Lead Story: Africa's largely primitive Hadzabe people, down to their last 1,500 members after surviving thousands of years of disease, famine and encroaching civilization, fear their final blow will be the recent deal Tanzania made to turn the tribe's hunting grounds over to United Arab Emirates royalty for private safaris. The land comprises 2,500 acres near the Serengeti Plain, and some Hadzabe (who still make fire by rubbing sticks together) are resigned either to fight the "invaders" (with bows and poison-tipped arrows) or to migrate to towns for survival, according to a June Washington Post dispatch from Tanzania's Yaeda Valley.
Alcohol Was Involved: Andres Vasquez, 20, of Verona, Ky., initially told the 911 operator in May that someone had "thrown" his truck on top of him, but he finally admitted he was drunk, had had a one-vehicle accident, was trapped upside-down and was in dire pain, fading in and out for more than two hours to the dispatcher. The operators pleaded the entire time for Vasquez to just say where he was so they could send a rescue party, but, as the Kentucky Enquirer put it, "When repeatedly asked his location, [Vasquez's] answer was always the same: 'I'm under the [expletive] truck.'" (He finally gave a clue and was rescued.)
Compelling Explanations: Lame: 1) Jonathan Powell, 17, was convicted in April of sexually assaulting a college student in Iowa City, Iowa, after his DNA was found in several places on her body. Powell explained the DNA by claiming that he had merely bumped into the woman accidentally while jogging and had become so "entangled" with her that he was unable to free himself for about "45 minutes." 2) In April, Donald Duncan Jr., 34, was convicted of invasion of privacy in Carlisle, Pa., after his wife discovered a hidden-camera video of two girls who were disrobing in a bedroom in the couple's house. Duncan said he had set up the camera because he suspected there were ghosts in the house and wanted proof.
Tiffany Weaver pleaded guilty in April to having stolen a lawyer's official ID and impersonating the woman in order to gain access to the jail in Baltimore so she could visit her incarcerated boyfriend, but she denied, through her lawyer, that she and the boyfriend had had sex while they were together. "There was never any sexual intercourse," said attorney Ivan Bates. "There was no thrusting whatsoever."
Ironies: The local government in Dalkeith, Scotland, has decided that, notwithstanding global warming and carbon "footprints," the lights will stay on all night, every night, in the building that formerly was Dalkeith High School (but which has been vacant since 2004) because councilors fear that trespassers would hurt themselves in the darkness and sue them. A Green Party spokesman called it "an unbelievable triple whammy [cost, fire risk, environmental waste]."
The March of Progress: In April, Los Angeles gynecologist David Matlock licensed his two-year-old G-spot-enhancing technology to 35 other doctors around the country to help spread the benefits of collagen injections that swell the so-called Grafenburg Spot (a supposedly pleasure-registering zone that is, at best, tiny and hidden, but according to some doctors, nonexistent). With the patient's help, the doctor guides the 3-inch needle to the most promising location, and one injection renders the G-spot the size of a coin. Many patients claim their sex lives are greatly enhanced, but no peer-reviewed research has yet been done.
People Different From Us: Chief Deputy Terry Thompson was driving around Rayville, La., in June when he saw several cars stopped for an 8-foot snake in the road, with some motorists threatening to run over it or shoot it so that traffic could pass. Thompson stepped in to save it and then realized he recognized the snake. It was, he remembered, the one-eyed boa constrictor that had turned up missing in March after owner Chad Foote had moved into town, and Foote said he was ecstatic to have it returned, considering the handsome price one has to pay for a snake with one eye.
Recurring Themes: News of the Weird first mentioned "Breatharians" in a 1999 report, referring to people who claim to subsist on only water, air and sunlight, even though there is scant proof of their self-denial and utterly no scientific evidence that humans can live beyond a few weeks on such a diet. In June, London's Daily Mail profiled German Michael Werner, who claims not to have eaten (except for fruit juice, coffee, wine and an occasional grape or nut) since 2001 yet is active and appears robust at 6-feet-2 and 175 pounds, attributing his success to a hunger-ignoring state of mind. The two most famous Breatharians (Australian Ellen Greve and American Wiley Brooks) were both later exposed in the press as having sneaked food on the side.
Now, Which One Is the Brake? (all-new): Elderly drivers' recent lapses of concentration, stepping on the gas instead of the brake: An East Meadow, N.Y., man, 91, crashed into his wife (March). A prominent biochemist from the 1940s, age 88, crashed through a wall of the Civic Center in San Rafael, Calif. (June). An 84-year-old woman, playing golf with another woman, accidentally ran her down in her golf cart in Medford, Ore. (April). A Shiloh, Ill., woman, 84, drove into the cafeteria of Shiloh Elementary School, hitting one girl (January). A Deland, Fla., woman, 84, driving to pick up a prescription, smashed into the pharmacy (November). An Eastbourne, England, man, 80, crashed into the lobby of Eastbourne General Hospital, coming to visit his wife (June). An Oshkosh, Wis., man, 77, smashed into a restaurant (with pedalwork that was complicated by his cane, leaning against the driver's seat) (December).
© 2007 CHUCK SHEPHERD