The Odd Truth, April 15, 2003

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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.

Bagdad Cafe No More

BAGDAD, New York - Would you want to own a tavern named the Bagdad Cafe? Neither does Mick Labrioli. So, he's changing the name of his western New York bar to Liquid Therapy. Labrioli and his wife Patti bought the Bagdad Cafe in December after moving from Florida to Bagdad, New York. He says he was never crazy about the name, but there was no rush to change it until the war with Iraq began. They're now refurbishing the place and will reopen with a new look and a new name.

Town Legalizes Adultery

ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. - Adultery will soon be legal in this small community southwest of Los Angeles.

On Monday, the City Council voted to repeal a 46-year-old ordinance that prohibited immoral conduct, which included extramarital sex. The archaic law, which could result in a $250 fine or three months in jail, was passed after the city was incorporated in 1957.

Council members weren't endorsing adultery but they took some pleasure in commenting about the ordinance. "So this is a pro-adultery thing?" Councilman James Black joked before the meeting. "Good for us!"

City officials heard about the ordinance after a resident scouring the municipal code mentioned it at a recent forum for City Council candidates. They were unsure if anyone had been cited for breaking the law and couldn't figure out why it was put there in the first place.

Frustrated Landlord Offers Free Vacation For Rent

GARDNER, Mass. - A landlord, tired of chasing down tenants who do not pay their rent on time, is giving them a little extra incentive to pony up — the chance to win a free vacation.

Douglas Rau, who has more than 100 tenants across central Massachusetts, held a drawing Friday for all tenants who have paid their rent in full. Resident Pablo Gallero won a four-day, three-night stay for two at a resort in the Bahamas along with $250 in spending money.

"It's pretty bad that you've got to do this to get people to do what they're already supposed to do on their own accord," Rau said. "But it seems like everybody thinks somebody owes them something."

The vacation package cost Rau about $1,000, but that pales in comparison to the approximately $5,000 it can cost to take a tenant to court to get them evicted and to fix the damage a disgruntled tenant can do to an apartment.

Rau said he will hold similar drawings every month, although the prize may not always be as generous.

The gesture already appears to be working. Although some of Rau's tenants were skeptical of the giveaway and called his office to ask what the catch was, four chronically late tenants quickly paid their rent in full after the drawing was announced in March, he said.

Deer Strikes Twice

LINCOLN, Neb. - It wasn't lightning that struck twice in the same place; it was a deer.

Workers and patrons at the Curves for Women fitness center saw the deer looking scared and disoriented early Monday.

The animal came running up and went through one window, then exited the same way, manager Tonia O'Hare said. The animal then came back and crashed through a second window, she said.

The deer died after the second crash.

No one in the fitness center was hurt.

Helicopter Jail Break In France

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France - It's the stuff of action movies — but bold jail breaks have become a major problem in France.

Assailants seized control of a helicopter yesterday and used it to break three inmates out of a prison in southern France.

The hijacked helicopter swooped low over the prison yard while someone aboard lowered a rope ladder.

The aircraft landed shortly afterward in a nearby sports stadium. The prisoners fled by car.

The escape is the latest in a string of high-profile jail breaks in recent months. Some were carried out with explosives and assault weapons.

It's the second escape by helicopter in 18 months.

Coca-Cola Vies For Control Of Swedish Family's Name

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - The cola wars have entered a new dimension in Sweden.

This time, the Coca-Cola Company isn't battling Pepsi-Cola International, but a family with the surname Urge. That's also the name of a citrus drink bottled by Coke that's available only in Norway.

Coke registered the name as a trademark in Sweden, but has not launched it there. In the United States, the caffeine-loaded drink is called Surge.

Members of the Urge family tried to repeal the trademark, concerned that their name would become associated with a soft drink.

Swedish law prohibits registration of trademarks that use someone else's family name. But the Court of Patent Appeals ruled in favor of Coca-Cola last month, saying the English word "urge" was more commonly known than the family name, which is pronounced "OOR-geh."

Puffy Cheek Bandit Confesses

NEWARK, New Jersey - A postal worker who became known as "the Puffy Cheek Bandit" has admitted robbing 27 banks in five states, including Maryland.

Thirty-year-old Cazzie Williams of East Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in federal court. The guilty plea covers four robberies in New Jersey.

Williams faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the four counts. He also robbed banks in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio.

Williams's MO was to hand a note to a teller demanding money. He got as much as $16,000 from one bank, but normally got away with a few thousand.

His nickname came from a habit of holding air in his cheeks.

Have A Nice Day!

BOSTON - Have a nice day — even if you are stuck in rush-hour gridlock. The Smiley Face could be coming to Massachusetts license plates. A hearing will be held in Boston today on legislation to create a Smiley Face plate.

The late Harvey Ball designed the yellow Smiley Face graphic 40 years ago. His son Charles Ball is leading the effort to put the happy icon on license plates. He figures road rage would be reduced with enough Smiley Faces on the highways. Proceeds from the speciality plates would fund the World Smile Foundation. The charity distributes grants to schools and libraries across the state.