs spokesman Roger Maier. "Who knows how long these products have gone without refrigeration or without proper handling?"

Children were sitting on top of the illegal load before it was discovered, Maier said. The rear seat had been removed from the extended-cab pickup and the bologna was put in its place.

He said the agency plans to pursue civil penalties against the Mexican man driving the truck. Maier said the agency won't release the man's name until the case goes to trial.

Maier said the bologna goes for about $1 a roll in Juarez. When it is sold to a customer in the United States, it can go for between $5 and $10 a roll, he said.

Skin Cancer Claims Snowflake

BARCELONA, Spain - Snowflake, an extremely rare albino gorilla and the most popular resident of Barcelona Zoo, died of skin cancer early Monday morning, zoo officials said.

Zoo officials put the elderly gorilla to sleep after his health deteriorated in recent days, zoo officials said. Snowflake, Copito de Nieve in Spanish, had been dying of skin cancer since 2001.

The gorilla was thought to be between 38 and 40 years old. The average life span in the wild is 25. In his 37 years at the Barcelona zoo, he fathered 22 offspring with three different females. None is albino.

"Until the end Copito enjoyed a fantastic quality of life, interacting normally with his children and grandchildren," said the zoo's chief and veterinarian, Jesus Fernandez. "Lately though, he deteriorated quickly. In the past four or five days we noticed signs of pain and suffering and so decided to practice euthanasia."

Not enough studies have been done to know how many albino gorillas may live in the wild, but they are extremely rare and Snowflake was the only albino kept in captivity.

The gorilla's wrinkly white face is on postcards all over the city. He was a main character in a novel and even had memoirs written in his name.

In September, officials announced his imminent death, and since then Barcelona citizens had flocked to the zoo to say their good-byes to the often grouchy animal, the city's mascot.

"Copito has been an unforgettable companion for our city and we all feel regret at losing him," Barcelona Mayor Joan Clos said. "He's made a great contribution to his species by making the plight of gorillas more known, and the best thing we can do for him now is to continue that work."

Blinded Bandit Busted

MODESTO, Calif. - An alleged bank robber identified by witnesses because he forgot to cut eye holes in his disguise has been arrested - a few blocks from where he pulled off the flawed caper, police said.

Stephen David Walker was spotted Thursday afternoon walking down a Modesto street near the Oak Valley Community Bank branch police say he robbed on Monday.

Walker, 49, was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on a bank robbery charge, Modesto Police Detective Tom Blake said.

Police said Walker wore a square piece of flannel under a hat and draped over his head during the heist. But, without eyeholes, the bandit was forced to repeatedly lift the front corner of the cloth so he could see where he was walking, Blake said.

Before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect bumped into a door headfirst, knocking off his hat, Blake said, and giving witnesses a look at his face.

Stressed Turkeys Find Musical Release

LONDON - Christmas can be stressful, not least if you're a turkey.

But relaxed birds are better, so the National Farmers Union has come up with a soothing plan.

Officials said Monday the organization has sent 114 farmers a compact disk of sounds including birds twittering in the early morning, wind chimes, whale sounds and the gobble of "happy turkeys," to play to their birds.

"It is well known that a stressed bird is more prone to disease," said a spokesman.

"Most of its energy goes into being frightened rather than growing and putting on weight. Many farmers who already play radios in sheds where they keep turkeys also believe the birds taste nicer. The CD is designed to find out what type of music calms birds the most."

The National Farmers' Union came up with the plan after consulting animal behavior experts at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, where the world's first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep, was produced.

Kansas Town Passes Manditory Gun Law

GEUDA SPRINGS, Kansas - Residents of this tiny south-central Kansas community have passed an ordinance requiring most households to have guns and ammunition.

Noncomplying residents would be fined $10 under the ordinance, passed 3-2 earlier this month by City Council members who thought it would help protect the town of 210 people. Those who suffer from physical or mental disabilities, paupers and people who conscientiously oppose firearms would be exempt.

"This ordinance fulfills the duty to protect by allowing each individual householder to provide for his or her protection," said Councilman John Brewer.

"This is simply using the U.S. Constitution - Second Amendment in particular - to the city of Geuda Springs' advantage."

Geuda Springs has no local police force; the Sumner County Sheriff's department is responsible for policing the area. Sheriff Gerald Gilkey said the ordinance makes him concerned for the safety of his officers.

"This throws up red flags," he said.

The town's city attorney, Thomas Herlocker, also opposes the measure, which has not taken effect because it has yet to be published. He said he plans to ask the council to reverse itself on the issue. The council meets next on Dec. 1.

Many Geuda Springs residents refused to talk about it, and others were tightlipped, saying outsiders should stay out of it.

"It's nobody's business but our own," said Phillip Russell, who owns a motorcycle shop in the town. "Everybody out of town is making this their business."

Compost: Kill Two Deer With, Uh, One Car

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The hundreds of deer killed by cars and trucks as they wander onto roads could spur new life - along the roadside.

Under a new program in Lehigh County, deer carcasses would be taken to a compost facility and turned into raw material for fertilizer to nurture plants along the roads.

The carcasses are now hauled to private landfills or pits on state game lands, and the roadkill recycling plan could save the state money as well as provide fertilizer.

"It's a win-win situation," said Douglas Killough, regional director of the state Game Commission. "The carcasses could be utilized in a more ecological way than by wasting them."

The deer would decompose in three to nine months, creating compost that would be tested for safety before being used, county compost specialist Cary Oshins said.

The state Department of Transportation now hires a contractor for $26,000 a year to haul away 600 to 650 dead deer from state roads in the county. The disposal price per deer has jumped over the years because landfills are requiring more permits from contractors.

"You can compost anything," said environmental engineer Bill Prince of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "You can compost me and you."

The Sweet Side Of Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW - The sweeter side of President Vladimir Putin has gone on display in Moscow: a portrait of the Russian leader entirely in chocolate.

Luxury chocolate-maker Konfael created the edible portrait of Putin on a 3.3-pound slab of white chocolate. Other kinds of chocolate flesh out the likeness - while strawberry juice colors his lips and blueberry juice shades his tie.

The chocolate-makers say the chocolate Putin is a work of art, and they are pricing it at $700. Only two have been created.

"I would regret eating such a portrait," said a shopper, who only gave her first name, Lisa.

Konfael employees said the portraits are attracting attention but no buyers so far. And the clock is ticking - in a year, the chocolate will turn stale.

The chocolate portrait is just the latest homage to Putin, who has already been flattered in books and songs. His face is plastered on T-shirts, posters and matryoshka nesting dolls - most of which can be bought for under $10 at souvenir stalls around the country.

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