The Odd Truth, Oct. 11, 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.

Man Beaten With Wooden Leg

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - A man has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated assault after police said he beat a suspected heroin dealer with a spare wooden prosthetic leg that belonged to his son.

Kevin Miele had been charged with felony assault in the Aug. 19 beating. A judge Thursday sentenced the 45-year-old to three days in jail and nine months probation, and ordered him to complete a course in anger management.

Miele said he encountered the man trying to persuade his adult son to buy heroin at his home in Mount Pleasant, The Saginaw News reported.

"I didn't want my son falling into the same pit," Miele said. "The guy didn't deserve the ... whipping he got, but he got it anyway. I'm lucky I didn't kill him."

"There's never an excuse or justification for beating somebody up," court-appointed defense lawyer William Shirley said. "If there ever was one, Mr. Miele has the best one I ever heard. Here's a guy in his living room attempting to sell heroin."

Lutefisk Eaten, Reluctantly

MINNEAPOLIS - To the victor go the spoils, but the four pounds of lutefisk sent to New York City Council members left them wondering whether they were the winners or losers in a wager over the baseball playoffs.

Minneapolis City Council President Paul Ostrow made good on his bet over the outcome of the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees series by shipping off a load of the Scandinavian delicacy.

Lutefisk is dried cod soaked in lye, then boiled or baked. It's a popular holiday dish among Scandinavian-Americans in the Upper Midwest - and the butt of many bad jokes.

"If this is what happens when the Yankees win, I'm wondering if I should start cheering for another team," New York Council Speaker Gifford Miller said Wednesday after a couple of bites of the "delicacy."

Minneapolis Council Member Scott Benson sent a warning to New Yorkers.

"The consistency of lutefisk is something between fish Jell-O and fish pudding," he wrote.

If the Twins had won, the Minneapolis council would have received cheesecake and bagels.

Mount Schwarzenegger?

TBILISI, Georgia - Arnold Schwarzenegger, who scaled to the top of California politics, could now get a mountain named after him in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But there's a catch: To receive the honor, the governor-elect must visit the country, a representative of President Eduard Shevardnadze said Friday.

Georgia, which borders Russia and Turkey, had extended the offer in the past - to no avail - but officials resurrected the Mount Schwarzenegger plan in honor of Tuesday's election.

Once again, it looks as if they'll be disappointed.

"I don't see it making the schedule in the near future," Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said of a possible trip to Georgia. "As gratifying as it is to have a mountain named after you, his whole attention is right here in California."

The mountain, in the Caucasus range, currently does not have a name; officials declined to disclose its size and precise location.

Suspect Tracked By Tattoo On Butt

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It wasn't his face that gave the suspect way - it was his butt. The man was busted in West Vancouver, British Columbia, for using fake checks to buy pizzas. Police say the 55-year-old Quebec man was wanted on a Canada-wide arrest warrant. But the con man had used 22 different names and birthdates. So, how did the cops make a positive ID? By taking a rear view. They looked at the suspect's butt, where they found a distinctive "Made in Canada" tattoo.

Grandpa Bandit Pleads Guilty In Bank Heist

LUBBOCK, Texas - A 91-year-old man who walks with a cane and is hard of hearing pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $2,000 from a bank, his third such robbery in less than five years.

Leaning on his cane and wearing a headset to listen to the judge, J.L. Hunter "Red" Rountree initially responded "not guilty" when asked for his plea Thursday.

"I mean, `Guilty,"' Rountree later said. "I'm sorry."

In August, Rountree handed a First American Bank teller in Abilene an envelope with "Robbery" written on it in red marker, prosecutors said. He gave her a second envelope, telling her to put money in it. Twice the teller asked if he was kidding. After the first time, Rountree said, "Hurry up or you will get hurt."

A bank employee and some customers got Rountree's license plate number as he left the parking lot. Authorities stopped him about 20 miles from Abilene.

His lawyer, Shery Kime-Goodwin, declined to comment.

Authorities say Rountree's crime spree began in 1998, a week before his 87th birthday. He was arrested in Biloxi, Mississippi, minutes after robbing a bank. He was given three years' probation, fined $260 and told to leave Mississippi.

Less than a year later, in October 1999, he was arrested outside a NationsBank in Pensacola, Florida, after giving a teller a note that said "ROBBERY" and telling her, "Give me the $100s." He was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to three years in prison, becoming the oldest inmate in the Florida prison system.

Rountree faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the Texas robbery. A sentencing date has not been set.

Asthmatic Busted For Sharing Inhaler

CONROE, Texas - For asthmatics, taking the inhaled drug Albuterol is as commonplace as popping aspirin for a headache. So what's a little puff shared between wheezy sweethearts?

For one high school student, it's grounds for arrest, expulsion and possible drug charges.

Last month, 15-year-old Brandon Kivi's asthmatic girlfriend was having trouble breathing but had forgotten to bring her inhaler to school, so he let her use his.

But Albuterol is listed as a dangerous drug in the state's health and safety code, and delivery of any such drug is a mandatory expulsion offense. Kivi was arrested the next day and released a few hours later.

The teen and his mother will find out at an expulsion hearing Friday whether the Conroe school district chooses to press third-degree felony charges.

"That's just how my son is," said Kivi's mother, Theresa Hock. "He'll give the shirt off his back. He doesn't do drugs. They would much rather she had died than him help her."

The school nurse said the 15-year-old girl wasn't in obvious distress when the incident happened.

School Principal Greg Poole said he took action against Kivi because the teen tried to give the inhaler to another student the previous day.

Jailing The Jailers

BENTON, Ark. - Three jailers are behind bars after sheriffs say they made a beer run with money they stole from a prisoner, then shared a brew with an inmate.

Todd McEuen, 32, John E. Hood, 22, and Christopher Carmen, 21, were arrested on charges of introducing contraband to a jail. McEuen and Hood also face misdemeanor theft charges.

Lt. Jim Andrews said the men took money from a prisoner's locker Tuesday night.

"They then went to a convenience store and purchased alcohol," brought it back to the jail, and drank it, Andrews said.

Chief Deputy Bill Field said the sheriff's office learned of the incident from another jailer.

"What if something had happened? They were throwing a party when they should have been watching" prisoners, said J.R. Walters, a Saline County justice of the peace.

The suspects were held without bail Thursday in jails outside Saline County.

If convicted, they would face a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine on the contraband charge. The theft charge carries up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

He Vants To Suck Your Blood

EDINBURGH, Scotland - A man who became obsessed with a vampire movie was convicted Wednesday of murdering his best friend, a man whose blood he said he drank in an effort to gain immortality.

Allan Menzies, 22, was found guilty of bludgeoning to death 21-year-old Thomas McKendrick in a frenzied attack after they had an argument over "Queen of the Damned," a film that starred the late American R&B singer and actress Aaliyah as the vampire Akasha.

After the jury of six men and nine women returned the guilty verdict at the High Court in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, Judge Roderick MacDonald sentenced Menzies to life imprisonment, but said he could apply for parole after serving 18 years.

"In my opinion you are an evil, violent and highly dangerous man who is not fit to be at liberty," said MacDonald. "You subjected Thomas McKendrick to a savage and merciless attack. You totally lack remorse."

During the trial, the former security guard claimed that the Akasha character from the movie had repeatedly visited his bedroom and that the two had struck a deal in which he would achieve immortality if he killed people.

On Dec. 11, McKendrick criticized the vampire character during a visit to Menzies' home.

An enraged Menzies killed McKendrick by repeatedly beating and stabbing his body, witnesses said. Menzies told the court he had drunk the dead man's blood and ate part of his head.

Menzies buried his friend in a shallow grave in a nearby wooded area.

When police raided Menzies' home in January, they found the "Queen Of The Damned" video and one of the "Vampire Chronicles" books, "Blood And Gold," by Anne Rice. On one page, he had written "I have drunk the blood and it shall be mine for I have seen horror."

70 Pairs Of Butter-Filled Shoes Found

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - As shoe collections go, the one found by a pair of Swedish hikers definitely had no place in any closet.

A Swedish couple hunting on a remote mountain Sunday in Sweden's far northern province of Jaemtland found 70 pairs of shoes, all filled with butter.

"If we knew who had done this we could make them clean this mess up," Alf Kjaellstroem, a province spokesman told The Associated Press Thursday. "It's not going to be pretty when the butter starts to rot. And we have to wait for the snow so we can get up there with the snowmobile."

He said there were 140 shoes of all kinds - sneakers, children's shoes, high heels, boots and tap shoes - each stuffed with 1.1 pounds of butter and spread out in the landscape.

The find was similar to one done by artist Yu Xiuzhen's in 1996.

His exhibit "Shoes With Butter," was laid out in the Tibetan mountains surrounding Lhasa, China.

He Should Have Used Poly Grip

MOUNT PLEASANT, Ind. - Police didn't have to use DNA or fingerprints to track down a man accused of breaking into a vacant house - they traced his dentures.

Investigators said Paul D. Lee's false teeth apparently fell out when he stumbled after breaking into a house that was being remodeled.

Lee, 39, of Muncie, was being held in the Delaware County Jail on $25,000 bond Thursday on preliminary charges including burglary.

A relative of the home's owner found the dentures in the garage the morning after the Sept. 23 break-in and called police. Neither the owner nor police had noticed the teeth during an earlier search.

"I never paid no attention. I was looking for things that were missing; I wasn't looking for teeth," said Louie Coill, who owns the house about nine miles south of Muncie.

"I have fell over fences and done everything else in my life and I have never lost my dentures. How he lost his is beyond me," Coill said.

Police tracked the teeth to Lee after learning that an Indiana law requires dentures to bear the owner's name underneath the artificial gum.

Investigators returned Lee's teeth to him so he could make a videotaped confession. He was later allowed to keep his dentures after signing for them, according to a police report.

Robbery Yields Beer, Hot Dog

STUART, Fla. - Police are suggesting a new career path for two men after they left their ID and weapon with a convenience store clerk before stealing a hot dog and beer from the store.

Martin County sheriff's deputies nabbed the pair when they made an even bolder move - returning to the store an hour later to retrieve the ID and BB gun.

"It was really stupid, but kids do stupid things sometimes," said Marie Blanco, 42, the clerk at the Speedway convenience store where the theft occurred early Wednesday.

Blanco said she noticed one of the men had a gun tucked into his waistband after she asked him for identification to prove he was old enough to buy beer. She said she asked Winston Lamar, 22, if the gun was real.

Lamar told her it was a BB gun and he put it in the money tray under the protective screen to show her, sheriff's records state.

Blanco then grabbed the gun and called police while the men fled without paying for the beer or the hot dog.

About 30 minutes later, Lamar called the store, asking if he could come get his identification and the gun. Blanco assured them that police had already left and that they could retrieve the items.

But two sheriff's deputies were awaiting their return and arrested the men after they arrived.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jenell Atlas suggested the men find another line of work.

"This one does not seem to be working out for them," she said.

Chinese Spiderman Scales Jinmao Tower

SHANGHAI, China - A man was ordered jailed for 15 days after scaling, spiderman-style, the 88-story Jinmao Tower, China's tallest building, police said Thursday.

Television reports showed Wang Huan, a 27-year-old from northeastern Liaoning province, climbing the silvery 1,400-foot structure in Pudong, Shanghai's new financial district, as a crowd gathered to watch. He scaled the tower's scaffold-like exterior without ropes.

Footage showed him stopping to wave about halfway through the ascent, which took more than an hour, according to an officer at a nearby police station, who refused to give her name.

Wang, who was not the first to climb the building without ropes, staged the stunt Tuesday, but it was only reported the next day.

Police came prepared, laying out a cushion in case he fell. At the top of the building, officers were waiting to arrest him.

Wang was arrested for "infringing public security," police said.

Bank Robber Nabbed While Resting His Feet

MIAMI - Police said they arrested a man who robbed two neighboring banks within 20 minutes, then stopped to rest his tired feet.

Daniel Gallagher, 46, was charged with two counts each of armed bank robbery and threats to discharge an explosive device.

Gallagher allegedly walked into two banks in downtown Miami and told tellers he had a bomb in his bag. In both cases, he then demanded and received $100. Police said the bag actually contained a can of beer.

Gallagher told police that after the second robbery his feet had become tired, so he sat down for a break. A witness soon identified him and he was arrested.

Police said Gallagher, who has an extensive arrest record, told authorities he committed the robberies because: "I'm too ugly to get a job."

A call to the Miami-Dade public defender's office rang unanswered after business hours and it could not be determined if Gallagher was being represented by an attorney.

Another Close Race In Florida

DELAND, Fla. - In a state known for close elections, the mayor's race in Ponce Inlet came down to the tightest of margins - one vote.

A recount Wednesday broke a tie in the race, ending an election that started the day before.

Incumbent Mayor Bill Hoak won by a single vote, earning 465 votes to challenger Frank Vitale's 464.

"That's democracy, you know, at its best," said Vitale, whose political advisers have not yet ruled out a challenge.

Hoak, declared the winner by Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe after a recount of all ballots, said he had hoped to win a third term by a wider margin.

"I guess I'll have to find out the reason why so many voters went the other way," Hoak said. "I've got to do my homework."

Ponce Inlet is about 30 miles south of Daytona Beach.

Smooth Criminal

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It worked - for a while.

A man on his way into jail walked right back out again by posing as another inmate waiting to be released.

Authorities in Arkansas say Fabian Villalobos was sitting in a booking room at the Washington County Jail Sunday, waiting to enter. But when a jailer called out the name of another inmate to be released, Villalobos stood up.

He signed a jail release form and walked out of the gates, along with the other man's ID and $239.

The mistake was discovered because the other inmate's bail bondsman was waiting outside and saw Villalobos exit and sprint down the street.

Villalobos was picked up a day later.

A sheriff's department spokesman says security and ID procedures are being reviewed.

Sounds Like A Job For The Whizzinator!

LUBBOCK, Texas - Some West Texas ex-cons are packing a little something extra in their pants. Lubbock County sheriff's deputies say they've caught five men on probation trying to use the Whizzinator. It's an artificial male organ that squirts synthetic, drug-free pee. The Whizzinator costs $150 and is worn with a jock-strap-like undergarment. One official caught on when he heard something strange in a restroom during a urine test. He says a body part doesn't go "clink" when it's up against a plastic cup. Whizzinator also makes a model for women. The company's owner defends his product, saying the Whizzinator is meant to protect privacy.

What Does 'Udink' Mean To You?

SALT LAKE CITY - Dennis Udink says there's nothing dirty about his name.

He's trying to get a vanity license plate in Utah that says "UDINK." But his request has been rejected by the Division of Motor Vehicles because it's supposedly vulgar.

"I couldn't believe they could say it could possibly be offensive. It's my ... name," he said.

Udink appealed and has a hearing scheduled for later this month. Now, he's getting support from state Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, a Democrat who sits on the legislative committee that has oversight of the rule-making process.

"It is really an unfortunate situation because it is a pretty well-known family in this area, and no one thinks anything of it," Dmitrich said. "It's only offensive to people who make it offensive."

Dmitrich plans to suggest a rule change to the Administrative Rules Review Committee that would give the DMV more discretion when a red flag pops up on an application.

"I have a good friend whose last name is Hori. If you want to make that offensive, then it could be very offensive," Dmitrich said. "I agree that we should not allow certain things that are offensive, but this is his name."

Kerry Accuses Dean Of Being A Closet Yankees Fan

BOSTON - Senator John Kerry is playing hardball with Democratic presidential rival Howard Dean. Kerry is charging Dean isn't a true Red Sox fan. As a senator from Massachusetts, Kerry has pledged his allegiance to Red Sox Nation. But Kerry charges that Dean is a closet Yankees' booster. Dean is a New York native, but has lived in Vermont for many years, where he served as governor. Dean isn't taking a swing at Kerry's curve. He calls the accusation insulting and insists he's rooting for the Sox. The Yankees and Red Sox open the American League Championship series in New York tonight.

Is There A Broader Issue Here?

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The mother of a man who killed three people and wounded five at a factory before committing suicide filed a workers' compensation claim, saying her son suffered "death by gunfire" at work.

"I don't feel I should have to pay for the actions that he chose to do," said Nina Tichelkamp-Russell, who filed the claim 10 days after the July 1 shooting at the Modine Manufacturing Co.

"I think if there are indicators (of a problem at work) then there are certain people out there who have a responsibility."

The company rejected the claim for death benefits, said Mick Lucareli, a spokesman for Racine, Wis.-based Modine.

The state workers' compensation division will have the final say.

Bear Expert Fatally Mauled By Bear

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A self-taught bear expert who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

The bodies of Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found Monday at their campsite when a pilot arrived who was supposed to take them to Kodiak, state troopers said Tuesday.

Treadwell, co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska," spent more than a dozen summers living alone with and videotaping Katmai bears. Information on Huguenard was not immediately available.

The Andrew Airways pilot contacted troopers in Kodiak and the National Park Service after he saw a brown bear, possibly on top of a body, at the camp near Kaflia Bay.

Park rangers encountered a large, aggressive male brown bear within minutes of arriving. Ranger Joel Ellis said two officers stood by with shotguns as he fired 11 times with a semi-automatic handgun before the animal fell, 12 feet away.

"That was cutting it thin," said Ellis, the lead investigator. "I didn't take the time to count how many times it was hit."

The victims' remains and camping equipment were flown Monday to Kodiak. Ellis said investigators hope to glean some information from video and still cameras.

Treadwell was known for his confidence around bears. He often touched them, and gave them names. Once he was filmed crawling along the ground singing as he approached a sow and two cubs.

Robber Laughed At

OMAHA, Neb. - Convenience store clerk Jamie Brown laughed in the face of fear - and in the face of a would-be robber.

Brown was behind an inch of bullet-resistant glass when an armed robber entered the store. He laughed at the man and flipped a switch which locked all the doors in the store. Brown also closed the cash register and dialed 911.

Brown says the would-be robber begged to be let out, and kicked at the door. But it wouldn't budge.

The bandit eventually found a door that led to the garage, where he escaped through a window.

Police were still searching for the suspect Tuesday.

Not Exactly A Dog's Life

CULDESAC, Idaho - This dog was having a bad fur day.

The dog, whose coat caught fire when the owner's vehicle backfired, ignited a grass fire just off U.S. Highway 95 in this small northern Idaho town about 190 miles north of Boise.

Firefighters doused the grass fire and reported the dog was unhurt, only smelling of burnt hair.

"I have been in firefighting for many years, but I have never seen anything like this happen," Culdesac Fire Chief Gary Gilliam said.

It happened Saturday when a motorist who ran out of fuel put gas in the tank and then primed the carburetor. On restarting, the van backfired, throwing sparks into the cab and igniting the dog's fur.

A passenger let the dog out, and it rolled in dry grass, putting out the flames on its coat but setting the grass afire.

70-Year-Old Spends A Long Night At Sea

TOKYO - A Japanese man thought he would try something new - snorkeling - for his 70th birthday and ended up in a 19-hour swim for his life after being swept out to sea by a strong tide, a maritime official said Tuesday.

Hideo Murasugi set off on his first snorkeling expedition at noon Sunday at a reef on the southern Japan island of Ishigaki, about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo.

His family reported him missing when he didn't return that evening and authorities sent out a search party, according to Ishigaki Maritime Safety Department spokesman Kazuo Toji.

Murasugi swam ashore unassisted Monday morning after spending the night dog-paddling and floating in the water while he waited for the tide to turn. Nineteen hours after entering the water, he made it to shore, Toji said.

Murasugi told officials he had been swept out to sea but realized he was not far from shore when night fell and he was still able to see lights.

"I'm very sorry to have troubled you," Toji quoted Murasugi as saying. "Having snorkeled for my first time, I've experienced enough marine leisure for a lifetime."

Toji said Monday was Murasugi's 70th birthday.

Parrot Asked To Take The Stand

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A man claims a woman wrongly adopted his lost parrot - and he can prove it if given a chance to question the bird in court.

Loulou, an 11-year-old African gray parrot, flew out of David DeGroff's apartment on April 12 after a guest who wasn't wearing her glasses accidentally walked into the screen door leading to the balcony.

On May 11, Nina Weaver, of Newburg, Pa., adopted an African gray from the D.C. Animal Shelter. DeGroff, convinced the bird is Loulou, filed a lawsuit seeking an opportunity to depose the parrot. He is seeking $15,000 for pain and suffering if the bird turns out to be Loulou.

According to DeGroff, Loulou's vocal repertoire includes whistling the theme song to "The Andy Griffith Show" and saying the phrase "Daddy's gotta go to work."

Immediately after Loulou left, DeGroff said, he started calling every animal agency in the area, including the D.C. Animal Shelter.

DeGroff said he again called the shelter in mid-May. A receptionist told him that an African gray had recently been adopted. DeGroff used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the adoption records.

DeGroff said he drove to Weaver's home, but no one answered when he knocked on the front door. He said he saw a bird through the window and felt a connection.

"She seemed like she tried to communicate with me," DeGroff said.

DeGroff was unable to determine if it could whistle the "Andy Griffith" tune. Frustrated, he returned home.

Weaver declined to speak with a Washington Post reporter who visited her house. "We have no comment," she said. "We're not going to fight this in the paper."

Kmart Employee Mistakenly Locked In Safe

WOOSTER, Ohio - Two Kmart employees weren't playing it safe when one of the 18-year-olds got trapped while goofing off at work.

The youths were fooling around Saturday morning when one of them decided to see if he could fit into a 4-foot by 2-foot safe, Fire Department Lt. Joe Linz said. The teen managed to squeeze inside, the door was closed and he was trapped about 10 minutes before being rescued, Linz said.

The teenager emerged short of breath and sweaty, but otherwise unharmed.

Employees had attempted get him out by using a combination, but the safe wouldn't open, Linz said.

After firefighters called a locksmith and attempted to use pry bars to open it, the combination was tried again and it worked.

The teenager refused to go to the hospital.

Jail Visitors Get More Than A Tour

HOPEWELL, N.Y. - Some visitors to a new county jail stayed longer than planned and left feeling extremely confident in the security system.

Big crowds of gawkers showed up for a glimpse of the soon-to-be-opened facility, and a few accidentally locked themselves in a cell. Another group got stuck in a storage room.

"People were impressed with the security," said Sheriff Phil Povero.

The new Ontario County Jail in this western New York town near Rochester was open to the public Saturday, and roughly 1,200 people drifted through during the day.

"Unfortunately, in some areas, if the door closed behind them, they got locked in," Povero said.

Confinement only lasted a short while, and all were freed - without bail.

"As of last night, everyone was out," Povero said.

'Black Widow' Barbecue Champ

CORINTH, Miss. - A 107-pound Virginia woman ate her way to a championship after she out-gulped seven males in the World Champion Barbecue Eating Contest.

Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, of Alexandria, swallowed 23 barbecue sandwiches in 12 minutes to claim the title, $2,000 and the honor of wearing the champion's belt for a year.

"Sonya is the only one who can actually fit into the belt," joked David Baer, one of the announcers and director of business development for the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

Spectators were stunned by the performance of the petite winner, who never paused Friday night as she stuffed down bite after bite of wet barbecue sandwich.

Thomas entered the contest with a recent victory in the World Champion Chicken Taco Eating Contest where she swallowed 43 tacos in 11 minutes. She also holds the female world record for eating 24 hot dogs in 12 minutes and for eating 68 hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes.

Toilet Humor

MONACA, Pa. - A protester-turned-politican says town officials are trying to flush his campaign by claiming the toilets he's displayed on his home the past four years are a health hazard.

Officials in Monaca, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, last week sent Tom Suica a letter telling him the 10 commodes on the roof of his garage had to come down because they could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and West Nile virus.

Suica, a plumber and Democratic candidate for councilman in the borough of 6,300, claims efforts to get rid of the toilets have more to do with politics than public safety.

"West Nile? Don't you think that's a little much?" Suica said.

The borough soon rescinded its request that the commodes come down after discovering Suica taped the bowls to keep water out.

Suica began his potty protest in 1999 to stop a bank from building a parking lot next to his home. Suica said the toilets symbolize his view that his neighborhood should remain residential.

Suica has successfully argued in court that the toilets are an expression of his free speech and decorations. He routinely embellishes them on holidays — mounting antlers on them at Christmas, hearts and cupids on Valentine's Day, leprechauns on St. Patrick's Day and patriotic decorations on Memorial Day.

Anti-War Nazi Clothing

A Hong Kong fashion company has reportedly put Nazi-themed clothes back on sale, after putting a new face on them.

The South China Morning Post reports the retailer has printed anti-war slogans on top of the Nazi symbols in a bid to save its investment.

"Izzue-dot-com" has 14 stores in Hong Kong. It pulled the clothing from shelves in August after sparking heavy criticism from Israeli and German diplomats in the territory.

The company's marketing manager said earlier that removing the Nazi-themed clothing and store decorations — including red banners adorned with swastikas and flags — cost more than $1 million Hong Kong dollars. That's about $128,000 U.S. dollars.