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The Odd Truth, Nov. 3, 2004

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

Lion's Don't Love Thy Neighbor

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A lion attacked a man who jumped into the animal's enclosure and shouted "Jesus will save you!" at the big cat Wednesday at the zoo in Taiwan's capital.

Cable TV stations showed the lion ripping a jacket off the man as he stood in a grassy enclosure that held two of the animals.

Without panicking, the man fell back on a stone ridge, and the lion then jumped at him, biting him in the arm. The lion then clawed at his trousers before retreating.

The man then calmly stood with his arms outstretched in front of the two animals.

An eyewitness, Hsu Li-jen, told cable station CTI that the man shouted "Jesus will save you" at the animals.

Guards drove the lions away with water hoses, and police shot the animals with tranquilizer darts. The man, identified only by his surname, Chen, then picked up his jacket and climbed out of the pen himself. He was taken to the hospital for tests.

"He had bite marks both at the front and back of his leg," Doctor Wang Yao-ching told CTI.

Another doctor said Chen, 46, also had psychological problems. "He took this dangerous action today because he imagined he heard voices," psychiatrist Teng Hui-wen told reporters, saying his case was still being investigated.

KKK Costume Wins Prize, Suspension

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A high school student's costume garnered a top prize - and a five-day suspension - at the school's Halloween masquerade party.

The Ku Klux Klansman getup took the prize for the scariest costume at the City High School dance attended by the principal, assistant principal and other staff members.

Superintendent Bert Bleke said he agreed with the school's decision to suspend the student but wanted to know why adults at the party failed to stop the senior, who was wearing a white-hooded outfit, from entering, much less winning a prize.

"There are a number of questions I have and don't yet have answers to," Bleke said.

Contacted by the newspaper, the student declined to discuss his Halloween outfit. He said school leaders advised him to keep mum, and that he didn't want to cause any more trouble for himself.

Good Samaritan, Bad Idea

WARREN, Mich. - A man trying to stop a robbery at a gas station ended up smashing a plate glass window, wrecking his car and fingering the wrong man. The suspect escaped - minus a shoe - and remains at large.

Michael Lonsway's insurance company says it won't pay for the damage. Police say what he did was too risky. Even so, Lonsway, 43, says he would do it again.

If people refused to get involved, "we'd have anarchy in our system," he said.

Lonsway had pulled into a Shell station Sunday when he saw a man run inside and dart behind the counter. Seconds later, an employee stepped back toward a window, hands held high.

Lonsway said he pulled his Pontiac Grand Prix within a few feet of the entrance, hoping to surprise the robber upon exit.

"First I just tried to pin him," Lonsway said. "He said, 'Come on, let me go!' I said, 'You ain't going anywhere.' That's when I floored it."

As the robber climbed across the hood of Lonsway's car, the vehicle plowed through a window, shattering the glass and knocking over merchandise.

The impact knocked a shoe off the robber's foot, and a fake pistol from his hand.

The robber fled, and Lonsway gave chase. Lonsway says he thought he saw the robber drive off in a Cadillac and called police on his cell phone. It was someone else.

Authorities have a description of the real robber.

Blood-Sucking Monkeys Attack Kids

GAUHATI, India - Monkeys lurking at an ancient Hindu temple in India's northeast have attacked up to 300 children over three weeks, temple officials said.

"They hide in trees and swoop on unsuspecting children loitering about in the temple premises or walking by, clawing them and even sucking a bit of blood," Bani Kumar Sharma, a priest at the Kamakhya temple in Assam state, said Tuesday.

At least 2,000 rhesus monkeys roam in and around the temple, but none had shown aggressive behavior in the past, he said.

"I was returning home from school when a monkey suddenly pounced on me, scratched my head and hand and pushed me to the ground," said Jolly Sharma, a 6-year-old girl.

Monkeys are often found in tens of thousands of temples across India. They are seen as a symbol of Hanuman, the mythical monkey god, and devotees visiting temples often feed them. While occasional attacks by monkeys are not uncommon at temples, the sudden surge in attacks at the Gauhati temple has experts perplexed.

Some say the monkeys may be turning violent because of shrinking living spaces, or because animals once kept as pets might not have been able to adjust to new lives around the temple.

Three monkeys were randomly tranquilized by wildlife officials over the weekend and have been taken to the Gauhati Zoo where they will be examined, said Narayan Mahanta, a wildlife official in Gauhati.

Kerry Duck Wins By A Landslide

BEIJING - A Chinese restaurant owner who put duck dishes named for the major U.S. presidential candidates on his menu said Wednesday that 60 percent of diners ordered "Kerry Duck" over "Bush Duck."

The mock election at the Chuxuanlu Restaurant in Foshan, a city near Hong Kong, began Oct. 23 and ended Wednesday.

"Most of our guests support Kerry, because Bush is a tough guy and ... wants control over the world," the owner, who would give only his surname, Nie, said by phone from Foshan.

"Kerry Duck" was stewed in soy sauce, while "Bush Duck" was slow-broiled. A Chinese newspaper said the tangier Bush flavor matched the president's "war-mongering personality."

Nie said he wasn't sure exactly how many ducks he sold during the promotion. But he said about 60 percent of people who bought them chose the Kerry dish, while 40 percent went for Bush.

"We had these dishes because the United States is a superpower and the election will affect any country around the world," he said.

Diners who ordered the duck dish named for the winning U.S. candidate will receive a commemorative cup, Nie said.

Kerry's success might have been influenced by the lower price of his namesake dish. It cost 38 yuan ($4.50), while "Bush Duck" was more expensive at 48 yuan ($5.80).

Nie said the difference reflected Bush's higher status as president.

But despite the higher price, "some guests support Kerry but chose the Bush duck," he said, because they disliked the American president and "wanted to devour Bush."

Computer Geeks Hold Funeral For Deleted Programs

DAYTON, Ohio - Among the tiny graves on Blocker Hill, the wind echoes with the tortured cries of computer programmers.

Beneath the eight grave markers, and perhaps in a rumored unmarked grave nearby, lie reams of paper printouts of code for software that has left this mortal operating system.

The cemetery is a quirky tradition among the programmers at LexisNexis, which provides online legal and business information. Rather than simply delete programs that are retired or replaced, they print them out for a proper send-off - not always with fond regards.

"The code wakes us up in the middle of the night," said Doug Perseghetti, who recalls the many times his fellow systems engineers and technical support workers are called in the middle of the night to fix system problems.

The name Blocker Hill was picked because the outdated equipment and code represented roadblocks to the company's future.

"Some things die gracefully and other things we've had to kill," Perseghetti said. He said workers had to "drive a stake" through the heart of a poorly performing program named CCI, which received an ignominious burial beneath an emblem of a pig.

In 1992, up to 50 mourners followed pallbearers carrying a wooden coffin with a printout of the former Database Update Control System as a trumpeter played "Taps," project consultant Alice Kaltenmark said. Eulogies were said and chocolate cake served.