The Odd Truth, Oct. 16, 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.

Hitler's Hound

BERLIN - A German man won't be prosecuted for teaching his dog to do the Nazi salute. But he does face other charges. Police say the man taught his dog to raise its right paw, after the owner said "Heil Hitler."

The dog's name is Adolph. Displaying Nazi symbols in public is a crime in Germany. Charges concerning the stupid pet trick have been dropped. But he still faces prosecution on other counts. Police say he was stopped for yelling "Heil Hitler" on a busy street and for walking around in a Hitler T-shirt.

The Raw Truth

LISBON, Portugal - It was a shopping free-for-all for those willing to bare all. A clothing store in Lisbon offered free designer duds to those who would shop in the nude.

About 70 shoppers, mostly young men, lined up to take advantage of the raw deal. They were given white towels to protect their modesty while waiting, but they had to be bare before dashing into the store. The naked shoppers were allowed to keep all the clothes they managed to put on. But there was quite a scramble because only four racks of clothes were available.

Outhouse Outrage

RENO, Nevada - Some activists are raising a stink over an outhouse. The U.S. Forest Service spent $15,000 to hire a helicopter to empty sewage from a remote outhouse. But a group in northeast Nevada called the "Shovel Brigade" had offered to do the work for free.

At issue is a closed road in a national forest. The Shovel Brigade wants it reopened. Members volunteered to clear the road and clean the outhouse, too. But the forest service says the road should remain closed to protect the environment. Officials say emptying the outhouse by helicopter was worth the expense.

Beach Butts Bemoaned

LOS ANGELES — You can't smoke inside — and soon you may not be able to smoke outside, either. At least on the beach in L.A. Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss wants to ban lighting up on some of the best known southern California beaches. The full council could vote on the issue in a matter of weeks. Weiss says cigarette butts are the most common litter on California beaches. He notes volunteers picked up 300,000 of them during the day-long Coastal Clean Up last year.

A Museum To Die For

FLETCHER, Ohio - There soon will be a new museum dying for visitors. Bart and Roxanne Shively plan to open a funeral museum in Fletcher. Two years ago, the couple bought a funeral home.

The place was packed with hundreds of casket handles, burial garments and other items previous owners collected over the past century. The Shivelys plan to display a wicker body basket used to transport corpses and a child's coffin with a viewing window. They hope to have their museum open in time for the summer tourist season. Admission will be free.

He's Baa-ack

NEW YORK - Get ready for another Blair project.

No, not a "Blair Witch Project." But a movie about disgraced New York Times reporter Jayson Blair.

Showtime has given movie producer Jon Maas the go-ahead to make what's being billed as a "dark comedy" about the Blair scandal that rocked the Times.

The movie, with the tentative title "the Jayson Blair Project," is due out on the pay cable channel either next year or early 2005.

Maas sees his movie as something similar to "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," last year's autobiographical film about game show producer Chuck Barris.

Blair resigned as a reporter on May 1 after filing some three dozen phony or plagiarized stories. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of the paper's top editor, Howell Raines.

Gays Hit Wrong Note With Priest

NEW YORK - Two men in New York say a Catholic priest has ordered them out of the church choir because they went public with their gay marriage.

Michael Sabatino says he and his partner were confronted on Sunday by Monsignor Edmund Whalen as they entered the church.

He tells a newspaper that the priest said he couldn't have them in a public ministry, now that they'd publicized their union.

The men had been profiled on the front page of one newspaper, they were featured in an article on gay marriage on a Web site, and were married in a Canadian ceremony that was announced in The New York Times.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York says if there is the possibility of a scandal, then the pastor has not only the right but an obligation to act.

Sabatino had sung in the choir for 32 years.

Stupid Police Dog Tricks

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A police dog trying to take a bite out of crime wound up chomping on the long arm of the law — literally.

Police in Syracuse, New York, say officers responding to a report last weekend of a burglary in process included John Reardon and his dog, Reno. Reardon let the dog loose to search the building early Saturday morning.

The suspect ran out of the building, with undercover investigator Kevin Blair in pursuit.

The dog chased them both, overtook Blair and bit him on his left and arm. Police say the investigator needed several stitches to close the wounds.

Police say the dog did what it was trained to do — stop someone from running, although it was the wrong someone.

The suspect was caught and charged with burglary.