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The Odd Truth, Sept. 30, 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.


Go Ahead, Cry

PITTSFORD, Vt. - Don't try telling trucker Stewart Devino there's no use crying over spilled milk.

Devino's tractor-trailer hauling 58,000 pounds of milk - or 7,250 gallons - went off the highway over the weekend, spilling its load on the road.

Vermont State Police said Devino, 57, was driving a 2000 Mack tractor-trailer truck south on Route 7 when he saw a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road ahead of him. Police said Devino hit his brakes and intentionally drove off the right side of the road into a field to avoid striking the rear of the other vehicle.

The tractor-trailer truck then rolled over onto its right side a few feet off the road. Much of the milk poured out of the tank, and flooded the field and a dirt driveway about 50 feet away.

Devino told police he hurt his knee, but refused treatment. He was wearing a seat belt.

Kids These Day!

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Selling tickets to a suicide is something most city councils don't have to outlaw.

But lawmakers in St. Petersburg, Florida have unanimously approved such a law. It's designed to scuttle plans by a rock band to feature an onstage suicide during a concert this weekend.

The hard-rock band Hell on Earth has attracted national publicity with its plan to have a terminally ill person commit suicide during a gig. The band says it wants to raise awareness of right-to-die issues.

The city council passed the emergency ban yesterday morning. The law makes it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes - or to host, promote or sell tickets for such an event.

One council member says he thinks the band's plan is a publicity stunt - but he says he couldn't "sit idly by and let somebody lose their life."

The Tampa-based band is known for onstage stunts like chocolate syrup wrestling and grinding up live rats in a blender.

The band says Saturday's concert will take place at an undisclosed location, and will be broadcast live on the band's Web site.

If Only It Was This Easy

CALCUTTA, India - A High Court judge, who was two hours late to work when a political rally jammed traffic last week, has banned public meetings and rallies in Calcutta on weekdays.

Judge Amitava Lala issued the order Monday, asking police to ensure no rallies are held in the city of 12 million people between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Rallies and political meetings in communist-governed Calcutta regularly snarl traffic. After getting snagged in a jam last week, Lala filed a case in his own court asking police to explain why. After police explained that a political rally was responsible, he issued the ban.

Oklahoma Owes Moussaoui Money

OKLAHOMA CITY - Terrorism defendant Zacarias Moussaoui is owed money from Oklahoma's Unclaimed Property Fund, a spokesman for Oklahoma Treasurer Robert Butkin said Tuesday.

Moussaoui is owed less than $100 for a deposit he made to a utility company in Norman, said Butkin spokesman Tim Allen.

Moussaoui lived in Norman during the spring of 2001 while attending Airman Flight School.

The treasurer's office has no plans to try to contact Moussaoui about the funds.

"The action we've taken is what the law requires," Allen said. "His name has been published, and will be published again next Sunday."

Moussaoui's name is one of about 30,000 that were published in Oklahoma newspapers Sunday.

Moussaoui is in federal custody on charges that he conspired with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists who hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

The Oklahoma Unclaimed Property Fund was created in 1967 and includes uncashed paychecks, bank accounts, stocks, security deposits, gift certificates and royalty payments whose rightful owner cannot be located.

Don't Get Arrested Without It

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Don't leave home without it - or jail, either. Now, your American Express card can be your get-out-of-jail card, too. The Westchester County Jail, in a New York City suburb, is accepting plastic for bail. Offenders may charge their bail to Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover cards. Unlike cash bail, an offender doesn't have to wait until the banks open to be sprung. The credit cards are accepted 24/7. But the bail bond industry isn't happy with the innovation. One bondsman has filed an official complaint, charging the county government of transacting bail without a license.

Stolen Mr. Potato Head Recovered

NEWPORT, R.I. - Mr. Potato Head was a little mashed and chipped, but otherwise in tater-top shape when he returned home after being whisked away from his cushy estate.

Police said someone found the spud statue in a field. It was returned to owner James Leach over the weekend.

"Although he was ripped and mashed a little bit, he is expected to make a full recovery and soon be on display," said Sgt. James Quinn.

The 6-foot tall, 150-pound statue was stolen Friday from the driveway of a private estate. James Leach called police when an alarm went off.

The statue was situated within the gates of the 17-acre Malbone Estate which were open at the time, Leach said.

In 2000, the Rhode Island Tourism Division introduced the Mr. Potato Head figures to promote the state as a family tourist destination. After the advertising campaign, several of the statues were auctioned, with proceeds benefiting charity.

The stolen likeness of the popular children's toy figure was originally located in the Statehouse and clad in a Colonial uniform.

Leach purchased the potato as a birthday gift for his son.