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The Odd Truth, Nov. 29, 2004

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

Tough Love Backfires

NEWARK, N.J. - A father's attempt to teach his daughter a lesson about drinking backfired when the teen led police to a stash of drugs and weapons inside their home.

Kevin Winston, 46, called police at 2:45 a.m. Friday after his 16-year-old daughter came home drunk and unruly. When police arrived, however, the girl told them she feared for her safety because her father stored drugs and weapons in the home.

The girl led officers to a crawl space above the ceiling where they found four semiautomatic guns and more than 600 vials of cocaine.

Winston was charged with numerous weapons and drug charges. His five daughters were placed in the custody of a relative.

"He called us on her and ended up getting locked up himself," said Newark Police Director Anthony Ambrose.

Optimist Club Calls It Quits

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - It's a glum day for optimists.

After 24 years of community service, the Quakertown Optimists Club is calling it quits. They're holding their last meeting on Thursday, citing declining interest.

"I feel sad," club president Bernard Kensky said.

Fewer club members were taking part in sporting and scholastic activities for children, and fewer kids were getting involved in club events, according to Kensky.

The group worked with schools to hold essay, spelling and public speaking contests for students, sponsored a youth bowling league and organized golf tournaments and football and basketball events.

A bicycle derby sponsored by the club and the Quakertown police department drew only 12 children last year, down from previous attendance of 50 to 70 children, Kensky said.

"Four or five people would come to meetings and only two or three people would help out with the activities," Kensky said. "I don't know why people stopped getting involved."

The Optimist Club is an international organization that formed in 1920. The Quakertown chapter started in 1980 with 35 members, but dropped to 15 members this year.

Quakertown is about 35 miles north of Philadelphia.

Your True Love Better Have Deep Pockets

PITTSBURGH - Forget the partridge in a pear tree. How about a new Jaguar, a BMW 7 Series, a Mercedes-Benz or a 1949 Rolex?

The vintage watch and luxury cars would cost as much as all the gifts listed in the yuletide classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas," according to PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the drummers drumming, pipers piping, turtle doves and golden rings would set you back if you bought them for your true love at today's prices.

The bank began publishing the list in 1982 for institutional clients and released it publicly the next year.

So what are all the gifts going for this year? If they were bought repeatedly on each day as the song suggests, they'd hit $66,334, up from $65,264 last year.

Buying each item just once would cost $17,279. That's still enough for a Mini Cooper, a ride in a Russian MiG jet fighter, a 10-acre ranch in Colorado or a 1920s baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

The nine ladies dancing would leave the largest dent in your wallet this year - coming in at $4,400. The eight maids-a-milking are a bargain at $41.20.

Outsourcing, alas, factors into the equation.

"As a result, the cost of skilled dancers has steadily increased, while the unskilled milk maids haven't managed an increase in pay for many years," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Advisors.

The prices for the birds - swans, geese, canaries (calling birds), hens, doves and partridges - didn't change much from last year, coming in at $4,201 compared with $4,138, according to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

But with the declining dollar, you would have saved buying the three French hens last year, when they were $15, compared with $45 this year.

Archer Shoots Mobile Phones Into Prison Yard

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Authorities in Sweden arrested a man who shot mobile phones into the yard of a high-security prison with a bow and arrows, police said Saturday.

The 25-year-old man is charged with planning to aid a prison escape and could get up to a year in jail, police said.

The suspect, whose name was not released, taped two cell phones and a battery charger to three arrows, and fired them over the 12-foot wall into Mariefred prison outside Stockholm on Friday night, police spokeswoman Susanne Abrahamsson said.

The man was not spotted by guards when he fired the arrows, but was arrested after police found his car parked about 650 feet from the prison walls, with a bow hidden underneath it, she said. After the man returned to his car, police dogs traced his scent back to the prison wall, and guards were able to find the arrows in the prison yard, where inmates go for exercise.

It was unclear which inmates were supposed to receive the phones, Abrahamsson said.

Cell phones smuggled to inmates have played a vital role in three highly publicized prison breaks in Sweden between July and September. Police suspect the inmates used them to coordinate their escapes with accomplices on the outside. All the inmates who escaped in the three prison breaks - including from Mariefred prison - were recaptured within days.

Several prison employees were later charged with smuggling phones into the prisons, which has led to more frequent searches of all prison employees.

Using a bow to get phones into prison seems to be a new technique, Abrahamsson said.

"As far as I know, this is a first," she said.

A Sticky Situation In Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, La. - The busiest shopping day of the year turned out to be a sticky affair.

Vandals apparently glued the locks on dozens of Lafayette's biggest retailers, preventing managers from opening up promptly on lucrative "Black Friday." Hundreds of shoppers, some of whom arrived before dawn, were forced to wait outside Barnes and Noble, Old Navy and other stores while managers summoned locksmiths.

At least 200 locks on dozens of businesses were glued, including main entrances, rear doors and employee entrances, according to locksmith Garan Wilson. Wilson's first job at about 5 a.m. today was to make his way to the front door lock at Old Navy - by pushing through about 500 shoppers waiting outside.

Kevin Vizena, head locksmith for Pop-A-Lock in Lafayette, says the vandals squirted the glue deep inside the keyholes, forcing him to drill holes and remove the locks from the doors.

Chuck Trenchard, an employee of S&K Menswear, says the prank had cost his store more than $1,000 in business, because potential customers had arrived early, then took off because they couldn't get inside.

Vizena says most of the stores had their doors open for customers by midmorning.

Lafayette police had no suspects but were investigating the vandalism as cases of possible criminal mischief or criminal damage to property, both misdemeanors.

The Perfect Gift For Your Favorite Stripper

HOUSTON - A Texas MBA student was designing a glow-in-the-dark jogging suit when he got distracted.

Now Beau Carpenter is marketing a neon thong that's so far attracted eager customers at a strip club. The Houston Chronicle reports that Carpenter had no trouble enlisting help in his venture from a chemistry lab manager and electrical engineering student.

The GloThongs have batteries that, when fully charged, illuminate the straps for two hours in various neon colors. Customers can use a wall adapter to charge them up, but car chargers are also available.

They'll be available next month and cost about $50.