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The Odd Truth: Weekend Edition

The Odd Truth: Weekend Edition is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's William Vitka.

A Real Buzzkill

WATERLOO, Iowa - Firefighters had to be called after a plan to evict a swarm of bees went up in smoke. Residents used gasoline to start a fire in hopes of smoking out a hive of bees from under their home Thursday when the house caught on fire, Battalion Chief Virgil Powell said.

"It wasn't a very good plan," Powell said.

Only minor damage was reported and no one was injured.

Firefighters removed the hive by flushing it out with water, Powell said.

Tribulations Of A Tepid Tipper

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. - A New York City man accused of leaving an inadequate tip at a restaurant was arrested, fingerprinted and photographed for a mug shot.

Humberto A. Taveras, 41, faces a misdemeanor charge of theft of services after he and his fellow diners argued with Soprano's Italian and American Grill managers over the legality of requiring an 18 percent tip for large parties.

"They chased us down like a bunch of criminals," Taveras said. "It killed our weekend."

Taveras and eight others had pizza at the restaurant Sunday night. He told the Glens Falls Post-Star they weren't completely satisfied with the food and left a tip of less than 10 percent. Taveras said they also were not told of a mandatory 18 percent gratuity for parties of six or more and did not see notice of it on their menus.

Restaurant owner Joe Soprano said all the menus have the notice, and the waitress informed the group. He said he did not choose to pursue charges because of the money, but because Taveras' group was obnoxious.

"It's unfortunate it has come to this, but this guy was rude and abrasive. They practically threw food at us," Soprano said.

Taveras plans to fight the charge. He was issued an appearance ticket and was scheduled to appear in town court Thursday.

The arrest raises the issue of whether the gratuities that restaurants automatically tack on for serving large groups are legally enforceable debts.

Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said he did not believe the issue had been litigated before in New York. He said the case could turn on whether the person is notified of the tip requirement beforehand.

"It's not a black-and-white issue," Cleveland said. "It will be very interesting to see where it goes in court."

Let There Be Boating

VERMILION, Ohio - Dozens of Christian boaters have gathered in this Lake Erie community to discuss ways to serve God on the water.

The Christian Boaters Association's president, Marlin Simon, 66, said there are diverse ways that boats can be used in the name of God.

He has taken Bibles to Cuba and medical supplies to Belize. Every Jan. 1 the ordained minister blesses a fleet of boats in the Florida Keys.

Another member, Ted Orem, has used the odd-looking 32-foot boat he built to spread the Gospel.

"It was an ugly boat. It drew attention," said Orem, who passed out Bibles and religious leaflets at marinas where "Praise Ye the Lord" was docked along the way.

About 50 mariners from around the world accepted convention invitations. Several others who planned to attend were stuck in Florida, scurrying to secure their boats from Hurricane Ivan. A Florida boater started the organization, under a different name, in 1976.

In all, about 500 members fly the flag of the nondenominational group, which is signified by a white fish with a red cross in the middle.

Bob and Heidi Winslow were one of just a few to arrive by boat. The live-aboards and their two young children are taking the donated 50-foot sailboat they had just picked up in Wisconsin to Florida and eventually to the Mediterranean, where they plan to run an onboard religious training program.

"We want to use the sailing as a unique platform to get them exposed to (God)," said Bob Winslow. The sailboat can accommodate eight people. Their goal is to find an 80-footer, he said.

Law And Disorder: Stupid Unit

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - It was the talk of the town on Friday: two policemen trying to catch two bank robbers hopped on a streetcar because they lacked an automobile.

While the robbery itself went largely unnoticed, the ludicrous — and abortive — attempt Monday by the two cops was reported by eyewitnesses late Thursday and carried by Sarajevo newspapers the next day.

The scene could have been taken from a funny movie ridiculing police: two pursuing cops riding a streetcar in downtown Sarajevo, as the two fleeing robbers with $9,800 turn into a side street. The two helpless officers could only watch as the robbers disappeared in a crowd. Neither the money nor the robbers have been found.

"I seriously cannot believe that my colleagues could be so stupid — what were they thinking? They made the entire force look bad," a Sarajevo policeman, who insisted on anonymity, told The Associated Press on Friday.

The same officer said that Sarajevo police currently are in desperate need of vehicles to seriously tackle even petty crime.

"The cars we have are old, and most of them break down all the time. The (interior) ministry has allocated the money for new cars, but they have not yet purchased them," the officer said.

Police later said the holdup in broad daylight at Privredna Bank on Sarajevo's main Titova Street had been carried out with only plastic guns.

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