Aggressive police questioning of a weak-willed suspect can produce an occasional false confession, but experts now believe that six men in a single case, and four in another, confessed to group crimes they did not commit, even though some described their roles in vivid detail. Recent DNA evidence in a 1989 Beatrice, Neb., murder case implicated only a seventh man, and similar evidence in a 1997 Norfolk, Va., murder case implicated only a fifth man, who insists he acted alone. (Governors in both states are currently mulling pardons for the men.) It is still possible that the six, or the four, are guilty as charged and that the DNA was left in completely separate attacks on the victims, but the more likely explanation, say psychologists, is that people with low self-esteem or mental problems, or who are drug- or alcohol-addled, are more easily convinced of fantasy.
The Continuing Crisis
Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission announced plans in December to create a third official gender for government identification: “intersex,” for transsexuals, whether or not they have had surgery. Immediately, activists from Sex and Gender Education Australia called the proposal inadequate, demanding a fourth gender, also, for people who feel that “gender” is either “undefinable” or subject to daily changes of attitude.
Maryland lobbyist and former state assemblyman Gilbert Genn was attacked by a deer outside his home in November, butted to the ground and repeatedly stabbed by the buck’s antlers in the chest and groin. Genn told WTOP Radio that after finally realizing he was in a life-or-death struggle, he managed to subdue the animal by the antlers long enough to tire it and cause it to flee. Bleeding badly, Genn said he disregarded his wife’s admonitions to get to the hospital and instead dressed the wound himself and headed off for a scheduled meeting in Annapolis with Speaker of the House Michael Busch. He told the reporter, “There was no way I could miss this meeting.” Only afterward did he report to the emergency room.
Officials in South Africa, where government only recently came to accept the connection between HIV and AIDS after years of denial that provoked the country’s epidemic of cases, revealed in December that supplies of retroviral drugs are being used recreationally as hallucinogens smoked by schoolchildren. Health officials told BBC News that the drugs are prescribed to those at risk for AIDS, but are not taken seriously by symptom-free, HIV-diagnosed South Africans who are just now starting to understand the decades-old disease.to get out.