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News of the Weird 

Improve your excuse: Thomas Pinckney, 18, charged with trespassing in Tomah, Wis., in June after a woman awoke at night to find him holding her arm, told police that he had found the woman's keys in her apartment door and was just trying to return them.

Most competent animals: Koko, the famous gorilla who was taught nearly a thousand words in American Sign Language, had recently been telling her handlers at her apartment at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif., that her mouth hurt. It was only a toothache, but treatment would require her to be anesthetized, and the foundation decided to take advantage and give her a complete physical, with specialists volunteering to work on a "star." Afterward, according to an Associated Press reporter, Koko met with her doctors and motioned one woman to come closer. The woman, awed by the brilliant animal, playfully handed Koko her business card, which Koko promptly ate.

Smooth reactions: In June, Nebraska's Health and Human Services Department revoked the license of mental health therapist Robert Powers based on an incident in which he, after receiving a memo denying him his own key to the office supply cabinet, pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired several shots at the document. And Clay Sullivan faced municipal charges in July resulting from his behavior as a parade marshal (on horseback) during the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days; protesting the needless towing of a car along the parade route, Sullivan lassoed the tow truck driver and yanked him away from the car.

Questionable judgments: Writing in the journal Pediatrics (August 2004), Israeli physicians cautioned against a traditional form of circumcision in which blood is cleaned from the wound not by a suction device, but by the circumciser's taking wine into his mouth and then sucking the blood from the wound. Researchers, led by Dr. Benjamin Gesundheit of Ben-Gurion University, found eight cases of infants having developed herpes from circumcisers' mouths.In a federal court in Austin, Texas, in June, accused bank robber Adam Martin, 38, acting dramatically as his own lawyer, inexplicably called his brother Michael as a character witness, even though he knew Michael had already pleaded guilty to being Adam's partner on four robberies. Adam asked if Michael had ever committed any crimes. Predictably (that is, to everyone except Adam), Michael responded, "Yeah. You were with me on four different bank robberies, Adam. You know that."

Latest religious message: In June, Norway's Labor Inspection Authority rejected the official registration papers filed by the Skjargard School, a private Christian fundamentalist institution that nonetheless receives much federal assistance. The authority said it needed to see a better organization chart to track lines of responsibility, because the chart Skjargard submitted merely listed as its CEO Jesus Christ.

Recurring themes: The unnamed young man who won the latest "Jackass" contest, sponsored by Chicho's Restaurant in Virginia Beach, Va., in August, first came to the attention of police when he was spotted wandering around at 1 a.m. bleeding from an amateur mohawk haircut. Also, his chest, stomach, buttocks and legs were heavily industrial-strength stapled, and he had slice marks on his side and a broken collarbone (from a back flip off the bar). He had also swallowed and vomited a live goldfish and had broken a beer bottle over his head, but all in all, he said, he was proud. (The restaurant manager was fired.)

Readers' choice: John Hutcherson, 21, was arrested in Marietta, Ga., in August for vehicular homicide and DUI after he drove 12 miles home and went to bed, allegedly oblivious of the dead body of his good friend that was hanging out his passenger-side window. According to police, a telephone pole guide wire had decapitated the 23-year-old pal when he stuck his head out the window after Hutcherson veered off the road. A neighbor alerted police the next morning when he saw the body still draped on the door of Hutcherson's truck.

2004 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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