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The Odd Truth, Sept. 28, 2004

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

Jesus Of The Rio Grande

EAGLE PASS, Texas - Some in South Texas are taking it as a sign from above. When Border Patrol agents spotted a body in the Rio Grande, they launched a rescue mission. But the supposed victim turned out to be a life-size fiberglass statue of Jesus. Now, the faithful are flocking to the Eagle Pass police station to view the figure. No one has claimed the statue. One woman tells the San Antonio Express-News it's a sign that Christ is alive and with us. Authorities are considering what they'll do next. Two churches in the area have offered to take it, if the statue isn't claimed within the 90-day waiting period. City officials add that no matter what happens, they won't be selling the statue of Jesus.

Bush, Kerry Full Of Beans

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Judging by the bean vote, President George W. Bush could be on his way to a second term.

A Tennessee company that has been in the chili business for more than 100 years is selling satirically packaged cans of beans for in honor of Republican Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts ahead of Nov. 2 elections.

Every online order draws a vote, and the Republicans were ahead 2,402-2,316 as of Friday.

"We don't call it scientific by any means," says Philip Connelly, president and chief executive of Vietti Foods Inc., of Nashville. "But it could be what they call a bellwether, one of those barometers of public opinion."

For Republicans, a grinning cartoon elephant graces Vietti's "Conservative Republican Texas Chili Beans" on a label promising "Dubya would love!" them.

The counterpoint is a smiling donkey on Vietti's "Liberal Democrat Boston Baked Beans," described as "liberally spiced Boston beans married to a rich ketchup-based sauce," presumably Heinz. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is heir to the $500 million (euro406 million) Heinz food fortune.

The labels carry other messages, too.

"Let's make sure no Kerry-bashing, meat-eating, fur-wearing, gun-toting, oil-drilling, SUV-driving, Limbaugh-listening, conservative Republican, capitalist pig gets elected," the Boston baked beans bellow.

To which the Texas chili beans counter: "Let's make sure no Bush-bashing, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, government-loving, NPR-listening, Hollywood-hobnobbing, animal activist, bleeding heart, left wing socialist gets elected."

The beans went on sale in early September, around the time of the Republican convention.

Flashing Photographer

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An attorney was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in jail for ambushing dozens of women while nude and taking pictures of their shocked expressions.

But Stephen Linnen, 34, won't lose his law license and will be allowed to leave jail to continue work as a law clerk.

He must start serving his time next week after being sentenced Monday under a plea bargain in Ohio's Franklin County Common Pleas Court. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to 53 misdemeanor counts of public indecency, sexual imposition and criminal trespassing.

Linnen, a former lawyer for the Ohio House Republican caucus, has admitted to photographing women while he was unclothed over nearly two years, gaining the name "the naked photographer." He apologized in court, but none of his victims was there.

Judge Tommy Thompson declined to label Linnen a sexual offender, saying he was not a threat to the community and was unlikely to repeat the offense.

Thompson ordered Linnen to keep seeking psychiatric treatment. Linnen said in court that he meets with a psychologist weekly and goes to daily meetings for people addicted to sex.

Prosecutors said they might appeal the judge's decision not to make Linnen register as a sexually oriented offender.

Cruise Ship Accidentally Harpoons Whale

TORONTO - A cruise ship arrived in the Atlantic Canada port of Saint John, New Brunswick, this weekend with a dead whale impaled on its bow, officials said Monday.

The Jewel of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean liner, had been cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence where it likely struck the 60-foot-long finback whale somewhere between Quebec City and the Bay of Fundy.

It was not known if the whale was alive when it was struck. The coast guard towed the dead whale out to sea on Sunday.

Port workers said they were busy dealing with the whale after the ship arrived Sunday morning.

Ship passenger Dennis Buck of New York said that passengers were unaware of the whale until they saw it on arrival.

Laurie Murison, of the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station located on an island in the Bay of Fundy, said finbacks often fall victim to collisions with ships because of their length, 115 feet and longer.

"They're very long, sleek whales and they actually get held in place and get balanced on either side of the bow," Murison said. "And they tend not to be as buoyant as right whales so they are held in place."

Pregnant Woman Arrested Over Loud Cell Phone Call

WHEATON, Md. - A pregnant woman said she was handcuffed by transit police and forced onto her stomach during an arrest that began with her talking too loudly on her cell phone.

Sakinah Aaron, 23, said she feared her unborn baby would be harmed when the officer forced her to the ground and put his knee in her back at a bus stop earlier this month. A doctor later said her five-month-old fetus was not harmed.

"I'm thinking between the ground and his knee, my water is going to break and I'm going to have a miscarriage or something," she said of the Sept. 9 incident.

Deputy Chief Timothy Gronau said Monday that Officer George Saoutis followed police procedure after Aaron refused to stop cursing loudly during a cell phone conversation and became abusive and uncooperative.

Aaron said the officer approached her as she walked to catch a bus, telling her to keep her voice down. She twice tried to break away, but he caught her arm, then placed her face down, handcuffed her, and charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Aaron was scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 21.

Nudists Gone Wild?

AUSTIN, Texas - The people at Hippie Hollow may want be naked, but they don't necessarily want to be naked on camera. Dale Alan Witenhafer has been busted for making hidden videos at the popular nude sunbathing spot near Austin, Texas. Authorities say Witenhafer stashed a camcorder inside a collapsible cooler and filmed through holes in the ice chest. He was arrested when someone spotted him with a video camera. He's charged with improper visual recording to arouse or gratify - and was freed on $7,500 bond. By the way, Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis is the only legal skinny-dipping spot in Texas.