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The Odd Truth, Oct. 6, 2003

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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.


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The borough soon rescinded its request that the commodes come down after discovering Suica taped the bowls to keep water out.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

Barbie's In Hot Water (Again)

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Barbie and Ken are being hauled into federal court. But don't expect them to testify. Two Madison County, Illinois, women are suing Mattel over so-called "limited edition" Barbies.

Pamela Cunningham and Reet Caldwell say they bought the supposed collectibles, such as the "Gone with the Wind" Barbie and Ken. But the suit charges the company made thousands of the limited edition Barbies, which ended up at discounters. The collectible Barbies originally sold for as much as $150 each. The case has now been certified as a class action.

'Bad Ass Coffee'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The coffee may be good but the sign is bad. Jacksonville officials in say they have no grounds to ban the "Bad Ass Coffee Company" sign.

A city lawyer says while some may feel the name is offensive or immoral, no court would find it obscene. Coffee shop owner Richard Cook says the name of the franchise refers to the donkeys that haul coffee from the mountains in Hawaii. He insists they're not trying to offend anyone. Bad Ass Coffee now has 40 locations around the country.