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The Odd Truth, Sept. 6, 2002

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.

Hard As Nails

SANTA CLARITA, California - A nail in the brain has got to hurt. Right? Not to Southern California construction worker Jorge Hernandez. He accidentally shot himself in the head with a nail gun and didn't realize it.

Hernandez says he didn't know he had a nail in his head until he saw it in the mirror of his car. The nail apparently ricocheted off a piece of metal, went through his eye socket and lodged in his brain. He says his face felt hot but he didn't even have a headache.

It took doctors three hours to remove the more than three-inch long spike. Somehow, the nail managed to miss his eye and not cause any brain damage. Hernandez's brain surgeon feels that kind of luck is better than winning the lottery. (AP)

Reflecting On Roadkill

GOBLES, Mich. — Photographer Townsend Artman finds great beauty in wildlife, and animals are often his subjects.

He takes pictures of wildlife, or make that wild-death. Artman specializes in photos of roadkill.

Although he considers himself an artist and not an environmentalist, Artman said he feels for the subjects of his unusual photographs.

"It's a horrible thing to have happen to these animals, caught up in man's highway of death," he said.

Artman conceded that his work is a hard sell — his asking price for each photo is between $5,000 and $10,000 — but he'd like people to view it with an open mind.

"I see irony, humor, gruesomeness, beauty," the Gobles resident said. "It's rich in those areas. It's OK if not everyone gets it. There are a number of artists who were out of the mainstream." (AP)

Sacrificial Ritual Blamed In Wildfire

LOS ANGELES - A wildfire in a forest north of Los Angeles that forced thousands of holiday campers to flee the fast-moving flames was ignited by candles used in an animal sacrifice ritual, fire officials said.

U.S. Forest Service investigators initially believed that lightning started the 17,000-acre Curve Fire, which started Sunday in a bend of a highway that wends through the Angeles National Forest.

But after inspecting the point of origin, clues emerged that human activity was involved, said Rich Phelps, a fire information officer.

"The Curve Fire investigation team has concluded candles associated with a ritual involving the use of fire and animal sacrifices started the fire," Phelps said.

The Angeles National Forest, home to the San Gabriel Mountains, has long been a popular site for practitioners of Santeria, a Westernized form of African deity worship.

Santeria rituals commonly include the sacrifice of goats, chickens and other small animals, and take place in a forest, which is considered a sacred place akin to a house of worship, experts said.

Law enforcement officers routinely find scenes of dead animals, votive candles and shredded clothing in secluded spots throughout the Angeles National Forest, said Deputy David Smail. (Reuters)

XXX French TV

PARIS - With television now showing 950 X-rated and violent films a month, two-thirds of the French say they want pornography banned from broadcast and cable channels, a poll by the audiovisual watchdog CSA said Friday.

Seventy-six percent of women responding backed a ban and even 51 percent of the men thought that French television was getting too hot, said the survey published in the daily Le Parisien.

A total of 64 percent of those questioned wanted both cable and non-cable channels to stop broadcasting X-rated films, which are often violent as well as sexually explicit, while 35 percent were against the ban altogether.

According to CSA, several cable channels plan to show more porn films in future to boost their audience ratings.

The CSA recommended in July banning X-rated films even from encrypted cable channels, saying it had found that many youths had access to films officially banned for anyone under 18 years old despite encryption. (Reuters)

Georgia's Lost City Resurfaces

ELBERTON, Ga. — The long-forgotten city of Petersburg has resurfaced, a lost Atlantis emerging amid the sinking waters of Thurmond Lake.

As the lake's water levels recede to near-record lows, the remains of what was once Georgia's second-largest city are making a rare appearance and offering a glimpse of a ghostly past.

It doesn't look like much. Most of the city's ruins still lie beneath the lake's murky waters, which have sunk more than 14 feet, exposing old roadbeds, fence lines and brick foundations. There's also historical litter, such as rusty spikes and broken glass.

"We get a lot of questions, and we have a few people who come all the way out here just to see it," said Jerry Cook, assistant manager at Bobby Brown State Park, which straddles Thurmond Lake's shoreline.

Petersburg was founded as a tobacco town in the late 1700s and peaked in 1809, when 45,000 people lived in the Broad River Valley. But then the economy dried up and the settlement dwindled as quickly as it had grown.

The town was buried in a watery grave 50 years ago, when the Army Corps of Engineers flooded 72,000 acres to build Thurmond Lake. (AP)

Trip Of A Lifetime

MIAMI — Israel Haimowitz made a deal with his doctor 15 years ago — get me to 100 and I'll buy you a European vacation.

On Thursday, Haimowitz is celebrating his 100th birthday. And Dr. Robert Drimmer and his wife are looking forward to a trip to London next summer.

"I hate to take his money," Drimmer said, but Haimowitz "would be mad if I didn't go."

Haimowitz, a retired furniture salesman, said it's the least he can do. The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is in good health, complaining only occasionally of fatigue. He moved to Florida 16 years ago.

"To get a doctor down here that's considerate of his patients is difficult," Haimowitz said. He credits his longevity and health to drinking two ounces of cognac daily, along with eating five Danish butter cookies. (AP)

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