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 that Tanzania made to turn the tribe's prime 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 over two hours to the dispatcher. The operators pleaded the entire time for Vasquez to just say where he was so that 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.)
-- 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.
-- Lawyer Charles Curbo filed a motion in Memphis, Tenn., in June, claiming that his client, Tony Wolfe, who was convicted of murder, failed to get a fair trial due to the ineffectiveness of Wolfe's lawyer (i.e., Curbo) because the lawyer was often too sleepy to do a good job. However, the prosecutor pointed out that part of Curbo's strategy had been to "wear down" witnesses "by extensive cross-examination" and that it was no wonder that he was exhausted.
-- 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 that 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."
-- Unclear on the Concept: (1) After the owner of a wrought-iron business in Brussels, Belgium, abruptly turned away a 53-year-old Nigerian native who had applied for a job, the local labor office declared the owner racist. However, the man said he was just trying to protect the Nigerian from the owner's dog. "My dog is racist," he said. "Not me." (2) Police in Kyoto, Japan, said in March that a man had been detained after firing a dozen rounds from his house toward a new, 11-story condominium building next door. The man explained that he was angry that the building was blocking the sunlight he had previously enjoyed.
The Litigious Society
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in an April car crash after he collided with a stopped tow truck on Interstate 64 in the middle of the night, and according to a police report, Hancock was intoxicated, speeding, un-seat-belted, and talking on his cell phone at the time. Nonetheless, in May, Hancock's father filed a lawsuit claiming that the causes of the crash were (1) the tow truck operator, (2) the driver who was being assisted by the tow truck operator, and (3) the manager of the restaurant in which Hancock had been drinking.
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 2-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 which 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 that 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.
Least Competent People
Twelve hundred troops from Poland were deployed to Afghanistan in June as part of a NATO buildup to patrol the Pakistan border, searching for Taliban forces, but Polish commanders admitted that they would not be combat-ready for several weeks because the keys to all their Humvees had been stolen. One commander said spare keys had been ordered.
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, 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).
(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600