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The Odd Truth, Nov. 8, 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.

How Stupid Is This?

LANTANA, Fla. - The author of two books on stupidity has been charged with trying to meet a teenager on line for the purpose of sex.

Sixty-one-year-old James Welles has written books called "The Story of Stupidity" and "Understanding Stupidity." Both are about the dumb moves people make.

Welles now faces a charge in Lantana, Florida, with using the computer to set up a date with a 15-year-old girl. But the "girl" was really a 40-year-old undercover detective.

Investigators said the relationship began in an Internet chat room. They said it took about three weeks to get to the point Welles was willing to commit a crime.

Court Surrendered To Rats

DES MOINES — Polk County officials have decided to surrender the courthouse basement to rats.

County officials said Tuesday they plan to abandon the basement within two weeks, possibly in favor of rented space across the street. Court records and more than a dozen employees will have to be transferred.

Rats have been spotted in the basement for decades, but the rodent population has grown and the rats have become braver in recent months, partly due to spring cleaning, said Bruce Greiner, director of the county's general services department.

"Once we cleaned up all that stuff down there, we kind of took away their places to hide," Greiner said.

There have been dozens of rat sightings in the past 90 days, including one that invaded a judge's restroom vanity on the second floor and another seen leaping from a desk drawer on the first floor.

Court employees have been warned to keep food in glass or metal containers and to clap their hands when walking down dark hallways.

"Just because of the sheer nature of the issue, we think that we're better off to move people out of the basement," County Manager Teree Caldwell-Johnson said. "I don't think that we would ever move people back into that basement."

Warlocks Sue Police

PHILADELPHIA - The Warlocks Motorcycle Club has sued the city police department for allegedly keeping its members from participating in a motorcycle parade to deliver toys to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

According to the lawsuit, the Warlocks have taken part in the event for the past 15 years, delivering toys to patients.

The lawsuit says, 15 Warlocks members drove their bikes from the group's Kensington headquarters to the staging area near Columbus Boulevard and Spring Garden Street.

But when they got there, the suit says, police surrounded them.

The group also alleged that law enforcement officials made them take off their club jackets.

"The plaintiffs were searched, their bikes were searched, all without probable cause," Briskin said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson had no immediate comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

Without admitting wrongdoing, city lawyers agreed Thursday that police would not prevent the Warlocks from riding through the city Sunday on the way to a similar Toys for Tots rally in Delaware County. The Warlocks will also be permitted to wear their club riding jackets and insignia.

A Robbery Or A Cry For Help?

WARREN, Mich. — A man accused of robbing a grocery store made it easy for police by accidentally dropping a pair of calling cards: identification and a family photo.

Terry Neal Tavi was arrested Sunday at his Madison Heights home and later charged with larceny from a person, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reported.

Police say Tavi grabbed several $20 bills from an open cash register as customers waited in line at a Farmer Jack store in Warren early Sunday.

Witnesses said the only male in the family photo dropped at the scene was the man who stole the cash.

Officers who went to Tavi's home to arrest him found the missing money in a bedroom after the suspect told them where to look, according to police reports.

Love Bites

MODESTO, Calif. - Love can hurt, but it usually isn't deadly.

A pathologist in Modesto, California, says a man was killed by the bites from his wife. She allegedly bit him after he refused to have sex.

The pathologist says the man -- who was 65 -- had heart disease. The attack reportedly caused emotional and physical stress that led to the man's death from an enlarged heart.

As for the wife -- who is 45 -- she's pleaded innocent to elder abuse, domestic violence and assault on a police officer. Tougher charges may be in the offing.

Dog Food Company Hounds, But Hounds Don't Bite

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Ethics Commission ruled two state-owned bloodhounds, as public servants, cannot serve as pitchdogs in television ads for dog food.

Buckeye Feed Mills Inc. of Dalton, Ohio, provides free food for the Division of Forestry's bloodhounds. But the commission ruled Thursday that allowing the dogs to appear in the company's ads would violate the state Ethics Act, which bars public servants from using their public positions for their own private financial gain or the gain of others.

In this case, the dogs' public office would be used for the company's private gain, the commission said.

"The commission has previously held that commercial endorsement of private sector products or services by governmental agencies is acceptable only when it is a part of a program which results in overriding public benefit," the commission's opinion said. "That is not the case here."

Forestry officials had wanted the dogs to appear in the ads to promote public awareness of the agency's bloodhound program. The dogs are used in investigations of arson-related forest fires.

Don't Know Much About DNA ...

TOWSON, Md. - With only a tenth-grade education, Bernard Webster may not understand much about DNA -- but he sure does love it.

After 20 years in prison for a rape conviction, Webster is a free man thanks to DNA evidence that shows he couldn't have done it.

A judge in Towson, Maryland, ordered a new trial and set him free, but the prosecutor says he won't pursue the case.

But getting out of jail may have been the easy part. Webster's lawyers say he has no family, friends, job or home. And he's not entitled to compensation from the state for his prison time.

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