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The Odd Truth, Nov. 4, 2002

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

Free Speech Gets Markup

VIRGIN, Utah - Free speech isn't so free in the southwestern Utah town of Virgin. It now costs 25 bucks to speak your mind. Mayor Jay Lee wants to keep Town Council meetings short and civil.

So, Lee is charging folks $25 every time they speak up at zoning and planning sessions. You may remember Virgin. The town gained notoriety a couple of years ago, when it passed an ordinance requiring every home to have a gun for self-defense.

Some folks are also taking potshots at the speaking fee. The American Civil Liberties Union calls it blatantly unconstitutional.

Limousine Liberals?

DURHAM, North Carolina-- Voters in Durham, North Carolina, are losing an excuse not to vote. They're being offered free limo rides. Funeral homes in Durham are volunteering their limousines to drive voters to the polling stations tomorrow. It's a project of the Durham Voter Coalition and cooperating funeral homes. An experimental limo program was tried during the September primary and the coalition's Melvin Whitley says it was a big hit. He adds it's the talk of the town. ^

Stupid Vandals Award

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Two teens accused of vandalizing seven lawns might just as well have left a business card.

They used a parent's pickup truck with the business name emblazoned on the side, police said.

"It makes it a little easier to solve the crime when they do that," said Hall County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Castleberry.

The teens also apparently picked out lawns of families they knew from school.

Seven lawns were damaged by the zigzagging truck last week in a residential area east of Grand Island. The truck hit a street sign and a tree in a yard, sustaining about $3,000 in damage.

Criminalizing Coffee Beans

SAN FRANCISCO - Beans and pot. Those are two of the ballot issues voters in the San Francisco Bay area will be considering On Tuesday.

In Berkeley, a ballot measure would make it a crime to sell brewed coffee that isn't made from politically correct beans. The PC joe must be made from certified fair trade, shade-grown or organic coffee.

But the coffee cops wouldn't be looking at the type of beans used in homes. And in San Francisco, voters will decide if the city should be growing marijuana. The initiative would make it official city policy to explore the establishment of a marijuana growing and distribution program. The city pot would be for medical uses.

Getting High On Vanilla Extract

BLO0MSBURG, Pa. - Some people are apparently getting a kick out of vanilla. A number of supermarkets in the Bloomsburg area are taking vanilla extract off their shelves, because it's being swiped.

It's not the vanilla the thieves are after, but the alcohol in the extract. Pure vanilla extract, which is used for cooking, must be at least 35 percent alcohol. That would make it 70-proof, somewhere between schnapps and vodka.

Bill Jones, manager of Boyer's Food Market in Berwick, says they've been finding empty vanilla bottles in the parking lot. Now customers have to ask for the extract at the service desk.

Penguin Caper

TUSLA, Okla. - Police are looking for penguin-nappers. Four large penguin statues have been swiped since a promotion started Friday. "Penguins on Parade" is a fund-raiser for the zoo's new penguin exhibit, opening later this month.

There are 65 penguins around town, each painted by a different artist. The plastic penguins are six-feet tall and weigh 300 pounds apiece. Two of the missing big birds turned up in the Arkansas River. One Tulsa police officer jokes a cop may have to go undercover dressed as a penguin to crack the case. ^

Vive La France!

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A French woman accused of undressing during an airport security screening pleaded guilty and paid a $2 fine.

Eliane Yvonne Marcele Aguillaume, 56, of Paris, was ordered Friday to pay $1 for a count of public indecency and $1 for resisting law enforcement. She will be required to pay court costs of about $130.

Aguillaume allegedly stripped to her waist last Monday at Evansville Regional Airport in an angry response to a security screener's attempt to search her with a metal-detecting wand.

During a routine security screening, Aguillaume kept reaching inside her sweater, forcing guards to search her again.

Aguillaume then became upset and removed her sweater, shirt and bra before trying to pull away as an officer tried to handcuff her, police said. She later dropped to the ground and refused to get up.

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