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The Odd Truth, Nov. 4, 2004

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

Liquid Heroin In Juice Drinks

MIAMI - Nearly 100 fruit juice boxes containing liquid heroin were intercepted Wednesday in a shipment from Colombia, federal officials said.

The juice boxes were part of a private shipment that wasn't destined for the United States food supply, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents said. The juice would be deadly if consumed.

The 6-ounce boxes, labeled "Hit Fruit Drink," contained a total of 38 kilograms, or about 84 pounds, of heroin worth $1.7 million.

Customs agents said the juice was initially bought from a grocery store in Colombia, then emptied and refilled with heroin. The shipment was relabeled and five pallets of boxes were shipped alongside pallets of legitimate juice boxes, the agents said.

The pallets were intercepted at an undisclosed location in Miami and federal agents are working to track the drug dealers responsible, customs agents said.

In 1990, a 25-year-old man died after drinking a cocaine-laced Colombian soft drink that was part of a drug smuggling scheme. It went awry when burglars broke into a warehouse, stole cases of the drink not knowing what they contained, and sold them to local grocers.

The FBI discovered at least 45 contaminated bottles of Pony Malta, some on store shelves.

Woman Gives Birth, Votes

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Dr. Andrea Shaer wanted to vote before she went to the delivery room to give birth to her third child, so she and her husband went first to their polling station at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's fitness facility.

But more than 100 people were already in line, so Shaer went to the delivery room, gave birth, and returned to vote Tuesday night 30 minutes before the polls closed, intravenous drip in tow.

"Knowing how close the race is in Pennsylvania and being a mom, with all the issues there, I just had to try" to vote, Shaer said.

Shaer, a nephrologist, or kidney doctor, at the medical center, awoke at 5 a.m. Tuesday when her water broke. She gave birth to a son, Jack.

Naked Man Stalks Airport Runway

LOS ANGELES - A man was charged with trespassing after he stripped naked, scaled an airport fence, ran across the tarmac and climbed into a plane's wheel well before firefighters talked him out of it, officials said.

The man had earlier tried to buy a ticket for a Qantas Airways flight to Australia with only a credit card receipt. He told authorities at Los Angeles International Airport that he stripped off his clothes Monday to protest the airline's decision to deny him the ticket, airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said.

The man, Neil Melly, 31, of Canada, suffers from bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive illness) and had been listed as a missing person in Canada, Castles said. He was booked on a trespassing charge, and was released from custody Tuesday.

Baggage handlers saw the man climb an 8-foot, barbed-wire fence that separates public and private areas of the airport and run to a departing plane as it backed from the gate. He climbed into a wheel well before the plane stopped.

He ignored police officers' commands to come out, but complied when city firefighters arrived. The Boeing 747, bound for Melbourne, Austrialia, departed an hour late.

Airport authorities will look into improving the fence, said Paul Haney, a spokesman for the agency that operates the airport.

Santa Olympics Kick Off

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - At these Winter Games, there are no strenuous slaloms or figure-eights. But if you can't shimmy up a chimney or wrap a Christmas gift, forget about competing.

The annual Santa Winter Olympics kick off this month with about 50 Santas from across Europe testing their holiday mettle in Sweden's cold, northern reaches.

"This is a very serious business," said Sivert Svensson, an organizer. "To wrap a Christmas gift quickly and nicely in a proper way is no easy task."

In addition to the nimble fingers required of the gift-wrapping competition, the Games test strength and endurance in disciplines like kick-sledge riding and reindeer driving.

There are gold, silver and bronze medals - in the form of miniature peaked shoes - for the three lucky Santas deemed the best of the bunch.

But in a nod to the holiday spirit, losers will be awarded consolation medals.

Santas are traveling from as far as Britain, Russia and Spain to take part in the Nov. 19-21 contest in the city of Gaellivare, 745 miles north of the capital, Stockholm, and about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The contest is organized by the local folklore society in cooperation with a hotel.

Last year's winner came from the Aland Islands, an autonomous province of Finland situated in the Baltic Sea halfway between Sweden and Finland.

There are many rules for qualifying - including having a big Santa heart.

"For a start, you must believe in Santa and be good, kind and happy. You have to behave in front of the children and also have been recommended by another Santa Claus," Svensson said, adding that each new Santa applicant must go through a yearlong trial period.

Rusted Grenade Shell Found At Wrigley Field

CHICAGO - A groundskeeper found a rusted, hollowed-out shell of a grenade in the right-field turf of Chicago's Wrigley Field.

The dud was found Tuesday morning by a worker at the home of the Chicago Cubs. The police's Bomb and Arson investigators were called to examine the device, which they found to be empty and harmless.

"This thing was absolutely nothing more than a piece of scrap metal," police Cmdr. Irene Jones said.

Investigators said there was no way to determine how the device ended up on the field, but added that no break-ins were reported at the ballpark.

"Somebody probably had a few drinks and lobbed it over the wall," Town Hall District Capt. Bill McCorry said.

Hair Dryer Saves The Day

OSWEGO, Kan. - And you thought the hot air ended when Election Day arrived: Labette County election officials pulled out a hair dryer to solve a jam in an electronic scanner.

Problems started when the county clerk's office began counting 805 advance ballots just after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Election officials tried to fix the machine and called a technician from the scanner's manufacturer, but a concerned citizen stepped up with her own idea.

Dee Brown, the sales manager at Flesh Co., a Parsons printer, suspected humidity may have swelled ballots sent by mail. She suggested a hair dryer.

"I work with paper all the time, and I knew it was probably moisture," said Brown, who was observing the vote count.

After a hair dryer was located, workers tried it out. Ballots still didn't feed perfectly into the scanner, but the situation improved.